A Sail in Outer Space
by Albert Daiber
edited by Fredrik Ekman
I recently had the good fortune to come across an old SF novel about a trip to Mars. The book, printed in 1910, is in Swedish and titled En seglats i världsrymden (A sail in outer space). It was written for "mature youth" by Dr. Albert Daiber and it was translated from German, originally published as Vom Mars zur Erde about the year 1900. The book sports six beautiful interior illustrations by Fritz Bergen and a painted cover (apparently of Swedish design) by C. A. Olausson. Translator is Dr. Hugo Hultenberg.
Short summary: Seven German scientists led by Professor Sigfrid Stiller start for Mars in a dirigible of Stiller's construction. After many hardships they finally reach Mars where they are welcomed by the locals of the region Lumata; beautiful humans with somewhat enlarged chests, blond hair and blue eyes. Their clothes and architecture very much resemble ancient Greece. The next 50+ pages describe how nothing at all happens during two years, which the scientists spend learning the language and customs of the utopian Martian society (utopias always tend to be boring, somehow). Eventually they go home with the intention to make Earth a better place to live, except Professor Frommherz who decides to stay on Mars for the rest of his life.
By now you have of course realized that embedded in the description of Martian society is also a description of their calendar. The following is quoted from pages 70-71 (translated from Swedish):
This is, of course, utter nonsense. The author does not even seem to know the length of the Martian year, yet other passages indicate that he is well aware of the differences of both rotation and orbit relative Earth. But even though this "calendar" is useless in itself it is definitely older than Burroughs' Mars books, so I suppose it has some historical significance.