Ancient Rockets: Treasures and Trainwrecks of the Silent Screen

Kage Baker, Kathleen Bartholomew, ed.

With her acerbic wit and endless delight, travel from Metropolis to Oz with Kage Baker (the Company series), film critic extraordinaire. Ancient Rockets presents mad scientists, terrifying fiends, flimsy plots, and glorious landscapes that have inspired generations of fans and filmmakers alike.


Ancient Rockets: Treasures and Trainwrecks of the Silent Screen

by Kage Baker, Kathleen Bartholomew, ed.

ISBN: Print ISBN: 978-1-61696-074-2 Digital ISBN: 978-1-61696-113-8

Published: 2011

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and eBooks

From Metropolis to the pre-Technicolor Oz, take a fantastical journey through the wildest frontiers of the silent films of the silver screen.

Ancient Rockets brings you the earliest (and cheesiest) special effects, the best and worst directors, the tour de forces and the utter trainwrecks. Forty-nine cinematic odysseys will take you on A Trip to the Moon and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, swinging upon jungle vines with Tarzan and into the terrifying laboratory of Dr. Frankenstein, from The Adventures of Prince Achmed all the way to Modern Times.

These are the pinnacles and the pitfalls of science fiction’s silent movies as affectionately viewed by Kage Baker (the Company series) with acerbic wit and historical acumen. Ancient Rockets presents the mad scientists, terrifying fiends, flimsy plots, and glorious landscapes that have inspired generations of fans and filmmakers alike.

“When beloved SF author Kage Baker was battling the illness that ultimately took her life, she distracted herself by watching old science-fiction silent movies, and reviewing them for The 49 reviews include some films you’ve probably seen, and some you’ve undoubtedly never heard of. Now Tachyon [Publications] has collected all of them in a beautiful little book, which is so full of snark and wit that you’ll feel as if Baker was sitting with you giving her commentary on these films.”

Kage Baker is the author of the Company novels, her series of immortal, time-traveling cyborgs, including In the Garden of Iden, Mendoza in Hollywood, and The Sons of Heaven. Baker received the Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon awards. She was passionately involved in the theater as an actor, director, playwright, and teacher of Elizabethan English as a second language, which she often used for research in her novels.

Kathleen Bartholomew is Kage Baker’s sister and editor. She has been working with Baker’s unfinished projects since Baker’s untimely death from cancer in 2010.

 Praise for Kage Baker

“She’s an edgy, funny, complex, ambitious writer with the mysterious, true gift of story-telling.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin, author of A Wizard of Earthsea

“Her style is infused with a subtle humor that had me chuckling…. She kept turning me in directions that I hadn’t expected.”
—Anne McCaffrey, author of Dragonsinger and Dragonsong

“Eccentric and often very funny…. Baker piles on such delights for anyone who wants more from fantasy than an epic journey to battle evil.”
Denver Post

“Listen closely, and perhaps you will hear the collective sigh of delight from intelligent lovers of fantasy the world over.”

Praise for The Company Series

“If there’s a better time-travel series out there, go find it.”
Kirkus, starred review

“Ms. Baker is the best thing to happen to modern science fiction since Connie Willis or Dan Simmons. She mixes adventure, history, and societal concerns in just the right amount, creating an action-packed but thoughtful read.”
Dallas News

“Historical detail and fast-paced action with a good dose of ironic wit and a dollop of bittersweet romance.”
Library Journal

“Another entry…in Baker’s superlative series about Dr. Zeus…. An astonishing and thoroughly satisfying installment. What’s more, Baker’s overall concept and rationale, flawlessly sustained through five books, grows ever more spellbinding and impressive.”
Kirkus, starred review

“If you’re reading something by Kage Baker, fasten your seat belt—you’re in for a wild ride.”
—Gardner Dozois, editor of The Year’s Best Science Fiction

Praise for The Hotel Under the Sand

“In fact—although this is something one should always say with some caution—it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out to be a classic and went on down the ages along with Alice and Oz and the very few others that have become immortal.”
—Diana Wynne Jones, author of Howl’s Moving Castle

“It’s exciting to come upon a book that serves not only as a great story to share with your kids, but one that has some undeniably unusual—and geeky—features.”

“Charming…. Baker’s first book for younger readers is a delight.”
Denver Post

“Skillfully written….”
Publishers Weekly

“Kage Baker is already well-known among adult readers for her science-fiction series The Company, but her new children’s book The Hotel Under the Sand is bound to win her plenty of new readers among the younger set.”

“Refreshingly original…. Although Baker is an established author of science fiction and fantasy for adults, this novel is written so naturally that it is difficult to believe it is her debut for younger readers.”
VOYA Library Journal

“There are few books that I immediately want to press into the hands of other readers the instant I turn the last page. My copy of Hotel will be one that I hand to my daughter in a few years. First, however, I’m going to force it on everybody I know.”

Visit the Kage Baker website.

Introduction by Kathleen Bartholomew
Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon), directed by Georges Méliès”
Voyage à Travers L’Impossible (Impossible Voyage), directed by Georges Méliès”
Frankenstein, directed by J. Searle Dawley”
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, directed by Lucius Henderson (1912) and John S. Robertson (1920)”
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, directed by Stuart Paton”
The Golem: How He Came Into the World, directed by Paul Wegener and Carl Boese”
The Master Mystery, directed by Burton King and Harry Grossman”
The Man From Beyond, directed by Burton King”
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, directed by Robert Wiene”
The Mechanical Man (L’Uomo Meccanico), directed by André Deed”
Aelita: Queen of Mars, directed by Yakov Protazanov”
Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang”
The Lost World, directed by Harry O. Hoyt”
The ? Motorist, directed by Walter R. Booth”
Frau im Mond (Woman on the Moon), directed by Fritz Lang”
Modern Times, directed by Charlie Chaplin”
L’Atlantide (The Queen of Atlantia), directed by Jacques Feyder”
Orlacs Hände (The Hands of Orlac), directed by Robert Wiene”
Siegfried and Kriemhild’s Revenge, directed by Fritz Lang”
Naxan (Witchcraft Through the Ages), directed Benjamin Christensen”
The Adventures of Prince Achmed, directed by Lotte Reiniger”
Nosferatu, directed by F. W. Murnau”
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, directed by Otis Turner”
The Patchwork Girl of Oz, directed by J. Farrell MacDonald”
The Magic Cloak of Oz, directed by J. Farrell MacDonald”
His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz, directed by J. Farrell MacDonald”
The Wizard of Oz, directed by Larry Semon”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Charles Kent”
The Tempest, directed by Percy Snow”
Gertie the Dinosaurus, directed by Winsor McCay”
The Thief of Bagdad, directed by Raoul Walsh”
Faust, directed by F. W. Murnau”
Der műde Tod (Destiny), directed by Fritz Lang”
The Belle, directed by James Young”
Paris Qui Dort (The Crazy Ray), directed by René Clair”
Tarzan of the Apes, directed by Scott Sidney”
The Son of Tarzan, directed by Arthur J. Flaven and Harry Revier”
The Adventures of Tarzan, directed by Robert F. Hill and Scott Sidney”
Tarzan the Tiger, directed by Henry MacRae”
The Fall of the House of Usher, directed by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber”
La Chute de la Maison Usher, directed by Jean Epstein”
Waxworks, directed by Paul Leni”
“The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Rupert Julian”
The Haunted Castle (Schloss Vogeloed), directed by F. W. Murnau”
Wolf Blood, directed by George Chesebro”
The Pet, directed by Winsor McCay”
The Flying House, directed by Winsor McCay”
Scrooge; or Marley’s Ghost, directed by Walter R. Booth”
A Christmas Carol, directed by J. Searle Dawley”
A Christmas Past (collection), various directors”

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