The Sun and the Moon

My doctoral dissertation was partially on the subject of the Great Moon Hoax of 1835. I never finished writing the dissertation, but I did spend a LOT of time researching the moon hoax, and I always thought that it would make a great subject for a general-interest book -- using the moon hoax as a window on New York City and America in 1835.

Turns out I waited too long. Someone beat me to it. Matthew Goodman has recently come out with The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York (published by Basic Books). From the book description:

Told in richly novelistic detail, The Sun and the Moon brings the raucous world of 1830s New York City vividly to life—the noise, the excitement, the sense that almost anything was possible. The book overflows with larger-than-life characters, including Richard Adams Locke, author of the moon series (who never intended it to be a hoax at all); a fledgling showman named P.T. Barnum, who had just brought his own hoax to New York; and the young writer Edgar Allan Poe, who was convinced that the moon series was a plagiarism of his own work.
An exhilarating narrative history of a city on the cusp of greatness and a nation newly united by affordable newspapers, The Sun and the Moon may just be the strangest true story you’ve ever read.

So now I'll have to go to Plan B: the moon hoax of 1835 as the setting for a science fiction novel. One of these days I might get around to that.

History Science

Posted on Thu Nov 06, 2008


I like the science fiction idea, you could take it even further as an alternate history novel where it wasn't a hoax, but in fact everything in the article was true...
Posted by obi1kenobi1  in  Chicago  on  Thu Nov 06, 2008  at  11:56 AM
obi1kenobi1 -- Good idea!
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Nov 06, 2008  at  01:17 PM
Don't forget Poe's Hans Pfaall
Imagine using the perfected technology of his balloon to set up regular traffic between Earth and the Moon.
Maybe even a "War of the Worlds" type invasion? (Earth invades Luna?)
Posted by Captain DaFt  on  Thu Nov 06, 2008  at  04:00 PM
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