antedating mundane / OED SF database (UNCLASSIFIED)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jun 5 04:02:56 UTC 2012

A couple years ago I came across a precursor to the term "mundanes" as
used in the science fiction community in phrases such as "freaking the
mundanes". The precursor is in a SF story published in 1871. Within
the story the "Lunars" and "Mundanes" are contrasted. The "Mundanes"
are conventional earth-dwelling humans, and the "Lunars" are
technologically advanced beings with "flying machines". The story
actually seems to be a commentary about the economic relationship
between Britain and India in SF garb.

Cite: 1871 January, Fraser's Magazine, The Indian Deficit, Start Page
14, Quote Page 14, Longman's, Green, and Co. London. (Google Books
full view)

[Begin excerpt]
IN 1900 A.D. the English nation was surprised by the arrival of
certain Lunars in flying machines of inconceivable complexity. These
Lunars were of heroic stature and strength, and possessed of arts and
secrets of nature beyond the comprehension of the Mundanes. At first
these Lunars applied themselves to trade, and were received with open
arms by the Mundanes, for they brought machines and manufactures far
superior to all that had ever been seen on the earth.
[End excerpt]

Moving further back in time, in 1845 a viewer of the Aurora Borealis
fantasized about a "spectral railway". He contrasted the "celestials"
who built the imagined railway in space with the "mundanes" on Earth.

Cite: 1845 December 20, Mechanics' Magazine: Museum, Register,
Journal, and Gazette, "Interesting Phenomenon Connected With The
Aurora Borealis - A Spectre Railway", [Letter dated December 13, 1845
from J. Loose], Pages 429-430, Mechanics' Magazine Office, London.
(Google Books full view)

[Begin excerpt]
The present era being so very rife in railway  projects, the mind
immediately became strongly associated with the significant terms
broad guage, narrow guage, scrip, atmospheric principle, &c,. and I
could not help fancying that I saw a phantom railway in the
atmosphere, a project of "Old Atmos, and Co.,"

The breadth of our spectral railway varied from about 2 to 4 degrees,
showing that the advantages of broad guage, or narrow guage, is a
question mooted by the celestials, as it is by the mundanes.
[End excerpt]


On Mon, Jun 4, 2012 at 6:29 PM, Jeff Prucher <jprucher at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jeff Prucher <jprucher at YAHOO.COM>
> Subject:      Re: antedating mundane / OED SF database (UNCLASSIFIED)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Nice. Brave New Words has this from the 1944 Fancyclopedia.=A0=0A=0AJeff=0A=
> =0A=0A=0A=0A>________________________________=0A> From: "Mullins, Bill AMRD=
> EC" <Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL>=0A>To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU =0A>Sent: Mond=
> ay, June 4, 2012 10:33 AM=0A>Subject: antedating mundane / OED SF database =
> (UNCLASSIFIED)=0A> =0A>---------------------- Information from the mail hea=
> der -----------------------=0A>Sender:=A0 =A0 =A0  American Dialect Society=
>  <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>=0A>Poster:=A0 =A0 =A0  "Mullins, Bill AMRDEC" <Bi=
> ll.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL>=0A>Subject:=A0 =A0 =A0 antedating mundane / OED SF =
> database (UNCLASSIFIED)=0A>------------------------------------------------=
> -------------------------------=0A>=0A>Classification: UNCLASSIFIED=0A>Cave=
> ats: NONE=0A>=0A>Mundane: "Belonging or relating to the world which lies ou=
> tside the=0A>sphere of interest of a particular group of enthusiasts (used =
> esp. among=0A>science fiction fans, originally of mainstream fiction)."=0A>=
> =0A>OED SF Database has 1955=0A>=0A>OED has 1955 (different citation)=0A>=
> =0A>=0A>_The Acolyte_ V III no 3, whole number #11 Summer 1945 p 3=0A>=0A>"=
> The prophetic, philosophic, and Utopian nature of much science-fiction=0A>m=
> akes acceptable a considerably larger proportion of what might be=0A>termed=
>  non-entertainment purposes than would be palatable in mundane=0A>fiction."=
> =0A>>=0A>=0A>Classifi=
> cation: UNCLASSIFIED=0A>Caveats: NONE=0A>=0A>------------------------------=
> ------------------------------=0A>The American Dialect Society - http://www=
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list