We’ve thanked Wilbur L. Fugate for the donation of his collection of first and limited editions of Kiplng’s works.
Now we want to look more specifically at a work for which Kipling is not well known, With the Night Mail, Kipling’s only work of science fiction. Kipling was known for his stories about the army, ballads and poems, and “boys’ stories” with a remarkable view of Indian life, so a work of science fiction seems unusual.
With the Night Mail was published in book form by Doubleday, Page & Co. in 1909, after having been first published in the United States in the November 1905 issue of McClure’s Magazine, and in the United Kingdom in the December 1905 issue of The Windsor Magazine. The story was also collected in various anthologies over the years.
The story is set in the year 2000 and concerns a dirigible night flight from London, at a time when the world is controlled by the Aerial Board of Control.
The narrator of the story is on board a mail plane, Postal Packet 162, which is traveling from London to Quebec, and the journey is reported in great detail from the expertise of the crew, the details of their methods of radio communication, and the traffic beacons used from lift off to their safe docking ahead of schedule. The story is accompanied with beautiful illustrations by Frank Leyendecker and H. Reuterdahl, as well as an appendix including fictitious ads, notes, and correspondence.
Thanks to Mr. Fugate for including this work in his collection!