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The Others - Sarah Merrett

Reuben lives in an observatory with his astronomer grandma who is determined to win the Guzman prize, based on a real historical French prize.


This prize was the sum of 100,000 francs, to be given toa person who succeeded in communicating with extraterrestrials. Mars was ruled out as being too close, and too easy because life definitely exists on Mars!

Grandma has a competitor, the evil professor Pinfield. Reuben isn’t allowed to leave the observatory but one day he sneaks out and discovers an alien whom he calls Blue. Professor Pinfield wants to capture Blue and put her in a cage.

Can Reuben save Blue? And who is Reuben and why did Grandma never allow him out of the observatory?


Find out more and order a copy via publisher, Everything With Words:


Read on for an exclusive guest blog piece from author, Sarah Merrett, as part of the blogtour for The Others:


The Guzman Prize


When I was researching extraterrestrials in Victorian times, I stumbled upon The Guzman Prize and became engrossed. It was a large part of my inspiration for The Others. The competition was announced in 1900 and offered a huge cash award to anyone who could communicate with life on another planet and receive a response back. But not Mars. That would have been way too easy, apparently, because everyone already knew about Martians. The prize was 100,000 French francs - around a million pounds in today’s money.

With such a prize on offer, and a guaranteed place in the history books, there were many attempts. But people had already been trying to contact alien life for years before this. In 1820 an idea was proposed to create giant mathematical images by planting trees that would be seen from the Moon. The idea evolved into using giant geometric trenches filled with kerosene which would be set alight for extra visibility.


Next came the idea of using light reflection with giant mirrors to reflect the sun’s light to the Moon and Mars. This was to be done in a way to create an obviously intentional message. Another idea was to put reflectors on the Eiffel Tower at sunset. Thoughts then moved on to using electric lamps – some 22,500 in one proposal – which would be reflected off curved mirrors. But these ideas never came to fruition due to the substantial funding they would have needed.


When the Guzman Prize was announced in 1900, it was Nikolas Tesla who seemed to come closest to winning. He attempted to claim the prize twice for radio communications he said he had received from Mars. While there was a great deal of interest in this, scientists didn’t take his claim very seriously.


In 1920, Guglielmo Marconi claimed he was receiving signals through telegraphy from other planets, but there was no clear evidence. Many years later in 1937, Tesla again claimed he should win the Guzman Prize for his discovery regarding the interstellar transmission of energy. He was again denied the prize. He spent the rest of his life working on a system to enable Earth to respond to the messages he said he was receiving.


You can read more about The Guzman Prize in the author’s note at the back of The Others, and find out what happened to all that prize money.

The Author :

Sarah Merrett has worked as a librarian and bookseller. She was a finalist for Undiscovered Voices, came second place in Wells Book for Children competition, and was shortlisted for Searchlight Best Novel Opening Award, and longlisted for Bath Children’s Novel, Mslexia Children’s novel and WriteMentor children’s novel awards.



My thanks to Mikka for a copy of the book and a spot on the blogtour, and to Sarah for the guest post.


@richreadalot July 2024

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