In 1898, a novel was published that gave us the first example of the ray gun, of the flying car, and consisted of an adventure on Mars that would presage much of the pulp science fiction to come. The book was called Edison's Conquest of Mars, and starred none other than Thomas Edison, rocketing to the red planet with his buddy Lord Kelvin to kill the aliens from H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds. It sounds like a joke, or something Philip José Farmer would come up with in his more delerious moments, but it was a real book "authorized" by Edison himself as a sort of promotional tool— Thomas Edison as product placement. The man was clearly ahead of his time.

For a run down of the book's contents, we turn to Zapato Producations Intradimensional's hilarious blow-by-blow. Apparently the book was not a great work of literature, nor was it ever particularly popular. But as a novelty, you can't beat Thomas Edison and Lord Kelvin rescuing Aryan ur-babes and committing genocide on evil Martians.

Full text online or buy the book.