The Steam Man of the Prairies by Edward S. Ellis was the first U.S. science fictiondime novel and archetype of the Frank Reade series. It is one of the earliest examples of the so-called "Edisonade" genre. Ellis was a prolific 19th century author best known as a historian and biographer and a source of early heroic frontier tales in the style of James Fenimore Cooper. This novel may be inspired by the steam powered invention of Zadoc Dederick. The original novel was reissued six times from 1868 to 1904. A copy of the first 1868 printing with its cover intact is owned by the Rosenbach Museum and Library, Philadelphia.
The first novel starts with Ethan Hopkins and Mickey McSquizzle-a "Yankee" and an "Irishman"-encounter a colossal, steam-powered man in the American prairies. This steam-man was constructed by Johnny Brainerd, a teenaged boy, who uses the steam-man to carry him in a carriage on various adventures.
^Everett Franklin Bleiler, Richard Bleiler. Science-fiction, the Early Years: A Full Description of More Than 3,000 Science-fiction Stories from Earliest Times to the Appearance of the Genre Magazines in 1930 : with Author, Title, and Motif Indexes. Kent State University Press. 1990. P. 220.