By Paul K. Alkon
Paul Alkon analyzes a number of key works that mark the main major stages within the early evolution of technological know-how fiction, together with Frankenstein, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the ocean, A Connecticut Yankee in King arthur's Court and The Time Machine. He areas the paintings in context and discusses the style and its relation to different kinds of literature.
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Extra resources for Science Fiction Before 1900: Imagination Discovers Technology
Why is it making its way toward the North Pole? These questions are only answered after Walton rescues an exhausted and dying Victor Frankenstein from an ice floe the next day and thereafter hears his story of why he is pursuing the 27 SCIENCE FICTION BEFORE 1900 monster. Walton's transcription of Frankenstein's autobiographical narration occupies most of Shelley's text, which ends with a resumption of the letters to Margaret Saville by way of conclusion as Walton describes Frankenstein's death followed by the monster's dramatic appearance on the ship to pronounce a selfjustifying soliloquy over his creator's corpse.
SCIENCE FICTION BEFORE 1900 To focus on content, usually with emphasis on how prominently science (or what looks likes science or was once taken for science) figures as a theme is to cast a very wide net that usually retrieves more bits and pieces than whole works and that lumps together very different specimens. The best of such definitions is Pierre Versins's concept of science fiction as the novelistic literature of rational conjecture. This notion allowed Versins to undertake a magnificent feat of book collection and bibliographical organization that led first to his indispensable Encqclopedie de l'Uiopie, des voyages exiraordinaires, et de la science fiction (Encyclopedia of utopias, extraordinary voyages, and science fiction), then to establishment in 1976 of the Maison d' Ailleurs (House of Elsewhere): a science fiction museum at Yverdon-lesBains, Switzerland, which now houses the original Versins collection of some twenty-five thousand volumes, adds to it, hosts conferences, and provides researchers with Europe's most extensive library of early science fiction and related literature.
This wonderfully Swiftian image of a giant hand turning humanity around to face its future epitomizes the change most important for science fiction. Not all of it, to be sure, is or need be set in the future. Neither Frankenstein, for example, nor Jules Verne's major novels are placed ahead in time. But without that possibility as a formal resource, and without an audience disposed to look ahead rather than to the past, science fiction could never have achieved anything like its full powers. The allegory of Animal Farm might have been the uttermost limit of even 20 A SHORT HISTORY OF THE FUTURE Orwell's genius if he had not been able to write Nineteen EightyFour.
Science Fiction Before 1900: Imagination Discovers Technology by Paul K. Alkon