By Paul K. Alkon
Paul Alkon analyzes a number of key works that mark the main major levels within the early evolution of technology fiction, together with Frankenstein, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the ocean, A Connecticut Yankee in King arthur's Court and The Time Machine. He locations the paintings in context and discusses the style and its relation to different kinds of literature.
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Extra info for Science Fiction Before 1900: Imagination Discovers Technology
Had he lived three centuries earlier there would have been no precedents to encourage anything like such a work, nor any audience disposed to read it. Before 1659, when Jacques Guttin published Epigone, histoire du siecle futur (Epigone, a story of the future century), there were no secular narratives set in future time. Writers from antiquity to the Renaissance never tried future settings. If they ever considered the possibility, it did not interest them . But after Epigone broke the taboo there followed in the eighteenth century a significant number of similar efforts, starting in 1733 with Samuel Madden's Memoirs of the Twentieth Century.
So did the mind. Science fiction is too often associated only with voyages outward to the moon and beyond. Its attention to the inner spaces of human psychology is equally significant but has been less often remarked except in connection with trends of French science fiction after World War II and as a prominent concern of Anglophone writers from the 1960s New Wave for- 25 SCIENCEFICTION BEFORE 1900 ward, especially in the fiction of Philip K. Dick, in such tours-deforce as Frederik Pohl's Gateway (1977), and in variations on the mental landscapes of William Gibson's cyberspace.
During the century before Frankenstein, English writers vigorously sought fresh temporal, spatial, and psychological vantage points from which to contemplate the human condition. Of course their efforts had precedents. Historians of science fiction usually single out among imaginary voyages, for example, a long 22 ENGLAND: NEW VIEWPOINTS tradition of planetary travel inaugurated in the second century by satirical episodes on the moon included in Lucian of Sarnosata's True History and Icaro-Menippus.
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