Aliens, robots, outer space life and superpowers have been in human imagination and fantasies since long time ago. From Jules Verne to Stan Lee’s amazing Marvel Universe and George Lucas’ Star Wars, humans have been anticipating how the future would be. Different points of views have been point out like a dystopian future, others use this genre to manifest their political views, and recently genetics have been establish in the plot. As someone told me once, science fiction can be a total non fiction tomorrow. Time, as always have been, will tell.

A True Story by Luciano de Samosata (2nd century)

Probably the first science fiction book in the whole history of literature, by Luciano de Samosata, someone who lived in the second century.

At this time, in Samosata (today Turkey), a city of the Roman Empire, this man wrote about an island whose rivers were made of wine and the trees were shaped like women. He later flew to the moon where the narrator and his traveling companions meet alien inhabitants facing a galactic war with the people of the sun for the conquest of the morning star.

Even at this time the space was in the imagination of several fellows. And so it goes.

The story is a satire of the time. It is like a mockery to the reader when, in the abrupt end, he affirms that the story is not true at all, which contrasts with the irony of the title.

THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

 

 

 

Utopia by Thomas More (1516)

More here describes his political ideals in a far away crescent moon shaped island call Utopia. Many compares this ideals with socialism.

It has two books. The first is a discussion with a traveller named Raphael where he critiques the actual politics of the time, including the monarchy in France. The second book Raphael leads the narrator to a place called Utopia located in the New World. The society here is very different from Paris even the religion. There are moon worshippers, sun worshippers and planet worshippers. The narrator even describes a utopian alphabet.

Although there are not aliens,robots or travels to outer space, the fact of an imaginary society in the new world (not well known at the time) really make it a pro science fiction literature.

THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

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The Blazing World and Other Writings by Margaret Cavendish (1666)

If someone says that Mary Shelley is the first female sci fi writer , sure have not look earlier in history.

Cavendish emphasize her feminist and political views in a story full of androgynous animals living in an imaginary place in the north pole. The author narrates the kidnap of a young lady near the sea by a group of men. While in shipwreck there’s a tornado that flow all of them to a fantastic place in the north pole. Everyone freeze to death except the young kidnapped lady.  Enough said that the light of her beauty saved her from being frozen to death. Later the creatures appears and the story begins. In a conversation between the lady and the anthropogenic characters they describe how islife in their society and how they can live in harmony together, despite their obvious differences. Later, transformed as an empress, she travels back to her home in Earth to conquer and establish these ideologies for the purpose of improving her actual home.

For her time, she was definitive a Wonder Woman or a Captain Marvel, whether you are into DCor Marvel.

THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

 

 

 

Micromegas by Voltaire (1752)


The author of Candide has create an extraordinary World in the galactic ambient. Micromegas is not the most know masterpiece of Voltaire but for sure is a satirical sci fi reading.

Micromegas (meaning literally largesmall) lives in a planet that orbits the star Sirius. Banned from his home accused of herressy, this gigantic character travels through the universe ending in Saturn. In our solar system he befriends a saturninan “little fellow”. There they discuss the differences of their respective societies. He and his new friend decides to visit planet Earth. They found that creatures “here” (in our planet) are ridiculous microscopic and assumed have no intelligence at all. But with a small straw shape device they listen and discover that we (humans) have a language and a sense of intelligence. The fellows maintain a conversation through the little tube and when Our visitors are ready to say goodbye the cute little humans reveals to them that the universe was meant to be for them, and only them. When Micromegas and the saturninan learns this, they burst into a laugh, and just say goodbye in a peaceful way, letting them believe whatever they want.

Very interesting idea of the insignificance of humanity compared to the vast infinity of the universe where we belong. Specially in the 18th century. And for me that’s the beauty of this book.

THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

Probably the most famous story of the classical sci fi literature, Shelly has been immortalized with her terrific imagination.

Victor Frankenstein who was the creator of ‘the creature” is a scientist who from the grieve of his mother death and a little ambition decides to develop a living creature.

The story as everybody knows goes very wrong. The scientist runs away in fear of his own creation resulting in the loneliness and anger of the creature.

The work had been immortalized in numerous theater productions, operas, many films like 1994 Mary Shelly’s Frankestein starring Robert De Niro and ultimately many series as early as 2015 with The Frankenstein Chronicles

THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

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The Gremlins by Roald Dahl (1943)

Despite very loosely inspired to make Steven Spielberg’s  filmThe Gremlins in 1984, the story is nothing about nor related.

The author ofCharlie and the Chocolate Factory,  James and the Giant Peach and BGFtells the story of Gus, an aviator of the Royal air force in WWII, who’s plane have damaged in the middle of flight. While checking the engine he discovers that mischievous creatures called Gremlins were sabotaging the plane. The reason for the sabotage: the destruction of their home in the forest. Later the aviator convince the Gremlings to fight the Nazi, identify as a common enemy. Becoming friends Gus learns about the creatures, finifellas are the female gremlins and the babies are call widgets. Together they joined forces to fight while the gremlins learn about the aircraft mechanics and fix the airplane they destroyed, ultimately changing the WWII history in a children book.

At the time it was a story that many considered a lesson of working in team for the benefit of mankind. Obviously the circumstances at the time were a great influence and the fact that Dhal served in the british air force during the time making it sort of autobiographical.

Eventually Disney was going to make a film about the story but at the end sadly never happens.

THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

 

The Children of Men by PD James (1992)

Dystopian futures began to emerge since the 20th century, maybe a sign of humanity losing faith on its own kind?  However one of the metaphoric theme here is hope.

In the year 2021 (2 1/2) years from the present) the world is confronting a serious case of infertility due to low sperm count in men. England is one of the few countries who has a government on a totalitarian way. Angola is the other country. Society is divided in a extreme way since the drop of population began in 1994. At the time named Omega and the last generation borned called “the omegas”. This are the young adults with spoiled privileges whose lives are violent and unstable. People on their 60s are seniors who are no longer wanted by society at the extreme to encourage them in mass suicide events called “quitus”.

Theo is the protagonist who was involved with the high politics once. Later found by a woman named Julian who is the leader of a group that repels the actual government. The reason for the encounter: Julian is pregnant. They want to protect the baby since this is going to change the whole political system in the whole world.

On 2006 a film was made by the same name based on Jame’s novel. With many differences including the baby’s gender, Julian’s character and the metaphorical ending. Despite the popularity of the book, this is one of the rare cases in which the film have more positive ratings than the novel. Clive Owen and Julianne Moore definitive  hit the characters in the Alfonso Cuaron’s film.

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The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (2003)

Chrono-Impairment: a rare genetic disorder in which the patient is prone to suddenly travel through time. This fictional condition is said to be trigger by stressful situations and the patient subconscious.

This is the condition that Henry De Tamble, the protagonist, suffers. As a  romantic sci fi novel, this story is about relationships. The story opens when Claire, Henry’s wife, meets Henry in a library. Claire is happy to see him but Henry doesn’t know who she is. Of course, he is in his Chrono-Impairment disorder dilemma. The story goes on detailing the problems that is loving someone with this disorder and have not being able to control it. Eventually, after many miscarriages, presuming the passing genes of the disorder, Claire is able to have a child. The baby is a girl named Alba, who was born with the disorder but is more able to control it. The character of Alba is the result of a possible sequel of this book.

Reviews are considerable high but many said that is boring. Others find the back and forth of time traveling confusing.

Niffenegger in some interviews says that this novel is inspired in many failed relationships, interpreting the cause of failure the absence of one of the parts in the relationship and the lack of communication.

In 2009 the novel was made into a filmwith the same title starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, which like The Children of Men had better reviews than the book.

THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

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Semiosis: a novel by Sue Burke (2018)

This story takes place in a planet where plants are sentient, intelligent and the dominant species.

Is 2060 a group of people voluntarily organize a group to travel in a space ship to preserve humanity out of Earth in a colonist expedition. At this time humanity in Earth is struggling with severe environmental contamination and war. The group is awakened 158 years later in a planet that orbits the star HIP30815f . Since the humans want to reset their specie somewhere else in the best peaceful way possible, they name the panet Pax, an ancient Latin word meaning peace. There they discover a ecosystem rich in flora and fauna life, probably more than in planet Earth. Deciding to stay there they begin to learn that not everything is as good as it seems. Gravity is stronger in Pax than in Earth, leading to the destruction of some human equipment as well as injuries. Some humans began to get ill and some others, not resistant to their new habitat, began to die. Human colonists came prepare with an extra bank of sperms and ovas to prevent inbreeding, succeeding in several generations.

The story develops narrating  the struggles of humans in their new home. Later discovering the intelligence of plants there and learning that even war is a common thing between them and worst…war can include the humans too.

During several generations humans develop a very strange relationship with this beings, eventually learning how to communicate with them. The story goes far beyond to a sequel named Interference.

Burk’s inspiration of the book is even more interesant when in an essayshe describes how she learned about the coexistence of plants in real life. It is a war for real! She tells about the different mechanisms many plants has to survive by attacking other plants and even ourselves and other animals.

The book, as interesting as it is, has many top reviews but many claim that there are scientific fictional explanation of the plants’ life in Pax that can be overwhelming and boring. Overall, is a very imaginative way of sci fi which instead of aliens and robots the actual menace are PLANTS.

THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

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  1. This really awesome to read about the very vest of the sci-fi literatures in history. Wow! These are great books and I have been opportuned to read only utopia by Thomas more from the list. It was really interesting and seeing all these great books. I am getting really excited towards the prospect of reading more of these books on the list. Thanks so much for this pist

    • Thanks to you for your comment. As someone stated in this forum Utopia is not always considered sci fi but more political criticism in More’s time. But as stated in the post the sci fi part is more about this very diffetent society that lives in a part of the world where there was little knowledge about it. Is like The Blazing World where the protagonist was flown to the north pole meeting androgynous animals. Cavendish didn’t had to travel out of Earth. Just the north pole was not known well at the time. Oh…and the little talking animals, which I found so cute.

      if you have read a book which you want to share, please be free to comment in this site. It would be a great contribution.

      Thabks and take care!

  2. Wow, books from a very long time ago. This runs through the history and I like how you have given the details of all this books. I could’ve made a bet that SciFi started in this century. Well, it really do go hundreds of years ago and I think the idea of imagination has been with human for so many years ago now. I think I should read some of this books and learn how SciFi was perceived in the past. They can’t be as good as those we have now though. Lol. We’ve got wilder imaginations.

    • I totally agree! It seems that humans have always been imaginative. Maybe the fact that there had always been a sun, moon and stars is the greatest way to escape the imagination out of this world.

      Thanks again for your comment!

  3. Thank you for this great post, you have really open a very big chapter into the world of literature with this your post, I think my favorite book in this list is A True Story by Luciano de Samosata .it just funny how the reader later deny abruptly that the story isn’t real which is very contradictory to the title. 

    • Hi! Thank for commenting. 

      Samosat was a satirist so he live to make fun. Using a galactic journey with galactic fights was great idea specially for his time. I really wonder how he wad not crucified for herressy orvwhatever was believed back then. LOL.

      Thank you very much for your opinion which us very valuable.

      Have a nice day!

  4. What a great article! I had no idea how far back science fiction reached. To think a book written in the second century would have battles between aliens in outer space. Cool! The reviews for each of the books you covered make me want to learn more about them. Of course, I would prefer an island where the rivers were made of Diet Dr. Pepper and the trees were shaped like men. 😀

    • Thanks for the comment. It is great a wine  river as well as a chocolate sea. LOL.  For me from the list posted Samosata’s True Story is the most unbelievable due to the time published. I mean wow… in the Roman Empire writing Star Wars like stuff? Holly Cow!

      The idea of the post was to show how sci fi genre  evolved through time and True Story lead me thinking that we haven’t evolve that much or the author was waaay ahead of his time, (or maybe just drank too much wine when working on the book). After all, he was not that mistaken in the fact that we have visited the moon (wherever is a hoax) but at least now we know that nobody can live in the sun.

       Thanks a lot for your comment and have a good day.

  5. Hi Michelle

    Since time in memoriam we have been interested in telling stories from our imagination, in order to  entertain other people and ourselves. I  am surprised by how far sci-fi goes back and I would never guess at the 2nd century, as natural inclination would be much later. I  say you have chosen some classic books here and surprised that you have included Utopia, a classic  book that I would never class as sci-fi.  It would  be interesting to find out why you think it is sci-fi and not other genres.

    It must have been a difficult task to narrow it down to these few. My question is why these books and not others?

    Thank you

    Antonio

    • Thanks for your comment. I was surprised too when I first new about Luciano De Samosata’s satire book. The fact that at the Roman Empire times someone imagine a galactic fight is something unbelievable. 

      About More’s Utopia the science fiction is the imaginary place. Utopia is in the new world and at the time little was known about it.  That is more the reason for consider it more like a pro sci fi. It happen to me with the  Handmaid’s Tale. It is considered sci fi because it is set in a near future, but I personally don’t see the sci fi in it.

      Have a good day and if you have any contribution to the page be please to contact me.

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