The Moon in Science Fiction

Yes, I know I’m a little late, but better late than never. Landing on the moon in real life as opposed to science fiction was a massive step. It made so many people’s dreams come true and so many of us want to be in space and on the moon, I know I’m not alone in that dream. My grandmother wanted to be the oldest person in space and if she’d been born in a different era she would definitely have pulled out all stops to make it happen.

If you look at literature you’ll see so many instances of flights to the moon beginning with Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon written in 1865 and H. G. Well’s The First Men in the Moon written in 1901. Isaac Asimov set many of his stories on the moon as did Arthur C. Clarke. I could give you a long list of English speaking authors who have written books set on the moon including Robert A. Heinlein and Larry Niven, but I won’t as that will look like I’m just trying to have lots of tags to bring more readers. I’m going to take a little look at French Science Fiction.

Pre-dating English speaking writers by quite some decades, Cyrano de Bergerac wrote The Other World: The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon in 1657 and The Comical History of the States and the Empires of the Sun unfortunately he failed to complete this last one before his death in 1655 which describe fictional journeys to the Moon and Sun. I pinched this little bit of information from Wikipedia which quite fails to examine how he could have written a book two years after he died. The answer is given here along with the French names of the books. Voyage dans le Lune (1657) and L’histoire des états et Empires du Soleil (1662) both being published posthumously. I don’t know why so many of the best books had to wait until after the author’s death to be published, but I’m sure there’s a good reason…or not.

Here I’m going to swipe bits from Wikipedia again and you can see the whole post here. Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle wrote Entretien sur la Pluralité des Mondes or the English title Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds in 1686 with a philospher musing on the possibility of there being extraterrestrial life, although not necessarily discussing the idea of humans being on the moon it is still a fairly early discussion of extraterrestrial life and you can find it on Google Books. Voltaire’s short stories written in Micromégas and Plato’s Dream are particularly prophetic of the future directions science fiction would take. Somehow I’m getting away from humans being on the moon and edging towards extraterrestrials.

So, having lost the idea of humans being on the moon I’ll just take this entire bit from Wikipedia. Also worthy of note are Simon Tyssot de Patot’s Voyages et Aventures de Jacques Massé (1710), which features a Lost World, La Vie, Les Aventures et Le Voyage de Groenland du Révérend Père Cordelier Pierre de Mésange (1720), which features a Hollow Earth, Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s L’An 2440 (1771), which depicts a future France, and Nicolas-Edmé Restif de la Bretonne’s La Découverte Australe par un Homme Volant (1781) notorious for his prophetic inventions.

I think the lesson there is that French authors were looking at life on other planets long before English authors. They were creating science fiction many decades before English speaking authors. Speaking as an English speaker (what a dreadful phrase, I’m sure there is a better phrase for that) I have always felt that English authors were the best and that no other country could have written science fiction first so this brief foray into walking on the Moon has taken me places I never felt possible. It’s been a real eye-opener for me and it feels very appropriate that I started writing about walking on the Moon slightly later than anyone else as I’m sure so many other people knew the French were leaders in the Science Fiction field long before me. I think I’m going to stop there as I’m about to start rambling, I can just feel a ramble about nothing coming on.

Edit: Forgot to remind everyone there’s only a few more days of this competition left. You have to comment to be in it.