Origins of Futuristic Fiction

Paul K. Alkon


“Alkon’s book provides a great service to all literary historians of this genre. As such, it is sure to stimulate a host of additional studies (typological and others) of these almost-forgotten ‘futures of the past.’”
Science Fiction Studies

“Alkon’s book will be, of course, essential reading for scholars of science fiction and of utopian literature. But it should also be of interest to more general literary scholars for the original, detailed, and historical shape it gives to basic arguments about the priority of genre.”
Modern Philology

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Paul K. Alkon’s Origins of Futuristic Fiction examines the earliest works of prose fiction set in future time, the forgotten writings of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries that are the precursors of well-known masterpieces of the form by H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell. The first secular story to break the imaginative barrier against tales of the future, French writer Jacques Guttin’s Epigone (1659) marked the emergence of a form unknown to classical, medieval, or renaissance literature. Alkon examines writers who followed such as Samuel Madden, Louis-Sébastien Mercier, Cousin de Grainville, Mary Shelley, Emile Souvestre, and Félix Bodin who wrote books with such titles as Memoirs of the Twentieth Century, The Year 2440, The Last Man, The World As It Will Be, and Le Roman de l’avenir, “the novel of the future.”

Page count: 356 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $30.95

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Paul K. Alkon is Leo S. Bing Professor Emeritus of English and American Literature, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He is the author of five books including Defoe and Fictional Time (Georgia), Science Fiction before 1900, and Winston Churchill’s Imagination.