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Camille Flammarion; Brian Stableford, ed.; Brian Stableford, trans.

Early Classics of Science Fiction

2002 • 200 pp. 6 x 9"
Science Fiction / Fiction Classics / Literary Criticism - French

$17.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6568-6

Trans. from the French

“Bolstered by Stableford's able introduction, voluminous notes and a comprehensive bibliography, this short novel survives the first two didactic and repetitive conversations to burst pyrotechnically into the sheerest poetry when Lumen describes the indescribable: sentient entities on unheard-of worlds linked by psychic bonds that draw souls into successive reincarnations across the abyss of intergalactic space and time.”—Publishers Weekly

One of the first science fiction novels to describe alien life forms.

Lumen was first published by Camille Flammarion (1842-1925) in 1872 as part of the Stories of Infinity collection. Flammarion was a well-known French astronomer, writer and highly successful popularizer of science during the late 19th century.

This famous novel, written in the form of a philosophical dialogue, features a cosmic spirit named Lumen who reveals the scientific wonders of the celestial universe to Quaerens, a young seeker of knowledge. Within its pages, the author mixes empirical observations about the nature and speed of light with vivid speculations about such diverse subjects as reincarnation, time travel, the reversibility of history and the ecospheres of alien planets.
Lumen is one of the first science fiction novels to include detailed descriptions of alien life forms and the first to imagine (30 years before Einstein's theory of relativity) the differences in perception that might result from traveling at velocities close to and beyond the speed of light.

This Wesleyan edition is the first English translation of the original French text in over a hundred years. The volume includes notes, appendices and a critical introduction.

Reviews / Endorsements:

“Stableford’s nicely introduced and annotated translation of Lumen recalls attention to Flammarion’s important role in the history of science fiction. This is a key text that should be read by all who want to understand how intersections of science and fiction came to prominence in literature from the 19th century onwards.”—Paul Alkon, Leo S. Bing Professor of English, University of Southern California

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 14:14:43 -0500