Early Texts that Could be the First Sci-Fi Novels

by Rachel Baker on November 8, 2013

Here’s an interesting look at early texts and the possibility that they could be the first and earliest science fiction novels ever written.

Interstellar warfare, travel to distant planets and alien reproduction: all familiar elements of modern science fiction. But all of them also appear in a little-known text written in Ancient Greek, in the second century AD.

In a talk at last week’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas, senior lecturer Dr Justin Meggitt claimed that the first ever work of science fiction was in fact written by a Greek-speaking Syrian author, in Ancient Rome.

True History by Lucian of Samosata is ostensibly a parody of Ancient Roman travel writing. But with characters venturing to distant realms including the moon, the sun, and strange planets and islands, it has a surprising amount in common with modern sci-fi novels and films.

But some question whether it is really the first ever example of the genre. Last year, Margaret Atwood published a book of essays exploring her own theories on the origins of sci-fi, citing Plato’s Republic and even the Book of Revelation as possible contenders for the title.


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