Sunday, 11 June 2006

Jules Verne: Father of Science Fiction?

Does Jules Verne deserve the title of "Father of Science Fiction"? John Derbyshire tackles this question in his essay, published in The New Atlantis:
Though a gifted storyteller, certainly in his early years, Verne had not sufficient powers of imagination, or scientific understanding, to rise to true science fiction. Here the contrast with his much younger (by 39 years) competitor for the “father of science fiction” title, H. G. Wells, is most striking. The concept of a fourth dimension, for example, first took mathematical form in the 1840s. By 1870 it was, according to the mathematician Felix Klein, part of “the general property of the advancing young generation [of mathematicians].” Wells grasped the imaginative power of this notion and used it to produce one of the greatest of all science fiction stories, The Time Machine (1895). Verne never used it at all, and would probably have found the notion of a fourth dimension absurd


  1. To each his own. You could argue that both of them showed distinct versions of scientific use. Verne prefers science gone right strengthening the industrial revolution, and Wells showcased things that effed up in the name of science and cause havoc to a typical British mind. Whom you chose might be indicative of your perpectice on life.

    Ask me who the daddy is, I'd call Asimov. Coz in the end, it was his take on sci-fi that determined how other authors write their story.

    The final argument could be that 'science fiction' as a term is really badly overgenerallized.

  2. Yes, Verne wanted to show how science could benefit man, while Wells wanted to warn the dangers it could bring.

    But personally, I would hesitate in calling Asimov "The Daddy". He plays a big role in influencing the sci-fi scene certainly, especially with robot fiction, but I think the title should go to either Wells or Verne.

    But you're right, sci-fi as a term is too generalised.

  3. Albert Robida is often overlooked, yet more than most science fiction writers, many of his technologies are part of our modern world eg flat screen TVs, iPod.


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