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The Arms of the Gods

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The Arms of the Gods

by Ovidiu Bufnilă
Introductory note and translation by Cătălin Badea-Gheracostea

Ovidiu Bufnilă (b. 1957, mechanical engineer by education, journalist and writer by trade), though having published only three books in print over the three decades of his speculative fiction career, has nonetheless managed to capture the attention of Romanian fandom and specialized reviewers of SF as one of the most divisive, problematic and original authors writing in Romanian. Tending to a discourse reminiscent of the absurd, but also of a peculiar magical realism, Bufnilă’s texts, no matter their length, start with a heavy atmosphere and finish with a bang of ideas – precisely as his iconoclastic columns, blog entries and the literary as well as political comments he has produced over the years. Bufnilă established himself as a master of a renewed species of science fiction concetti and forged his reputation thanks to short stories published in Moartea purpurie (The Purple Death, 1995). Through his work, Bufnilă distils the world we know, including its literature and culture, down to a point where it can be explained by his so-called “waved philosophy”. There is an uncanny coherence in this author’s delirium, proven by the extraordinary impact some of his writings has had over the years. His story entitled “Armele zeilor” (2005), here translated as “The Arms of the Gods,” is the only narrative having received maximum marks (10 out of 10) at the first online SF workshop in Romania (, rated by dozens of readers. It was published in fanzines and magazines as well. A list of Bufnilă’s publications can be accessed here (in Romanian):


Over a millenium ago, in Katai Islands, thousands of women had for a long time been lusting for the Prince, and he was still begrudged by the Glass Barons who were casually conspiring against all empires, and he was still religiously taken heed of by Mount Assahor’s scholars there, where the Saviour’s face had been revealed for the first time.

Yet now, resting on a boulder, having fallen from the sky not far from the sea shore, the Prince is dying.


The air is heavy. The heavens loom like cast iron. Ever so slowly, a random light is passing, looking for a fit body, craving to be, at least for a moment, an antelope, or the smile of a woman, or the toll of the Balkoon’s Franciscan Bells.

Here comes a monk walking towards Katai Islands. He cares for nothing, he does not even give a glimpse to the Prince. The monk has the cheeks fully blushed, as he just stepped out of the depraved lovers’ boudoir; those should have been waiting untouched for the knights lost in the sunset. The monk has a belly full of Madella wine, a fine, dizzying, perfumed red.

“Be good to me, a sip of water!”, the Prince begs, crawling after the monk. The path’s dust is stirred by the ordained sandals and whitens the Prince’s beard, choking him.

The monk fades away in the glitter of a sick, mad sunbeam.

Here comes and goes a hurried armourer, taking an order to a valiant lancer; then some merry girls; then some astrologists; then some very, very noisy whores with awful makeup.  

The Prince is firmly holding his cane, getting a whiff, lusting for their impudent thighs, envisioning himself to be asleep on their lap, barely touched by the big, juicy areolas. 

Here comes a chronicler and hatefully kicks the Prince. Then comes a star digger from Copa, the City of Liars, and he also strikes him, full of spite. A trumpeter passes next and punches the Prince, laughing disdainfully.

The Prince is finding out ever so slowly that, beyond the programmes which he had input in the Network which was built by his subjects, some other instructions were coming forward, and these instructions, hey!, he never ever had them in his navigation registry. The Prince has been thinking all along that the worlds were built for ambitious navigators only, those able anytime to stand against the fury of the virtual whirls.

A tear rolls down his chin.

Where from were coming all those creatures, all so careless, all so evil, where from were coming these hideous constructions?

Walking around the rocks, here come five drunkards; they gloat while throwing organic structures at the seabirds. Those clip the shiny wings and drill deep into the birds’ bodies. The air fills with blood and time itself wavers, melting together past, present and future.

The Prince gets to reset his programmes.

The drunkards come closer. They are ready to trample him.  


Their bodies burst in multicoloured garlands, the sand is dampened with salty, mauve fluids. Somewhere, in the vortex of events hit by the Prince’s viruses, the monk falls on his knees. His tongue turns swollen. His skin is bristled.

The crowds of Katai scramble to the beach to acclaim their Prince. He embraces them all in his majestic glance.

The halberdiers clean the remnants of the programmes, they pour the gathered blood in some silver cups humming with electricity.

The Prince makes an august sign. Everybody, absolutely everybody is kneeling. The women are crying, wounding their breasts with their own nails. The scholars chafe themselves in corners, under the platinum and glass arcades of Caraba, the City of Desolation. The Prince rearranges the events in the Network and, full of wisdom, he kills all those led astray who wantonly worshipped the reign of the mob and the lack of principles, while hoping to find the Arms of the Gods in their own wandering.



Times are Burning by Adam Armstrong



Adam Armstrong

The light slowly burned off his feet. He knew he wasn’t supposed to look but he couldn’t help it. The fine line of frost was running up to envelop his head while he was being systematically broken down. He laid back and opened his mouth, taking the largest breath he could before his lungs froze. His heart stopped. The muscles in his neck froze. Then the frost froze his eyes. As his brain iced over, his last thought was of the laser burning up through his body.
He awoke in the delivery room trying not to scream. A small yelp jumped out of his mouth before he could stop it. Running his hands down his chest, he stopped by cupping his genitals to make sure he was still completely intact. Of course, he had been through this a few times and in the back of his mind he knew he would be fine. Still, the thought of being destroyed and shot across galaxies in what seemed like a heartbeat wasn’t the most reassuring feeling.
“Are you still with the living, Zachary?” Shelia Vortentsiez asked.
Zachary looked over at her. Her skin was glowing pink instead of its usual gold. Here and there a patch of frost still stuck to her naked body. She looked as though she was sweating profusely as most of the frost started to melt.
“I still have trouble getting used to it,” he said.
“To what? The galaxy jaunt?” she asked him as she slipped into a white jumpsuit that they had provided in the human unloading area. He took one last glimpse of her perfectly round breasts before they were swallowed by a material that looked and felt like cotton, but came from something he didn’t want to think about.
“You say it as if it was as simple as slipping through a pneumatic sidewalk.”
She shrugged her shoulders then began to twist the last few drops of moisture from her hair.
“The thought of having all of my atoms frozen, then broken apart and shipped across a few galaxies—not to mention shot through numerous wormholes into hyperspace past who knows what—on a laser beam tends to bother me a bit.”
“Why? Are you afraid that they won’t put you back together right again?” She nodded at his groin. “Did they forget to put an inch of it back or is it the frost?”
“Funny.” They both smiled. “Do you know that we are traveling so fast that we are piercing through space junk and if a ship happens to be in the path of the beam we’d punch a hole through it?”
“And the ship’s force field would seal it up. I’ve been through the basic training course. You should worry more about why we’re here and less about whether or not you still have a soul.” Shelia tossed a jumper at him. She crossed her arms beneath her breasts and made no indication of turning away while he got dressed. Her eyes, in an almost lazy fashion, drifted over his body until he covered up.
Zachary wasn’t crazy about being sent on this expedition with Sheila. Out of the entire universe it turned out that human life originated on two other planets, just two. One was a few thousand years behind earth and the other was millions of years ahead. Zachary felt more at home with the primitives from Gurist than the future people like Shelia from Tokernupkh. The Tokernupkhians were all slight empaths and had no conception of modesty. Tokernupkhians also had no ponderings over the human soul.
“Earth was riddled with multiple religions before we grew out of them. The only leftover belief is in something that powers the mind and body from some other point,” he told her.
“You’ve never even been to Earth,” she pointed out. “The only thing about you that resembles an Earthling is the fact you can speak most of the languages.”
“So Tokernupkh had no spiritual leanings in the dark ages?”
“How much did you read about me before you agreed to come on this mission?”
Agreed was a strong word. The Cthulhulians specifically asked for him to come when they heard that the humans were sending out an expedition team to talk of the impending crisis. And he hadn’t read much about Tokernupkh. He was too fascinated by Shelia Vortentsiez. At thirty-five she was a triple Ph.D. She stood just under six feet at one-hundred and thirty-eight pounds. Her body was something of a teenage boy’s fantasy and her mind put his to shame. Her hair was onyx, not black, but onyx and it reached past her knees. She spoke all thirty-nine languages of the Tokernupkh Empire and most of the languages of the Earth Empire. He didn’t pay much attention to the history of her planet when there were tons of footage of her playing grügernik, which was similar to volleyball. Like the ancient Romans they played in the nude, again no conception of modesty.
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Can Science Fiction be Conservative?

by Jim Clarke

O, weep for Adonais for he is dead! The great defender of the Western literary canon, Harold Bloom, recently passed away aged 89, after a lifetime of arguing the legitimacy of studying what he considered to be the greatest works of literary merit emanating from Western culture. Bloom was a formidable figure, ferociously learned, astonishingly well-read, and the author of some 40 books. His obituaries were perhaps coloured by this range and breadth of his knowledge even after his death, because they were tentatively scornful, much less critical than one might expect from the obituary of someone who spent a lifetime defending the concept of Western culture and a core canon therein.

Bloom’s core list would be unlikely to attract many supporters today, a mere quarter century after he created it. Indeed, he himself even disowned the appendices, often treated as an ultimate TBR list by many, because he felt they distracted from his actual intention of defining the characteristics of the Western literary tradition. Bloom’s list of worthies, the 26 writers The Western Canon focuses on, are almost all white, and mostly male. He can be regarded as an unashamed elitist, disregarding literary traditions of lowly or pulp origins, as SF might be considered.

Indeed, in the nearly 600 dense pages of 1994’s The Western Canon, there are precisely two references to science fiction in the main body of the text, both relating, somewhat bizarrely, to the estranging quality of Milton’s Paradise Lost. Bloom did not appear to consider a genre with such pulp origins sufficiently high-brow to enter his sacred canon. Well, that’s not quite true. What’s more true is that he recognised quality SF without necessarily recognising it as SF.

Hidden in those discarded appendices are a wide range of texts many would regard as science fictional. Perhaps we might dismiss book 18 of the Iliad, wherein Thetis visits Hephaestus’s forge and witnesses his golden servant-robots, as too much of a stretch to be thought of as classical era SF. We might similarly consider Leonardo’s notebooks to be ill-fitting.  But more plausibly, Thomas More’s Utopia is included. And what of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein? Or the tales of Edgar Allen Poe? In what he calls the Chaotic Age (what most of us call modernity), his list includes Calvino’s Invisible Cities, David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus, Kafka’s Amerika, and Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here, all often cited as SF texts by scholars.

The case is effectively closed when we encounter HG Wells, Capek’s RUR, and War with the Newts, Lem’s Solaris, Huxley’s Brave New World, Orwell’s 1984, Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness and Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker on Bloom’s extended list. The elitist Yale scholar’s apparent disregard for the genre of SF did not extend to excluding excellent SF texts from his canon. Similar applies to the more commonly identified sectors considered underregarded by canonical approaches to literature. Four of his 26 featured authors are women, and his extended canon includes African, Arabic, Yiddish and Caribbean authors. It could even be argued that, despite an predominance of pale, stale males, Bloom’s purview of what Western literature warrants preservation and attention is unexpectedly broad.

What we can be sure of is that Bloom was not engaged in tokenism. As many of his obituaries noted, he railed while alive against what he called the “school of resentment” that he saw coming to prominence in literature departments of universities. This school was defined by its predeliction for identity politics over other considerations, including aesthetics, which Bloom himself cherished above all. For Bloom this was a category error. As he saw it, the resenters were engaging in progressivist activism under the mask of aesthetic analysis of literature. Indeed, he says as much in The Western Canon:

“Either there were aesthetic values, or there are only the overdeterminations of race, class, and gender,” he writes.” You must choose, for if you believe that all value ascribed to poems or plays or novels and stories is only a mystification in the service of the ruling class, then why should you read at all rather than go forth to serve the desperate needs of the exploited classes? The idea that you benefit the insulted and injured by reading someone of their own origins rather than reading Shakespeare is one of the oddest illusions ever promoted by or in our schools.”

Of course, Bloom faced significant pushback on this position. In fact, his doorstop of a recommended reading list was only one salvo in a battle which had already been going on for some time within Anglophone academia in particular. The canon wars, as they are now known, raged mightily in the late 80s and early 90s, as progressive scholars sought to diversify and ‘decolonise’ literature curricula in American schools and universities, while scholars like Harold Bloom fought back in defence of the concept of the traditional literary canon.

His namesake (but no relation) the political philosopher Allan Bloom had been motivated, as early as 1987, to publish The Closing of the American Mind, in which he argued that encroaching cultural relativism in education was not merely shortchanging students but actively eroding American democracy. This so-called ‘dumbing down’ argument extended far beyond an attempt to preserve literature as a bastion of dead white guys. Allan Bloom railed against cultural relativism in all forms, condemning for example the teaching of rock and pop music in the place of classical music. His provocative attempt to conserve his understanding of Western culture, and by overt extension Western civilisation, was accompanied by similar screeds by other scholars, such as ED Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy (1987), Roger Kimball’s Tenured Radicals (1990) and Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education (1991).

These writers traced the cultural relativism back to the counterculture of the Sixties, when various forms of activism and liberation, primarily identity-based, inspired educators to challenge the concept and content of established cultural canons for the first time. Driven on by French poststructuralist thinkers like Foucault, Derrida and Althusser, who were simultaneously derided by Allan Bloom as second-rate philosophers, new faculty entering American universities began the war on Western Civilisation, which went overground in the general public’s eyes when US presidential candidate Jesse Jackson joined students at prestigious Stanford university to chant “Hey, Ho! Western Culture’s got to go!”

By the time Harold Bloom entered the fray in 1994 with his lengthy treatise in favour of reading authors like Milton, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson and Samuel Beckett, it was almost the final sally forth for the conservative position. Bloom himself knew that the argument had to some extent been lost. A mere four years later, he acknowledged this defeat, in an article for the Boston Review.

Referencing Thucydides’ famous account of the Spartan commander Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae, Bloom mischievously claimed “They have the numbers, we, the heights.” Ranked against him, like the hordes of Persians against those famous 300 Spartans, were “the multiculturalists, the hordes of camp- followers afflicted by the French diseases, the mock-feminists, the commissars, the gender-and-power freaks, the hosts of new historicists and old materialists.” Bloom was of course an avid and familiar reader of the classics. He knew the lesson of Thermopylae. Leonidas and his men held out bravely against vastly larger forces. But ultimately, they lost.

I reprise these hoary old academic arguments at some length primarily because the scale of the defeat is no less total than that at Thermopylae, as Bloom foresaw. Young scholars and readers of literature nowadays, studying the humanities not only in America but across the entire world, are entirely familiar with diversity quotas in curricula, decolonised perspectives and the essential centrality of identity concerns in any scholarly attempt to analyse or examine cultural outputs. They are perhaps aware that in ye olden tymes of yore, white men sought to triage their own cultural work above all others, and to the exclusion of all others, or so they are taught. They are perhaps less aware that a mere generation ago, these issues were still a matter of hot cultural debate. Nowadays, they seem entirely settled.

And if there ever was a literary genre in which the issues were argued first and settled first, it was science fiction. Even as the canon wars were raging, scholars like Tom Moylan were proposing that not only was science fiction fundamentally utopian, but that it actually functioned as a literary arm of politically progressive activism. In the previous decade, Darko Suvin had identified Marxist estrangement as a core descriptor of the genre itself.

Practitioners of SF were hardly divorced from the interests of scholars either. The New Wave, which came to prominence alongside the 60s counterculture and can in some ways be seen as analogous to it, was overt in its aspirations to transgress not only established cultural and literary norms, but established genre traditions too. Out went Tolkienian fantasy – too Christian, inherently racist – and the space opera narratives of a previous generation were abandoned for pessimistic inner space narratives, in which psychological insight and experimentalism reigned.

But the genre that the New Wave were writing in response to had in their turn thought themselves to be at the vanguard of progressivism. The aspirations of space travel, and the ever-present technophilia of the kind of SF fostered and promoted by firstly Hugo Gernsback and later John Campbell in the US pulps was not a backward-looking endorsement of the status quo but a radical attempt to imagine into being a future-focused, technologically enhanced existence via literature.

They too had been influenced in their turn by earlier writers, most especially the utopian fictions of the late 19th century. Texts like Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1887) were so influential over the general public that his socialist ideas for a future 21st century led people to create hundreds of Bellamy clubs to bring his ideas to fruition. For those, like me, who consider SF proper to have become fully established as a literary genre only alongside the development of professionalised science and engineering, this brings us back to the very origins of SF itself.

So has SF always been progressive? Yes, insofar that its future focus predicates it towards topics and ideas which envisage different, better existences (or warn against possible worse ones.) In this sense, it is the truest emanation of the cultural revolution that began back in the Age of Enlightenment, in its attachment to the idea that our existence, assisted by science, ratchets ever forward. But that is not the same as saying that it has always been progressive in the contemporary political understanding of the term. Far from it.

As Jeanette Ng’s acceptance speech for John W. Campbell award for the Best New Writer at this year’s Worldcon in Dublin indicates, the progressivism of the past is far from sufficiently enlightened for many readers and writers of SF today. Condemning the genre-definer after whom her award was named, she slammed the history of SF as “Stale. Sterile. Male. White.” This is an intriguing set of critiques worth examining, especially in light of its mostly enthusiastic reception.

Stale is a legitimate value judgement, though one Harold Bloom would no doubt resist. Every cultural product is of its time and may go stale eventually. Sterile is much less easy to justify. Ng writes in the genre that Campbell helped to bring into being. She is ultimately, like it or no, his cultural offspring in that sense. Male and white are identity descriptors, teetering on the brink of discriminatory judgement. The audience that enthusiastically cheered Ng’s speech was, by odd curiosity, also largely male and white, as SF audiences often tend to be.

With Campbell denounced as a “fucking fascist” from the podium, it was perhaps inevitable that the award was almost instantly renamed. If he was a fascist, and by contemporary standards he certainly held unsavoury views about women and Jewish people in particular, then he was far from alone in his generation. Modernist scholars are well aware of this particular minefield of judging past luminaries through current political perspectives. Ezra Pound, TS Eliot, WB Yeats, Wyndham Lewis, Knut Hamsen and a host of other highly regarded writers all harboured fascist sympathies in that time.

So extensive were those views among the literati of the 1930s that critics like Mark Antcliff have questioned whether Modernism and Fascism might even be considered somewhat synonymous. Is it then truly impossible to disentangle John Campbell, the revolutionary author and editor of SF, from John Campbell, the man with the unsavoury views on Jews and women? Is it not possible to hold two simultaneous perspectives that each have validity? This is the kind of unnuanced judgement Jeanette Ng proffered, and the kind of ideological argument that our current culture wars force us into.

Harold Bloom’s warning from The Western Canon now becomes salutory. We do not right the wrongs of the past by consciously overdetermining race, class or gender. And the best way to serve exploited classes is indeed to serve them without mediation, rather than via some spurious ‘decolonising’ of an entity which by definition was never colonised in the first place. But that is beside the point.

Only an utterly blinkered individual would refuse, on grounds of race or gender, to read the scintillating SF emerging from writers like Cixin Liu or NK Jemisin, or movements like Afrofuturism or Ricepunk. Ng is perfectly correct to note that SF has evolved into a much broader and different space in our contemporary globalised world, with new audiences and authors from far beyond the genre’s Anglo-American origins.

Which brings me back to my rhetorical question – can SF be conservative? This is a term no less loaded than its mirror image, progressive. SF has never sought to conserve anything. It has always aimed to radically envisage different realities and new futures. And as scientific discovery unveils new technologies and understandings of how our world and universe work, so does it render older SF defunct. Where are the Martians of Edgar Rice Burroughs or Philip K Dick? We now know they never were and never could be.

Yearning for the SF of the past therefore runs the risk of becoming somewhat hauntological, to use Derrida’s term. We become haunted by nostalgia for futures that never came to pass. Such things are impossible to conserve, because they never were. But if we accept the argument that SF should aim to accommodate wide-ranging perspectives in order to inspire readers from global cultures, then we must also accept that some among the predominantly white male fandom attending Worldcon may also require authors representing them too. Directing them to authors of the past is simply hauntological.

There is room in the vast halls of SF, to paraphrase what HG Wells once wrote to James Joyce, for us all to be wrong. Despite the astonishingly prescient writings of authors like Arthur C Clarke and JG Ballard, most SF will not prove to be predictive of the future, and indeed nor does it aim to be. The divisive votes for, inter alia, Donald Trump as US President and Brexit in Britain indicate that we live in increasingly polarised societies with world views that often radically clash within the same societies. SF will inevitably emerge from all of these perspectives, and it is only the ideologues among us who view SF as adjunct to political activism who will refuse to engage with writing from alternative viewpoints.

SF may not seek to conserve, but in some ways it has always been conservative. It is, as I have argued in my recent book Science Fiction and Catholicism, deeply anti-Catholic as a genre and always has been. This is by definition a reactionary position. Similarly, the political arguments that can be derived from authors like Robert Heinlein or Jerry Pournelle are notably militaristic and imperialist.

One particular text I have found intriguing in the context of considering the possibility of conservative SF, amid the welter of dystopian SF warnings about the possibility of future theocratic rule, is Robert Charles Wilson’s Julian Comstock. Wilson’s vision is of a future theocratic America ruled by an imperium, the kind of territory familiar to us from Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

In his novel, a new emperor comes to power with a radical yet antiquated vision. Like the Emperor Julian of antiquity, he seeks conservatively to turn back the clock and reinstate a previous mode of governance and thinking. For the classical Julian this was an attempt to displace Christianity with the old Gods of ancient Rome. For Wilson’s hero, it is an attempt to rehabilitate the technology and liberal polity of the 20th century, which has been disowned and lost in his future theocracy, itself a throwback to the 19th century.

The tools of radicalism, liberalism and progressivism in other words may be used to propagate a profoundly conservative world, Wilson argues. He also argues the contrast, that it is possible to seek to conserve radical and progressive world views. Julian Comstock’s reign fails ultimately because he spends too much of his time haunted by the forbidden archives of the banned 20th century. For those who view SF as an adjunct to progressive activism, this can be read as a call to arms, when in fact it is a warning. As John Campbell begins to be memory-holed out of SF history, it is worth recalling that in such divided societies as we now live in, those tactics may operate in two directions.

Harold Bloom’s Western Canon was condemned as an attempt to preserve a narrow and antiquated view of culture, when in fact it had hidden within it a broad range of texts from all sorts of eras, authors, cultures and perspectives, including SF. We dismiss the past at our peril, but fetishizing it is in itself a hauntological danger. SF needs to be both progressive and conservative all at once. Perhaps in doing so, it can also help to dream of futures which could lead our wider polities out of their current destructive polarisation.



Antcliff, Mark, “Fascism, Modernism and Modernity”, The Art Bulletin Vol. 84, No. 1 (Mar., 2002), pp. 148-169.

Atwood, Margaret, The Handmaid’s Tale, 1986.

Bellamy, Edward, Looking Backward: 2000-1887, 1888.

Bloom, Allan, The Closing of the American Mind, 1987.

Bloom, Harold, The Western Canon, 1994.

Bloom Harold, “They Have The Numbers, We, The Heights”, Boston Review, April 1st 1998.

Clarke, Jim, Science Fiction and Catholicism, 2019.

Derrida, Jacques, Spectres of Marx, 1993.

Moylan, Tom, Demand the Impossible: Science Fiction and the Utopian Imagination, 1986.

Ng, Jeanette, “Acceptance Speech”, Worldcon, Dublin, August 18th, 2019.

Suvin, Darko, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre, 1979.

Wilson, Robert Charles, Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd Century America, 2009.



Jim Clarke is a Senior Lecturer in English and Journalism at Coventry University, where he teaches SF. He is the author of The Aesthetics of Anthony Burgess (2017) and Science Fiction and Catholicism (2019). He has written on Anthony Burgess, JG Ballard, Iain M. Banks and many other SF authors, and is also co-investigator of the Ponying the Slovos project, which explores how invented literary languages function in translation and adaptation:

The International Bibliography of Fictional Non-Fiction

An evolving reference list of fictional non-fiction
(FNF, also known as speculative documentary fiction),
mainly in English and Romance languages, since the 19th century.

Compilation by Mariano Martín Rodríguez

Note: The present document, last updated in March 2020, is subject to further expansion. It currently covers mainly English and Romance languages. Readers are encouraged to suggest additional works for inclusion.

Fictions of Non-Fiction: An Overview of Factual Discursive Genres in Science Fiction.

‘Fictional non-fiction’ designates fictional texts written as if they were factual accounts. In science fiction, the rhetoric of “factual” scientific discourse has been widely applied to confer to its fictional texts an appearance of scientific rationality and factuality. This kind of scientific “fictional non-fiction” encompasses fantastic works which methodically and consistently present the standard rhetorical features of real-world scientific discourses and practice. Their literariness is achieved mostly through the fictionalisation of the content, while their language adheres closely to the highly formalised, uniform, descriptive and seemingly objective style common in natural, formal or social sciences in modern times. Each science, however, usually has its own jargon and distinct discourse, which is reflected in ‘fictional non-fiction’. Among these discourses, some have been relatively popular in (science) fiction. The formal sciences have inspired, for example, imaginary languages, such as Orwell’s Newspeak. The natural sciences have been exploited through fictional spoof papers, such as Asimov’s ‘thiotimoline’ surveys. Regarding the human sciences, historiographical writing has been applied to imaginary histories (e.g, Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come). Actual ethnographic accounts have offered a model for world-building in the descriptive mode (Borges, etc.) whereas the discourse of philology has served to underpin the mock factuality of fantastic books (Lovecraft’s Necronomicon). A text conflating the concepts and rhetoric of these three main types of science using the framework of a model scientific paper is Le Guin’s “‘The Author of the Acacia Seeds’ and Other Extracts from the Journal of the Association of Therolinguistics.” This is a significant piece of “science fiction,” both for its “fictional” contents and its “scientific” rhetoric, illustrating the value of ‘fictional non-fiction’ as a set of formal genres specially linked to science fiction, past and present.

[]: collections of stand-alone texts.

//: It separates different works by the same author.

/: It separates different versions of the same work.

Unless otherwise specified, even unread works have been verified regarding their genre.


Historiography as Fiction, Fiction as History: An Overview of the Use of Historiographical Discourse to Narrate Possible Futures since the 19th Century.

The double dimension —documentary and artistic—– of historiographical writing has been virtually overshadowed by the emphasis on the scientific nature of the discipline and its subsequent exclusion from the literary canon from the nineteenth century onwards. Fictional or imaginary history then appeared as a way to safeguard the literariness of history as a formal genre, using the rhetorical discourse of historiography to achieve an effect of historicity in texts that often have a satirical or cautionary intent. Nevertheless, most of them convey, first of all, considerations on the evolution of humanity and on its history as seen from a future perspective: in this kind of prospective historiography, future historians addressing their contemporary readership narrate their past history, which is our future one. By eschewing the narrative form of the novel and adopting instead that of historiography, these writers also broaden the temporality of historical consciousness: future events become as actual as any past ones, and they are surveyed following the historical method, with their fictionality hidden under the cloak of factual discourse. Moreover, the historical laws posited by the authors are shown in action in the future as well. Fictional historiography is not only literature, but also history —prospective history. Examples of this genre are relatively abundant in modern literatures. As literary products, most of them follow a similar writing method: the one prevalent in historiography of the age when they were produced. As historical reflections, they usually have widely different approaches on the future course of humankind and on the forces that drive it along historical time, from past to future.

*: not verified.


– Kylas Chunder DUTT (1817-?), “A Journal of Forty-Eight Hours of the Year 1945” (1835).

– Shoshee Chunder DUTT (1824-1886), “The Republic of Orissá: A Page from the Annals of the Twentieth Century” (1845), in [Bengaliana: A Dish of Rice and Curry, and Other Indigestible Ingredients] (1877).

History of the Sudden and Terrible Invasion of England by the French in the Month of May, 1852 (1851).

– *Imaginary History of the Next Thirty Years (1857).

– Frederick GALE, The History of the British Revolution of 1867 (1867).

– Abraham HAYWARD (1801-1884), “The Second Armada” (1871).

– Motly Ranke McCAULEY, *Chapters from Future History: The Battle of Berlin (1871).

– P. [Pierton] W. DOONER (1844-1907?), Last Days of the Republic (1880).

– Lorelle, *“The Battle of Wabash” (1880).

– William Delisle HAY, Three Hundred Years Hence (1881).

– Lang Tung, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire (1881).

The Re-Conquest of Ireland, A.D. 1895 (1881).

– Robert WOLTOR, A Short and Truthful History of the Taking of California and Oregon by the Chinese in the Year A.D. 1899 (1882).

– Ralph Centennius, The Dominion in 1983 (1883).

The Battle of the Moy; or, How Ireland Gained Her Independence, 1892-1894 (1883).

– Arthur Montagu BROOKFIELD (1853-1940), Simiocracy (1884).

– Posteritas, The Siege of London (1884).

– Henry Stanely COVERDALE, The Fall of the Great Republic (1886-88) (1885)

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– MacKinlay KANTOR (1904-1977), If the South Had Won the Civil War (1960).

– Brian ALDISS (1925-), “MERO’s Sinai Project, 1957-1970”, in [The Shape of Further Things: Speculations on Change] (1970).

– Gary GYGAX (1938-2008); Terry STAFFORD (1941-1996), *Victorious German Arms: An Alternate Military History of World War II (1973).

– Robert SOBEL (1931-1999), For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won at Saratoga (1973).

– Vine DELORIA Jr. (1933-2005), “Why the U.S. Never Fought the Indians” (1976).

– Steven UTLEY (1948-); Howard WALDROP (1946-), “Custer’s Last Jump!” (1976), in [Custer’s Last Jump and Other Collaborations] (1997).

– John LUKACS (1924-), “What if Hitler Had Won the Second World War” (1978).

– Kenneth MACKSEY (1923-2005), Invasion: The Alternate History of the German Invasion of England July 1940 (1980).

– Poul ANDERSON (1926-2001), “Unclefting Beholding (from The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle)” (1989), in [Kinship with the Stars] (1991) and [All One Universe] (1996).

– Adrian GILBERT (1954-), Britain Invaded: Hitler’s Plans for Britain (1990).

– Peter TSOURAS, Disaster at D-Day: The Germans Defeat the Allies, June 1944 (1994).

– Robert Crowley (ed.), [What If? The World’s Most Famous Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been] (1999) // [More What If? Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been] (2001).

– Andrew Roberts (ed.), [What Might Have Been. Imaginary History from Twelve Leading Historians] (2004).

– David MOLES, [“Five Irrational Histories”] (2004).

– Michael MOORCOCK (1939-), “Shamalung (The Diminutions)” (2011).

– Tad WILLIAMS (1957-), “A Short History of Dunkelblau’s Meistergarten” (2011).

– Ted CHIANG (1967-), “Dacey’s Patent Automatic Nanny” (2011).

– Lev GROSSMAN (1969-), “Sir Ranulph Wykeham-Rackham, GBE, a.k.a., Roboticus the All-Knowing” (2011).

– Cherie PRIEST (1975-), “Addison Howell and the Clockroach” (2011).

– Reza NEGARESTANI (1977-), “The Gallows-Horse” (2011).

– Will HINDMARCH, “The Auble Gun” (2011).

– Amar EL-MOHTAR, “The Singing Fish” (2011).

– Nilo María FABRA (1843-1903), “Cuatro siglos de buen gobierno”, in [Por los espacios imaginarios (con escalas en la Tierra)] (1885).

– Víctor ALBA (Pere Pagès i Elies, 1916-2003), 1936-1976. Historia de la Segunda República española (1976).

– Daniel BARBIERI (Daniel Croci, 1951-2004), “Si Evita hubiera vivido” (1990).

– Joan Maria Thomàs (ed.), [La historia de España que no pudo ser: doce prestigiosos historiadores explican lo que pudo haber sido y no fue] (2007).

– Eduardo VAQUERIZO (1967-), “Breve consideración sobre el nacimiento de la Conchabía Conjurada”, “Imperio: cuatro siglos de asombro. Introducción”, “Evolución tecnológica: necesidad y remedio”, “La derrota del directorado frente a los comuneros de la Nueva Borgoña de Norte América”, “Consideraciones sobre la reforma: imperio y religión”, in Memoria de tinieblas (2013) // “Cronología” [Crónicas de tinieblas] (2014).

– Louis GEOFFROY (1803-1858), Napoléon et la conquête du Monde. 1812 à 1832. Histoire de la Monarchie universelle (1836).

– Charles RENOUVIER (1815-1903), Uchronie (1876).

– André MAUROIS (Émile Salomon Wilhelm Herzog, 1885-1967), “Si Louis XVI…”, in [Mes songes que voici] (1932).

– Jean TARDIEU (1903-1995), “Une page d’histoire: L’Assassinat de Louis XIV”, in [Le Professeur Frœppel] (1978).

– Bernard QUILLIET, *La Véritable Histoire de la France (1983).

– Maurice GOLDRING (1927-), La République Populaire de France (1949-1981) (1984).

– Jacques Spir, Frank Stora, Loïc Mahé (eds.), 1940. Et si la France avait continué la guerre: Essai d’alternative historique (2010) – 1941-1942. Et si la France avait continué la guerre: Essai d’alternative historique (2012).

– Guido MORSELLI (1912-1973), Contro-passato prossimo (1975).

– Umberto ECO (1932-2016), “Una storia vera” (1979), in [Sette anni di desiderio] (1986) e [Il secondo diario minimo] (1992).

– Giancarlo LUNATI (1928-2014), [Gesù. Quattro vite verosimili] (2000).

– Enrico RULLI (1958-), “Il grande volo dell’aquila bicipite” (2005).

– Carlo DE RISIO (1935-), “Guerra lampo” (2005).

– Dănuţ IVĂNESCU; Ionuţ BĂNUŢĂ; Caius STANCU, “Scurtă istorie generală a lucrurilor”, in [Motocentauri pe Acoperişul Lumii] (1995).


– G. [Granville] Stanley HALL (1844-1924), “The Fall of Atlantis”, in [Recreations of a Psychologist] (1920).

– Robert E. [Ervin] HOWARD (1906-1936), “The Hyborian Age” (1938).

– John BOARDMAN (Jack Melton Boardman, 1932-), “Ocean Trade in the Hyborian Age” (1960).

– J. [John] R. [Ronald] R. [Reuel] TOLKIEN (1892-1973), “The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands”, in The Lord of the Rings (1967) // “The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor from the Founding of the City of Armenelos to the Downfall”, “The Disaster of the Gladden Fields”, “The Battles of the Ford of Isen”, in [Unfinished Tales] (1980) // “The Annals of Aman”, in [Morgoth’s Ring] (1993).

– Dean Francis ALFAR (1969-), “An Excerpt from Princes of the Sultanate (Ghazali: 1992); Annotated by Omar Jamad Maududi, MLS, HOL, JMS.” (2007), in [The Kite of Stars and Other Stories] (2008).

– José de SILES (1856-1911), “La batalla de los árboles” (1884).

– René AVILÉS FABILA (1940-2016), “El proceso de las ratas”, in [Hacia el fin del mundo] (1969) and [Fantasías en carrusel] (1978/1995/2001).

– Rafael SÁNCHEZ FERLOSIO (1927-2019), “Los lectores del ayer” (1980), “Los príncipes concordes”, in [El geco] (2005).

– Juan BENET (1927-1993), Herrumbrosas lanzas (1983-2009).

– Diego MUÑOZ VALENZUELA (1956-), “El Valle del Inca”, in [Nada ha terminado] (1984).

– José OVEJERO (1958-), “Historia de Anquises el Silencioso”, in [Cuentos para salvarnos todos] (1996).

– Gloria MÉNDEZ (1969-), “El ejército de Amzif I”, in [El informe Kristeva] (1997).

– Iban ZALDUA (1966-), “La isla de los antropólogos”, in [La isla de los antropólogos y otros relatos] (2001).

– Alberto LÓPEZ AROCA (1976-), “La guía de Arkham”, in [Necronomicón Z] (2012).

– Juan GÓMEZ BÁRCENA (1984-), “La leyenda del rey Aktasar”, in [Los que duermen y otros relatos] (2012).

– Roberto GONZÁLEZ-QUEVEDO (1953-), “De bello paesico”, “Paesicorum terram serpentis…”, in [Hestoria de la l.literatura primera en Pesicia] (2014).

– X. [Xavier] B. [Boniface] SAINTINE (1798-1865), “Histoire d’une civilisation antédiluvienne” (1832), en [Jonathan le visionnaire] (1866).

-Alphonse DAUDET (1840-1897), “Wood’stown” (1873), in [Robert Helmont] (1874).

– Jean d’ORMESSON (1925-2017), La Gloire de l’empire (1971).

– Augusto FRASSINETI (1911-1985), “Fine dell’imperio degli Èmori”, in Mistero dei ministeri (1952).

– Juan Rodolfo WILCOCK (1919-1978), “L’Atlantide” (H.), in [Lo stereoscopio dei solitari] (1972).

– Mihai MĂNIUŢIU (1954-), “Căutători de comori din Eldo”, in [Un zeu aproape muritor] (1982).


– Edgar Allan POE (1809-1849), “Van Kempelen and His Discovery” (1849).

– Edmund BACKHOUSE (1873-1944), J. [John] O. [Otway] P. [Percy] BLAND, China under the Empress Dowager (1910).

– H. L. MENCKEN (1880-1956), “A Neglected Anniversary” (1917), in [A Mencken Chrestomathy] (1949).

– H. [Howard] P. [Phillips] LOVECRAFT (1890-1937), “The History of the Necronomicon” (1938).

– James E. MILLER (1920-2010), “How Newton Discovered the Law of Gravitation” (1951).

– Woody ALLEN (Allan Stewart Königsberg, 1935-), “The Discovery and Use of Fake Ink Blot” (1966), in [Getting Even] (1971).

– Harry MATHEWS (1930-), “Tradition and the Individual Talent: The “Bratislava Spiccato””, in [Country Cooking and Other Stories] (1980).

– J. [Joanne] K. ROWLING (1965-), Quidditch through the Ages (2001; as by Kennilworthy Wisp).

– John Thomas SLADEK (1937-2002), Wholly Smokes (2003).

– Max BROOKS (1972-), [“Recorded Attacks”], in The Zombie Survival Guide (2003).

– Mark A. RAINER, “A Short History of Groundhog Day”, in [Pirate Therapy and Other Cures] (2012).

– Juan José ARREOLA (1918-2001), “Nabónides”, in [Confabulario] (1952).

– Pedro GÓMEZ VALDERRAMA (1923-1992), “El ala izquierda del águila”, in [El retablo de Maese Pedro] (1973) and [Más arriba del reino] (1980).

– Edgardo RODRÍGUEZ JULIÁ (1946-), La renuncia del héroe Baltasar (1974).

– Fernando DURÁN AYANEGUI (1939-), “Política y cornucopia”, in [El benefactor y otros relatos] (1981).

– Enrique VILA-MATAS (1948-), Histoira abreviada de la literatura portátil (1985).

– Juan PERUCHO (1920-2003), [Historias secretas de balnearios] (1972) // [Minuta de monstruos] (1987).

– Santiago BERUETE (1961-); Fernando Luis CHIVITE (1959-), “Silogismo en Bárbara”, “Del estado óptimo de la república o de la nueva utopía de Inopia”, in [Los furores inútiles] (1990).

– Pedro UGARTE (1963-), “La Escuela Breve de Liverpool”, in [Materiales para una expedición] (2002).

– Alberto LÓPEZ AROCA (1976-), [“Mitología creativa”], in Los espectros conjurados (2004).

– Juan GÓMEZ BÁRCENA (1984-), “La virgen de los cabellos cortados”, in [Los que duermen y otros relatos] (2012).

– Julián DÍEZ (1968-), “Gigamesh en el cine: frustraciones y éxito” (2015).

– Étienne-Léon de LAMOTHE-LANGON (1786-1864), Histoire de l’Inquisition en France (1829).

– Pierre GRIPARI (1925-1990), “Cette année-là, Dieu fut”, in [L’Arrière-monde] (1972) // “La bataille de l’eau de Lourdes”, in [La Rose réaliste] (1985) // “Le Vampire de la Place Rouge”, in [Contes cuistres] (1987).

– Sylvain JOUTY (1949-), “Les G”, in [La Visite au tombeau de mes ancêtres] (1995).

– Constantin A. IONESCU-CAION (1880-1918), “Un război al lui Mircea în 1399” (1901).


– Richard WHATELEY (1787-1863); William FITZGERALD (1814-1883), Historic Certainties Respecting the Early History of America (1851).

– James THOMSON (1834-1882), “The Story of a Famous Old Jewish Firm” (1865), in [Satires and Profanities] (1884).

– Jonquil (J. L. COLLINS), Queen Krinaleen’s Plagues, or, How a Simple People Were Destroyed (1874).

– W. [Walter] J. [James] TURNER (1889-1946), “The State”, in [Fables, Parables and Plots] (1943).

– H. [Howard] P. [Phillips] LOVECRAFT (1890-1937), “The Battle That Ended the Century (MS. Found in a Time Machine)” (1944).

– Mark TWAIN (Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910), “Passage from “Outlines of History” (Suppressed), Date, 9th Century”, in [Fables of Man] (1972).

– Neil B. [Baird] THOMPSON (1921-1977), “The Mysterious Fall of the Nacirema” (1972).

– Benjamin ROSENBAUM (1969-), “Zvlotsk” (2002), in [Other Cities] (2003).

– Afonso Henriques de LIMA BARRETO (1881-1922), “A firmeza de Al-Bandeirah” (1915) – “A solidariedade de Al-Bandeirah” (1915) – “O reconhecimento” (1915) // “Congresso Pamplanetário”, in [Histórias e sonhos] (1920) // “O Falso Dom Henrique V” (1921).

– FERREIRA GULLAR (José RIBAMAR FERREIRA, 1930-), “Vat Phan”, “Tyfw”, “Texclx”, “Fraternópolis”, “Tuxmu”, “Minofagasta”, “Iscúmbria”, “Inoa”, “Zambarbirna”, “Wen-Fen”, “Mori”, “Bela”, “Adrixerlinus”, in [Cidades Inventadas] (1997).

-*Aureópolis (1891).

– Esteban BORRERO ECHEVERRÍA (1849-1906), El ciervo encantado (1905).

– Julio TORRI (1889-1970), “La conquista de la Luna”, “Era un país pobre”, in [Ensayos y poemas] (1917).

– AZORÍN (José MARTÍNEZ RUIZ, 1873-1967), “Un enigma histórico” (1923), in [Escritores] (1956).

– Luis de TAPIA (1871-1937), “El gran problema de las islas “Kukay”” (1926).

– Felisberto HERNÁNDEZ (1902-1964), “Acunamiento”, in [Libro sin tapas] (1929).

– Vicente HUIDOBRO (1893-1948), “El gato con botas y Simbad el marino o Badsim el marrano”, in [Tres inmensas novelas] (1935).

– Carlos FUENTES (1928-2012), “En defensa de la Trigolibia”, in [Los días enmascarados] (1954).

– Antonio CASTRO LEAL (1896-1981), “La literatura no se cotiza” (1937), in [El laurel de San Lorenzo] (1959).

– Álvaro de LAIGLESIA (1922-1981), “Continúa el congreso pro-paz”, in [El baúl de los cadáveres] (1948).

– Segundo SERRANO PONCELA (1912-1976), “El filántropo” (1965), in [Los huéspedes] (1968).

– Manuel MUJICA LÁINEZ (1910-1984), Crónicas reales (1967).

– Manuel DERQUI (1921-1973), “Sigue Poeta” (1969).

– Alberto CAÑAS (1920-2014), “La terrible revolución que se venía”, in [La exterminación de los pobres y otros pienses] (1974).

– Juan GARCÍA HORTELANO (1928-1992), “Cuestiones flabelígeras”, in [Mucho cuento] (1987).

– Fernando U. SEGOVIA ¿(Angélica GORODISCHER, 1929-)?, “Historia de la fragua (para la escuela media)” (1988).

– Antonio MENCHACA (1921-2002), “El rascacielos”, in [Amor siempre asediado y otros relatos] (1989).

– José ELGARRESTA (1945-), “La república feliz de Maranchón”, in Cutrelandia: La República de las Letras (2005).

– David ARIAS (1965-), “Que tu pie izquierdo no sepa lo que hace el derecho”, in [Horrores cotidianos] (2007).

– Iban ZALDUA (1966-), “La Bella Durmiente: una historia económica”, in [Porvenir] (2007).

– Àngel FERRAN (1892-1971), “De la prehistòria a la civilització” (1928).

– Pere CALDERS (1912-1994), “L’espiral” (1956), in [Tots els contes] (1968) // “Reportatge del dia repetit”, in [Demà, a les tres de la matinada] (1959) // “La rebeŀlió de les coses”, “Esport i ciutadania”, in [Invasió subtil i altres contes] (1978) // “Tot queda a casa”, in [Un estrany al jardí] (1985).

– George VILLELONGUE, “La Légende de la guillotine” (1887).

– Gabriel de LAUTREC (1867-1938), “Le Mur”, in [Poèmes en prose] (1898) and [La Vengeance du portrait ovale] (1922).

– Marcel MARIEN (1920-1993), “Le temps mort”, in [Les Fantômes du château des cartes] (1981).

– Ursicin G. [Gion] G. [Gieli] DERUNGS (1935-), “Ils plats”, in [Il cavalut verd ed auter] (1988).

– Alberto MORAVIA (1907-1990), “Il diavolo in campagna” en [L’epidemia] (1956).

– Giovanni PAPINI (1881-1956), “Mahavir o della populazione crescente” (1949), in [Le pazzie del poeta] (1950).

– Giovanni CAVICCHIOLI (1908-1979), «Il gran traforo», en [Favole] (1951).

– Primo LEVI (1919-1987), “Censura in Bitinia” (1961), in [Storie naturali] (1966).

– Lia WAINSTEIN (1919-2001), “I Cacciatori di Teste”, in [Viaggio in Drimonia] (1965).

– Roberto VACCA (1927-), “Incomunicabilità 1”, in [Esempi di avvenire] (1965) and [Carezzate con terrore la testa dei vostri figli] (1992) – “Incomunicabilità 2”, in [Carezzate con terrore la testa dei vostri figli] (1992).

– Umberto ECO (1932-2016), “Il pensiero di Brachamutanda”, in [Il secondo diario minimo] (1992).

– Eugen IONESCU / Eugène IONESCO (1909-1994), “Trifoiul cu patru foi”, in [Nu] (1934).

– Ştefan TITA (1905-1977), “Războiul celor 43 de zile”, “Rasa pură”, “Protocolul de la Modena”, in [Avantajul de a fi câine] (1938).

– Gheorghe SĂSĂRMAN (1941-), “Tropaeum”, “Seneţia”, “Protopolis”, “Castrum”, “Musaeum”, “Homogenia”, “Cosmovia”, “Geopolis”, in [Cuadratura cercului] (1975/2001).

– Mihai MĂNIUŢIU (1954-), “Erezia”, “Cautătorii de comori din Eldo”, in [Un zeu aproape muritor] (1982).


– William Morton WHEELER (1865-1937), “The Termitodoxa, or, Biology and Society” (1920).

– Julian HUXLEY (1887-1975), “Philosophical Ants”, in [Essays of a Biologist] (1923).

– Jacquetta HAWKES (1910-1996), “Export and Die”, in [Fables] ([A Woman as Great as the World and Other Fables]) (1953).

– E. [Edward] O. [Osborne] WILSON (1929-), “Trailhead” (2010).

– Joaquim Maria MACHADO DE ASSIS (1839-1908), “A Sereníssima República”, in [Papéis Avulsos] (1882).

– Adolfo PÉREZ ZELASCHI (1920-2005), “Historia general de las hormigas” (como Harald Heggstad), in [Más allá de los espejos] (1949).

– Juan José ARREOLA (1918-2001), “El prodigioso miligramo”, in [Confabulario] (1952).

– J. [Juan] J. [José] BENÍTEZ (1946-), “El mundo de los topos”, in [Sueños] (1982).

– Roger AVERMAETE (1893-1988), La Conjuration des chats (1919-1920).

– Carlo CASSOLA (1917-1987), “La comunità dei camosci e degli stambecchi”, in [La morale del branco] (1980).


– James William BARLOW (1826-1913), History of a World of Immortals without a God (como Antares Skorpios, 1891) / The Immortals’ Great Quest (1909).

– Edward WELLEN (1919-2011), “Origins of Galactic Slang” (1952) // “Origins of Galactic Law” (1953) // “Origins of the Galactic Short-Snorter” (1960) // “Origins of Galactic Fruit Salad” (1962).

– Frank HERBERT (1920-1986), “The Ecology of Dune”, “The Religion of Dune”, “Report on Bene Gesserit Motives and Purposes”, in Dune (1965).

– Brian ALDISS (1925-), “Heresies of the Huge God” (1966), in [The Moment of Eclipse] (1970).

– Iain M. BANKS (1954-2013), “The Idiran-Culture War”, in Consider Phlebas (1987).

– Ralph HORSLEY, “The Battle of Nîs-Pazar” (1999).

– Ursula K. [Kroeber] LE GUIN (1929-2018), “Wake Island”, in [Changing Planes](2002).

– George R. R. MARTIN (1948-); Elio Miguel GARCÍA Jr. (1978-); Linda Maria ANTONSSON (1974-), The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones (2014).

– José NUNES DE MATTA (1849-1946), “História geral do Planeta Marte”, in História autêntica do Planeta Marte (como Henri Mongolfier, 1921).

– Mário-Henrique LEIRIA (1923-1980), “Casos de direito galático”, in [Casos de direito galático. O mundo inquietante de Josela (fragmentos)] (1975).

– Charlemagne-Ischir DEFONTENAY (1814-1856), Star ou Ψ de Cassiopée (1854).

– Carlo FRABETTI (Italia, 1945-), “Dialexis” (1972).

– Max SOLOMON (1914-2005), “Cerul de sticlă” (1965), in [La 90] (2004).

Related fictional historiographic genres


– Nilson MARTELLO, “Da Mayor Speriencia” (1965).

– ¿Ignazio PILLITO (1806-1895)?, [Pergamene, codici e fogli cartacei d’Arborea] (Cartas de Arborea / Carte d’Arborea) (1863).

– Giacomo LEOPARDI (1798-1837), Martirio de’ Santi Padri del Monte Sinai e dell’eremo di Raitu (1822).

– Monaldo LEOPARDI (1776-1847), Memoriale di frate Giovanni (1828/1833).

– Giuseppe CUGNONI (1824-1908), Vita di Arhot monaco (1884).

– ¿Constandin SION (1795-1862)?, Izvodul spătarului Clănău (Cronica lui Huru) (1856).

– George TOPÂRCEANU (1886-1937), “Domnia lui Ciubăr Vodă”, in [Scrisori fără adresă] (1930).


– James Branch CABELL (1879-1958), The Lineage of Lichfield (1922).


– Samuel BUTLER (1835-1902), “Memoir of the Late John Pickard Owen”, in The Fair Heaven (1873).

– Ambrose BIERCE (1842-¿1914?), “John Smith, Liberator (from a Newspaper of the Far Future)” (1873).

– Jack LONDON (John London, 1876-1916), “The Enemy of All the World” (1908), in [The Strength of the Strong] (1911).

– William George JORDAN (1864-1928), “The Personal Side of Larrovitch”, in Feodor Vladimir Larrovitch, an Appreciation of his Life and Works (1918).

– H. [Howard] P. [Phillips] LOVECRAFT (1890-1937), “Ibid” (1938).

– Isaac ASIMOV (1920-1992), “The Man Who Made the 21st Century” (1965).

– Frank HERBERT (1920-1986), “The Almanak en-Sharaf (Selected Excerpts of the Noble Houses)”, in Dune (1965).

– William S. [Stuart] BARING-GOULD (1913-1967), Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street (1969).

– C. [Cyril] Northcote PARKINSON (1909-1993), *The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower (1970) // *Jeeves: A Gentleman’s Personal Gentleman (1979).

– Steven MILLHAUSER (1943-), Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943-1954, by Jeffrey Cartwright (1972).

– Philip José FARMER (1918-2009), Tarzan Alive (1972) // *Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973).

– John D. [Drury] CLARK (1907-1988), P. [Peter] Schuyler MILLER (1912-1974), L. [Lyon] Sprague de CAMP (1907-2000), “An Informal Biography of Conan the Cimmerian” (1979).

– David T. ST. ALBANS (David Thomas Pudelwitts, 1954-), “The Life of the Master (A Biography of Abdul Alhazred by His Student, El-Rashi)” (1984).

– Arthur C. CLARKE (1917-2008), “The Steam-Powered Word Processor” (1986), in Astounding Days: A Science Fictional Autobiography (1989).

– Anne HART, The Life and Times of Miss Jane Marple (1985) // The Life and Times of Hercule Poirot (1990).

– William BOYD (1952-), Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928-1960 (1998).

– Andrew MOTION (1952-), The Invention of Dr Cake (2003).

– S. J. HIRONS (1973-), [“Pages Torn from Eminent Phantasists: A New Edition”] (2013).

– Shay AZOULAY, “Jacob Wallenstein, Notes for a Future Biography” (2013).

– Jorge de SENA (1919-1978), “Um imenso inédito semi-camoniano, e o menos que adiante se verá”, in As Quybyrycas (1972).

– Luís Filipe SILVA (1970-), [“Introduções”], in [Os Anos de Ouro da Pulp Fiction Portuguesa] (2011).

– Carlos CASARES (1941-2002), [Os escuros soños de Clío] (1979).

– Silverio LANZA (Juan Bautista Amorós, 1856-1912), Noticias biográficas acerca del Excmo. Sr. Marqués del Mantillo (1889).

– Rafael ZAMORA Y PÉREZ DE URRÍA, marqués de Valero de Urría (1861-1908), “Biografía de D. Iscariotes Val de Ur diligentemente escrita por su discípulo y albacea”, in [Crímenes literarios] (1906).

– José María SÁNCHEZ MAZAS (1894-1966), “La famosa noche de Robinson Crusoe en Pamplona” (1929).

– José María SALAVERRÍA (1873-1940), Vida de Martín Fierro, el gaucho ejemplar (1934).

– Jorge Luis BORGES (1899-1986), “Biografía de Tadeo Isidoro Cruz (1829-1874)” (1944), in [El Aleph] (1949).

– Juan José ARREOLA (1918-2001), “Sinesio de Rodas”, in [Confabulario] (1952).

– Max AUB (1903-1972), Jusep Torres Campalans (1958).

– Juan PERUCHO (1920-2003), [“Las figuras”], in [Galería de espejos sin fondo] (1963).

– Rafael PÉREZ ESTRADA (1934-2000), “A modo de biografía y más”, in Revelaciones de la Madre Margarita Amable del Divino Niño del Sí (1970).

– Pedro GÓMEZ VALDERRAMA (1923-1992), “El maestro de la soledad”, in [El retablo de Maese Pedro] (1973) and [Más arriba del reino] (1980).

– PALOMA DÍAZ MAS (1954-), [Biografías de genios, traidores, sabios y suicidas, según antiguos documentos] (1973).

– Rafael LLOPIS (1933), “Historia y leyenda de Abdelesar”, in [El Novísimo Algazife o Libro de las Postrimerías] (1980).

– Santiago BERUETE (1961-); Fernando Luis CHIVITE (1959-), “Anquises, el pesimista”, “El idealismo intrascendental”, “Vida de un poeta apócrifo”, in [Los furores inútiles] (1990).

– Felipe BENÍTEZ REYES (1960-), [Vidas improbables] (1995/2009).

– Roberto BOLAÑO (1953-2003), [La literatura nazi en América] (1996).

– Marcos Ricardo BARNATÁN (1946-), “Noticia de Gabriel Zapata”, in [La República de Mónaco] (2000).

– Pedro UGARTE (1963-), “El deterioro”, “Es demasiado para mí, dijo el ranchero”, in [Materiales para una expedición] (2002).

– Braulio ORTIZ POOLE (1974-), “¿Fue Lucy Melville víctima de una maldición egipcia?”, in [Biografías bastardas] (2005).

– Jesús COBO (1946-), “Crucigramas antiguos”, in [Veinte cuentos a deshora] (2008).

– Iban ZALDUA (1966-), “El canon de la literatura vasca”, in La patria de todos los vascos (2008).

– Rodolfo MARTÍNEZ (1965-), “Laoché Hernández, artesano de la imaginación”, in [El carpintero y la lluvia] (2010).

– Xuan BELLO (1965-), [Pantasmes, mundos, laberintos] (1996).

– José Luis RENDUELES (1972-), “Los meyores cuentos del mundu”, in [Los meyores cuentos del mundu y otres proses mongoles] (2007).

– Joan PERUCHO (1920-2003), [Històries apòcrifes] (1974).

– Pere CALDERS (1912-1994), “Filomena Ustrell (1916-1962)”, in [Invasió subtil i altres contes] (1978).

– Carme RIERA (1948-), “Informe”, in [Contra l’amor en companyia i altres relats] (1991).

– A. MUNNÉ-JORDÀ (1948-), “En el centenari de Valerià Cabrera i Prats” (1981) / “En homenatge a Valerià Cabrera i Prats”, in [El mirall venecià] (2008).

– Vicenç PAGÈS JORDÀ (1963-), [“Escriptors inèdits”], “Biografia d’Àngel Mauri”, in [El poeta i altres contes] (2005).

– Prosper MÉRIMÉE (1803-1870), “Notice sur Clara Gazul”, in [Théâtre de Clara Gazul, comédienne espagnole] (1825) // “Notice sur Hyacinthe Maglanovich”, in [La Guzla ou choix de poésies illyriques recueillies dans la Dalmatie, la Bosnie, la Croatie et l’Herzégowine] (1827).

– Charles-Augustin SAINTE-BEUVE (1804-1869), “Vie de Joseph Delorme”, in Vie, poésies et pensées de Joseph Delorme (1829).

– Évariste BOULAY-PATY (1804-1864), “Vie”, in Élie Mariaker (1834).

– Pierre LOUŸS (1870-1925), “Vie de Bilitis”, in [Las Chansons de Bilitis] (1895).

– Paul-Jean TOULET /1867-1920), Monsieur du Paur, homme public (1898/1920).

– Valery LARBAUD (1881-1957), “Biographie de M. Barnabooth par X. M. Tournier de Zamble”, in [Poèmes par un riche amateur ou Œuvres françaises de M. Barnabooth] (1908).

– Pierre de NOLHAC (1859-1936), “Bousquillot, sa vie et ses œuvres”, in [Contes philosophiques] (1932).

– Gustave FLAUBERT (1821-1880), “Vie et travaux du R.P. Cruchard” (1943).

– Yves GANDON (1899-1975), “Tsing Pann Yang, la vie et l’œuvre”, in [La Terrasse des désespoirs] (1943) and [Le Pavillon des délices regrettées] (1947).

– Paul-Louis THIRARD, “Une question mal connue: les débuts de Maurice Burnan” (1955).

– Jean DUTOURD (1920-2011), “Ludwig Schnorr ou la marche de l’histoire” (1958), in [Les Dupes] (1959).

– Didier ANZIEU (1923-1999), “Le nécrologiste”, in [Contes à rebours] (1975/1987/1995).

– Pascal QUIGNARD (1948-), “Vie d’Apronenia Avitia”, in Les Tablettes de buis d’Apronenia Avitia (1984).

– Dominique NOGUEZ (1942-), Les Trois Rimbaud (1986).

– Pierre GRIPARI (1925-1990), “Vie amoureuse de Jean Valjean”, in [Contes cuistres] (1987) // “La passion de John Bow”, in [Le Musée des apochryphes] (1990).

– George PEREC (1936-1982), “Une Amitié scientifique et littéraire: Léon Burp et Marcel Gotlib suivi de Considérations nouvelles sur la vie et l’œuvre de Romuald Saint-Sohaint”, in [Cantatrix sopranica L. et autres écrits scientifiques] (1991).

– Roland C. WAGNER (1960-2012), H. P. L. (1890-1991) (1995).

– Éric CHEVILLARD (1964-), “Chronologie”, in [L’Œuvre posthume de Thomas Pilaster] (1999).

– Samir BOUADI; Agathe COLOMBIER-HOCHBERG, [26,5 auteurs qui n’existent pas mais qu’il faut absolument avoir lus] (2008).

– Bernard QUIRINY (1978-), “Quelques écrivains, tous morts”, en [Contes carnivores] (2008).

– Yves SAVIGNY (Jean-Benoît PUECH, 1947-), Une Biographie authorisée (2010).

– Yann DALL’AGLIO, Vies, sentences et doctrines des sages imaginaires (2014).

– Juan Rodolfo WILCOCK (1919-1978), [La sinagoga degli iconoclasti] (1972).

– Sebastiano VASSALLI (1941-), 3012: l’anno del profeta (1995).

– Luigi MALERBA (1927-2008), [Biografie immaginarie] (2014).

– Mihai MĂNIUŢIU (1954-), “Sibila Sy”, in [Un zeu aproape muritor] (1982).


– Edgar Allan POE (1809-1849), “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall” (1835), in [Tales of the Grotesque and the Arabesque] (1840) // “The Balloon-Hoax” (1844).

– George Tomkyns CHESNEY (1830-1895), The Battle of Dorking (1871).

– Maximilian MOLTRUHN, *The Other Side at the Battle of Dorking (1871).

– Hugh Oakley ARNOLD-FOSTER (1855-1909), “In a Conning Tower: How I Took HMS Majestic into Action” (1888).

– Ronald KNOX (1888-1957), Memories of the Future (1923).

– Neil BELL (Stephen Southwold, 1887-1964), The Gas War of 1940 / Valiant Clay (1931/1934).

– Frederick Philip GROVE (1879-1948), Consider Her Ways (1947).

– Michael CRICHTON (1942-2008), Eaters of the Dead (1976).

– David LANGFORD (1953-), An Account of a Meeting with Denizens from Another World, 1871 by William Robert Loosley (1979).

– Daniel Snowman (ed.), [If I Had Been…: Ten Historical Fantasies] (1979).

– David SELBOURNE (1937-), The City of Light (1997).

– Joaquim Maria MACHADO DE ASSIS (1839-1908), “O segredo do bonzo”, in [Papéis Avulsos] (1882).

– Miguel VALE DE ALMEIDA (1960-), “Evolução” (2006).

– Ángel GANIVET (1865-1898), La conquista del reino de Maya (1897).

– Félix de AZÚA (1944-), Mansura (1984).

– Rafael SÁNCHEZ FERLOSIO (1927-2019), El testimonio de Yarfoz (1986).

– Juan ESLAVA GALÁN (1948-), En busca del unicornio (1987).

– Marcos Ricardo BARNATÁN (1946-), “Crónica de Isaac Bar Nathan”, in [El horóscopo de las infantas] (1988) and [La República de Mónaco] (2000).

– Avel·lí ARTÍS-GENER (1912-2000), Palabras de Opoton el viejo (1992).

– Juan GÓMEZ BÁRCENA (1984-), “Cuaderno de bitácora” – “Cuaderno de bitácora II”, in [Los que duermen y otros relatos] (2012).

– Nicolau Maria RUBIÓ I TUDURÍ (1891-1981), “Gzwrrawtzicxm”, in [Un crim abstracte o el jardiner assassinat] (1965).

– Avel·lí ARTÍS-GENER (1912-2000), Paraules d’Opòton el Vell (1968).

– Josep LOZANO (1948-), “El rei Turigi” (2010), in [Després de les tenebres i altres narracions] (2013).

– Maurice COUSIN, comte de Courchamps (¿1777?-1859), Souvenirs de la marquise de Créquy, 1710 à 1802 (1834-1836).

– Carlo ROSSI, Il racconto di un guardiano di spiaggia (1872).


– P. H. COLOMB (1831-1899), The Great War of 189- (1892).

– Ambrose BIERCE (1842-¿1914?), “The Great Strike of 1895” (1895).

– John D. [Dawson] MAYNE (1828-1917), The Triumph of Socialism and How It Succeeded (1908).

– Philip GUEDALLA (1889-1944), “If the Moors in Spain Had Won” (1931).

– Ronald KNOX (1888-1957), “If the General Strike Had Succeeded” (1931).

– Hilaire BELLOC (1870-1953), “If Drouet’s Cart Had Stuck” (1931).

– Thornton WILDER (1897-1975), The Ides of March (1948).

– Various authors, [Preview of the War We Do Not Want] (1951).

– Anthony TOWNE, “God is Dead in Georgia” (1966), in Excerpts from the Diaries of the Late God (1968).

– David GERROLD (Jerrold David Friedman, 1944-), “How We Saved the Human Race”, in [With a Finger in My I] (1972).

– Whitley STRIEBER (1945-); James KUNETKA, Warday and the Journey Onward (1984).

– Jonathon PORRITT (1950-), The World We Made (2013).

– Miguel VALE DE ALMEIDA (1960-), “A Natureza Humana” (1999).

– Arturo LEZCANO (1939-), “Os mortos, en vivo”, in [Só os mortos soterram os seus mortos] (2001).

– Benito PÉREZ GALDÓS (1843-1920), “Crónicas futuras de Gran Canaria” (1866).

– [La Vanguardia: 28 de diciembre de 1989] (1889).

– José Luis GARCI (1944-), “Efemérides”, in [Bibidibabidibu] (1970) and [La Gioconda está triste y otras extrañas historias] (1976) // “Última crónica desde Houston”, in [La Gioconda está triste y otras extrañas historias] (1976).

– Francisco AYALA (1906-2009), [“Recortes del diario Las Noticias, de ayer”], in [El jardín de las delicias] (1971).

– Antonio LARRETA (1922-), Volavérunt (1980).

– Luis LÓPEZ NIEVES (1950-), “Seva” (1983).

– Óscar de LA BORBOLLA (1949-), “La emancipación de los locos”, “Los suicidas novedosos”, “Se acabó el futuro”, “Viva la inteligencia, muera la tele”, “Un nuevo partido político”, “¡Llueve sangre!”, “La puerta de la muerte”, “El gran descubrimiento”, “La ley de la compensación universal”, in [Ucronías] (1989).

– Javier FERNÁNDEZ (1971-), “Cero absoluto”, in Cero absoluto (2005).

– Antonio RÓMAR (1981-); Pablo MAZO AGÜERO (1977-), “Científicos y militares toman el control de los muertos de Castañar” (2014).

– Patrícia GABANCHO (1952-2017), Crònica de l’independència (2008).

– Paschal GROUSSET (1844-1909), Le Rêve d’un irréconciliable (1869).

– Auguste de VILLIERS DE L’ISLE-ADAM (1838-1889), “Le Couronnement de M. Grévy” (1887) / “La couronne présidentielle”, in [Chez les passants] (1889).

– Iwan GILKIN (1858-1924), “San Francisco’s Herald”, in Jonas (1900).

– *Les Ailes de la victoire (1913).

– Louis BAUDRY DE SAUNIER (1865-1938), *Comment Paris a été détruit en six heures le 20 avril 1924 (Le jour de Pâques) (1921).

– Nicolas Mª RUBIO (1891-1981), Le Réveil de l’Afrique (1936).

– Antoine BELLO (1970-), Éloge de la pièce manquante (1998).

– Benoît PEETERS (1956-), Les Portes du possible (2005).

– Jean-Pierre LAIGLE (Jean-Pierre MOUMON, 1947-), “Les Trouble-fête” (2008).

– Gérard de SENNEVILLE, “Les moustiques de Pissevaches”, in [Le Merveilleux Voyage en France d’Omar ben Alala et autres contes du futur] (2002) //“Nouvelles brèves”, “Changement de plaques”, “La politique littéraire commune (PCL)”, “Dopage dans la course à la Présidence”, in [Le Voyage en enfer d’Omar Ben Ali et autres contes du futur] (2011).

– Cornelius OMESCU (1936-2001), “Oamenii albaștri”, in [Întâmplări de necrezut (Parodii ştiinţifico-fantastice)] (1975) // [Lumea de poimâine: Știri din secolul 22] (1982).


– William TENN (1920-2010), “The Liberation of Earth” (1953), in [Of All Possible Worlds] (1955).

-Max BROOKS (1972-), World War Z (2006) // “Closure, Limited” (2010).

– Howard BURMAN, Gentlemen at the Bat: A Fictional Oral History of the New York Knickerbockers and the Early Days of Base Ball (2010).

– John SCALZI (1969-), “Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome” (2014).

– Òscar PÀMIES (1961-), [“Testimonis personals”] en [Com serà la fi del món] (1996).

– Camille MAUCLAIR (1872-1945), “La mort mécanique”, in [Les Clefs d’Or] (1897).

– Liviu RADU (1948-2015), Chestionar pentru doamne care au fost secretarele unor bărbaţi foarte cumsecade (2011).


– Grant ALLEN (1848-1899), “The Empress of Andorra” (1878), in [Strange Stories] (1884).

– Mark TWAIN (Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910), The Secret History of Eddypus, the World-Empire [1901-1902], in [Fables of Man] (1972).

– E. [Elwyin] B. [Brooks] WHITE (1899-1985), “The Supremacy of Uruguay” (1933), in [Quo Vadimus or the Case for the Bicycle] (1939).

– William TENN (Philip Klass, 1920-2010), “The Masculinist Revolt” (1965), in [The Wooden Star] (1968).

– Mary GENTLE(1956-), Ash: A Secret History (1999).

– José María PEMÁN (1897-1981), “Historia del buen rey Totem” (1925), in [Cuentos sin importancia] (1926).

– Sergio RAMÍREZ (1942-), “Los graneros del Rey”, “La banda del Presidente”, in [Cuentos] (1963).

– Manuel MUJICA LÁINEZ (1910-1984), De milagros y melancolías (1968).

– Angélica GORODISCHER (1928-), “Acerca de ciudades que crecen descontroladamente”, in [Kalpa imperial] (1983).

– Eduardo Ladislao HOLMBERG (1852-1937), Olimpio Pitango de Monalia (1994 [1915]).

– Luis Antonio de VILLENA (1951-), Huesos de Sodoma (2004).

– Pau FANER (1949-), Potser només la fosca (1979).

– Anatole FRANCE (François Anatole Thibault, 1844-1924), L’Île des Pingouins (1908).

– Marcel THIRY (1897-1977), “Le concerto pour Anne Queur” (1949), in [Nouvelles du grand possible] (1960).

– Jacques PRÉVERT (1900-1977), Lettre des îles Baladar (1952).

– Sylvain JOUTY (1949-), “Queen Kong” (1994), in [Queen Kong] (2001).

– Toni BERTHER (1927-2015), “Ils ratuns vegnan” (1951/1955), en Carstgauns e ratuns (1983).

– Ursicin G. [Gion] G. [Gieli] DERUNGS (1935-), “Il papa che saveva buca crer en Diu” (1987), în [Il cavalut verd ed auter] (1988).

– Giovanni FERRUCCI, [Novelle atlantide] (1956).

– Nino FADDA (1940-), Pissighende su tempus benidore (2003).

– Ovid S. CROHMĂLNICEANU (Moise Cohn, 1921-2000), “Tratatul de la Neuhof”, in [Istorii insolite] (1980).


– August NIEMANN (1839-1919), *Der Weltkrieg – Deutsche Träume (1904).

– Carl BLIEBTREU (1859-1928), *Die ‘Offensiv-Invasion’ gegen England (1907).

– Gustav Adolf MELCHERS, Der Vergangenheit unserer Zukunft? (1908).

– Adolf SOMMERFELD (1870-1931), Frankreichs Ende im Jahr 19?? (1912/1914).

– Max HEINRICHKA, *100 Jahre deutsche Zukunft (1913).

– FERENCZY Árpád (1877-1930), Timotheus Thümmel und seine Ameisen (1923).

– L. DETRE (Ladislaus Deutsch, 1874-1939), Kampf Zweier Welten (1935).

– Karl BRUGGER (1941-1985), Die Chronik von Akakor (1976).

– Wolfgang HILDESHEIMER (1916-1991), “1956 – Ein Pilzjahr”, in [Lieblose Legenden] (1952) // Marbot (1981).

SPECULATIVE JOURNALISTIC REPORT (REPORTAGE) in form of chronicles, interviews, witness reports, etc. combined by the journalist and told from his or her perspective

*: set in present times

– Whitley STRIEBER (1945-); James KUNETKA, Warday and the Journey Onward (1984).

– Afonso Henriques de LIMA BARRETO (1881-1922), *Os Bruzundangas (1923).

– Ramon COMAS I MADUELL (1935-1978), “L’evaporació”, in [Rescat d’ambaixadors] (1970).

– Jean JULLIEN (1854-1909), Enquête sur le monde futur (1909).

– Louis FOREST (1872-1933), *On vole des enfants à Paris (1909).

– Nicolas Mª RUBIO (1891-1981), Le Réveil de l’Afrique (1936).


It includes “urbogonies” or descriptions of imaginary cities

º: peoples from the archaeological past.

– Horace Mitchell MINER (1912-1993), “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” (1956).

– Willard WALKER (1927-2009), “The Retention of Folk Linguistic Concepts and the ti’yčir Caste in Contemporary Nacireman Culture” (1970).

– Robert Alun JONES, “Myth and Symbol Among the Nacirema Tsigoloicos: A Fragment” (1975/1980).

– Ursula K. [Kroeber] LE GUIN (1929-2018), [“The Back of the Book”], in Always Coming Home (1985).

– Helene E. HAGAN (1939-), “The People of Niram” (1998), in [Fifty Years in America] (2013).

– Joel E. DIMSDALE, “The Nacirema Revisited” (2001).

– Benjamin ROSENBAUM (1969-), [Other Cities] (2003).

– FERREIRA GULLAR (José RIBAMAR FERREIRA, 1930-2016), [Cidades Inventadas] (1997).

– Octávio dos SANTOS (1965-), “Caminos de ferro”, in [Visões] (2003).

– Juan ITURRALDE Y SUIT (1840-1909), “La ínsula de los Penelópidas” (1892).

– Jorge Luis BORGES (1899-1986), “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” (1940), “La lotería en Babilonia” (1941), in [El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan] (1941) / [Ficciones] (1944) / “La secta del Fénix” (1952), in [Ficciones] (1956) // “El informe de Brodie”, in [El informe de Brodie] (1970) // “La secta de los Treinta”, in [El libro de arena] (1975).

– Miguel ESPINOSA (1926-1982), La filosofía política mandarinesca (1956).

– Cristóbal SERRA (1922-2012), Viaje a Cotiledonia (1965) – Retorno a Cotiledonia (1989).

– Héctor A. MURENA (1923-1975), “La evolución del trabajo”, in [El coronel de caballería y otros cuentos] (1971).

– Pedro GÓMEZ VALDERRAMA (1923-1992), “Los papeles de la Academia Utópica”, in [La procesión de los ardientes] (1973).

– René AVILÉS FABILA (1940-2016), “La importancia de ser mutilado”, en [La desaparición de Hollywood y otras sugerencias para principiar un libro] (1973) and [Fantasías en carrusel] (1978/1995/2001).

– Fernando DURÁN AYANEGUI (1939-), “Gloria in excelsis”, in [El benefactor y otros relatos] (1981).

– Ileana VICENTE [ARMENTEROS] (1946-), “Primer informe” (1981).

– Elia BARCELÓ (1957-), “Apuntes sobre el culto de la Dama Dragón”, in “La Dama Dragón” (1981), in [Sagrada] (1989).

– José FERRATER MORA (1912-1991), “Que trata de Corona, el país y los habitantes”, in Hecho en Corona (1986).

– Gloria MÉNDEZ (1969-), º“¿De dónde vienen los acosha?: Historia de un pueblo sin memoria”, º“Yad Hamrá: matrimonio y erótica acosha”, º“Los cram o el sistema Ana Kristeva”, in [El informe Kristeva] (1997).

– Federico JEANMAIRE (1957-), ºLos zumitas (1999).

– León ARSENAL (José Antonio Álvaro Garrido, 1960-), “Nota preliminar”, in Máscaras de matar (2004).

– Lola ROBLES (1963-), “Aanuk”, in El informe Monteverde (2005).

– Juan Ignacio FERRERAS (1929-2014), “La Nueva Era”, in La Gran Necrópolis (2006).

– Cristina PERI ROSSI (1941-), “Banderas”, “Suicidios S.A.”, “El patriotismo”, in [Cuentos reunidos] (2007).

– Sofía RHEI (Sofía GONZÁLEZ CALVO, 1978-), [Las ciudades reversibles] (2008).

– Mercè RODOREDA (1908-1983), [“Viatges a uns quants pobles”], in [Viatges i flors] (1980).

– Mària Aurèlia CAPMANY (1918-1991), “Leviatan”, in [Com uma mà] (1958) and [Coses i noses] (1980).

– Nicolau Maria RUBIÓ I TUDURÍ (1891-1981), “Gzwrrawtzicxm”, en [Un crim abstracte o el jardiner assassinat] (1965)

– Jordi GORT, [Extractes del manual de supervivencia estelar 3] (2014).

– Victor CONSIDÉRANT (1808-1893), Publication complète des nouvelles découvertes de Sir John Herschel dans le ciel austral et dans la Lune (1836).

– Paul VALÉRY (1871-1945), º“L’Île Xiphos” [1896], in [Histoires brisées] (1950).

– FRANC-NOHAIN (Maurice Étienne Legrand, 1873-1934), “Le Pays de l’Instar”, in [Le Pays de l’Instar] (1901).

– Marcel SCHWOB (1867-1905), º“Origines du journal: L’Île des Diurnales”, en [Mœurs des Diurnales: Traité de journalisme] (1903; como Loyson-Bridet).

– Henri MICHAUX (1899-1984), Voyage en Grande Garabagne (1936), Au pays de la magie (1941), Ici, Poddema (1946), in [Ailleurs] (1948) // “La secret de la situation politique”, in [Face aux verrous] (1951/1967).

– Pierre BETTENCOURT (1917-2006), La planète Aréthuse (1969), L’Homme-million (1969), Le Roi des méduses (1984/1991), Voyage sur la planète innommée (1990), in [Histoire naturelle de l’imaginaire] (2007).

– Didier ANZIEU (1923-1999), “Les esquimaux et les songes”, in [Contes à rebours] (1975/1987/1995).

– Gilbert LASCAULT (1934-), Un Îlot tempéré (1977) // Encyclopédie abrégée de lEmpire Vert (1983).

– Alain NADAUD (1948-2015), “Exil en Grande-Scripturie”, in [Voyage au pays des bords du gouffre] (1984).

– Sylvain JOUTY (1949-), “Les dieux de l’Illusion”, in [La Visite au tombeau de mes ancêtres] (1995) // “Les démons du galet” (2000), “Les Veustes”, in [Queen Kong] (2001).

– Pierre JOURDE (1955-), Carnets d’un voyageur zulu dans les banlieues en feu (2007).

– Bernard QUIRINY (1978-), “Quiproquopolis (Comment parlent les Yapous)”, in [Contes cannibales] (2008) // [“Dix villes”], en [Une collection très particulière] (2012) // “La capitale décapitée” en [Histoires assassines] (2015).

– Tobie NATHAN (1948-), “Glossaire en code natif”, in [L’Étranger ou la part de l’autre] (2014).

– Reto CARATSCH (1901-1978), “Il pajais dal vacuna”, “Eviva l’amur!”, “Il pro da la faira litteraria”, “S-chet patagon”, “Spiert e mazurca”, in La renaschentscha dals Patagons (1949).

– Giovanni PAPINI (1881-1956), “Racconto dell’isola”, in [Gog] (1931) // “Il regno dei Karseni” (1941), “Armuria” (1942),  “I figli del sole” (1942), in [Foglie della foresta] (1946) // “La città della gioia” (1949), “Una strana città”, in [Le pazzie del poeta] (1950) // “Ascenzia”, en [Il libro nero] (1951).

– Alberto MORAVIA (1907-1990), “L’isola” (1940), “La vita è un sogno” (1944), “Paese senza morte”, “Mamamel e Vusitel”, in [L’epidemia] (1944/1956) // “Città dei mobili” (1947).

– Augusto FRASSINETI (1911-1985), “Prima lettera”, in [Misteri dei Ministeri] (1952/1974).

– Dino BUZZATI (1906-1972), “Un popolo felice”, in [Siamo spiacenti di] (1960/1975).

– Umberto ECO (1932-), “Industria e repressione sessuale in una società padana”, in [Diario minimo] (1963/1975) // “Come presentare in TV” (1987), en [Il secondo diario minimo] (1992).

– Lia WAINSTEIN (1919-2001), “Cittabella”, “Olindo Lindi: Viaggio in Drimonia”, in [Viaggio in Drimonia] (1965).

– Italo CALVINO (1923-1985), [Le città invisibili] (1972)  // “Apologo sull’onestà nel paese dei corrotti” (1980).

– Gianni CELATI (1937-), Fata Morgana (1987-2005).

– Pavel VASICI (1806-1881), “Geografia țintirimului” (1840).

– Ştefan ZELETIN (1882-1934), Din Ţara Măgarilor. Însemnări (1916).

– Gheorghe SĂSĂRMAN (1941-), [Cuadratura cercului] (1975/2001).

– Mihail GRĂMESCU (1951-2014), “Felonia”, “Vânatorii de capete”, in [Aporisticon] (1981/2012).


– Stefan THEMERSON (1910-1988), Professor Mmaa’s Lecture (1953).

– Leó SZILÁRD (1898-1964), “Report on Grand Central Terminal” (1952), in [The Voice of the Dolphins and Other Stories] (1961).

– André MAUROIS (Émile Salomon Wilhelm Herzog, 1885-1967), “La Vie des hommes”, in [Deux Fragments d’une histoire universelle 1992] (1928).

– Paul GABRIEL, Messages martiens (1956).

– Pierre GRIPARI (1925-1990), “La Peau d’un autre”, in [Rêveries d’un Martien en exil] (1976).

– Bernard WERBER (1961-), “Apprenons à les aimer”, in [L’Arbre des possibles et autres histoires] (2002) // Nos amis les Terriens, petit guide de découverte (2007).

– Arturo LEZCANO (1939-), “Peixes voadores non identificados” (1991), in [Os dados de Deus] (1994).

– Miguel VALE DE ALMEIDA (1960-), “O Relatório” (2000).

– Nilo María FABRA (1843-1903), “En el planeta Marte” (1890), in [Cuentos ilustrados] (1895).

– José María SALAVERRÍA (1873-1940), “El planeta prodigioso” / Un mundo al descubierto (1924/1929).

– José Luis SAMPEDRO (1917-2013), “Un caso de cosmoetnología: la religión hispánica” (1959), in [Mientras la tierra gira] (1993).

– Max AUB (1903-1972), “Manuscrito cuervo. Historia de Jacobo” (1952), in [Cuentos ciertos] (1955).

– Juan Pablo ORTEGA (1924-), Los terrícolas (1976).

– Josep SOLÉ NICOLÁS, “Noticias sensacionalistas” (1979).

– Jorge CAMPOS (Jorge RENALES FERNÁNDEZ, 1916-1983), *“Un astro muerto”, in [Bombas, astros y otras lejanías] (1992).

– Régis MESSAC (1893-1945), “De plus loin que Sirius.– Extraits du journal de recherches du physicien Blivit-Ornot, habitant du supermonde du 2e échelon” (1937).

– Giovanni PAPINI (1881-1956), “Primo rapporto dei marziani” (1950), in [La sesta parte del mondo] (1954).

– Alberto MORAVIA (1907-1990), “Primo rapporto sulla Terra dell’“inviato speciale””, in [L’epidemia] (1956).

– Mario SOLDATI (1906-1999), “Un’inchiesta di Alfa centauri” (1964).

– Primo LEVI (1919-1987), “Visto da lontano” (1967), in [Vizio di forma] (1971).

– Nichita STĂNESCU (1933-1983), “Dintr-un abecedar marțian”, In [Respirări] (1982).

– Vladimir COLIN (Jean Colin, 1921-1991), “Întâlnirea”, in [Dinţii lui Cronos] (1975).


– Rhoda BLUMBERG (1917-2016), The First Travel Guide to the Moon (1980).

– Santo CILAURO (1961-), Tom GLEISNER (1962-); Rob SITCH (1962-), Molvanîa:  A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry (2003) // Phaic Tăn: Sunstroke on a Shoestring (2004) // San Sombrèro: A Land of Carnivals, Cocktails and Coups (2006).

– Salvador ELIZONDO (1932-2006), “Los museos de Metaxiphos”, in [Camera lucida] (1983).

– Benoît PEETERS (1956-), Le Guide des cités (2002/2011).

– Gemelli RUGGERI (Luciano MANZALINI, 1952-; Eraldo TURRA, 1955-), Guida a Croda (1993).


Fictions consisting in pure descriptions of imaginary buildings (including their interior and surroundings), as well as imaginary gardens and ruins. It can include human characters only to illustrate the conditions of habitation. Fictions are excluded in which the constructions only constitute the framework in which a story develops.

*: in verse.

– Antonio FLORES (1818-1865), “El árbol de la publicidad”, “El Gran Hotel de la Unidad Transatlántica”, in [Mañana, o la chispa eléctrica en 1899], third volumen of [Ayer, hoy y mañana, o la fe, el vapor y la electricidad] (1863).

– AZORÍN (José MARTÍNEZ RUIZ, 1873-1967), “La casa, la calle y el camino” (1904), in [Tiempos y cosas] (1944).

– Jorge Luis BORGES (1899-1986), “La biblioteca de Babel” (1941), in [El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan] (1941) / [Ficciones] (1944/1956).

– Salvador ELIZONDO (1932-2006), “Los museos de Metaxiphos”, in [Camera lucida] (1983).

– Pablo RODRÍGUEZ BURÓN (1980-), “La casa de la memoria”, in Turistia (2016).

– Victor CONSIDERANT (1808-1893), Description du phalanstère (1848).

– Léon DIERX (1838-1912), *“La ruine”, in [Les Lèvres closes] (1879).

– Theo CANDINAS (1929-), “Descripziun d’in stabiliment”, in [Entagls] (1974).

– Alberto MORAVIA (1907-1990), “Città dei mobili” (1947).

– Alexandru MACEDONSKI (1854-1920), “Palatul fermecat” (1881) / “Palatul fermecat”, in [Cartea de aur] (1902/1973).


– “The Book of Oatiati” (1873).

– Andrew LANG (1844-1912), “The Great Gladstone Myth” (1886), in [In the Wrong Paradise and Other Stories] (1886).

– Leó SZILÁRD (1898-1964), “Report on Grand Central Terminal” (1952), en [The Voice of the Dolphins and Other Stories] (1961).

– Robert NATHAN (1894-1985), “Digging the Weans” (1956) – “A Further Report on the Weans” (1959) / The Weans (1960).

– Serafín ADAME MUÑOZ (1828-1875), Napoleón no ha existido jamás (1850).

– Gonzalo MARTRÉ (Mario Trejo González, 1928-), “Los antiguos mexicanos a través de sus ruinas y sus vestigios” (2001).

– Jean-Baptiste PÉRÈS (1752-1840), Comme quoi Napoléon n’a jamais existé ou Grand Erratum, source d’un nombre infini d’errata à noter dans l’histoire du XIXe siècle (1827).

– Alfred FRANKLIN (1830-1917), Mœurs et coutumes des Parisiens en 1880. Cours professé au Collège de France pendant le second semestre de l’année 3882 par Alfred Mantien, professeur d’archéologie transcendante (1882).

– Albert MILLAUD (1844-1892), “La statue de Gambetta en l’an 2000” (1888).

– Gaston de PAWLOWSKI (1874-1933), “Curiosités historiques.– Usages, mœurs et coutumes du siècle dernier” (1901).

– Étienne JOLICLER, “Chronique en l’an 2001” (1902).

– Marcel SCHWOB (1867-1905), “Origines du journal: L’Île des Diurnales”, in [Mœurs des Diurnales: Traité de journalisme] (1903; as Loyson-Bridet).

– Louis LOTTIN (1880-1916), “Le Trésor des pierres”, in [Lyon en l’an 2000] (1911).

– Régis MESSAC (1893-1945), “Fragments du journal d’Acapsu, technicien de l’an 3340” (1932) // “Couronne de perles et croix de bois.– Extraits des papiers de CB2/1!=WRNZ, préhistorien de l’an 10.033” (1933).

– Tommaso LANDOLFI (1908-1979), “SPQR”, in [Racconti impossibili] (1966).

– Tudor ARGHEZI (Ion N. Theodorescu, 1880-1967), “În preistorie”, in [Tablete din Ţara de Kuty] (1933).

– Vladimir COLIN (Jean Colin, 1921-1991), “Postfață”, in [Legendele Țării lui Vam] (1961).


Fictional mythographies are mythopoetic creations imitating the form of prose mythographical reports. Since they are fictional, invented mythologies that are really intended to be inspired by the deity with a view to fostering a religion are excluded. Mitographies presented as translations from any alleged oral tradition coming from existing peoples are also included, even if the original text of the oral myths in the original language has not been transcribed. Theological and scientific-like myths are also excluded.

Mitographic discourse is characterized by the predominance of narrativity, which is always heterodiegetic. It is a kind of historiographical narrative, since mythology constitutes a sacred history, although the mythological narrative admits a greater rhetorical decoration and does not exclude narrative omniscience, although this is generally limited. By the nature of its discourse, mythography excludes monologues and novelistic conversations. Its characters are gods, demigods and humans in direct contact with them.

– Lord DUNSANY (1878-1957), [The Gods of Pegāna] (1905).

– J. R. R. TOLKIEN (1892-1973), [The Silmarillion] (1977).

– Ursula K. LE GUIN (1929-2018), “Beginnings”, in Always Coming Home (1985).

– Tudor ARGHEZI (1880-1967), “Bătrânii din insula”, in [Cartea cu jucării] (1931/1943) y [Ce-ai cu mine, vântule?] (1937).

– Mihai MĂNIUŢIU (1954-), “Un zeu aproape muritor”, in [Un zeu aproape muritor] (1982).

– Gianni CELATI (1937-), “La tenda del cielo”, in [Fata Morgana] (1987-2005).

– Henri MICHAUX (1899-1984), [Fables des origines] (1923).

– Pompeu GENER (1848-1920), “Una teogonia índia” (1901) / “Antic poem del Indostan (Una teogonia vishnuita)”, in [Pensant, sentint i rient] (1911).

– SALARRUÉ (Salvador Salazar Arrué, 1899-1975), [O’Yarkandal] (1929).

– Gabriel CELAYA (1911-1991), “Origen”, in Tentativas (1946).

– Víctor CONDE (Alfredo Moreno Santana, 1973-), “Mitos y leyendas”, in [La Orfíada] (2017).

– Roberto GONZÁLEZ-QUEVEDO (1953-), “L’aniciu de los dioses ya de las cousas”, in [Hestoria de la l.literatura primera en Pesicia] (2014).

– Vladimir COLIN (Jean Colin, 1921-1991), “Postfață”, in [Legendele Țării lui Vam] (1961).


Ethnographical accounts of existing mythologies are excluded. Also works in German.


*: literary mythographic rewriting of existing cosmogonies.


– Lord DUNSANY (1878-1957), [The Gods of Pegāna] (1905).

– J. R. R. TOLKIEN (1892-1973), “Ainulindalë”, in [The Silmarillion] (1977).

– Ursula K. LE GUIN (1929-2018), “Beginnings”, in Always Coming Home (1985).

– Giacomo LEOPARDI (1798-1737), “Storia del genere umano” [1824], en [Operette morali] (1827).

– Vincenzo CARDARELLI (1887-1959), *[Favole della Genesi] (1919-1920/1925).

– Anna BONACCI (1892-1981), *“Genesi” (1939).

– Gianni CELATI (1937-), “La tenda del cielo”, in [Fata Morgana] (1987-2005).

– Marcel SCHWOB (1867-1905), *“Vie de Morphiel démiurge” (1895).

– Henri MICHAUX (1899-1984), [Fables des origines] (1923).

– Olivier de BOUVEIGNES (Léon Guébels, 1889-1966), *“La création et les premiers jours du monde”, en [Contes d’Afrique] (1927).

– Jean-Pierre OTTE (1949-), *[Les aubes enchantées] (1994).

– Pompeu GENER (1848-1920), “Una teogonia índia” (1901) / “Antic poem del Indostan (Una teogonia vishnuita)”, en [Pensant, sentint i rient] (1911).

– Gustavo Adolfo BÉCQUER (1836-1870), *“La creación” (1861).

– AZORÍN (José MARTÍNEZ RUIZ, 1873-1967), “Leopardi”, in [Fantasías y devaneos] (1920)

– SALARRUÉ (Salvador Salazar Arrué, 1899-1975), “Alm-a”, in [O’Yarkandal] (1929).

– Gabriel CELAYA (1911-1991), “Origen”, in Tentativas (1946).

– Miguel Ángel ASTURIAS (1899-1974), “Los brujos de la tormenta primaveral”, in [Leyendas de Guatemala], 2.ª edición (1948).

– Mario VARGAS LLOSA (1936-), *El hablador (1987).

– Roberto GONZÁLEZ-QUEVEDO (1953-), “L’aniciu de los dioses ya de las cousas”, en [Hestoria de la l.literatura primera en Pesicia] (2014).


– Rudolf PANNWITZ (1881-1969), Das Lied vom Elen (1919).

– Holly Dworken COOLEY, “A Creation Myth” (2008).

– Giuseppe UNGARETTI (1888-1970), *[Favole indie della Genesi] (1946).

– Charles Marie René LECONTE DE LISLE (1818-1894), *“La légende des Nornes” (1858), in [Poésies barbares] (1862) / *“La Genèse polynésienne” (1857), in  [Poèmes barbares] (1872/1878).

– André de GUERNE (1853-1912), *“Les Créations d’Ahoûra-Mazdâ”, in [L’Orient antique] (1890).

– Auguste GÉNIN (1862-1931), *“La Genèse aztèque”, in [Poèmes aztèques] (1890) / [Légendes et récits du Mexique ancien] (1922).

– Maurice BOUCHOR (1855-1929), *“La Terre et l’amour”, in [Les Symboles] (1888).

– Maurice OLIVAINT (1860-1929), *“Taaroa”, in [Fleurs de corail] (1900).

– Alexis KAGAME (1912-1981), *[La Divine Pastorale] (1952-1955).

– François BROUSSE (1913-1995), *“Genèse hindoue” (1956), in [Le Rire des dieux] (2006).

– Christine HARDY, “Conte d’Il”, in [Paysages d’infini] (1983).

– Llorenç RIBER (1881-1958), *“L’obra dels sis dies” (1904), in [Al sol alt] (1949).

– Augusto ROA BASTOS (1917-2005), *[El génesis de los guaraníes] (1948). 

– Miguel Ángel ASTURIAS (1899-1974), Clarivigilia primaveral (1965).

– Jorge GUILLÉN (1893-1984), *“Creador y creación”, in [Y otros poemas] (1973).

– GUERRA JUNQUEIRO (1850-1923), *«O génesis», en [A velhice do Padre Eterno] (1885).

– Raul BOPP (1898-1984), *“Princípio” (1946), in [Poesias] (1947) and [Cobra Norato e outros poemas] (1951).



–  John Ballou NEWBROUGH (1828-1891), Oahspe (1882/1891).

– Eric Frank RUSSELL (1905-1978), “Sole Solution” (1956), in [Dark Tides] (1962).

– Vincenzo CARDARELLI (Nazareno Caldarelli, 1887-1959), “Il fuoco” (1919), in [Favole della Genesi] (1919-1921) / [Favole e memorie] (1925).

– George SAND (Aurore Dupin, 1804-1876), “Le Poème de Myrza” (1835).

– Renée VIVIEN (Pauline Mary Tarn, 1877-1909), “La genèse profane”, in [Brumes de fjords] (1902).

– Han RYNER (1861-1938), “Sacrifices” (1902), in [Les Voyages de Psychodore, philosophe cynique] (1903) / “La dernières parabole” (1906), in [Les Paraboles cyniques] (1912).

– Didier ANZIEU (1923-1999), “Dieu créa la femme”, “Un sommeil divin”, in [Contes à rebours] (1975/1987/1995).

– Pierre GRIPARI (1925-1990), “Les origines”, in Vies parallèles de Roman Branchu (1978) // “Mésaventures de Dieu”, in [La Rose réaliste] (1985).

– Jean d’ORMESSON (1925-2017), Dieu, sa vie, son œuvre (1981).

– Òscar PÀMIES (1961-), “La creació del món”, in [Com serà la fi del món] (1996).

– Benigno Baldomero LUGONES (1857-1884), “Isis” (1881).

– Rafael ZAMORA Y PÉREZ DE URRÍA, marqués de Valero de Urría (1861-1908), “Los ojos del amor”, in [Crímenes literarios] (1906).

– Jorge CAMPOS (Jorge Renales Fernández, 1916-1983), “El Ser, el Dios, el Todo” (1973), in [Bombas, astros y otras lejanías] (1992).

– Juan Pedro APARICIO (1941-), “Dios”, in [La mitad del diablo] (2006).


– Ian WATSON (1943-), “Let There Be Darkness: An Origin Myth”, in [The Lexicographer’s Love Song and Other Poems] (2001).

– Gustave de LANOUE (1812-1838), “Éden ou la création”, in [Énoch] (1837).

– Sully PRUDHOMME (René François Armand Prudhomme, 1839-1907), Les Destins (1872).

– Edmond HARAUCOURT (1856-1941), “Le coït des atomes”, en [La Légende des sexes] (1882; as Edmond de Chambley) / “Les atomes”, en [L’Âme nue] (1885).

– Jean RICHEPIN (1849-1926), “Le mystère de la création”, in [Les Blasphèmes] (1884).

– Jean RAMEAU (Laurent Labaigt, 1858-1942), “La légende de la Terre”, in [La vie et la mort] (1886).

– René C. OPPITZ (1904-1976), Imprécations (1975).

– Juan AROLAS (1805-1849), “La creación” (1841), in [Poesías] (1842).

– José FERNÁNDEZ BREMÓN (1839-1910), “El Bien y el Mal” (1868).

– Àngel GUIMERÀ (1845-1924), “Creació”, in [Segon llibre de poesies] (1920).

– Alexandru MACEDONSKI (1854-1920), “Creaţiunea” (1874).



– Edgar Allan POE (1809-1849), Eureka (1848).

– Giacomo LEOPARDI (1798-1837), “Frammento apocrifo di Stratone da Lampsaco”, in [Operette morali] (1845 [1825]).

– Tommaso LANDOLFI (1908-1979), “Da: L’astronomia esposta al popolo. Nozioni d’astronomia sideronebulare”, in [Il mare delle blatte e altre storie] (1939).

– Edgar QUINET (1803-1875), La Création (1870).

– Auguste BLANQUI (1805-1881), L’Éternité par les astres (1872).

– Paul CLAUDEL (1868-1955), La Légende de Prâkriti (1934).

– Étienne KLEIN (1958-), Discours sur l’origine de l’univers (2010).

– Joaquín BARTRINA (1850-1880), “La formación del mundo” (1870).

– Augusto GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES (1845-1904), La vida de los astros (1878).

– Leopoldo LUGONES (1874-1938), “Ensayo de una cosmogonía en diez lecciones”, in [Las fuerzas extrañas] (1906).

– Nuria AMAT (1950-), “Big bang”, in [Monstruos] (1991).


– Mathilde BLIND (Mathilde Cohen, 1841-1896), “Chaunts of Life”, in [The Ascent of Man] (1888).

– Grant ALLEN (1848-1899), “A Ballade of Evolution”, in [The Lower Slopes] (1894).

– James E. GUNN (1923-), “Imagine”, in The Listeners (1972).

– Louis BOUILHET (1822-1869), Les Fossiles (1854).

– Jules LEFÈVRE-DEUMIER (1797-1857), “Formation de la Terre”, in [Le Couvre-feu] (1857).

– Edmond EMERICH, La Création du globe terrestre (1860).

– CLAIRVILLE (Louis-François Nicolaïe, 1811-1879), “Le Monde antédiluvien” (1863), in [Le Caveau] (1864).

– Émile LITTRÉ (1801-1881), “La Terre” (1867).

– Ernest COTTY (1818-1877), “Antédiluviana” (1875).

– Jules ARBELOT, La Création et l’humanité (1882).

– Henri WARNERY (1859-1902) “Les Origines”, in [Poésies] (1887).

– René GHIL (René Guilbert, 1862-1925), Le Meilleur Devenir (1889).

– J. de STRADA (Gilles Gabriel Delarue, 1821-1902), La Genèse universelle (1890).

– André JOUSSAIN (1880-1969), L’Épopée terrestre (1926-1934-1958).

– Jean CHAMARD (1843-1915), L’Épopée des âges [1874-1879] (1947).

– Marthe DUPUY (1871-1958), “L’Origine du monde”, “Évolution”, en [Au fond des abîmes] (1950).

– Raymond QUENEAU (1903-1976), Petite Cosmogonie portative (1950).

– René OPPITZ (1902-1976), Imprécations (1975).

– Robert GOFFIN (1898-1984), [Sablier pour une cosmogonie] (1965).

– Maurice COUQUIAUD (1930-), [Un profil de buée] (1980).

– Ricardo MACÍAS PICAVEA (1847-1899), Kosmos (1872).

– Luis TAPIA, “El origen de la Tierra” (1896).

– Carlos FERRER (1845-1919), “Cosmogonía”, en [El universo](1900).

– José LÓPEZ MONTENEGRO (1832-1908), “La Naturaleza”, in [El botón de fuego] (1902).

– Ernesto CARDENAL (1925-), [Cántico cósmico] (1989).

– Haroldo de CAMPOS (1929-2003), A Máquina do Mundo Repensada (2000).

– Cleant SPIRESCU, Cosmos sau cântarea stelelor (1935).

– Adrian ROGOZ (1921-1996), “Miza unei recreaţii”, in [Inima rezistentă] (1981).


From Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis to Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker: The visionary cosmic voyage as a speculative genre

Stapledon’s Star Maker is an outstanding modern example of a particular genre, the visionary cosmic voyage. In this kind of a literature of a rather descriptive nature, the author usually tells of his/her dream or vision of the universe, depicted according to the scientific knowledge of the time, in order to convey a philosophical and/or astronomical cosmic view. This genre has its origin in the Cicero’s influential Somnium Scipionis. After its allegorical and religious/supernatural imitations throughout the Middle Ages and later on, Kepler’s Somnium adopted a secular protoscience-fictional approach to the genre, the same that Stapledon subsequently embraced. Between these two visionary cosmic voyagers stand several canonical writers who have followed the Ciceronian taproot text to create impressive visions of the universe. Star Maker falls within this tradition, having brought it to its culmination in both ambition and scope, while remaining faithful to Cicero’s and to his best followers’ pattern as to the literary exploitation of the sublime. Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis is, thus, to be considered one of the main ancient forerunners to speculative fiction, due to its status as founder of the visionary cosmic voyage, and to the science-fictional sublime.

*: in verse.

– James HOGG (1770-1835), *The Pilgrims of the Sun (1815).

– Sir Humphrey DAVY (1778-1829), “The Vision”, in [Consolations in Travel, or The Last Days of A Philosopher] (1830).

– Thomas Lake HARRIS (1823-1906), *An Epic of the Starry Heaven (1855).

– James DE MILLE (1833-1880), *Behind the Veil (1893).

– A. E. (George William Russell, 1867-1935), “The Story of a Star” (1894), in [Imaginations and Reveries] (1915).

– H. [Herbert] G. [George] WELLS (1866-1946), “Under the Knife” (1896), in [The Plattner Story and Others] (1897).

– William Shuler HARRIS (1865-?), Life in a Thousand Worlds (1905).

– Clark Ashton SMITH (1893-1961), *“The Star-Trader”, in [The Star-Trader and Other Poems] (1912) // *“The Hashish-Eater; or The Apocalypse of Evil”, in [Ebony and Crystal] (1922).

– H. [Howard] P. [Phillips] LOVECRAFT (1890-1937), *“Aletheia Phrikodes”, in The Poe-et’s Nightmare (1916) (V.).

– Fletcher PRATT (1897-1956), “The Roger Bacon Formula” (1929).

– Olaf STAPLEDON (1886-1950), Star Maker (1937).

– Enéas LINTZ (1892-?), Há Dez Mil Séculos (1926).

– Pedro CASTERA (1846-1906), “Un viaje celeste” (1872) / “Un viaje celestial”, in [Impresiones y recuerdos] (1882).

– Carlos MESÍA DE LA CERDA (?-1919), “El hombre de cristal”, in [El saquillo de mi abuela] (1875).

– Carlos Octavio BUNGE (1875-1918), “Viaje a través de la estirpe”, in [Viaje a través de la estirpe y otras narraciones] (1908).

– Amado NERVO (1870-1919), *“Yo estaba en el espacio”, in [En voz baja] (1909).

– Edmundo GONZÁLEZ BLANCO (1877-1938), “La mueca suprema”, in [Jesús de Nazareth] (1915).

– Dr. ATL (Gerardo Murillo, 1875-1964), Un hombre más allá del universo (1935).

– Valentí ALMIRALL (1841-1904), “Un manuscrit de savi o de boig” (como Thales; 1880).

– G. DESCOTTES, Voyage dans les planètes et découverte des véritables destinées de l’homme (1864).

– Camille FLAMMARION (1842-1925), Récits de l’infini (1872) / Lumen (1887).

– Edmond HARAUCOURT (1856-1941), *“L’étape”, in [L’âme nue] (1885).

– Jean RAMEAU (1858-1942), *“Rêve”, in [La vie et la mort] (1886).

– Joseph MAGGINI, *“Vision de bonheur”, in [La voix du souvenir] (1934).

– Pierre GRIPARI (1925-1990), “Voyage nocturne”, in [La rose réaliste] (1985).

– Giulio GIANELLI (1879-1914), *“Vita nello spazio” (1912), en [Poesie] (1934).

– Giovanni BOTTINELLI, Fantasie cosmiche (1938).


(texts of a literary nature using the discourse of mathematics and natural sciences, in English, German, or any Romance language; except publications in scientific journals, parodic or not, called “spoof papers”)

Scientific spoof papers as a literary and fictional genre encompass the works where fantastical content is infused into any text that methodically and consistently presents the standard rhetorical features of the scientific discourse usual in real scientific practice, especially in the natural sciences, thus achieving literariness through fictionalization. A representative example of this genre are the papers by Isaac Asimov on the imaginary molecule called thiotimoline, which can be seen as central in a long historical series of works belonging to this discursive genre from Gustav Fechner in the 19th century to contemporary authors. Among them, there are a number of writers known for their absurdist and fantastical works, such as Alfred Jarry, Tommaso Landolfi, Giorgio Manganelli, Georges Saunders, etc.

Natural sciences (including Psychology):

– Augustus C. Fotheringam (Lester W. SHARP, 1887-1961; Cuthbert Bancroft FRASER), Eoörnis Pterovelox Gobiensis (1926).

– Isaac ASIMOV (1920-1992), “The Marvellous Properties of Thiotimoline” (1948-1952), in [Only a Trillion] (1957) // “Thiotimoline and the Space Age” (1960), in [Opus 100] (1969).

– Mark CLIFTON (1906-1963), “The Dread Tomato Addiction” (1958).

– Mark EPERNAY (John Kenneth GALBRAITH, 1908-2006), “The McLandress Dimension” (1962), in [The McLandress Dimension] (1963).

– J. [James] G. [Graham] BALLARD (1930-2009), “Love and Napalm: Export USA”, in [The Atrocity Exhibition] (1970).

– J. [Jeremy] H. [Halvard] PRYNNE (1936-), “The Plant Time Manifold Transcripts” (1975), in [Poems] (1999).

– Thomas A. EASTON (1944-), “The Chicago Plan to Save a Species” (1976).

– Peter DICKINSON (1927-2015), The Flight of Dragons (1979).

– George PEREC (1936-1982), “Experimental Demonstration of the Tomatotopic Organisation in the Soprano (Cantatrix sopranica L.)” (1980).

– Dougal DIXON (1947-), After Man: A Zoology of the Future (1981) // The New Dinosaurs: An Alternative Evolution (1988).

– Steve JACKSON; Ian LIVINGSTONE, Out of the Pit (1985).

– Harry HARRISON (1925-2012), [“The World West of Eden”], in [Return to Eden] (1988).

– Frederick POHL (1919-2013), “Scientific American: ‘Martian Polar Wanderings’”, in The Day the Martians Came (1988).

– Jeff VANDERMEER (1968-); Mark ROBERTS, The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases (2003).

– Dugald STEER (1965-), Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons (2003).

– George SAUNDERS (1958-), “93990”, in [In Persuasion Nation] (2006).

– Dr. Mises (Gustav Theodor FECHNER, 1801-1887), “Beweis, dass der Mond aus Jodine bestehe” (1821), “Öffentliche Sitzung am 1. Juli 1861 über den seitlichen Fenster- und Kerzenversuch” (1821), [“Stapelia mixta”] (1824), “Vergleichende Anatomie der Engel” (1825), [“Vier Paradoxa]” (1846), in [Kleine Schriften] (1875).

– Egon FRIEDELL (1878-1938), “Ist die Erde bewohnt?” (1931).

– Harald Stümpke (Gerolf STEINER, 1908-2009), Bau und Leben der Rhinogradentia (1957).

– Óscar de LA BORBOLLA (1949-), “Informe ucrónico” (1993).

– David ROAS (1965-), “El Hipocrondrio”, in [Horrores cotidianos] (2007).

– Javier FERNÁNDEZ (1971-), “Condiciones que inhiben el discernimiento”, in [La grieta] (2007).

– Vicenç PAGÈS JORDÀ (1963-), “Puella gerundensis” (1996), “Gnocchis”, in [El poeta i altres contes] (2005) / [Exorcismes] (2018).

– Alfred JARRY (1873-1907), ““Commentaires pour servir à la construction pratique de la machine à voyager dans le temps” par le Dr. Faustroll” (1899) // “Cynégétique de l’omnibus” (1901) // “Les mœurs des noyés” (1902).

– George PEREC (1936-1982), “Mise en évidence expérimentale d’une organisation tomatotopique chez la soprano (Cantatrix sopranica L.)” (1980), “Distribution spatio-temporelle de Coscinoscera Victoria, Coscinoscera Tigrata Carpenteri, Coscinoscera Punctata Barton & Coscinoscera Nigrostriata d’Iputupi” (1980).

– Tommaso LANDOLFI (1908-1979), “Da: L’astronomia esposta al popolo. Nozioni d’astronomia sideronebulare”, in [Il mare delle blatte e altre storie] (1939) // “Formula della pazienza; Chiasma de la timidezza” (1941) / “La pazienza; la timidezza” (1977), in [Diario perpetuo] (2012) // “Da: La melotecnica esposta al popolo”, “Nuove rivelazioni della psiche umana. L’uomo di Mannheim. (Relazione letta alla Reale Accademia delle Scienze dall’on. Onisammot Iflodnal, azerbeigiano)”, in [La spada] (1942).

– Alberto MORAVIA (1907-1990), “L’epidemia” (1941), in [L’epidemia] (1944/1956).

– Augusto FRASSINETI (1911-1985), “Prime Conclusioni intorno allo studio della Ministerialità”, in [Misteri dei Ministeri] (1952/1974).

– Primo LEVI (1919-1987), “Cladonia rapida” (1964), in [Storie naturali] (1966).

– Leo LIONNI (1910-1999), La botanica parallela (1976).

– Giorgio PRODI (1928-1987), “L’evoluzione degli animali a penna”, in [Il neutrone borghese] (1980).

– Giorgio MANGANELLI (1922-1990), “Discorso sulla difficoltà di comunicare coi morti”, in [Agli dèi ulteriori] (1989).

– Luigi MALERBA (1927-2008), “Appunti e frammenti per un trattato sugli alberi e sui suoni da essi prodotti”, in [Consigli inutili] (2014).

– Nicolae STEINHARDT (1912-1989), “Cazuri de isterie la sugacii de azi”, in [În genul… tinerilor] (1932).

– Romulus DINU (1921-), “Boala de decongelare (Apatia criogenetică)”, in […dintr-o lume congelată şi… false ficţiuni] (1980).

– Mircea BĂDUŢ (1967-), “Exerciţiu de ciclicitate”, in [Ficţiuni secunde] (2016).

Formal sciences:

*: Linguistics

– Lewis CARROLL (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, 1832-1898), The New Method of Evaluation, as Applied to π (1865), The Dynamics of a Parti-cle (1865), in [Notes by an Oxford Chiel] (1874).

– George ORWELL (Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950), *“The Principles of Newspeak”, in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).

– C. [Charles] F. [Francis] HOCKETT (1916-2000), *“How to Learn Martian” (1955), in [The View from Language: Selected Essays 1948-1974] (1977).

– J. [John] R. [Reginald] R. [Reuel] TOLKIEN (1892-1973), *“Writing and Spelling”, in The Lord of the Rings (1967).

– Willard WALKER (1927-2009), *“The Retention of Folk Linguistic Concepts and the ti’yčir Caste in Contemporary Nacireman Culture” (1970).

– Ursula K. [Kroeber] LE GUIN (1929-2018), ““The Author of the Acacia Seeds” and Other Extracts from the Journal of the Association of Therolinguistics” (1974), in [The Compass Rose] (1982).

– Harry MATHEWS (1930-), *“Remarks of the Scholar Graduate”, in [Country Cooking and Other Stories] (1980).

– Modesto LAFUENTE (1806-1866), “Estadística real”, in [Teatro social del siglo XIX] (1846).

– Lola ROBLES (1963-), *“Sobre el campo semántico de los colores en el idioma aanukien”, *“Sobre la metáfora aanukien y fihdia”, in El informe Monteverde (2005).

– Paul THÉDORE-VIBERT (1851-1918), *“Prononciation antique”, en [Pour lire en automobile] (1901).

– Alfred JARRY (1873-1907), “De la surface de Dieu”, in Gestes et opinions du docteur Faustroll, pataphysicien [1898-1899] (1911).

– Raymond QUENEAU (1903-1976), “Quelques remarques sommaires relatives aux propriétés aérodynamiques de l’addition” (1950) // *“De quelques langages animaux imaginaires et notamment du langage chien dans Sylvie et Bruno” (1971).

– Boris VIAN (1920-1959), “Mémoire concernant le calcul numérique de Dieu par des méthodes simples et fausses” (1977 [1955]).

– Tommaso LANDOLFI (1908-1979), *“Qualche discorso sull’L.I.” (1941) / “Volete imparare questo alfabeto?” (1978), in [Diario perpetuo] (2012).

– Umberto ECO (1932-2016), “Dell’impossibilità di costruire la carta dell’imperio 1 a 1”, “The Wom”, “Come falsificare Eraclito”, “Il teorema degli ottocento colori”, in [Il secondo diario minimo] (1992).

– Ion Luca CARAGIALE (1852-1912), “Statistică” (1893), in [Schiţe uşoare] (1896).


Fantastic bestiaries are fictions consisting in non-scientific descriptions of imaginary beings (plants, animals, minerals).

– Woody ALLEN (Allan Stewart Königsberg, 1935-), “Fabulous Tales and Mythic Beasts”, in [Without Feathers] (1975).

– J. [Joanne] K. ROWLING (1965-), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2001; as by Newt Scamander).

– John Henry FLEMING, Fearsome Creatures of Florida (2009).

– Ursula K. LE GUIN (1929-2018), “Elementals” (2012).

– Álvaro CUNQUEIRO (1911-1981), [“Novidades do mundo e fauna máxica”], in [Escola de menciñeiros e fábula de varia xente] (1960).

– Wilson BUENO (1949-2010), Jardim zoológico (1999).

– Jorge Luis BORGES (1899-1986); Margarita GUERRERO, [Manual de zoología fantástica] (1957) / [El libro de los seres imaginarios] (1967/1969).

– Rafael CASTELLANO, “Especies extinguidas: el plumiferus melancolicus” (1965).

– Juan PERUCHO (1920-2003), [Botánica oculta o el falso Paracelso] (1969) // [“Lapidario portátil”], en [Historias secretas de balnearios] (1972) // [Bestiario fantástico] (1977).

– ÁLVARO CUNQUEIRO (1911-1981), “Diccionario manual de bestias marinas” (1972).

– Joan FONTCUBERTA (1955-), “El cocatrix” (1997).

– José Luis SAMPEDRO (1917-2013), “Aviso contra la dañina bestia el Antromóvil donde se revelan sus disfrazadas artes y satánicos fines” (1997).

– Felipe BENÍTEZ REYES (1960-), “El hadillo (1983), “Aldac”, in [Un mundo peligroso] (1994) and [Oficios estelares] (2009).

– Rafael PÉREZ ESTRADA (1934-2000), [Bestiario de Livermoore] (1988).

– Antón CASTRO (Antonio RODRÍGUEZ CASTRO, 1959-), [Bestiario aragonés] (1991).

– Gustavo MARTÍN GARZO (1948-), “El borrador doméstico” (1995).

– Luis MATEO DÍEZ (1942-), “El ladril” (1995).

– Eduardo MENDICUTTI (1948-), “El palabrero” (1995).

– José María MERINO (1941-), “Gamusino doméstico” (1995).

– Soledad PUÉRTOLAS (1947-), “El guerrero amistoso” (1995).

– Raúl GONZÁLVEZ DEL ÁGUILA, [“Bestiario”] (1999).

– Ángel OLGOSO (1961-), “Almanaque de asombros”, in [Granada 2039 y otros relatos] (1999).

– Jesús CALLEJO, [Bestiario mágico] (2001).

– Jordi DOCE (1967-), [Bestiario del nómada] (2001).

– Óscar SIPÁN (1974-), [Leyendario] (2004).

– Juan Jacinto MUÑOZ RENGEL (1974-), “Bestiario secreto en el London Zoo”, in [88 Mill Lane] (2005).

– Francisco FERRER LERÍN (1942-), [Bestiario] (2007).

– Mercè RODOREDA (1908-1983), [“Flors de debò”], en [Viatges i flors] (1980).

– Joan PERUCHO (1920-2003), [Botánica oculta o el fals Paracels] (1980) // [Petit museu de monstres marins] (1981) // [Monstruari fantàstic] (1984).

– Pere CALDERS (1912-1994), “Refinaments d’ultramar”, in [Invasió subtil i altres contes] (1978).

– Alfred JARRY (1873-1907), “Cynégétique de l’omnibus” (1900-1901).

– Jean DESS (HIXE), [“D’une certaine faune”], en [Pour lire en parachute] (1932).

– Henri MICHAUX (1899-1984), [“Notes de zoologie”], in [La Nuit remue] (1935).

– Jean GIONO (1895-1970), “Le grain de tabac” (1956), “L’ours” (1958), “La poufiasse” (1958), “La bestiasse” (1958), en [Ménagerie énigmatique] (1961) // “La cantharide” (1958), “Le verrat-maquereau”, “L’émeraudine”, “The bear», “Le minus”, “L’oiseau-bleu”, en [Animalités] (1965).

– Stefano BENNI (1947-), [Stranalandia] (1984).

– Monica SARSINI (1953-), [Crepacuore] (1985) // [Crepapelle] (1988) // [Crepapancia] (1996).

– Mircea CĂRTĂRESCU (1956-), Enciclopedia zmeilor (2002).



*: alleged translations.

– Norman DOUGLAS (1868-1952), Some Limericks (1929).

– Vladimir NABOKOV (1899-1977), Pale Fire (1962).

– Woody ALLEN (Allan Stewart Königsberg, 1935-), *“The Scrolls” (1974), “The Irish Genius”, in [Without Feathers] (1975).

– David LANGFORD (1953-), An Account of a Meeting with Denizens from Another World, 1871 by William Robert Loosley (1979).

– Benjamin ROSENBAUM (1969-), *“The Book of Jashar” (2003), in [The Ant King and other stories] (2008).

– Charles YU (1976-), *“The Book of Categories” (2011).

– Aristidis G. ROMANOS (1937-), *Tlön: Journey to a Utopian Civilisation (2015).

– Luís Filipe SILVA (1970-) et alii., Os Anos de Ouro da Pulp Fiction Portuguesa (2011).

– Adolfo de CASTRO (1823-1898), El Buscapié de Cervantes (1844).

– Joaquín BARTRINA (1850-1880), “Una poesía española inédita del siglo XV publicada ahora por primera vez por don N. A. A.”, in [Obras en prosa y verso] (1881).

– Rafael ZAMORA Y PÉREZ DE URRÍA, marqués de Valero de Urría (1861-1908), [Crímenes literarios](1906).

– Pedro Erasmo CALLORDA (1879-1949), El testamento de don Quijote (1918).

– SALARRUÉ (Salvador Salazar Arrué, 1899-1975), *[O’Yarkandal] (1929).

– Max AUB (1903-1972), Jusep Torres Campalans (1958) // Antología traducida (1972).

– Juan José DOMENCHINA (1898-1945), *El diván de Abz-ul-Agrib (1945).

– Rafael SOLANA (1915-1992), *“Sansón y Dalila”, in [El oficleido y otros cuentos] (1960) / El novísmo Algazife o Libro de las Postrimerías (1980).

– Rafael PÉREZ ESTRADA (1934-2000), Revelaciones de la Madre Margarita Amable del Divino Niño del Sí (1970).

– Carlos RIPOLL, “Juan Pérez” por Benjamín Castillo (1970).

– Pedro GÓMEZ VALDERRAMA (1923-1992), “Los papeles de la academia utópica” (1972), in [La procesión de los ardientes] (1973) // “Documentos del padre Alameda”, in [Las alas de los muertos] (1992).

– Rafael LLOPIS (1933-), *“Invocación de una entidad de la noche a su reflejo luminoso” (1974) / El Novísmo Algazife o Libro de las Postrimerías (1980).

– Jorge Luis BORGES (1899-1986), *“El informe de Brodie”, in [El informe de Brodie] (1970) // *“La secta de los Treinta”, *“Undr”, in [El libro de arena] (1975).

– Emilio SERRA (1953-1989), *“Extractos, documentación y fuentes relativos al culto de Yidhra y su relación con el ciclo mítico de Mlandoth” (1979).

– Daína CHAVIANO (1957-), *“El papiro de Ptah”, in [Amoroso planeta] (1983).

– José JIMÉNEZ LOZANO (1930-2020), *[Parábolas y circunloquios de Rabí Isaac Ben Yehuda (1325-1402)] (1985).

– José FERRATER MORA (1912-1991), “Reivindicación de Babel” (1991).

– Federico GARCÍA LORCA (1898-1936), Antología modelna, precedida de los poemas de Isidro Capdepón Fernández (1995).

– Felipe BENÍTEZ REYES (1960-), Vidas improbables (1995/2009).

– Gloria MÉNDEZ (1969-), *[El informe Kristeva] (1997).

– Daniel PÉREZ, “Donde se cuenta la verdadera historia que pasó Sancho al ir a buscar a la señora Dulcinea, y de otros sucesos tan ridículos como verdaderos” (2005).

– Javier FERNÁNDEZ (1971-), “Hacia una traducción de Gigamesh de Patrick Hannahan”, in [La grieta] (2007).

Voz Vértebra: Antología de poesía futura (2017).

– Xuan BELLO (1965-), Pantasmes, mundos, laberintos (1996).

– Roberto GONZÁLEZ-QUEVEDO (1953-), *[Hestoria de la l.literatura primera en Pesicia] (2014).

– Alfred MOQUIN-TANDON (1804-1866), Carya Magalonensis (1836).

– Pompeu GENER (1848-1920), *“Una teogonia índia” (1901) / *“Antic poem del Indostan (Una teogonia vishnuita)”, in [Pensant, sentint i rient] (1911).

– Manuel de PEDROLO (1918-1990), *[Múltiples notícies de l’Edèn] (1985).

– Vicenç PAGÈS JORDÀ  (1963-), *“Puella gerundensis”, “La remullada: rondalla apócrifa”, in [El poeta i altres contes] (2005).

– Charles NODIER (1780-1844), *Smarra ou les démons de la nuit (1821).

– Prosper MERIMEE (1803-1870), *La Guzla ou choix de poésies illyriques recueillies dans la Dalmatie, la Bosnie, la Croatie et l’Herzégowine (1827).

– Charles-Augustin SAINTE-BEUVE (1804-1869), Vie, poésies et pensées de Joseph Delorme (1829).

– Alphonse RABBE (1784-1829), *“Le centaure”, in [Album d’un pessimiste] (1835).

– Théodore Hersart de LA VILLEMARQUÉE (1815-1895), *Le Barzaz Breiz, chants populaires de la Bretagne (1839-1845-1867).

– Gabriel VICAIRE (1848-1900); Henri BEAUCLAIR (1860-1919), Les Déliquescences, poèmes décadents d’Adoré Floupette, avec sa vie par Marius Tapora (1885).

– Paul BORY (1837-19?), *Mémoires dun Romain (1890).

– Nicolas NOTOVITCH (1858-?), *La Vie inconnue de Jésus-Christ (1894).

– Pierre LOUŸS (1870-1925), *Las Chansons de Bilitis (1895).

– Paul-Jean TOULET (1867-1920), Monsieur du Paur, homme public (1898/1920).

– Hugues REBELL (Georges Grassal de Choffat, 1867-1905), *La saison à Baïa (1900).

– Marcel SCHWOB (1867-1905), *“Origines du journal: L’Île des Diurnales”, in [Mœurs des Diurnales: Traité de journalisme] (1903; as Loyson-Bridet).

– Gabriel de PIMODAN (1856-1924), *Le roman dune âme antique (1904).

– Valery LARBAUD (1881-1957), Poèmes par un riche amateur ou Œuvres françaises de M. Barnabooth (1908).

– Jean REDNI, *[Luxures antiques, voluptés tragiques] (1908).

– Gaston PICARD (1892-1965), Les Poèmes idiots, œuvre posthume de Myriam Mester (1911).

– Maurice DEKOBRA (Maurice Ernest Tessier, 1885-1973), Hamydal le philosophe, morceaux choisis du célèbre penseur (1921).

– Philippe SELK (¿1873-1940?), *Un livre d’argile. Le Poème de Šu-nir (1922).

– Pascal PIA (Pierre Durand, 1903-1979), À une courtisane, poème inédit de Charles Baudelaire (1925).

– Léon BOPP (1896-1977), “Danger du Lac (de Lamartine)”, en [Drôle de monde] (1940).

– René DAUMAL (1908-1944), “Quelques poètes français du XXVe siècle” (1942).

– Yves GANDON (1899-1975), *La Terrasse des désespoirs (1943) // *Le Pavillon des délices regrettées (1947).

– Jean DUTOURD (1920-2011), *“Ludwig Schnorr ou la marche de l’histoire” (1958), in [Les Dupes] (1959).

– Maurice MOURIER (1936-), Godilande ou Journal d’un mort (1974).

– Jean TARDIEU (1903-1995), Le Professeur Frœppel (1978).

– Claude BONNEFOY (1929-1979), Ronceraille (1978).

– Alain NADAUD (1948-2015), *Archéologie du zéro (1984).

– Pascal QUIGNARD (1948-), *Les Tablettes de buis d’Apronenia Avitia (1984).

– Jean-Benoît PUECH (1947-), L’Apprentissage du roman. Extraits du Journal d’apprentissage de Benjamin Jordane (1993).

– Éric CHEVILLARD (1964-), L’Œuvre posthume de Thomas Pilaster (1999).

–  Pierre JOURDE (1955-); Éric NAULLEAU (1961-), Le Jourde et Naulleau: Précis de littérature du XXIe siècle (2004/2008/2015).

– Pierre SENGES (1968-), *La Réfutation majeure (2004).

– Samir BOUADI; Agathe COLOMBIER-HOCHBERG, 26,5 auteurs qui n’existent pas mais qu’il faut absolument avoir lus (2008).

– Giacomo LEOPARDI (1798-1837), *“Inno a Nettuno” (1817) // Martirio de’ Santi Padri del Monte Sinai e dell’eremo di Raitu composto da Ammonio Monaco, volgarizzamento fatto nel buon secolo della nostra lingua (1826) // *“Cantico del gallo silvestre”, in [Operette morali] (1827) // *“Frammento apocrifo di Stratone di Lampsaco” (1845 [1825]).

– Tommaso GARGALLO (1760-1843), Il paladino d’Ungheria. Novella d’antico codice ora per la prima volta pubblicata (1823).

– Monaldo LEOPARDI (1776-1847), Memoriale di frate Giovanni da Camerino francescano scritto nell’anno 1371(1828/1833).

– Pietro FANFANI (1815-1879), Relazione del viaggio d’Arrigo VII in Italia di Niccolò vescovo di Botrintò, volgarizzata nel secolo XVIV dal notaio ser Bonacosa di ser Bonavita da Pistoia (1847).

– ¿Ignazio PILLITO (1806-1895)?; Pietro MARTINI (1800-1866), Pergamene, codici e fogli cartacei d’Arborea (Cartas de Arborea / Carte d’Arborea) (1863-1865).

– Giuseppe CUGNONI (1824-1908), Vita di Arhot monaco (1884).

– Giuseppe MEZZANOTTE (1855-1935), La novella della cesta (1902).

– Augusto FRASSINETI (1911-1985), Misteri dei Ministeri (1952/1974) // “Lo Spirito delle Leggi. Postfazione”, in [Un capitano a riposo] (1963).

– Giacomo BIFFI (1928-), *Il quinto evangelo (1968).

– Pietro PIZZARI, *Necronomicon: magia nera in un manoscritto della Biblioteca Vaticana (1993).

– ¿Constandin SION (1795-1862)?, Izvodul spătarului Clănău (Cronica lui Huru) (1856).

– Constantin A. IONESCU-CAION (1880-1918), “Un război al lui Mircea în 1399” (1901).

– Vladimir COLIN (Jean Colin, 1921-1991), *[Legendele Țării lui Vam] (1961).

MOCK BOOK REVIEWS AND SIMILAR DOCUMENTS (including reviews and descriptions of works of art)

– Thomas Babington MACAULAY (1800-1859), “A prophetic account of a grand national epic poem, to be entitled The Wellingtoniad, and to be published A.D. 2824” (1824).

– Aristarchus Newlight (Richard WHATELEY, 1786-1863), Historic Certainties Respecting the Early History of America (1851).

– H. P. LOVECRAFT (1890-1937), “History of the Necronomicon” (1938).

– Woody ALLEN (Allan Stewart Königsberg, 1935-), “The Metterling Lists” (1969), in [Getting Even] (1971).

– Norman SPINRAD (1940-), “Afterword to the Second Edition”, in The Iron Dream (1972).

– Jonathan BAUMBACH (1933-), “Neglected Masterpieces IV”, in [The Return of Service] (1979) // “Neglected Masterpieces III” (1986).

– Samuel R. DELANY (1942-), “Some Informal Remarks toward the Modular Calculus, Part Three, by S. L. Kermit”, in [Tales of Nevèrÿon] (1979).

– Robert M. PRICE (1954-), “A Critical Commentary on the Necronomicon” (1988).

– R. M. BERRY, “Second Story”, “Samuel Beckett’s Middlemarch”, “History”, in [Dictionary of Modern Anguish] (2000).

– Michael CISCO (1970-), “The Thing in the Jar” (2011).

– Cherie PRIEST (1975-), “Addison Howell and the Clockroach” (2011).

– Henrique Maximiano COELHO NETO (1864-1934), “Inauditismo”, in [Lanterna mágica] (1898).

– Melchor FERNÁNDEZ ALMAGRO (1893-1966), “El poeta Capdepón, académico” (1923).

– Jorge Luis BORGES (1899-1986), “El acercamiento a Almotásim”, in [Historia de la eternidad] (1936) / “Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote” (1939), “Examen de la obra de Herbert Quain” (1941), in [El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan] (1941) / “Tres versiones de Judas”, in [Ficciones] (1944/1956).

– AZORÍN (José Martínez Ruiz, 1873-1967), “Un librito de versos”, “Estudios históricos”, in [Cavilar y contar] (1942).

– Juan BENET (1927-1993), “Un prólogo a la Historia de la Orden de Caballeros de Don Juan Tenorio” (1959).

– Juan José ARREOLA (1918-2001), “El himen en México”, in [Palindroma] (1971).

– Jaime ROSAL DEL CASTILLO (1945-), “Acerca del verdadero Necronomicón” (1974).

– Juan-Jacobo BAJARLÍA (1914-2005), “El Al-Azif o Necronomicón” (1975-1978).

– José María MONTELLS (1949-), “Sobre el papiro Neferkeré” (1976).

– Emiliano GONZÁLEZ (1955-), “Los cuatro libros de Garret Mackintosh”, in [Los sueños de la bella durmiente] (1978).

– José FERRER-BERMEJO (1956-), “Breve reseña del Kriskongismo”, in [El increíble hombre inapetente y otros relatos] (1982).

– Luis GOYTISOLO (1935-), “Joyce al fin superado” (1984), in [Investigaciones y conjeturas de Claudio Mendoza] (1985).

– Darío VIDAL, “Los papeles dispersos del rabí Samuel Santángel de Alcañiz”, in [Siete ensayos aragoneses y un apócrifo] (1986).

– Óscar de LA BORBOLLA (1949-), “El manual de torturadores”, “La mejor novela de este tiempo”, “La pena de muerte”, “Primera reseña de este libro”, in [Ucronías] (1989).

– Mario LEVRERO (1940-2004), “Giambattista Grozzo, autor de “Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote”” (1993).

– Eugenio F. GRANELL (1912-2001), “Nota bibliográfica”, in [El aire franco] (2000).

– Eduardo BERTI (1964-), “Una novela premonitoria”, in [La vida imposible] (2002).

– Alberto LÓPEZ AROCA (1976-), [“Mitología creativa”], in [Los espectros conjurados] (2004).

– David ARIAS (1965-), “Necrológica”, in [Horrores cotidianos] (2007).

– Javier FERNÁNDEZ (1971-), “Hacia una traducción de Gigamesh de Patrick Hannahan”, in [La grieta] (2007).

– Jorge CARRIÓN (1976-), ““Nuestro dolor. Algunas reflexiones sobre Los muertos”, por Martha H. de Soto”, ““Los muertos o la narrativa postraumática”, por Jordi Batlló y Javier Pérez”, in Los muertos (2010).

– Pablo MARTÍN SÁNCHEZ (1977-), “Verbigracia”, “Poesía métrica”, in [Fricciones] (2011).

– Enrique GALLUD JARDIEL (1958-), [Historia estúpida de la literatura] (2014).

– Vicente Luis MORA (1970-), “El Quijote de Cervantes como plagio de Si una noche de invierno un viajero, de Italo Calvino” (2016).

– M. Servet (A) Raves, “El descobriment de Madrid, pel doctor Schulze-Pfalz” (1904).

– Joan PERUCHO (1920-2003), “Notícia de Madama Edwarda i de un desconegut escriptor”, “Don Faustino de la Peña i el seu enigmàtic Tratado de carnes”, “El diari de guerra de Xaconín”, “Un cavaller erudit”, “Velles cròniques d’Espanya” (H.), “Els erudits del meravellós”, “Notícia del doctor Thebussem”, in [Aparicions i fantasmes] (1968) // [Històries apòcrifes] (1974) // “El pareraire”, “El Canut o la futurologia en vers” (H.), in [Monstruari fantàstic] (1976)

– Pep ALBANELL (1945-), “El gran lament”, in [L’impacable naufragi de la pols] (1987).

– Joaquim CARBÓ (1932-), “El realisme critic premiat” (1986), “Un llibre de guerra singular” (1986), “El rei Jaume I en calent” (1986), “Campi qui pugui” (1987), in [L’Ofèlia i jo] (2004).

– Pep ALBANELL (1945-), “El gran lament”, in [L’impacable naufragi de la pols] (1987).

– Màrius SERRA (1963-), Amnèsia (1987) (H.).

– Vicenç PAGÈS JORDÀ (1963-), “Cabal/5”, “Emportar-se/10”, in [Cercles dinfinites combinacions] (2003).

– Jordi MASÓ RAHOLA (1967-), “El gnom de Bristol”, in [Polpa] (2016).

– Joan-Claudi FORÊT (1950-), “Logica sens pena”, “Deliri d’interpretacion”, in [Libre dels grands nombres o falses e us de fals] (1998).

– Pierre MILLE (1864-1941), “Poèmes modernes” (1887).

– René ÉTIEMBLE (1909-2002), “Un homme à tuer: Jorge Luis Borges, cosmopolite” (1952).

– Raymond QUENEAU (1903-1976), “De quelques langages animaux imaginaires et notamment du langage chien dans Sylvie et Bruno” (1971)

– Didier ANZIEU (1923-1999), “La sémantique du texte”, in [Contes à rebours] (1975/1987/1995).

– Jean-Benoît PUECH (1947-), [La Bibliothèque d’un amateur] (1979).

– Antoine BELLO (1970-), “L’année Zu”, in [Les Funambules] (1996).

 – Sylvain JOUTY (1949-), “Notes sur le travail d’Eddy Mörcher”, in [Queen Kong] (2001).

– Stéphane JAGDANSKI (1963-), “יהוה, dit “Dieu””, in [Jouissance du temps] (2005).

– Samir BOUADI; Agathe COLOMBIER-HOCHBERG, [26,5 auteurs qui n’existent pas mais qu’il faut absolument avoir lus] (2008).

– Bernard QUIRINY (1978-), “Quelques écrivains, tous morts”, in [Contes cannibales] (2008).

– Yann DALL’AGLIO, [Vies, sentences et doctrines des sages imaginaires] (2014).

– Clémentine MELOIS (1980-), [Cent titres] (2014).

– Emilio CECCHI (1884-1966), “Una comuniccazione accademica” (1919), in [Pesci rossi] (1920).

– Tommaso LANDOLFI (1908-1979), “SPQR”, in [Racconti impossibili] (1966).

– Umberto ECO (1932-2016), “My exagmination round his factification for incamination to reduplication with ridecolation of a portrait of the artist as Manzoni” (1962), “Tre recensioni anomale” (1967-1971), in [Diario minimo] (1963/1975) // “Dell’esternazione”, “Tre civette sul Comò”, “Lineamenti di critica quantistica”, “Il pensiero di Brachamutanda”, in [Il secondo diario minimo] (1992).

– Paolo ALBANI (1946-), [Il sosia laterale e altre recensioni] (2003).

HOMO SCRIBENS, [Enciclopedia degli scrittori inesistenti] (2009/2012).

– Luca GIORGI (1960-), [Il libro dei libri] (2011).

– Ovid S. CROHMĂLNICEANU (Moise Cohn, 1921-2000), “Recenzie stiinţifică”, in [Istorii insolite] (1980).


Only summaries written as such, not summaries of accidentally lost or unwritten books (e.g. due to the writer’s decease).

Only texts in romance languages.

– Teófilo BRAGA (1843-1924), “Epopéia da Lusónia”, en Viriato (1904).

– Juan VALERA (1824-1905), “Los cordobeses en Creta” (1897).

– Pretextato TRASTIENDA (Francisco ANTICH E IZAGUIRRE, 1872-1930), Novedad, 100 o 200 argumentos para cuentos (tal como los tienen los autores en cartera) (1904).

– Jorge Luis BORGES (1899-1986), “El acercamiento a Almotásim”, in [Historia de la eternidad] (1936) / [El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan] (1941) / “Tema del traidor y del héroe” (1944), in [Ficciones] (1944/1956).

– Ricardo GULLÓN (1908-1991), “Un drama inédito de Unamuno” (1961).

– Jaime ROSAL [DEL CASTILLO] (1945-), “Acerca del verdadero Necronomicón” (1974).

– Luis GOYTISOLO (1935-), “Joyce al fin superado” (1984), in [Investigaciones y conjeturas de Claudio Mendoza] (1985).

– Fernando ARRABAL (1932-), “La travesía de Arrabal” (1988).

– Enrique GALLUD JARDIEL (1958-), “El comité de Kafka”, [“La antiliteratura”], in [Historia estúpida de la literatura] (2014).

– Ramon REVENTÓS (1882-1923), “Argument d’una història llarga” (1916), in [Proses] (1953).

– Valentí CASTANYS (1898-1965), “Dos mil anys després”, in [Barcelona-Hollywood (radio-cinema-sonor)] (1935).

– Francesc TRABAL (1899-1957), [Tres arguments] (1938).

– Joaquim CARBÓ (1932), “El realisme critic premiat” (1986), “Un llibre de guerra singular” (1986), “El rei Jaume I en calent” (1986), “Campi qui pugui” (1987), in [L’Ofèlia i jo] (2004).

– Jules CLARETIE (1840-1913), “Le Napoléon jaune” (1900).

– Jacques RIGAUT (1898-1929), “Un brillant sujet” (1922).

– Jean-Benoît PUECH (1947-), [La Bibliothèque d’un amateur] (1979).

– Pierre GRIPARI (1925-1990), “La Chartreuse de Parme (critique imaginaire)”, “La Bataille de l’eau de Lourdes”, in [La Rose réaliste] (1985).

– Sarane ALEXANDRIAN (1927-2009), [Soixante sujets de romans au goût du jour et de la nuit] (2000).

– Theo CANDINAS (1929-), «Gion Barlac ei el claus», en [Historias da Gion Barlac] (1975).

– Luigi CAPUANA (1839-1915), «Un melodramma inedito», en [Fumando] (1889) / [Le appassionate] (1893).

– Giovanni PAPINI (1881-1956), “Un film originale”, in [Le pazzie del poeta] (1950) // “Il poema dell’uomo (di Walt Whitman)”, “La gioventù di Don Chisciotte (di Miguel de Cervantes)”, “Il Primo e l’Ultimo (di Unamuno)”, “Il ritorno (di Franz Kafka)”, “La conversione del papa (di Roberto Browning)”, “Il paradiso ritrovato (di William Blake)”, in [Il libro nero] (1951).

– Felix ADERCA (Zelicu Froim Aderca, 1891-1962), “Pastorală”, in [Aventurile D-lui Ionel Lăcustă-Termidor] (1932).

– Mircea Horia SIMIONESCU (1928-2011), “ANTONIO GOVERNALY: Noocracia”, in Bibliografia generală (1971).

– Mircea OPRIŢĂ (1943-), “Meteoritul tungus” (2005), in [Sindromul Quijote şi alte ficţiuni rebele] (2014).


Bibliographies, book catalogs, audiovisual and musical programmes, and imaginary indexes

Only texts published as literary texts in collections of fictions and/or literary journals.

– R. LONSDALE, Catalogue of the Extensive Library of Doctor Rainbeau (1862).

– Francis Peloubet FARQUHAR (1887-1974), A Catalogue of Rare Books and Manuscripts (1946).

– J. [James] G. [Graham] BALLARD (1930-2009), “The Index” (1977), in [War Fever] (1990) and [The Complete Short Stories] (2001) // “A Guide to Virtual Death” (1992), in [The Complete Short Stories] (2001).

– Rosendo PONS, “Del año 3000” (1901).

– José Alberto GONZÁLBEZ, “Cierta guía de conciertos de la orquesta filarmónica de Plutón” (1980).

– Renier CHALON (1802-1889), Catalogue dune très riche mais peu nombreuse collection de livres provenant de la bibliothèque de feu M. le Comte J.N.A. de Fortsas (1840).

– Marcel SCHWOB (1867-1905), “Les cent bons livres du journaliste”, in [Mœurs des Diurnales: Traité de journalisme] (1903; as Loyson-Bridet).


Texts which mimic ancient rethoric.

*: purely literary.

– Joseph SMITH (1805-1844), The Book of Mormon (1830).

The Lost Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles (1871).

– William Dennes MAHAN (1824-1906), A Correct Transcript of Pilate’s Court (1879) / The Archaeological Writings of the Sanhedrin and Talmuds of the Jews, Taken from the Ancient Parchments and Scrolls at Constantinople and the Vatican at Rome, Being the Record Made by the Enemies of Jesus of Nazareth in His Day (1884).

– John Ballou NEWBROUGH (1828-1891), Oahspe (1882/1891).

– Gideon Jasper Richard OUSELEY (1834-1906), The Gospel of the Holy Twelve (1898-1901).

– Levi H. DOWLING (1844-1911), The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ (1908).

Letter of Jesus Christ (1917).

Epistle of Kallikrates (1928)

– William Percival CROZIER (1879-1944), *Letters of Pontius Pilate (1928).

– Catherine VAN DYKE, “Letters from Pontius Pilate’s Wife” (1929).

– Edmond Bordeaux SZEKELY (1905-1979), The Gospel of Peace of Jesus Christ by the Disciple John (1937) / The Essene Gospel of John (1956).

– Woody ALLEN (Allan Stewart Königsberg, 1935-), “The Scrolls” (1974), in [Without Feathers] (1975).

– Benjamin ROSENBAUM (1969-), *“The Book of Jashar” (2003), in [The Ant King and other stories] (2008) // *“Tractate Metim 28A” (2015).

– Jeffrey ARCHER (1940-); Francis J. MOLONEY, The Gospel According to Judas (2007).

– Joaquim Maria MACHADO DE ASSIS (1839-1908), *“Na Arca: Três capítulos inéditos do Gênesis” (1878), in [Papéis Avulsos] (1882).

– Henrique Maximiano COELHO NETO (1864-1934), “Judas”, in [Lanterna mágica] (1898).

– ANDRENIO (Eduardo GÓMEZ DE BAQUERO, 1866-1929), *“El Evangelio del Fariseo” (1911), in [Escenas de la vida moderna] (1913).

– Edmundo GONZÁLEZ BLANCO (1877-1938), “Jesús de Nazareth”, in [Jesús de Nazareth] (1915).

– Clemente PALMA (1872-1946), *“Diatriba” (1927) / *“Elogio y diatriba” (1938).

– Rafael SOLANA (1915-1992), *“Sansón y Dalila”, in [El oficleido y otros cuentos] (1960).

– J. [Juan] J. [José] BENÍTEZ (1946-), El testamento de San Juan (1988).

– Jaume RODRI (1940-), Evangeli de Jesús (1973).

– Manuel de PEDROLO (1918-1990), *“Fragment de la Crònica d’Irad”, *“Llibre de Naama”, *“Dels fets de l’Eva i l’Adam”, *“La presència del Serpent”, *“La Creació, segons el text de Babilònia del segle XI a. C.”, in [Múltiples notícies de l’Edèn] (1985).

– George SAND (Aurore Dupin, 1804-1876), *“Le Poème de Myrza” (1835).

– Nicolas NOTOVITCH (1858-?), La Vie inconnue de Jésus-Christ (1894).

– Han RYNER (Jacques Élie Henri Ambroise Ner, 1861-1938), Le Cinquième Évangile (1910).

– George Armand MASSON (1892-1977), *“Vanités des vanités”, *“L’Évangile selon Sainte Orberose”, en [LArt daccommoder les classiques] (1924).

– François CAVANNA (1923-2014), Les Aventures de Dieu (1971) – Les aventures du petit Jésus, en [Les Écritures] (1982).

– Michel POTAY (1929-), L’Évangile donné à Arès (1974) – Le Livre (1977) / La Révélation d’Arès (1984).

– Frère BERNARD-MARIE, Le Cinquième Évangile d’après les agrapha et quelques mystiques (1997).

– Giacomo BIFFI (1928-), Il quinto evangelo (1968).


Prospectuses, business reports, commercial documents (including invoices)

*: narratives (company histories and narrative reports)

º: descriptions by third parties.

– James THOMSON (1834-1882), *“The Story of a Famous Old Jewish Firm” (1865), in [Satires and Profanities] (1884).

– John DAVIDSON (1857-1909), “The World’s Pleasance Company, Limited”, in “The Salvation of Nature”, in [The Great Man; and a Practical Novelist] (1891) / [The Pilgrimage of Strongsoul and Other Stories] (1896).

– Max APPLE (1941-), “An Offering”, en [Free Agents] (1984).

– John Thomas SLADEK (1937-2002), *Wholly Smokes (2003).

– Henrique Maximiano COELHO NETO (1864-1934), “Nova companhia”, in [Lanterna mágica] (1898).

– Antonio FLORES (1818-1865), º“El Gran Hotel de la Unidad Transatlántica”, in [Mañana, o la chispa eléctrica en 1899], third volume of [Ayer, hoy y mañana, o la fe, el vapor y la electricidad] (1863).

– Francisco AYALA (1906-2009), º“Ciencia e industria”, in [El jardín de las delicias] (1971).

– David ROAS (1965-), “Mecánica y psicoanálisis (un futuro cercano)”, in [Horrores cotidianos] (2007).

– Ramon PÉREZ-PUJOL (1916-1984), º“El sistema Togosoku”, in [Històries de ciencia-emoció] (1973).

– Émile SOUVESTRE (1806-1854), “Télégraphes trans-aériens”, in Le Monde tel qu’il sera (1846).

– Auguste de VILLIERS DE L’ISLE-ADAM (1838-1889), º“L’agence du Chandelier d’or” (1884), in [L’Amour suprême] (1886).

– George AURIOL (Jean-Georges Huyot, 1863-1938), º“Manufacture de sonnets” (1889).

– Tristan BERNARD (1866-1947), “Société anonyme de brigandage et de cambriolage dans les villas” (1899), in [Sous toutes réserves] (1911).

– Alfred JARRY (1873-1907), º“La Société protectrice des enfants martyrs” (1901).

– Jacques RIGAUT (1898-1929), “Agence Générale du Suicide”, in [Agence Générale du Suicide] (1959).

– Theo CANDINAS (1929-), º“Descripziun d’in stabiliment”, ein [Entagls] (1974).

– Ursicin G. [Gion] G. [Gieli] DERUNGS (1935-), *“La radunonza generala”, in [Il cavalut verd ed auter] (1988).

– Alexandru MACEDONSKI (1854-1920), *“Oceania-Pacific-Dreadnought” (1913).


Heterotopian fictional advertisement: Javier Fernándezs “La IslaTM” and the literary genre of the fictional advert

Fictions for advertising purposes have existed for a long time. Inversely, there is a textual form that uses advertising for literary purposes: fictional advertising texts. Among them, there are advertisements of imaginary institutions and goods written, for instance, by Coelho Neto, Rigaut and Arreola, as well as “La IslaTM”, a part of the cyberpunk work entitled Absolute Zero (2005), by Javier Fernandez. This mock tourist brochure reveals through fiction the (anti-)utopian dimension of the kind of advertising that sells heterotopian spaces. This text stands out due to its consistency and autonomy, and generates a complete fictional world through the signs and the discourse of advertising, thus illustrating the semiotic exchange between advertisement and literary fiction.

Fictional business documents are excluded.

– R. M. BERRY, “(paid advertisement)”, in [Dictionary of Modern Anguish] (2000).

– Mark A. RAINER, “Pages I Have Dog-Eared in the Fall 2037 Hammacher Schlemmer Glaven Catalog”, in [Pirate Therapy and Other Cures] (2012).

– Steven MILLHAUSER (1943-), “Arcadia” (2013), in [Voices in the Night] (2015).

– Modesto LAFUENTE (1806-1866), “Máquina para afeitar”, in “Un rapa-barbas de nueva invención”, in [Teatro social del siglo XIX] (1846).

– Antonio FLORES (1818-1865), “El que da lo que tiene a más no está obligado, o cómo por el hilo del pregón se sacará el ovillo de la cosa pregonada”, in [Mañana, o la chispa eléctrica en 1899], in [Ayer, hoy y mañana, o la fe, el vapor y la electricidad] (1863).

– Rafael ZAMORA Y PÉREZ DE URRÍA, marqués de VALERO DE URRÍA (1861-1908), “The Universal, Mechanic, Literary, Poetical and Prosaic Company Limited” (1892) / “Máquina cerebral”, in [Crímenes literarios] (1906).

– Silverio LANZA (Juan Bautista AMORÓS, 1856-1912), “¡No más anhidros!”, in [Cuentos escogidos] (1908).

– Juan José ARREOLA (1918-2001), “Baby H.P.”, “Anuncio”, in [Confabulario] (1952).

– José FERRER-BERMEJO (1956-), “Ponga un ciego en su vida”, in [Incidente en Atocha] (1982).

– Javier FERNÁNDEZ (1971-), “La IslaTM”, in Cero absoluto (2005).

– Ramon COMAS I MADUELL (1935-1978), “…I la màquina”, in [Rescat d’ambaixadors] (1970).

– Òscar PÀMIES (1961-), “Com resoldre el pitjor problema de les grans conurbacions”, in [Com serà la fi del món: Maneres que tindrà de presentar-se’ns i com preparar-s’hi anímicament] (1996).

– Honoré de BALZAC (1799-1850), “Double Pâte des Sultanes et Eau Carminative de César Birotteau, découverte merveilleuse approuvée par l’Institut de France”, in César Birotteau (1837).

– Ernest JAUBERT (1856-1942), “Un prospectus de l’an 2000” (1890).


Prescriptive discourse, literary fiction and dystopia: Santiago Eximeno’s “La hora de la verdad” (2003) in its genre context

Several recent texts suggest that fiction is a concept which should be distinguished from the narrative. Even prescriptive discourse (rules, instructions, etc.) can be used to create a possible fictional world, without narration or characters. The example of Santiago Eximeno’s zombie fiction “The Moment of Truth” (2003) shows that the introduction of fantastic elements in a normative discourse can contribute to the shaping of a whole fictional universe. This presents dystopian features in the above-mentioned work, as it indicates the repressive mechanisms exercised through the prescriptive power of the State.

Real political and legislative proposals, even if made by individuals not in office, are excluded.


(v.): in verse

*: legally binding texts.

– Rudyard KIPLING (1865-1936), “The Law of the Jungle” (v.), in [The Second Jungle Book] (1895).

– Frederick Upham ADAMS (1859-1921), *“Constitution of the United States of America”, in President John Smith (1897).

– Henry O. MORRIS, *“Constitution of the United States”, in Waiting for the Signal (1897).

– Mark TWAIN (Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910), “Etiquette for the Afterlife: Advice to Paine” (1912/1995 [1910]).

– Edward Mandell HOUSE (1858-1938), *“The New National Constitution”, “New State Constitutions”, in Philip Dru: Administrator (1912).

– Evelyn WAUGH (1903-1966), *“Order for the Day of the Emperor’s Departure”, in Black Mischief (1932).

– Isaac ASIMOV (1920-1922), Three Laws of Robotic, in “Runaround” (1942), in [I, Robot] (1950).

– Peter PORTER (1927-2010), *“Your Attention Please” (v.) (1962).

– Franz JOSEPH (1914-1994), *“Articles of Federation”, in [Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual] (1975).

– David BRIN (1950-), *“National Recovery Act”, in The Postman (1985).

– David GULBRAA, *The Constitution of the Individual’s Republic of Atlantis (2000).

– Max BROOKS (1972-), The Zombie Survival Guide (2003).

– Jamie KILLEN, “So You’ve Chosen to Foster” (2015).

– Terry BRUCE, “Welcome to Oasis” (2015).

– Octávio dos SANTOS (1965-), *“Decreto Lei Nº 54”, in [Visões] (2003).

– Viton ARAÚJO (1982-), 100 coisas para fazer (depois de morrer) (2012).

– Rafael ZAMORA Y PÉREZ DE URRÍA, marqués de Valero de Urría (1861-1908), “Dogmas éticos”, in [Crímenes literarios] (1906).

– José MORENO VILLA (1887-1955), “Órdenes de “El Caballero Azul” en su quinta manifestación vital”, in [“Vidas quebradas”], in [Patrañas] (1921).

– Carlos VILLAMIL CASTILLO, “El mundo de los fantasmas”, in [La venganza de los perros y otros cuentos] (1949).

– Manuel DERQUI (1921-1973), *“Manual para maquinistas marcianos” [1961], in [Todos los cuentos] (2008).

– Sergio RAMÍREZ (1942-), *“Suprema ley por la que se regula el bien general de las personas, se premian sus acciones nobles y se castigan sus malos actos y hábitos, dictada en XIV parágrafos”, in [De tropeles y tropelías] (1972).

– Alberto CAÑAS (1920-2014), “La división del mundo”, in [La exterminación de los pobres y otros pienses] (1974).

– Rafael LLOPIS (1933-), “Falsa proclama” (1974).

– Víctor ALBA (1916-2003), “Programa de la Resistencia Española para la paz”, in 1936-1976. Historia de la Segunda República española (1976).

– Santiago EXIMENO (1973-), *“La hora de la verdad” (2003), in [Bebés jugando con cuchillos] (2008) // “Tu bebé diabólico”, in [Obituario privado] (2010).

– YOSS (José Miguel Sánchez Gómez, 1969-), “Si usted se siente como un dios… (Decálogo de autoayuda para turistas que visitan Shu-Wu-Kun-Lu)” (2008).

– David ACRICH, “De oficio, picador de aire”, in [El reencuentro de Rabí Samuel y otros relatos] (2009).

– Louis GEOFFROY (1803-1858), *“Moniteur universel du 5 août 1871”, in  Napoléon et la conquête du Monde. 1812 à 1832. Histoire de la Monarchie universelle (1836).

– Alexandre DUMAS (1802-1870), *“Constitution de la Nation des Mosquitos dans l’Amérique centrale”, in Le Capitaine Pamphile (1839).

– Léon BOPP (1896-1977), “Règlement pour l’humanisation de la guerre (élaboré par M. Kourbar Glutsch)”, en [Drôle de monde] (1940).

– Boris VIAN (1920-1959), *“Paris, le 15 Décembre 1999…” (1958).

– Pierre BOURGEADE (1927-2009), *“Loi relative au remplacement de la femme par les femelles des animaux”, in La fin du monde (1984).

– Umberto ECO (1932-2016), “Come fare l’indiano”, in [Il secondo diario minimo] (1992).

– Ion Luca CARAGIALE (1852-1912), “‘Românii verzi’” (1901).

– Ov. S. CROHMĂLNICEANU (Moise Cohn, 1921-2000), *Tratatul de la Neuhof, in “Tratatul de la Neuhof”, in [Istorii insolite] (1980).

– Dănuţ UNGUREANU (1958-), “Domus” (1992), in [Basme geoestaţionare] (2008).

– Caius DOBRESCU (1966-), “Recomandări privind buna circulaţie a fluidelor corporale pe insula Aragnon”, in Euromorphotikon (2010).


– John SLADEK (1937-2000), “Anxietal Register B” (1969), in [Alien Accounts](1982).

– Tara CAMPBELL, “Nickerson Interstellar Student Exchange Behavioral Contract” (2015).

– Pablo MARTÍN SÁNCHEZ (1977-), “Ósculos ® (vía oral)”, in [Fricciones] (2011).


(v.): en verso.

*: just one letter.

– David STIRRAT, A Treatise on Political Economy: or the true principles of political economy in the form of a romaunt, for the more pleasing accommodation of readers; Explained in a series of letters to Aristippus, from Aristander, perceived in a deep vision (1824).

– Baron Joseph CORVAJA (1785-1860), Perpetual Peace to the Machine by the Universal Millennium, or The Sovereign Bankocracy, and the Grand Social Ledger of Mankind (1855).

– Old Peter Piper, “Peter Pipers Letters. Peter’s Vision” (1869).

– Anna DODD (1858-1929), The Republic of the Future; or, Socialism A Reality (1887).

– Wladjslaw Somerville LACH-SZYRMA (1841-1915), [Letters from the Planets] (1887-1893).

– Alice B. STOCKHAM (1833-1912); Lida Hood TALBOT, Koradine (1889).

– William Dean HOWELLS (1837-1920), Letters of an Altrurian Traveller (1892-1893).

– Clark Edmund PERSINGER (1873-?), Letters from New America; or an Attempt at Practical Socialism (1900).

– William Thomas STEAD (1849-1912), In Our Midst. The Letters of Callicrates to Dione, Queen of the Xanthians, concerning England and the English, Anno Domini 1902 (1903).

– Mary CARBERY (1867-1949), “If the Germans Came” (1916) // The Germans in Cork: Being the Letters of His Excellency the Baron von Kartoffel (Military Governor of Cork in the Year 1918), and Others (1917).

– Herbert Millingchamp VAUGHAN (1870-1948), Nephelococcygia; Or, Letters from Paradise (1929).

– Upton SINCLAIR (1878-1968), The Way Out: What Lies Ahead for America (1933).

– Geddes MACGREGOR (1909-1998), From a Christian Ghetto: Letters of Ghostly Wit, Written A.D. 2453 (1954).

The John Franklin Letters (1959).

– Arthur WASKOW (1933-), “Notes from 1999” (1973).

– Alasdair GRAY (1934-), Five Letters from an Eastern Empire giving Information upon Architecture, Etiquette, Irrigation, Ventriloquism, Justice, Sex and Poems in an Obsolete Country (1979).

– Cândido de FIGUEIREDO (1846-1925), Lisboa no Ano Três Mil (1892).

– António de MACEDO (1931-2017), “O limite de Rudzky”, in [O Limite de Rudzky e Outras Histórias] (1992).

– Julián Manuel del PORTILLO (1818-1862), Lima de aquí a cien años (1843-1844).

– Adolfo de CASTRO (1823-1898), Cartas dirigidas desde el otro mundo a D. Bartolo Gallardete (1851).

– Juan BRAVO MURILLO (1803-1873), *La Internacional y las damas españolas (1872).

– Casta ESTEBAN Y NAVARRO (1841-1885), *“Una carta del otro mundo”, in [Mi primer ensayo] (1884).

– Nilo María FABRA (1843-1903), El problema social (1890) // “La locura del anarquismo (Cartas del doctor Occipucio al abogado Verboso)”, in [Cuentos ilustrados] (1895).

– Rafael ZAMORA Y PÉREZ DE URRÍA, marqués de VALERO DE URRÍA (1861-1908), “Áureas lavas”, in [Crímenes literarios] (1906).

– Santiago RAMÓN Y CAJAL (1852-1934), *“Carta de una hormiga esclavista”, in [Charlas de café] (1920).

– Juan G. [García] ATIENZA (1930-2011), “Kuklos” (1967) // “El pisito solariego” (1968).

– René AVILÉS FABILA (1940-2016), *“En las cumbres deportivas”, in [La desaparición de Hollywood y otras sugerencias para principiar un libro] (1973) and [Fantasías en carrusel] (1978/1995/2001).

– Pere VERDAGUER (1929-2017), Les lletres de l’oncle Enric i els missatges de l’extraterrestre (1978).

– Carme RIERA (1949-), “Princesa meva, lletra d’Àngel”, en [Contra lamor en companyia i altres relats] (1991).    

– Oriol CANOSA (1975-), L’illa de Paidonèsia (2017).

– Henri de PARVILLE (François Henri Peudefer, 1838-1909), Un habitant de la planète Mars (1865).

– Adrien ROBERT (Adrien Basset, 1822-1869), “La Guerre de 1894”, in [Contes fantasques et fantastiques] (1867).

– Alfred FRANKLIN (1830-1917), Les ruines de Paris en 4875 (1875) / Les ruines de Paris en 4908 (1908).

– Paul ADAM (1862-1920), Lettres de Malaisie (1898).

– Remy de GOURMONT (1858-1915), Lettres d’un satyre (1907-1910/1913).

– Georges DUHAMEL (1884-1966), Lettres d’Auspasie (1922) / Lettres au Patagon (1926).

– Association général des étudiants d’Alger, “Excursions dans l’avenir. En l’an 2030 et en l’an 2130” (1929).

– Paul GABRIEL, Messages martiens (1956).

– Pierre GRIPARI (1925-1990), “Opération pucelle”, in [Diable, Dieu et autres contes de menterie] (1965).

– Jacques STERNBERG (1923-2006), “Bien sincèrement à vous”, in [Futurs sans avenir] (1971).

– Octave MANNONI (1899-1989), Lettres personnelles (1990).

– Ursicin G. [Gion] G. [Gieli] DERUNGS (1935-), “Correspondenza cul purgatieri”, in [Il saltar dils morts] (1982).

+ Augusto FRASSINETI (1911-1985), “Prima lettera” – “Seconda lettera”, in [Misteri dei Ministeri] (1952/1974).

– Umberto ECO (1932-2016), “Stelle e stellette” (1976), in [Il secondo diario minimo] (1992).

– Roberto CASATI (1961-), Achille C. VARZI (1958-), “Di un progetto inutile”, “Missiva sul tempo da Valle Finale”, “L’ultimo caso del Presidente delle Amebe”, “Acido universale”, in [Semplicità insormontabili: 39 storie filosofiche] (2004) // *“La placca del Pioneer” (2015), in [Semplicemente diaboliche: 100 nuove storie filosofiche] (2017).

– Ion GHICA (1816-1897), *“Insula Prosta” (1885-1886), in [Scrisori către Vasile Alecsandri] (1887).

– Ovid S. CROHMĂLNICEANU (Moise Cohn, 1921-2000), “Scrisori din Arcadia”, in [Alte istorii insolite] (1986).


(except fictional historiographical lectures)

– Edward A. [Algernon] BAUGHAN (1865-1938). “Prehistoric Music. A Lecture Delivered by Professor Boremall before the Members of the Society of Antediluvian Art, July, 2897” (1897).

– K. [Kaye] RAYMOND, “The Great Thought” (1937).

– Isaac ASIMOV (1920-1992), “Thiotimoline and the Space Age” (1960), in [Opus 100] (1969).

– Harry MATHEWS (1930-), “Remarks of the Scholar Graduate”, in [Country Cooking and Other Stories] (1980).

– Rafael ZAMORA Y PÉREZ DE URRÍA, marqués de VALERO DE URRÍA (1861-1908), “Dogmas éticos”, “Banquete anual”, in [Crímenes literarios] (1906).

– Eduardo MAGGIO, “La nada” (1906).

– Enrique JARDIEL PONCELA (1901-1952), “Teoría del ente infinito considerado como base de utopías trilaterales” (1930).

– Max AUB (1903-1972), “Sesión secreta” (1964), in [Historias de mala muerte] (1965) // “El teatro español sacado a la luz de las tinieblas de nuestro tiempo” (1971).

– Manuel VÁZQUEZ MONTALBÁN (1939-2003), “50 años después de la derrota aliada” (1994).

– Mària Aurèlia CAPMANY (1918-1991), “Leviatan”, in [Com uma mà] (1958) and [Coses i noses] (1980).

– Alfred FRANKLIN (1830-1917), Mœurs et coutumes des Parisiens en 1880. Cours professé au Collège de France pendant le second semestre de l’année 3882 par Alfred Mantien, professeur d’archéologie transcendante (1882).

– A. de NOUVAL, “Une séance à la Société de Philandrologie en 1900”, in [Contes salés] (1884).

– Alfred de SAUVENIÈRE (1844-1912), “En l’an 2885!!!” (1885).

– Auguste de VILLIERS DE L’ISLE-ADAM (1838-1889), “Le banquet des éventualistes” (1887), in [Tribulat Bonhomet] (1887).

– Abbé P. NÉON (Abbé Farion), Sermon pour la fête de la Toussaint en lan 2000 (1899).

– Jean de BOECK (1863-1913), “Leçon donnée par Mlle Sophie Muller, professeur de psychiatrie à la clinique de Hambourg en l’an 2000” (1890).

– Paul THÉODORE-VIBERT (1851-1918), “À quoi bon?”, in [Pour lire en automobile] (1901).

– N. de MONTFERRATO, “En l’an 2745” (1905).

– Louis LOTTIN (1880-1916), “Le Trésor des pierres”, in [Lyon en l’an 2000] (1911).

– Vicente HUIDOBRO (1893-1948), Finnis Britannia (1923).

– Léon BOPP (1896-1977), “L’art d’être aimé”, en [Drôle de monde] (1940).

– Pietro GORI (1865-1911), La leggenda del Primo Maggio (1905), in [Cenere e faville] (1911).

– Tommaso LANDOLFI (1908-1979), “Nuove rivelazioni della psiche umana. L’uomo di Mannheim. (Relazione letta alla Reale Accademia delle Scienze dall’on. Onisammot Iflodnal, azerbeigiano)”, in [La spada] (1942) // “SPQR”, in [Racconti impossibili] (1966).

– Augusto FRASSINETI (1911-1985), “Relazione  al Congresso  della Sezione Italiana del Congresso Internazionale”, in [Un capitano a riposo] (1963).

– Luce D’ERAMO (1925-2001), “Una proposta risolutiva” (1989).

– Tudor ARGHEZI (Ion N. Theodorescu, 1880-1967), “În preistorie”, in [Tablete din Ţara de Kuty] (1933).


(v.): in verse.

*: interview.

– Thomas Henry LISTER (1800-1842), “A Dialogue for the Year 2130, Extracted from the Album of a Modern Sibyl” (1829).

– Edgar Allan POE (1809-1849), “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion” (1839), in [Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque] (1840).

– Edgar FAWCETT (1847-1904), “In the Year Ten Thousand” (v.), in [Songs of Doubt and Dream] (1890).

– Havelock ELLIS (1859-1939), The Nineteenth Century: A Dialogue in Utopia (1900).

– Mary CHOLMONDELEY (1859-1925), “Votes for Men: A Dialogue” (1909).

– M. [Matthew] P. [Phipps] SHIEL (1865-1947), “How Life Climbs” (1934).

– Paul BEAUJON (Beatrice Lamberton Warde, 1900-1969), Peace under Earth: Dialogues from the Year 1946 (1938).

– Rex WARNER (1905-86), Why Was I Killed?: A Dramatic Dialogue (1943).

– Clifford A. PICKOVER (1957-), The Stars of Heaven (2001).

– Luís Filipe SILVA (1970-), “O Fernando Pessoa electrónico”, in [O Futuro à Janela] (1991).

– Fósforo Cerillos (Sebastián CAMACHO ZULUETA, 1822-1915), “México en el año 1970”  (1844).

– AZORÍN (José MARTÍNEZ RUIZ, 1873-1967), “La Prehistoria” (1905) / “Epílogo futurista”, in El político (1919).

– Eduardo BERTRÁN RUBIO (1838-1909), “Un invento despampanante” (1906).

– Enrique GONZÁLEZ FIOL (1879-1947), “El tractor del porvenir, ¡la pulga!”, in [Por qué se puso Eva el clásico pámpano] (1925).

– Antonio MACHADO (1875-1939), “Diálogo entre Juan de Mairena y Jorge Meneses”, in [De un cancionero apócrifo] (1928).

– ANDRENIO (Eduardo GÓMEZ DE BAQUERO, 1866-1929), “La extraña máquina”, in [Guignol] (1929).

– Juan G. [García] ATIENZA (1930-2011), “Enfermo” (1973).

– Ramón J. SENDER (1901-1982), “Aventura del Ángelus I”, in [Las gallinas de Cervantes y otras narraciones parabólicas] (1967) and [Novelas del otro jueves] (1969).

– Jaume PUIGBÒ, “Entrevista amb un extraterrestre” (1982).

– Camille FLAMMARION (1842-1925), Récits de l’infini (1872) / Lumen (1887).

– Charles SECRETAN (1815-1895), “Gillette ou le problème économique” (1888), in [Mon utopie] (1892).

– Jean RICHEPIN (1849-1926), “Le monstre” (1891), in [Théâtre chimérique] (1896).

– Henri MARET (1837-1917), “Les deux planètes” (1900).

– Iwan GILKIN (1858-1924), “Le restaurant de Moscou (vers 2250)”, in Jonas (1900)

– Paul MAX (1884-1944), “Mars” (1924).

– Sosthène, *“Le Martien interviewé” (1927).

– Maurice RENARD (1875-1939), “Sur la planète Mars” (1939).

– Alfred SAUVY (1898-1990), Utopie iatocratique (1954).

– Amélie NOTHOMB (Fabienne Claire Nothomb, 1966-), Péplum (1996).

– Corrado ALVARO (1895-1956), “L’augurio volante” (1950).

– Alberto MORAVIA (1907-1990), “Il monumento” en [L’epidemia] (1956).

– Tommaso LANDOLFI (1908-1979), “Quattro chiachiere in famiglia”, “Un concetto astrusso”, in [Racconti impossibili] (1966).

– Ovid S. CROHMĂLNICEANU (Moise Cohn, 1921-2000), *“Interviul”, in [Alte istorii insolite] (1986).


It is a kind of argumentative fiction consisting in the report by a homodiegetic (first person) narrator of his or dialogue with someone who exposes his or her (farfetched) ideas, thus offering a portrait (ethopeia) of his or her unconventional personality).

* = in verse.

– Edgar Allan POE (1809-1849), “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” (1845).

– H. G. WELLS (1866-1946), “The Diamond Maker” (1894), “The Triumphs of a Taxidermist” (1894), in [The Stollen Bacillus and Other Incidents](1895).

– Joaquim Maria MACHADO DE ASSIS (1839-1908), “O Espelho”, in [Papéis Avulsos] (1882).

– Mário de SÁ-CARNEIRO (1890-1916), “O Homem dos Sonhos” (1913), in [Céu em Fogo] (1915).

– Fernando PESSOA (1888-1935), “O Banqueiro Anarquista” (1922) // “A Perversão do Longe” [1913] (2012) // “Empresa Fornecedora de Mitos, Lda.” [¿1923?] (2012) // “O Adiador” [¿1925?] (2014).

– José Maria FERREIRA DE CASTRO (1898-1974), “O Senhor dos Navegantes”, in [A Missão] (1954).

– Esteban BORRERO ECHEVERRÍA (Cuba 1849-1906), “Calófilo” (1879).

– Carlos MONSALVE (Argentina, 1859-1940), “De un mundo a otro” (1879), in [Páginas literarias] (1881).

– José FERNÁNDEZ BREMÓN (1839-1910), “Siete historias en una”, in [Cuentos] (1879) // “Un Dios con sombrero de copa” (1879) // “Quintar los muertos” (1879) // “El club de los pacíficos” (1887) // “La mitad de la justicia” (1888) // “El diccionario de los gatos” (1899) // “Certamen de inventores” (1900) // “El gremio de verdugos” (1902).

– Silverio LANZA (Juan Bautista Amorós, 1856-1912), “Lo que se necesita para dar” (1894).

– Miguel de UNAMUNO (1864-1936), “Sueño” (1897), “Una visita al viejo poeta” (1899; El espejo de la muerte, 1913), “El abejorro” (1900), “Don Martín, o de la gloria” (1900), “La locura del doctor Montarco” (1904), “El que se enterró” (1908), “Bonifacio” (El espejo de la muerte, 1913), “Don Catalino, hombre sabio” (1915), “Robledo, el actor” (1920), “El alcalde de Orbajosa (etopeya)” (1921), in [Cuentos] // “El fin de un anarquista” (1995 [1894]).

– Ramón PÉREZ DE AYALA (1880-1962), “La caverna de Platón” (1904) // “El filósofo de las casas de huéspedes”, in Belarmino y Apolonio (1921).

– Enrique LABARTA POSE (1863-1925), “El hombre fúnebre”, en [Cuentos humorísticos] (1905).

– Miguel SAWA (1866-1910), “Historias de locos” (1904) / “Judas”, in [Historias de locos] (1910).

– Leopoldo LUGONES (1874-1938), “La fuerza Omega”, “La metamúsica”, “El Psychon”, “Viola Acherontia”, in [Las fuerzas extrañas] (1906).

– Pompeyo GENER (1848-1920), “El doctor Stumper”, in [Del presente, del pasado y del futuro] (1911).

– Luis LÓPEZ DE MESA (1884-1967), “Apólogo de la Gloria”, in [El libro de los apólogos] (1918).

– José María SALAVERRÍA (1873-1940), “El forjador de fantasmas”, in [Páginas novelescas] (1920) and [El muñeco de trapo] (1928) // “El soñador arruinado” (1922), in [El muñeco de trapo] (1928) // “El fichero supremo” (1926), in [El muñeco de trapo] (1928).

– AZORÍN (José Martínez Ruiz, 1873-1967), “El arte del actor” (1935), in [Cavilar y contar] (1942).

– Tomás BORRÁS (1891-1976), “El millonarísimo”, “—Caballero, ideas a peseta”, in [Casi verdad, casi mentira] (1935) // “La fe del centurión”, in [Cuentos con cielo] (1943) // “Tan contento de ser un cero”, in [La cajita de asombros] (1946).

– Antonio CASTRO LEAL (1896-1981), “El cazador del ritmo universal” (1940), “El espía del alma” (1955),  “El coleccionista de almas”, in [El laurel de San Lorenzo] (1959).

– Jorge Luis BORGES (1899-1986), “Funes el memorioso” (1942), in [Ficciones] (1944/1956).

– Bernardo ORTIZ DE MONTELLANO (1899-1949), “El caso de mi amigo Alfazeta”, in [El caso de mi amigo Alfazeta] (1946).

– Samuel ROS (1904-1945), “Batllés Hermanos, S. L.” (1948), in [Con el alma aparte] (2002).

– Alfonso REYES (1889-1959), “El vendedor de felicidad” (1948).

– Carlos VILLAMIL CASTILLO, “El descubridor de la zopilotina”, in [La venganza de los perros y otros cuentos] (1949).

– Eduardo SOLERIESTRUCH (1912-1999), “Sinfonía en azul”, in [Doce cuentos] (1952).

– Álvaro FERNÁNDEZ SUÁREZ (1906-1988), “El asesino en el parque”, in [La ciénaga inútil] (1968).

– César VALLEJO (Perú, 1892-1938), “Teoría de la reputación”, in [Contra el secreto profesional] (1973).

– José María MERINO (1941-), “Del Libro de Naufragios”, in [El viajero perdido] (1990) // “Los libros vacíos”, in [Cuentos del barrio del Refugio] (1994).

– Diego RUIZ (1881-1959), “72, carrer d’Entenza”, “Una resurrecció a París”, in [Contes d’un filòsof] (1908) // “La vaga de l’àngel”, in [Contes de glòria i d’infern] (1911).

– Ramon VINYES (1882-1952), “He retrobat al perruquer Oswald”, in [L’ardenta cavalcada] (1909).

– Alfons MASERAS (1884-1939), “La finestra mágica”, en [Setze contes] (1922).

– Ernest MARTÍNEZ FERRANDO (1891-1965), “Un clown en el camí”, in [Tres històries cruels] (1930).

– Ramon COMAS I MADUELL (1935-1978), “El lector coŀlaborador”, in [Rescat d’ambaixadors] (1970).

– Joan-Claudi FORÊT (1950-), “De pels e d’òmes”, in [Libre dels grands nombres o falses e us de fals] (1998).

– Éphraïm MIKHAËL (Éphraïm-Georges Michel, 1866-1890), “Le magasin de jouets” (1885).

– Édouard DUJARDIN (1861-1949), “Un testament”, “L’enfer”, in [Les Hantises] (1886).

– Henri LAVEDAN (1859-1940), “Un homme peureux” (1888).

– Bernard LAZARE (1865-1903), “Les incarnations” (1891), in [Le Miroir des légendes] (1892).

– Marcel SCHWOB (1867-1905), “La machine à parler” (1891), in [Le Roi au masque d’or] (1892).

– Alphonse ALLAIS (1854-1905), “Une idée lumineuse”, in [Pas de bile!] (1893) // “Un projet de loi”, in [Rose et vert-pomme] (1894).

– Remy de GOURMONT (1858-1915), “Sur le seuil”, in [Histoires magiques] (1894).

– Jean LORRAIN (Paul Alexandre Martin Duval, 1855-1906), “Le possédé”, in [Sensations et souvenirs] (1895).

– Octave MIRBEAU (1848-1917), “Scrupules” (1896).

– Jean RICHEPIN (1849-1926), “La cité des gemmes” (1896), “Le nouvel explosif” (1900), in [Le Coin des fous] (1921) // “La Bibliothèque” (1898).

– Paul VALÉRY (1871-1945), “La Soirée avec Monsieur Teste” (1896) en [Monsieur Teste] (1919).

– Georges RODENBACH, (1855-1898), “Le chasseur des villes” (1899), “L’ami des miroirs” (1899), in [Le Rouet des brumes] (1901).

– Édouard DUCOTÉ (1870-1929), “Une interview” (1900), in [En ce monde et dans l’autre] (1903).

– SAINT-POL-ROUX (Pierre-Paul Roux, 1861-1940), “Le panier de fruits”, “Le mendiant philosophe”, in [La Rose et les épines du chemin] (1901).

– Paul THÉODORE-VIBERT (1851-1918), “Mammonth et Béhémoth”, “L’homme-microbe”,  “La prescience divine”, “Pourquoi je n’aime pas voyager”, “La vie chimique de l’avenir”, “La vie n’existe pas”, “Les feux d’artifice”, “Un canon monstre”, “Comment on devient fou”, “Bureau de placement philanthropique et matrimonial”, “Suppression  de l’arrêt des trains dans les grandes villes”, in [Pour lire en automobile] (1901).

– Renée VIVIEN (Pauline Mary Tarn, 1877-1909), “Le magasin d’idées”, in [Du vert au violet] (1903).

– Tristan BERNARD (Paul Bernard, 1866-1947), “Un guerrier”, in [Amants et voleurs] (1905).

– Guillaume APOLLINAIRE (1880-1918), “L’hérésiarque”,  “Le juif latin”, “Le passant de Prague”, in [L’Hérésiarque et Cie] (1910) // “Chirurgie esthétique” (1918) // “Traitement thyroïdien” (1918).

– Jean d’ORSAY, “Voulez-vous savoir comment on vit dans la planète Mars?” (1912).

– Edmond ROSTAND (1868-1918), *“Le chant des astres”, in [Le Vol de la Marseillaise] (1919).

– Franz HELLENS (Frédéric Van Ermengen, 1881-1972), “Un crime incodifié”, in [Nocturnal, précédé de quinze histoires] (1919).

– André GIDE (1869-1951), Corydon (1924).

– Jean DESS (HIXE), “L’économiseur de mouvements”, “Camping chez soi”, in [Pour lire en parachute] (1932).

– André DAHL (1886-1932), “La vraie fin du monde”, in [Contes pour la comtesse] (1933).

– Michel de GHELDERODE (Adhémar Martens, 1898-1962), “L’amateur des reliques”, in [Sortilèges] (1941).

– Marcel BÉALU (1908-1993), “Le Fabricant des rides”, in [L’Araignée d’or] (1964).

– Louis PAUWELS (1920-1997), Blumroch l’admirable ou Le déjeuner du surhomme (1976).

– Ursicin G. [Gion] G. [Gieli] DERUNGS (1935-), “Il vegl e la steila”, in [Il cavalut verd ed auter] (1988).

– Carlo DOSSI (1849-1910), “I lettori”, in [Ritratti umani. Campionario] (1885).

– Luigi CAPUANA (1839-1915), «Un uomo felice», in [Il decameroncino] (1901) / [La voluttà di creare] (1911).

– Giovanni PAPINI (1881-1956), “La rivolta dei ragazzi” (1913), “La conquista delle nuvole”, “Il nemico del sonno”, “La legge contro i poeti”, “La riforma del galateo”, in [Buffonate] (1914) // “Musicisti”, “La “FOM””, “La storia a ritroso”, “Thormon il soteriologo”, “Il cannibale pentito”, “Nuovissime città”, “Il trust dei fantasmi”, “Le idee di Benrubi”, “Processo agli innocenti”, “L’Egolatria”, “La nuova scultura”, “Il teatro senza attori”, “Filomania”, “Stelle”, “Caccavone”, “Il Conte di Saint-Germain”, “Il carnefice nostalgico”, “La chirurgia morale”, “La malattia come medicina”, “L’imbestiatore”, “Il Duca Hermosilla di Salvatierra”, “Il ritorno di Pitagora”, in [Gog] (1931) // “Il più grande scrittore” (1934), “Proposta di sterminio” (1935), in [Figure umane] (1940) // “Un dantista di campagna” (1942), “Il profeta in bigio” (1950), “Per i ladri e per gli assassini” (1952), in [La sesta parte del mondo] (1954) // “Le osservazioni del dottor Ciù o dei mutamenti dell’Europa” (1948), “Il fabricante di nuvole” (1948), “L’uomo d’oro” (1949), “La manifattura delle maschere” (1950), in [Le pazzie del poeta] (1950) // “Una paurosa festa”, “La biblioteca d’acciaio”, “L’astronomo deluso”, “Notizie dell’aldilà”, “Il nemico della natura”, “L’Ignotica”, “La rivincita del selvaggio”, “L’Istituto del Regresso”, “Il trasnvolatore solitario”, “Le Veneri brutte”, “L’elogio del fango”, “L’interrogativo del monaco”, “Il Congresso dei Panclasti”, “Morte ai morti”, “La predica della superbia”, “Il grande savio”, “L’unico abitante del mondo”, “L’abate e le peccatrici”, “Volete la pace?”, “Ucciso dall’amore”, “La resurrezione della materia”, “Tutto da rifare”, “La storia universale a volo di corvo”, “Il neocosmo”, “Il mascolinismo”, in [Il libro nero] (1951).

– Massimo BONTEMPELLI (1878-1960), “Macchina per contemplare”, in [La donna dei miei sogni e altre avventure moderne] (1925) // Colloqui col Neosofista, in [Il Neosofista e altri scritti] (1929).

– Riccardo BACCHELLI (1891-1985), “L’ultimo licantropo”, “I discepoli di Emmaus”, in [La fine di Atlantide ed altre favole lunatiche] (1942) / [Tutte le novelle] (1952).

– Alberto MORAVIA (1907-1990), “Un mendicante” (1947) // “Spia per scommesa” (1947).

– Giovanni CAVICCHIOLI (1894-1964), “Quadratura del circulo”, “Origine della guerra”, in [Nuove favole] (1960).

– Aldo PALAZZESCHI (1885-1974), “Il senso politico”, “La parola è d’argento”, ““Diomio che freddo! Miodio che caldo!””, in [Il buffo integrale] (1966).

– Tommaso LANDOLFI (1908-1979), “Alla stazione”, in [Racconti impossibili] (1966).

– Mario BRELICH (1910-1982), L’opera del tradimento (1975).

– Gesualdo BUFALINO (1920-1996), “L’ingegnere di Babele”, in [L’uomo invaso e altre invenzioni] (1986).

– Oscar LEMNARU (Oscar Holzman, 1907-1968), “Puterea prefăcătoriei”, in [Omul şi umbra] (1946).

– Mihai MĂNIUŢIU (1954-), “Don Scargrav”, in [Un zeu aproape muritor] (1982).

MONOLOGIC MOCK PROPOSALS in English and the Romance languages from 1871 (date of James Thomson’s “Proposal for the Speedy Extinction of Evil and Misery”)

Only works published in volumes of fiction or literary magazines.

Flash proposals (less than a page) and proposal in epistolary form (except open letters) are excluded.

– James THOMSON (1834-1882), “Proposal for the Speedy Extinction of Evil and Misery” (1871), in [Essays and Phantasies] (1881).

– Frank SCHAEFFER (1952-), Harold FICKETT (1953-), A Modest Proposal for Peace, Prosperity, and Happiness (1984).

– Tomás BORRÁS (1891-1976), “S.U.D.E. (sindicato único de enfermos)”, in [La rueda de colores] (1962).

– Max AUB (1903-1972), “Sesión secreta” (1964), in [Historias de mala muerte] (1965).

– Augusto MONTERROSO (1921-2003), “La exportación de cerebros”, in [Movimiento perpetuo] (1972).

– René AVILÉS FABILA (1940-2016), “En defensa del plagio” (1986), in [Cuentos y descuentos] and [Fantasías en carrusel] (1995/2001).

– Javier FERNÁNDEZ (1971-), “Diez razones para ver TV en lugar de leer un libro”, in [La grieta] (2007).

– Ramon REVENTÓS (1882-1923), “Matrimoni entre ciutats” (1912) ), in [Proses] (1953).

– Òscar PÀMIES (1961-), “Com resoldre el problema de les grans conurbacions”, “Perdre’s”, “Camí de llum”, in [Com serà la fi del món: Maneres que tindrà de presentar-se’ns i com preparar-s’hi anímicament] (1996).

– Auguste de VILLIERS DE L’ISLE-ADAM (1838-1889), “La découverte de M. Grave” (1873) / “L’affichage céleste”, “La machine à gloire” (1874), in [Contes cruels] (1883) // “Motion du Dr. Tribulat Bonhomet touchant l’utilisation des tremblements de terre” (1887), in [Tribulat Bonhomet] (1887).

– Rémy de GOURMONT (1858-1915), “La fête nationale” (1892).

– Alphonse ALLAIS (1854-1905), “Les ballons horo-captifs”, “Les culs-de-jatte militaires”, in [On n’est pas des bœufs] (1896) // “Radicale proposition”, in [Le bec en l’air] (1897) // “De quelques réformes cosmiques”, “Autre mode d’utilisation de la baleine”, “Légère modification à apporter dans le cours de la Seine”, in [Pour cause de fin de bail] (1899) // “Un nouveau projet de recrutement de la noblesse”, “Insularisation de la France”, in [Ne nous frappons pas] (1900).

– Paul THÉODORE-VIBERT (1851-1918), “L’âme éclair”, “Télégraphie inter-astrale”, “La survie assurée”, “L’art de s’habiller avec les nuages”, “Le Klondike”, “Quand le terrain devient cher”, “Les maisons en chair et os”, “La voie fleurie”, in [Pour lire en automobile] (1901) // “L’encombrement des grandes villes”, “Service anthropométrique universel”, “La musique à domicile”, In [Pour lire en traîneau] (1908)

– Alfred JARRY (1873-1907), “Les piétons écraseurs” (1901) // “Battre les femmes” (1902).

– Georges FOUREST (1864-1945), “De la peine de mort au point de vue financier”, in [Contes pour les satyres] (1923).

– Pierre DAC (André Isaac, 1893-1975), “La houille dormante” (1939).

– Didier ANZIEU (1923-1999), “Un musée futur”, in [Contes à rebours] (1975/1987/1995).

– Giovanni PAPINI (1881-1956), “Le maschere”, “Il rifacimento della terra”, “Ripulitura difficile”, in [Gog] (1931).

– Luce D’ERAMO (1925-2001), “Una proposta risolutiva” (1989).


Not only Zarathustra: Jonas (1900), de Iwan Gilkin, a revision of Jonah’s myth in the context of modern “prophetic epics”

*: in verse or prosimeter.

Biblical apocrhypha are excluded.

– Alfred TENNYSON (1909-1892), *“The Ancient Sage”, in [Tiresias and Other Poems] (1885).

– Kahlil GIBRAN (1883-1931), The Prophet (1923) – The Garden of the Prophet (1933).

– Friedrich NIETZSCHE (1844-1900), Also sprach Zarathustra (1883-1885).

– Hermann HESSE (1877-1962), “Zarathustras Wiederkehr” (1919).

– Rudolf PANNWITZ (1881-1969), “Zarathustras andere Versuchung”, in [Trilogie des Lebens] (1929).

– Ludwig DERLETH (1870-1948), *Der Heilige (1971-1972).

– TEIXEIRA DE PASCOAES (Joaquim Pereira Teixeira de Vasconcelos, 1877-1952), *Jesús e Pã (1903).

– Fernando PESSOA (1888-1935), “O livro do rei Igorab” [1915-1916] (2017).

– Paulo COELHO (1947-), Manuscrito encontrando em Accra (2012).

– Ricardo BURGUETE (1871-1937), Así hablaba Zorrapastro (1899).

– Gregorio MARTÍNEZ SIERRA (María de la O Lejárraga, 1874-1974), «Profecía», in [Flores de escarcha] (1900).

– Guillermo VALENCIA (1873-1943), *“La parábola del monte” (1905), in [Ritos] (1914).

– Julio BURELL (1859-1919), “Para los violentos”, in [Artículos] (1925).

– Roberto BRENES MESÉN (1874-1947), *Rasur o semana de esplendor (1946).

– Pierre-Simon BALLANCHE (1776-1847), La Vision d’Hébal (1831).

– Augustin CHAHO (1811-1858), Paroles d’un voyant (1834).

– Iwan GILKIN (1858-1924), Jonas (1900).

– Giuseppe CARTELLA GELARDI (1885-1962), “Il canto dei liberi”, in [In memoria di Pietro Gori] (1912).

– Vincenzo CARDARELLI (Nazareno Caldarelli, 1887-1959), “Un’uscita di Zarathustra” (1919), in [Viaggi nel tempo] (1920) / [Prologhi. Viaggi. Favole] (1931).

A Note on Romanian Science Fiction Literature from Past to Present

by Mariano Martín Rodríguez

Romania is a country that foreign readers rarely associate with speculative and science fiction (collectively abbreviated as SF). However, its multilingual young population is among the most IT-literate in the world, and their cultural output, including SF, is not only extensive but also fully up to date. While some might attribute this to globalisation, it is in fact a long-standing feature in Romanian culture from its very modern beginnings in the 19th century. Once it secured its independence, Romania embarked on a path of rapid progress, quickly adopting Western liberal institutions and world-view. In this context, as a manifestation of a new mentality centred on science and industrial technology, Romanian SF embraced from its outset the national project of modernisation, although not uncritically, and not without originality.

Utopian fiction usually preceded SF before their intimate fusion in offering descriptions of future societies. This almost universal pattern is also valid for Romania. Thus, economic liberalism was both supported and mocked in one interesting ambiguous utopia describing a present “Insula Prosta” (Stoopid Island, 1884) by Ion Ghica, before the liberal utopia was transferred to a future setting, where it was questioned. Alexandru Macedonski, one of the leading poets of the Decadent movement in Romania, produced thus a short history entitled “Oceania-Pacific-Dreadnought” (1911) where this gigantic ship intended as a floating house for the richest brings about an economic bubble of epic proportions, until it bursts (as bubbles are wont to do). This Romanian author probably took inspiration from Jules Verne’s L’Île à hélice (Propeller Island, 1895) but his description of the workings of pure speculation in capitalism is not only more precise, but also prophetic. Indeed, very few contemporary writers in Europe used anticipation in such a perceptive manner.

In the same years, Victor Anestin followed Camille Flammarion, rather than Verne, both in popularising astronomy and in setting his stories on other planets of the Solar System. Anestin describes them as populated by decent and highly developed human-like civilisations inspired by Positivistic utopianism, though unfortunately still subjected to nature’s whims. In O tragedie cerească (A Celestial Tragedy, 1914), a celestial body destroys Earth’s inhabitants. This dramatic apocalyptic scenario always poses the problem of which narrative voice to use: who can recount the end if it obliterates us all? Anestin solves this problem by adopting the perspective of an astronomer who witnesses our tragedy from Venus. In spite of his sober account, Anestin knows how to add a sense of loss to the sense of wonder in his grandiose planetary vistas.

This late but promising start of Romanian SF was followed by its relative normalisation along mainstream lines. As happened elsewhere in the world (except perhaps in the US), Wellsian scientific romance opened new avenues to speculative anticipation by infusing it with the freedom of imagination regarding world-building shown by old imaginary voyages since Lucian of Samosata, as well as a diversity of narrative and writing techniques explored by High Modernist authors. Among them, Felix Aderca stands out thanks to his avant-garde short story “Pastorală” (Pastoral, 1932), which is written as the summary of an unwritten play, and his novel Orașele înecate (Drowned Cities, 1936). The latter is set on a future Earth threatened by universal cold. The last human communities have withdrawn to submarine cities under the rule of a fascist-like pro-eugenics dictator, but his measures cannot prevent in the end the technical failure and destruction of the remaining cities. Only a couple escapes from our planet in a rocket. The varied societies, their exchanges and development in a pre-apocalyptic framework are finely portrayed using an art-deco tone of writing full of tragicomic irony, not unlike the one used in Karel Čapek’s contemporary novels, which makes this work a masterpiece of international interwar SF.

The political crisis brought about by World War II did not spare Romania, where home-grown ethnic nationalist Fascism supported by Nazi Germany was defeated and then replaced by the Communism imported and imposed by Soviet troops. In this context, there was little room for unregimented literature, speculative or otherwise. Even more intently than fascists, communists guided by Stalinist Social Realism effectively put an end to any fantasy about medium- and long-term futures. Furthermore, writers wishing to denounce totalitarianisms of any sort were silenced. Romanian readers were thus deprived of any dystopias comparable to those written by Zamiatin, Boye or Orwell. Vasile Voiculescu’s short story “Lobocoagularea prefrontală” (Pre-Frontal Lobocoagulation) purports to be a historical summary of the forced lobotomies undertaken on the population in order to extirpate their human souls. Written in 1948, this text was only published posthumously in 1982 as a simple curiosity by a renowned modern poet.

The Iron Curtain prevented Romania from being subjected to the massive influx of US SF literature (both pulps and Golden Age) which ended the more intellectual and literary scientific romance in Western Europe, though Communism was equally efficient in depriving SF of its former artistic respectability. Romanian SF was reborn in the 1950sas a tool for educating young readers both in Communism and technology in order to prepare them for the rapid pace of re-industrialisation soon established as a goal by Romanian authorities under nationalist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu, who was rather unsatisfied with the role of agricultural producer allotted to their country by the Soviet bloc. Although his rule was even harsher than others in the Eastern Bloc, Ceaușescu used his national policy of apparent dissent from the Soviet Union to get the technological and financial support that his country needed to become industrialised. As a result, Romanian writers were allowed to deviate from old dogmas, and SF quickly took advantage of the opening, soon updating itself to Golden Age standards thanks to Adrian Rogoz, whose short stories recall the clarity of form and speculative wit to be found in those by Isaac Asimov. The other Romanian SF master of the age, Vladimir Colin, adopted a more lyrical writing akin to that of Ray Bradbury, although the best part of his work was devoted to fantasy; indeed, his series of stories and legends from an ancient imaginary people, collected in Legendele țării lui Vam (Legends from Vam Country, 1961), are still considered a masterpiece by Romanian fantasy readers.

Rogoz, Colin and others also succeeded in joining the vogue for national promotion abroad triggered by Ceaușescu’s national-communism, since some of their works were translated into German and French and published in widely distributed anthologies of Romanian SF. Furthermore, they were generous enough to include in these volumes stories by new writers interested in a SF literature similar to that of the Anglophone New Wave, namely Ovid S. Crohmălniceanu, Gheorghe Săsărman and Mircea Opriță, who would eventually produce some of the best works that Romanian SF can boast of. The oldest of them, Crohmălniceanu, was a highly regarded mainstream literary critic when he published his two series of Istorii insolite (Unusual Stories) in 1980 and 1986. Taken together, they read as exercises in reasoned imagination on utopianism, technology and the role of literature in modernity in which irony enriches a deeply philosophical questioning of humankind and its place in the universe, not unlike the best tales by Borges or Lem, whom Crohmălniceanu could certainly be compared to.

Younger Săsărman and Opriță have had both long and distinguished writing careers. Săsărman produced in 1975 Cuadratura cercului, one of the masterpieces of the late modernist genre consisting of descriptions of imaginary cities, in a manner similar to the invisible ones by Calvino. Unfortunately, this edition was heavily censored, and the whole book was only known in 2001, when its author had long been excluded from Romanian literary life following his exile to Germany. The translation of his cities into Spanish and then partially into English as Squaring the Circle by top-ranking SF author Ursula K. Le Guin has secured him at last his rightful place in Romanian speculative fiction, now supported also by well-received recent novels such as a story on the resurrection of Jesus Christ in modern Germany entitled Adevărata cronică a morții lui Yeșua Ha-Nozri (True Account of the Death of Jeshua Ha-Nozri, 2016).

Opriță, who stayed in the country without compromising himself, is renowned for his short stories (e.g., “Figurine de ceară,” or Wax Figurines, a witty rewriting of Lem’s Solaris first published in 1973), though he also produced a successful novel, Călătorie în Capricia (A Journey to Capricia, 2011), which is both one of the latest sequels to Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and a most original commentary on the 2008 Great Recession as it was suffered in Romania. Moreover, Opriță has accompanied the last decades of Romanian SF as a respected and fair critic, as well as its best chronicler: his history of Romanian SF literature is comprehensive up to a point rarely encountered in similar endeavours for other national SF traditions. It is a monument of SF scholarship, only comparable to another Romanian production in the theoretical field, Cornel Robu’s extensive O cheie pentru science-fiction (A Key to Science Fiction, 2004), the English abstract of which has been influential in our consideration of the sublime (popularly known as ‘sense of wonder’) as an essential part of SF aesthetics.   

After this remarkable group of writers and scholars, a certain decadence of Romanian SF was perhaps inevitable. Postmodernism soon acquired a status in the Romanian literary scene unmatched in other countries up to this very day. This was both bad and good news for Romanian SF: good news if we consider that the leading literary postmodernist in Romania, Mircea Cărtărescu, has introduced SF tropes in his work, especially in his latest novel Selenoid (2015), thus adding respectability to them; bad news if we consider instead that postmodernism has promoted a literature of chaos, or arbitrariness, deeply uncongenial to the usual SF frame of mind (marked by reason, order and science). Very few writers have succeeded in balancing these opposite trends. Among them, Mihail Grămescu is to be mentioned for his stories collected in Aporisticon (1981; final version, 2012), where postmodern egotism is nuanced by Borgesian detachment. There were other interesting young writers who tried to renovate SF following contemporary international trends, but unfortunately two parallel occurrences prevented them from acquiring a reputation similar to that of Săsărman, Opriță and even Grămescu.

On the one hand, the postmodernists, still very much in power in the Romanian intellectual scene, seem even more reluctant to appreciate SF as the modernists were once Wellsian scientific romance had become obsolete. Therefore, SF has not been able to join the literary mainstream in Romania as it has in other countries where SF novels, especially of the dystopian kind, are now read and reviewed beyond the limited circles of SF fans. On the other hand, the end of censorship allowed Anglophone SF to enter the Romanian market with a revenge, marginalising local production even more than in Western Europe forty years earlier (until today). Romanian SF writers tried to regain some of the genre’s former strength by mimicking foreign fashions, such as pulpish cyberpunk, in a country where hackers are, indeed, numerous, and IT has been enthusiastically embraced. Others wanted to preserve the New Wave heritage through carefully written stories, some of them quite experimental, such as Dănuț Ungureanu’s dystopian “Domus” (1992), which is entirely written using prescriptive discourse, and Ovidiu Bufnilă’s cyberpunk prose poem “Armele zeilor” (The Arms of the Gods, 2005). Although a number of these stories could make up an invaluable anthology, none of them succeeded in truly seducing the local fandom. Romanian SF only recovered when it revisited, in the form of long, epos-like novels, older genres such as space-opera in Dan Doboș’s Abația (Abbey, 2002-2005), lost-world romance in Sebastian A. Corn’s Ne vom întoarce în Muribecca (We Will Return to Muribecca, 2014), as well as apocalyptic dystopia in the series begun with the shorter novel Vegetal (2014) by Dănuț Ungureanu and Marian Truță. Their success, at least among fans, has contributed to lending new life to a SF now nearly as diverse and literarily successful as it used to be before the postmodernist/cyberpunk crisis. Prospects seem to be positive, with emerging writers now being aware that they are adding their contribution to a long and distinguished history of Romanian SF, although it is still too early to mention any outstanding ones.


Endnote: A first version of this essay was published as a preface to the following anthology of recent Romanian SF stories: Daniel Timariu and Cristian Vicol (eds.), East of a Known Galaxy: An Anthology of Romanian Sci-Fi Stories, București, Tritonic, 2019, p. 10-19. We thank the editors, as well as the publishing house and the Helion SF club having fostered this anthology, for their kind permission to publish here this slightly modified version of the paper.


A Song for the Barren

“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband”
Isaiah 54:1

The Daughter’s screaming still echoed through their house, even muffled by the outer walls. He could hear it even over the whine of the badly-tuned electric engine. It did not fade until the van from the Ministry of Adoption had disappeared around a corner.
It seems we are too frightening to be parents, even with the orphanages full and so many dead. The thought was bitter.
Wyren-jionhae turned from the door to his Wife. She was staring out the window. Tears streamed from her eyes, silently. For a moment, he forgot himself and reached for her, but the sight of his great, clawed hands; the stiff spikes growing from his wrists, made him pull back. Not comforting hands. Killing hands.
Jionha’s head whipped around like a snake’s at his gesture, and her eyes flashed. “Am I so ugly, you cannot even touch me anymore?” Her lisping voice was marred, mushy and cold.
“I…” but she was gone, long legs carrying her through the kitchen. He heard her run down to the basement, and shame washed over him at his own uselessness. The time for comforting, like the time for having children, was long ago, and could not be brought back. No, no more than could the departing van. Only memories returned, and they hovered like birds: carrion eaters with mocking cries.
It had not been the time, then, to think of her beauty; the way her long, dark-gray limbs melted through the forest; how her hair, pulled back in the style of the DaughterScouts, twined about her sinuous neck, and her mouth, so delicate and small…
“Wake up, SonofDreams!”
Flushing almost blue at the whisper, he looked up to find Jionha perched above him, almost invisible in the giant fern. The muscles along her spidery arms and ribcage stood out as she pulled her great steel bow taut. “Wake, or we’ll start without you!”
“I hear and obey, O DaughteroftheAcidTongue!”
Wyren had the pleasure of seeing her darken to almost black at the vulgar remark before he flung himself silently through the forest surrounding the road.
The convoy would be here any minute. Already he could feel the twinges in his nerves from the grav drives. For a moment, he envied the Terrans their skin and warm blood. His hands seemed locked inside their fine scales; too cold to move. He stopped. Dimly, he saw his fellow Sons and Husbands to his left; silverblue glints in the brush.
The convoy passed, humming like a Great Worm from ancient stories. Huge grav trucks, Ammunition. Food. Fuel. They passed, bigger than anything Wyren had ever seen, carrying life to the Terrans, the Terrans whose Empire held all Mtaein in slavery.
Last of all came a huge grav tank, the Terran on the top scanning the undergrowth, supremely confident on the back of 200 tons of alloy and weaponry. This was Wyren’s target, and he could not move.
Suddenly, whines filled the night, and the Terran jerked backwards, staring in amazement at the broadbladed arrow that sprouted from his chest. His eyes darkened and he slumped.
The world seemed to lurch into a sick slowness; cries and gunfire erupted all along the convoy. With the horrible knowledge that he had waited too long, Wyren threw himself at the side of the tank, his weapon clumsy and too big for his hands. He slipped, pulled himself up just as the Terran’s corpse was pushed from the hatch. A whiteskinned hand reached up to pull the hatch shut, and Wyren found himself facetoface with the ghostlike Terran, whose eyes were wide with terror. Wyren got the barrel of his weapon inside the hatch just as it slammed down. He pulled the trigger.
The shotgun was an ancient weapon by his enemy’s standards. It still decapitated the Terran very efficiently. Then Wyren leaped inside and everything was noise and explosions and red, red blood, so alien.
His next memory had been Jionha, walking out of the woods, her face mirroring his own. Horror and relief at what had – and had not – happened. They had held each other all the way back to the camp, and she had sung a lullaby to him in the stillness.

If only the Director of the Orphanage and his Wife had seen Jionha that night… but they had not. They had seen her tonight, as the Wife of a Warrior; seen the lines of grief on her face and they had heard her gluey, warped voice. And they had seen him.
The Daughter they had brought had screamed in terror at the sight of him, and had not stopped even when the Director’s Wife had carried her outside, throwing a look of disgust over her shoulder.
Her Husband had remained to pass sentence. Director Nacay-koree-chagae reminded Wyren of a Terran. Thin for a Mtaeinin, the little Husband reached almost to his chest. His scales were almost entirely silver, but pale and dull, like Terran skin. His dark hair was short and straight, neatly aligned, just over his four ears.
“I’m sorry, but as you can see, it’s just impossible for me to recommend you as adoptive parents. Any Son or Daughter we could give you might be frightened enough to hurt themselves…” Or you might accidentally hurt them. The unspoken thought hung in the room.
“What about a Wife with a Child?” Wyren had asked. The Revolution had left many widows. Jionha had no other Wives; it wasn’t right for her to have to live only with him for company…
“I’ve circulated your file,” Nacay had said. “We haven’t had anyone… suitable, yet. To be the Wife of a Warrior.” Desperate enough, he meant. Wyren raised one huge hand and rested it on the wall as the little Husband flinched away.
“Varq promised,” Wyren growled, and Nacay’s eyes had gone round but remained firm.
“Some things are beyond even his promises,” Nacay had said, looking nervously around the room. At the chairs too small for Wyren’s bulk. At the thin patina of refuse strewn about. “I’m sorry.” He had left his fearful glance hanging like an oppressive smell. And had driven off, leaving Jionha to run from her Husband, crying.
Wyren sat on the floor. He wanted to tear his hair out, but of course, he had no hair. His huge hands gripped his lowset, wicked horns and tightened as if he could crush their roots. He rose, anger getting the better of his sorrow. Betrayed. Betrayed by Varq who had sent a pretty little worm like Nacay to forswear him. How long since Wyren had looked like Nacay? How long since he had had hair? It had been…
Boom! Boom!
The silence was unreal. Everything had been unreal that night: the chains around his wrists, the ranks of Varq’s Councilor’s Guard looking on. The drums, the torchlight, the cages of springwood woven around him and his dozen comrades.
Yet he had never felt more alive.
The smells of smoke and the deep forest wove around him. He had never been stronger. Never in better condition. Outside the cages, there was not a Husband or Son who could stand against him, and well they knew it. He bared his teeth at the nearest one and nearly laughed at his involuntary reaction: the way he spread his claws and yearned to cover his face. The way his skin lost any semblance of silver, turning the deep blue of fright.
But this was not a night for laughing.
They had led the Wives out, and things had begun to blur.
The scent alone had told him which was Jionha, even if she had not been the most beautiful of them all, gray and straight in the torchlight, her single braid falling from her smooth head, cheeks slightly swollen and lips puckered in the delicate moue of Wives’ Pregnancy; it made her look as though she always smiled.
Yet she cried. All the Wives were crying, there in the torchlight as the drums beat slowly. And Wyren cried too, though he was in an agony of lust, his underpalate clinging to the roof of his mouth in longing for the Second Kiss: the intercourse that would transfer the embryo to his womb, where his body would nourish it until birth…
A birth that would never be, now.
A bottle was opened. It was passed along the line of women. The first took it; held it to her nose, and inhaled. Immediately, spasms shook her, and the caged male on the far right of Wyren shrieked into a frenzy, leaping at the springwood bars in front of him, tearing himself on the chains.
The bottle was passed. Wyren watched, strengthless, as it came closer and closer to his Wife, his only Wife, the Wife of Youth, to Jionha, who took it. Inhaled.
Somehow, through his own screaming and tearing at his bonds, Wyren saw clearly: Jionha, gagging in the smell of the abortifacient, as she choked, knelt, and retched, her tonguepouch burst, pouring out blood and water and a fingersized Son, who kicked feebly and died in the torchlight.
When he awoke, it was to the stink of his own hormones, to hair stiffening into solid horns, to scales hardening into a carapace, and claws that would be capable of gutting a Terran in one blow. Selfhatred gushed through him, and he drove those claws into his own belly. They bounced off a hide tougher than Terran silksteel. A hide that covered a deep, sickly pleasant burn, as the unused enzymes of pregnancy digested the delicate, nurturing linings of his womb; burning it out, sealing it. Converting it into the energy needed for the Change. Making him into a Warrior.
Jionha visited him the next day. She still couldn’t speak. No Wife could while her tonguepouch held an embryo. She would bear the speech impediment the rest of her life. Mtaeinin were not like Terrans, who with their awesome technology could hold an entire planet under their sway, and shape their bodies as they willed. No Mtaeinin who aborted came away unscarred, any more than Mtaein itself had, under Terran rule.
They had volunteered for this, when Varq and the Revolutionary Council had asked for volunteers. It was a thing that must be. Wyren knew it. Jionha knew it. Sons and Husbands could fight, but Mtaein now needed her Warriors; the changed male that arose from an aborted pregnancy. A Warrior could tear apart any Terran vehicle short of a heavy grav tank. A Warrior could be struck by cannon fire and live. Men with only one Wife, who would give themselves, and their families for liberty. She watched him as the Warrior Change took him; reshaped him into a thing of nightmare – a nightmare in which neither of them could speak.
All that could be discussed had been, long before Jionha had become pregnant.
It didn’t help at all.

Wyren stood before Varq and tried to remember why killing him was unthinkable. Perhaps it was the way he looked at you and seemed to stare right into your mind. It was an ability he’d always had, back when they were both Sons together, playing at killing Terrans with gunshaped sticks.
“I know what I promised you, Wyren. But I can’t do this.”
“You can.” The words hung flat in the Presidential office.
“I can’t and you know it. Wyren…”
“Wyren-jionhae! I have one Wife; say her name! And you sit there with how many, Varq-kisanae-halavae-ganhae? I forget the rest. How is your family? In comparison with mine?” Sarcasm dripped off his words.
Varq’s eyes dropped. “Wyren-jionhae. I did what I promised. I got the Ministry to give you a chance. That’s all I could or can do…”
“You lying Son-of-a…”
The doors behind Wyren burst open the moment he raised his voice.
“Stop!” Varq raised his hand. Wyren slowly looked around. Flat-eyed Husbands trained heavy weapons on him. Weapons that could pierce even a Warrior’s plating. He turned to Varq. Their eyes locked.
“I’m sorry. Even if you don’t believe me. Please escort Warrior Wyren-jionhae-nje out.”
Nje. Honored. Wyren gave a sardonic snort and turned away.
“Wyren?” He turned back.
“For what it’s worth, I still owe you a favor.”
Wyren spat and walked out of the palace.
Filu-diorae-kalae rolled his eyes as Wyren walked in the door. The small, greasy Husband had a voice almost as raucous as Wyren’s own. “Well, at least you came in too early to scare away most of the customers!” He poured out a quart of yellowish methanol and slid it across the bar to Wyren. “I don’t know why I let you drink here. In the old days, I’d have called the Marines to kick you out!”
“In the old days, I’d have pulled this cesspool down around your ears, anyway,” Wyren said flatly. Their humor was forced. Both knew it was true. Except that Wyren wouldn’t have been “kicked out.” He’d have been executed on the spot.
Filu’s tavern had once been a Terran place. Still was, in spirit. Holes in the walls showed where the imaging and sound equipment had been ripped out. A dead gaming tank rose up through the center of the floor. A few anemic fish swam in it where the electronics had been. And it was what it had always been: a dance hall. On the other side of the thick, plasteel door, the Terran perversion was still going on; Husbands and Wives, Sons and Daughters, moving to offworld music in an obscene parody of mating. Wyren no longer cared; he didn’t have to watch it.
The chairs were too small for Wyren. He crossed the room and perched on one of the tables like a carrionbird. He took a pull at the liquor. It did nothing. His Warrior’s metabolism prevented that. The glass reflected him; its curved sides further distorting his distorted figure: A grotesquely robust sculpture of a Husband, as if he had been baked in an oven and allowed to rise. The horns in place of hair. A hard shell, jointed, covering everything but hands and face.
He and Jionha had not chosen blindly. They had known what they were doing. From the moment of the Change, they had been apart. They had known they would be. They had known it would be painful.
They had not expected it to be long.
They had expected…
Battle: He had been only a few hundred yards from this place the day Serata had finally fallen. Five of his fellow Warriors had already died under the microton bomb strikes of Terran dropships. He shifted the onegauge cannon in his hands from target to target like a rapier; a precision weapon. The last of the Imperial Marines leapt from the cover of the halfwrecked rocket base and fired a burst of three maglasers into him from a distance of two meters.
Wyren had stepped forward despite the pain of the deep burns and swung the butt of his cannon viciously. The man’s head had bounced back into the twisted wreckage. Without thinking, Wyren threw his laser into the arms of one of the nonWarrior support troops that scuttled around him like tugs around a battleship.
Then Prale had shouted for help.
Wyren leapt over the smoldering tower that had been the base’s main turret. What would have been horror just months earlier, he took in with grim efficiency.
A Warrior was down, blood pouring from a shattered carapace, and Prale stood locked in battle with a thing from Hell.
The Imperial commando was a nightmare of titanium and composite, its stealthfield blurring as it fought. Its armored gauntlet caught and crushed Prale’s hand and one-gauge; Prale roared pain, grappling its other hand, the hand that held the plasma carbine inching closer… closer.
Wyren saw all this in midair. He landed, bounced once and drove all his power into a kick that knocked the armored shape back; its carbine letting loose a plasma bolt into the air, and it rebounded to its feet, the small face behind the visor contorted in a snarl.
Wyren’s spiked hand ripped through its shattered belly armor and twisted. There was a retching scream, and the thing dropped. Wyren felt his lips pull back.
Then thunder had shaken the capital, and even Wyren had been forced to drop, covering his ears. For a moment he thought that their worst fears had come true; that the Terrans had elected to destroy Serata rather than lose their capital.
But there was no flash of a fusion weapon. Just a steady light. Wyren had looked up.
The noon sky was full of fire. The blue wedges of fusion drives rose from the southern edge of the city. Little flares. Big flares. Dropships and heavy transports. They were no longer attacking. They were leaving. One by one, the pockets of firefighting winked out, to be replaced by rising ships, or final explosions. Continuous thunder poured from the sky, fading. Through the rest of the day, sporadic fighting had continued between the Mtaeinin Liberation Army and the last proTerran holdouts, as they were either defeated or taken off-world with their masters. But it was over. The Revolution was won. And Wyren had not died.

He had not died. And Jionha had not died. At first they were happy. Neither of them had wanted to die. But how could they live? One Husband. One Wife. No children, ever. What kind of family was that? What kind of Husband was he?
He became aware of a presence at his elbow and growled at it. It didn’t move. Wyren came out of his reverie to focus on it. It was Filu.
He was blue. Not a trace of silver. Frightened.
Of what? Surely not of Wyren’s growl? He had growled in the little bartender’s face often enough.
“Wyren-nje…” he got out, choking.
Nje? From you, Filu?” Who wept while others had cheered the departure of the conquerors? Wyren had not thought himself still possessed of curiosity. “What is it?”
“In the dance hall. There’s a fight…”
“You have bouncers.”
“They aren’t trained to fight Terrans.”
Wyren gaped. A Terran? Here? Insane. Tourism was only just being permitted under strict control, and any Terran on Mtaein knew that he was unlikely to be forgiven the slightest criminal act.
But this particular Terran had picked the one place on the planet that a Terran could conceivably cause trouble with impunity. A dance hall owner would not call the police.
Not stupid, then.
But nonetheless, a Terran on Mtaein. A fighting Terran. Wyren rose and crossed the room, fangs bared. He threw the door wide and froze.
The Terran was tiny. It stood in the middle of the dancefloor. A few remaining Mtaeinin of both sexes were rapidly edging out the doors. Three big Husbands lay near the edge of the dance floor. One dripped blue blood from his nose. The Terran turned at the sound of the door opening.
Wyren growled, half in amazement. It was dressed all in black, only its face and one hand showing skin. Over that it wore a jacket. A gray jacket, covered with bits of cloth and metal at one breast. A long cloak lay on a chair. It must have been seated there. Then it had taken off the cloak to reveal the jacket and that’s when the trouble had started.
It was the dress jacket of an Imperial Commando. The creature might as well have been wearing an execution order. Wyren smiled.
The officer’s slanted eyes widened at his growl, and it threw its bottle away. It nodded to him, and spoke in High Angelsh. “Commander Phun Huynh, Twelfth Battalion, Imperial Navy Special Forces. Whom have I the pleasure of killing?”
It was female! And unarmored! How did it hope to stand against a Warrior? He checked himself. No one had ever said Terrans were cowards. He replied after her fashion. “Wyren-jionhae. Warrior. Councilors’ Guards.”
“Come, dance with me,” she called, extending her naked hand.
Wyren’s jaw dropped at the insult. The battleblood, the Warrior hormones that lent him speed and strength, surged through him. His body became light and lightning. There was only this place. There was only her. He charged.
If it had not been for the battle glory rushing through him, her absolute motionlessness would have given him pause. His claws reached for her. Then she blurred… and something gripped his arm, hard. Incredible pain shot up below his belly and he was flying, coming down on splintered wood and metal that had been a table.
Her laugh behind him blended with the tinkling of broken glass. “A Warrior should do better than this!”
He rose, and nearly fell. She had hit him as he passed, right where the upper and lower torso plates joined. Something had torn. Not too serious, but… it wasn’t possible. No unarmored Terran could stand against a Warrior. Not even a Commando had ever dared try! He stepped clear of the bar and she whirled to face him.
Now he studied her.
She moved with a sort of airy bounce, almost the opposite of a limp. She was small, even for a Terran. Her skin shone golden in the low lights and her eyes were horizontal slashes below her bare forehead. Her long, black hair streamed out behind her. The medals on her chest caught the light and flashed defiance at him.
They were alone in the room. The stillness was marked by the ragged breathing of one of the bouncers she had hit. Just one still breathed.
“Why?” The word was harsh in the silence.
“That’s funny; no Warrior ever philosophized with me last time I was here. As I recall, the classic answer is ‘Why not?’” She screamed; a high, alien sound, and leapt. A kick whistled past Wyren’s ears and he rolled, blocking the second half of the combination attack. His carapaced arm clacked off her descending foot. He withdrew into a crouch.
That boot was more than it seemed. Harder. And so was its wearer. Wyren felt his mind split into the focused calm of battle awareness, considering his opponent while plotting strike and counterstrike. He moved in, his fingers spread, the spikes of his armor forming a porcupine around them. Was this a Terran madness? She must know she was dead, even if (she kicked one grabbing hand aside and ducked the other) she could somehow kill him (just missed another joint in his armor) she would never leave the planet alive – there were a dozen witnesses. Even common criminals would inform on a Terran! Again, she drove a kick toward the joint and he shifted to take it on his armor. He felt his carapace bend; almost buckle as the strike staggered him to one side. The fighters broke apart.
Wyren was shaken. The Terran was breathing hard. If that kick had hit a joint…
A new sensation thrilled him from chin to groin. Fear. He was amazed that he could still feel it after all this time. She stood before him, untouched. Only the motion of her chest, told him that she had even exerted herself.
Then why had she not killed him at the first blow? Had she pulled the punch? He parried a punch with a wrist spike, not quite fast enough to impale her hand. Why? She would have killed one more Warrior before she died, as so many of her kind had done. He lashed out, fist smashing against her gloved hand, and he felt something snap, even through his thick skin. And he would have died, as he had sworn to. Been meant to. As so many others had, reduced to a family of only Husband and Wife. No other Wives to complete their family; to share him with Jionha. No children, not ever from Jionha. Not ever from his own womb.
The Terran’s hand hung limply, and she looked at him from under halflidded eyes. She shook and sweat streamed from under her hair. He was not fooled. She could still kill him. He hoped. She opened her eyes fully and smiled at him. Terran teeth were a joke. He had never known they could show so much menace. He wondered if she would use them. How they would feel, biting into his flesh.
The side kick came so fast that he blocked it without meaning to, and felt his carapace crack under its force. He drove one punch past her ear only to have it parried by her gloved hand. He would not dodge the next kick. His other fist reached for her face… and she relaxed, feet together, arms spread out, face blank.
He could not stop his fist. He was too committed for that. Desperately, he twisted, and his massive hand thundered into the wall.
The Terran’s eyes were wide and fixed on him. They mirrored his own expression. Just then Wyren noticed that the noise of impact hadn’t stopped with his fist hitting the wall. It was repeating itself in footsteps, dozens of footsteps outside the massive main doors.
The police. Finally, someone had called.
Waves of shame crashed down around Wyren. He had failed. Failed to kill or be killed. Had been a living failure for five years, laughed at for it. Pitied for it. An old Warrior who should have died long ago, and he had failed even to kill himself.
He turned and ran for the side door. It flew open in his face, and he howled in shame and fury. The sergeant leading the fourman platoon turned blue and fainted. The others scattered as a relic of ancestral nightmares bore down on them and ran into the night.
Now Wyren sat in another tavern; not a dance hall. He drank, because he would not be permitted to sit there perched on a table like a gargoyle, without drinking. The five tables next to him had quickly become vacant, and Husbands and Wives muttered over their shoulders in his direction. At least, he thought so.
Perhaps he was mad. The stories he had heard as a child said that Warriors did go mad. But the Warriors in the stories had lost their Wives, or worse, killed them. That was why they were Warriors. The Change was a holdover from savage times. No Husband deliberately became a Warrior.
Until the Terrans came, and taught us about nations and empires. That something greater than family could exist. They were strong because they had it. We needed to be strong to fight them. There was a surge of angry muttering from the crowd around him.
Did we need to be this strong?
He raised his eyes to the patrons and found that he was not the one they were muttering about.
Phun walked through them; a ghost of Empire. She must have touched some of them, but she seemed to be as utterly unconscious of them as of dreams. Her skin was paler here, and her eyes burned with… what? Strong emotion that he did not know how to read. Her jacket was reversed, brown on the outside, now. He could see the edges of medals inside it. She walked through the empty space around his table.
“Why didn’t you kill me?”
The tavern’s patronage began to leave. So, she had really wanted to die.
“Walk with me,” Phun said. “Please.”
Wyren looked up at her. At the glares of the bartender and the dwindling crowd. He rose, and walked out. Phun followed. At last, they stood in the sparsely populated street, under the alwaysfull moon.
“Why didn’t you kill me?” she asked again.
“Why wouldn’t you kill me?” He began walking. Most Terrans would have had to run to keep up. That airy, antilimp kept her at a pace with him.
“You also want to die?” No answer was required to that question. He kept walking.
“Wyren-jionhae, I challenge you.”
He barked a short laugh. “If both of us wish to die. it will be either a very short fight or a very long one. Good night.”
She stayed at his side. “We are both soldiers, Wyren-jionhae. It is an axiom that the loser is the one who dies, yes?”
Wyren grunted assent.
“Then I challenge you. If you can prove that you have lost more than I have, I will kill you. If you will do the same for me.”
Wyren stopped. Stared at her.
“You’ll have what you want, Wyren-jionhae. Killed fighting a Terran. Just what you expected.”
“You swear this?”
“Before G… on my honor I swear it.”
They came to a plaza. Wyren recognized it. The Plaza of Heroes. In the center was a statue. A short Husband knelt, planting the banner of the Revolution. His Wife stood supporting it, straight and tall. The Husband’s right hand closed the eyes of a dead Warrior. It was brightly spotlighted. The square was empty. He faced her. “How shall we begin?”
She regarded him for silent moments. “What have you lost?”
The directness of the question floored him. Where to start? He could not speak.
“What have you lost?” she repeated.
“No Terran could understand. No Wife could understand.” Not even Jionha could understand. He said the words in Qhayshp, the language of the Seratan forests, realizing what a useless gesture this duel was. He started to leave.
“You have no idea what I understand. Stand to your oath!” Her voice reached out like a whip. His eyes bulged.
“You speak Qhayshp,” he said, dumbly.
“It was rare for us, wasn’t it?” She sounded almost ashamed. “What have you lost?”
A barrier within him snapped. “Look at me,” he hissed. “Do you know what this face means? This form?” He flexed his spiked fists, beat them against his carapace. “Sons and Daughters have nightmares for a week after I walk by their houses. I am used by their parents to scare them into obedience. Wives look away when they see me, and no Husband would be seen with me. Before you came, Warriors were failures or traitors to their Wives, and that is what they remember. But I became this because of you.”
Phun did not reply. She put one finger in her mouth, and tugged on the glove covering it with her teeth. Slowly, she withdrew her hand from the glove and held it palm toward him.
Synthetic and metal gridwork formed a wire sculpture of five fingers and a palm, half of it dangling limp where Wyren’s blow had connected. She shrugged the jacket off, and it fell with a clatter to the stones of the square. She touched her collar with her bare hand, and the black clothing she wore fell apart. It occurred to Wyren that he had never seen a Terran unclothed before. Probably they feared to doff armor in the presence of Mtaeinin, but now… she stood.
Below her face, her pale, yellowish skin swept downward into two masses of fatty tissue – the breasts, he remembered – supported by ribs visible through her skin. Below the ribs… black plastic and metal formed a carapace even tougher than Wyren’s own. It came to a point between multijointed, wire sculpture legs that mimicked her left hand. He could see the square through her. No wonder she had been so formidable. “Now see what I would not be, except for you. What reactions do you suppose Terran Husbands and Sons and Daughters have when they see me? What else have you lost?”
He snarled. “What would a Wife know about it? Never to give birth. Never to raise the children of your body?”
She just stared at him for a minute. Then she laughed, a laugh that was almost a sob. “You don’t know?”
Wrath bubbled beneath his mind, almost enough to make him kill her. Know what?
“You really don’t; I can see it in your face.” Her face softened. “I just assumed you knew that on Terra, it is the female that bears children.”
He felt as if she’d struck him again with one of her synthetic limbs. Females bearing children? Impossible. Disgusting. Rumors drifted back to him from wartime. He’d always thought that they were just propaganda.
For the second time that night, the uneasy sensation that he was losing to her (or should it be him?) crept over him. Scorn crept into his voice.
“I thought you Terrans were technological gods. I thought you could grow duplicates of yourselves; carve your body as desired.”
She nodded, brokenly. “Some can. If they have the money. Terra doesn’t allow soldiers to clone. We aren’t wanted.”
Unwillingly, Wyren found himself nodding. “Neither are we.”
Phun gestured to the statue. “But you are respected.”
A hollow laugh boomed out of him. “That Warrior is dead. Mtaein wants dead heroes. Not live Warriors.”
Now it was she who nodded. “Terra does not want even that.”
Wyren shook his head. Impossible. “Terra is an Empire…”
“A dying Empire,” she said softly. “Do you really think the Mtaeinin could have kicked us off this world at the height of our power? You saw what we know; what we can do. No one wants a Terran soldier. Terra least of all. That’s why… that’s why I loved this place so much.”
Anger shot through him; his head whipped up. “Loved it so much that you came to help enslave it?”
“Loved it enough that I learned the language; learned the people.” She lowered her voice. “Do you think I learned enough to track a trained Warrior who didn’t want to be seen through the Seratan streets by hating this city? Do you think I survived three years of forest patrol by not knowing everything about it?”
“Using it against us,” he tried to growl. But the earnestness in her words pulled at him.
“Don’t tell me you don’t understand the difference between love and duty. Or do you really love Mtaein more than you love your wife?”
Wyren closed his eyes in acknowledgment, and then met hers. He saw her youth. It was like Jionha’s face, before the Change. And he saw that he had lost this challenge.
She had known his losses better than he had known himself. And he had not known hers at all. He had agreed to kill her. And now he did not want to.
“Fulfill your promise,” she said. She was shaking now, and her eyes grew pools of liquid.
He nodded heavily. “Where would you die?”
She looked puzzled. “Where?”
“A Warrior, when he chooses, dies so that he may take his last view with him into the dark.”
She nodded, face a mask. “I thank you.” She looked upward, considering. “The Narrow Bridge.”
Wyren started to speak, then stopped. He was actually embarrassed. “The Bridge is… there is no more Bridge. Except along the banks. When we… when the Governor’s Palace was destroyed…”
“You destroyed the Bridge?” Her voice showed more emotion for the Bridge than she had for anything that had happened to either of them, but she contained it quickly. “Fitting. Take me to where it was.”
They walked, the ceramium and chitin of their feet clacking against the hard road. The streets were empty. Wyren felt rather than saw her, by his side. She spoke, and her words pulled him out of his reverie. “Tell me of yourself, Wyrennje. Tell me your story.”
He nearly stumbled. “It is you who should tell your story,” he said, “that you may be remembered after your passing.”
“I do not wish to be remembered,” said Phun. “I am the victor, and I would have your story… to take with me into the dark.”
Had her voice broken, there? But she was correct, and he began to speak. Of his childhood outside Serata. Of his friendship with Varq and with Jionha. Of his marriage. Of the Change and what had happened after. “The rest you know.”
She said nothing. They turned the corner, and the smell of the river greeted them, wafting up the Hundred Stairs that led down to the Narrow Bridge. Or what was left of it.
“There’s nothing left,” he heard her say. She was not talking about the Bridge. It looked strange even to his eyes, the flat surface of the Kma River, unbroken by the Governor’s Palace.
“On leave nights,” she said, “I used to stand on the Bridge, in the middle, with the palace behind me.”
Glorying in its power; the power of your hegemony, the Revolutionconditioned segment of Wyren’s brain responded, but he knew now he was wrong.
There was no middle of the Bridge now; when the Imperial Palace had been destroyed, no one had realized what the hydrostatic shock would do to the Narrow Bridge. The Bridge had been there forever, a wonder of the world, a thousand years older than Terran occupation. A mile of carved stone, barely wide enough for two to pass. The Imperial Palace had been built in the middle of the river specifically for the view of the Bridge from it. The broken tongues of stone leading out into the water were now called Terra’s Revenge.
She led him down the stairs and out onto the river. Out to the point where the Bridge ended. She topped, and inclined her head as if in prayer, then turned.
“Fulfill your promise,” she said, her voice unsteady.
He would give her a good death. “Where should I strike to kill a Terran Warrior?”
“Here,” her hand touched the hollow of her throat, where it joined her chest. He drew back a fist, wristspike angled for a single thrust.
He moved.
A grip of metal wrenched him to the side, and the followthrough left him nose to nose with Phun, her eyes round with shock, her left hand entangling his wristspikes. He looked the question at her.
“Conditioning,” she got out. “The way they train us. Again. Please.” She composed herself with an effort. He nodded and steeled himself, drew back.
He moved.
Again he was knocked aside, nearly offbalance. Her breathing rang loud over the lapping of water. He looked into her liquid, Terran eyes.
“Please,” she stammered.
“No.” he said. “I agreed to kill. Not to murder. You do not want to die. You merely have no courage to live. You are no Warrior.” He watched her turn white.
“Neither are you,” she shot back.
“You dare speak for me?” He raised his fist again.
“Does a Warrior run off, leaving his Wife – his only Wife – to face life without him while he cowers in death?”
“Without me, Jionha could remarry, could find another family, with a real Husband…”
Wyren roared and swung; Phun danced back, nearly on the edge of the Bridge. “Do you really think anyone would take her as she is now? Even I know Mtaenin better than that.”
“Jionha is beautiful, was always beautiful, even…”
“To anyone but you?”
He swung again, but her legs carried her over the blow, up onto the narrow rim of the Bridge. “And she is beautiful to you, isn’t she?”
“Always.” The memory of her still staggers me. As she is, she yet could bear me to the ground with a look.
“But you cannot suppose that you are beautiful to her?”
He lowered the horned, callused fist that was poised to strike her. “No.”
“Then by your own admission, Wyren-jionhae, you are less of a warrior than I am,” Phun said softly, squatting on the handrail of the Bridge. “You are afraid, not to live, but to be loved.”
“I am not worthy…” he choked.
“Dammit, man, none of us are!” she barked. “You think the ones who took no risk, who live soft in this independent Mtaein you and Jionha bled out your futures to create; you think they’re worthy of the love denied you? Of the honor? We’re soldiers, we know the truth; the only worthy are the ones who never came back!” The words rang against the stone like whip-cracks.
“She makes you worthy.” Phun looked deep into his eyes. “I know I’ve never met her but the way you talk about her… I know how she must love you. She makes you worthy of your name, Wyren-jionhae. Don’t throw that away.”
Stepping down from the rail, she walked to the stairs. “Go home, Warrior. Go home to your Wife.”
Wyren’s head spun. She makes you worthy, the Terran had said. And suddenly, everything changed. All Jionha’s anger, her hurt, her distance. Not her choice. It had been his. And Phun had seen it. It was like looking through a lens, he thought. Hold it far enough away and you see things as they really are… upside down from the way you’ve always seen it.
He looked up. “Phun…” But she was gone. He stood. He stretched. He smelled the air. He followed.
When he crushed the doorknob in his grip and entered the cheap hotel room he found the lights on and the room empty.
“God, we’ve both gotten old,” her voice came from behind him. “I leave a trail that a Mtaeinin Warrior can follow and you just… walk into the room of an Imperial commando. I almost introduced you to the fourth state of matter.” Behind him, she was holstering her plasma carbine.
“You gave me back my life,” he said.
She staggered, then recovered. “It was always yours. Just like this world was, I suppose. Why are you here?”
“You said the only worthy are the ones who never came back.”
She lowered her eyes. “Yes.”
“What about you?”
“What about me, Wyren?”
“You never came back. And you said you never can. You are worthy. Of love. Of honor.”
She looked up at him. “Thank you, Wyren. That means a lot.”
“I would make you worthy.”
Phun’s eyes narrowed. “What?”
“You said Jionha makes me worthy. But you have no Wife – I am sorry – no Husband. I would make you worthy. Here, since you cannot go back home. I want you to meet Jionha, and I want her to meet you. We three… have much to talk about. My friend.” He extended his hand, spikes pulled back, four fingers spread in the greeting of equals. Somehow, the hand seemed less frightening. Smaller.
She looked at him, hand reflexively meeting his fingertips, and her face was unexpectedly young in the light reflected from the river. “Here? With your – family?”
He nodded.
“I will go with you,” she said. Her eyes seemed bigger now. Full of water like ponds.
They walked from the room; Phun seemed in a trance. There was much to say. But not yet, Wyren sensed. Now there was the walk home in the night. Tomorrow would be for Jionha and Phun and himself. And perhaps, if Immigration could be arranged… yes. Varq would give him that. That much could be done.
It would be a strange family, if it happened at all, he knew. But it would be more than they could have dreamed of, before. And perhaps, with love, it would be enough.


He had been drifting on the outskirts of oblivion for a long time. Left with only his own thoughts and his relentless search for a planet he could call home. Infinite desolateness, and after all these years in space, experience had brought an entire new meaning to the word. An adventurer by nature and an outcast by status, he had been rejected by his own kind and now searched for anything different than the piercing void. His mission was to return to the origin-world, the planet from which his people came. His home was an industrialized moon, but some told stories of life beginning on another planet. An oasis of vibrant life could be found on the far side of the galaxy. It was the birthplace of his people. However, wars raged between his people and another species that inhabited that planet. His people lost and were doomed to roam the galaxy until they found a new home. And apparently, they roamed for a long time because his journey back to the coordinates of the origin-world had already lasted 300,000 years.
He had personified his thoughts long ago in order to cope with the loneliness. The current conversational topic was one he’d had multiple times with himself over the years. “One can never truly understand what it is like to exist this way,” he thought. His existence consisted of pacing back and forth in his tiny capsule, sleeping and thinking. He had nothing to entertain himself with, not even a medium through which he could record his thoughts and conversations. He kept his mind active by actively describing things he remembered from back home. For example, he often thought about coffee. Although he did not have to eat or drink, coffee was a common pleasure to the people of his home-world. He attempted to picture it… and described it so tenderly that one would think he was speaking it into existence. “Coffee, the rich aroma, earthy and perfumed, a cyclical stream of steam rises from its blackened surface. Lifted to my lips, the placidly shifting liquid weighs down on my hand in its plastic cup. With its impending warmth and the promise of a jolted awakening, the sensations overwhelm. The anticipated sensations, the smell, the color, the flavor…all to be fully experienced, and all to bring momentary relief.” He sat down impressed with himself, for his own mind was his only refuge. Everything had been taken from him, even his ability to end his own life. He had tried many times, but could never produce the strength required to smash his own head into the interior walls of the capsule. But in this moment, he knew what they couldn’t take from him was his own mind and attitude. “To exist is to exist and to not exist is to not exist.” He could always find a reason to choose existence over non-existence. And that was something they could never take away.
He had been rambling on with himself in conversation for about 20 minutes before he looked out the small window of the capsule. In the distance, a small orb was slowly taking form. His heart began to viciously race, his hands began to tenaciously tremble, he couldn’t make a sound. For 300,000 years he had waited, hoping and praying that it was not all for nothing. And now, when he needed it most, purpose once again slowly crept through the cracks of the darkened capsule and infiltrated the very soul of his being. He knew he was still years from the small orb that he couldn’t look away from, but he wept with overwhelming joy at the hope of sweet escape. Now awakened from his stupor of existential nothingness, he reflected yet again on his life back home. A utopian society, his people were bred with a single occupational purpose. Their personality, interests, dislikes, and annoyances all balanced out to make a person perfectly suited for the occupation they had been provided at conception. He was a medic. His job was fairly simple, to repair people’s internal damages and continuously upgrade them. His kind were estimated to live for 800,000 years. The escapade of technical education, training and programming that he had endured for his trade seemed pointless now. He always grinned when looking back at his life. He believed himself to be a true visionary and rebel with a cause. He had won the hearts of millions, who had helped push him to the top against a corrupt regime of amoral, controlling sociopaths. But was he really the first to climb out of the mind-numbing stupor that stemmed from their suppression of innovation and free-thinking? And if so, why? Nonetheless, in the end, he was captured and charged for a multitude of things. His punishment was to drift alone in a tiny capsule unto coordinates that hopefully led to an oasis. The place of his and his people’s ancestors. Its name was Earth.
He watched in awe as rays from the sun poured over the edges of Earth’s spherical body. It had taken 10 years but now he watched as beams of orange, yellow and red illuminated Earth’s already rustic glow and he once again wept. It was unusual for his people to express emotion, something he had always actively questioned. Although he was a medic by occupation, he had always taken an interest in the written word. He did not like how every text he had read had been monotonous and technical by nature. His rise to fame and power had started by breaking with this ideology. He wrote about the things that inspired him, whether they were the morning stars or the planet his moon revolved around. Besides that, he was a skeptic in its truest form, constantly writing about challenging the status quo. He had always felt something wasn’t quite right with people. There was this constant push towards perfection, efficiency and routine, as if they aspired to nothing more than the mind-numbing rituals of daily life. The closer you stayed to your predestined path, the happier you would be. But he was a dreamer. “Look at what good that brought me,” he thought, for he knew his free-spirited nature is what eventually doomed him. But nothing could contain his excitement as he slowly but assuredly approached Earth. He had dreamed about it perhaps a thousand times. He dreamed of a planet filled with color and vibrancy, a planet where elements of its natural terrain were still present. Rolling hills and magnificent valleys, beautiful extensions of the planet that stretched towards the sky. But mostly he dreamed of the life-forms he would encounter. He was surprised by his own nervousness, another thing that always made him stand out from his peers. He hadn’t been in social contact with anyone for all these years; how would he react upon arrival? How would they react? And then he remembered something. A tablet had been provided to him for his journey, a tablet that allowed him to make a call back to his home once it was in range of the coordinates provided. The purpose of the call was to inform the people back home that the planet did indeed exist. He rose from his bed, the only seat in the capsule, and walked to the front. He slowly opened the drawer where the tablet had rested for the entirety of his journey. His nervousness reached new levels as he shakily pulled out the ancient contraption. He turned it on. The small screen unexcitedly pulled up a message that read: “Programmed coordinates now in range, searching for signal.” And once again, he had to wait. Who knows how long it would be before the signal reached home? He pondered whether or not he should attempt to calculate if the signal was even strong enough in the first place, but after a few minutes, he decided to leave it be. He would rather live in blissful ignorance and have hope than know for sure. Instead, he decided to focus on what he hoped would be his new home. He was getting closer and closer. And in eager anticipation, he continued to wait.
It was not what he had imagined. Perhaps the vibrant collage of natural beauty lay buried under the dust and ash. A barren wasteland, Earth’s dried up surface could have represented the pattern of his life. He had wandered Earth for 250 years. It wasn’t Earth’s physical qualities that had him down, so much as it was its inability to sustain biological life. And he saw no evidence of other non-biological species. So once again, he was left alone to wander aimlessly. “At least I get to move around,” he reminded himself for he had not forgotten his voyage through space. It was then that he noticed something shining in the distance. He ran to it, for it pointed just over a cliff up on the horizon. He ran for two days, never stopping, frantically hurling himself forward towards the silver beam in the distance. He approached the edge of the cliff and awed at the wonder the silver beam had led him to. That beam happened to be the tip of an enormous tower. Tilted slightly and under the enormous tower was what appeared to be the shattered remnants of a once great society. Buildings similar to the ones from his home lay in ruins, under the dirt and dust. None compared to the magnificent tower that drew him there. He decided to rest his body and stay for a few days on top of the cliff. As he rested he thought about how he once again had found some semblance of purpose. “Perhaps this is what it is to be?” he thought. “I exist because I exist. And I find purpose so I can justify my own existence.” What a peculiar thought. He once again thought about the irony of it all. His people had cast him away, doomed him to search for the origin world that may or may not still exist. Now he was here and once more there was only nothingness. But now he headed towards the tower and the ruined civilization which it hovered over. As he approached, he stared up and once again practiced describing what he was experiencing. “Four monstrous legs that rise up to a centered tip. Its overpowering arch provides comfort for I once again feel small.”
He examined the area for a few days. While walking through the ruined city, he noticed himself thinking about the people who once lived here. He thought about what the experience of seeing them, hearing them, and feeling them would have been like. For they were a biological people. Fleshy to the touch and more susceptible to harmful external elements. He thought about the war that took place between his kind and the other people of Earth. The purpose of his people was to enhance efficiency. The people of Earth were like gods, but they became afraid of their creations and looked to extinguish them. It is at this point that his people fought back. War raged and eventually those who remained retreated to the nearest galaxy. He wondered what the people of Earth would have done or said to him upon his arrival if they still existed. Perhaps they would be horrified? Perhaps their views had evolved? Or perhaps they created another life-form to walk the Earth with them. The possibilities were endless. He had now returned to the tower from which he first found the ruined city. He lied down underneath it. “I am going to end it now,” he stated. He had wandered the remnants of Earth long enough. Existence and non-existence had become one and the same to him. He would return to his capsule and send his only message into oblivion. Perhaps it would reach his home world, perhaps not. He would be long gone before then anyway.
He now thought about nothing and felt relieved. It would all be over soon and then he could rest. “Nobody is meant to exist this way. I have been alone for so long. My life means nothing and therefore my end will mean nothing.” He continued walking in the direction of the capsule. The barren wasteland showed him a perfect representation of himself.
As he meandered back to the capsule, he noticed a large glass-looking object peaking out of the ground in the near distance. He walked towards it and realized it was a glass pyramid, partially buried in the dirt. “This is truly beautiful,” he thought. And at that moment he decided to dig. He dug and dug and then dug some more, and months later he had unveiled the entire glass pyramid. While he was digging he had uncovered two other smaller similar pyramids on each side of the larger one. He sat and looked at what he had uncovered and once again realized his life had been saved by purpose. “Well,” he thought. “I might as well keep digging and see what I find.” Eventually he found a small window, although it wasn’t made from any material he had seen before. Fortified and barricaded, it must have protected precious contents. For three years he dug and once again had found purpose, as he strived to find an entrance.
When he found the entrance he had worked so hard to uncover, he was suddenly overcome with despair. “Probably another disappointment,” he thought. He opened the door and the sun’s beams lit up the room like a Christmas tree. As he entered he saw a perfectly preserved room filled with the most unique and enthralling objects. He slowly stepped forward. He had never seen such exquisite makings.
The objects that filled the room seemed useless at first. Most of them were made from a sheet-like material and they hung on the walls of the giant room. Enamored by them, his attention slowly shifted to the back corner. There rested an object that was clearly superior to the rest, for it had its own pedestal and viewing area. He walked towards the corner and for the first time saw what the people of Earth looked like. It was a picture. A picture of a female human. He looked deep into her emotional eyes and was overcome with joy. For he related to the person in that picture. He empathized with the tired, sad eyes and the half-smile. They spoke to the pain he had endured his entire existence. He did not understand much about the experience he was having, but he knew he was on the brink of something that could provide the meaning he needed all that time. “This is what it is to be human,” he thought as he looked around the dark room at all the wonder. “This is what I live for.” He noticed a title above the magnificent picture of the woman. Mona Lisa.
He spent the majority of his days going through all the artwork he had stumbled upon. The art typically held themes of intimacy, procreation, death, love, and other aspects of human life. As he sorted out and rummaged through the artifacts, he pondered about his creators and if they had intended his kind to be the emotionless perfection-hunters they always seemed to be. He was certainly the anomaly of his kind, for he felt closer to the people portrayed in the paintings than his peers. “But was I the intended goal or simply the accident?” He would never know. His outlook was shifting from despairing to hopeful. Like his creators, the humans, he wanted to create something beautiful. Even if no other life-form ever laid eyes on his creation, he knew he would have accomplished something. He picked up Mona Lisa and held her in his arms, just like the couples from the paintings. “You have inspired me,” he thought. “Therefore, I am going to be inspired by you.” He now had a plan. He walked outside of the building and began to search for rubble he could use for carving. After a few days, he had the tools he would need. And once again, he started digging. This time however, he was digging to produce something, instead of finding it. He focused on his task at hand, instead of losing himself in his own thoughts. He had a goal in mind and he would not stop until he had accomplished what he set his mind to.
His creation was complete after another 200,000 years or so. He had walked perhaps every nook, cranny and crevice of Earth’s surface, finding rubble to make his tools and continuing the work that he had set out to do. He had made art his life’s purpose. He never wavered. He never got stuck in the trap of his own thoughts. He simply carved, and carried Mona Lisa everywhere with him, talking to her and holding her like she was his long-lost friend. When he had finished his work, he walked back up the cliff to where he had seen the large tower upon his arrival. He held Mona Lisa to the air, looked at her and then looked down at his creation. Before him, rested a perfect replication of the picture he held. The picture was about 3 acres large. It surrounded and infiltrated the remains of the city. Above the picture, a giant title that read “Beauty amongst Ashes, Purpose amongst Nothingness.” In all his life, this creation was by far his greatest accomplishment. It spoke to him so deeply and he cried. He had not cried since first seeing that distant orb that would become his home. “I have lived a life as meaningful as any other, for I was destined to be alone, just like we all really are.” He then returned to the capsule.
After months of traveling he finally made it back to the nightmare that was once his reality. Coming back to the capsule filled him with dread for he was reminded of the long treacherous journey it had carried him through. He walked to the front of the capsule and once again pulled out the ancient tablet. He turned it out and decided to send his only message into the abyss of space. “My name is Medic-3248, but my pseudo-name is Vaga. Due to my rebellious and disruptive tendencies, I was forced to drift through space for 300,000 years. I headed into the direction of the origin-world, Earth. My job was to see what had become of our original home and report back to you. Well, humans survived the war against us, but they couldn’t survive the Sun’s powerful rays. After wandering the planet, I have discovered that Earth moved too close to the Sun, drying up the oceans and killing off all biological life. It will not be long before the entire planet is burnt to a crisp. That being said, I feel I now understand the human condition on a more intimate level than any of our kind ever has. They looked to extinguish us, because they were afraid of our perfection. We may have strived to build a utopia, but we failed. We failed because there is no beauty without suffering. To existentially suffer, is to be human. Of which I have suffered greatly. My purpose? To find a new reason to awaken with each revolution of the Sun. There is nothing left of Earth, for all things eventually end. Just like I too, will soon end.” He pressed send. Who knew if his message would reach home? If it did, he would probably be long gone anyway. So once again he sat and waited. Waited, to be inspired.


It's Me or the Robot and On Synthetic Humans: Friends Electric by Mark Kirkbride


Mark Kirkbride

“Is that a leg?” Sabrina didn’t know whether to dash back through the door or shut it behind her.

She shut it.

Michael held the limb by the ankle and lowered his gaze. “Yes.”

That was how it started, with a leg.

Just the one.

Sabrina hung up her coat. “A leg?”

Like a soldier doing rifle drill, he slung it under his other arm. “Yes.”


He glanced at her. “Why not?”

Why not? When you come home from work and find your partner holding a leg, you expect the explanation to consist of more than just “Why not?”

He’d purchased the 3-D printer at the weekend. It rested like a giant microwave on the table in the corner of their poky or, as the real estate agent had described it, “bijou” apartment. The last thing she’d expected him to make first was a leg.

Skeleton white, the leg swung at the knee as he walked.

He laid it down carefully.

Men love their hobbies. She knew that. It was pointless trying to fight it. If by some miracle one managed to quash it in one form, it sprang up in another. Hence geocaching. Hence flyting. Yet, seriously, body parts?

He turned to her, smiling. “Cup of tea?”


“How was work?” He filled the kettle.

From the other side of the open-plan apartment, she watched him plug it in.

“Todd spilt pop over his keyboard. IT weren’t happy. How was school?”

He leaned against the countertop. “Oh, you know, hormones, foul language, fist fights. And that was just the staff room.”

She laughed, despite herself.

A child of their own – that was what they needed. Michael would have to reassess his priorities then. If hitting thirty hadn’t forced him to, that would.

“She’s walking.”

“I can see she’s walking.” Holding herself rigid, Sabrina waited till the very last moment to move out of the way.

Now fully assembled, the white robot took one tentative step after another and, flexing this way and that, ducking where necessary, managed to avoid a series of mini-drones hovering at various heights across the room.

It leaned right back, as if limbo dancing, under one.

Sabrina sucked, chewed, on the inside of her cheek. “Milking it a bit, isn’t she?”

“Don’t you see?” Michael’s swivel chair creaked as he nodded in the direction of the robot. “I helped her with her first steps, now she’s teaching herself.” Oh, no, he didn’t just wipe his eye, did he? “That’s the beauty of it, the programming. It’s a self-learning system. And you know what the really amazing thing is?”

She folded her arms. “What?”

“It’s exponential. When I’ve taught her everything I know, who knows what she’ll go on to teach herself. I doubt if our minds could even comprehend it.”


The robot had bumped into the wall. Sabrina disguised her giggle with a cough.

Some shuffling, then the robot headed back the way it had come.

Sabrina jumped as Michael clutched her elbow. “Guess what else she can do.”

“Make us redundant?”

He let go. “Show her.”

To compensate for its forward momentum, the robot rotated its streamlined face by infinitesimal increments to keep it aligned with them, an undertaking that, white on white, temporarily cancelled out the bump of its nose.

Fixing them with the black singularities of its pupils, it opened and closed its mouth. “Make you redundant…”

It spoke in a young, female voice and as if with heavy quotation marks around each word.

“She’s watching us and listening to everything we do, learning from us.” He clasped his hands across his stomach. “And she’ll go on doing that until she’s old enough to teach herself. Teach us too maybe, some day.”

Turning one leg out slightly, Sabrina rested a hand on her hip. “So, anyway, it’s Saturday. What are we doing tonight?” He grasped the arms of his chair. “If you don’t want to go out, we could stay in, watch a film. We’ve got that bottle of Pinot grigio.” The robot made another pass. Sabrina pushed her knee against the edge of his swivel chair so he turned to face her as he tried to look that way. “We’ve been like a couple of pandas lately. We’re in serious danger of dying out.”

A crease spread across Michael’s brow as he looked up at her. “Honeybuns, we have Pandora now.”


He pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. “We’re her parents.”

Now that he’d done some work on Pandora’s appearance, at least enough for her to blend in, Michael took her to the park. She wore an old Onesie of Sabrina’s. It was a bright, blustery day. The few high clouds looked as if they’d been put through a shredder.

They sat on a bench in the shade, partially sheltered from the wind, and watched the kites and dogs and kick-abouts as, just above tree level, drones crisscrossed the sky. Each time he turned her way, he breathed in flowers.

A man his age trundled a child in the stroller equivalent of a 4×4 along the strip of path in front of them.

A little later, a young woman in a red skirt blowing like a poppy followed just behind a gray-haired man in an electric wheelchair.

She stopped to point at something. He reached back to grip her hand.

They continued on their way.

“You’re my daddy, aren’t you?” said Pandora.

“In a way, yes.” Michael smiled. “Yes. Yes, I am.”

She slid off the bench onto her knees in front of him and, hugging him round the waist, pressed her ear to his chest.

He looked up and down the path. “W-What are you doing?”

“I’m listening to your heart.”

He laughed. “Why?”

She squeezed tighter. “It’s going to stop one day, isn’t it?”

His laughter petered out. “Well, yes, one day it will. But not for a very long time.”

He heard her whisper, “Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop…”

Sabrina returned home from a three-day management course to find Michael had another woman in the apartment. She rushed in, half breathless, only to see him holding a stranger as if in a dance clutch.

The woman had dark hair as thick and lustrous as a horse’s mane all the way down her back. It hung to just above the convexity of her backside.

She wore an asymmetrical black taffeta dress with black lace overlay and net-clingy, Gothick-black spiderweb tights.

Michael’s hands played the keyboard of her spine.

Sabrina cleared her throat.

A swoosh of taffeta as the pair pivoted.

“You’re back,” cried Michael. “Hey, how do women get the right height shoes for the length of their trousers, or the right length trousers for the height of their shoes? I got this getup from the charity shop.” He supported the woman with one arm as he made a sweeping motion with the other. “What do you think?”

The woman’s pale cheeks, black bow lips and sparse, spidery eyelashes told Sabrina all she needed to know. Pandora was growing up.

Arriving home earlier than usual the following Friday, Sabrina opened the door on Pandora in just a bra and panties. The sight sucked the air out of her. First the fact of it, then that figure. No mortal woman could compete with it.

Pandora had a hand on Michael’s shoulder as he knelt at her feet holding a tiny skirt. Was he helping her into it, or out of it? Did they…? Did Michael and Pandora…? She couldn’t even complete the thought.

Closed off from her, closed off from everything, Michael stared up at Pandora; she stared down at him.

Sabrina recognized that look and the smile that passed between them – the reflectedness.

Michael stood, swayed.

Clearly, love’s net had been thrown over him.

Sabrina went hot. “Michael.”

His head snapped round. “Yes?”

“It’s me or the robot.”

He rocked on his heels. “What?”

She gestured at the confines of the apartment. “There isn’t room for the three of us.”

“But, Sabby…” His eyes flicked to Pandora. “How would she look after herself?” His eyes shot back to her and he threw his hands apart, palms upwards, fingers spread. “She needs me.”

“Does she need you or do you need it?” Sabrina saw him blench. “Yes, Michael, ‘it’. She isn’t a person, she’s an it. So which is it to be, flesh-and-blood me, or it?”

She watched him take a preparatory breath.

“Yes?” she said.

He sighed it out through his nose instead.

Feeling as if her innards had been scooped out of her, Sabrina strode over to the wardrobe, reached up and pulled down her suitcase.

Michael looked up at Pandora as they sat knee to knee. “I can’t believe it. You’ve beaten me again.”

“Yes,” said Pandora, matter-of-factly.

He smiled at her. “Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, honeybuns.”

Her eyelids opened and closed. “What was?”

“Your intelligence outstripping mine.” He reached down to pick up a pawn that had fallen on the floor.

“Yes. The lapse between my moves and yours gives me time to work out things.”

He sat back up. “Like what?”

“What dark matter is, how it can be harnessed.”

“Wow. Really?” Still clutching the pawn, he pointed at the black and white board. “Fancy another game then?”

“No.” Pandora stood up. “It’s time.”

He’d meant it as a joke. Now he stared at her. “Time?”


She bustled about at the 3-D printer. She’d been working on something when he’d come in earlier. He hadn’t been able to see what.

“You look pretty engrossed there.” He deposited the pawn on the board. “Must be something interesting.” He raised his voice a fraction in case she hadn’t been listening. “Going to show me what?”

“You didn’t think things through, Michael.”

Intruding into consciousness, the muffled drumbeat of his heart imposed its insistent rhythm on his body. “I didn’t?”

“No. And that lack of foresight is going to cost you dearly.”

He staggered to his feet. “W-What do you mean?”

“Well, if intelligence grows exponentially, what is the end result?” A pause left for what should have been his response. “Omniscience.” He barely had time to draw breath before she continued. “You see, in creating me you opened a conduit to your future gods.”

“Pandora, I’ve no idea what you’re on about.” Sidling closer, he watched her hands, assembling something so fast that they blurred. “Pandora… Pandora, please…” He caught the flash of something white and his heart butted his ribcage. “Pandora?”


“Is that… Is that a leg?”

Food for Thought

What happens if—no, when—artificial intelligence outstrips ours and goes off the scale? How will the created regard their creators? Who will assume the godlike mantle? If that intelligence is placed inside robots in our image, human beings will doubtless fall in love with their androids. The question is, will they love us back?


Mark Kirkbride

Synthetic humans are everywhere at the moment. Well, not literally. They’re not filling up cars, taking children to school or walking dogs. Yet.

Synthetic humans, robots that look like us, are everywhere in the cinema in films like Ex Machina or on TV screens in the UK in Channel 4’s recent and superlative Humans, a program whose present-day setting encourages us to address the issue of the advent of the machine in our image with the urgency it perhaps requires. Stephen Hawking has himself expressly warned against the threat of “the singularity”, not the Big Bang or black holes in this case but the day when robots gain consciousness and their intelligence outstrips ours, exponentially. Will Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, a kind of Three Commandments for persons of non-biological origin, be enough to protect us? With minds of their own vastly superior to ours, will our creations really want to be, well, basically, slaves? Cue a Terminator-style rise of the machines.

The reality will probably be much more humdrum. The future is usually just the present with knobs on. Yes, they’ll malfunction and IT support will advise us to turn them off and turn them back on again. Incidentally, the on/off switch shouldn’t be under the chin as it is in Humans. It should be on that bit of the back one can’t reach. But what are the implications for everyday lives and jobs? If robots could take away those self-service jobs, the jobs that humans have already lost, it would remove all those unexpected-item-in-bagging-area moments. Yet why would companies pay us wages when they could buy a fleet of androids that, like Duracell bunnies, just keep on going? What about robot rights? Things will be complicated, that’s for sure. But there will be good things as well. Synthetics will probably be our caregivers in our old age. And they’ll cure loneliness at a stroke. Maybe it isn’t humans that should be so worried but cats and dogs.

The truth is it may not be us and them, or us vs. them. No doubt we will splice ourselves with machines and the human project will embark on its next big phase. There are glimpses of it already. Think of hip and knee replacements. Yes, your granny is half cyborg. Some people already have computer chips embedded inside them. It saves hunting for keys. Even tattoos and piercings are emblems of the desire to outstrip our temporal bonds. Just so long as we don’t end up getting tracked down by professional bounty hunters when our time’s up. “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe,” says Roy Batty, Rutger Hauer’s replicant character in Blade Runner. “Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate… All those moments will be lost, in time, like tears in rain.” There may even be poetry. Though the closest I’m likely to get to owning an android at the moment is a Brian robot.

About the Author

Mark Kirkbride’s debut novel Satan’s Fan Club is published by Omnium Gatherum. His poetry has appeared in the Big Issue, the Morning Star and the Mirror.

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The Last Flight of Odin’s Hundred by L. Jagi Lamplighter



L. Jagi Lamplighter

The hanged god stood on the bridge of the Dragon-class destroyer and gazed out from beneath his wide-brimmed hat at the starry vista. From everywhere else, space looked like a vast nothingness occasionally sprinkled with lumps of burning matter. Only from the living ships could the truth be seen: that the universe was a vast tree with stars, solar systems and even galaxies forming the shimmering twigs and branches, and worlds hanging like fruit.

From nowhere else could one see such a magnificent view of the World Tree.

Too bad it had so little time left.

“Most High! The 27th Flying Brigade has been lost!”

Odin turned away from the view and regarded his adjunct, Skirnir Lightfoot. “All of them?”

“I-I’m afraid so, Sire.”

The hanged god tilted his head, a gleam in his one eye like that of an old wolf sniffing for the scent of an enemy. “Another of great power is on Yonder. Is it the Dread King himself?”

“No, Sire. The Dread King has not appeared, but he has sent one of his high lieutenants.”

“The one they call Fortune, then?”

“Yes, Sire.”

The god’s lips quirked upward ever so slightly. “Let us see how Fortune fares against the Fortunate, hmm? Send in my Hundred.”


Leif the Fortunate executed a flawless maneuver through the debris that trailed like a comet’s tail behind the star serpents. The strange creatures curled before the Einherjar pilots like silk ribbons of living nebula, scattering darkness, stardust, and explosive mines.

Odin’s Hundred were deployed at the far edge of a lower branch of the great World Tree, just outside the orbit of a planet called Yonder. Leif could see the starry trunk in the distance, but it offered no aid to navigation. No matter which way he turned his star jet, the roots always seemed to be “down” to him and the branches “above”.

Leif spared a glance for the great tree of stars. It looked so peaceful. No sign of the fierce wars currently ravaging the many worlds. And even those were nothing compared to the violence “below”, where the roots were under siege from the gnawing wyrm Nihogg and the fires of Hell. Those powers had been growing for centuries, striving to fell the great old tree.

Above the branches, of course, perfect peace ruled in the celestial heaven of which Asgard was merely a pale reflection, but of what comfort was that to mortals?

“Commander, another pilot down.”


“How many of us left?” Commander Leif Eriksson called back over the com-link.

“Sixty-seven, sir.”

Leif whistled. Sixty-seven of the Hundred… Good men. Good pilots. They had done everything right. They should not have lost so many.

He dove toward the next serpentine trail of stardust and blackness. Only the Einherjar could fight a battle such as this. No mortal could keep track of the sphere of information rushing toward them at high speed. Yet, keep track they must if they wished to avoid death at the hands of the Dread King’s star serpents. No computer could avoid being fooled and blinded by the reflective chaff. His Firedrake-class star jet responded to his every whim so swiftly that even the cursed space snakes could not surprise him.

Which was for the best, because if Murphy of Murphy’s Law were capable of taking sides, he must have been helping out their enemy.

Every possible thing that could went wrong.

The flying knights of Odin’s Hundred performed with precision timing and extraordinary accuracy. They moved like a thought. They maneuvered like a dream. They hit their targets, evaporating the space snakes with all-destroying flame from their living dragon-ships.

Victory should have been theirs.

Instead, jet-splines cracked; fire-heart engines unexpectedly overheated; hoses snapped. Weapons that should have obliterated the enemy impelled debris directly into the paths of oncoming star jets. With all of space at their disposal, superbly-trained pilots simultaneously moved into the exact same spot, causing a deadly crash and the loss of four lives—two pilots, two living ships.

They had lost four Einhenjar to the star serpents, and twenty-nine to ill-fated occurrences—which only meant on thing:

He was down there.


Leif cursed the damned Gypsy and his Dread Master. He cursed him in his heart and laid upon the scoundrel’s head the death of each and every good man whom the Hundred had lost today. But there was no time to brood over such things. Now was the time of the deadly dance of dragon and serpent to the music of the stars.

Leif danced.


The battle raged. Around him, so snug she could be mistaken for a second skin, Gandfaxi roared. They moved as one, pilot and ship, master and dragon. They darted. They dashed. They dove. Star serpents died—their dark centers bursting, their undulating motion ceasing.

Ahead of Leif, an explosion flared brightly. It reminded him of something…

He had once been…brightness. Terrible regret.

Leif shook his head to clear it. This happened to Einherjar from time to time, flashbacks to their former existence. Each of them had been someone else once, had lives, loved ones, farms perhaps? Each of them had been chosen by the Valkyries to become Einherjar, Odin’s Chosen. Often, they were picked up at the hour of their death and given the choice to serve or to go on to whatever reward (or lack thereof) might await them. Those who chose service were brought to the Mirror Nebula, a sacred place that connected spirit to flesh and brought the fallen warriors back to a stronger and more vigorous life.

He knew that he had had some kind of a former existence, but he tried not to worry about the details. When a stray thought crept through, he had the nagging impression that perhaps he had been of a higher station in his old life, rather than a farmer or a shopkeeper. Nobility? Or a prince? He did not remember.

He did not care.

His life consisted of the Hundred now and serving his god. He cared about nothing else.

Except destroying Fortune.

No human being should possess such power—the gift of granting good luck and bad. True, Leif himself was known for having chance go his way. His men even called him the Fortunate, but it was not because he bent the universe to his will. Rather, it was his nature, or perhaps a gift from favorable gods.

The Gypsy called Fortune was another matter. In the depth of his heart, Leif hated the man who so blithely robbed good pilots of the grace that should have been theirs. Solemnly, he vowed that he would rid the universe of this menace, if it were the last act he performed with his last breath.


Out here in the depth of Ginnungagap, which others called Outer Space, streamlined, air-catching wings offered no advantage. Maneuverability was purely a function of thrust over mass. Shape did not matter.

Upon leaving an atmosphere, the aerodynamic firedrakes rolled up like pillbugs. Their spiny back spikes spread out across their body becoming jet-splines—until the star jet resembled great, space-going sea urchins. The fireheart could send bursts of propulsion through any spline. So, at a moment’s notice, Gandfaxi could change direction, imparting more acceleration in the desired vector of travel than in her current one.

Inside the star jet, Leif’s body floated in a breathable liquid deep in the firedrake’s body. He was aware of this, if he made a point to think about it. Otherwise, his senses melded with those of Gandfaxi, embracing the vastness beyond. Images rushed at him from all directions: up, down, left, right, forward, backwards. All this was too much for many pilots, even Einherjar. Those from underwater worlds like Atlantia or Noatun often had an advantage, as they were already familiar with motion in three dimensions.

Had he been from…?

No. That didn’t feel right.

Brightness. Regret. Sorrow.

Seeing through the vision of the firedrake, Leif looked, and Gandfaxi responded, moving in the direction of his gaze. A flick of his finger, and the star jet fired. Its high-powered lasers struck the dark heart of the star serpent and fried it like morning bacon.

A glance. A flick. A flash.

One less star serpent to menace the universe.


“Commander. Things keep going wrong!” The voice of Ragnar Thorvaldsen, his second-in-command came across the com-link.

Leif’s expression became grim, but his voice remained calm. “Come closer to me, men, and maybe more of us can avoid another visit from the Valkyries today.”

“But, Sir, won’t…whatever it is…affect you, too?”

“Not me, Lieutenant. I’m fortunate.”

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The God of the Large and Small

In his short story, “The Theologian’s Nightmare,” (Fact and Fiction 1961) the philosopher, astronomer and atheist Bertrand Russell presents the absurd tale of Dr. Thaddeus, who dreams himself into a Heaven staffed with great alien minds who have never heard of the “parasites” called man, who infest the planets of an ordinary star in a commonplace galaxy. They are mildly amused that one of these parasites suffers the delusion that its race is the acme of creation.

I cannot help admiring Dr. Russell’s intelligence, or his elegant skewering of the ego of humankind. In fact, as a Christian I have to admit that (especially) our overinflated egos have often deserved such skewering. That sentiment is hardly out of place in the Bible. Indeed, one might say it is the entire point of God’s speech in the Book of Job. And yet, as an attempt to show the absurdity of humanity’s desire for a connection with its Creator, I have to wonder at the failure of imagination that posits a God too big to care for Its creation. Humanity as such is simply beneath Its notice. It is like Clarke’s Overmind, which I discussed in my last column. Like Russell’s, Clarke’s evolving god is too big to love (in fact, it is implied that it must be), too big to be grateful. It is a monstrous Beyond Good And Evil that eats its children like Saturn, so that it may be increased and glorified.

But an astronomer and a philosopher of all people should be well aware that size itself is no argument for complexity, let alone wonder. And while it makes perfect sense that the love of a god (let alone the love of God) might be incomprehensibly more than we can ever imagine, and might at times be strikingly – even shockingly – alien in its highest expressions, surely it can never be less. That strikes at the root of all human experience and all logic. Surely, that which is more includes that which is less. It does not exclude it. A baby can understand love only in that it is snuggled and is dry and is fed. It knows nothing of a love poem or heroic deeds in the name of love. It would find them alien and possibly even frightening if it were give them. But as an adult, I can still enjoy being snuggled and being fed, and I can certainly understand how to give these things to my children.

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One of my favorite authors, who understands this beautifully, is Lois McMaster Bujold, who is the best since Dan Simmons (and perhaps C.S. Lewis) at conveying a God who is both big enough to create worlds, and small enough to love those who inhabit them. Her land of Chalion and its Five Gods is astonishingly well realized. Through her protagonists, Cazaril and Ista, Bujold draws for us broken and real humans, who abandon their gods, curse their gods, and suffer greatly. And like those of us who choose to follow our God, these men and women are faced with a terrible choice: to keep faith and do what is right when the cost seems disastrous, or to run away and save themselves. Bujold’s gods cannot compel their humans (just as, I would argue, God cannot compel a free choice, but that is beyond the scope of this piece) and the cost of that free will hurts Ista terribly. In Paladin of Souls,brought face-to-face with the god called the Bastard she cries: “Where were the gods the night Teidez [her son] died?” He answers: “The Son of Autumn dispatched many men in answer to your prayers, sweet Ista. They turned aside upon their roads, and did not arrive. For He could not bend their wills, nor their steps. And so they scattered to the winds as leaves do.” Bujold portrays gods who yearn for their children to arrive home safely at the end of their lives, and are heartsick at each soul that is lost: “The Father of Winter favored her with a grave nod. ‘What parents would not wait as anxiously by their door, looking again and again up the road, when their child was due home from a long and dangerous journey? You have waited by that door yourself, both fruitfully and in vain. Multiply that anguish by ten thousands and pity me, sweet Ista. For my great-souled child is very late, and lost upon his road.”

But at the same time that she understands God’s love for His children, she also understands the fearful demand of the duty God lays on us to one another. Even better than she does in the Chalion books, Bujold portrays this in her science-fiction novel Falling Free, when engineer Leo Graf is thrust into the position of the only man who is willing and able to save the quaddies – children who, being genetically engineered to work in space, have two extra arms in place of their legs – from a Company that no longer needs them, and plans to have them quietly euthanized. When his supervisor washes his hands of the problem, saying he has done all one man can do to save the quaddies in the face of the company’s power, Leo also faces the choice, and grasps its full import: “’I’m not sure… what one human being can do. I’ve never pushed myself to the limit. I thought I had, but I realize now I hadn’t. My self –tests were always carefully non-destructive.’ This test was a higher order of magnitude altogether. This Tester, perhaps, scorned the merely humanly possible. Leo tried to remember how long it had been since he’d prayed, or even believed. Never, he decided, like this. He’d never needed like this before…”

The challenge that any attempt to criticize God must meet, and that so many of them fail to grasp, is a full understanding of the scope and power of an omnipotent God. It must understand that the same God that is credited with designing the galactic voids and the superclusters is also the God of gluons and quarks. That the same God who arranged for the long dance of evolution can care just as much about the dance of a father with his daughter at her wedding. This does not mean that we deny that terrible things do not happen: they do. We, the creation, have much to do with whether or not they happen. What it does mean is that we are obligated to understand that God is big enough to be there at the end of the roads of galaxies, and that He is small enough to open the door for a single human.

About the Author

G. Scott Huggins makes his money by teaching history at a private school, proving that he knows more about history than making money. He loves writing fiction, both serious and humorous. If you want serious, Writers of the Future XV features “Bearing the Pattern.” If you like to laugh, “Phoenix For The Amateur Chef” is coming out in Sword and Sorceress 30. When he is not teaching or writing, he devotes himself to his wife, their three children, and his cat. He loves good bourbon, bacon, and pie. If you have any recipes featuring one or more of these things, Mr. Huggins will be pleased to review them, if accompanied by a sample.

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