Monday, December 25, 2023

Delving into the French history of science fiction

The Xipéhuz by JH Rosny is a novella from 1888 that may be the first example of the starfish alien, beings completely unrelatable for human beings. 

And, as someone who has loved by Lovecraftian horror and science fiction since I was in the single digits, I have to ask ‘Why did I only hear about this story?!’

The reason is actually pretty simple. It’s a French story and if your name wasn’t Jules Verne, your nineteenth century science fiction wasn’t going to get translated into English.

The Xipéhuz  tells the story of prehistoric man encounter tbe mysterious Xipéhuz and fighting a genicidal war against each other. I want to note that, while I did call them aliens, the story doesn’t give any kind of origin for the Xipéhuz. They could be aliens or a native Earth species or magical fay for all the story tells us.

Not going to lie, as far as actual plot goes, it’s pretty simple. What is actually interesting is the biology of the Xipéhuz, as described by a prehistoric Einstein.

They sre neither animal or vegetable (silicon is a pillar theory but not verified in the story) that change forms from cones and columns and sheets. They can fire some kind of heat beams from apertures which are also their ownly weaknesses. And they reproduce by forming a gas that coalesces into a solid.

I am glad that I discovered that tbe Xipéhuz exists. It’s a fascinating look at the origins of science fiction.  

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