The Clock of the Centuries (French Science Fiction Book 12)
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Project Gutenberg appreciates your donation! There are also tales to be found of robots entertaining royal courts, communities speculating about utopian or dystopian futures, and literary maps measuring and exploring the outer reaches of time and space. But, as we have found , peering into the complex history of the genre, while also examining the scientific achievements of the medieval period, reveals that things are not quite what they seem.
Science fiction is particularly troublesome when it comes to matters of classification and origin.
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Indeed, there remains no agreed-upon definition of the genre. But here Gernsback was already looking backwards in time to earlier writers to define SF.
Alongside histories of SF, histories of science have long avoided the medieval period over a thousand years in which, presumably, nothing happened. Yet the Middle Ages was no dark, static, ignorant time of magic and superstition, nor was it an aberration in the neat progression from enlightened ancients to our modern age. It was actually a time of enormous advances in science and technology.
The compass and gunpowder were developed and improved upon, and spectacles, the mechanical clock and blast furnace were invented. The period also laid the foundations for modern science through founding universities, advanced the scientific learning of the classical world, and helped focus natural philosophy on the physics of creation.
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In the creation of sf across the world, though not in the evolution of American sf after or so, Robida was a figure of the first importance; it may be that his focus on France rather than Germany or the UK dissuaded figures like Hugo Gernsback , who never published him in Amazing , from treating him as a figure of importance. Perhaps most elatedly in The Twentieth Century , Robida envisions a complex, theatrical France powered almost entirely by electricity; there are no airplanes, but dirigibles see Airships ; Pax Aeronautica fill the cities and the skies, even being used to help sustain, from above, some of the more elaborate structures, all of which are designed to interact with the populous skies.
There are no cars at all and hence no prevision of Genre SF 's denial of the impact of the automobile ; intercontinental travel is either by huge dirigible or by tube. Robida espoused a mildly comical Feminism ; the heroine of the first novel, who is herself anything but feminist, is treated as hapless in her own right, but not therefore typical of women in general; and his male figures are no more or less comical than the women who dominate the law and journalism. His sense of the importance of Communications is particularly marked — the "telephonoscope", though not described with any technological prescience, does convey both sight and sound in a manner evoking both television and email including spam.