French science fiction

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Medieval French literature is, for the purpose of this article, literature written in Oïl languages during the period from the eleventh century to the end of the fifteenth century.

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Francophone literature is literature written in the French language. The existence of a plurality of literatures in the French language has been recognised, although the autonomy of these literatures is less defined than the plurality of literatures written in the English language. Writings in the French language from Belgium, Canada and Switzerland were recognised as belonging to distinct traditions long before writings from colonial territories of France. Writing in French by Africans was formerly classified as "colonial literature" and discussed as part of colonial studies for its ethnographical interest, rather than studied for its literary merit. Any texts in French from the colonies and territories that were considered to have merit were subsumed under the classification of French literature. The nature and importance of Francophone literature in various territories of the former French Empire depends on the concentration of French settlers, the length of time spent in colonial status, and how developed indigenous languages were as literary languages. It was only following the Second World War that a distinction started to be made in literary studies and anthologies between French literature and other writing in French. In 1960 Maurice Bémol published Essai sur l'orientation des littératures de langue française au XXe siècle; the plural in the title emphasised the study's new approach of examining the level of autonomy of the languages.

Postcolonial literature is the literature by people from formerly colonized countries. It exists on all continents except Antarctica. Postcolonial literature often addresses the problems and consequences of the decolonization of a country, especially questions relating to the political and cultural independence of formerly subjugated people, and themes such as racialism and colonialism. A range of literary theory has evolved around the subject. It addresses the role of literature in perpetuating and challenging what postcolonial critic Edward Said refers to as cultural imperialism.

Haitian literature has been closely intertwined with the political life of Haiti. Haitian intellectuals turned successively or simultaneously to France, the UK, the United States, and African traditions. At the same time, Haitian history has always been a rich source of inspiration for literature, with its heroes, its upheavals, its cruelties and its rites.

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Molière 17th-century French playwright and actor

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright, actor and poet, widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the French language and universal literature. His extant works include comedies, farces, tragicomedies, comédie-ballets and more. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed at the Comédie-Française more often than those of any other playwright today. His influence is such that the French language itself is often referred to as the "language of Molière".

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French science fiction is a substantial genre of French literature. It remains an active and productive genre which has evolved in conjunction with anglophone science fiction and other French and international literature.


Proto science fiction before Jules Verne

As far back as the 17th century, space exploration and aliens can be found in Cyrano de Bergerac's Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon (1657) and Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle's Entretien sur la Pluralité des Mondes (1686). Voltaire's 1752 short stories Micromégas and Plato's Dream are particularly prophetic of the future of science fiction.

Also worthy of note are Simon Tyssot de Patot's Voyages et Aventures de Jacques Massé (1710), which features a Lost World, La Vie, Les Aventures et Le Voyage de Groenland du Révérend Père Cordelier Pierre de Mésange (1720), which features a Hollow Earth, Louis-Sébastien Mercier's L'An 2440 (1771), which depicts a future France, and Nicolas-Edmé Restif de la Bretonne's La Découverte Australe par un Homme Volant (1781) notorious for his prophetic inventions.

Other notable proto-science fiction authors and works of the 18th and 19th century include:

However, modern French science fiction, and arguably science fiction as a whole, begins with Jules Verne (1828–1905), the author of many of the classics of science fiction.

After Jules Verne

The first few decades of French science fiction produced several renowned names of literature. Not only Jules Verne, but also:

After H. G. Wells' The Time Machine was translated into French by Henry D. Davray in 1895 as the first of his works, soon followed by other translations of his stories, [1] influencing French science fiction writers such as Maurice Renard.

World War I brought an end to this early period. Where the rapid development of science and technology during the late 19th century motivated the optimistic works of these early science fiction authors, the horrors of industrialised warfare and specifically the application of advanced technologies in such a destructive manner made many French authors more pessimistic about the potential of technological development.

Between the two world wars, Rosny aîné published his masterpiece Les Navigateurs de l'Infini (1924), in which he invented the word "astronautique". There were a few notable new authors during the period:

After World War II

Until the late 1950s, relatively little French science fiction was published, and what was published was often very pessimistic about the future of humanity, and frequently was not advertised as "science fiction" at all. René Barjavel's Ravage (1943) and Pierre Boulle's Planet of the Apes (1963) are widely known examples.

This period of decrease of French science fiction (abbreviated SF) is known to many as a "golden age" of English-language and particularly American science fiction. When French science fiction began reappearing strongly after World War II, it was the themes and styles of Anglophone science fiction which served as an inspiration for new works. The first genre magazine, Fiction – at first a translation of the American Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction – began appearing in 1953.

The major genre imprint of the 1950s and '60s publishing translations of American novels was Le Rayon Fantastique published by Hachette and Gallimard, and edited by George Gallet and Stephen Spriel. Nevertheless, Le Rayon Fantastique helped begin the careers of a number of native authors:

During 1951, publisher Fleuve Noir initiated Anticipation, a paperback series devoted mostly to French authors which released a steady series of pulp-like novels. Among its authors were:

Later, many major names of French science fiction were printed first by that imprint.

Another series, Présence du Futur, was initiated during 1954 by publisher Denoël. Among its authors were:

During this era, there was very little mainstream critical interest for French SF. French cinema, however, proved to be more successful for science fiction. Jean-Luc Godard's 1965 film Alphaville —a thriller and satire of French politics—was the first major example of French "New Wave" science fiction.

Unlike American science fiction, space travel was not the major theme for the post-1968 French authors. A new generation of French writers, who had few memories of the horrors of the past two generations, were inspired by the transformation of France during the post-war era. Especially after May 1968, French SF authors wrote about political and social themes in their works. Authors like Michel Jeury, Jean-Pierre Andrevon and Philippe Curval began to attract acclaim for their redevelopment of a genre which, at the time, was still considered primarily a juvenile entertainment.

During the 1970s, comics began to be important for French SF. Métal Hurlant —the French magazine that "spun off" the American magazine Heavy Metal – began developing the possibilities of science fiction as a source for comics. Graphic novels are now a major— if not the major— outlet for French science fiction production today.

During the 1980s, French authors began to consider science fiction as appropriate for experimental literature. The influence of postmodernism on literature and the development of cyberpunk themes catalysed a new body of French SF, near the end of the decade: the so-called "Lost Generation" (represented by such writers as Claude Ecken, Michel Pagel, Jean-Marc Ligny or Roland C. Wagner)

At present, French SF is particularly well represented by graphic novels, and a number of titles are printed annually. As in most of the developed world, magazine culture has decreased dramatically because of the internet, but a number of French SF magazines remain in print, including Bifrost , Galaxies and Solaris . Despite the space opera revival of the beginning of the 1990s (Ayerdhal, Serge Lehman, Pierre Bordage, Laurent Genefort) the influence from English language science fiction and movies has diminished considerably since the "Lost Generation", while the influence of animation, video games and other international science fiction traditions (German, Italian) has increased. The influence of Japanese manga and anime has also been particularly noticeable during recent years for graphic formats.

Other notable French science fiction authors, post-World War II

Literary awards

The Prix Rosny-Aîné is an annual award for French-language science fiction.

Other Awards for French-language science fiction (non-exclusively) include or have includes the Prix Apollo (1972–1990), the Prix Bob Morane (1999– ), the Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire (1974– ), the Prix Julia Verlanger (1986– ), the Prix Jules Verne (1927–1933; 1958–1963), the Prix Ozone (1977–2000) and the Prix Tour Eiffel (1997–2002).

Related Research Articles

Jules Verne French novelist, poet and playwright

Jules Gabriel Verne was a French novelist, poet, and playwright.

J.-H. Rosny was the pseudonym of the brothers Joseph Henri Honoré Boex (1856–1940) and Séraphin Justin François Boex (1859–1948), both born in Brussels. Together they wrote a series of novels and short stories about natural, prehistoric and fantasy subjects, published between 1886 and 1909, as well as several popular science works. After 1909, the two brothers ended their collaboration, and Joseph Boex took to signing his works as J.-H. Rosny aîné, while his brother Seraphin used the name J.-H. Rosny jeune.

J.-H. Rosny aîné Belgian writer

J.-H. Rosny aîné was the pseudonym of Joseph Henri Honoré Boex, a French author of Belgian origin who is considered one of the founding figures of modern science fiction. Born in Brussels in 1856, he wrote in the French language, together with his younger brother Séraphin Justin François Boex under the pen name J.-H. Rosny until 1909. After they ended their collaboration Joseph Boex continued to write under the name "Rosny aîné" while his brother used J.-H. Rosny jeune.

The Prix Rosny-Aîné is a literary prize for French science fiction. It has been awarded annually since 1980 in two categories: best novel and best short fiction.

Ayerdhal French writer

Yal Ayerdhal was a French thriller and science fiction writer from Lyon. His later work preferred the thriller genre; Transparences, Resurgences and Rainbow Warriors play with various genres. Rainbow Warriors flirts with political fiction with most protagonists being LGTBQ. He received the Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire in 2004 for Transparences and in 1993 for his novel Demain une oasis. He is considered one of the leading names in both genres. He shared the Prix Tour Eiffel with co-author Jean-Claude Dunyach for their 1999 novel Étoiles mourantes. He also received an award for his novel Parleur ou les chroniques d'un rêve enclavé and two for Transparences, a thriller. He also received the Cyrano award for lifetime achievement in the service of genre fiction and its actors.

<i>Voyages extraordinaires</i>

The Voyages extraordinaires is a sequence of fifty-four novels by the French writer Jules Verne, originally published between 1863 and 1905.

Roland Charles Wagner French writer

Roland C. Wagner was a French writer of humorous science fiction. Since his professional debut in 1981, he had written around one hundred novellas and around fifty novels. He was the only writer to have received the Prix Rosny-Aîné seven times, as well as many other awards.

The Société littéraire des Goncourt, usually called the académie Goncourt, is a French literary organization based in Paris. It was founded by the French writer and publisher Edmond de Goncourt (1822–1896). He wanted to create a new way to encourage literature in France, and disagreed with the contemporary policies of the Académie française.

Brian Stableford British writer

Brian Michael Stableford is a British science fiction writer who has published more than 70 novels. His earlier books were published under the name Brian M. Stableford, but more recent ones have dropped the middle initial and appeared under the name Brian Stableford. He has also used the pseudonym Brian Craig for a couple of very early works, and again for a few more recent works. The pseudonym derives from the first names of himself and of a school friend from the 1960s, Craig A. Mackintosh, with whom he jointly published some very early work.

This article is about French literature from the year 2000 to the present day.

Jean-Claude Dunyach French writer

Jean-Claude Dunyach is a French science fiction writer.

Jean de La Hire was a prolific French author of numerous popular adventure, science fiction and romance novels.

Richard Canal is a French author and screenwriter in the science-fiction, fantasy, mainstream and thriller genres.

Emmanuel Jouanne was a French science fiction writer who won the Prix Rosny-Aîné twice. His first novel came out in 1982. He has collaborated with Yves Fremion on a series of political science fiction and was a member of a writer group called "Limite." He is also noted in France for translations of R. A. Lafferty and Philip K. Dick.

Jean-Pierre Hubert was a science fiction and detective fiction author. He won the Prix Rosny-Aîné several times and has been reviewed by Locus (magazine).

Alain Le Bussy was a prolific Belgian author of science fiction who won the Prix Rosny-Aîné in 1993 for his novel Deltas. He died on 14 October 2010 from complications following throat surgery.

Johan Heliot French writer

Johan Heliot is the pseudonym used by Stéphane Boillot-Cousin, a French science fiction writer. He is known for imaginative stories and has also written juvenile literature. One of his stories was translated into English for The Mammoth Book of New Jules Verne Adventures.

George Roux French painter

George Roux (1853–1929) was a French artist and book illustrator. His best-known works today are a large number of illustrations he created for the science-fiction novels of Jules Verne, in the series Les voyages extraordinaires. He was the second-most prolific illustrator of Verne's novels, after Léon Benett, drawing the illustrations for 22 novels in the original editions of Verne's works with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel. The first of them was L’Épave du Cynthia and the last was L'Étonnante aventure de la mission Barsac.

Jules Verne bibliography

Jules Verne (1828–1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwright. Most famous for his novel sequence, the Voyages Extraordinaires, Verne also wrote assorted short stories, plays, miscellaneous novels, essays, and poetry. His works are notable for their profound influence on science fiction and on surrealism, their innovative use of modernist literary techniques such as self-reflexivity, and their complex combination of positivist and romantic ideologies.

The year 1910 was marked, in science fiction, by the following events.