Home

Eaton Collection

Past conferences

PROGRAM

Student Short Story Contest

Registration

Directions

Newsroom

Abstracts of papers

Katie Brewer Ball

Inter-National Landscapes, Immigrant Borders: "Aliens of Extraordinary Ability" & The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao

This essay focuses on how the imposition of national borders cut across cultural landscapes; how the extraordinary voyage is played out through affect and questions of belonging.  Such legally demarcated spatiality, particularly in the U.S. context places racialized subjects as never at home.  "Aliens of Extraordinary Ability" is an official status created by the U.S. Government and invoked by Natsu Onoda to mean both the "home" nation-status that orients global movements, as well as the unacknowledged abilities of foreign nationals.  Looking to the visual art work of Natsu Onoda and Chun-Shan Yi, as well as the novel, The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, I will illustrate points of geographical contact, and do the work of imagining communities of critique within our shifting landscape. Attentive to the impulses toward galactic imperialism and the potentiality of postcolonial theory to reshape the native/alien, colonizer/colonized binaries, this essay looks to diasporic belonging through affective ties made through and with science fiction/ fantasy narratives.  I argue for the potentiality of alien performances to illuminate questions regarding race, citizenship, community, and modes of knowing one another.

Mark Bould

The Parapraxes of Globalisation: Jules Verne and the Unconscious of Science Fiction

Fredric Jameson has described the recent fiction of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling as manifestations of the contemporary geopolitical imaginary: full of entrepreneurial excitement, which ‘also expresses the truth of emergent globalization’; it provides ‘a first crude inventory of the new world system’. However, Jameson’s use of an oddly anachronistic term – ‘a Cook’s tour of the new global waystations’ – suggests that sf has long been doing these things. This paper will argue that the globalisation of capital has always constituted the genre’s unconscious, and that nowhere is this more apparent than in Jules Verne’s fiction.
I will begin with three relatively uncontentious points. First, as Pierre Macherey argues, ‘the subject of all Verne’s work’ is ‘Man’s domination of nature’. Second, in Timothy Unwin’s words, Verne frequently catalogues the world through which his characters pass, drawing extensively on and ‘restat[ing], rewrit[ing] or recycl[ing] knowledge gleaned in the scientific, geographical and historical reviews of the day’. Third, as Marc Angenot notes, Verne’s narratives are ‘narratives of circulation’. This paper will consider these characteristics in relation to Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas (1869) and as manifestations – parapraxes, even – of sf’s unconscious.
Twenty Thousand Leagues opens with flows of information – rumours, reports speculation, gossip and jokes about a nautical hazard – without specified destinations: even point-to-point communications leak out into the rhizomatic communications network that is beginning to encircle the globe. Simultaneously, the absence of specific destinations for communications suggests the invisibility – to those at the core of the world-system – of its fundamental economic and political dissymmetry. Likewise, the remote island on which the Nautilus is constructed appears to be at the centre of a commercial web, a confluence of mail and cargo delivery networks; but, as textual details suggest, this is merely a temporary activation of a decentred network organised for the benefit of northwest Europe and the US. As the novel proceeds, it maps the transport and communications lines of the emerging world-market while incessantly reporting on the global reach of contemporary commerce. The world is often reduced to, or captured within, a grid of equivalised positions across which commerce flows, like version 1.0 of the internet. Ritualistically-catalogued submarine wonders are presented as if in some postmodern supermarket’s produce section, while their descriptions, lifted from various sources, transform nature into a realm of information-capital.
Twenty Thousand Leagues also repeats Verne’s fascination with leaping over restrictions (material constraints, knowledges, technological cutting-edges), which has strong affinities to Marx’s description of the logic of capital: driven by ‘contradictions which are constantly overcome but just as constantly posited’, capital, inasmuch as ‘it both posits a barrier specific to itself, and on the other side equally drives over and beyond every barrier, is the living contradiction’. Although Verne did not reach the same conclusion as Marx – that the (Hegelian) Limit to this potentially infinite expansion of capital is the working class – I will suggest that in Verne’s growing ambivalence about imperialist-industrial capitalist modernity, sf’s unconscious comes close to conscious articulation.


Andrew Butler

Machines Extraordinaires: Going Beyond the Gernsback–Campbell Continuum in Seventies Sf

As the 1970s dawned, the projects of the New Waves of British (and to a lesser extent American) crashed into changes in the market that privileged the book over the magazine, and in particularly the favoured venue of New Worlds begin irregular in its schedule before going into a long hiatus. The New Wave had rewritten the rulebook of what sf was in the epoch defined by Hugo Gernsback and John W. Campbell, which drew upon a tradition of adventure narratives including Poe, Verne and Wells. As the decade wore on there was both an increasing examination of sf and its history – two new journals, two encyclopedias, at least one history of sf – and a revisiting of the scientific romance and the extraordinary voyage by writers. Best exemplified by Christopher Priest's The Space Machine and Michael Moorcock's Nomads of the Timestream trilogy, I want to examine sf's fictional re-examination of its own roots in the 1970s, which in ternm were to offer precursors to the subgenre of steampunk.

Christopher Caes

The “Journey to the ‘Heart of Darkness’” as Formal Inversion of the Extraordinary Voyage; or, Of Lords & Devils: Europe, Technology, and Atrocity in Paul McAuley’s White Devils (2004) & Jarosław Grzędowicz’s Lord of the Ice Garden (2004- )

In this paper I argue that the narrative device of the “journey to the ‘heart of darkness’” represents the simultaneous negation and uncanny doubling of the “extraordinary voyage.”  This argument rests, of course, on the historical assumption that Verne must be read with Conrad – Heart of Darkness negates Verne’s project, inverting global exploration into colonial exploitation, technological progress into technological vastation, and human mastery into self-dissolution.  But equally important is the assumption that Conrad remains bound to Verne, that Heart of Darkness repeats Verne – not in the key of wonder, but of horror – just as Marlowe follows the path of Kurtz, Conrad’s mythologized Vernean voyager-cum-criminal, his “master of the world.”  In this sense, the journeyer to the “heart of darkness” does nothing more than mark the traces of the passage of the extraordinary voyager, who has sought to hoist himself out of history and into myth.
But I want to move beyond a historical comparison of Verne and Conrad to suggest that one of the ways in which the extraordinary voyage lives on in SF, particularly in late-twentieth and early-twenty-first century SF, is precisely via its formal translation into the “journey to the ‘heart of darkness’.”  As an incitement to these reflections, I take the following extraordinary coincidence:  in 2004, UK writer Paul McAuley and Polish writer Jarosław Grzędowicz, both premier SF practitioners within their respective traditions, each published a major science fiction novel which was a retelling of Heart of DarknessWhite Devils and Lord of the Ice Garden, respectively.  The former, a near-future biotech thriller, takes us into an ecologically devastated, atrocity-ridden post-contemporary Africa in search of a renegade gen-engineer named Danny Lovegrave, while the latter, something like an Old Norse/noir variation on the new space opera, takes us to a distant, atrocity-ridden alien planet in search of a Bosch-obsessed renegade Dutch scientist named Pier van Dyken.  The remarkable decision, taken independently by each of these writers, to repeat Conrad’s tale as science fiction comes almost exactly one hundred years after the work’s original publication and neatly doubles the expatriate Pole and British novelist within each of the two national cultures that lay claim to him.  It occurs, moreover, in a year which also saw Europe’s own “double” disappear, with the entry into the European Union of many of the countries of the “other,” formerly Eastern Europe, including Poland.  Finally, both writers, each of whom has been politically vocal both in and outside his fiction, utilize the “journey to the ‘heart of darkness’” template to interrogate the deleterious effects of the European or Western civilizing mission from politically defined, but opposing standpoints, producing in the process, if you will, a “left Conrad” and a “right Conrad.”
The paper, then, seeks to theorize the continued productivity of the “journey to the ‘heart of darkness’” template at the nexus of questions of European identity, technology, and genre.  Is the fixed gaze of the journeyer on the figure of the extraordinary voyager-cum-lord and devil a critically subversive one or an ideologically complicit one?  And does the topicality of the Conradian over the Vernean template, with its reflexive shift in focus from the voyage itself to the atrocities the voyager has left in his wake, signal that extraordinary voyages have today become impossible in science fiction?

Ria Cheyne

Voyages of Self-Transformation: Corporeal Change and the Journey

In science fiction texts, characters move through a variety of spaces not commonly explored in other genres, from the furthest limits of the universe to the computer-mediated worlds of cyberspace.  However, just as in other types of writing, physical and psychological journeys are interrelated, with travel as the agent of transformation.  The voyage or journey frequently serves as a metaphor for, or as the catalyst of, a character's psychological development. 
Science fictional travel, though, is sometimes connected with a different type of transformation: changes to the body, whether through the addition or application of technology, alien intervention, or genetic engineering.  The human body may need to be altered to survive the journey through space, as in Cordwainer Smith's "Scanners Live in Vain" (1950), or to thrive in alien environments.  Travel through cyberspace requires that characters become cyborg.  This paper considers travel in relation to changes in the body as well as the mind, examining how journeys of self-discovery relate to physiological change, and focusing on two narratives which foreground both travel and corporeal transformation: Anne McCaffrey's "The Ship Who Sang" (1961), and Orson Scott Card's Xenocide (1991).  In McCaffrey's much-anthologised (and much criticised) story, the congenitally disabled Helva becomes the encapsulated "brain" of a starship, her nervous system hooked up to the controls and her body encased in a metal shell.  Although Helva progresses towards greater self-awareness and self-knowledge, there remains a profound ambivalence in the narrative about her physical transformation, and the story can equally be read as endorsing or condemning this intervention.  Card's Xenocide, part of the "Ender" series, also features corporeal transformation, though of a different kind.  Left mobility- and speech-impaired after events in a previous novel, Miro's brain damage and its associated effects are miraculously cured during a journey "Outside" (into non-real space), effectively removing the character from the narrative dead end of disability.  I will examine the journey in these two texts in relation to physical transformation as well as the psychological "journey," linking this to representations of disability in narrative more generally, as well as to wider public attitudes towards bodies perceived as "abnormal."

Neil Easterbrook

Greg Egan's Extracorporeal Voyages

In this paper, I would propose to give a preliminary account of a writer who, in a number of interesting ways, extends the project for sf that was inaugurated by Jules Verne. In a very precise way, Egan is the one twenty-first century writer whose work most closely parallels and extends Verne's understanding of the genre. While I will refer to several of Egan's fictions, most of my attention will be given to Schild's Ladder, a hard sf new space opera from 2002.

Arthur B. Evans

The ‘Verne School’ in France: Paul d’Ivoi’s Voyages Excentriques

In the final decades of the nineteenth century, the unprecedented success of Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires began to spawn a host of imitators. In France, these “pulp fiction” writers avant la letter—including André Laurie, Albert Robida, Louis Boussenard, Paul d'Ivoi, René Thévenin, Albert Bonneau, Maurice Champagne, Henry de Graffigny, Capitaine Danrit, Arnoud Galopin, and Gustave Le Rouge, among others—are sometimes (rightly or wrongly) referred to as belonging to the “Verne school.” They were very prolific and specialized in science-fictional adventure stories that recycled the same themes of exploration and technology and the same narrational trademarks of didacticism and Bildungsroman that characterized Verne’s most popular fictions. In this paper, I will examine the works of one of the more successful of these “Verne school” writers, Paul d’Ivoi. In the history of science fiction, Paul d’Ivoi’s 21 novels collectively titled the Voyages Excentriques may be viewed as a kind of stepping stone between Verne’s generally conservative “hard” science fiction and the more fantastic “speculative” science fiction of early 20th-century writers such as J.-H. Rosny Aîné and Maurice Renard.

Nora Filipp

Breaching the Boundaries of a Genre: Postcolonial Science Fiction

Crossing a spatial boundary in Science Fiction often entails a confrontation with the new – whether it is a new technology, a new world, a new people, or a new species. Unfortunately, this scenario often reproduces Western colonial concepts of exploration and domination − especially when the novum, the core constituent of Science Fiction according to Darko Suvin (Metamorphoses of Science Fiction, 1979), boils down to technological inventions facilitating contact with alien forms of life. What happens, however, when the voyage to the galactic future becomes a journey revisiting Earth’s imperial past? Cognitive estrangement is not a result, then, of the reader’s confrontation with a new setting, e.g. a different planet. Rather, the novum figures in how the colonial situation in our socio-cultural history is re-evaluated and de-familiarized.
Postcolonial writers revise the Science Fiction genre’s preoccupation with Western imperialist notions in their stories. They breach the boundary between science fiction and fantasy, challenging the dualism intrinsic to this rigid binary system in which the rational and the supernatural are oppositions. In addition, such stories defy a clear-cut conceptual differentiation of revisionist historiography and speculative extrapolation into the future.
This paper will show how personal voyages in two exemplary postcolonial science fiction stories – “Necahual” by Tobias Buckell and “Griots of the Galaxy” by Andrea Hairston – contribute to postcolonial discourse while they also explore the limitations of the genre Science Fiction. Buckell’s short story is a humorous meta-textual commentary on traditional SF encounters: cyborgian “liberators” land on a planet riven by the power struggle between Caribbean emigrants from Earth and “Aztecs” − human fighters manipulated by aliens. Whereas the technologically advanced would-be invaders wallow in romantic misconceptions of planet New Anegada and its inhabitants, the latter display a precise understanding not only of the former’s intentions but also of their technological equipment. The liberation of the inhabitants cannot be forced upon them. Ultimately the conflict between natives and native aliens is de-escalated through negotiation and the turn to the society’s own resources and culture in the form of the mythical figure Necahual, Survivor.
Whereas in “Necahual,” the mythical power of the fantastic redeems “hard” Science Fiction from repeating a colonial cycle, elements of both manifestations of speculative fiction blur in Andrea Hairston’s story “Griots of the Galaxy.” Hairston emphasizes the epistemic impact of experience lived in the flesh. This impact precipitates in the peculiar double-consciousness of her protagonist who collects the histories of different life forms by inhabiting their dying bodies. Resurrecting individual experiences of bodily dis-figuration and violation from oblivion, Hairston inscribes in a quest for re-membering the individual histories of colonial subjects. And although the bodies are not unscathed, their lived memories thwart the alien protagonist’s plans to escape from the devastated planet into outer space, and link her fate with the fate of Earth.

Mary Elizabeth Ginway

Tales of the Amazon and Atlantis in Brazilian Science Fiction

This paper examines several Brazilian works about lost worlds or lost races: Kalum (1936) and Cummunká (1938), by modernist poet Menotti del Picchia, and two texts about Atlantis, the novel A cidade perdida by Jerônimo Monteiro (1948) and the short story, “Missão T-935” (1963) by Guido Wilmar Sassi. I maintain that, while the Amazonian texts deal with the underpinnings and contradictions of the internal colonization of the Amazon in Brazil, the Atlantean texts portray Brazil coming to grips with its cultural identity... The portrayal or parody of the Other (i.e., inhabitant of the Amazon or Atlantis) reveals the contradictions of Brazil’s modernization, a type of internal colonization of an indigenous Brazil by a Europeanized Brazil.  While Anglo-American science fiction has strong ties to ideologies of colonialism and imperialism, these Brazilian texts provide a view of colonial discourse adapted and molded to Brazil’s own economic and cultural context in the mid-twentieth century. 

Abhijit Gupta

Münchhausen in Bengal: Premendra Mitra's Ghana-da stories

In 1945, a short story called 'Mosquito' ('Mosha') appeared in the pages of a Bengali annual called Alpana. The author was Premendra Mitra, an upcoming poet, novelist and film-maker in Calcutta. This was to be the first of over a hundred short stories and a handful of novels featuring Ghanashyam Das or Ghana-da, a master raconteur who seldom relinquishes his unpaid-for attic room in a boarding house, but spins the most extraordinary tales of terrestrial and extraterrestrial voyages. The five young men who are his listeners have no doubt that Ghanada's is a case of Munchausen redivivus, but are unable to catch him out despite their most strenuous and scholarly exertions, or fault him on a single detail of science, geography or history. From the vantage of his easy-chair at 72, Banamali Naskar Road in Calcutta, Ghana-da stands science fiction on its head by concocting a series of narratives solidly anchored in the conventions of the genre and yet socialising it by locating the stories in a setting which is both domestic and intimate.
The extraordinary voyages which Ghanada relates cover the length and breadth of the globe and sometimes even launch into space. But more often than not, they mirror the unstable and dangerous geopolitics of the Cold War period: thus the Sakhalin islands, the race to Everest, chemical warfare, nuclear fusion and fission, the energy crisis, Nazi-hunting, the space race, all figure among his exploits. What these stories also reflect is a nascent Bengali cultural project of the post-Independence years, in which Western genres such as crime and science fiction began to be indigenised with some measure of success.
In this paper, I will briefly introduce the figure of Ghana-da to an audience which may not be familiar with his stories, and then try and show how Mitra specifically deploys the trope of extraordinary voyages in some of his stories. Finally, I will examine the importance of the trope in the cultural landscape of Bengal and how it encapsulates a key phase in the history of the Bengali imaginary.

Terry Harpold

Professor Lidenbrock and the Mole Men

Verne’s 1864 Voyage au centre de la terre efficiently reshaped future possibilities of Hollow Earth (HE) literature: traces of Verne’s version of the descensus ad inferos will be detectable in most post-Vernian HE texts, sometimes plainly, but more often by way of complex, chains of reappropriation and derivation from the original. The same patterns will be repeated: a journey prompted by a fragmentary message from the past, a perilous trajectory through a labyrinth that doubles for the defiles of the psyche and the body of the mother, a forced expulsion from the lost center back to the outer world. Initiatory voyages that leave the voyagers usually a little wiser but also a little shopworn. Voyage au centre de la terre, comes back to us, then in one form or another, composed and recomposed in fiction, film, and graphic narrative. In this it is, I propose, one of our most privileged of the chthonic variants of the other scene that Freud discovered in the dream, and so it is able to comprehend all the nuances and contradictions of that infernal zone.
We know the principal texts and authors that Verne drew upon when writing the novel. On the scientific side: Boucher de Perthes, Cuvier, Figuier, von Humboldt, and Kircher. On the literary side: Dumas père, Sand (nearly to the point of plagiarizing her Laura: Voyage dans le cristal, it might be argued), and above all – because his influence was on the imaginative logic of the novel rather than its geodesy – Poe. The abundant evidence in the text of these precursors matters because Voyage au centre de la terre is, as much as a story of a long trip below ground, a meditation on the aesthetic and genealogical problem of the one-who-went-before. And therefore the one-who-wrote-before: open-eyed Axel, querulous Professor Lidenbrock, and stoic Hans must retrace as precisely as possible the path of the long-dead Arne Saknussemm, who composed by hand the directive that the journey is possible – “Kod feci” – “I did it” – and marked the way down with his graffiti signatures. On the edge of the Lidenbrock Sea, Axel and his uncle will discover traces of more ancient predecessors – dead and living – whom Saknussemm may have encountered on his journey. Whether he did or not doesn’t matter, in the end: all that need be established by these receding series of precursors is that the center of the earth is a place to which, in which, one returns.
Nearly one hundred and fifty years after Verne, it seems no longer possible to sustain with any rigor the inconsistent “scientific” and “literary” complexes of the Vernian HE. The geological puzzles that then could still be imagined unresolved have been settled in favor of a unhollow, or a not-much hollow Earth. In the Vernian universe, regions inside and outside the field of exploration are allowed always, if not always lucidly, to coincide, to turn easily; Verne’s imaginative geometry is of the rubber sheet variety. In the genealogy of post-Vernian HE thought I propose here, the inversion of the HE mythos effected after Verne – a permanent eversion of the mythos, strictly speaking – has been accompanied by new anxieties and a rupture of the introspective logic of the mythos: a radical rejection of the utopian potential that it offered prior to, and with certain reservations, within Verne’s universe.

Howard V. Hendrix

Verne Among The Punks, or “It’s Not All Just a Victorian Clockwork”

Much of the critical discussion of the steampunk school in English-language science fiction and science fantasy rightly focuses on several Victorian roots of steampunk, but this focus should not eclipse the importance of Jules Verne to the development of steampunk. The considerable popularity of Verne’s work during his own lifetime resulted in parodies and pastiches reaching well back into the
nineteenth century and ranging from Voyage tres extrordinaires de Saturnin Farandoul dans les cinq ou six parties du monde et dans touts les pays connus et meme inconnus de M. Jules Verne by Albert Robida (1879) to the fairly recently “rediscoved” Mark Twain story, A Murder, a Mystery and a Marriage, which features Jules Verne as its culprit. Jules Verne sequels and pastiches, however, have particularly exploded in number worldwide during the last forty years in the novel, short fiction, comics, graphic novels, and manga, films, television shows, and even a rock opera.
Given Verne’s broad and deep infiltration of Anglophone popular culture, I argue that the memes and motifs of the Verne corpus are at least as essential to the development of both steampunk and the extraordinary voyage as anything originating in nineteenth or early twentieth century English or American sources.  Through this tracing of memes and motifs, I move beyond simply describing writers of Jules Verne pastiche who also happen to belong to the steampunk school – to defining, in a concrete way, what has long been presumed to be the “amorphous” influence of Verne on steampunk.

William B. Jones Jr.

From Michael Strogoff to Tigers and Traitors: The Extraordinary Voyages of Jules Verne in Classics Illustrated

From 1941 to 1971, Albert L. Kanter's Classics Illustrated series introduced millions of readers worldwide to comics-style adaptations of works by Homer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Goethe, Dickens, Melville, Dostoevsky, and Conrad. Among the most popular authors with the publication's young audience were Dumas, Cooper, Stevenson, Twain, Hugo, Henty, and Wells. Surpassing all, though, was Jules Verne.
Beginning in June 1946 with issue No. 28, Michael Strogoff (Russian-born publisher Kanter's favorite novel), Classics Illustrated released ten Verne titles, culminating in May 1962 with issue No. 166, the relatively obscure Tigers and Traitors (from The Steam House). Neither the first nor the last Verne CI adaptation was what most aficionados would consider typical of the author whose voyages extraordinaires were conducted by the likes of Phileas Fogg and Captain Nemo.
The Classics Illustrated Verne editions encompassed most of the standards, such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Mysterious Island, Around the World in Eighty Days, From the Earth to the Moon, and A Journey to the Center of the Earth. (Oddly enough, Five Weeks in a Balloon was omitted from the publication schedule.) What is most striking, however, is the extent to which editor Roberta Strauss Feuerlicht explored other rewarding, yet less well-known, stories by Verne: Off on a Comet (Hector Servadac); Robur the Conqueror; and Master of the World.
This paper will examine each of the ten Classics Illustrated issues devoted to works by Jules Verne from the perspectives of both adaptation and artwork. Unlike most film versions of the novels, the combined efforts of scriptwriters and artists produced largely faithful retellings of the tales in a medium that, by the mid-twentieth century, had become a vital and vibrant textual and visual art form in its own right. All cover variants in the North American Classics Illustrated series as well as examples of interior art will be included in the twenty-minute presentation, including a page of original art by Henry C. Kiefer from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
The assessment of the Verne CI titles will be placed in the context of the history and mission of what had become, by the end of the 1950s, the largest juvenile publication in the world. The publisher and editors of Classics Illustrated created, in effect, a literary canon for the GI-bobbysoxer and baby-boom generations. The weight they accorded the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells amounted to an imprimatur for science fiction at a time when many regarded the genre as a subliterary endeavor. And, in the process, they created an enduring Verne fan base for decades to come.

Rob Latham

Chums of Chance and Warlords of the Air: A Steampunk Genealogy for Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day

This paper proposes to lay out a literary genealogy for Against the Day that moves from New Wave pastiches such as Ronald Clark’s Queen Victoria’s Bomb (1969) and Michael Moorcock’s “Oswald Bastable” books through classic Victoriana of the 1990s by James P. Blaylock and Tim Powers. My goal will be twofold: to illuminate the metafictive aesthetics of such retro borrowings, the dialectic of irony and nostalgia that informs them, and to analyze their ideological implications. Briefly, I will argue that steampunk, at least the particular vein of the subgenre I trace here, disguises beneath its playful parodies of classic proto-SF narratives a corrosive critique of the Enlightenment values and attitudes embedded in them. Pynchon in particular is interested in anatomizing the tempos and trajectories of Western technoscience as it comes to grasp and command the world; for him, popular 19th-century fantasies, for all their brisk exuberance, are sinister texts wherein “unshaped freedom [is] rationalized into movement only in straight lines and right angles,” a “progressive reduction of choices, until the final turn through the final gate that led to the killing-floor” of World War I and the modern warfare state.

Walter James Miller

The Role of Chance in Rehabilitating Jules Verne in America

Is it possible that many---maybe even most---SF fans are still unaware of “the real Jules Verne”? Verne aficionados would like to believe that their 43-year “rescue mission” has proved successful. But then, how could we account for these horrors---picked at random from the current publishing scene:
  First: Barnes & Noble recently dared issue its so-called NEW Verne omnibus with two 19th-century translations by the unholy Rev. Lewis Page Mercier. These sloppy, incomplete versions resulted in Verne’s being labeled “a boy’s author” in English-speaking countries, although in the rest of the world he had always been regarded as edifying reading for adults.
 Second: Dover recently told Miller that they planned to reissue their edition of Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon---the Edward Roth version published under Verne’s name and title but so much more Roth than Verne that Roth could claim in his introduction that he had improved Verne! These 19th-century travesties, rushed into print for business purposes, were all that Anglophone readers and even critics had to go by.
But a third horror: Unsuspecting teachers still assign students to read Scholastic’s abbreviated edition of Mercier’s merciless mistranslation. How can we hope children grow up knowing the real Verne? Bad luck got Verne into this trouble in America. But good luck, actually sheer chance, triggered the rehabilitation of Verne in the Anglophone world. In 1964 Professor Miller was asked by Simon & Schuster to write a foreword to their new edition of Mercier’s Twenty Thousand Leagues. This had become known as “the standard translation.” Puzzled by a strange phrase in chapter 2, Miller compared Mercier’s version with Verne’s original, finding that one out of every four paragraphs weren’t even there. Those that were there were shock full of tragic errors. Miller wound up publishing a complete and fairly accurate edition. But its most valuable feature was his preface: “Jules Verne in America.” After Miller appeared on 27 radio and TV shows to discuss his discoveries, after his story appeared in the New York Times, he thought his one-man rescue effort was done. Alas, ten years later he was telling his editor at T. Y. Crowell that at least 15 publishers still pushed Mercier or other treacherous translations.
Chance came to our relief again. Coincidentally Miller’s editor had just read Martin Gardner’s Annotated Alice in Wonderland. Why not, he asked, solve your problem with annotated editions? Results of all this were overwhelming. Verne became so respectable that scholars wrote their Ph.D. dissertations on his oeuvre. New translations poured out of university and other non-profit publishers. A regiment of new translators, editors, critics joined the rescue mission. A recent bibliography lists 30 new and honest translations and scores of professional articles about Verne---since 1965. But there remain more spooky phenomena than the Barnes & Noble travesty, the Dover threat, the Scholastic caricature. We in the North American Jules Verne Society hope for a third major chance, “chance” now in the sense of “opportunity.” May we count on Eaton Society members to help us complete the rehabilitation of Verne in America?

Robert O'Connor

Captain Nemo’s Nautilus as Instrumented Will

The monstrous in science fiction is commonly an externalization of all or a part of the solitary will, the overreacher’s selfhood manifested in some embodiment manufactured by his own conscious or subconscious mind. Victor Frankenstein combines body remnants to produce his personal nemesis, the “self-avenging demon” who will enforce the dark loneliness that created it. Dr. Jekyll uses the compound produced in his experiments with “Transcendental Medicine” to unchain desire from the repressive powers of conscience and becomes, first, murderer and, then, self-murderer of his era’s and his own stuffy respectability. With the help of the long-dead Krell, Dr. Morbius amplifies and sends forth his incestuous Id to destroy anyone who would come between himself and his daughter. Such tales tend to be psychologically grounded, with an indebtedness as much to occult as to hard science. A parallel science-fiction phenomenon with fewer overtones of the medieval empowers the individual or the collective self to achieve feats beyond the body’s limited capacities through the ingenuities of engineering. Swift’s Laputans oppress their earth-bound neighbors by eclipsing the sun and threatening, through a disastrous descent, to crush their victims’ homes and cities. Heinlein’s Waldo releases himself from the prison of his paralysis through neurally manipulable devices that have since come to be referred to by this particular character’s name. Steve Austin, the Bionic Man, and the more drastically re-engineered Robocop fight evil with the internal and external body enhancements that whole teams of scientists have given them. Combining aspects of the willed monstrous and of the engineered and logically explicable miraculous, Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas focuses on a character whose ego combines many elements of nineteenth-century willfulness and whose monstrous embodiment, the Nautilus, empowers its creator’s will. The purpose of my paper will be to examine Nemo’s acts and desires as they reflect the obsessions of Verne’s place and time and to discuss the Nautilus as both the instrument and the metaphoric expression of his monstrous genius. I will look at Nemo as engineer, as collector, as artist, as polymath, as imperialist, as revolutionary, as autocrat, as avenger, as misanthrope, as mercantilist, as environmental sentimentalist, as environmental rapist, as self-indulgent potentate, and as surrogate god in working out my thesis that he is of his age though he believes himself opposed to it and that the Nautilus is the instrument by which he magnifies himself.

Stanley Orr

Cyberpunk, Steampunk, and the Extraordinary Voyages of James S. Lee

Whether in terms of primary or secondary texts, the cyberpunk ethos has been fascinated with things Victorian. This attraction is perhaps most clear in the emergence of the adjacent subgenre of "steampunk"— speculative fictions by which postmodern technological developments are imagined within the context of the 19th century England and America. Exemplified by K.W. Jeter's Morlock Night (1979), William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's The Difference Engine (1990), and Paul Di Fillippo's Steampunk Trilogy (1997), steampunk represents, in Steffen Hantke’s terms, “carnivalesque rewritings of official history” that make for “the most radical of all contemporary Victoriana[--]…Victorian cities that reflect postmodern nostalgia.” For many scholars, “mainstream” cyberpunk is no less invested in its Victorian pretexts. Alan Liu, for example, notes the “delicious ironies” of the corporate neo-Victorians or “Vickys” in Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age (1995). Steampunk aside, Victorian pretexts loom large in the lineage of cyberpunk. Sharon Stockton and E.L. McCallum have endeavoured to demonstrate that cyberpunk is little more than a reification of 18th and 19th century adventure writing. In his essay on Richard Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs novels, John Schwetman likewise probes the relationship between cyberpunk and Romanticism, pointing out that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein anticipates cyberpunk’s corporeal manipulations, but retains a humanist horror of biomechanical technology. Indeed, novelist Bruce Sterling on more than one occasion figures Jules Verne himself as a “punk rebel” precursor to outsider SF literatures of the later 20th century.
To adopt a notorious Victorian phrase, I illuminate a “missing link” between cyberpunk and its 19th century pretexts: James S. Lee’s 1935 memoir Underworld of the East, Being Eighteen Years’ Actual Experiences of the Underworlds, Drug Haunts and Jungles of India, China and the Malay Archipelago. Working as a mining engineer in rural India in 1895, Lee contracts malaria and is prescribed “morphia” by a native physician. Although Lee rapidly develops an addiction, he learns from the cooperative “Babu” an infallible method for strategically combining the substances so as to skirt dependence. Exploiting his engineering skills as a means of travel throughout the British colonial periphery, Lee embarks upon his “great idea”— the quest for new and exotic substances heretofore unknown to western science.
Currently marketed as a counterpoint to Victorian values, Lee's book in many ways reiterates the ideology of colonial adventure and travel; but its unique contribution to this body of literature— and its adumbration of cyberpunk fiction— lies in the narrator’s intense preoccupation with drugs. Lee ingests hallucinogens that allow him to manipulate his physical condition, conjure fantasies and phantasms, and travel throughout time and space. While these “extraordinary voyages” exemplify what Anne McClintock deems the colonialist rhetoric of "anachronistic space," the keynote in The Underworld of the East is instrumentalism: ever the engineer, Lee demonstrates the pervasive Enlightenment drive toward technology. Whether servicing mining equipment, exploiting indigenous labor, distributing and modifying motorcycles (and organizing a prototypical motorcycle gang) in Calcutta, or tinkering with his own body via drugs, Lee distills the western imagination of a mobile and empowered imperial subject.

Anthony Parr

The Extraordinary Voyage in early-modern England

When sixteenth-century humanists re-invented the imaginary voyage of antiquity as a vehicle of enquiry, it was designed to stimulate the play of mind and disrupt habitual ways of thinking, and this produced a rich variety of fantastic journeys, by writers like Thomas More, Rabelais and Ariosto, that were less interested in the technologies of travel than in philosophical, ethical and political investigation.  These fictions remain, in the terminology often used by critics in this field, imaginary rather than extraordinary voyages because they are not regarded as scientifically oriented or as anticipating actual developments.  Yet the distinction is a difficult one to maintain, for two reasons.  First, the Renaissance imaginary voyage is usually invested in contemporary exploration—More’s use of Vespucci in Utopia is an obvious example—and is part of the progressive endeavour to rethink the known world in the light of travel experience and oceanic discovery.  Second, the imaginary journeys of the period that aremore specifically interested in scientific innovation and progress, like Bacon’s New Atlantis or the stories of voyaging to the moon that appeared in the 1630s, are consciously working in the tradition of travel fantasy established by their humanist predecessors in the sixteenth century.
In one respect, however, the fantastic voyage did become an extraordinary reality in this period.  This was when a series of travel stunts was mounted in England at the turn of the seventeenth century, and brought the peripatetic feats of popular legend to life in a variety of ways.  The most elaborate of these exploits was also the one that showed the keenest interest in technology: the demonstration in 1607 of a ship that could travel by land, sea and air in a journey from a Berkshire village to London.  I propose to look at the circumstances of this effort, its possible antecedents and affiliations in travel experiments elsewhere, and to analyse the account of the journey by Anthony Nixon that was published in the following year.  I shall suggest that, although this is a narrative of an actual (and extraordinary) journey, it is also a text that is part of the tradition of the fantastic voyage, and celebrates an impulse towards play that is equally crucial to the origins of technological enquiry and to the speculative purposes of science fiction.


Mike Perschon

Finding Nemo: Verne’s antihero as original Steam-Punk

In the foreword to his annotated translation of  Jules Verne’s Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), Walter James Miller suggests that Verne’s image was in need of rehabilitation due to the plethora of poor English translations his works have suffered. With the emergence of better translations, the same need for rehabilitation has emerged for Captain Nemo, the anti-hero of Verne’s underwater adventure tale. In the updated, post-colonial English translations of The Mysterious Island, Nemo is revealed to be the antithesis of the Caucasian pop-culture iteration made famous by James Mason and most recently continued by Patrick Stewart and Michael Caine: an Indian prince whose real name is Dakkar, a leader of the Sepoy rebellion against colonial rule in 1857. It is this Nemo, Verne’s original character, who embodies the essence of the Steampunk aesthetic of the instability of identity through his repeated death-and-rebirth cycle in both novels. Mixing one part recursive fantasy, one part historical criticism, and one part textual analysis, this paper will demonstrate how Captain Nemo is representative of one of the core elements of the Steampunk aesthetic, namely the redefining of identity.

Peter Schulman

The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz: Fathers and Sons at Work

In this paper Schulman, who has translated Storitz for the University of Nebraska Press from Jules Verne’s original manuscript(rather than from the Michel Verne-altered “official” version that had remained in print for so many years in France) will defend certain choices Michel felt he had to make, while underlining how those choices were, nonetheless, the wrong ones. For Schulman, Michel made logical choices that broke with his father’s long-standing writing habits. For example, Michel changed the time the story took place from a contemporaneous year (as his father always set his novels to make them more realistic) to the eighteenth century. Moreover, he dramatically changed the ending from a poetic, but sad ending to a somewhat “upbeat” and traditionally happy one. Michel made his choices after deep correspondences with Jules Hetzel’s son who had taken over his father’s publishing house. In a new twist to his father’s legacy, Jules Verne’s son and his publisher’s son were engaging in a new dialogue that had gone sour for the two fathers later in their lives. While Jules Verne and Hetzel père had had a stormy relationship that Verne was often trying to rebel against later in his career when he wrote more pessimistic novel, Michel Verne and Hetzel’s son seemed to have enjoyed a more youthful and cordial entente in tunes with the direction French readers were going in at that time. The paper will discuss the ways in which this new Hetzel/Verne fils relationship addressed the needs of the changing publishing world at the turn of the 19th-century in France, but underestimated Jules Verne’s deeply symbolic and innovative last novel by the same token.

Peter Sinnema

From Halley’s “more ample Creation” to Symzonia’s “economy of Providence”: A Case Study of Divine Utility in Hollow Earth Theory and Fiction

Chthonic-realm fiction finds its original impulse in a proposition made by Edmond Halley to the Royal Society of London in 1691-namely, that frequently-observed magnetic deviations and certain measurements regarding planetary density in Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica suggest that the earth is hollow, constituted by a series of habitable, concentric spheres illuminated by a subterranean substance [such] as invests the Surface of the Sun. This paper outlines the scientific method and rationale for Halley’s “Hypothesis of the Structure of the Internal Parts of the Earth” in order to assess the essay’s direct contribution to the plotting of subsequent hollow earth adventure fiction. The latter had its heyday in the nineteenth century, particularly in the United States, and I turn to that context with a consideration of a novel Symzonia: A Voyage of Discovery (1820) as a case study that illustrates the centrality of divine economy in the imagining of a hollow earth.

George Slusser

Intra-Ordinary Voyages: From Jules Verne to Surrealism

One would think that the designation “extraordinary voyage” promises a reach of exploration and scientific investigation of res extensa beyond anything thus far achieved, the new and unequaled triumph of Cartesian mastery, in the form of positivism, of mind over an increasingly complex and problematic physical reality. Why then do almost all prominent French thinkers and commentators of the post-World War II generation, looking back on the Verne phenomenon, see exactly the opposite? Michel Serres sees Verne’s scientific journeys as a series of circles—“Tracer la carte et boucler le réseau.” Serres goes farther. The Comtean scientist, at the apex of maturity, is suddenly on the same level as the child—Géodésie d’enfants et de savants.” Roland Barthes, in his famous essay “Nautilus et bâteau ivre, goes farther: “The imagination of the voyage in Verne corresponds to an exploration of the closure.” On an obvious level, Nemo is his submarine is the bourgeois in his pipe and slippers. But he is also, as with Serres the “child-man,” living out a child’s passion for “cabins and tents.” What is more, Nemo’s activity, as well as that of Verne the author and explorer, is not just an “imagination,” but a “dream’: “The archetype of this dream of enclosure is that almost perfect novel, The Mysterious Island.” We have redirected “extra” as far “intra” as possible. I wish to offer some possible explanations for this redirection (which seems aberrant to the Anglophone reader), and reflect on the importance of this for French culture, science, and SF. What has happened that allows Nautilus to become (in Serres’s words) “isomorphic” to Bâteau ivre?
Barthes discusses Vingt-mille lieues and L’Ile mystérieuse, as models of contraction. A more significant example might be Le Voyage au centre de la terre. This novel seems to most openly promise a scientific adventure in the open-ended “experimental” manner of Claude Bernard: an adventure to investigate a given hypothesis, to observe new data that will either confirm it, or deny it and lead to the formulation of new postulates, new frameworks for thought. And they find plenty of disturbing “facts,” an overwhelming plethora of data. This in turn in countered by an equally amazing descent into the realms of imagination and dream described by Barthes. The rhythm of enclosure here (pace Serres) is not just circular, but one of ever constricting circles, so that the voyage to the center of the Earth is a voyage to the center of the mind. We have, as outer circle, the physical voyage. The next circle is that of scientific inscription: Saknussem’s runes, the classification schemes and niches of Cuvier. But the final constriction is that of dream: Lidenbrock’s waking dream of the academic classroom in the face of the quaternary human skull; the narrator’s cultural dream of Virgil’s pastoral in reaction to the living giant; finally Axel’s dream of an evolutionary cycle that closes on himself, in face of overwhelming evidence that such closure is virtual madness. The center of Verne’s earth is physically nowhere if not in the minds and dream activity of its explorers.
I want to argue that, at the heart of Verne’s extraordinary voyage, we reach a total disjunct between mind and material world, where the triumph of Cartesian science is infact its endpoint. Yet what we see is not an abandonment of the Cartesian coordinates, but a radical reversal of direction along an enduring scale, where the space of scientific activity has now become the mind itself. Exploration of the unknown is relocated from external space to ever-deeper layers of mind, ultimately the various levels of unconsious from which the dreams of Verne’s protagonists emerge. Verne’s voyages, belying their externalizing promise, mark a turning point in the direction of French science and literature. In Maupassant’s Horla, the external unknown reverses course, invades the protagonist’s mind, to levels where the only operative science is the early psychoanalysis of Charcot. The terrain of Cartesian reason is now within the mind-stove itself. Barthes’s equation of Verne and Rimbaud is exact, but in a much larger sense. For reason itself is on the road to that anti-scientific science of surrealism, whose center is the mind’s mysteries, as inscrutable as those of Verne’s res extensa.

Stephanie A. Smith

Three Journeys Back to the Future: the 19th Century and SF

Science fiction or speculative fiction or SF or SciFi or Skiffy depending on who you are and what your definition of this genre is, remains a genre of dispute, with those disputes ranging from content to form—is psychology a “science” or is it too “soft”? is there a difference or should there be, between “soft” SF and “hard” SF? Are these questions merely codes for gender, or can a fiction primarily about human psychology be “true” SF? What about fictions that use SF tropes without being sold as SF? I start with these questions because in 2005, three novels in English were published that gained both popularity and publicity, all of which engage SF tropes, none of which have been sold as SF and all of which return to the 19th century in some fashion in order to re-examine how that past laid down a path to the future—which begs the question why does the 19th century in particular still “matter” so much to the “future” of 2005? Michael Cunningham’s Specimen Days, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and E.L. Doctorow’s The March, each in their own way use SF or tropes that are primarily found in SF, to think through the past as a precursor and condition of the future moment of 2005. In my paper, I would like to both explain how this set of seemingly unconnected novels are in fact deeply connected by their reliance upon and assimilation of SF tropes, and I will argue that it is because the 19th century saw so much technological innovation and  social change so swiftly, particularly during and after the American Civil War, that it became imperative, as the 21st century began, to rethink the future through that past.

Andrew Snyder

Oceans of Noise: Archetypal Renderings of Jules Verne in The Abyss

Without exception, all of James Cameron’s predispositions, narrative tensions and thematic explorations are a carry-over conversation with Jules Verne.  From films no less random as they are various, as seen in blockbusters like Titanic, Aliens, The Terminator I & II, and The Abyss, the director worked his postmodern camera obscura toward underwater adventures and outerworld journeys of the Earth.  And when making films that were nonfictional in subject matter, James Cameron continued these journeys through the ramparts of technology and nature, humanity and the unknown.  And in doing so, Verne’s mythic future-forward explorations were seen hidden in documentaries like Ghosts of the Abyss (a documentary on the Titanic and the director’s cabal of scientists who go in search of the legendary ship), or in Cameron’s film Aliens of the Deep (another Imax film set underwater, which lovingly photographs giant tube worms).  Continuously and ardently, even morbidly, Cameron unconsciously continued to bodyshop in the causeways of Verne’s visionary voyages.  Even with his first feature film, Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)—a film the director called the “best flying fish horror comedy ever made”—Cameron showed an obsessional gaze toward the inner and outer reality tunnels of the world.  In the paper that follows, I will argue that this influence is seen most readily in his 1989 allegory of the Cold War in the underwater fable of The Abyss.  If we were to find an archetype source for this narrative, Cameron’s vision of the world was most impacted by two of Verne’s most famous works: Journey to the Center of the Earth and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaThe Abyss not only functions as a warning of humanity’s Cold War violence (and later reformation with 9/11 politics), but it suggests—like much of Verne’s voyages—that the terrible beauty lies within one’s secret self. 

Ben Stoltzfus

Magritte and Verne: Extraordinary Worlds

Jules Verne's far-ranging influence on twentieth-century fiction and culture also influenced the visual arts, notably the world-renowned surrealist painter Rene Magritte, who once said the Journey To The Center Of The Earth was one of his favorite books. Magritte painted several pictures that he titled Memory Of A Journey and they all relate to Verne's Journey. The fantastic voyages of Verne are writerly, whereas those of Magritte are painterly, yet both men engage our imagination in ways that go beyond realism. Magritte, like Verne, is a master at stretching the credulity of our disbelief and in the process he subverts gravity and he links the animate with the inanimate thereby creating paintings that destabilize realism in art and reality in general.
This paper will compare the works of Verne and Magritte and demonstrate how the literary realm has been transformed into the visual.

Sherryl Vint

Technology, Humanity and the Hollow Earth

One of Verne’s central contributions to the literature that was to become SF is his ambivalent attitude toward technology. Most of his works engage with cutting-edge science of his day, and especially the early extraordinary voyages are predicated upon advanced technologies of locomotion to reach and explore strange, new landscapes. At the same time, however, Verne demonstrates concern about the social and political consequences of encroaching modernism and the role played by technology in such shifts. My paper will explore the significance of technology in Verne’s work through Heidegger’s concept of technological, which he defines not as a thing or a process but rather as an essence, what he calls an ‘Enframing’: an all-encompassing view of technology, not as a means to an end, but rather a mode of human existence.
Heidegger defines human subjectivity by its distinction from animal being. A crucial part of this distinction is the relationship to technology, which he describes as an ‘unconcealing’ of nature: animals, in their captivated and limited relationship to the world are closed off from the realm of technology. Yet, technology is something that humans must master: a way of ‘bringing-forth’ the world as tool/resource, but at the same time a way of revealing the world that shapes our understanding and limits our possibilities. Modern technology poses a particular problem as it is ‘an ordered revealing’ that ‘gathers man into ordering’: humans are susceptible to being compelled to see the world in this way, thereby losing the world ‘as such’ and being reduced to a captivated and limited relation to the world: ‘[man] comes to the very brink of a precipitous fall; that is, he comes to the point where he himself will have to be taken as standing-reserve’.
Verne’s work reveals similar anxieties about achieving a relationship to technology that does not inevitably fall into the dehumanisation he sees as a consequence of aspects of modernity. My paper will explores this tension – and its relation to Heidegger’s distinction between human and animal being – by comparing Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864) with Edgar Rice Burroughs’s At the Earth’s Core (1914). Both include evidence of prehistoric hominids and other species from earth’s evolutionary past, and both enable their protagonists to penetrate the earth’s core using science. I will argue that in Verne’s work a purified ‘science’ abstracted from specific technology dominates: the protagonists use reason to navigate the world and observe other species from afar. In Burroughs’s text, in contrast, human superiority is manifested in tools and the protagonists intervene in the society they find in order to ensure hominids most like humans are ‘rightfully’ dominant. These differences, I suggest, are related to the authors’ different relationships with technology, colonialism, and the domination of nature. Burroughs does not demonstrate anxiety about the ways European humans might similarly become caught up in systems of domination; Verne, in contrast, demonstrates an awareness and careful negotiation of this ‘precipitous’ brink.

Nathaniel Williams

From Scientific Exploration to Racial Revelation: Extraordinary Voyages to Garrett P. Serviss’s Mars and Pauline Hopkins’s Africa

During the nineteenth century, scientific discoveries frequently revised contemporary, often religiously based, conceptions of history.  As cultural historians such as E.J. Hobsbawm and Robert V. Bruce have noted, many mid-nineteenth century citizens felt science was actively attacking religion, at least in part because its findings countered literal, biblical accounts of the past.  Early science fiction often displays an unwillingness to contradict these established versions of history, a tendency perhaps best embodied by Professor Aronnax in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.  Aronnax uses naturalism and the concept of "epochs" to explain the biblical creation story as metaphor, demonstrating a desire make the Bible and scientific findings fit together harmoniously. 
By the end of the century, however, two key texts actively engage in the type of historical revision that writers like Verne seemed reluctant to address.  Garrett P. Serviss’s Edison’s Conquest of Mars (1898) and Pauline Hopkins's Of One Blood, or The Hidden Self (1903) draw on the tradition of Verne's "voyages extraordinaire" and the Edisonade to create tales where scientists discover links to past societies that reform their existing presuppositions about human history.  Serviss’s text highlights American ingenuity, embodied by Thomas Edison, as the inventor leads an international, retaliatory force against Martian invaders in an unauthorized sequel to Wells’s War of the Worlds.  Once the heroes reach Mars, they discover the last member of a lost “Aryan” race that has been imprisoned by the Martians since an earlier invasion of B.C.-era Egypt.  Hopkins’s work presents an African-American rewriting of earlier “lost world” adventures.  Her protagonist journeys to a hidden, African city where he finds a technologically advanced civilization whose existence undermines notions of white, Western superiority.  Each tale ends with a protagonist recovering a lost, "pure" racial bloodline and uniting with it through marriage. 
While Serviss's Aryan-centric denouement and Hopkin's ultimate vindication of African lineage might seem at odds, the novels take nearly identical approaches.  Both were serialized in sources aimed at popular audiences: Serviss in New York Evening Journal and Hopkins in Colored American Magazine.  Both works portray exploration as a means to discover a “true,” scientifically verifiable racial identity.  Similarly, they each utilize biblical history as authority, then subvert it through the fictional discoveries that allow characters to reconnect with a lost culture.  These works portray the recovery of a racial bloodline as a major part of cultural identity, implying that the world at large will change for the better because of the revelations about the past.  Thus, to create their palatable visions of racial certainty and empowerment, these works reproduce the very issue that Americans found disconcerting about science at the time: the historical revisionism necessitated by scientific exploration. 

David Wittenberg

Utopian Travel and Narrative Macrologia: Revis(it)ing the History of the Time Travel Story

In this paper, I reconsider the origins of the time travel story, as well as the implications of those origins for both literary history and narrative theory. I argue that time travel fiction arises out of the remains of a narrative sub-genre or mode within late 19th century utopian romances, namely, their increasingly odd “travel” frame-narratives, or what I call their “macrologue.” The same set of social, philosophical, and aesthetic pressures which led to the rapid decline of the utopian romance after about 1890 also gave rise to the time travel story, by essentially granting the “macrologue” its independence. The travel “frame” now becomes a kind of generic or even narratological remainder, a set of “story rules” which have productively outlived survived their original rationale. Thus, the often complex and temporal “traveling” of the late utopian protagonist, who tends to “visit” real social “futures” in lieu of more fantastical “places,” remains intact in the form of specific narrative conventions and expectations for both aesthetic and scientific consistency, once the more central sociopolitical themes of utopian fiction have lost much of their credibility. I trace this process of forced or ambivalent inheritance from Edward Bellamy in the 1880s, through the disintegration of utopian romance in writers such as Wells and London, and finally to what I argue are the true “early” forms of the time travel genre, in obscure turn-of-the-century writers such as Frank Rosewater and Harold Steele Mackaye.
Within this literary-historical argument, time travel is decisively not the invention of any one or more authors (for instance Verne, Twain, or especially Wells), but rather the “macrological” remainder of another story-type that imploded, so to speak. Time travel therefore retains some of the uneasy structural and narratological experimentation in “travel” that utopian writers undertook in order to maintain the aesthetic and scientific realism of their sociopolitical romances, but now largely relinquishing the political and ethical goals that animated and warranted such realism. This helps to explain: 1) the self-consciously “narratological” strain of time travel fiction, which eventually leads to to its most familiar or characteristic form, the “paradox story,” once this latter is enabled by the popularization of relativity physics during the 1920s; and 2) the ambivalent position that time travel fiction continues to occupy for science fiction, a literary genre which encourages a certain speculative avant-gardism, while simultaneously tending to discourage specifically narrative experimentation. To conclude, I propose a deliberately provocative alternate history of the time travel story, running only from about 1905 to 1945—a history which, if nothing else, ought to encourage us to consider the precise narratological innovations and provocations in “travel” which the time travel story-type has offered, independent of either its association with eminent authors or with its continued popularity in both fiction and film.

Ekaterina Yudina

“Comrade Jules Vernes vs The Sharks of Imperialism” in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Crimson Island

This paper focuses on Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Crimson Island, first published as a feuilleton in 1923 and re-worked into a short-lived play in 1927. While the original text about an exotic island populated by the red Ethiops who overthrow the oppressive regime of the white Maurs, can be characterized as a political satire of the Russian revolution, the play has the more complex nature of a tragi-farce and play-within-a-play. To the political satire Bulgakov adds a parody of Soviet theatrical censorship and elements of comedia dell’Arte: the farce about the rebellious island facing the imperialist Franco-British intervention is written by the playwright Dymogatsky under a pen-name Jules Verne; it is being hastily rehearsed for the first time but immediately as a dress rehearsal in order to get approval from the censor who is leaving for a vacation; the censor first rejects the play as counterrevolutionary, but when the finale is re-written, and the British sailors take the side of the revolutionary aborigines, the play is approved. While the production is hurriedly staged, the old costumes and sets are being recycled, and everyone in the theater, including the director and the author, are given certain roles that are, as Leslie Milne puts it, “stock characters from the comedy of masks”.            
One of the recycling devices in The Crimson Island, remarkably overlooked by Bulgakov scholars, is the use of Verne’s characters. Lord and lady Glenarvan, captain Gatteras, Michelle Ardan and Jacque Paganel represent the forces of European civilization and, ultimately, oppression. Their names, immediately recognized by Russians who pride themselves among Verne’s greatest fans, serve as masks of the “jealous husband,” the “grand coquette,” the “drunk debaucher,” etc. Since everything in Bulgakov’s text is a satire, the use of Verne’s characters emphasizes the colonialist nature of the great Frenchman’s novels. But there is a twist: just as the play-within-a-play is written under the pen-name of Jules Verne, the 1923 feuilleton acknowledges the same authorship: The Crimson Island. A Novel by Comrade Jules Verne. Translated from French to Aesopian by Mikhail Bulgakov. While characterizing the roles of Europeans in The Crimson Island, Bulgakov makes important explanations like the following of Lord Glenarvan: “A famous English bourgeois, a shark of British Imperialism, whose true colors were revealed by comrade Jules Verne.” Bulgakov’s tongue-in-cheek parody is delightfully obscured. On the one hand, it adds an element of confusion to the play-within-a-play which Bulgakov loved so much. On the other, it creates the aura of doubt: if The Crimson Island is written by a Jules Verne, then the colonial themes of the real Jules Verne could have been intentionally revealed and criticized by the French novelist himself. Verne himself is, therefore, turned into one of the masks in Bulgakov’s harlequinade, that of the “omnipresent author,” whose very name serves as a magic word “Sesame!” that opens the doors—to a publication, a stage production or simply to traveling in time and escaping Soviet realities.