Pioneers Series Part 1: Science Fiction

Pierre-Jules Hetzel was a renowned name in literary circles. He had published great authors such as Victor Hugo and George Sand. In the 1860s, Hetzel was planning on launching a new magazine called Magasin. It was supposed to be a family magazine, which would combine scientific education with quality fiction. An upcoming writer approached him in 1862. The writer had some intriguing ideas about a new genre of stories. Hetzel was impressed by the ideas and offered to publish his next three novels.

These novels became part of a series titled Extraordinary Voyages. The writer gained an audience and became a sensation in France. The writer’s name was Jules Verne and the rest, as they say, is history.

Some writers wrote great stories and some changed the way stories were told.

There have been some special stories authored by visionary writers who not only enthralled their readers but changed the way books have been written since. Without them or their stories, literature as we know it wouldn’t exist.

Jules Verne was one of them. He believed that combining elements of geography and geology to establish a fictional narrative could work wonders. The belief at the time was viewed with skepticism, as most believed science and fiction are two separate genres and did not belong together. Verne however, rejected public perception and pursued his vision.

In 1864, a book named Journey to the Centre of the Earth penned by Verne was published by Hetzel. The story besides the plot combined fantastical elements of fantasy with certain grounded scientific principles to present a game-changing story still cited as a perfect example of science fiction done well.

Some decades later, another author emerged. Like Verne, he too was intrigued by science fiction as a genre and believed it carried tremendous potential in conveying complex ideas. The writer was HG Wells, the man known today as the father of sci-fi.

Wells wrote several books, some about the wonders of modern science and some about the danger in pursuing ungodly technological advances. Through his writing, Wells even managed to predict the future advancements such as nuclear weapons and the internet. Some of Wells' stories which were perceived as sci-fi at the time are now considered just fiction!

A key similarity between Wells and Verne lied in having the courage to pursue their convictions. They were not alone. Many other writers transformed their respective genre forever, at times creating a new genre altogether.

However, there is yet another author who can be credited for using sci-fi to capture the hearts and minds of the readers. The author was Mary Shelley and the story was Frankenstein.

Mary Shelley is a curious case. Rarely is her name mentioned when people talk about the origins of sci-fi. Yet, Frankenstein is considered one of the greatest sci-fi novels of all time, published before Verne became a household name and Wells was even born. Furthermore, she was amongst the first writers to point out the dispassionate nature of scientific progress. If Wells and Verne are jointly called the fathers of science fiction, Shelley should be addressed as the mother of sci-fi.

We hope it catches on!

These writers are special because they wrote something no one had attempted before. If it weren’t for them, we would not know sci-fi the way we do now. For this reason, they were the firsts of the first.

In the beginning, we talked about Hetzel and how he was able to recognize the ingenuity of Jules Verne. Just like Hetzel, history is filled with examples of people who were able to recognize the talent of their peers. As a platform, we wish to follow the example set by Hetzel and bring forth the future generation of writers, the ones who can write stories which will be discussed decades and centuries from now.