J.-H. Rosny aîné

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J.-H. Rosny aîné
Born Joseph Henri Honoré Boex
(1856-02-17)17 February 1856
Brussels, Belgium
Died 11 February 1940(1940-02-11) (aged 83)
Paris, France
Nationality Belgian, French
Occupation author
Known for science fiction

J.-H. Rosny aîné was the pseudonym of Joseph Henri Honoré Boex (17 February 1856 – 11 February 1940), 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" (Rosny the Elder) while his brother used J.-H. Rosny jeune (Rosny the Younger).

Overview[edit]

Rosny aîné was very much like H. G. Wells or Olaf Stapledon in his concepts and his way of dealing with them in his novels. He was the second most important figure after Jules Verne in the history of modern French science fiction.

Rosny’s first science fiction tale was the short story "Les Xipehuz" (1887), in which primitive humans (the story takes place a thousand years before Babylonian times) encounter inorganic aliens, with whom all forms of communication prove impossible. Men eventually drive away the invaders, but the hero mourns the loss of another life. This was the first time that science fiction had abandoned its usual anthropomorphic approach in the description of alien life.

The story "Un Autre Monde" ["Another World"] (1895) establishes that humans share the Earth with the land-bound Moedigen (Dutch for 'brave ones') and the air-borne Vuren ('fires'), two infinitely flat and invisible species who cohabit with us. Only a mutant whose vision is superior to that of ordinary men can see them. In Le Cataclysme [The Cataclysm] (1896), an entire region of France sees the physical laws of nature change, as a result of the arrival of a mysterious electro-magnetic entity from outer space.

Rosny’s short novel, La Mort de la Terre [The Death of the Earth] (1910), takes place in the far future, when Earth had all but dried out. In it, the last descendants of mankind become aware of the emergence of a new species, the metal-based "Ferromagnetals", fated to replace us.

Another novel, La Force Mystérieuse [The Mysterious Force] (1913), tells of the destruction of a portion of the light spectrum by a mysterious force—possibly aliens from outer space who, for a brief while, share our physical existence. This causes panic, then a progressive and potentially deadly cooling of the world.

L'Énigme de Givreuse [The Enigma of Givreuse] (1917) is another novel about a fissiparous human being, divided into two totally similar individuals, each naturally believing himself to be the original.

The novella La Jeune Vampire [The Young Vampire] (1920) was the first time that vampirism was described as a genetic mutation, transmissible by birth.

L'Étonnant Voyage d'Hareton Ironcastle [The Amazing Journey of Hareton Ironcastle] (1922) is a more traditional adventure novel; in it, explorers eventually discover a fragment of an alien world, with its fauna and flora, attached to Earth. The novel was adapted and retold by Philip José Farmer.

Rosny’s masterpiece is Les Navigateurs de l'Infini [The Navigators of Infinity] (1925) in which the word “astronautique” was coined for the first time. In it, Rosny’s heroes travel to Mars in the “Stellarium”, a spaceship powered by artificial gravity and made of “argine”, an indestructible, transparent material. On Mars, the human explorers come in contact with the gentle, peaceful, six-eyed, three-legged “Tripèdes”, a dying race who is slowly being replaced by the “Zoomorphs”, alien entities who bear some resemblance to the “Ferromagnetals” of La Mort de la Terre. Later, a young Martian female, capable of bearing children parthenogetically by merely wishing it, gives birth to a child after falling in love with one of the human explorers, undoubtedly the first romance ever written between a man and an alien female. This heralds the rebirth of the Martian race and, with Man’s help, the eventual reconquest of their planet.

Rosny also penned five prehistoric novels: Vamireh (1892), Eyrimah (1893), the world-renowned classic La Guerre du Feu better known as Quest for Fire (1909) which served as the basis for the 1981 movie; Le Félin Géant [The Giant Cat] (1918) (sometimes known as Quest of the Dawn Man) and Helgvor du Fleuve Bleu [Helgvor of the Blue River] (1930). In it, he combined the notions of modern drama with the ability to depict Man’s early days.

In 1897, Joseph Boex was named to the French Légion d'honneur and in 1903 was named to the first jury of the Prix Goncourt along with his brother. Rosny aîné remained involved with the Académie Goncourt and in 1926 became its president. Romain Rolland nominated him for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928 and 1933.[1] Joseph Boex died in Paris in 1940.

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Les Xipehuz (1887) translated by Brian Stableford included in The Navigators of Space, 2010, ISBN 978-1-935558-35-4
  • La Sorcière (1887) translated by Brian Stableford included in The Young Vampire, 2010, ISBN 978-1-935558-40-8
  • La Légende Sceptique (1889) translated as The Skeptical; Legend included in The Navigators of Space, 2010, q.v.
  • Vamireh (1892) translated by Brian Stableford included in Vamireh, 2010, ISBN 978-1-935558-38-5
  • Eyrimah (1893) translated by Brian Stableford included in Vamireh, q.v.
  • Nymphée (1893) translated by Brian Stableford included in The World of the Variants, 2010, ISBN 978-1-935558-36-1
  • Le Jardin de Mary (1895) translated by Brian Stableford included in The Givreuse Enigma, 2010, ISBN 978-1-935558-39-2
  • Un autre monde ["Another World"] (1895) translated as Another World included in The Navigators of Space, 2010, q.v.[2]
  • Les Profondeurs de Kyamo [The Depths of Kyamo] (1896) translated by Brian Stableford included in The World of the Variants, 2010, q.v.
  • La Contrée Prodigieuse des Cavernes(1896) translated by Brian Stableford included in The World of the Variants, 2010, q.v.
  • Le Cataclysme (1896) translated by Brian Stableford included in The Mysterious Force, q.v.
  • Nomai (1897) translated by Brian Stableford included in Vamireh, 2010, q.v.
  • Le Voyage (1900) translated by Brian Stableford included in The World of the Variants, 2010, q.v.
  • La Guerre du Feu Quest for Fire (1909) transl. as The Quest for Fire, 1967
  • Le Trésor dans la Neige [The Treasure in the Snow] (1910) translated by Brian Stableford included in The World of the Variants, 2010, q.v.
  • La Mort de la Terre [The Death of the Earth] (1910) translated as The Death of the Earth included in The Navigators of Space, 2010, q.v.
  • La Force Mystérieuse [The Mysterious Force] (1913) translated by Brian Stableford included in The Mysterious Force, 2010, ISBN 978-1-935558-37-8
  • L'Aube du Futur [The Dawn of the Future] (1917)
  • L'Énigme de Givreuse [The Enigma Of Givreuse] (1917) translated by Brian Stableford included in The Givreuse Enigma, 2010, q.v.
  • Le Félin Géant (1918) transl. as The Giant Cat, 1924; a.k.a. Quest of the Dawn Man, 1964, translated by The Honorable Lady Whitehead included in Helgvor of the Blue River (2010), ISBN 978-1-935558-46-0
  • La Grande Énigme [The Great Enigma] (1920) translated by Brian Stableford included in The World of the Variants, 2010, q.v.
  • La Jeune Vampire (1920) (a.k.a. Le Vampire de Bethnal Green) translated by Brian Stableford included in The Young Vampire, 2010, q.v.
  • L'Étonnant Voyage d'Hareton Ironcastle [The Amazing Journey of Hareton Ironcastle] (1922) adapted & retold by Philip Jose Farmer as Ironcastle, 1976; translated by Brian Stableford included in The Mysterious Force, q.v.
  • L'Assassin Surnaturel [The Supernatural Assassin] (1923) translated by Brian Stableford included in The Young Vampire, 2010, q.v.
  • Les Navigateurs de l'Infini [The Navigators of Infinity] (1925) translated as The Navigators of Space included in The Navigators of Space, 2010, q.v.
  • La Terre Noire [The Black Earth] (1925)
  • Le Trésor Lointain [The Far-Away Treasure] (1926)
  • La Femme Disparue [The Vanished Woman] (1926)
  • Les Conquérants du Feu [The Conquerors of Fire] (1929)
  • Les Hommes-Sangliers [The Boar-Men] (1929) translated by Brian Stableford included in The World of the Variants, 2010, q.v.
  • Helgvor du Fleuve Bleu [Helgvor of the Blue River] (1929), translated by Georges Surdez included in Helgvor of the Blue River (2010), q.v.
  • Au Château des Loups Rouges [At the Castle of the Red Wolves] (1929)
  • L'Initiation de Diane [Diana's Initiation] (1930)
  • Tabubu (1932)
  • Les Compagnons de l'Univers [The Companions of the Universe] (1934) translated by Brian Stableford included in The Young Vampire, 2010, q.v.
  • La Sauvage Aventure [The Savage Adventure] (1935) translated by Brian Stableford included in The Givreuse Enigma, 2010, q.v.
  • Dans le Monde des Variants (1939) translated by Brian Stableford included in The World of the Variants, 2010, q.v.
  • Les Astronautes (pub. 1960) translated as The Astronauts included in The Navigators of Space, 2010, q.v.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nobel Prize Site
  2. ^ J.-H Rosny the elder, Another World, in Collapse: Journal of Philosophical Research and Development vol. iii, Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2007, ISBN 978-0-9553087-2-7, pp.255-305.

External links[edit]