Science Fiction Studies

#101 = Volume 34, Part 1 = March 2007


Jules Verne and the Fossil Man Controversy: An Addendum to Allen A. Debus. I offer this note, based on material from a book on prehistoric fiction that I am currently writing, as a supplement to the paleoanthropological section of the very interesting article by Allen A. Debus, “Re-Framing the Science in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth,” in SFS 33.3 (November 2006). I concur with all of Debus’s important points about Verne’s novel, but would like to expand on his suggestion in Note 13 (417) about how to interpret Verne’s attitude to his protagonists. I will do this by attempting to explain why the 1867 revision of Journey, which Debus correctly calls “definitive” (405), contains two more chapters than the 1864 first edition.                

The context of Verne’s revision was the “fossil man” controversy. Georges Cuvier (1769-1832), the great French naturalist associated with geological catastrophism, had asserted in 1812 that there were no human fossils, thereby lending his enormous prestige to those who defended the biblical account of man’s recent creation. By the early 1860s, however, Darwin and Huxley had provided a theoretical basis, and paleoanthropology had provided material evidence, to support the argument that the human species was not recently created, but old enough to have left fossilized remains.                

Jules Verne, whose literary career began in 1863, took a conservative position on the fossil man controversy, probably because he could not accept those aspects of the new scientific materialism that conflicted with his Catholic faith. His third novel, Voyage au centre de la Terre (1864, first translated as Journey to the Center of the Earth in 1871-72), is, as Debus effectively shows, a geological and paleontological fantasia at once fictionalizing and humanizing the same journey through deep time that Louis Figuier undertook in La Terre avant le Déluge (1863). But how to deal with the culminating appearance of man? In the 1864 first edition of Voyage, Verne’s answer was to avoid the issue entirely.                

Yet so imperatively did fossil man demand attention that avoidance of the controversy in a work with a strong geological and paleontological theme was soon no longer possible. The Exposition Universelle held in Paris from April 1 to October 31, 1867 contained displays of prehistoric artifacts, including the image of a mammoth engraved on a piece of fossil-mammoth ivory that Édouard Lartet (1801-71) had discovered at La Madeleine (Dordogne) in 1864. Many agreed with Lartet that this was hard evidence that Paleolithic man had been human enough to have made mobiliary art yet had coexisted with extinct animals. In other ways, too, the ideological tide in France was turning against Cuvier. The guidebook to the Exposition’s prehistoric exhibits was written by the fiercely anti-clerical Gabriel de Mortillet (1821-98), and in Paris the possibility of humanity’s Tertiary origin (i.e., in the geological period before the first Ice Age) was for the first time being seriously discussed.                

As well as 56 new illustrations by Édouard Riou, the May 13, 1867 reissue of Voyage contains two more chapters than the first edition. Verne inserted the extra text in the middle of what was chapter 37 in the 1864 edition. The resulting 1867 revision contains a chapter 37 with a new second half, a whole new chapter 38, and a chapter 39 that begins with a new first half and ends with the second half of the first edition’s chapter 37. In this additional material, Professor Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel (the narrator) toward the end of their subterranean odyssey find a human skull associated with the bones of prehistoric animals. The Professor eagerly discourses on the possible major significance of this find: it offers further proof of the existence of fossil man, especially in the light of the recent discovery of a fossilized human jawbone by workmen at Moulin-Quignon (Somme) under the direction of the pioneering archaeologist Jacques Boucher de Perthes (1788-1868). Verne probably refers to this “discovery” because its authenticity was seriously in doubt; indeed, by 1867 the Moulin-Quignon jaw was generally dismissed as a hoax, and it would remain the most notorious fraud in the field of paleoanthropology until the unmasking of “Piltdown Man” in 1953.

Verne knew very well that absolute dating was crucial in the construction of ironclad arguments about the age of fossils, but that such dating was impossible. (It would remain so for almost a century.) The dates that he deploys to undermine Lidenbrock are recent and more difficult to controvert. The action of Verne’s novel begins (and also began in its first edition), as its first sentence states, on 24 May 1863. The inserted material in the 1867 edition reminds us that laborers working for Boucher de Perthes had “found” the Moulin-Quignon jaw just under two months earlier, on 28 March 1863. In the second week of May 1863, an international panel of experts had been convened to rule on the authenticity of the jaw. There was a split between the English members, who pronounced it a fake, and most of the French, who (as long as decently possible) resisted this verdict, chiefly out of pride. A contemporary account of l’affaire Moulin-Quignon can be found in Grace Ann Prestwich, Life and Letters of Sir Joseph Prestwich (1899), 178-91; for a modern account, see Erik Trinkaus and Pat Shipman, The Neandertals: Changing the Image of Mankind (1993), 90-97.                

Verne’s 1867 revision of Voyage suggests that Lidenbrock and Axel had left for Iceland before hearing the panel’s verdict on the Moulin-Quignon jaw. By 1867, most experts had accepted that the jaw had been fabricated and planted by the laborers in order to claim a reward from Boucher de Perthes. (Though deemed innocent of fraud, Boucher de Perthes would die in 1868 refusing to admit that he had been duped.) So when Lidenbrock in 1863 enthusiastically interprets the human skull that he has found as further proof, like the Moulin-Quignon jaw, of the existence of fossil man, a reader of the revised novel in 1867 would adjudge him to be naive and gullible, just as Boucher de Perthes had shown himself to be.                

In the 1867 Voyage, Lidenbrock and Axel then come across a well-preserved corpse of “Quaternary man,” and shortly thereafter they glimpse a herd of mastodons shepherded by a man over twelve feet tall. Though Axel in retrospect doubts his own eyes, Verne actually wants his readers to believe in the living reality of the mastodons and their herdsman, because such phenomena, together with the evident recency of the Quaternary man’s death, tend to further undermine Lidenbrock’s naive materialist confidence in the existence of fossil man. For Verne is implying that the discoveries of stone tools in association with extinct animals by Boucher de Perthes and others might be accounted for by the survival until recently of both the “prehistoric” tool-makers and the “extinct” animals in the world above ground, and by their continuing survival in the subterranean world. Cuvierian catastrophes in the form of landslips and earthquakes would explain why archaeologists keep unearthing these tools and bones in association.                

For Jules Verne, then, if fossil man was a living species, he could not be an extinct human ancestor, and the Mosaic account of creation, as elaborated by Cuvier, remained (just about) intact. The giant mastodon herdsman is therefore animated by Verne’s stubborn refusal to abandon the scriptural account of human origin. Moreover, Verne did not give up hope that evidence of the survival of “prehistoric” humans into the recent past or even into the present would be found, evidence that would undermine the Darwinian account of human origin. He revisited this idea more than thirty years later in Le Village aérien (1901, translated as The Village in the Treetops in 1964), though in this later novel he relocated his living “missing links” from the subterranean world to the slightly more plausible realm of the central African jungle.—Nicholas Ruddick,  University of Regina

The St. Eustace Legend as Palimpsest in Hoban’s Riddley Walker. In Riddley Walker (1980), Russell Hoban uses the medieval legend of St. Eustace as the basis for his fictional society. Used to project a folklore, a system of belief, for a future world, the legend (and its additions by Hoban) acts as a palimpsest, a text of many layers. It explains the origins and present circumstances of Riddley Walker’s society, acts as a chemical formula providing the ironic renewal of technological capabilities, and illuminates the narrator’s personal story.                

The legend of St. Eustace was one of the most popular stories of the Middle Ages. Originally known as Placidus and a captain of the Emperor Trajan, the future saint was out hunting when he saw a white stag between whose horns appeared a bright light that formed a cross on which was the figure of Christ. The Christ figure spoke: “Placidus, I am Christ whom you have hitherto served without knowing me. Do you not believe?” Placidus answered, “Lord, I believe.” The vision then told him that he would suffer many tribulations, but that the Lord would not forsake him. Placidus, his wife, and two sons were baptized and Placidus took the new name Eustace.                

He experienced much suffering, for his wife was carried away by pirates and his sons by wild beasts. Eustace fled to the desert to pray and after fifteen years his family was miraculously reunited. But when they refused to give thanks to the Roman gods, they were condemned by the emperor. All four were  shut up in a huge brass bull, under which a fire was kindled, and thus they died  (Ferguson 117-18).                

Having outlined the medieval legend, let me turn to Hoban’s use of the legend. Riddley Walker is set in a desolate landscape long after civilization as we know it has been destroyed. At the center of this landscape lies Cambry, the remains of the present-day English city Canterbury. Christianity is long defunct, and what religion remains is carried from place to place by traveling puppeteers who put on a “Eusa show” that is derived from the fifteenth-century wall painting of the legend of St. Eustace in Canterbury Cathedral.                

The Eusa story has within it fragmentary references to history that are not even known to the people who speak the words containing those fragments, that is, those “residues and traces of the invisible” that Andreas Huyssen speaks of as palimpsest (7). Yet the St. Eustace legend is still recognizable and serves a number of functions.1 The main details of the Eusa story likewise describe a martyrdom. Eusa, a scientist, works for Mr. Clevver at a time when civilization possesses technological instruments such as airplanes, television, computers, and so on. Eusa’s land is at war. Mr. Clevver decides that an end to the war can be achieved by means of a weapon, the “1 Big 1,” and sends Eusa to find “the Littl Shynin Man the Addom he runs in the wud” (Hoban 30). Eusa goes to the wood to hunt down the Littl Shynin Man. Eventually, he comes across the “Stag uv the Wud,” and stretched between its antlers is the Littl Shynin Man the Addom. The stag says, “Eusa yu ar talkin tu the Hart uv the Wud. Nuthing wil run frum yu enne mor but tym tu cum & yu wil run frum evere thing” (31). Eusa shoots the stag, grabs the Littl Man, and demands the knowledge to create the 1 Big 1, but the Littl Man tells Eusa that he already has the knowledge. Frustrated, Eusa pulls the Littl Man the Addom apart. As he does this, Eusa sees the knowledge that he needs and gives Mr. Clevver the information, which is used to make nuclear weapons that bring about total devastation. Eusa leaves with his wife and two sons to find a safe place to live. They find a boat, but the captain, wanting Eusa’s wife for himself, throws Eusa and the two boys overboard. Eusa loses his sons. The Littl Shynin Man then appears in one piece again and tells Eusa that he must undergo the “Master Chaynjis” (30-36).                

The Eusa story reinscribes the St. Eustace legend, which Hoban clearly points to as its parent: Goodparley reads to Riddley the legend of St. Eustace, written on an ancient piece of paper (Hoban 123-24). The old piece of paper is presumably a tourist pamphlet used to describe the wall painting in Canterbury Cathedral prior to its destruction.
                Points of correspondence and difference between the St. Eustace legend and the Eusa story are as follows:

Table 1: The St. Eustace Legend and the Eusa Story

Eustace Legend

Eusa Story

1. Emperor Trajan

1. Mr. Clevver

2. Placidus/Eustace is captain of the guards.

2. Eusa works on military weapons.

3. His persevering charity leads him to be lighted to the truth.

3. Eusa is skilled in science. He is sent to find the truth.

4. Placidus/Eustace goes hunting with dogs.

4. Eusa hunts the answer with dogs.

5. Placidus/Eustace meets a white stag. Between its horns is a bright light with Christ on a cross.

5. Eusa meets the stag with the Littl Shynin Man the Addom.

6. Stag/Christ says: “I am Christ. You pursue me, yet I have hunted you.”

6. The figure reveals he is the Littl Shynin Man the Addom.

7. Placidus/Eustace says to the Stag/Christ: “Make me understand and I shall believe.”

7. Eusa kills the stag. He demands the answer he seeks from the Littl Shynin Man.

8. Placidus/Eustace is told to be baptized.

8. The Littl Shynin Man tells Eusa he has the answer already. In his rage, Eusa tears the Little Shynin Man the Addom apart and finds the answer he needs.

9. Placidus and his family are baptized and he takes the name Eustace.

9. —

10. Now named Eustace, he returns to the forest. Christ says Eustace must undergo trials to escape vanity and be lifted up.

10. At story’s end, Eusa is told he must undergo all the “Master Chaynjis.”

11. Plagues befall Eustace. In shame he leaves with his family.

11. With his family Eusa flees the calamities of war.

12. Eustace and his family find a ship. The captain seizes Eustace’s wife and abandons Eustace and his sons.

12. Eusa and his family find a ship. The captain seizes Eusa’s wife and abandons Eusa and his sons.

13. Eustace comes to a river where in crossing he loses both sons to wild animals.

13. Eusa stays by a river and loses both sons to wild animals while trying to swim after them.

14. Eustace is found by soldiers and returns to the military.

14. —

15. On campaign, Eustace finds his wife at an inn. His sons are also there. The family is united.

15. —

16. Eustace and his family return to Rome where they refuse to sacrifice to the pagan gods.

16. —

17. The family is put in a heated bronze bull where they die and go to heaven.

17. —


Following Huyssen’s idea of the palimpsest, we can see how as time has passed, individual memory, collective memory, and narrative history have intertwined through the medium of the St. Eustace legend to construct a version of the past that accounts for and shapes the present of Riddley’s world. Hoban cleverly transplants the elements of a past technological society into the present. The picture of computers rapidly working is clear to us: “Evere thing blippin & bleapin & movin in the shiftin uv thay Nos. Sum tyms bytin sum tyms bit” (31). The figure of Christ on the cross becomes the Littl Shynin Man stretched and broken in two by Eusa in his search for the 1 Big 1. The breaking of the Littl Shynin Man the Addom parallels nuclear fission and results in the 1 Big 1, which is put to use in “barms” (bombs). Nuclear war brings down civilization and plagues ensue, beginning new trials for Eusa and society.                

Hoban has taken a legend from the Middle Ages and transplanted it successfully to a fictional future setting and to a different audience, making it the foundational story that lies at the heart of the extrapolated world of Riddley Walker. This story functions at a number of levels. First, the Eusa story is “used” by survivors of a nuclear holocaust to explain their consciousness of a “Fall” in their history. Hoban says of the story: “the language degrades the past. The situation they’re in is a result of all those clever people before them. Over two or three thousand years they’ve downgraded all the names, so Herne Bay becomes “Horny Boy” ... —they want to show that they don’t respect the old names” (McCaffery and Gregory 130). In other words, we have a past made present in the Eusa story and a present understanding of that past as revealed through Goodparley’s reading of the St. Eustace legend.                

Hoban’s post-holocaust legend ends with Eusa’s being told that he must undergo the “Master Chaynjis,” which means that the trials of Eusa and his descendants, Riddley’s people, are by no means over. At the end of each Eusa show, there comes the time for “connexion” to find out what is coming to the people next. Riddley, as a son of a “connexion man,” must be a “connexion man” as well. But where does the tradition of combining the Eusa story with “connexions” come from? Goodparley provides the answer by telling the sequel to the Eusa story.                

The sequel relates how Eusa is stoned by the people of Cambry. He moves from town to town, nine in all, and is tortured in each one until he comes back to Cambry, where he is killed. His severed head is stuck on a pole, but it continues to speak, bringing further troubles to the town until the head is thrown into the sea. The head swims from Inland to the Ram and tells the people to make a show with hand-puppets to keep in memory how the hardship has come upon them. Moreover, they are to have a person as an “Ardship” who will ask questions until the answer they need is found. Then all will be reunited and will be well (121-22). The story progresses beyond a mere retelling of the past. Coupled with the tradition of the “Fools Circel 9wys” and the “connexions,” it is a way of leading the people forward in hopes of finding the answer that they need. Yet “connexions” are little more than a shot in the dark; their haziness means that the people progress very slowly. They need another level of interpretation that will take the story beyond an explanation of the “Fall” and give them a specific direction. This new interpretation is provided by Goodparley, who finds it in the legend of St. Eustace. He sees the ancient tourist pamphlet as “writing ... about some kind of picter or dyergam which we dont have that picter all we have is the writing” (124). Connecting the Eusa story to the legend of St. Eustace, Goodparley gives the Eusa/Eustace story an entirely new interpretation as a chemical equation: “Who ever this bloak wer what wrote our Eusa story he connectit his self to this here Legend or dyergam and the chemistery and fizzics of it becaws ... the 2 of them ben past down to gether in the Mincery” (127).                

A tabulation of Goodparley’s connections clarifies the chemical equation he takes from the story:

Table 2: St. Eustace Legend as Chemical Formula (see pp. 127-129)

St. Eustace Legend

Chemical Formula Elements

1. St. Eustace is seen on his knees before his quarry.

1. “Quarry is a kind of digging”

2. a cross of radiant light

2. “same as radiating lite or radiation”

3. the figure of the crucified Savior

3. “Figure—Number of the yellerboy stoan”

4. Savior

4. “Saviour—saver—salt—the yellerboy stoan”

5. Crucified

5. “cruciboal”—crucible

6. Brazen bull

6. “Brazing boal”


Goodparley’s chemical interpretation gives the people gunpowder. The present and the past will be reunited by means of the added chemical equation or formula. In terms of the palimpsest, the Eusa/Eustace story becomes a means not just for explaining the past but for seeking possibly tragic future directions. The story also becomes an equation, a chemical formula.               

A final layer of meaning provided by the St. Eustace legend is to be found in the character of Riddley himself. Hoban draws a number of similarities between Riddley and St. Eustace. Riddley, like Eustace, is a hunter. Just as Eustace’s trials follow his baptism and the taking of a new name, so Riddley’s troubles begin at the time of his naming day. He loses his father, kills a man, and is forced to flee his hunting/foraging group, losing his large extended family. He travels from place to place, meeting troubles along the way.                

Unlike St. Eustace, Riddley is never reunited with his extended family and does not die, but other elements of the St. Eustace story are visible in Riddley’s own: “Riddley is the one who brought the missing ingredient for the gunpowder, and he’s also the new artist” (McCaffery and Gregory 134-35). In the novel, Hoban uses Riddley to link (and recapitulate) the Eusa/Eustace stories.—Martin L. Warren, University of St. Thomas

                1. For a more detailed examination of the Eusa story as myth, see Mustazza.

Ferguson, George. Signs and Symbols in Christian Art. New York: Oxford UP, 1954.
Hoban, Russell. Riddley Walker. New York: Summit, 1980.
Huyssen, Andreas. Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2003.
McCaffery, Larry and Sinda Gregory. Alive and Writing. Interviews with American Authors of the 1980s. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1987. 126-150.
Mustazza, Leonard. “Myth and History in Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker.” Critique 31.1 (Fall 1989): 17-26.

New Data on a Pioneer. It is known that the phrase “science fiction” first appeared in William Wilson’s A Little Earnest Book on a Great Old Subject (London: Darton, 1851), but nothing has been known about Wilson, such scholars as Brian Stableford stating that he was “one of several contemporaries with the same name” (1334).

Recent evidence has surfaced to indicate that the William Wilson who authored A Little Earnest Book was one of the sons of noted publisher Effingham Wilson (1785?-1868), a man whose two marriages yielded “many children ... perhaps fifteen in all” (Worms, Oxford DNB).1 A small file of letters in the Morris L. Parrish collection of Victorian novelists (1806-1958) held in the Princeton University Library details the composition of A Little Earnest Book, definitely linking its author to this William Wilson, who is known to have succeeded his father as a publisher (OCLC 60355705).                

Ironically, the identity of this William Wilson has long been known, being first given in S. Austin Allibone’s A Critical Dictionary of English Literature. In its entirety, Allibone’s entry on William Wilson states “son of Effingham Wilson, d. 1868, aged 85. A Nice Little Book. Praised by Bulwer, &c.” (2786). As no work by a Wilson entitled “A Nice Little Book” can be located, it is reasonable to assume that Allibone erred and meant to write A Little Earnest Book.—Richard Bleiler, University of Connecticut

                1. Other sources state that Effingham Wilson’s birthdate was 1763.

Allibone, S. Austin. A Critical Dictionary of British and American Authors Living and Deceased from the Earliest Accounts to the Latter Half of the Nineteenth Century. 1858. Detroit: Gale, 1965.
OCLC (Online Catalogue Computer Center). WorldCat Resource Sharing. September 6, 2006. <>. 
Stableford, Brian. “William Wilson.” The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Ed. John Clute and Peter Nicholls. London: Orbit, 1993. 1334.
Worms, Laurence. “Wilson, Effingham.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004. September 6, 2006. < view/article/38136>.

Bishop Godwin’s The Man in the Moone: The Other Martin. In a recent issue of SFS (33.2 [July 2006]), I set out to trace the manner in which medieval accounts of two strange green-skinned children, who had appeared as if out of the ground to harvesters in the fields of the village of Woolpit in England in the mid-twelfth century, have been interpreted and incorporated in their own works (usually works of fiction) by later writers. In particular I discussed Francis Godwin’s pioneering tale of a voyage to the moon, The Man in the Moone, published posthumously in 1638 (Clark 212-15). Therein Godwin cites the twelfth-century historian William of Newburgh’s report of the Green Children when describing how the lunar inhabitants exile delinquent children to Earth and abduct terrestrial children to replace them (Godwin 104-106); thus he uses the authority of a reputable medieval writer to support the apparent veracity of his own “essay of Fancy.”               

Godwin imports other elements of the Green Children story into his account of lunar civilization, and I drew particular attention to the reported significance of the name “Martin” to the Lunars (Clark 214-15). The Green Children, according to William of Newburgh (116-17), claimed to have come from a twilight land called “St. Martin’s Land,” where St. Martin was particularly revered. And when Godwin’s protagonist and narrator, the Spaniard Domingo Gonsales, trying to communicate with the Lunars, recites the names of a number of saints: “at last reckoning among others st. Martinus, they all bowed their bodies, and held up hands in signe of great reverence: the reason whereof I learned to bee, that martin in their language signifieth God” (Godwin 83). Moreover, there is on the moon an island called “insula Martini”—“the island of Martin”—where the people are particularly holy (90).                

This must be more than coincidence, and (although perhaps unwisely) I commented that “[t]his special reverence for St. Martin cannot readily be explained in the context of the Green Children’s own time, nor in that of Bishop Godwin; it seems unlikely to be a matter of independent inspiration” (214-15), I did quote Robert Philmus’s suggestion of a deliberate ambiguity—readers might take the reference to be to Martin Luther, and opine that the staunchly Roman Catholic narrator Domingo Gonsales had found the moon populated by Lutheran Protestants (Philmus 265-66).                

It is as well never to close the book on a piece of research and within a week of my essay’s appearing in print I encountered another Martin, one much more likely to have come to the mind of Godwin’s readers.1 The purpose of the present note is to draw attention to this other Martin, and to suggest his possible relevance to Godwin’s lunar narrative.                

Although The Man in the Moone was probably written between 1626 and 1629 (McColley), the events of Godwin’s tale are set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Gonsales travels to the moon in September 1599 (Godwin 110), returning to Earth in March 1601, and is asked by the Lunar prince Pylonas to carry greetings to Queen Elizabeth, “the most glorious of women living” (112) —no doubt a rather galling commission for a Spaniard who admits that he accounts her an enemy of Spain and who has himself recently been involved in a sea battle against the English (33-35).                

The England of Elizabeth I was riven by religious conflict. It faced not only the ever-present threat of a resurgence of the suppressed Roman Catholic faith but also disputes within the established Protestant Church of England. Puritans and Presbyterians saw many of the practices of the Church of England, with its authoritarian hierarchy of priests, bishops, and archbishops, as little better than Papist, and sought its reformation openly or subversively. Things came to a head in the 1580s, a time during which Francis Godwin was a student at Oxford University and thereafter in his first ecclesiastical post at Wells cathedral (Woolf).

Writings openly attacking the Church establishment were printed and widely circulated, but in the absence of any controls on the press, there was little the authorities could do to counter them. Then, in 1586, John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, persuaded Queen Elizabeth and the royal court of the Star Chamber to approve a decree introducing censorship. Whitgift and the bishop of London were given total control over the licensing of printing presses and the approval of all printed works (Ruoff 270).

The protesters were driven underground and responded angrily with even more scurrilous and openly seditious pamphlets issued from nomadic pirate presses operating outside the law. In October 1588, the first of a series of seven satirical pamphlets was published. Their targets were the prelates of the Church of England—and they appeared under the name of one “Martin Marprelate.”  They have been described as “among the liveliest prose satires to appear in the sixteenth century” (Ruoff 270).                

The bishops paid a team of writers to respond in kind. Thus was born the “Martin Marprelate Controversy”; “Martinists” and “Anti-Martinists” exchanged shot-for-shot in print (Ruoff 270-72). The last Martin Marprelate pamphlet was published in September 1589, but the furor was slow to die down. There were arrests. One supposed Martinist ringleader was hanged;  another probably died in prison. Conflict continued within the Church and the rights and wrongs of censorship remained live issues. Queen Elizabeth’s Star Chamber decree of 1586 was renewed by King James I in 1622. During the 1640s, the name of Martin was revived and anti-clerical pamphlets were printed in the name of “Young Martin Mar-priest” (Ruoff 272).                

William of Newburgh’s Historia rerum Anglicarum (History of English Affairs), containing his account of the Green Children, was in Godwin’s time only accessible to readers of Latin. Those who knew William Camden’s Britannia in Philemon Holland’s 1610 English translation could have read, in Camden’s summary of the medieval story, that the Green Children came “out of another world from the Antipodes and Saint Martins land,” but would have found no hint of a particular reverence for Martin (Camden 463-64; Clark 211). Like Camden’s Britannia, Godwin’s own Nuncius Inanimatus (1629) was written in Latin and aimed at an international academic readership; The Man in the Moone, on the other hand, appeared in the vernacular as a traveler’s tale, apparently intended for the popular market. Most of his readers would not have read William of Newburgh and would not have heard of the Green Children of Woolpit. To most readers, Godwin’s citation of “one Chapter of Guil. Neubrigensis, de reb. Angl.” (Godwin 106) would be neither more nor less significant than the adjacent citations of two obscure Spanish authors, Inigo Mondejar and Joseph Desia Carana.2 On the other hand, they could hardly fail to have heard of Martin Marprelate and the controversy between Martinists and Anti-Martinists. Although there can be little doubt that the Green Children’s St. Martin’s Land was the original inspiration of Godwin’s lunar cult of Martin (and the reference would have been evident to a few more erudite readers), he must have been aware how the name might be interpreted by his contemporaries.                

In what sense, then, were Godwin’s Lunars “Martinists”? What comparisons, if any, does Godwin intend us to draw with the pamphleteers of 1588-89?                

There is no doubt that the people of the moon are sympathetic to Christianity—and to Protestantism at that. When he first meets a group of lunar inhabitants, Gonsales exclaims, “Jesus Maria” (Godwin 72-73). The Lunars treat the name of Jesus with reverence—but it seems that they do not recognize the name Maria. Later, at the Lunar court, Gonsales tries to establish communications (82-83). The Lunars bow down at mention of “Dominus Noster Jesus Christus” but their reverential response, already noted, to the name of Martin is something unique. To mentions of “Maria Salvatoris Genetrix, Petrus & Paulus” and other saints, they show no reaction. The Roman Catholic veneration of the Virgin Mary and of the saints was of course anathema to Protestants, and to Puritans in particular; and the Lunars’ total lack of reverence for these names would seem to establish their bona fides as Protestants, even Puritans.                

Godwin gives us little hint as to how the Lunars know of Christ. Gonsales learns that the first ancestor of their supreme ruler Irdonozur originally came from Earth (“by what meanes they declare not”) 3077 years ago (Godwin 76). They maintain contact with Earth, dispatching their unwanted children there and taking Earth children in exchange (104-106).3 And they are apparently aware of current Earthly affairs, as evidenced by Pylonas’s knowledge of Queen Elizabeth and his commission to Gonsales to carry a message to her (112-13).                

We learn little of the Lunars’ religious beliefs. They are monotheists in their worship of “Martin” and they revere the name of Jesus, but they are clearly not communicant members of the Church of England or any other Christian Church. There is some form of central religious authority—one Imozes, 2600 years of age, “commandeth in all things (throughout the whole Globe of the Moone) concerning matters of Religion, and the service of God, as absolutely as our holy Father the Pope doth in any part of Italy” (Godwin 91).                

Lunar life is in many ways Utopian. There is perpetual spring; food grows without labor and clothing and shelter are provided for all; there is no crime or sickness, no lawyers or physicians; husbands and wives remain faithful (102-109). There is a strict social hierarchy based upon stature and length of life, in which those of merely Earthly height and lifespan form the lowest and debased caste (78). Only the presence of delinquent children who must be exiled to Earth spoils this somewhat authoritarian paradise.   

But Godwin does not set out, like Thomas More, to design an ideal state. We should not be surprised by inconsistencies in his vision of Lunar society. The Lunars’ worship of “Martin” need not reflect Godwin’s attitude to “Martin Marprelate.” Godwin was himself a bishop of the Church of England. Some of his actions as Bishop of Hereford—appointing his son to a high church office, being lax in undertaking his diocesan duties, failing to arrest two Roman Catholic priests (Woolf)—would not have endeared him to the Martinists. His most important published work was a historic Catalogue of the Bishops of England (1601), which attempted to restore the reputations of past bishops, particularly those of pre-Reformation times, who had suffered at the hands of harsher Protestant authors such as John Foxe. He would hardly have aligned himself with the anti-clerical views of the original Martinists.                

Yet the Martin Marprelate controversy had been sparked off not by anti-Church sentiments but by the imposition of censorship by the Church and State. And a number of commentators have suggested that this was a subject about which Godwin had strong feelings. In the introduction to his 1937 edition of The Man in the Moone, Grant McColley notes what he calls “Godwin’s resentment against the increasing strictures of censorship” (xiii). McColley sees in the concern expressed by “Gonsales” (Godwin 12) lest publication of his report “may not prove prejudiciall to the affaires of the Catholique faith and Religion” an oblique reference to the renewal by James I, in 1622, of Elizabeth’s Star Chamber decree imposing censorship. Anke Janssen concludes that in The Man in the Moone Godwin shows himself to be “acquainted with all the major problems of his time, including those of censorship and publication” (241).                

The Man in the Moone first appeared pseudonymously, attributed only to Domingo Gonsales; and in 1629 Godwin’s strange treatise Nuncius Inanimatus, recommending new (and unexplained) methods for the transmission of messages, was printed “in Utopia”—at least according to its title page—thus expressly avoiding the censorship of the English press.               

The Man in the Moone was published after Godwin’s death. We do not know whether he would have countenanced its publication during his lifetime, nor his anticipated readership. We cannot be certain how he supposed his putative readers might interpret his Lunarian “Martinists.” We may readily accept that he intended his “Martin” to be ambiguous—for Latinate academic readers to recognize the further allusion to William of Newburgh’s Green Children, for others to assume (and be puzzled by) a reference to the Elizabethan pamphleteers.                

Today we take it for granted that writers of science fiction will use their work to comment on current issues; part of the joy of reading science fiction lies in the recognition and interpretation of such allusions. Anke Janssen writes that Godwin’s The Man in the Moone “presents a profound discussion of the problems of philosophy, natural science and religion then current” (241). In this, Francis Godwin’s “essay of Fancy” is as truly science fictional as its extraterrestrial setting. —John Clark, Museum of London

                1. In view of his prominence in literary history and in studies of England in the Elizabethan period, I should perhaps have been more aware of this Martin; however, he also seems to have escaped the notice of the chief commentators on Godwin’s work (cited in Clark 224, note 6).
                2. Lawton (39) confessed himself unable to identify these authors and surmised they or their works might be fictitious. The first is presumably Iñigo López de Mendoza, Marquis de Mondéjar, governor of Granada, who led an army against Moorish rebels in Granada in 1569 and wrote an account of the campaign justifying his actions to King Philip II (published by Morel-Fatio), but did not it seems write a “description of Nueva Granata” cited by Godwin.
                3. Again Godwin/Gonsales admits he does not know how this is done: “I know not by what meanes” (105). However, since he comments that, instead of landing the children in America as intended, “sometimes they mistake their aime” and land them elsewhere in the world, we should perhaps envisage not a navigable space craft but a simple “point and shoot” vehicle, or even some form of transporter beam.

Camden, William. Britain, or a Chorographicall Description of the Most Flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the Islands Adjoyning, Out of the Depth of Antiquitie. Trans. Philemon Holland. London: George Bishop and John Norton, 1610.
Clark, John. “‘Small, Vulnerable ETs’: The Green Children of Woolpit.” SFS 33.2 (July 2006): 209-29.
[Godwin, Francis]. The Man in the Moone: or a Discovrse of a Voyage Thither, by Domingo Gonsales. London: John Norton, 1638; facsimile Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum; New York: Da Capo Press, 1972.
─────. The Man in the Moone and Nuncius Inanimatus. Ed. Grant McColley. Smith College Studies in Modern Languages 19.1. Northampton, MA: Smith College, 1937.
Janssen, Anke. Francis Godwin’s “The Man in the Moone”: Die Entdeckung des Romans als Medium der Auseinandersetzung mit Zeitproblemen. Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 1981.
Lawton, H.W. “Bishop Godwin’s Man in the Moon.” Review of English Studies 7 (1931): 23-55.
McColley, Grant. “The Date of Godwin’s Domingo Gonsales.” Modern Philology 35.2 (1937): 47-60.
Morel-Fatio, A., ed. L’Espagne au XVIe et au XVIIe siècle, documents historiques et littéraires. Heilbronn: Henninger, 1878.
Philmus, Robert M. “Murder Most Fowl: Butler’s Edition of Francis Godwin.” SFS 23.2 (July 1996): 260-69.
Ruoff, James E. Macmillan’s Handbook of Elizabethan and Stuart Literature. London: Macmillan, 1975.
William of Newburgh. The History of English Affairs, Book I. Ed. and trans. P.G. Walsh and M.J. Kennedy. Warminster: Aris and Phillips, 1988.
Woolf, D.R. “Godwin, Francis (1562-1633).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004. 8 July 2006 <>.

Roundtable on SF Criticism When your request first came for critiques of the thirty years of SFS and predictions for the future of sf criticism, I doubted if I had anything to say, since theoretical criticism is not my primary interest. But Rob Latham reassured me that the request was not intended to be severely delimiting. After that I just forgot about it. (Editors should always have a tickler file for absent-minded or put-it-off people like me.)                

I would agree with Brian Aldiss that the quality of writing has improved over the past thirty years. A recent succession of good editors has brought SFS up to the standard of the general MLA group. Clarity is greater (with occasional exceptions), and we don’t have to slog through doctrinaire expositions that say the obvious in obscure ways. But jargon is still a problem, and even more so is long-windedness. This seems to be an occupational malady, twenty pages to say what could have been said better in four or five. Thus, the little summaries at the end of papers are pleasing.                

One welcome development is the disappearance of the reductionist scholar, who could pontificate about all sf after having read two or three books. The men and women who write about science fiction now know something about sf, its chaotic composition, and its history or histories.                

What will the future hold? In one respect, I would guess, much the same as the past. As each new critical scheme arises in the outside world, sf critics will rush to squeeze sf into it. Sometimes a good fit, sometimes Procrustean.                

Oddly enough, none of your responses mentions the possible effects of electronic publishing, which, as I see it, has both good and bad sides. On the good side, much is immediately available whose existence might not even have been guessed at. Communication is also speeded up. On the bad side, while there is more information, it is becoming more and more difficult to access. Periodicals and collections are often offered to libraries only as packages (archives), at very high prices beyond most individuals and smaller libraries. Publishers of such packages naturally will favor items that sell the best, thus (paralleling what has been happening in book publishing) forcing out more specialized vehicles. If small periodicals are still published as paper books rather than e-books, those libraries that have them are not likely to circulate them as interlibrary loans. As a possible trend: Cornell has announced a plan to put 200,000 books on network resource. Under land grant, I would have been able to use the paper books; as network, probably not. Balancing out: my foreboding is that the e-world (fee-world) is going to hamper all aspects of sf scholarship, historical or critical.—Everett Bleiler

The Present World in Other Terms. I learned a good deal from Neil Easterbrook’s “Alternate Presents: The Ambivalent Historicism of Pattern Recognition” (SFS 33.3 [November 2006]: 483-504). I was particularly intrigued by the broad conclusion of his analysis, which has, I believe, some bearing on my “apocalyptic” approach to sf. Although all fictional discourse “necessarily forms an ‘alternative present’ of the readerly now” (504), it is worthwhile to attempt to distinguish the genre-specific ways in which sf does this.                

That was the essence of my project in New Worlds for Old (1974). I distinguish between “visionary” other worlds out of space and time (that is, spiritual, supernatural, transcendent, and some virtual para-worlds); other worlds (often satiric) in space and time (including most virtual/cyberspace para-worlds); and, in the concluding and longest section of my book, the present world in other terms (terms involving new conceptions of humanity, new conceptions of reality, and/or the presence of an outside manipulator). It is important to understand that the last section, concerned with the notion of a “philosophical apocalypse,” subsumes the two previous sections. To “know” of a visionary reality or visionary realities, or to “know” of “future” material worlds, is necessarily to know the present world differently. The present is as much changed and rendered immutably plastic by interpretations or reinterpretations of the future (including the notion of a future blocked by some apocalyptic “singularity”) as of the past.  

Context, spatial, temporal, or other, whether “known,” unknown, or simply believed, is all. In the light of Easterbrook’s essay, the “philosophical apocalypses” brought about by these contexts might be understood as the (or some of the) alternative present worlds that are specific to sf. Gibson’s Pattern Recognition would seem to be an original way of making this point in a liminal present world/alternate world (sf) novel.                

It may follow from all this that the alternate world/alternate history subgenre of sf, a subgenre first associated with sf set in the past but, as it developed, incorporating present-day and future settings, should assume, in an expanded sense, a new centrality in our understanding of the genre.                

Sf works set in the future are often said to become alternate histories when the dates in which they are set are overtaken by reality. But if we take the view that an sf work constitutes an alternate history because it is a work of fiction, there is no date after which it suddenly becomes an alternate history. There is only a date, or series of dates, after which it becomes more obviously so.  Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey did not become an alternate history in 2001 (or the preceding year or so); it was ever thus. That is to say, 2001 was an alternate historical world in 1968, the year it was published—an historical other world that led to Clarke’s 2001. The same applies to the film.                

Sf works are always already a species of alternate history. The alternate history sf subgenre dramatizes in an extreme way the reality of all fiction. It might be defined as a thematization of a fact about fiction. James Gunn’s title for his 1975 history of sf—Alternate Worlds—would seem to be a happy choice.—David Ketterer, University of Liverpool

On Hard SF (Bickerstaff and Partridge). I wrote the entry on “Hard Science Fiction” in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy (2005) edited by Gary Westfahl. The short piece got past his edits and whatever further vetting he used for the volumes, but then the review here (SFS 33.2 [July 2006]: 332-36) singled it out for execution. Your reviewer kindly does not name me, but I write now to come out as the confused author of the piece and to take this nice opportunity to try again for clarity because the ideas are vital to me and, I think, to the genre.                

The issues have to do with the origins of new things in writing and in nature and go back, at least, to speculative thinking embedded in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. The science that particle physicists, Darwinians, and cosmologists work on is one approach to this question of newness. The literary urge to produce what we have come to label hard sf seems to me another approach and, like much writing, more akin to preserving generic type, more in the conservative mode of imitation. I develop these ideas more fully in my essay “The Renewal of ‘Hard’ Science Fiction” in A Companion to Science Fiction, edited by David Seed(London: Blackwell, 2005). So I thank you and your reviewer for this chance to respond to his hasty misread of my ideas and want to assure you that I will offer no more invective lest your reviewer have to take up again the heavy task, which he was barely able to manage the first time, of burying me again.—Donald M. Hassler, Kent State University 

Who Killed Science Fiction? The 1961 Hugo Award-winning fanzine, Who Killed Science Fiction?, has recently been posted online in its entirety on the website. Edited by Earl Kemp, the zine was a one-shot symposium featuring around six dozen contributions by major sf authors (Asimov, Heinlein, Leiber, etc.), editors (Campbell, Carnell, Gold, etc.), fans (Robert Coulson, Bob Tucker, etc.), and some scholars (J.O. Bailey, Basil Davenport) addressing the general topic “Is magazine science fiction dead?” According to Kemp’s prefatory tabulation, 11 respondents answered “yes” while 55 said “no,” though a large portion of the latter pessimistically indicated that “the death struggle was already in sight.” The magazine boom of the early-to-mid-1950s had, by the end of the decade, collapsed, leaving only a handful of titles controlled by a small cohort of editors; the pulp era had definitively ended (the last dinosaur to perish was Science Fiction Quarterly in 1958) and the era of the digest magazine seemed also to be palpably waning.                

Interestingly, 24 contributors, in response to a corollary question, affirmed that the growing paperback market could potentially be seen as “a point of salvation” for the field, while 16 said it could not (as Poul Anderson comments: “By and large, book editors are guilty of the same sins as magazine editors, plus some of their very own”). Who Killed Science Fiction? offers a fascinating window onto this important moment in the history of the genre, effectively capturing a widespread sense of malaise and ossification that would help pave the way for the New Wave later in the decade. The zine was originally published in a very small print run of 125 pre-assigned copies, so we can be grateful that has now made it more widely accessible to fans and scholars interested in the evolution of modern sf.                

The online publication includes a 1980 update, with about a dozen contributors, plus some recent musings and contextualizations by Kemp; it is available at <>. Now if only eFanzines—or some other enterprising website—will undertake to post the equally valuable and monumental symposium published in the fanzine Double:Bill during 1963-64, which was even more wide-ranging in its coverage of the field.—RL

The Transmigration of Philip K. Dick. In June 2007, the Library of America will reprint a group of novels by Philip K. Dick as Four Novels of the 1960s. The group selected for reprinting includes The Man in the High Castle (encountered by most readers in 1962 as a mass-market paperback by Berkley), The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (issued in hardcover by Doubleday in 1965), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (encountered by most readers in 1968 as a Signet paperback), and Ubik (whose popular Dell paperback incarnation appeared in 1969). The selection of Dick amounts to provisional literary canonization: the Library of America’s website describes its project as offering “America’s best and most significant writing in durable and authoritative editions.” Jonathan Lethem is editor for the Dick volume. —CM

Utopian Studies Conference. The eighth Utopian Studies Society conference will meet at the University of Plymouth, UK, from July 12-14, 2007. The society’s aim is to encourage the diverse work currently taking place on the subject of utopianism. Members include people researching literature, philosophy, sociology, history, architecture, politics, and anthropology. The group was established in 1998 by a group of British scholars, following an international conference on utopianism at New Lanark. See <www.>. The deadline for registration at a standard fee is May 28, 2007. Inquiries on academic matters should be sent to: <mfmiles@>. On logistics and other practical matters send inquiries to: <smatheron@>.—Laurence Davis

Corrected ICFA28 Information. The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts will be meeting at the Wyndham Fort Lauderdale Airport Hotel from March 14-18. This year, the Guest of Honor is Geoff Ryman; the Guest Scholar is Jane Donawerth. The Special Guest Writer is Melissa Scott. As in years past, Brian Aldiss will attend as Permanent Special Guest. The theme is “Representing Self and Other: Gender and Sexuality in the Fantastic.” For further information, see <>.—CM

CFP: Canadian SF. The 2007 Academic Conference on Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy will be held Saturday, June 9, 2007, in Toronto, Ontario, at the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy. We invite proposals for papers in any area of Canadian science fiction and fantasy. For studies of the audio-visual media, preference will be given to discussions of works produced in Canada or involving substantial Canadian creative contributions. Papers should be no more than 20 minutes long and geared toward a general as well as academic audience. Please submit proposals (max. 2 pages) to Dr. Allan Weiss, Department of English, York University, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, ON M3J 1P3. The deadline is March 15, 2007.

CFP: Special SFS issue on The New Wave. By contrast with the 1940s Golden Age or cyberpunk in the 1980s, scholarly work on the 1960s New Wave, one of the most significant moments in the history of the genre, has been surprisingly sparse: aside from Colin Greenland’s 1983 The Entropy Exhibition and a handful of scattered articles and book chapters, the movement has received little sustained attention from sf critics. As a result, conventional wisdom on the New Wave has hardly shifted in decades, basically amounting to a series of critical-historical truisms that cry out for further inquiry and examination. Was the New Wave a radical rupture with previous historical forms of sf, or did it continue a trend of stylish extrapolation inaugurated by the new magazine markets of the 1950s? What were the precise connections between key New Wave themes—e.g., “inner space”—and the advent of the various countercultures of the period? How enduring were the transformations, aesthetic and political, wrought by the movement’s major authors?                

This special issue of SFS proposes to address these questions, along with other important theoretical and historical ramifications of the New Wave movement. It also seeks to expand the familiar canon of 1960s authors (e.g., Ballard, Dick, Ellison, Delany, Le Guin, etc.) who have received the lion’s share of critical study to include significant neglected figures whose work helped define the parameters of 1960s sf (e.g., Lafferty, Malzberg, Spinrad, Wilhelm, Zelazny, etc.). And it encourages broad-based cultural studies of the New Wave that connect the movement with trends in the contemporary arts and popular culture.                

Please send 500-word abstracts by June 1, 2007, to Rob Latham at <>. —RL

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