8. Science Fiction/Fantasy

A voyage to the moon : with some account of the solar world : a comical romance

Cyrano de Bergerac 1619–1655

A Voyage to the Moon: With some account of the solar world: A comical romance

Dublin: Printed by R James, 1754

Translated by Samuel Derrick


English readers have a false impression of Cyrano de Bergerac due to Edmund Rostand’s play of 1897; he did, however, have a rather large nose. Cyrano was a 17th-century satirist who was critical of religion and politics. This novel was first published in French as Histoire Eomique des ´Etats et Empires du Soleil in 1662. It is a satirical attack on cosmological beliefs that viewed man and the world as the centre of creation.




The first men in the moon

HG Wells 1866–1946

The First Men in the Moon

London: George Newnes, 1901


HG Wells’ ‘fantastic stories’ were highly influential on many writers of science fiction. In this story the science is highly suspect, whereas other writers of science fiction pride themselves on their references to true science. Wells recounts travel to the moon without a ship and describes the moon as being inhabited by a colony of advanced insect-like creatures.




Amazing stories.


Amazing Stories, May 1926

New York: Experimenter Pub. Co., 1926


Amazing Stories began in April 1926. It was the first of many science fiction magazines and is considered by many to mark the true start of science fiction as a genre. Its early issues reprinted stories by established authors rather than featuring new and original fiction. Stories by HG Wells, Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe appear in this issue.







Have space suit - will travel

Robert A Heinlein 1907–1988

Have Space Suit - Will Travel

London: Gollancz, 1970

Robert Heinlein was one of the first science fiction writers to break into the mainstream. He was an author of ‘hard science fiction’, in which scientific plausibility is key. Stories of journeys to the moon and into space appeared well before the 20th century, but these were not couched in the realism presented here. This copy belonged to Irene Booth, the sister of Ada Booth whose Slavic collection has come to Monash University Library





Die traumenden Knaben

Oskar Kokoschka 1886–1980

Die traumenden Knaben

Vienna: Wiener Werkstätte, 1908


This is the first of Oskar Kokoschka’s many books. It was commissioned as a children’s book but Kokoschka developed it into a dream narrative and a journey through sexual awakening. His illustrations of a world of forests and oceans are depicted in his signature expressionist style. The publisher stopped production of the book, so the first edition shown here is quite rare. The book is dedicated to his friend and fellow artist Gustav Klimt. It was reprinted in 1918




The hobbit ; or There and back again

JRR Tolkien 1892–1973

The Hobbit: Or there and back again

London: Allen & Unwin, 1966 (3rd ed.)

The Hobbit, first published in 1937, grew out of Tolkien’s philological studies. Before the story formed he had developed an entire language for elves. He then created a mythology and storyline to frame the language within. The Hobbit is a fantastic journey through ‘Middle Earth’. Tolkien and CS Lewis, along with other Oxford professors and students, belonged to the Inklings, a reading group where members encouraged each other’s fantasy fiction endeavours.




The lion, the witch and the wardrobe : a story for children

CS Lewis 1898-1963

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: A story for children

London: Geoffrey Bles, 1950

Illustrated by Pauline Baynes


This is the first of seven books in CS Lewis’s Narnia series. It can be read as either a fantasy adventure for children or a Christian allegory. In both cases, the motif of the journey as a vehicle for self-discovery lies at the centre of the book. When it was released in 1950, fantasy literature for children was considered corruptive and akin to comic books and pulp fiction. Lewis’s publisher asked him to consider the risk to his reputation, however the book proved to be immensely popular. Pauline Baynes was also the illustrator for the works of Tolkien and Richard Adams’ Watership Down.