Firestone Books is a brand new publishing company, seeking to bring readers the very best fiction from classic to contemporary authors. For the first few months we will publish a selection of eBooks, before making titles available as paperbacks.
Our first series of books is a collection of the earliest science fiction tales ever written, with stories of robots, extraterrestrials, time-travel and trips to the moon, dating back over two thousand years. Why not click on the links to find out more?
Many people could be forgiven for thinking that concepts such as voyages into space, time travel, robots and extraterrestrials started in the nineteenth century with the works of Jules Verne, HG Wells and other science fiction pioneers. In truth, however, these ideas have far earlier origins, dating back a thousand years and more.
For the purpose of this first volume we have started with Cicero’s Dream of Scipio, written around 51BC, and our collection ends with Francis Godwin’s The Man in the Moone, first published in 1638.Contents
The Dream of Scipio by Cicero
Icaro-Menippus by Lucian of Samosata
True History (excerpt) by Lucian of Samosata
Urashima Taro – Traditional,
The Ebony Horse – Traditional
The City of Brass – Traditional
The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter – Traditional
The Man in the Moone by Francis Godwin
The earliest science fiction tales flickered into existence some two thousand years ago, with Greek and Roman works like Cicero’s Dream of Scipio, and Lucian’s True History. But such speculative tales were not to last, in Europe at least, and disappeared along with the Greek and Roman cultures that had borne them.
Science fiction returned in the early seventeenth century with the rise of modern science. Writers who wished to create believable fantasy stopped filling their tales with magic, and instead turned to speculative technology, the basis of much science fiction to this day.
In this collection we have the earliest tale of extraterrestrials from beyond our solar system (Micromegas by Voltaire), as well as an early apocalyptic tale (The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion by Edgar Allan Poe), and perhaps most interestingly of all, the idea of parallel worlds (The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish).Contents
Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon (excerpt) by Cyrano de Bergerac
The Blazing World (excerpt) by Margaret Cavendish
Micromegas by Voltaire
The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall by Edgar Allan Poe
The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion by Edgar Allan Poe
The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Rappaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106B–43BC) was a Roman philosopher, statesman and lawyer who, after a power struggle with Mark Anthony, was declared an enemy of the state and consequently murdered in 43BC.
The Dream of Scipio was written circa 51BC, and is a fictional tale of General Scipio Aemilianus, a real person who lived 185BC–129BC. In the tale, Scipio dreams he is in space where he meets his dead ancestors, and views the Moon, Sun, stars and planets. He also sees how insignificant the Earth, the Roman Empire and human life are when compared with the majesty of the Universe. As to whether or not Scipio’s soul actually ascended into space, or if it was simply a dream, is never revealed.
Lucian of Samosata (125–c.180) was a Greek satirist of Syrian or Assyrian extraction, and True History is perhaps his most well-known book. In this tale, the protagonist visits the Moon, meets extraterrestrial creatures, and takes part in interplanetary warfare. This piece of fantastical fiction parodies many works such as Homer’s Odyssey, and is certainly a contender for the title of earliest science fiction story.
Lucian of Samosata (125–c.180) was a Greek satirist of Syrian or Assyrian extraction, and is perhaps best-known for his story A True History. Icaro-Menippus is a satirical play with Greek philosophers being the focus of Lucian’s ridicule. The play contains only two characters: Menippus, and an unnamed friend. Mennipus tells his companion how he used bird wings to fly into space, visiting the Moon and the Greek gods during his travels. Whether or not Mennipus’s story is true is left for the audience to decide.
Urashima Taro is perhaps the earliest time travel tale ever written. This story was written by an unknown Japanese author and dates from around the eighth century. It tells of a fisherman who saves a turtle from being tormented by children, and is rewarded with a trip beneath the sea to the palace of a dragon god. He stays for just three days, but when he returns to his homeland he finds himself transported three hundred years into the future.
The Ebony Horse was written by an unknown author, possibly of Persian origin circa 900AD, and the tale makes up part of Arabian Nights. The ebony horse of the title is a flying machine, upon which Prince Kamar, the story’s hero, has a series of adventures.
Rather than simply imbuing the horse with magic, the author used futuristic technology. In this novel story there are mechanisms within the horse, dials to control its flight and it partially inflates before taking off. The ebony horse could be seen not just as a flying machine but also as a very early portrayal of a robot.
The City of Brass was written by an unknown author, possibly of Persian origin circa 900AD, and the story makes up part of Arabian Nights. In this tale a group of travellers come upon a walled ghost town with no discernable entrance. When they are eventually able to enter the city, among their strange encounters, they come across automata and a mummified queen.
The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter was written by an unknown Japanese author around the tenth century AD. This beautiful tale, blending romance and science fiction, tells of a girl found as a baby amongst some bamboo. As she grows, she reveals that she is a Princess exiled from the Moon. Eventually her people come in their spacecraft to take her home. This is the earliest known story of extraterrestrials visiting the Earth.
Francis Bacon (1561–1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist and writer, whose works have had a profound influence across many spheres.
The New Atlantis was first published in Latin as Nova Atlantis in 1624, and published in English in 1627. This utopian tale tells of a ship’s crew who, after being blown off-course by violent winds, come across an uncharted island off South America. The travellers are amazed by the islanders’ advanced ways, not least their scientific culture, and their advanced technologies which include the submarine, telescope, microscope, long-distance communication, perpetual motion and flying machines.
Francis Godwin (1562–1633) was the Bishop of Llandaff, and The Man in the Moone was published posthumously in 1638.
In this fanciful tale, the narrator, Domingo Gonsales, tells how he used a flock of birds to take him to the Moon, where he discovers a utopian paradise.
This enjoyable, fantastical tale has influenced numerous books, including Cyrano de Bergerac’s 1657 novel The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon, and also Aphra Behn’s 1687 play The Emperor of the Moon. It is also mentioned in The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall by Edgar Allan Poe, which in turn is referenced in Jules Verne’s classic tale From the Earth to the Moon, so beginning a lineage of science fiction that has continued to this day.
François-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire (1694–1778) was a prolific French writer and philosopher.
Micromegas was first published in 1752 and is one of his best-known works. The story tells of two giant extraterrestrials who travel across the solar system, eventually reaching the Earth where they meet and enter into a discourse with philosophers. Micromegas is the earliest known story to talk of life on planets beyond our solar system.
We are currently accepting science fiction, fantasy, crime, mystery and horror fiction. We are not currently accepting individual short stories, picture-books, poetry or plays. We're happy to accept multiple submissions, reprints and simultaneous submissions, but please let us know if it a reprint or simultaneous submission.
We hope to reply within six weeks. If you haven't heard anything by this time, please feel free to query it with us by emailing email@example.com
Please leave approximately one inch/two centimetres around the margins, and ensure the lines are double or 1.5 line spaced. You may print on both sides of A4, to save on paper and postage.
If you're submitting a novel, it should be either the first three chapters, or first fifty pages (whichever is the shorter). If you're submitting a short story collection, you should send two or three short stories, totalling no more than 50 pages.
Please also send a synopsis, ideally two pages in length, mentioning the book's word count.
You should also send a cover letter, where we ask you to cast your modesty aside! Let us know if you've had stories published elsewhere, if you have your own website, if you've won literary competitions and so on. It could tip the balance in your favour.
David Lear (Submissions)
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Returning Submissions - If you want your manuscript back, please enclose a stamped addressed envelope.
Firestone Books is a brand new publishing company, seeking to bring readers the very best fiction from classic to contemporary authors. For the first few months we will publish a selection of eBooks, before making some of the titles available as paperbacks.
Our first series of tales is a collection of the earliest science fiction tales ever written, with stories of robots, extraterrestrials, time-travel and trips to the moon, dating back over two thousand years.