“Le Livre des prefaces”, essential by Gérard Klein in science fiction – Sciences et Avenir

This is not a science fiction story. The ad, the warning? – is the author’s own, so it cannot be taken lightly. In fact, this Book of Prefaces was not conceived and constructed in this way. It brings together, for the first time, all the prefaces written by Gérard Klein for science fiction novels. Indeed, the writer has worked for a long time as head of literary collections, particularly in “Ailleurs et Demain” for Robert Laffont, or the one dedicated to science fiction to the paperback. It is in this context that he writes these introductory texts, brought together for the first time in this imposing collection.

Science fiction thrives in America on the “pulp”

So this is not a science fiction story, but let’s admit that exploring the genealogy of science fiction is exhilarating in this book whose rich scholarship is never overwhelming. Which goes back even to the appearance of the expression “science fiction”. This type of literature was brought to the United States by these unique pulp vectors, popular and economic magazines, whose first representative was Argosy in 1882.

Two years later a certain Hugo Gernsback was born in Luxembourg and emigrated to the other side of the Atlantic in 1904. His role in the development of the genre is relatively anecdotal, but it is interesting to discover in the Book of Prologues that he is the inventor of the expression ” Science fiction”. This engineer by training and man of the press created the popular science magazine Modern Electrics around 1910, which little by little opened its pages to stories, giving free rein to the imagination. Gernsback is a fertile mind who published his own novel Ralph 124C 41+ in 1911: “Almost illegible today, says Gérard Klein, this novel abounds with technological predictions that have come true thereafter, from radar to solar power passing for the reign of plastic “.

From “science fiction” to “science fiction”

Hugo Gernsback finally decides to create a magazine entirely dedicated to what is not yet called science fiction. It’s Amazing stories, the first issue of which was published in April 1926. This magazine became the ambassador for the first neologism to designate the genre: “The subtitle ‘The magazine of science’ only appears on page 3 of the editorial of Gernsback, Klein notes. ” . Amazing stories is sold after the bankruptcy of Gernsback in 1929 which loses the use of the (ugly) word scientification. “The professional journalist, Grensback was not discouraged and in 1929 he launched no less than three magazines under the title of Wonder Stories, summarizes Gérard Klein. It is in the editorial of the first issue of Science Wonder Stories where he uses the term science fiction, which can no longer be contested but does not belong to him either since it is made up of two common words. “

“Le Livre des prefaces” by Gérard Klein, ed. The pocket book. 1240 pages; 21.90 euros.

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