Who wrote the first science-fiction tale?


So many candidates! An article from the web site Brainpickings proposes the great innovator in astronomy and mathematics Johannes Kepler. He wrote his thought-experiment, Somnium, or The Dream, in 1608, but it wasn’t published until 1634, by his son, four years after his father’s death. The tale imagines a young astronomer traveling to the moon. Read it, and all about it, here.

Recently, readers of interesting fiction may have encountered Kepler through Riva Galchen’s amazing historical novel (2021), Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch. She based it on actual historical documents, but she brings this account of Kepler’s mother’s witch trial alive through imaginings by turns grim and hilarious, and through wonderful writing. The novel gives readers some great insights into the controversies and religious bigotry of the times. Kepler as well as his mother had to battle those toxic attitudes their entire lives.

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