When History and Science Fiction Collide
By Adam Frosh, author of Space Taxis
NB this blog contains a spoiler alert for Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock.
The literary world is full of cross genres. Historical crime, historical horror, romance fantasy, science fiction comedy to name but a few. Historical fiction is hugely popular, notwithstanding the interesting settings for which the stories are based, but also the learning opportunities to study history in a way that many would prefer to reading a formal textbook. It also gives, through sense of place, an opportunity to ‘exist’ within the world and almost feel that you are there within it.
So, why is the genre mix of science fiction history so comparatively rare? In the most part, this genre mix relates to stories of time travel. One piece of literature that influenced my journey into literature was the Nebula Award winning novella, Behold the Man, by Michael Moorcock.
In this story, Karl Glogauer, a time traveller from 1970, travels back in time to witness the story of Jesus as it unfolds. As he arrives in the Holy Land in AD 28, his time machine is broken, and he has no way of returning to his own time. Moorcock’s depiction of the Christ of Nazareth is very different to the accepted Christian version that Glogauer was expecting. The Christ in this world would have no chance of carrying out the accepted teachings the world was destined to see. Assisted by the accounts of his “magical” properties by the Essenes who witnessed his strange method of arrival, he finds himself stepping in to act out the historical version of Jesus.
Glogauer, a hugely flawed character with a Messiah complex, eventually displaces Jesus entirely and, through his own engineering, is eventually crucified on the cross.
On one level, this novella could be seen as an exercise in blasphemy. However, on further reflection, it is so much more than that. At every stage, it represents an allegorical concept. The insignificant Christ of the story is displaced by a tangible representation of the story. His discussion with his girlfriend, Monica regarding how the myth itself is less important than the impulse it creates. For Glogauer, the story is what is important to fuel people’s need for compassion, love and forgiveness. His solution was to displace symbolism with a form of fact.
The time travel itself is never discussed in detail but is merely a plot vehicle to establish a litany of allegorical themes that exist within the novella. In this way, science fiction can work at its best. It was never intended as a real explanation of the historical event.
I often think of Stanisław Lem’s masterpiece, Solaris, that questions the notions of identity and the self. That story is set in the future and blurs the boundaries of our notions of our uniqueness and the facsimiles that are ourselves. Science fiction set in the past, can often allow for an even richer form of allegorical study through the study of the human condition through events that have already taken place.
Harriet’s and my novel, Space Taxis, can, and should, be viewed as an allegorical tale that uses science fiction as a speculative vehicle to discuss Heinrich Himmler’s otherwise poorly explained actions towards the end of WW2. It has been carefully researched to include eyewitness and historically recognised accounts of the time. It is a moment to enjoy high adventure, real history, and an all too rare opportunity for allegorical thought provocation.
“A perfect blend of science fiction and alternate history”
He’s abducted by aliens to the planet Vost.
He’s saving up for his fare home.
But he’s got the small matter of a planetary apocalypse to deal with first…
In 1977 a New York Cab driver Mike Redolfo is abducted by aliens after being mistaken for a renegade scientist. Meanwhile, back in 1944 a mysterious man and his Jewish fiancée are fleeing across Nazi-occupied Europe.
Redolfo tries to keep a low profile on his new world whilst earning his fare home, but unwittingly gets involved with a shady gang of alien criminals, inadvertently bringing the planet to the brink of catastrophe.
As the link between the timelines becomes clear, Redolfo must discover secrets from the past that may hold the key to saving the planet.
If you like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5, and Frank Herbert’s Dune, you’ll love this gripping and entertaining sci-fi mystery thriller.
Adam wasted much of his youth watching Star Trek on the TV and films like Planet of the Apes and Alien on the big screen. He redeemed himself by becoming a surgeon but has since graduated from writing articles for science journals into writing his own Sci Fi and Alternate History stories. As a writer he is dedicated to giving his readers a great story laced with strong, fun and scary characters. Descended from Jewish refugees who escaped from the pogroms, he is haunted by the stories of the Holocaust but inspired by heroes who put themselves at risk to save others. Adam likes to hear from his readers. You can find him at http://adamfroshauthor.com or on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AdamFroshAuthor
Harriet will never be able to let go of Greek gods. No, not the sculpted Adonis-like figures on the beach, but the ancient ones.
Loving all things mythological, her writing incorporates myths and legends from around the world. Her other fascination is with the criminal mind, and you can expect to see a blend of these two interests in her writing.
As a student of English, she spends her day critiquing literature and her evenings creating exciting characters and fun stories.
Harriet is also an artist, and she would like to hear from her readers and those interested in her art. You can get in contact at http://harrietfrosh.com/
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