STORIES OF INFINITY: LUMEN -- HISTORY OF A COMET -- IN INFINITY ... Translated from the French by S. R. Crocker. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1873. 12mo, pp. [i-ii] iii-iv 5-287 [288: blank], flyleaves at front and rear, original green cloth, front and spine panels stamped in gold and blind, brown coated endpapers. First edition in English. LUMEN first appeared in French as RECITS DE L'INFINI in 1873; an enlarged edition followed in 1887 as LUMEN. The revised text of LUMEN was translated into English and published in New York in 1892 by Cassell (apparently an unauthorized edition) and in London in 1897 by Heinemann (apparently an authorized edition with further revisions by Flammarion). The earlier Roberts Brothers text follows Flammarion's original 1873 text. LUMEN is a story, in a series of dialogues, "of a being who has undergone a number of incarnations on other worlds, including planets round Capella, Gamma Virgo, Sirius and in the constellation Orion." - Locke, A Spectrum of Fantasy, p. 84. LUMEN is "perhaps the single most innovative work in the entire literature of the scientific imagination. It is the first work to offer any real idea of the scale of the universe; the first to investigate the implications of the finite speed of light (and thus to toy with the notion of the relativity of space and time); and the first to examine the implications of evolutionary theory in the modeling of alien life-systems. In all these endeavors it was ahead of its time ... It is in Flammarion's work that we find the fountainhead of the mythology of alien beings ... Flammarion originated the mode of thought which is effective in modern science fiction's dealings with the category alien. LUMEN's affinity with modern science fiction goes further than this, because it is a work expressly directed to the cultivation of the sense of wonder (in whose cultivation, according to many readers, the prime virtue of modern science fiction lies)." - Survey of Science Fiction Literature III, pp. 1294-98. The two other stories, "History of a Comet" and "In Infinity," the first a panoramic history of the solar system narrated by a passing comet, the second a spirit description of the universe, do not appear to have been reprinted in English after their initial appearance here. Anatomy of Wonder (2004) II-406. Bleiler, The Guide to Supernatural Fiction 638. Bleiler, Science-Fiction: The Early Years 638. Locke, Voyages in Space 73. Suvin, Victorian Science Fiction in the UK, p. 67. Reginald 05460. Small private owner's book label affixed to front paste-down and his name, address and date 25 February 1878 on verso of front flyleaf. Underlining and interesting marginalia by the owner, a student or professor at Urbana University, penciled throughout the text. Slight spine lean, corner tips rubbed, a bright, tight, very good copy. An interesting copy of an uncommon book. (#89835).
No statement of printing.