Mark Twain

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Mark Twain

Postby Lazyman on Wednesday, 03 June 2009, 11:50 pm

A little question. Would A Conneticut Yankee in King Artur's Court be considered fantasy (or spec fic, what have you)?

Admittedly, I am A Twain junky and won't apologize for it, so I am heavily biased. I love that book and as such can't judge it objectively. It will still be a favorite no matter its standing in any eyes, but I am always curious to others opinions. Unless you disagree! No, that's not true; I promise to leave my guns holstered.

Fire away. If you like.
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Re: Mark Twain

Postby DavidTate on Friday, 05 June 2009, 4:47 pm

Good point. Twain wrote 3 shelf-feet of fiction (in my mother's leather-bound "Complete Works" edition), and a surprising amount of it is fiction that would be labelled SF&F if it were written today.

A Connecticut Yankee... is probably the most widely-read, but The Mysterious Stranger is a much more serious and thought-provoking work. The "Letters from the Earth" would also count, along with "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven", "Eve's DIary", and "Extracts from Adam's Diary".
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Re: Mark Twain

Postby thepaladin on Wednesday, 10 June 2009, 4:38 pm

It might be on the edge as it's labled as a bio, but his Joan of Arc might be close to in some ways.....
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Re: Mark Twain

Postby owlcroft on Friday, 11 September 2009, 3:59 am

I have now added Twain, and all the titles listed in this thread, to the "Other Candidates" possibles page.

(I also added Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle", though not the silly Horseman.)
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Re: Mark Twain

Postby DavidTate on Thursday, 14 April 2011, 6:54 pm

owlcroft wrote:I have now added Twain, and all the titles listed in this thread, to the "Other Candidates" possibles page.


Here's another title for you: "Sold to Satan". This one not only has the standard fantasy trope of selling your soul to the Devil, it also has actual science fictional features (such as Satan burning because he is made entirely of radium, but mortals near him are protected by his polonium skin). Twain was apparently caught up in the furor over the discovery of radioactivity and the associated new elements, and made it a major plot feature of this story.

I've found a reference to a critical essay on Twain's science fiction stories, but I can only see the full article at work. I'll try to remember to look up a more definitive list and post it.
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Re: Mark Twain

Postby DavidTate on Friday, 15 April 2011, 12:56 pm

Further investigation suggests that there is some disagreement about just how many of the stories in the collection Tales of Wonder (original title The Science Fiction of Mark Twain), compiled by David Ketterer, are really "science fiction". All of them are speculative fiction, some of them clearly intended only as parody.

Aha -- here is a table of contents:

The Science Fiction of Mark Twain
Mark Twain
(Shoe String/Archon 0-208-02036-5, Oct ’84 [Dec ’84], $27.50, xxxiii + 305pp, hc)
Collection edited by David Ketterer, with introduction and bibliography.
ix · Texts and Acknowledgments · David Ketterer · bi
xiii · Introduction · David Ketterer · in
3 · Petrified Man · vi The Virginia City Territorial Enterprise Oct 4, 1862
4 · Earthquake Almanac · vi The San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle Oct 17, 1865
6 · A Curious Pleasure Excursion · ss New York Herald Tribune Jul 6, 1874
10 · The Curious Republic of Gondour [as by Anon.] · ss Atlantic Monthly Oct, 1875
14 · Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven [“Extracts from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven”] · nv Harper’s Dec ’07-Jan ’08; Most complete version, this copy text from part 1:, Mark Twain’s Quarrel With Heaven, College & University Press, 1970
61 · The Loves of Alonzo Fitz Clarence and Rosannah Ethelton · ss Atlantic Monthly Mar, 1878
77 · Time Travel Contexts from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court · ex Charles L. Webster & Company Dec 10, 1889
96 · Mental Telegraphy · ss Harper’s Dec, 1891
112 · Mental Telegraphy Again · ss Harper’s Sep, 1895
117 · My Platonic Sweetheart [originally entitled “The Lost Sweetheart”, written Jul-Aug 1898] · ss Harper’s Dec ’12
127 · From the “London Times” of 1904 · ss The Century Nov, 1898
139 · “The Great Dark” [written Aug-Sep 1898] · nv Letters from the Earth, Harper & Row, 1962
176 · The Secret History of Eddypus, the World-Empire [written Feb-Mar 1901 and Feb-Mar 1902] · nv Mark Twain’s Fables of Man, Univ. California Press, 1972
226 · Sold to Satan [written Jan 1904] · ss Europe and Elsewhere, Harper Bros., 1923
233 · 3,000 Years Among the Microbes [written May-Jun 1905] · na Mark Twain’s Which Was the Dream?, Univ. California Press, 1967
327 · “The Mysterious Balloonist” [written July 1868] · uw Mark Twain’s Notebook, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1935; Full version and this copy text:, Mark Twain’s Notebooks & Journals v1 ’75
331 · Synopsis of “A Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage” [written in 1876] · ex New York: Manuscript House, 1945
334 · “The Generation Iceberg” [written in 1884] · uw Mark Twain’s Notebook, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1935; This copy text:, Mark Twain’s Notebooks & Journals v3 ’79
335 · Shackleford’s Ghost [probably written in 1897 or 1898] · ss *
338 · “History 1,000 Years from Now” [probably written Jan 1901] · ss Mark Twain’s Fables of Man, Univ. California Press, 1972
341 · Explanatory Notes · David Ketterer · ms
381 · Selected Bibliography · David Ketterer · bi

It was the clear intent of the editor that these be works of science fiction, as opposed to fantasy or any other flavor of speculative fiction.
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Re: Mark Twain

Postby owlcroft on Friday, 15 April 2011, 4:16 pm

Split opinions, indeed.

The re-titled edition seems to have been aimed at a more general audience, and its title reflects the reality that many of the tales are "speculative fiction" right enough, but scarcely "science fiction", even with an elastic definition applied. As widely noted, the purpose of most or all of the tales was social comment, typically satirical, rather than true "wonder fiction". The tales seem also to be all over the map as to quality. All in all, though, the book is probably well worth the reading (apparently content is identical as between the two titles).
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