Lermina, Jules

Tagged: Author

(1839-1915) French journalist and author, who sometimes wrote as William Cobb (usually for work set in America), active from 1859, suffering arrest for his opposition to the Second Empire of Napoleon III; in the 1880s, he became honorary president of a contorted dynastic descendant of the Theosophical Society (see Theosophy); his novels include two nonfantastic sequels to Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo (1844-1845 18vols). After short stories from as early as 1870, and after Le Comtesse Mercadet ["The Countess Mercadet"] (1884), a tale involving animal magnetism though without much supernatural content, his early work of sf interest was assembled as Histoires Incroyables ["Incredible Tales"] (coll 1885) and Nouvelles Histoires Incroyables ["New Incredible Tales"] (coll 1888).

Lermina's first longer tales of sf interest, L'Elixir de vie ["The Elixir of Life"] (1890 chap) and Le Secret des Zippélius (1893; trans Brian Stableford, with the former title, as The Secret of Zippelius omni 2010), mark a transition from the occult coloration of the first (despite its "scientific" explanation of Vampirism) to the Invention-governed Scientific Romance coloration of the second. Between these two appeared La Bataille de Strasbourg (1892; trans Brian Stableford as The Battle of Strasburg 2014), an extremely early Yellow Peril tale set in 1020. Of greatest interest from his later career is probably Mystère-Ville (omni; title novel first appeared 4 December 1904-26 March 1905 Journal de Voyages; 1998; trans Brian Stableford in Mysteryville omni 2010), the magazine version of which was illustrated by Albert Robida. It is a Lost Race tale: led by the historical Denis Papin (1647-?1712) – who invented a steam power prototype of piston steam engine and steam-powered boat, ideas later exploited by Thomas Newcomen (1664-1729) – a group of seventeenth century Protestants flee France and settle in China, where they create a technologically-advanced Utopia. "To-Ho le Tueur d'Or" (1905 Journal de Voyages; trans Georges T Dodds as To-Ho and the Gold Destroyers 2010) is a proto-Tarzan tale whose protagonist is raised from a child by a race of man-apes (see Apes as Human), and L'effrayante aventure (previous magazine version not confirmed; 1913; trans Brian Stableford in Panic in Paris omni 2009) features an advanced flying machine whose Power Source closely resembles the vril in Edward Bulwer Lytton's The Coming Race (1871). Much of Lermina's work was essentially commercial; but a hint of Satire can usually be detected; and indeed shapes [JC]

Jules Hippolyte Lermina

born Paris: 27 March 1839

died 23 June 1915

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