Loudon, Jane

Tagged: Author

(1807-1858) UK author of many books on popular natural history and gardening, and of The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century (1827 3vols; rev 1828), published anonymously. Like Mary Shelley a decade earlier, she wrote her novel while still a teenager; the eponymous mummy, though clearly monstrous, arouses some of the same threatening ambivalence as Shelley's Frankenstein Monster. Around this figure, and through a somewhat melodramatic plot – the Mummy of Cheops conspires with a Roman Catholic priest in 2126 CE to control the choice of the next Queen of England – Loudon creates one of the very earliest Proto SF texts to envision a future significantly different from the present. In the Preface to his Le roman de l'avenir (1834; trans Brian Stableford as The Novel of the Future 2008), Félix Bodin implies that he himself was the first to compose a text that comprised "the living creation of an ordinary world to come". It is unlikely, however, that Bodin could have been aware of Loudon's earlier tale, in which Robot lawyers dispense their wares; steam-driven ploughs have revolutionized agriculture; Communications are advanced; and many other Inventions to come are elaborately described, including movable housing and Weather Control. But unlike Bodin, Loudon has in general a negative take on Progress, and the future described in The Mummy! is seen as dehumanized. [JC]

see also: History of SF; Near Future; Utopias.

Jane Webb Loudon

born Ritwell House, near Birmingham, England: 19 August 1807

died London: 13 July 1858

works

  • The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century (London: Henry Colburn, 1827) anonymous [published in three volumes: binding unknown/]
    • The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century (London: Henry Colburn, 1828) anonymous [rev of the above: published in three volumes: binding unknown/]
    • The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century (Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1994) [much cut bowdlerization: no copy text is specified and may be either of the above, or the 1872 edition published by Frederick Warne and reprinted from either the 1827 or 1828 version (it is not known if the Warne text is abridged): text does not identify points where cuts have been imposed, and the editor has apparently recast some passages to smooth out the effect of his excisions, which amount to more than 100 pages of the original pagination: edited with an introduction by Alan Rauch: hb/]

about the author

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