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Dollo, Xavier

Entry updated 6 December 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1976-    ) French critic and author, perhaps better known his sf written as Thomas Geha, none of which has been translated (and not here listed). His nonfiction Histoire de la Science Fiction en bande dessinée (graph 2020; trans Mark Bence as The History of Science Fiction: A Graphic Novel Adventure 2021) with Djibril Morissette-Phan is as stated a history of science fiction (see Critical and Historical Works About SF) narrated in graphic form (see Graphic Novel); the illustrations, by Morissette-Phan, are straightforward, though various sf authors, depicted interacting with two curious Robots in search of their roots, are at times stiffly rendered.

The two robots – Robby from Forbidden Planet (1956) and Jenkins, a webster from Clifford D Simak's City (fixup 1952) – arrive at The Crooked House, from Robert A Heinlein's "– And He Built a Crooked House" (February 1941 Astounding), where they are introduced to the history of the genre that gave them birth by a spherical robot called Professor Simon, perhaps a play on the NASA robot Professor CIMON, who emcees the appearance of significant figures in the field along with dramatic vignettes from their works. The writers most prominently in view conversing with the two robots include Mary Shelley; Jules Verne; H G Wells; Hugo Gernsback; an exceedingly amiable group of authors, Isaac Asimov, Robert H Heinlein, A E van Vogt and Theodore Sturgeon, seen interacting with John W Campbell Jr; Michael Moorcock introducing Wells to the modern world; and finally Judith Merril wrapping the story up until the 1970s.

Dollo's understanding of sf is essentially orthodox, with an emphasis on the long-dominant American version of the multiplex form – there is for instance no reference to the Scientific Romance as such, though authors like Olaf Stapledon are mentioned en passant – and a strong focus on the Golden Age of SF, which is deemed to have climaxed (and concluded) with Frank Herbert's Dune (fixup 1965). After the nineteenth century, English-language sf dominates the "adventure". After 1970 or so, coverage is cursory. Factual errors are not frequent. Dollo's empathy with his subject matter and his chosen authors is manifest throughout. [JC]

Xavier Dollo

born Guingamp, Côtes-du-Nord, France: 13 April 1976

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