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Trueman, Chrysostom

Entry updated 25 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

Pseudonym of the unidentified UK author (?   -?   ) who lists himself as "Editor" of The History of a Voyage to the Moon (1864) [for full title see Checklist], a Proto-SF tale described by Darko Suvin in Victorian Science Fiction in the UK (1983) as being of considerable importance; Suvin also speculates that "Trueman" may possibly have been James Hinton (1822-1875), father of C H Hinton. However, according to Swann Galleries of New York, a copy auctioned there in 2014 "contained an inscription identifying the author as H. Cowen, and sold for a record $8,750."

The tale itself is divided into two parts. In "The Voyage", the protagonists learn how to create a new Power Source – an Antigravity element capable of propelling the Spaceship they have had constructed by an eccentric Inventor– and travel to the Moon where, in part two, "The Ideal Life", they discover a Utopia inhabited by "amnesiac reincarnations of select Earthmen", four feet tall, communitarian, pacific. Transportation is via giant roc-like birds. The protagonists, in strong contrast to the behaviour of most visitors to other worlds in the nineteenth century, neither leave nor destroy the world they have discovered.

The significance of Trueman's tale in the development of nineteenth-century speculative literature has perhaps been overemphasized. Its reiterations of the conventions of the interplanetary Fantastic Voyage are not remarkably innovative, while its depictions of a new Power Source, and of the Spaceship that conveys the protagonists to the Moon, are not markedly more innovative or detailed than those found, highly condensed, in J L Riddell's Orrin Lindsay's Plan of Aerial Navigation, with a Narrative of His Explorations in the Higher Regions of the Atmosphere, and His Wonderful Voyage Round the Moon! (1847 chap), a highly condensed Thought Experiment; or, much more expansively, in Elbert Perce's Gulliver Joi: His Three Voyages; Being an Account of his Marvelous Adventures in Kailoo, Hydrogenia and Ejario (1851). The History of a Voyage to the Moon did soon appear in France as Voyage à la Lune (1865) as by Alexandre Cathelineau [for full title see Checklist], adding plausibility to the suggestion that it may have influenced Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon (1865). [JC]

"Chrysostom Trueman"

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