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Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

Poe vs. Irving

I'm going be very unfair, just for fun.

Edgar Allan Poe believed that Washington Irving was overrated.

In 1849, Poe published his short story "Mellonta Tauta," which one source translates as "These things are in the future." That sounds reasonable: the story is set in the year 2848. It isn't really science fiction, though. It's Poe's reflections on the follies of 19th century philosophy, fashion, and science -- with a pointed attack on American republicanism thrown in for good measure.

Forty years earlier, Washington Irving published "The Conquest By the Moon," which story also isn't really science fiction. Instead, though it depicts an invasion by aliens from the moon, it's really about the European conquest of North America at the expense of Native Americans, for the logic of the aliens is the same as that employed by the Europeans.

Still, trappings count. Sometimes quite a lot. Star Wars may be just a Western in disguise, but it's the science fiction trappings that make it so enjoyable.

In Poe's story -- in the year 2848, remember -- our hero muses while crossing the Atlantic -- in a dirigible.

In Irving's story, our misguided aliens come armed with "concentrated sunbeams."

Now, you tell me: *who* is overrated?