With our upcoming Performances at Drexel University on March 9th and 10th
From The Website of The Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia
Poe’s Literary Contributions
Pioneer of Science Fiction
In 1835, Poe published “Hans Phaall, A Tale” the story of a trip to the moon. Although other writers had written fantastic stories, Poe added realistic scientific details to make his stories more believable. Thus the modern science fiction story was born. Throughout his career Poe wrote stories about the limits of technology. In “The Man who was used Up,” a man injured in a war has his body parts replaced with synthetic ones. “Melona Tauta” is the tale of a future in which regular, trans-Atlantic air travel is possible. In “The Facts in the Case of M. Vademar” a doctor is able to communicate with a man whose body had already died. This tale was so realistic that it was reprinted in a medical journal in England. Poe’s science fiction tales were so believable that he once reported in the New York Sun that someone had crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a balloon — decades before it would actually happen. Eager to learn all about this fantastic voyage, New Yorkers rushed to buy the paper, only later to discover they had been fooled. The story is now called “The Balloon Hoax.”
Jules Verne, who was only about seven-years-old when “Hans Phaall” was published, grew up considering Poe his favorite author. Verne would later become the first writer to specialize in the science fiction genre. His tales of balloon trips and space travel borrowed themes already seen in Poe’s works. In The Sphinx of the Ice Fields, Verne showed his admiration of Poe by writing a sequel to Poe’s novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.
[Poe’s] tales of the future lead to H.G. Wells, his adventure stories to Jules Verne and Stevenson.” ~W.H. Auden