7 - Extra! Extra! Poe invents science fiction! Cambridge Companions Online - Cambridge University Press

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7 - Extra! Extra! Poe invents science fiction!

pp. 113-132

  • The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe
  • Edited by:
  • Publisher:

  • Online Publication Date:
  • May 2006
  • Print Publication Year:
  • 2002

  • Hardback ISBN:
  • 9780521793261
  • Online ISBN:
  • 9780511998591
  • Paperback ISBN:
  • 9780521797276

Special edition from the past

NEW YORK CITY, April 13, 1844 - In an unprecedented feat of human ingenuity and artistic audacity, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe of Fordham today reported a purely imaginary feat of science and technology as a fait accompli, creating a near-riot outside the offices of The New York Sun. The stir was caused by citizens who sought to purchase a special edition containing the fallacious report of a hot air balloon's crossing of the Atlantic. By making facts of physical philosophy the basis and central concern of an adventure tale, Mr. Poe has invented science fiction. The seriousness and high-mindedness of this fictional mode will soon undoubtedly allow it to take its place among the most highly esteemed and prestigious genres of literature.

Countless unsuspecting readers were duped by Poe’s report, which claimed the paper’s front page with the large-type headline, “Astounding News! By Express Via Norfolk! Signal Triumph!” The article described in minute and technically plausible detail the flying apparatus allegedly invented and flown by well-known aviator Mr. Monck Mason. In all instances the author of the report was careful to explain the principles of aeronautics, meteorology, navigation and mechanics upon which the unexpected phenomena observed by his protagonists relied.

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