Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

A miniature man produced by artificial means; the term, a diminutive of the Latin homo, was also employed in the protobiological theory of spermaticism to describe the formative entity supposedly carried by the sperm.

A recipe for the manufacture of homunculi was recorded by Paracelsus; its successful application is imagined in The Artificial Man (1931) by John Hargrave (1894-1982), The Homunculus (1949) by David H Keller and Schimmelhorn's Gold (1986) by Reginald Bretnor (1911-1992), but in the first two cases the result is a full-sized individual. The "homunculi" in To the Devil – A Daughter (1953) by Dennis Wheatley are also full-sized. Magically generated homunculi of smaller dimension are featured in The Magician (1908) by W Somerset Maugham and the movie The Bride of Frankenstein (1935; > Frankenstein Movies); the soul-animated Dolls of "The Wondersmith" (1859) by Fitz-James O'Brien (1828-1862) and Burn, Witch, Burn! (1933) by A Merritt might also qualify as homunculi. The androgynous übermensch which Salome is trying to create in Salome, the Wandering Jewess (1930) by George Viereck and Paul Eldridge (1888-1982) is called a homunculus by virtue of an evolutionist extrapolation of the spermaticist notion first proposed by Goethe, while the eponymous individual in Homunculus (1986) by James Blaylock is apparently an alien. [BS]


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.