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(1842-1902) Spanish diplomat, playwright and author, initially of zarzuelas, comic operettas with spoken dialogue in the French manner. He is of sf interest for the book-length "El anacronópete" (in Novelas, coll 1887; trans Yolanda Molina-Gavilán and Andrea Bell as The Time Ship: A Chrononautical Journey 2012) which, although it is not the first text to posit something like Time Travel, seems to be the first to describe a Time Machine – an elaborate hermetically sealed ark whose ornate furnishings and ample passenger list are reminiscent of the Nautilus in Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1871) – and to describe in detail a Fantastic Voyage into the past. Romantic intrigues and farcical events govern the Satirical tone of the tale, which was originally written as a (never produced) zarzuela. In the protagonists's search for the secret of Immortality, the time ark returns initially to the Battle of Tétouan in 1860, a Spanish victory in the war against Morocco, where in this case events are initially viewed backwards (see Time in Reverse) as the machine does not come to rest. Later genuine stops include the China of 200 CE, where the European cast humiliatingly finds that European Technology is treated as old hat; Pompeii; the time of the Flood (where the ark becomes an Ark); and finally the beginning of creation in the "primeval burning mass" of chaos. Just as all is lost, the tale turns out to be a dream: but neither this feeble recourse, nor the spoofish antics of the cast, fully undercut the novelty of The Time Ship. [JC]
born Madrid, Spain: 2 March 1842
died Oloron Sainte-Marie, France: 7 September 1902
works (highly selected)
Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls and Graham Sleight.
Accessed 15:06 pm on 6 December 2019.