Science Fiction for French Students

Science Fiction for French Students

Created by Thomas Seay

The following works of science fiction are suitable for inclusion in a class on the French language.

  • "Songe de Platon," by Voltaire. A brief story (under 1000 words) published in 1756, "Songe de Platon" describes a dream in which Plato envisions the Earth's creator as little more than a student of cosmic design who is harshly critiqued for creating such a flawed planet. Appropriate for advanced high school French students (or lower-level students with teacher assistance). The complete French text is available online:

http://www.voltaire-integral.com/Html/21/05Songe_Platon.html

  • "Micromégas," by Voltaire. This somewhat longer story (approximately 7500 words) published around the same time as "Songe de Platon" tells of two aliens, a 120,000-foot-tall superintelligent being from Sirius and a smaller creature from Saturn, who visit Earth. "Micromégas" is significant as SF because it is among the earliest stories of interstellar travel and alien contact. Appropriate for college or advanced high school French students. The complete French text is available online:

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/4649
 

  • De la terre à la lune, by Jules Verne. Of Verne's many novels, this 1865 story -- which tells how a Civil War-era gun club builds a gigantic cannon to shoot men to the moon -- is perhaps the most accessible to students of the French language. Appropriate for college and advanced high school French students. The complete French text is available online:

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/799
 

  • L'Eve Futur (Tomorrow's Eve), by Auguste Villiers De L'isle-Adam. American inventor Thomas Edison builds a female robot for the lovelorn Englishman who saved his life. Villiers De L'isle-Adam's 1886 symbolist novel is noteworthy as a French critique of American science--right up to making America's most famous 19th Century scientist a character in the tale. It's analysis of love and attraction (and the misogyny that accompanies it) would be acceptable for older students.
     
  • L'Eve Futur is available in many French editions. An English translation (Tomorrow's Eve) by Robert Martin Adams was recently released through the University of Illinois press.

 

  • Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Alphaville, a 99-minute film originally released in 1965, combines elements of the detective story and of science fiction. Lemmy Caution visits the futuristic city of Alphaville, where art and emotion are suppressed, and confronts a superintelligent computer called Alpha 60. This film is unrated in the United States and may not be appropriate for some high school classrooms. The Criterion Collection edition features excellent English subtitles:

http://www.criterionco.com/asp/release.asp?id=25

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