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Star (Psi Cassiopeia)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  28 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Eleven years before Jules Verne took his readers to the Moon, 40 years before Wells devised the Time Machine, nearly a century before Tolkien published Lord Of The Rings, Charles Defontenay wrote the imaginary history of an entire star system located in the far off constellation of Cassiopeia. Long before science fiction writers dreamed of interstellar travels, alien races ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 1st 2007 by Hollywood Comics (first published 1854)
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Jul 11, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: daw_own
(DAW Collectors #167

Cover Artist: George Barr.

Name: Defontenay, Charlemagne Ischir, Birthplace: Cahaignes, Eure, Normandy, France, (16 February 1819 - 04 September 1856.
Jul 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've seen this 1854 novel described as a 'forgotten classic' of French science-fiction. I think it may be more accurately described as an 'intriguing curiosity'.

The introduction consists of a series of poems describing how the narrator acquired a set of writings from a planet orbiting the star Psi Cassiopeia. What follows are ostensibly translations of those texts, which recount the history of the planet (whose name, curiously, is “Star”) and its people (called “Starrians”). Extensive attention
This translated French book basically gives us the history of the fictional alien world 'Star'.
Amazingly, it was written in the mid-1700s, but feels like a contempary of Verne and Wells.

It's not really a novel, more of a history book of a fictional place, so it does get a bit dry when presenting its facts.
Luckily, the facts are interesting enough and the author has created such a well thought out world that you are willing to forgive the occasional boring part. There is a geography of the planet
Frederick  Lopez
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Imagine a world bathed in the light of five suns, where shrubs fly like birds and nuts swing from trees like pendulums. In the nineteenth century the French surgeon Charlemagne Ischir Defontenay did just that. Using the conceit of a fictional collection of alien documents found in the Himalayas, Defontenay traces an intricate history of a distant solar system across millenia, through the rise of nations, the development of space-faring technology, first contact between exotic worlds and the fina ...more
Janne Wass
Oct 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly remarkable novel – this French retelling of the rise and fall of civilisations on planets surrounding a distant star is indeed the first space opera. Like most other pre-Vernean French SF, "Star" was quickly forgotten. Going wholly against the grain of the religiously conservative bourgeois realism of the era, Defontenay's sprawling epic raises Darwinian ideas five years before the publication of the Origins of Species, unashamedly deals with sexual customs and functions among species th ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
simultaneously incredibly ahead of its time as well as being very much a product of the era - on one hand, it almost reads like something from the 1950s. a multigenre work purposed to be a history of an alien civilization (with commentary), interleaved by several cultural artifacts of this civilization, including two one act dramas, a "historical poem in verse", as well as a great deal of poetry. in addition to the framing, lots of concepts are explored here that frequently come up in science fi ...more
1854 the first modern "space opera".

Black coat $6
Maxwell Pearl
It's a very odd book, but interesting for it's time. ...more
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Charlemagne Ischir Defontenay, born in 1841 and died in 1856, was a French writer and surgeon. Bachelor in literature in 1839 and science in 1841, he became a doctor in Saint-Germain en Laye then in Les Andelys, and in Les Thilliers-en-Vexin.

A renowned surgeon, he is often considered one of the pioneers of plastic surgery. He wrote essays on this subject under the pseudonym "Dr Cid". He was also

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