The Original Time Machine

Those of you who remember my posts about the science fiction exhibition at the British Museum might recall my mention of a novel about a time machine that preceded the one by H.G. Wells. Why do so few people seem to know about this? Because it is in Spanish, of course, and we English speakers are very bad about noticing things in other languages.

But no longer. The fine folks at Wesleyan University Press have produced an English language edition of The Time Ship, by Enrique Gaspar, translated by Yolanda Molina-Gavilán & Andrea Bell. The book contains illustrations by Francesc Soler from the original 1887 edition. I quote briefly from the blurb:

Dr. Sindulfo is joined by a motley crew of French prostitutes and Spanish soldiers, traveling to exotic locales like Paris, Morocco, China, Pompeii and even the beginnings of the universe.

I’m delighted to see that the good Doctor thought to equip his craft with a washing machine and various automatic cooking devices, though possibly this is because he felt that his female passengers had more important things to do than housework.

The book is available from the usual outlets, including ebook editions. It is a bit expensive as it is from an academic press, but I guess the market for this sort of thing is quite small.

Of course it goes straight onto the jury’s reading list for next year’s Translation Awards.

Also in the package from Wesleyan that arrived this morning was a copy of Starboard Wine by Samuel R. Delany, which Matt Cheney describes much better than I could (given that Wesleyan had him write the introduction).