Illusions of Immortality

It wasn’t just me who had never heard of Edmond Haraucourt until I read Brian Stableford’s “Going to Extremes: The Speculative Fiction of Edmond Haraucourt” in the April 2015 issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction. Pierre Versins’ Encyclopédie de l’utopie et de la science-fiction from 1974 doesn’t have an entry for him.

The “Edmond Haraucourt” entry in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction only seems to date to the publication of this English language collection.

Stableford’s article, like many of his recent ones for The New York Review of Science Fiction, includes material and commentary on the French authors he translates that doesn’t make it into his introductions for those Black Coat editions. Originally, I read the story because Stableford’s article hinted that one of the stories might be suitable for inclusion in my Fantastic Fiction in World War One series.

It turns out it wasn’t, but I’m certainly glad I read this collection.

This review will have spoilers. If you want a shorter, spoiler-free review, you can find it on Amazon.

Review: Illusions of Immortality, Edmond Haraucourt, trans. Brian Stableford, 2012.Illusions of Immortality

 You are going to die.

Your works are going to die.

Your reputation will be forgotten.

The human race will vanish.

Those are the primary themes of Haraucourt.

You’d think that he’d be a downer, a slit-your-wrists-after-reading author. Instead, Haraucourt is a delight to read. Witty, piquant, mordant, he’s the kind of friend who, after you unload your troubles on him, would reply, “What makes you special?” – and you’d still like him.

To quote the wit of Haraucourt is largely to reprint Haraucourt. That wit was not reprinted much in his own land though. Of his futuristic fiction, which is almost as sweeping in speculation and scope as his contemporary H. G. Wells, only “The Gorilloid” was reprinted in his lifetime from its original newspaper appearance. In France, it was only in 2001 some of his shorter works were finally collected. Continue reading