A True Story
A True Story, by Lucian, written in the second century A.D., is widely regarded as the first Sci-Fi story ever written. Now, this may be the first sci-fi story written, but it probably wasn’t the inspiration for Star-Trek, Star Wars or any other modern Science Fiction creation. It isn’t sci-fi as we know it, but it does involve inter-planetary warfare and space travel.
Lucian wrote A True Story as a parody of other writers in Greece at the time. Many writers wrote great, imaginary tales. Passing them off as their own adventures. One particular writer, Ctesias, wrote in depth about India despite never having been. Lucian wrote the book that he “might not be the only one excluded from poetic licence.” Lucian goes on to say “as I had nothing true to tell, not having had any adventures of significance, I took to lying… I shall at least be truthful in saying that I am a liar.”
Lucian’s story starts as he sets off with a crew of like-minded adventurers in search of a good story to tell. Without going into too much detail here’s a few of the things that happen:
They find rivers of wine. Filled with fish that get them drunk when they eat them.
They found a strange wind that blew them up into the stars.
They met the king of the moon and fought in a war against the people from the sun.
They fought with warriors who had asparagus spears and mushroom shields.
There were ants the size of elephants.
They were swallowed by a 150 mile long whale and lived on a island for a year within the whale.
They fought half lobster people for control of the island.
They found a land where the sea was made of milk, and ethereal Greek heroes lived in perpetual sunshine.
As you can tell this isn’t the sort of sci-fi we’re used to, it’s just a parody of outlandish tales. But giant monsters, inter planetary war? It definitely falls into the right category.
Lucian has a brilliant tongue-in-cheek style of writing and he makes subtle punny references to the very writers he’s mocking. It’s a fun read and an interesting insight into Greek culture. It’s still funny, and relevant, today, nearly two thousand years later.