La Folie, Louis-Guillaume De

Tagged: Author

(1739-1780) French polymath, industrial chemist and author, member of l'Académie de Rouen, whose surname also appears as de la Follie. His Proto SF tale, Le Philosophe sans Prétention ou L'Homme Rare: Ouvrage Physique, Chymique, Politique et Moral, Dédié aux Savants ["The Philosopher Without Pretension or the Rare Man: ... "] (1775) as M[onsieur] D L F, features the first description of a Spaceship – or in fact Airship of any sort – powered by electricity. The frame story, told by an Arab, contains an inner tale recounted by a former resident of Mercury, who describes his experience of Space Flight in an elaborate, newly invented ship (see Inventions), which he has crash-landed on Earth. In her Voyages to the Moon (1948), Marjorie Hope Nicolson emphasizes the historical significance of this tale, because La Folie's description of the solar system is scientifically up-to-date (the Mercurian mentions in passing, for instance, that space has no up or down); and because the vehicle described is, for the first time, wingless. It is a machine for Transportation. The novel has not been translated into English. [JC]

Louis-Guillaume de la Folie [or Follie]

born Roen, France: 11 March 1739

died Rouen, France: 2 February 1780

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