Collaborating Authors


Was Voltaire the First Sci-Fi Author?


Ada Palmer is a professor of European history at the University of Chicago. Her four-volume science fiction series, Terra Ignota, was inspired by 18th-century philosophers such as Voltaire and Diderot. "I wanted to write a story that Voltaire might have written if Voltaire had been able to read the last 70 years' worth of science fiction and have all of those tools at his disposal," Palmer says in Episode 495 of the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast. Palmer says that Voltaire could actually be considered the first science fiction writer, thanks to a piece he wrote in 1752. "Voltaire has a short story called'Micromégas,' in which an alien from Saturn and an alien from a star near Sirius come to Earth, and they are enormous, and they explore the Earth and have trouble finding life-forms because to them a whale is the size of a flea," she says.