The other science fiction of Pierre Boulle

E=mc^2, Histoires charitables, Contesde l'absurde et Quia absurdum

E=mc^2, Histoires charitables, Contesde l'absurde et Quia absurdum

Continuing perhaps the trend of discussing lesser known works of various science fiction authors, I am turning my attention to an omnibus volume (in French) of the four books (apart from Le planète des singes which in English is called Planet of the Apes) by author Pierre Boulle.  These are four collections of short stories which to my knowledge no one has bothered to translate, for reasons that become obvious upon  reading them.

The first collection of short stories included takes its name from Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 which relates energy to mass and vice-versa in the contexts of such things as nuclear reactions and vacuum production or annihilation in particle physics. As an example, he lead story Les luniens is a Cold War farce in which both the Americans and Russians establish a moon base in the surety that the other of the two powers cold not possibly do so. They then encounter each other’s base personnel and assume these are native inhabitants of the moon. Even as a child of the Cold War myself, I just don’t find the irony intended that effective.

The next collection included is Histoires charitables. After that comes Contes de l’absurde and finally Quia absurdum. These too aspire to poignant irony. Sadly they never achieved the level of Boulle great science fiction novel Le planète des singes which while also intended to be ironic not only succeeds but can be haunting in its effect.

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