The Unpretentious Philosopher
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THE UNPRETENTIOUS PHILOSOPHER, or, The Rare Man, A Physical, Chemical, Political and Moral Work Dedicated to Scientists
by Louis-Guillaume de La Follie
adapted by Brian Stableford
cover by Vincent Laik
I am a philosopher, but a philosopher by taste and not by ostentation -- so don't imagine that I owe my origin to your globe. I am, as you can see, an inhabitant of Mercury.
In 1775, industrial chemist Louis-Guillaume de La Follie wrote The Unpretentious Philosopher, in which an inhabitant of Mercury who employs a spaceship powered by electricity to undertake a voyage of exploration to Earth, becomes stranded on our planet when his ship crashes. This forces him to embark on a long search for the exotic materials required to repair it, giving him an opportunity to communicate his advanced understanding of science to an inquisitive Earthling.
La Follie was the first writer of contes philosophiques to put the "hard" sciences of physics and chemistry at the heart of his endeavor. His ambitious purpose is to communicate new scientific ideas by using entertaining fictional devices. The Unpretentious Philosopher is truly a plea in favor of "science fiction", a concept that would not be invented for generations to come.
Le Philosophe sans Prétention [The Unpretentious Philosopher] (Clousier, 1775)
Introduction and Notes by Brian Stableford.