The Mirror of Present Events (1790) is an irreverent political allegory in which a Syracusan beauty, following Archimedes' death, offers her hand in marriage to the inventor who can produce the most innovative homage to the great man's mechanical genius. A series of suitors comes forward, each offering a mechanical device ostensibly more marvelous than the last. Also included are an 1887collection of six futuristic stories by Jean Rameau featuring electric guns, automata and a striking vision of a future Paris in which people have become dependent on industrial pollution; The Immortal (1908) extrapolates the notion of immortality to a conclusion that might not be inevitable, but is no less symbolically dramatic; a hilarious 1910 feuilleton describing the career of an automaton racehorse; and L'Aerobagne 32 (1920), about a French engineer hired by a German company who discovers that its industrial operations are a cover for a rearmament scheme, and who refuses to surrender the formula for a new poison gas. He is then incarcerated in a vast airborne prison. This is the fourteenth in a series of anthologies of exemplary texts in the evolution of the French genre of roman scientifique.
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