SV: Science Fiction Question for an Indologist (fwd)

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Mon Dec 11 10:53:42 EST 2000

Klaus Karttunen [SMTP:Klaus.Karttunen at HELSINKI.FI] skrev 11. desember 2000
> About robots:
>  John Robert Gardner:
> > So far, I thought that the first science fiction novel ever was
> > "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelly. Lately I have been told that this
> > is not true, there should have been a woman in India who wrote some
> > science fiction earlier, some kind of robots doing housework should
play a
> > role in this. Have you ever heard of this, and if so, can you tell me
> > the author was?
> There are some stories about housework robots in Buddhist and Jaina
> narrative literature. Usually they were constructed by Yavanas, who also
> were skilled in constructing flying machines and other mechanical
> wonders.

The construction of mechanical wonders (thaumatourgia in Greek, I believe)
goes all the way back to antiquity. Oriental princes were very
enthousiastic about such devices whereas they were practically unknown in
the West during the Middle Ages. The phenomenon is described in art
history, I recently saw a monograph on the subject (unfortunately, I don't
remember the title of the book, but I can find out).

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
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