Although A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is widely recognized as a pioneering time travel story, few people are aware of the full variety of Mark Twain’s science-fiction writings. He explored almost every facet of the field, including aliens and superbeings, alternate histories, closed universes, extrasensory powers, time travel and alteration of history, future histories, utopias, and unlimited energy.
Never a respecter of standard literary genres, Twain persistently mixes fact and fiction, autobiography and tall tales, and realism and fantasy. He is equally careless in mixing fantasy with what is now called science fiction. He applies the same boundless imagination and inventive gifts to his speculative fiction that he does to his work as a whole. As the stories in this collection demonstrate, his imagination stretches from microscopic worlds to distant-future histories.
Fascinated by science and technology, Twain was himself a dabbler in inventing. His speculative fiction anticipates many real developments, such as coast-to-coast telephones, television, interplanetary travel, nuclear power, and full woman suffrage.
Twain is also deeply concerned with questions about free will, humankind’s place in the universe, and whether God exists. He thus often addresses epistemological questions and explores religious themes, such as those expressed in “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven” and “The Secret...
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