From all the info I can gather, science fiction got its more or less official start in the early 1800’s with the appearance of one Dr. Frankenstein. Written by Mary Shelly in 1811, it basically crowned her the Mother of Science Fiction. Try smoking that one, guys…
But prior to that, we have a distinct lack of evidence of anything quite so fanciful and a big part of the reason is, in my mind at least, for lack of things electric. Oh, there were drawings from Galileo – fantastical ones – and a great TV series based on his life as well. But story telling? Not so much. You need to have some basic understanding of possibility in order to dream in scifi and without having any clear concept of propulsion, for instance, how are you gonna get there?
It looks like it may have taken the industrial revolution to get the wheels turning, from laying powerful railroad systems around the world, to great migrations into the cities, factories, efficiency, suffering and overcrowding – the kinds of concepts that might have been quite different in the 1700’s, when the world was still tilted towards agrarian.
What did your average peasant think about space travel, robotics, reanimation and ray guns? I think religion must have had a huge impact on the way we ALL thought about things in the 1600’s. Religion was the answer for questions unanswered, the purview of the wisest and most powerful figures and a convenient way of explaining unexplainable phenomena.
And strict interpretation and god-fearing belief was undoubtedly the most acceptable, politically correct and life-affirming path to take. You want to take a stroll down that corridor to the suite of rooms we keep for trouble-makers downstairs, do ya? I didn’t think so. Any more questions, my son?
Given the baseline of info we own, it’s easy to teleport into the next galaxy for a 10-year old. Were kids thinking about star-hoping in the middle ages? I’d love to be able to ask ‘em.