French Science Fiction Authors

The Wanderer

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It's strange that considering France's rich tradition in Literature, there hasn't been as many great Authors in this field as in America or Britain...

There was Jules Verne, I guess:eek:
 

Foxbat

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Interesting point and, for the life of me, I can't think of another French SF author. It does make me wonder, however, if there is some kind of link.

What I mean by that is that both Britain and the U.S. were (at some point) seen as the great industrial nations of the world. France (I don't believe) was ever viewed in this manner.

Perhaps that is where the seed of Science Fiction is planted rather than a literary heritage?

Just a thought:)
 

j d worthington

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Gerard Klein:

Gérard Klein - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Brunner translated his Les Seigneurs de la Guerre as The Overlords of War....

Rene Barjavel (the only one I'm aware of there is La nuit des Temps, translated into English as The Ice People)


Others are here:

French science fiction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It's been quite a while, but I recall reading various French sf writers; several were quite good, but the names escape me, and translations of their works were few and far between....

Of course, there's always Pierre Boulle with La planete des singes (Planet of the Apes)...
 

iansales

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True also for sf writers in other countries. One German author recently translated into English is Andreas Eschbach. His The Carpet Makers is very good.

Two recommended anthologies of non-English sf are Tales from the Planet Earth, Frederik Pohl & Elizabeth Anne Hull, Eds. (1986), and Vortex, CG Bearne, Ed. (1970).
 

Sibeling

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I have read some stuff by Gerard Klein (in translation) and it was interesting It seems that he is mainly writitng about time - time travels, parallel universe etc.

I've read "Das Jesus Video" (The Jesus Video) by Andreas Eschbach. It was not exactly science fiction, it was more like adventures, but, if one book can be an indicator, he is a very good writer because the book was exciting, there was a lot of action and I just could not put it down, even though I disagreed with some of the ideas in it.
 

iansales

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I have a copy of Atomic Avenue, a German cyberpunk anthology from 1990, edited by Michael Nagula. It includes several colour plates by HR Giger. My German's probably a bit rusty now, though...
 

The Wanderer

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On this subject, I thought this would be intersting, the French Prix Apollo ran from 1972-1990 here were the winners:

1990
Argentine. Joël Houssin. Denoël, 1989

1989
le Pays du fou rire. Jonathan Carroll. J'ai lu, 1988

1988
la Compagnie des glaces. G.J. Arnaud. Fleuve noir, à partir de 1980

1987
les Voies d'Anubis. Tim Powers. J'ai lu, 1986

1986
la Musique du sang. Greg Bear. la Découverte, 1985

1985
la Citadelle de l'autarque. Gene Wolfe. Denoël, 1984

1984
les Semeurs d'abîmes. Serge Brussolo. Fleuve noir, 1983

1983
l'Orbe et la Roue. Michel Jeury. Robert Laffont, 1982

1982
l'Idiot-roi. Scott Baker. J'ai lu, 1981

1981
le Temps des genévriers. Kate Wilhelm. Denoël, 1980

1980
Persistance de la vision. Recueil de John Varley. Denoël, 1979

1979
la Grande porte. Frederik Pohl. Calmann-Lévy, 1978

1978
la Ruche d'Hellstrom. Frank Herbert. Albin Michel, 1977

1977
Cette chère humanité. Philippe Curval. Robert Laffont, 1976

1976
les Ailes de la nuit. Robert Silverberg. J'ai lu, 1975

1975
l'Enchâssement. Ian Watson. Calmann-Lévy, 1974

1974
Rêve de fer. Norman Spinrad. Opta, 1973

1973
Tous à Zanzibar. John Brunner. Robert Laffont, 1972

1972
l'Île des morts. Robert Zelazny. Opta, 1971
 

BAYLOR

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Everyone talks about Jules Verne who defiantly a great writer and very much a visionary

Pierre Boulle's novel Planet of the Apes is for most part, a satire and the basis for multiple films. It is entertaining.

Pierre Barbett The Napoleons of Eridanus An advanced race of aliens fighting a losing intergalactic war ( Because they don't know how to wage it) Involuntarily enlists a band of solders from Napoleon Bonaparte's Army to teach them the art of war. Its not great sonic fiction but tis lots of fun to read. :cool:
 

hitmouse

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Michel Houellebecq. One of the most controversial and successful French authors of recent times. The fact that is generally overlooked is that he writes SF. All available in English translation. Start with Atomised.
 

JunkMonkey

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I'm just starting to get into reading (non comic book) French SF and, despite the lack of translation to English, it turns out there is a hell of a lot of it.

For those with even an intermediary level of French like me this series on Radio France Inter was an interesting introduction:

I've just finished the recently deceased Philippe Curval's Prix Jules Verne winning Le Ressac de l'espace (he was a guest in episode 2 of that France Inter podcast). The book is from 1962 and a real WTF? read. Parasitic mind controlling aliens take control of a post-apocalyptic earth after the population of the earth vote to allow them. Our heroes (who don't want to live in a harmonious world demolshing earth's heritage and remaking it as art to alien aesthetics) bugger off to Venus rather than be taken over - before getting fed up and returning to get their planet back.

Be warned though, 'Laurence' is a woman's name in France. That caused me some confusion. "Wow!" I thought, after one scene, "For 1962 this is pushing the bounderies of gay literature far beyond... oh wait. Laurence is a girl..." (You see if French didn't insist the possessives take the 'sex' of the object being possed rather than that of the person doing the posessing, things would be a lot clearer. 'Manteau' means coat. "Son manteau" means: 'his coat', 'her coat', or 'its coat'. Doesn't matter who the fecking coat belongs to it's 'son'. Same word does for all three.)

A E van Vogt was big in France and it shows. There is an van Vogtty oddness to the plotting. I have a small pile of French SF magazines from the 60s - French editions of F&SF and Galaxy (Fiction and Galaxie) most of which carry translations of Anglo-saxon SF but with the occassional home grown story. Almost every issue carries adverts for van Vogt's books in translation - far more than any other author.

Van Vogt was also obviously an influence on the only other French writer I've really dug into - Stefan Wul who bashed out 11 or so (pretty short) novels in 3 years 1956 - 59 (he started when his wife read a SF novel and told him it was so awful that even he he could do better - so he binned the detective novel he was working on and became an overnight sensation in French SF) after that brief flowering he became silent for 40 years then returned in 2002 with a stonking great doorstop of a book called Noó. Which many people have hailed as a masterpiece. I've read five of his older books and they all have that radical new idea (no matter how bonkers) every page thing going on that van Vogt extolled. Personally I like that Van Vogtian feeling of bewilderment - that 'not knowing quite what is happening' feeling. And Wul delivers.

A couple of Wul's books L'Orphelin de Perdide and Oms en série were adapted into animated films by René Laloux as Les Maîtres du temps and Le Planete fantastiue.
 
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JunkMonkey

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Anyone interested in starting exploring the history of (decent) French SF should probably initially side-step reading anything by Richard-Bessier.

I've just finished 'his'* La Planete vagabonde (The Wandering Planet) and it is awful!

The fourth in the 'Conquerors of the Universe' series, it is the most glorious 1930's era Skylark of Space type farrago written twenty years after that kind of thing was already old-fashioned and clearly written with a page count in mind rather than any kind of plot or character development.

Because it's the fourth book we get a cast of characters up front
Prof. Benac a savant who allies an immense knowledge of science with a simple charm
Richard Beaumond - his godson who is wizzo engineer
Jeff Dickson - an American reporter.
Don Gonzales - a South American stowaway (who apart from a fleeting appearance at the start of the book doesn't actually take part in any of the thud and blunder that follows so why he's listed here is a mystery.)
Ficelle - a young urchin
and
Mabel Peterson - "a ravishingly beautiful young English woman, the sole woman on board."

Mabel's most noticable contribution to all the thud and blunder is to do some non plot-related cooking at one point.

Anyhow. Ten years after their first trip (presumably books 1-3) our heroes build another version of their super notSkylark and set out from Earth once again to visit some of the many interesting and varied humanlike races that populate our solar system. Their first stop is Jupiter to pick up some special Jovian gas which will make their super wizzo notSkylark go even super wizzo faster. After a brief visit and saying hello to the locals who they raised from the stone-age on their previous visit, they pop off to Pluto. On the way they encounter a planet that shouldn't be there! A wandering planet - populated by millions of humanlike beings. They land on it and find the super-evolved humanlike beings (the Vagabondians) live for 800 years, and mine meat from meat mines, and can do all sorts of wonderful superscience stuff - like instantly learn French by having the Prof. go through a 'Fourth Dimension' machine.

Vagabondian women do cooking and look after children.

"You're friends with the people on Pluto." Says the Grand Poobah of all the Vagabondians. "We're fed up with living on this planet wandering eternally through the eternal eternity of eternal space - a planet which is going to explode in a few years because of internal forces beyond our superscience control. Ask them if we can all move to Pluto. There's only 300 million of us."

The Plultonians think about this for a bit. Then tell them to f**k off.

Meanwhile Ficelle has managed to accidentally reverse the polarity on a fourth dimension machine and learns how to speak Vagabondian from a native - and accidentally downloads all sorts of other Vagebondian brain content into his noggin too. The Vagabondians are not as peaceful as they seem!

All out interplanetary heck breaks loose.

Millions of missiles fly hither and yon. Our three male hero types board one: get to Pluto and help the Plutonians defend their planet from invasion. (As the Plutonians have the ability to shrink themselves infinitely small and mine resources on micro worlds - where time goes a LOT more slowly, and then bring back to normal size whatever they made in these micro worlds - they have soon wrapped Pluto in a near impenetrable steel shell and millions of state of the art anti-Vagabondian weapons!)

In the end the Plutonians win but magnanimously offer to help the Vagabondians move to another spare planet just outside the orbit of Pluto which is a bit unpopulated.

300 million Vagabondians (minus the 15 million or so which died during the war) depart from Vagabundus and the Putonians go home. The crew of the notSkylark are a bit short of superwizzo Jovian Go Gas (tm) and have trouble starting the engine. The Prof. franticly tinkers but the clock ticks and for some utterly unexplained reason some previously unmentioned deadline passes and they are stuck on the soon-to-explode planet for all eternity. Or till it explodes. Whichever comes first.

The back of the book promises that volume five: Sauvetage sidérial (Intersellar Rescue) will be out soon - so I guess they don't all die a horrible death.

By the end of the book I was full of admiration for the way every chapter ended half way down a recto page - the author knowing full well that the house style was to start chapters on the next recto page thus leaving the verso opposite blank. 300 words he didn't have to write each chapter. The chapters are really short too so it adds up to a lot of stuff he didn't have to write before he get to the end of his allocated page count and could stop. But it did mean the author had to contrive some INCREDIBLE coincidences towards the end get the very thin plot resolved before it hit the buffers.

It was so bad it was fun. But not (I hope!) typical of French SF of the period.




*I say 'his' like that because it's a house name and at least two people used it or collaberated under it.
 
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JunkMonkey

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Jimmy Guieu is another French author who is not going on my Must Read list (which is a pity as he wrote 90+ SF novels).

Well, if they are all like L'Arche du Temp (The Ark of Time) he's not.

First published in 1970 L'Arche du Temp tells the story of a young 'primitive' called 'Roy the Strong' who, within a few pages, it becomes apparent is one of a tribe of survivors of some ancient, unexplained catastrophe - possibly Velikovskyian in nature - which happened in a previous book (where it probably was explained). Rob and his tribe are attacked by savage people from the east and repel them. They are perturbed by a strange triangle which has appeared on the 'new Island' which appeared off the (French) coast during the ancient catastrophe and which no one dares visit because of 'The Spirits' that dwell there.

The triangle glows and vibrates and finally Rod, some friends and a group from a friendly tribe to the north go to investigate. They have the blessings of the village elders including the keeper of the ancient books, 'Pedro the Wise'. On the island they discover the triangle is in fact a fantasticality huge pyramid which, to cut it short (not that it is a long book) is an escape capsule from Atlantis which foundered in the last Velikovskyian catastrophe but one. Inside are two hundred fertile young couples and half the ruling class (the more sceptical half presumably died a horrible death a long time ago) They wake from suspended animation as Rod and his pals arrive. The Ark contains not only a Virgin Princess - who instantly falls in love (and vice versa) with Rod the Strong - but also a scheming regent who has to be thwarted before he takes power. Can the Princess stay virgo intacta long enough to ascend the throne? There are van Vogtian 'spy beams' and secret tunnels, assassination attempts and clumsy frame-ups. Rod and his primitives are edumicated with the wisdom of the ancient Atlanteans with a helmet teaching device which also unearths their 'dormant race memories' (one of my most hated plot devices) which allows the author to fill in some gaps in the back story without having to have his characters go and find out for themselves.

Rod, the princess and his friends go to Paris in one of the Atlantean flying saucers (sic) and do a bit of exploring. When they come back they are attacked by the regent's troops in a bigger flying saucer but Rod and his 'primitives' win the battle against the super-science, blaster toting Atlanteans with their superior jungle craft and setting a load of bear traps which all the Atlanteans dutifully step in.

Pulling the old Republic Serial trick of holding the enemy troop leader at gunpoint while hiding out of sight, they pretend to have been captured and return to the pyramid. The regent, lured into bad movie villain complacency, has the tables turned on him and is defeated within a couple of pages. The princess decides against summarily executing him and his henchmen as the crowd want when his villainy is unmasked but instead sends them off to the pyramid's medical facility to get their organs harvested so some good will come of their deaths - before launching into a page long speech about the wonderful world of equality, peace, freedom and liver transplants that will soon be theirs.

Fin
 

JunkMonkey

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Now this is more like it!

Les Hommes-processeurs (The Human Processers) by Michel Jeury (1981) Fleuve Noir #1091

739159.jpg



In rural France a mild-mannered, neurotic, not very successful encyclopedia salesman comes home one day and finds someone has parked in HIS parking place. Strange people are driving around the village in large German cars. Because his wife hasn't cooked his evening meal, and has an appointment somewhere, he goes to the local restaurant where he meets his more adventurous lifelong friend. They watch some of the strange German car driving people at the next table eat a meal that consists entirely of eggs. Going home he wakes in the middle of the night to find his village cut off from the outside world by an intangible dome of energy. He meets up with his more adventurous friend again and they try to leave the village but are turned back and pursued by the strangers. Eventually cornered they are given a long lecture by some weirdly squabbling aliens in human form. Their village has, they tell them, become (or has the potential to become) a vital part of a galaxy-wide translation program that is trying to negotiate the end to an aeons-old conflict between two warring races. All that is needed is that some of the inhabitants of the village agree to becoming components in 'The Process'. They would not be aware of being part of 'The Process', or of even having agreed to take part, but would be rewarded in intangible ways. After having sex with one of the aliens our hero agrees. (As sales techniques go not a bad one, let me tell you it'd work on me.)

End of part one.

Part two: In rural France a mildly successful encyclopedia salesman comes home one day and parks in his usual parking place. He should be happy but there is something nagging at the back of his brain that disturbs him. Why is he suddenly selling more encyclopedias than he has ever done? It can't be because the people in the area have suddenly become more inquisitive and intelligent can it? Why do people think he has paid for things when he has no memory of having paid them? Why does he have strange memory lapses when he cannot account for his actions? And the dreams! What about the dreams? He narrows down the time when all this strangeness started happening to him to one particular night but no one he asks remembers anything peculiar happening on that date. He goes to an amateur hypnotism session and gets himself hypnotised with no discernable result - but his wife later tells him she was given a word to unlock a post-hypnotic command to release his regressed memories. He forces her to say the word... and all heck breaks lose!

The village is once again suddenly cut off from the world. The phone rings and it's alien sex girl on the other end of the line telling him 'The Process' is now trying to reject him as a faulty component and all the other components of the village will try to kill him. Lots of running around in the dark pursued by villagers carrying guns and strange, water-based simulacra of villagers carrying guns. Suddenly, out of nowhere, one of the girls from the hypnotism session turns up and helps him evade capture before they are whisked away to safety by alien sex girl in her pear-shaped helicopter spaceship. In a secret base (somewhere unspecified but not on earth and closer than Proxima Centauri) the faction that has rescued them try to repair 'The Process'. ('The Process', by the way, allows people to alter their reality, so the environment in which this all takes place is constantly morphing and fluxing.)

'The Process' is in danger - one of the aliens charged with extending it to Earth was part of a faction that wants to bring the whole thing down. There is no proof, this faction claims, that the warring factions for which it was created ever actually existed. They refuse to be disposable parts of some self-replicating ever-expanding system with no purpose other than to exist. Our hero, it transpires, has become that most van Vogtian of creations The Most Important Person in the Universe. If he is removed (willingly or unwillingly) from 'The Process' the whole thing will collapse. The base is captured. All is lost. When suddenly!... Deus ex Machina! One of the warring factions for which 'The Process' was created - which no one is sure whether ever actually existed - turns out not only to have existed but still exists.... and, not only that, is attentive to the pleas for help from minor components of their interstellar computer.

Mildly successful encyclopedia salesman and Saviour of the Universe returns home. The phone rings. Bad guy alien faction representative is on the other end of the line. "The war isn't over!" he snarls. Mildly successful encyclopedia salesman and Saviour of the Universe hangs up.

His wife is cooking his tea.

Fin

Aside from the rather abrupt Get Out of Jail Free ending I really enjoyed this one. There was a real sense of 'WTF IS going on?' about it for most of it that I like. The characters acted like real people, the aliens were suitably unpredictably alien. It read like a long strange bewildering fever dream. I know its not to everyone's taste but I like being bewildered. I like stories that almost make sense and are always at the point of promising some sort of rational resolution but always just manage to shift the goalposts far enough to keep you guessing but not far enough for you to notice that the author has no more idea what is going on in his book than the reader does.

Les Hommes-processeurs got the mix just about right for me. I shall look out for more of this guy's books.
 
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JunkMonkey

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Et la comete passa by Maurice Limat (1970) Fleuve Noir #441- ok, this one is a stinker.

FnAnt0441.jpg


1772 a comet is at its brightest* in the sky. In Paris an alchemist and his marquise financier use its 'influence' to animate two artificial, perfect human beings a la Frankenfurter. When the laboratory explodes, the creations wander off leaving no trace of their creators. (It is later implied, then stated rifght at the end of the book that the souls of the sorcerers have transmigrated to these perfect bodies.)

Four hundred years later - and an unspecified number of light years away - two mysterious strangers are spotted (where no mysterious strangers are supposed to be) in one of the supply depots of a deep space station. Refusing to surrender they are fired upon with no effect - bullets pass right through them, deadly 'infra-mauve' ray guns just dissolve their clothes. The spectacle of invulnerable, naked people defying the police draws a crowd. A passing movie director pays their fines and hires them on the spot to appear in his latest film. He is about to shoot a never before seen on screen spectacular with real spaceship battles and, as a climax, a local planet being wiped off the face of the universe. The nearby planet, Xoll, is in the direct path of the same comet we met in the introductory chapter. What this comet is doing in a completely different solar system is a mystery that is not addressed but, as this is one of those SF books where everything is 'space prefixed' like in an ancient Captain Future tv show ("I'll get them on the Space-radio, Binky. Why don't you make us a nice hot mug of galacto-caff while we wait?" That kind of crap.) I don't think proper joined-up science was high on the author's must do list.

The two mysterious strangers accept the director's offer. They want to go to Xoll. Their names are 'You' and 'You'. (The only interesting idea in the book.) A passing hero, 'Le Chevalier Coqdor' (The Knight Golden Rooster? or, as my brain soon shortened, it Sir Goldcock), tags along. He's on his way to Xoll too to help with the evacuation of the population before they all die when the comet hits. Le Chevalier Coqdor is accompanied by his faithul flying wolf/lizzard-bat-thing and has telepathic powers. As he is hardly described, or introduced in any meaningful manner, I got the idea we were supposed to know who he was - a couple of footnotes in later chapters later confirmed this by refering to his adventures in earlier books.**

Stopping off to buy a couple of old space liners at a scrapyard, the film crew are attacked by SPACE PIRATES! who wear masks inside their space helmets (actually I think I just made that up). They try to kidnap the movie director because he's so famous they can hold him to ransome and become very rich space pirates - but they are thwarted by You and You who can, apparently, also levitate and fly at will.

While shooting a sequence in space the Space Pirates attack again and are (again) thwarted by You and You who are piloting the two space liners. All the space pirates die. You and You and (for no other reason than the plot requires him to be on board) Le Chevalier Coqdor abandon the film crew and head for Xoll.

As they near the planet the local authorities, charged with evacuating everyone from certain doom, tell them to go back. Then when You and You refuse to turn back from certain death the local authorities charged with evacuating everyone from certain doom shoot them down - which makes NO sense whatsoever. Needless to say all three walk out of the wreckage without a scratch.

You and You it turns out are fed up with being eternal invulnerable humans with no libido and pronouns for names and, only by being on a planet as it is wiped off the face of the universe by the same comet whose influence created them, will they achieve eternal rest. (Or something.)

The powers that be have one last chance of saving Xoll. A powerful beam of blue energy fired from a hastily constructed instalation at the planet's pole might just deflect the comet! You and You plan to destroy this last hope but first they have to get across the zone of living volcanoes. Fire-mouthed living rock beings who lust after human flesh... ??? (sic) yep. They fly across. Then there are storms because the comet is interfereing with the plant's weather. (Or something.)

They get to the base and, after a few pointless, page filling shenanigans, You and You kidnap the robot that was to direct the final stage of Operation Blue Ray when everyone else has scarpered out of harm's way. Oh no! Xoll is Doomed!

Le Chevalier Coqdor mans the controls (obviously if a mere robot could do it, a hero of several badly written books should be able to pick it up in the 20 minutes or so they have left without any specialist training. Especially, it turns out, a robot that was specially built for the job, has ten arms... and has been reprogrammed by You and You to KILL!) The robot attacks! Coqdor leaps into a convenient spaceship and toasts the robot as he takes off. The spaceship has, it turns out, enough armenents onboard to reequip an entire fleet of warships. Hmmm. Maybe... just maybe he can blow the sodding comet up with them? Why has no one has thought of this before? I mean WHY? And why anyone would leave so much ordinance just lying around on a doomed planet is something that, if I were a taxpayer in that galaxy, I would be taking up with my elected representives. Oh and You and You are on the ship too. Somehow.

You and You and Coqdor spend a few pages squabbling about who gets to make noble, self-sacrificing gestures before one of the Yous points out that there are escape pods onboard. So out goes Coqdor. Big explosion. Comet is blownupified. Coqdor lives to appear in another book. Maybe the Yous are dead. Xoll isn't blown up. End of book.

This book like most of the others I've read in this thread were printed by Fleuve Noir (Black River) who, amongst other things, published The Perry Rhodan books in France.

Most of them have been page turning (predominantly) SF illiterate tosh. I love it!





* This is historically accurate, it was later named Biela's Comet.

** 39! Bruno Coqdor books saw print according to Maurice LIMAT - Bibliographie Livres - Biographie - nooSFere
 
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Teresa Edgerton

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I've been searching my memory for French science fiction authors that I have read, and aside from Jules Verne the only one that I can think of is one of the first science fiction writers I ever read, Vercors (pseudonym of Jean Bruller), author of You Shall Know Them (original title Les Animaux denatures) which I read back in the mid-1960s.

Here is the (very brief) description on Amazon: Very early one morning a doctor is called out to attend the corpse of a newborn baby who has been killed, the father freely admits, by a shot of strychnine chlorhydrate which he himself has administered. The police are called, but where is the mother? ‘She was taken back to the Zoo yesterday.’ ‘The Zoo? Does she work there?’ ‘No, she lives there …

The hero of the story (and the self-proclaimed murderer) is Douglas Templemore, a journalist, who was part of an expedition to New Guinea, during which a new species was discovered living in caves, a species which just might be the missing link (or a missing link) between apes and modern humans. Horrified to learn that industrialists are hoping to see the "Tropis" classified as animals, so they can be domesticated as livestock and serve as (slave) labor in Australian factories, Douglas decides that the best way to decide the question are they humans or are they animals is to provoke a test case in the British courts. Accordingly, he impregnates (by artificial insemination) a Tropi female, so that when the infant is born, baptized, and subsequently killed, Douglas will be tried for murder. If Douglas is found guilty of nothing worse than killing an animal, then he is safe, but the entire Tropi species will be doomed to slavery. If Douglas is found guilty of murder, then the Tropis are safe, but Douglas himself may face execution.

As the court case moves along, many characters weigh in with their various ideas on what it means to be human, how to determine if something (or someone) is human, etc. As a book published at about the mid-point of the twentieth century, obviously some of the opinions expressed by these characters come across as dated and more than a little racist. But it does bring up some thought-provoking ideas, and all the time that we are hoping that things will turn out well for the likable Douglas (a hope that he does not share, since he has purposely positioned himself for martyrdom), we remain equally in suspense about the fate of the Tropis.

The style, like the opinions of many of the characters, is also dated (which is fine by me), and since I don't read or speak French I have no idea whether the book I read was a good or a bad translation, but the plot is one I've never forgotten.

(It was made into a movie some time after I read it, but the reviews of the film were bad so I never took the trouble to seek it out.)
 

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