Journey of an Inhabitant of the World of the Star Sirius into the Planet Saturn

Illustration by Draco ©1997


This story is early science fiction. A philosopher by the name of Micromegas of the Star Sirius journeys through space to study the inhabitants of Saturn. Micromegas, a giant by any standard, finds the Saturnians to be small of stature and with limited senses and intellectual capacity by comparison.

However, Micromegas is intrigued by what he can learn from the Saturnian philosopher. Together the two philosophers travel in space until, by accident, they discover earth.

In the final installment, the philosophers, who find a way to communicate with the poor insignificant beings found on earth, argue and discuss their findings. Severely limited though they may be, the earthlings give signs of having an embryonic intelligence and primitive soul.

Episode I

In one of those planets which revolve round the star named Sirius there was a young man of much wit with whom I had the honor to be acquainted during the last visit he made to our little anthill. He was called Micromegas, a name very well suited to all big men. His height was eight leagues: by eight leagues I mean twenty-four thousand geometrical paces of five feet each.

Some of the mathmaticians, persons of unending public utility, will at once seize their pens and discover that, since Micromegas, inhabitant of the land of Sirius, measures from head to foot twenty-four thousand paces (which make one-hundred-and-twenty thousand royal feet), and since we other citizens of the earth measure barely five feet, and our globe has a circumference of nine thousand leagues--they will discover, I say, that it follows absolutely that the globe which produced Micromegas must have exactly twenty-one million six hundred thousand times more circumference than our little earth. Nothing in nature is simpler or more ordinary.

The states of certain German and Italian sovereigns, round which one may travel completely in half an hour, compared with the empires of Turkey, Russia, or China, are but a very feeble example of the prodigious differences which nature contrives everywhere.

His Excellency's stature being as I have stated, all our sculptors and all our painters will agree without difficulty that he is fifty thousand royal feet round the waist; which was very nicely proportioned.

As regards his mind, it is one of the most cultured we possess. He knows many things, and has invented a few. He had not yet reached the age of two-hundred-and-fifty, and was studying, according to custom, at the Jesuit college in his planet, when he solved by sheer brain power more than fifty of the problems of Euclid. That is eighteen more than Blaise Pascal who, after solving thirty-two to amuse himself, according to his sister, became a rather mediocre geometer and a very inferior metaphysician.

Toward the age of four hundred and fifty, when his childhood was past, he dissected many of those little insects which, not being a hundred feet across, escape the ordinary microscope. He wrote about them a very singular book which, however, brought him some trouble. The mufti of his country, a hair-splitter of great ignorance, found in it assertions that were suspicious, rash, offensive, unorthodox, and savoring of heresy, and prosecuted him vigorously. The question was whether the bodies of Sirian fleas were made of the same substance as the bodies of Sirian slugs. Micromegas defended himself with spirit, and brought all the women to his way of thinking. The case lasted two hundred and twenty years, and ended by the mufti having the book condemned by some jurists who had not read it, and by the author being banished from the court for eight hundred years.

Micromegas was only moderately distressed at being banished from a court which was such a hotbed of meanness and vexations. He wrote a very droll song against the mufti, which hardly troubled that dignitary, and set forth on a journey from planet to planet in order to finish forming his heart and mind, as the saying is.

Those who travel only in post-chaise and coach will be astonished, doubtless, at the methods of transport in the world above, for we on our little mud-heap cannot imagine anything outside the range of our ordinary experience. Our traveler had a marvelous knowledge of the laws of gravitation, and of the forces of repulsion and attraction. He made such excellent use of them that sometimes by the good offices of a comet, and at others by the help of a sunbeam, he and his friends went from globe to globe as a bird flutters from branch to branch. He traversed the Milky Way in no time, and I am forced to confess that he never saw through the stars with which it is sown the beautiful paradise that the illustrious and reverend Mr. Durham boasts of having seen at the end of his spyglass. Not that I claim that Mr. Hiram's eyesight is bad: God forbid, but Micromegas was on the spot, he is a sound observer, and I do not wish to contradict anyone.

SaturnAfter making a long tour, Micromegas reached the globe of Saturn. Although he was accustomed to see new things, he could not, on beholding the littleness of the globe and its inhabitants, refrain from that superior smile to which even the wisest men are sometimes subject. For Saturn, after all, is hardly more than nine hundred times bigger than the earth, and its citizens are dwarfs only about a thousand fathoms tall. He and his friends laughed at them at first, much as an Italian musician, when he comes to France, laughs at Lulli's music. The Sirian had good brains, however, and understood quickly that a thinking being may very well not be ridiculous merely because his height is only six thousand feet. Having started by amazing the Saturnians, he finished by becoming intimate with them. He engaged in a close friendship with the secretary of the Academy of Saturn, a man of much wit who, although he had indeed invented nothing himself, yet had a very good idea of the inventions of others, and had produced quite passable light verses and weighty computations.


NOTE. In the next installment, the author reports an odd conversation which Macro had with Mr. Secretary.)

© 1998 URLy Sylke All Rights Reserved CREDITS