Welcome to the third installment of a new feature here at Balladeer’s Blog. This segment will feature some forgotten early ventures into the form of story- telling that we now call science fiction.  ”Ancient” is being said with poetic license in some cases, such as with this week’s subject – Orlando Furioso, written by Ludovico Ariosto in 1532.

ORLANDO FURIOSO – Only part of Ariosto’s satirical epic falls under the category of Ancient Science Fiction, so that’s the only part I’ll deal with. The hero Orlando has gone mad, and his ally Astolfo is trying to recover “Orlando’s Lost Wits”. This endeavor becomes an “epic within an epic” as his journey takes him to Hell and the Earthly Paradise (in a wry nod to Dante’s Divine Comedy) and now onward to the moon. Astolfo’s guide is St John the Evangelist and their mode of transportation is Elijah’s  chariot. 

Ariosto presents the moon as being the exact same size as the Earth and a place of fields, towns, lakes and rivers. In addition, the moon is home to The Valley Of Lost Things, where everything lost on Earth winds up. Not just any and every tangible object that people have lost, but intangible concepts like lost ideals, unkept vows, etc. In a more satirical vein, some items become odd parodies of themselves – lost crowns become tumid bladders on the moon and flattery becomes rancid garlands. At last, Astolfo finds Orlando’s Lost Wits in this lunar junkyard of Earthly vanities and returns to Earth to restore the sanity of the epic’s main character and leaves readers for centuries smiling at St John’s observation that “all writers are nothing but paid liars.”    



Filed under Ancient Science Fiction


  1. Pingback: Barbara K

  2. Reading your blog is like opening Christmas presents, as I know I can always count on little gems like this one to pop out. A lot of what you write about is new to me (which is good, because I learn a lot this way), but once in a while you touch upon literary works that I studied at university a long time ago and have forgotten about [blush]. This is one of them, I studied it as part of my Comparative Literature course. Dante was also in the curriculum, as a precursor of Ariosto.
    Thanks for bringing back sweet memories and a bit of lost knowledge 🙂

    • You always say the nicest things! (Or does George ghost-write your comments?) I really appreciate you taking the time to make such a nice compliment!

      • George does ghost-write some of my comments, but not this one (he hasn’t been to university, you see, so he wouldn’t know). As for the nice comment, I’m only telling the truth 😉

  3. Awesome! Very cool look at ancient stuff that was like science fiction

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  6. Interesting! I love your articles!

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  9. Hello, these ancient sci fi stories are my favorite part of your blog!

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  23. So weird how that was written so long ago!

  24. Excellent blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There
    are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused ..

    Any ideas? Thanks a lot!

  25. Kudos for the noteworthy site you’ve created. Your enthusiasm is absolutely inspiring. Thanks again!

  26. Have you tried twitterfeed on your blog, i think it would be cool.,-:`.

  27. Carline

    This wasn’t as much fun as your other ancient science fiction posts.

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