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The many faces of Hugo Gernsback 6/7

Life after death

When you hear the word science fiction, the first thing that comes to your mind is lasers, spaceships, hovering cars, basically everything that you can imagine what could be invented in the future. But have you spent a second thought on the origins of science fiction and who its “father” may be?

Hugo Gernsback, born in Luxembourg in 1884, was not only popular during his lifetime. Even after his death, he continues to be honored for his accomplishments and the influence he had in several fields.

Gernsback did not want a traditional funeral but wished to be shot into space. As this was not possible, Gernsback donated his body to scientific research. The Hugo Award, known today as the Oscar of Science Fiction literature is named after him. The ‘Hugo Award’ is the most prestigious prize in the genre of science fiction and recognizes outstanding publications in the field. Gernsback’s friend Sam Moskowitz published Gernsback’s second book ‘Ultimate World’ in 1971. In Luxembourg, Hugo Gernsback wasn’t forgotten either, as witnessed by a collection of stamps, a street on the Kirchberg-Plateau in Luxembourg and even a big exhibition in Mersch in 2010/2011.

As Gernsback put it:

‘A friend, not long ago, asked me what made me and men of my ilk forecast the future so incessantly and sometimes with fanatical zeal. A good question. I cannot answer for my brother forecasters and prophets, but for myself the answer is simple: dissatisfaction with the “present” and its many shortcomings. Hence an urge to suggest changes wherever possible, in a practical manner. […] Our fastest reflexes are already old when we perceive them. Every gesture, even the blinking of an eyelid, is in the past. […] Look at the sky - you see the moon as it was, nearly 1 1/2 seconds ago, the sun as it was over 8 minutes ago! And that is probably the chief reason why I, for one, like to roam in the future… It is exhilarating to get away from the dead and gone past…’.

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