Spiridon by André Laurie (Adapted with an Introduction by Michael Shreve)
“Spiridon, Monsieur Prosecutor, is not a human being. He’s an animal, a refined insect, a giant ant who managed to develop his instinct to an imperfect intellectual level, but who is still, in spite of everything, an animal, an unaware, irresponsible animal and totally innocent.”
André Laurie was a one of Jules Verne’s collaborators, a pioneer of science fiction as well as a prolific writer, militant journalist and even politician. In Spiridon (1907), a young surgeon discovers an island off the coast of Corsica inhabited by giant, intelligent ants. Their king, Spiridon, eager to learn more about humanity, goes to Paris where, using his advanced knowledge, he begins effecting miraculous cures before being unmasked by jealous competitors. Forced to protect himself, Spiridon reveals his alien nature and becomes a killer. Spiridon, a non-humanoid alien gifted with knowledge, scientific curiosity, but no human emotions, the victim of mankind’s fears, is a ground-breaking science fiction character and a striking departure from both Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.