The Blazing World
In 1666, the same year that Newton graduated Cambridge, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, wrote "A Description of A New World, Called the Blazing-World", better known as "The Blazing World". An early work of science fiction, this short novel touches on alchemy, the occult, religion and philosophy, moving between topics — and accuracy, in the light of modern understanding — at a dizzying pace. Like her contemporary Newton’s writings, which ranged from physics to alchemy, Cavendish’s work showed the transition in thought from ancient philosophy to modern ideas that was the hallmark of the scientific revolution.
In "The Blazing World", a woman from our world is kidnapped by a suitor on a boat, his plan goes awry, the boat’s crew dies, and the woman is transported to another world as she rounds the Earth’s pole. The world she is transported to is the eponymous and fantastical Blazing World. There she becomes empress of the Blazing World through marriage. The core plot unfolds in a space scarcely larger than its summary. The empress and Cavendish herself later interact, mediated by spirits. The women become fast friends, platonic lovers, and travel to each other’s worlds.
"The Blazing World" is a feminist work. It was written by a female author in the 17th century under her own name, to an audience of women, about women characters discussing topics of natural philosophy in a fantastical setting. The work is subversive, exploring Platonic love in scenes which feature without judgement homosexuality, androgyny and polyamory.