The most ambitious work of futuristic fiction written in the eighteenth century was L’Enclos et les oiseaux [The Enclosure and the Birds] by Nicolas-Edmé Restif de la Bretonne, written between January and May 1796. There was, admittedly, not a lot of competition. L’An deux mille quatre cent quarante (1771; tr. as Memoirs of the Year 2500) by Restif’s friend Louis-Sébastien Mercier, got all the publicity then and still gets it now although its snapshot vision of the future merely consists of imagining the worst atrocities of contemporary Paris tidied up. The immortal hero of L’Enclos et les oiseaux, by contrast, witnesses the entire future history of the Earth until the planet is swallowed by the Sun hundreds of thousands of years hence. Along the way he lives through the planet’s near-collision with a comet, which causes a worldwide upheaval and supplies the world with a second moon, occasioning a burst of rapid evolution whose products include a new species of winged humans.