Futures Past

Futures Past

Those of you who like gazing at the pictures in John Clute’s Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia or at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction‘s cover gallery or just like reading about the history of science fiction will welcome Bill Emerson’s new electronic publication Future Past: A Visual History of Science Fiction.

At $6 an issue — with no ads, this is a bargain at 64 pages. Every one of the quarterly volumes will concentrate on a single year. The first issue is “1926: The Birth of Modern Science Fiction”. Emerson plans to publish enough volumes to take the history through 1975.

Each volume tries to cast a wide net over not only English language magazines and books but foreign-language publications, radio dramas, plays, and movies

Some of the surprises and revelations, for me, in the first issue were:

  •  The City Without Jews, a 1926 Austrian novel, whose author would later be gunned down by a Nazi.
  • That Hugo Gernsback didn’t just wake up one day and decide to publish the world’s first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories.
  • That the play Berkley Square didn’t just inspire H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Out of Time” but a slew of movie versions and that its author, John Lloyd Balderston, went on to write the scripts for many of Universal pictures famous monster movies.
  • The Savage, a science fiction comedy about a dinosaur visiting New York City.
  • Before he wrote science fiction (including “A Logic Named Joe” which kind of predicted the internet), Murray Leinster wrote for The Smart Set under his own name of William Jenkins.
  • An 800 page H. G. Wells novel called The World of William Clissold: A Novel at a New Angle existed.
  • How important Edgar Allan Poe was as a writer of the stories Gernsback wanted to publish and how often he reprinted Poe.

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