Old Science Fiction, or Yesterday’s Tomorrows

Here’s my first Reblog and I’m partly doing it as a personal aide memoire – I’ve read a few Victorian Science Fiction novels (I grew up on Edgar Allan Poe and H.G. Wells!) and I’ve always wanted to explore more, so this might prove to be a good starting point…

I’ve been trying to think of old Science Fiction stories I’ve already read and one that came to mind is After London (1885) by Richard Jefferies, which is probably one of the earliest post-apocalyptic novels.  The first half of the book deals with what happens to England after an undisclosed disaster wipes out most of the population and how the natural world gradually reclaims the streets and buildings of a once mighty city.  It is wonderfully descriptive of natural processes and how quickly the edifice of man’s dominance over the natural world is subsumed by the wild and is altogether quite believable.  His eloquence is understandable as Jefferies was an essayist on rural life and natural history.  The second half of the book is unfortunately quite dull – it involves a small tribal community set up with a Medieval style hierarchy and is really not worth reading at all (just read the first section, that is worth reading!).

two men enter . . .

A friend recently directed me to this post, which is a survey of 19th and early 20th century science fiction that came out of a conference discussion of the same (it actually extends a bit before and Victoria and after Edward, but categorizing based on monarchs’ names sounds legit and scholarly or whatever).  As someone who has studied and taught the history of the genre, I was interested in what the list compilers/panelists included.  It’s a solid list, to be sure.  And, as expected and acknowledged by the authors/participants, the list is dominated by a few usual suspects with pretty homogeneous backgrounds.  Partial list below the cut (the author, David Malki, has linked to online texts where available):

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One comment on “Old Science Fiction, or Yesterday’s Tomorrows

  1. nightwork says:

    Thanks for the reblog and I agree 100% on After London. Only those who feel they need to read all the early p-a stuff should look more than glancingly at the second half.

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