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SF History

Clarke at 100: Earthlight

by Paul

Arthur C. Clarke would have turned 100 this year. To celebrate one of the greats of science fiction, I’m going to spend the year revisiting some of his books, and writing about them here. I’m not going to be reading them in any specific order, more a matter of which one I happen to take […]

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How to Build your SF Reference Library: Robert Scholes

by Paul

With everything that was going on at the end of last year, we missed the news that Robert Scholes had died. Scholes was one of the first academics who attempted to apply literary theory to science fiction. Not always successfully, it must be said. And for the casual reader his work tends to be off-puttingly […]

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How to Build Your SF Reference Library 2, Histories

by Paul

If you want to build up a reference library on science fiction, the first thing you need is context. In other words, there are certain very basic things you need to be able to find out. When did A happen? Did B occur before C, or after it? How does D relate to E? What […]

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10 Essential SF Books of the 1920s

by Paul

Our peripatetic journey through the history of science fiction takes us back to that curious decade, the 1920s, back by some reckonings, to the very beginning of science fiction itself. In retrospect, the 1920s was a transitional age. It emerged from the end of the First World War, whose horrors and with them the decimation […]

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Discovering Margaret Cavendish

by Paul

Let’s face it, there aren’t that many science fiction writers who have appeared in novels. H.G. Wells, of course, in a whole variety of books from Christopher Priest’s The Space Machine to David Lodge’s A Man of Parts, and Philip K. Dick in Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas by Michael Bishop. Well, now there’s a new and […]

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10 essential sf books of the 1930s

by Paul

Continuing our occasional history of science fiction, we drop back in time to the 1930s. In America, the pulp magazines were now going strong with a host of space operas by writers who are now often forgotten. It was only at the end of the decade, when John W. Campbell took over the editorship of Astounding, […]

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10 Essential works of Science Fiction from the 1970s

by Paul

The 70s was a strange, liminal time in science fiction. As the decade began, the New Wave was still in full flood, but the wave petered out very quickly. In Britain, New Worlds magazine folded and was replaced by an original anthology series called New Worlds Quarterly that, despite its title, managed only 10 issues in six years […]

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10 Essential SF Titles from the 1940s

by Paul

And our ongoing history of the key sf works takes a step backwards to the 1940s. Two extraordinary events of 1939 had a profound effect on the science fiction of this decade. In the first instance, John W. Campbell became editor of Astounding. He didn’t just turn Astounding into the most important sf magazine of the period, […]

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