Alternate Worlds

The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, 3d ed.


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About the Book

Alternate Worlds was first published in 1975 and became an instant classic, winning a Hugo award. This third edition brings the history of science fiction up to date, covering developments over the past forty years—a period that has seen the advent of technologies only imagined in the genre’s Golden Age. As a literature of change, science fiction has become ever more meaningful, presaging dangers to humanity and, as Alvin Toffler wrote, guarding against “the premature arrival of the future.” The world has begun to recognize science fiction in many different ways, incorporating its elements in products, visual media and huge conventions.

About the Author(s)

The late James Gunn was emeritus professor of English at the University of Kansas and the author or editor of 45 books and 100+ short stories. A former president of both the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Science Fiction Research Association, he received their lifetime awards and induction into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. He lived in Lawrence, Kansas.

Bibliographic Details

James Gunn

Introduction by Isaac Asimov

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 336
Bibliographic Info: 215 photos (62 in color), appendices, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7353-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3332-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Science Fiction, I Love You (Isaac Asimov) 5
1. The Shape of the Present 9
2. In the Beginning 23
3. Toward Verne: 1800–1885 37
Between pages 50 and 51 are 8 color plates with 16 photographs
4. A Victorian Engineer: 1828–1905 51
5. The Birth of the Mass Magazines: 1885–1911 66
6. Prophet of Progress: 1866–1946 77
7. The Rise of the Pulps: 1911–1926 97
8. That Amazing Decade: 1926–1936 113
9. The Expanding Universe: 1930–1940 128
Between pages 144 and 145 are 16 color plates with 46 photographs
10. The Astounding Editor: 1938–1950 145
11. The Big Boom: 1940–1955 171
12. Alternate Worlds: 1949–1965 195
13. The Shape of Things to Come 212
14. The Shape of Things That Came: 1975–2016 231
Appendix 1: Science Fiction Themes 251
Appendix 2: A Basic Science Fiction Libary 254
Appendix 3: A Short History of Western Civilization,
Science, Technology and Science Fiction 267
Index 293

Book Reviews & Awards

From the first edition:

  • Locus Award
  • Hugo WorldCon Special Award
  • Science Fiction Research Association’s Pilgrim Award
  • “Comprehensive, neatly balanced and lavishly illustrated…SF fans may never have had so thorough a tribute to their genre.”—Publishers Weekly
  • “An excellent, an intelligent, comprehensive, and above all objective history…a minor miracle”—Science Fiction Review
  • “The hundreds of photos of science fiction writers and the equally large number of reproductions of covers from the pulp magazines make it a treasure.”—Jackson Sun
  • “Gunn gives the history of sf according to Verne, Wells and Campbell. And he does so brilliantly, in a study that will long remain the voice for the so-called ‘hard concept of sf.’”—Extrapolation