Science Fiction from Wells to Heinlein

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About the Book

As a publisher’s category, science fiction began in the American pulp magazine industry in 1926. But its origins lay in the British tradition of the scientific romance, whose mastery by H.G. Wells in his Victorian youth (1895–1901) makes him the “father of modern SF” (Jules Verne is a more distant ancestor). Wells’s most self-conscious descendant is Robert Heinlein, whose rapid rise to fame during the magazine era made him “the dean of American SF.” He so succeeded in winning literary recognition for the genre that it all but vanished into the mainstream, save for a lingering identity in classified paperbacks and in television programming (Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, for example, was marketed as general fiction and not science fiction).
The present work, by a man who taught the subject at the university level for decades, is a critical examination of the literary trajectory of science fiction from the scientific romances of H.G. Wells to the era of Robert Heinlein. Such luminaries as Isaac Asimov (I, Robot), Arthur C. Clarke (2001), A.E. van Vogt (Slan), L. Sprague de Camp (Lest Darkness Fall), Harry Harrison (Stars and Stripes Forever trilogy), Kurt Vonnegut (The Sirens of Titan), Brian Aldiss (Greybeard), Edgar Rice Burroughs (Barsoom series, Pellucidar series), Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles), Fritz Leiber (The Wanderer), C.S. Lewis (Perelandra), and Arthur Conan Doyle (The Lost World) are discussed along the way. The roles of various magazines in establishing the genre, an area of the author’s special expertise, are fully examined (Hugo Gernsback’s Science and Invention, Amazing Stories, and Weird Tales, among others).

About the Author(s)

The late Leon Stover, professor emeritus at the Illinois Institute of Technology, was the first to bring science fiction to the college curriculum and was the author of numerous landmarks of intellectual history. He lived in Chicago.

Bibliographic Details

Leon Stover
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 129 b&w photos, tables, 36 glossy color photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008 [2002]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3892-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface     1

PART 1: SCIENCE FICTION
1. American Dominance     7
2. The British Tradition     31
3. Verne and Wells     47
4. John Campbell     95
5. Robert Heinlein     111

Between pages 126 and 127 are 16 color plates containing 36 images.

PART 2: THEMES
6. Ascent of the Saints     129
7. Rebelling Robots     147
8. Benevolent Catastrophe     155
9. Cavemen and Dinosaurs     159
10. Utopia and Dystopia     167
Epilogue: The Romance of Radio     173

Appendix I: Initial Magazines     179
Appendix II: Science Fiction on Film     180
Appendix III: Memorable Science Fiction in Print     181
Bibliography     183
Index     185

Book Reviews & Awards

“well illustrated and attractive”—Interzone; “impressive…amazing…highly recommended”—Midwest Book Review; “entertaining and informative…jazzy cover…reader is quickly caught up…fun to read…tells the story well”—Utopian Studies; “interesting…impressively illustrated”—Apex Science Fiction & Horror Digest; “a fascinating account…readers of all ages will treasure it…a valuable contribution…a riveting read…his knowledge of American pulp science fiction is astonishing and makes for a very interesting and fulfilling read…the book is a marvel…a vital work…Stover’s mastery of pulp science fiction and its emergence after the Second World War rivals the best in its field”—The Wellsian; “Stover examines important themes…offers broad overview of the field…recommended…a welcome, divergent viewpoint in the field of popular culture studies”—The Heinlein Journal; “science fiction is sizzling in terms of interest…a prime time for this book”—The Intelligencer Record; “a dissection of science fiction as a whole to examine its roots, its zenith, and its lasting impact on culture…interesting…fans of classic science fiction will no doubt revel in the 26 full color images of classic sci-fi magazine covers showing many a Wellsian influence…a useful index”—The H.G. Wells Society, The Americas; “very nice full color insets”—Critical Mass.