Toys in the Age of Wonder

Science Fiction, Society and the Symbolism of Play


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About the Book

By the middle 1800s, toys were appearing in forms that drew upon—and that inspired—advances in areas such as optics, biology, geography, transportation, and automation. In these decades, too, a new type of wonder tale was being brought to maturity by a Poe-inspired Jules Verne. The modern wonder tale’s highly-charged vision expressed the hopes and the fears, and the delights and the traumas, engendered by “new worlds idealism”—that Western pursuit of both mechanical and geographical conquest. Exploring realms belonging to childhood, literature, science, and history, this innovative study weaves together the histories of wonder tales and children’s toys, focusing specifically on their modern aspects and how they reflect and express the social attitudes of that time period beginning around 1859 and ending around 1957.

About the Author(s)

Mark Rich has written multiple books on toys and toy history, along with numerous articles on science fiction literature. He lives in Cashton, Wisconsin.

Bibliographic Details

Mark Rich
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 344
Bibliographic Info: 95 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4392-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3978-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
One—Excelsior! 3
Two—Marking the Modern Century 19
Three—The ­Sleep-Journey and the Navigator 29
Four—Tradition and Change in Symbolic Toys 46
Five—Deep Time and the Thinning Veil 64
Six—Early Automata in America 84
Seven—The Moon and the ­Anti-Hero Clock 94
Eight—The Maelstrom and New Worlds Fatalism 112
Nine—Fogg’s Journey 125
Ten—Later Automata and Shrunken Globes 137
Eleven—The Magic City 152
Twelve—The Antigravity Clock and the Moon 168
Thirteen—The Middle Years and the Ripping Veil 179
Fourteen—Mockeries of Mass Production 197
Fifteen—The Tattered Veil 222
Sixteen—Lines of Motion and the Horizontal Rocket 235
Seventeen—Thirteen O’Clock 261
Chapter Notes 283
Bibliography 309
Index 317

Book Reviews & Awards

“Entertaining…If there is a philosophy of toys and toy invention, it is at work here.”—