Author: Brian Aldiss
Genre: literary criticism, monograph
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
ISBN: 0 297 76555 8
Interactive table of contents: Yes
Number of Pages: 360
From Well’s War of the Worlds to Kubrick’s 2001, science fiction has become one of the great popular media of our time. It is denounced as inhuman; it is praised as the apocalyptic literature of our century. Science fiction is all things to all men: prediction, power-fantasy, escapism, popularisation of science, satire, social fiction, surrealism, symbolism, propaganda for and against technology. Yet curiously enough Billion Year Spree is the first comprehensive history of the subject to be published.
Aldiss, himself a past master at the genre, shows how sf was born in 1818, in the very heart of the English Romantic Movement, when Mary Godwin Shelley wrote Frankenstein Or, The Modern Prometheus. The novel was immediately successful, and the germ of its fearsome idea – of a man-made man – has flourished ever since.
1. The Origins of the Species: Mary Shelley
2. "A Clear-Sighted, Sickly Literature": Edgar Allan Poe
3. Pilgrim Fathers: Lucian and All That
4. The Gas-Enlightened Race: Victorian Visions
5. The Man Who Could Work Miracles: H. G. Wells
6. The Flight from Urban Culture: Wells' Coevals
7. To Barsoom and Beyond: ERB and the Weirdies
8. In the Name of the Zeitgeist: Mainly the Thirties
9. The Future on a Chipped Plate: The World of John W. Campbells "Astounding"
10. After the Impossible Happened: The Fifties and Onwards, and Upwards
11. The Stars My Detestation: Yesterday and Tomorrow
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