Isegoria reported that “the Rock” will play the role of “the Doc.”
As a riposte to this wit, I offer … the Radium Age of Science Fiction.
MORE LIT LISTS: 50 Best Scientific Romances (1864–1903) | Radium Age Sci-Fi: 100 Best Novels of 1904–33 | Golden Age Sci-Fi: 75 Best Novels of 1934–1963 | 75 Best New Wave Sci-Fi (1964–83) Novels | The 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time | 101 Science Fiction Adventures
Back in 2008, Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders invited me to write for io9.com about a topic they knew I had recently become fascinated with: science fiction novels published after the genre’s 1864–1903 Scientific Romance era, but before its (1934–63) so-called Golden Age. The 1904–33 era is one in which sf fans and historians have never been particularly interested. At first, I called this neglected period the Pre-Golden Age, but later I coined the phrase Radium Age — a moniker which I’ve popularized by writing about the era for the scientific journal Nature, Boing Boing, and elsewhere; and by reissuing 10 science fiction novels from that period under HiLoBooks’s purpose-built Radium Age Science Fiction imprint.
At io9, I published a short series of semi-exhaustive posts on the following topics: Radium Age Supermen | Radium Age Robots | Radium Age Apocalypses | Radium Age Telepaths | Radium Age Eco-Catastrophes | Radium Age Cover Art (1) | SF’s Best Year Ever: 1912.
At the time, I took notes for subsequent posts on, e.g., Air Battles, Antigravity, Interplanetary Voyages, Lost Worlds, Mad Scientists, Time Travel, and Utopias. I collected a roomful of books by Olaf Stapledon, William Hope Hodgson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sax Rohmer, Karel Čapek, Hugo Gernsback, E.E. “Doc” Smith, H.P. Lovecraft, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, David Lindsay, John Taine, Jack Williamson, S. Fowler Wright, Gustave Le Rouge, A. Merritt, Murray Leinster, Jean de La Hire, Maurice Renard, Philip Wylie, Aldous Huxley, and many less well-known science fiction authors from the time.
However, since then I’ve moved onto other projects. Still… Before I box up the Radium Age books and put them in the attic, I wanted to assemble a list of the 100 Radium Age science fiction novels that I’ve most enjoyed. Throughout 2015 and into early 2016, I did exactly that. Scroll down, to see the full list.
Please let me know what 1904–33 sci-fi novels I’ve overlooked! And, if you’d like to support the cause, please visit the HiLoBooks homepage; you’ll find Amazon links for all of our Radium Age series.
PS: Interested in learning more? I can’t recommend enough Everett F. Bleiler’s Science-Fiction: The Early Years (1990), a terrific reference for pre-1930 science fiction.
— JOSH GLENN
SOME PRE-RADIUM AGE TITLESThe following classics from the science fiction genre’s Scientific Romance (1864–1903) era are listed here in order to provide some historical context.
- Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864).
- Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon (1865).
- Edward Everett Hale’s The Brick Moon (1869).
- Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869–70).
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Vril, the Power of the Coming Race (1871).
- Samuel Butler’s Erewhon (1872).
- Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island (1874–75).
- Mary E. Bradley Lane’s Mizora: World of Women (1881).
- Walter Besant’s The Revolt of Man (1882).
- Albert Robida’s Le Vingtième Siècle (1883).
- E. A. Abbott’s Flatland (1884).
- Richard Jeffries’s After London (1885).
- W.H. Hudson’s A Crystal Age (1887).
- Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888).
- Joseph Shield Nicholson’s Thoth (1888).
- Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde (1888).
- Walter Besant’s The Inner House (1888).
- William Morris’s News from Nowhere (1890).
- Camille Flammarion’s La Fin du Monde (1893).
- H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine (1895).
- Percival Lowell’s Mars (1895) [nonfiction].
- H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896).
- H.G. Wells’s The Invisible Man (1897).
- H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1898).
- H.G. Wells’s When the Sleeper Wakes (1899).
- H.G. Wells’s The First Men in the Moon (1901).
- M.P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud (1901).
RADIUM AGE SCI-FI: THE OUGHTS (1904–13)The Oughts are a kind of interregnum period between sci-fi’s Scientific Romance era (1864–1903) and the Radium Age. Verne, Wells, Kipling, Arnold, Baum and some others who published science fiction from 1904–13 are much better known for their earlier novels; and their sensibilities were formed in the late 19th century. (Similarly, the Thirties [1934–43] are an interregnum between sci-fi’s Radium Age and the so-called Golden Age [1934–63].) Still, by the end of the Oughts — particularly in the annus mirabilis of 1912 — we can discern the Radium Age’s emergence.
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