The Visionaries, Madmen, and Tinkerers Who Created the Future That Never Was
SCIENCE FICTION AND MORE
Science Fiction is the literature of the future. How's that working for you lately?
SF really and truly is the literature of ideas. What other works get to examine the possibilities of robots and aliens, of cyborgs and mutants, of hive minds and telepaths, of worlds dominated by corporations and theocracies and libertarians? Metaphor is SF's core; that colony on Mars, that trip to hunt dinosaurs, that clone child, that first contact with aliens, that surprise attack from another galaxy, manage to turn around, dissert, and expose subtleties about our current world that would be lost in a more straightforward approach.
Corollary to Carper's Law: Science Fiction is Never About the Future. It Is Always About Today.
That was just as true nearly 100 years ago, when neither the genre nor the phrase existed. Writers of that day saw the possibilities in ideas, using them to comment on the dramatically fresh technology transforming their world before their eyes. I have examples of those protostories under the Robots, Food Pills, and Rays tabs and they are distinctly different from A Journey to the Year 2025 here in the SF section. They are all about their current day, even if some of the inventions hadn't yet - or would never - come to fruition. They may be little more than animated editorials, crude by modern standards, but they shone light on the world around them and the people affected by change.
Clement Fezandié, the author of "Journey," had the same intentions with different means. A product of Hugo Gernsback's stable of writers, who populated Amazing Stories and Science and Invention and other Gernsback properties, and who wrote under the banner of scientifiction (a word still in use in 1940), he also explored ideas, but ideas for their own sake, not caring much for the people they impacted, probably because he could conceive of no changes that wouldn't be beneficial. Those changes tell us much more about Fezandié and his view of 1922 than they do about the onrushing year of 2025. They are a historian's dream and a reader's nightmare.
SF lurched between those poles for the next several decades, years that yielded a group of stories and writers we celebrate today as the Golden Age. Those years gave SF the ineradicable image of being about spaceships, and of telling the world the way the Future ought to be. The writers seldom invented that future; they were wonderfully skilled as translating ideas in fiction and filling in the larger picture with thousands of tiny details that loom in nostalgic minds. SF and the Consensus Future are like the two antennae of a Tesla Coil. Sparks fly between them. Neither can function without the other.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. INTRODUCTION TO SILENT F&SF MOVIES ON YOUTUBE
How to use the the annotated listing of f&sf movies on YouTube.
2. SILENT F&SF MOVIES ON YOUTUBE 1895 - 1906
An annotated listing of f&sf movies on YouTube, part 1
3. SILENT F&SF MOVIES ON YOUTUBE 1907 - 1913
An annotated listing of f&sf movies on YouTube, part 2.
4. SILENT F&SF MOVIES ON YOUTUBE 1914 - 1919
An annotated listing of f&sf movies on YouTube, part 3.
5. SILENT F&SF MOVIES ON YOUTUBE 1920 - 1929
An annotated listing of f&sf movies on YouTube, part 4
A tribute to pioneer f&sf filmaker George Méliès with a forgotten gem from 1906.
7. THE ABDUCTION OF ALEXANDRA SEINE
Flying Cars. Food pills. Telepathy machines. Time viewers. And that's just the first page of this wild 1900 yarn.
A story by Hugo Gernsback's favorite author, Clement Fezendie, the epitome of scientifiction, with an Introduction.
A lost sf story on the unexpected revelations of picture phones, with an Introduction.
10. THE FUTURE PAYS WELL - SOMETIMES
Four cents a word then, four cents a word now, four cents a word in between - the authors speak.
11. JAY JACKSON: FIRST BLACK SF PULP ARTIST
Amazing Stories' reinvented itself 1938 with the help of dozens of illustrations by Jackson.
12. ELTON FAX: BLACK F&SF PULP ARTIST
The work mainstream art biographies forget to mention.
Four examples of the government upset by atomic power stories during WWII.
14. THE LAST SECRET
The U.S. tried to censor this book about atomic weapons, published in 1943.
Black artist and writer Jay Jackson introduced Bungleton Green, the first black superhero, in a comic strip in 1945.
A time capsule of what the f&sf field looked like at the start of the hardback era.
17. GNOME PRESS
The insider's small press that published Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Kimball Kinneson,
C. L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Andre Norton, and Wilmar H. Shiras all wrote for Gnome, but did readers know they were women?
On the occasion of the magazine's 50th anniversary.
One horrifying image defined sci-fi movie posters in the 50s.
21. THE LOOK OF THE FUTURE - FUTURE SCIENCE FICTION
The best named SF magazine, with some of the worst covers.
22. THE LOOK OF THE FUTURE - GALAXY NOVELS
The first paperback publishing line devoted entirely to f&sf.
23. OUTPOST MARS
A colony on Mars should feel like the future, so why does it resemble a frontier town?
24. JETTA: TEEN-AGE SWEETHEART OF THE 21ST CENTURY
The world of The Jetsons a full decade earlier.
25. THE PUNCH UFOs
A gallery of cartoons from the humor magazine Punch on rockets, the Bomb, and UFOs.
Half of the Dillons worked solo on sf in the 1950s.
27. THE FIRST GROUNDHOG DAY WAS CHRISTMAS
Tracing this history of the one day lived over and over concept, all the way back to the 19th Century.