The Islamic Roots Of Science Fiction

You probably already knew that Islam was having a scientific golden age during Europe's middle ages, and making tons of scientific and medical discoveries. (Which is why we use words like "algebra.") But you might not know that some of the earliest proto-science fiction came from the Islamic world. » 9/09/14 4:00pm 9/09/14 4:00pm

See The Earliest Illustration of Shelley's Frankenstein For Yourself

Frankenstein's monster has had many appearances over the decades, from Boris Karloff to... Aaron Eckhart? But the first ever illustration, from 1831, shows a more human-looking creature. And you can see it for yourself. » 8/26/14 4:00pm 8/26/14 4:00pm

The World's Most Fascinating Places, As Seen In Science Fiction Books

It's the middle of summer — the time of year when wanderlust takes over our brains. You want to leave your home and your job and explore what the world has to offer. But here's the next best thing — 15 books that take place in science fiction and fantasy versions of the most fascinating places on Earth. » 7/11/14 1:15pm 7/11/14 1:15pm

How to measure the power of a science fiction story

Too often, we hear that a science fiction story has "succeeded" if it predicts the future accurately. But that's the wrong measure of success. The most powerful works of SF don't describe the future — they change it. » 9/17/13 12:00pm 9/17/13 12:00pm

The Webcomic Guide to the Apocalypse: The Dying Earth

Last week, I explored two early plague-themed stories of the apocalypse in webcomic form. This week, we're once again going back in time to look at the very earliest tales of the end of the world, this time delving into tales in which the Earth reaches its expiration date. In this short comic, I trace these modern… » 1/20/13 7:00am 1/20/13 7:00am

The Webcomic Guide to the Apocalypse: Plague

We're going to be seeing a glut of apocalyptic movies this year, even though audiences are starting to get weary of watching the world end. While Hollywood looks for new ways to blow up the Earth, I'll be taking a look back at how the apocalypse looked when science fiction was new. In a series of short comics, I'll be… » 1/13/13 7:00am 1/13/13 7:00am

10 Silliest Frankenstein Spoofs

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein helped to launch the entire genre of science fiction, and shaped our dialogue about the ethics of science and artificial life. But it's also created a pop culture explosion that's lasted over a century, and continues full-tilt today. Franken-culture is here to stay, and it often gets mighty… » 10/02/12 10:00am 10/02/12 10:00am

The Philosophical Roots of Science Fiction

People use science fiction to illustrate philosophy all the time. From ethical quandaries to the very nature of existence, science fiction's most famous texts are tailor-made for exploring philosophical ideas. In fact, many college campuses now offer courses in the philosophy of science fiction. » 8/08/12 11:34am 8/08/12 11:34am

Novels that Could Help You Prepare for a Future Pandemic

When you think about pants-wettingly terrifying apocalyptic scenarios, the most horrifying might well be the worldwide plague. A deadly disease could spread around the planet at alarming speed, and kill most of the population before we even knew what was going on. Luckily, some of the best novels (and graphic novels)… » 6/28/12 4:00pm 6/28/12 4:00pm

Do we really need more optimistic science fiction?

Noted writer Neal Stephenson has argued that contemporary science fiction is too focused on nihilism and apocalyptic scenarios. The current crop of such works, such as The Walking Dead, are compared rather unfavorably to the hopeful view of the future that was supposed to be common theme in the mid twentieth century. » 5/31/12 3:08pm 5/31/12 3:08pm

An Ada Lovelace-Mary Shelley team-up, an encyclopedia of Golden Age…

There are always wonderful projects in need of crowdfunding, and we've rounded up some fun campaigns vying for your dollars: a children's book about the early adventures of Mary Shelley and Ada Lovelace, a US stage tour for a Jurassic Park parody, some mathematically beautiful wall clocks, and an encyclopedia of our… » 4/08/12 12:30pm 4/08/12 12:30pm

The Year Without a Summer, and How It Spawned Frankenstein

The summer of 1816 brought unseasonably cold temperatures to the Northeastern United States, Canada, and Europe. Damaged crops and impeded trade caused widespread famine, leading to skyrocketing food prices, and the deaths of thousands. » 2/17/12 12:00pm 2/17/12 12:00pm

10 Debut Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels That Took the World by Storm

This month, many of us are trying to pound out a novel. The ultimate dream is to break into the publishing world with a debut that makes people sit up and take notice. And there's some good news on that front — some of science fiction and fantasy's most beloved writers have made a splash with their very first… » 11/03/11 10:08am 11/03/11 10:08am

10 Science Fiction Books That Changed the Course of History

Many science fiction books imagine strange new worlds — but only a few science fiction books have actually changed the world we live in. A few visionary authors have managed to make such an impression that they left the world a vastly different place. » 8/18/11 10:00am 8/18/11 10:00am

10 Classic SF and Fantasy Books That Were Originally Considered Failures

Some of science fiction/fantasy's classic books failed to win over readers at first. And the publishers of some of SF's most beloved works were convinced they had a disaster on their hands. Here are 10 masterpieces that were deemed failures. » 7/05/11 10:00am 7/05/11 10:00am

The Brontës invented imaginary realms, and created some of the first…

The Brontë sisters are best known as the authors of literary gothic tales like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, but in their childhood, they worked with their brother to invent the made-up realm of the Glass Town Federation. » 5/11/11 12:50pm 5/11/11 12:50pm

Is Frankenstein the next monster to get the Twilight treatment?

Will the next monster to fall victim to the paranormal romance craze be the monster from Mary Shelly's Frankenstein? Perhaps, but we're not panicking as Sony only has plans to bring back the monster, not Twilight-ize him... yet. » 12/06/10 8:00am 12/06/10 8:00am

10 classic SF books that were originally considered failures

Some of science fiction/fantasy's classic books failed to win over readers at first. And the publishers of some of SF's most beloved works were convinced they had a disaster on their hands. Here are 10 masterpieces that were deemed failures. » 10/13/10 2:19pm 10/13/10 2:19pm

Reality TV artists reimagine H.G. Wells and Mary Shelley's book covers

Last night on Bravo's Work of Art, the reality series commissioned a pack of artists to redesign the book covers of a few genre classics, from Frankenstein to the Time Machine. A few interpretations were just brilliant. Take a look! » 6/24/10 6:30am 6/24/10 6:30am