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The Road to Science Fiction 2: From Wells to Heinlein

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Now in Paperback! Between an ancient Roman's trip to the moon and the fantastic tales of H.G. Wells lies a journey through time and space and an awesome evolution in scientific thinking. From Gilgamesh's search for immortality to Lucian's odyssey on the moon; from Jonathan Swift's hilarious satire on scientists in Gulliver's Travels to Mary Shelley's horrifying description Now in Paperback! Between an ancient Roman's trip to the moon and the fantastic tales of H.G. Wells lies a journey through time and space and an awesome evolution in scientific thinking. From Gilgamesh's search for immortality to Lucian's odyssey on the moon; from Jonathan Swift's hilarious satire on scientists in Gulliver's Travels to Mary Shelley's horrifying description of a scientist who has gone too far in Frankenstein from Edgar Allan Poe's balloon trip in the year 2848 to Jules Verne's prophesies of the impact of scientific inventions on future civilization; from Edward Bellamy's utopian escape from the industrial Revolution to H.G. Wells's magnificent story of Earth threatened by an inescapable menace-here are the chief ancestors of the modern science fiction story. For the first time in paperback, these and other key works are gathered together in one anthology, complete with revealing commentary on the authors, their eras, and the role each played in establishing what we today recognize as science fiction. The Road to Science Fiction is a six-volume anthology of science fiction that covers the development of science fiction from its earliest prototypes in the Sumerian Gilgamesh and the Greek epics to approximately 1990. Created originally to provide anthologies for use in classes, these volumes have become mass-market sellers as well, since they are not only a source of outstanding stories but also explain what constitutes science fiction, how it developed and the contribution the authors and the stories have made to the evolution of science fiction. Volume 2: From Wells to Heinlein, samples the science fiction of the first 40 years of the 20th century from a wide variety of authors that paved the way for the Golden Age. Cloth edition originally published in 1979


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Now in Paperback! Between an ancient Roman's trip to the moon and the fantastic tales of H.G. Wells lies a journey through time and space and an awesome evolution in scientific thinking. From Gilgamesh's search for immortality to Lucian's odyssey on the moon; from Jonathan Swift's hilarious satire on scientists in Gulliver's Travels to Mary Shelley's horrifying description Now in Paperback! Between an ancient Roman's trip to the moon and the fantastic tales of H.G. Wells lies a journey through time and space and an awesome evolution in scientific thinking. From Gilgamesh's search for immortality to Lucian's odyssey on the moon; from Jonathan Swift's hilarious satire on scientists in Gulliver's Travels to Mary Shelley's horrifying description of a scientist who has gone too far in Frankenstein from Edgar Allan Poe's balloon trip in the year 2848 to Jules Verne's prophesies of the impact of scientific inventions on future civilization; from Edward Bellamy's utopian escape from the industrial Revolution to H.G. Wells's magnificent story of Earth threatened by an inescapable menace-here are the chief ancestors of the modern science fiction story. For the first time in paperback, these and other key works are gathered together in one anthology, complete with revealing commentary on the authors, their eras, and the role each played in establishing what we today recognize as science fiction. The Road to Science Fiction is a six-volume anthology of science fiction that covers the development of science fiction from its earliest prototypes in the Sumerian Gilgamesh and the Greek epics to approximately 1990. Created originally to provide anthologies for use in classes, these volumes have become mass-market sellers as well, since they are not only a source of outstanding stories but also explain what constitutes science fiction, how it developed and the contribution the authors and the stories have made to the evolution of science fiction. Volume 2: From Wells to Heinlein, samples the science fiction of the first 40 years of the 20th century from a wide variety of authors that paved the way for the Golden Age. Cloth edition originally published in 1979

30 review for The Road to Science Fiction 2: From Wells to Heinlein

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    I liked learning about the historical origins of the “Golden Age” of SciFi but each story only had 2-3 pages of commentary, and If you remove the historical significance and take the stories for simple enjoyment, they don’t really stand the test of time very well; Contents: "The New Accelerator," by H. G. Wells ** "The Machine Stops," by E. M. Forster ** excerpt [but I read both full books] The Chessmen of Mars, (chapters II and III), (if reading the Signet edition) *** or Under the Moons of Mars, I liked learning about the historical origins of the “Golden Age” of SciFi but each story only had 2-3 pages of commentary, and If you remove the historical significance and take the stories for simple enjoyment, they don’t really stand the test of time very well; Contents: "The New Accelerator," by H. G. Wells ** "The Machine Stops," by E. M. Forster ** excerpt [but I read both full books] The Chessmen of Mars, (chapters II and III), (if reading the Signet edition) *** or Under the Moons of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs **** "The People of the Pit," by A. Merritt * "The Red One," by Jack London * "Dagon," by H. P. Lovecraft * "The Tissue-Culture King," by Julian Huxley *** "The Revolt of the Pedestrians," by David H. Keller, M.D. ** excerpt [but I’m readying the full book] from Last and First Men, (chapter XIII HUMANITY ON VENUS), by Olaf Stapledon * excerpt [but I read the full book] from Brave New World, (chapters 16 and 17), by Aldous Huxley **** "A Martian Odyssey," by Stanley G. Weinbaum *** "Twilight," by John W. Campbell *** "Proxima Centauri," by Murray Leinster *** "What's It Like Out There?," by Edmond Hamilton **** "With Folded Hands," by Jack Williamson *** "Hyperpilosity," by L. Sprague de Camp ** "The Faithful," by Lester del Rey ** "Black Destroyer," by A. E. van Vogt ** "Nightfall," by Isaac Asimov *** "Requiem," by Robert A. Heinlein *** "It is the merest cant and twaddle to go on asserting, as most of our press and people continue to do, that increase of scientific knowledge and power must in itself be good. I commend to the great public the obvious moral of my story and ask them to think what they propose to do with the power which is gradually being accumulated for them by the labors of those who labor because they like power, or because they want to find the truth about how things work." - Julian Huxley, The Tissue-Culture King, The Yale Review, Apr. 1926. “Abundance doesn’t necessarily produce happiness, but poverty almost always brings misery.” The first volume suggested that before science fiction could be written people had to learn to think in unaccustomed ways; (1) "they had to learn to think of themselves not as a tribe, or as a people, or even as a nation, but as a species; (2) they had to adopt an open mind about the nature of the universe - its beginning and its end - and the fate of man; and (3) they had to discover the future, a future that would be different from the past or the present because of scientific advances and technological innovation. - The Road to Science Fiction #2: From Wells to Heinlein, James E. Gunn, 1979.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bill FromPA

    This anthology covers the period from 1900 through 1940, a period treated in Adam Roberts’ history in two chapters: “High Modernist Science Fiction” and “The Pulps”. Gunn definitely favors the latter in his selections, with excerpts from Huxley’s Brave New World and Stapledon’s Last and First Men being the only overlap with Roberts’ “modernists”. Other writers included by Gunn who arguably fall into this category are E. M. Forster (“The Machine Stops”) and Jack London (“The Red One”). Most of th This anthology covers the period from 1900 through 1940, a period treated in Adam Roberts’ history in two chapters: “High Modernist Science Fiction” and “The Pulps”. Gunn definitely favors the latter in his selections, with excerpts from Huxley’s Brave New World and Stapledon’s Last and First Men being the only overlap with Roberts’ “modernists”. Other writers included by Gunn who arguably fall into this category are E. M. Forster (“The Machine Stops”) and Jack London (“The Red One”). Most of the stories are of reasonably high quality, several overlapping with Science Fiction Hall of Fame selections (Weinbaum’s “A Martian Odyssey”, Campbell’s “Twilight”, and Asimov’s “Nightfall”), but Gunn does not leave the reader with the impression that magazine SF was entirely a series of triumphs; two rather mediocre stories, “The Tissue Culture King” by Julian Huxley and “The Revolt of the Pedestrians” by David H. Keller, M. D. represent the beginnings of the magazine era. The editor is more solicitous of established masters, breaking the chronological ordering of tales to present later stories by Edmond Hamilton and Jack Williamson, presumably stronger than their works from the 1930s, the era they are called on in part to represent. Hamilton’s “What’s It Like Out There?” stands out from the other selections in theme and tone – one is left unsure whether this is due to characteristics of the writer himself or the fact that the story comes from 1952; for me it had a definite post-WW II The Best Years of Our Lives feeling about it. Williamson’s “With Folded Hands” is a gem for any anthology of this type, looking back to the roots of SF, synthesizing utopian writings with the Frankenstein myth and presenting the story through the experiences of a Wellsian “common man”. However since this 1947 story also shows the influence of Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, I think it would have benefitted from being placed in its proper chronological sequence as part of Volume 3. One flaw in Williamson’s story is that, although it takes place on a future Earth where man has traveled beyond the solar system but not yet achieved faster-than-light travel, given the substantial time period implied by that combination the planet’s technology and customs, other than the existence of extremely limited robotic servants, have hardly changed from the period in which the story was written. The fact that this objection occurred to me so readily while reading the story is perhaps a testimony to the success of Gunn’s anthologies in indoctrinating me into an SF mindset. The stories in this collection are intelligently selected to present common themes refracted through the sensibilities of different writers, aimed at different audiences, and developed over time. Gunn’s contention is that during this period, SF established itself as a literature that dealt with humans not as individuals or members of a nation, tribe, or race, but as members of a species. This point of view may perhaps justify the inclusion of Lovecraft’s “Dagon” or Merritt’s “The People of the Pit”, which otherwise are hard to think of as SF. The Anglophone bias shown in the second half of Gunn’s earlier anthology is in full effect here, with no translated excerpts and Zamiatin the only SF writer of the period mentioned who did not write in English. The introductions Gunn provides to each selection, taken in sequence, provide a brief history of the genre over this period. Some stories would also have benefitted from an afterword where “spoilers” would not have been an issue. I would like to know exactly what Gunn thinks happens at the end of A. E. van Vogt’s “Black Destroyer”. I am unconvinced that the positions and movements of the two spaceships are logically consistent, though I have only a vague idea of what van Vogt meant by introducing the technology of “anti-accelerators”; perhaps this piece of convenient imaginary technology was meant to cover any narrative missteps.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Peter Dunn

    A great selection of science fiction tales to illustrate the period in question. Almost inevitably if you are choosing the best then a significant number of them are going to be stories that are already very familiar to many fans of science fiction literature. However they are so good that I found myself taking the time to reread all but one of those tales that I had read before (and I very rarely reread any fiction).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chip

    Continuing from book 1, this book has a group of short stories from 1900 till about 1940. Since the golden age of science fiction didn't really start into the very late 1930s, a lot of these stories are only interesting in their historic sense. Many are hard to read and not really science fiction. The last half of the book has many notable stories by well known authors - Asimov, Heinlein, Campbell, Williamson. My favorite were The Revolt of the Pedestrians and Nightfall. Luckily all are written Continuing from book 1, this book has a group of short stories from 1900 till about 1940. Since the golden age of science fiction didn't really start into the very late 1930s, a lot of these stories are only interesting in their historic sense. Many are hard to read and not really science fiction. The last half of the book has many notable stories by well known authors - Asimov, Heinlein, Campbell, Williamson. My favorite were The Revolt of the Pedestrians and Nightfall. Luckily all are written before Harlen Ellison stole and destroyed the genre for 15 years.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Angel Wright-Sackett

    I think that the more I read, the more I find to read, and that I have already read and can't remember. Sad, really. I think that the more I read, the more I find to read, and that I have already read and can't remember. Sad, really.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Barry Simiana

    Good to read some of the old sci fi that gave birth to the current crop.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kirke Rafael

  8. 4 out of 5

    Corey L Rothwell

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lucius

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tomasz Jacewicz

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve Davidson

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mori

  14. 5 out of 5

    David Anderson

  15. 5 out of 5

    Goku193

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maja

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jim Leckband

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Shapiro

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gene Howington

  21. 4 out of 5

    John Orman

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Mullis

  23. 5 out of 5

    Frank

  24. 5 out of 5

    Aeon

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Mosley

  26. 4 out of 5

    René Beaulieu

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Nichols

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tomasz Jacewicz

  29. 4 out of 5

    yawner

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Schwabauer

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