The Copernican Revolution

Authored by: Adam Roberts

The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction

Print publication date:  January  2009
Online publication date:  March  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415453783
eBook ISBN: 9780203871317
Adobe ISBN: 9781135228361


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This chapter is a small example of “long history” sf. The “long history” assumes, as its name might suggest, that sf is a cultural mode of relative antiquity, a view held by some commentators, though not, it should be noted, by most. The majority of critics are more comfortable with a “short history” model, seeing sf as a relatively recent development in human culture, beginning (according to some) with Gothic Romanticism – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818) is sometimes cited as the “first sf novel” – or (others say) beginning later still, with the work of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells in the later nineteenth century, or (according to yet others) even later than that, with Hugo Gernsback in the 1920s (see, respectively, Aldiss with Wingrove 1986; Luckhurst 2005; Westfahl 1998). These various accounts chime for many with the sense that sf is a characteristically modern phenomenon, one that does not truly flourish until the twentieth century.

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