Mid-week Treat: Ward Shelley’s History of Science Fiction

Sci-fi fans! Art fans! Infographic fans! Nice thing fans! Here is a treat for you this Friday. This has already done the rounds on the internet, and I actually came across it when doing my dissertation in genre fiction, but I submit it here for your consideration (and also as I am considering treating myself to a print, which you can buy here if you’re similarly weak-willed).

The History of Science Fiction

Click on the image for full size.

Here are some of my favourite bits:

1. James Hogg getting props – Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner is a brilliant, dark novel that makes great use of the doppelganger, and is in many ways an excellent 19th century Twilight Zone. I only learned about it through a Scottish Lit course and I wish more people were introduced to it – in my opinion way better than Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

The creepy doppelganger section

2. Genre Holes. There’s something strangely satisfying about seeing these tentacles slithering off into another genre, without actually suggesting there’s a definitive line between them.


3. Panic! As things get more modern and the sci-fi genre gets more complex, Shelley’s obviously had his work cut out for him. Rather than leave things out to look tidy, he crams it all in there!


Above all, the flowing lines make genre very clearly a dialogue and a nebulous concept, rather than something fixed and formulaic.

Lovely stuff!


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