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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Many histories of science fiction exist. The oldest ones, from the 1940s to the 1960s, are usually thematic/authorial in their critical focus; those from the 1970s are more semiotic; and those from the 1980s to today tend to be sociological, treating SF texts as artifacts of cultural history. Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses and its own take on the “true origins” of SF. But a discernable shift seems to have occurred in how SF historians view and interpret the genre’s past. Earlier SF histories devoted a great deal of attention to key (European) literary precursors such as Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, and H. G. Wells. In contrast, contemporary SF historians seem to de-emphasize the genre’s pre-twentieth-century roots, preferring instead to highlight its emergence in the (American) pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s and in the editorial strategies of Hugo Gernsback and John W. Campbell Jr.

Keywords: science fiction, histories of science fiction, cultural history, pulp magazines, Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Hugo Gernsback, John W. Campbell Jr.

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