Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Historical Context

Historical Context

Science Fiction has its original roots in the nineteenth century, a time when the world experienced an explosion in new inventions and an appreciation of science and scientific methods as a means of progress. With the advent of the daguerreotype (the precursor to photography) in the first half of the century, humans harnessed the power to record images quickly and accurately. This technology is further explored with the advent of motion pictures at the end of the nineteenth century.

As science and technology grew in popularity, its practitioners challenged established thought. With the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origins of Species in 1859, the idea of man as a being of singular importance in the universe is shattered. With the help of geologists who date the Earth as much older than suggested by the Bible, Darwin’s theories propose that humans and apes share an ancestry.

The early years of the twentieth century introduced new transportation technologies both on land in the form of gasoline-powered automobiles and in the sky in the form of airplanes. World War I introduced new weapons technologies, including tanks that are first used on battlefields in 1917. These new technologies helped fuel the ideas behind Science Fiction and Fantasy literature, which exploded in the 1920s with Hugo Gernsback’s publication of several Science Fiction and Fantasy pulp magazines—named for the cheap wood pulp on which they were printed, although some used the term to indicate a lack of quality.

In 1926, American scientist Robert H. Goddard tested the world’s first liquid-fuel rocket, the advent of which eventually triggered a race in the 1950s and 1960s between the United States and the Soviet Union...

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