In this volume the author describes more than 3000 short stories, vels, and plays with science fiction elements, from earliest times to 1930. He includes imaginary voyages, utopias, Victorian boys' books, dime vels, pulp magazine stories, British scientific romances and mainstream work with science fiction elements. Many of these publications are extremely rare, surviving in only a handful of copies, and most of them have never been described before. Each of the entries is exhaustive, with bibliography, including previous periodical publications, and a full summary of the story, with historical and critical comments. Author biographical data, where available, accompanies each item. An appendix surveys ideas and systems that have proved important in early science fiction, such as Atlantis, Fourierism, the single tax, Theosophy, the hollow earth, the open polar seas and similar concepts. The text also includes title, author, date and magazine indexes as well as a 65-page motif and thematic index. The author's introduction aims to provide a fresh understanding of the nature of science fiction and its origins, and contains an exhaustive analytical table of science fiction motifs as they fit into the conceptual scheme of the sciences. In addition to its obvious value to the field of science fiction, the book covers many powerful issues in American cultural history - feminism, racial and ethnic prejudices, crank scientific theories, extreme social and ecomic systems, occult ideas, and descriptions of varying attitudes toward science and advanced techlogy.
Everett F. Bleiler, an authority on early science-fiction, is the author of Science-Fiction: The Early Years (Kent State University Press, 1990) and The Guide to SupernaturalFiction (Kent State University Press, 1983) and editor of Science Fiction Writers and Supernatural fiction Writers. He has been awarded the World Fantasy Award and the World Science Fiction President's Award.