Study Guide

Science Fiction Timeline

How It All Went Down

1726: Jonathan Swift publishes Gulliver's Travels

This tale about Gulliver's travels to all kinds of fantastic locations (including a flying island) represents the beginning of the sci-fi genre.

1818: Mary Shelley publishes Frankenstein

Here comes the dude with the green face and the knobs sticking out of his neck. Ok, so maybe the monster doesn't actually look like that in Shelley's novel. But he's still pretty creepy looking.

1865: Jules Verne publishes From the Earth to the Moon

The protagonists of this novel are shot out of a giant cannon that's so powerful that it propels them all the way to the moon. Oooh, can we try it?

1870: Jules Verne publishes 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

The electric submarine the Nautilus—one of the coolest sci-fi gadgets ever dreamed up, IOHO—is at the center of this fantastic voyage under the oceans.

1895: H.G. Wells publishes The Time Machine

Thanks to H.G. Wells, the Time Machine is introduced into our collective imagination.

1898: H.G. Wells publishes The War of the Worlds

Uh-oh. Martians want to take over planet Earth. And these are not cute n' cuddly Martians, either.

1929: The critic Hugo Gernsback coins the term "science fiction."

That's much catchier than "scientifiction," the other term that Gernsback came up with.

1930: The magazine Astounding Stories is first published

It would become Astounding Science Fiction. And then Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Despite the name changes, this is the most influential magazine in the history of sci-fi.

1932: Aldous Huxley publishes Brave New World

Be afraid, be very afraid, of the future society depicted in this dystopian novel.

1950: Ray Bradbury publishes The Martian Chronicles

If we want to know what colonizing Mars would be like, we need look no further than Bradbury's book.

1951: Isaac Asimov publishes Foundation

How do we save the Galactic Empire from total destruction? Hari Seldon, the protagonist of Asimov's novel, has the answer.

1965: Frank Herbert publishes Dune

Everybody wants to get their hands on mélange, the spice mined on the planet Arrakis that can keep us living forever.

1977: George Lucas' Star Wars is released in theatres

Ok. So we know we're talking primarily about sci-fi literature. But how can we not mention Star Wars? It's just so cool.

1992: Kim Stanley Robinson publishes Red Mars

Yet another sci-fi classic about the colonization of Mars. We just love colonizing Mars, don't we?

2004: David Mitchell publishes Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas became an instant classic when it was first published. But we not only visit the future in this book, we also go back to the past.

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