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Science Fiction & Fantasy








May 2021 ISSUE

A Brief History of Russian Science Fiction

It’s telling that the Russian term used to describe speculative fiction doesn’t distinguish between science fiction and fantasy. The word is fantastika (фантастика)—the literature of the fantastic. It is used equally to reference the Three Laws stories of Asimov and the Middle Earth tales of Tolkien. It is this lack of distinction—combined with Russia’s rich [...]

April 2021 ISSUE

Wagon Train to the Arctic

The history of space opera is one that prizes exploration and discovery; of finding new worlds and new civilizations or sights that human eyes have never encountered. Science fiction authors, tech visionaries, and science communicators have highlighted humanity’s long history of expeditionary travel as a sign that it’s our destiny as a species, one that [...]

March 2021 ISSUE

"We'll Know It When We See It": The Trouble with Finding (Alien) Life

Last month, NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars to investigate current and past conditions on the Red Planet and search for life. With it, an old but still burning question inevitably arises: when—if—we find alien life somewhere, are we going to recognize it?
The question is far less trivial than it sounds. The odds are [...]

February 2021 ISSUE

Peter Pan Through the Years

“All children, except one, grow up.” These words open the novel Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie. The story was published in and takes place in Edwardian England (after the death of Queen Victoria and slightly before World War I). Its pages are full of adventure, playfulness, terror, and levity. The novel was one of [...]

December 2020 ISSUE

Ghosts of Christmas Past: The Victorian Christmas Ghost Story Tradition

“Marley was dead, to begin with,” says Charles Dickens in the most famous Christmas ghost story. While modern readers continue to enjoy A Christmas Carol, few are aware that it was one of hundreds of Christmas-themed ghost stories that flourished in written form during the Victorian era. These stories represented a perfect meeting of interest [...]

November 2020 ISSUE

Mary Shelley's Dystopian Prophesy: Reading The Last Man During COVID-19

Mary Shelley’s classic science fiction and horror novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, was an instant hit when it was published in 1818. It was and is such a prominent part of literary and popular culture that modern audiences might be forgiven for thinking it her only novel. However, in addition to articles and travelogues, [...]

October 2020 ISSUE

"I Can Build It!" Tom Said Inventively: The Strange History of the Six Tom Swifts

It started with a motorcycle.
Not a flying motorcycle. Not one with jump rockets, magnetic impeller wheels, or wall climbing spikes. Just an ordinary broken-down motorcycle Tom Swift fixed back in 1910.
Then it was a motorboat bought at auction.
It hardly seems much of a beginning for forty novels—one of the most successful young adult series of [...]

September 2020 ISSUE

"The Moon's a Balloon": Hot Air Balloons and Airships in Speculative Fiction

People have always dreamed of flight. With the invention of the hot air balloon (specifically, the Montgolfier balloon, which is essentially the same design one might see at hot air balloon festivals today) this dream became a possibility for a startling variety of people—aristocrats and scientists, entertainers and artists, men and women. The popularity of [...]

August 2020 ISSUE

Boxtops, Secret Rings, and Space Helmets: Those Brave Spacemen of the Videowaves

It’s hard to imagine its impact.
The image was grainy, fuzzy, more tones of gray than black or white. There would be static, constant hissing and popping, lines rolling across the screen or, if the weather, or sunspots, or who knows what else interfered, it would roll around or break up completely.
But it was in the [...]

July 2020 ISSUE

The Human Genome Disparity

The sequence of the human genome is a living document that catalogs the history of migration, mutation, and environmental stressors that have shaped who we are and how we came to be. Sprinkled throughout the 3.1 billion DNA bases that comprise our genome are tens of thousands of protein-coding genes, regulatory regions that stipulate when, [...]