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Science Fiction & Fantasy








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, [...]

June 2020 ISSUE

Isolation in Fiction and Reality

Many of us are having experiences with isolation as we experience various degrees of shelter in place and quarantine measures. Some of us live alone, experiencing contact with others only from a distance. Others live like a group of astronauts in a spaceship, relying on each other for social contact but also infringing on one [...]

May 2020 ISSUE

Ray Guns, Robots and Spaceships, Oh My! The Birth of Science Fiction Toys

When we think of archaeological digs, most of us picture Indiana Jones in search of ancient civilizations, but just as often, they are conducted on far more modern sites to learn how people lived in the recent past.
Not long ago they conducted a dig in the Shenandoah National Park. Back in the twenties and thirties, [...]

April 2020 ISSUE

A Machine for Telling Stories: Tarot and Speculative Fiction

In his book The Castle of Crossed Destinies, Italo Calvino refers to tarot as “a machine for telling stories.” Writers have been using tarot cards as a storytelling device since the Italian and European Renaissance. Tarot appears in fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and speculative fiction works, including The Castle of Crossed Destinies.
“Tarot” refers to special [...]

March 2020 ISSUE

Separated at Birth? Occultism, Science Fiction, and Why People Can't Tell Them Apart

Things are not always what they appear to be.
For example, take The Suns of Easter Island (1972), a film by French New Wave director Pierre Kast. The basic premise is familiar. So familiar, in fact, that one has to keep reminding oneself that it was made several years before a certain far better-known film. Aliens [...]