Publisher: MIT Press / Radium Age
Released: March 8, 2022
This collection of science fiction stories from the early twentieth century features work by the famous (Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes), the no-longer famous ("weird fiction" pioneer William Hope Hodgson), and the should-be-more famous (Bengali feminist Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain). It offers stories by writers known for concerns other than science fiction (W.E.B. Du Bois, author of The Souls of Black Folk) and by writers known only for pulp science fiction (the prolific Neil R. Jones). These stories represent what volume and series editor Joshua Glenn has dubbed “the Radium Age”—the period when science fiction as we know it emerged as a genre. The collection shows that nascent science fiction from this era was prescient, provocative, and well written.
Readers will discover, among other delights, a feminist utopia predating by a decade Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland in Hossain’s story, “Sultana’s Dream”; a world in which the human population has retreated underground, in E. M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops”; an early entry in the Afrofuturist subgenre in Du Bois’s last-man-on-Earth tale, “The Comet”; and the first appearance of Jones’s cryopreserved Professor Jameson, who despairs at Earth’s wreckage but perseveres—in a metal body—to appear in thirty-odd more stories.