Wondrous, detailed map of the history of science fiction


36 Responses to “Wondrous, detailed map of the history of science fiction”

  1. grikdog says:

    At the Little Read Book Store in Ames, Iowa, I once met a woman who’d just gotten the world’s first-ever Ph.D. awarded for a dissertation about “Women In Science Fiction.” She’s never heard of Judith Merrill, nor (by admittedly cursory once-over) has this guy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Bujold’s Vorkosigan series is definitely not cyberpunk, and Paladin of Souls is most assuredly fantasy, not sci-fi at all. Sadly I’m a young whippersnapper and can’t speak for the older stuff, just ohh and aah. I would object to calling Crichton “hard” science fiction though, as I’ve always gotten a good chuckle over how bad his “science” is.

  3. RSFSmee says:

    As this is, to the best of my awareness, a unique document, whether Mr. Shelley erred in positioning, including, or excluding a certain work is, I feel, somewhat dilatory: Critiquing the first non-religious mapmaker because he put your home village on the wrong side of a creek is beside the point. The question ought to be: Is this graphical display of science fiction history *useful,*? I claim it is, both for demonstrating the proximity of science-fiction fandom to literary criticism, and for highlighting the criticality of historical context in understanding contemporary works. Abrams’ Trek reboot cannot be understood without reference to TOS; TOS cannot be understood without reference to all that Shelley’s diagram demonstrates as its antecedants.

  4. Avi Solomon says:

    Too bad Gurdjieff is missing from the Space Opera stream!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wot, No Omni magazine? Short lived, but high budget and influential in the 80s.

  6. StevieB says:

    Nice.. Fell well within the Schwarzschild radius… Must have suffered some kind of time-dilation effect… seem to have flashed forward… it can’t be that time already… shit.
    ps. Amongst other notable absences, where’s Cory..?;)

  7. mraverage says:

    Did i miss Leguin’s “The Dispossessed” in there?
    Was Voyager really listed and not Enterprise?
    Were Varley’s horror tour de force “Press Enter” and KSR’s mountaineering novella Green Mars skipped?

  8. shadowfirebird says:

    I can’t make much sense of it as a diagram but he’s certainly touched most of the stuff I think important

    Except that the hard SF is a bit lacking. Wait, Tehanu in with the hard SF? WTF? It’s a fantasy novel! (And IMO not really a good one.)

  9. burritoflats says:

    I don’t know anything about Science Fiction writings, but this map strongly reminds me of Pete Frame and his exhaustive “Rock Family Tree” series – though Frames drawings are more rigid and grid-like.

    one of Frames trees –

  10. Hosidax says:

    (Slightly off-topic…)

    I find it hard to believe he didn’t actually connect Poe’s Dupin and Sherlock Holmes. Doyle might have made his hay on the low brow periodical, but Holmes is a direct rip of Dupin, and all the rest are an offshoot of Holmes. Also the Holmes pipe into the wormhole should be HUGE in comparison… Poe may have invented the archetype, but Doyle created the genre.

  11. Wickedashtray says:

    One of my favorite Sci-Fi critics published a great book which contained tiny reviews of just about every sci-fi novel/anthologies written “The Ultimate Guide To Science Fiction” by David Pringle is a fantastic guide for anyone wanting to get further into the genre. Its out of print but there are still used copies available on Amazon. A second printing which has updates came out but you’ll pay through the nose for even a dog-eared copy.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Pretty nifty! Needs another wormhole though, for alternative history / steampunk.

  13. Yarp says:

    Maybe I’m just not seeing it amidst the hubbub, but I couldn’t find Stanislaw Lem or his masterpiece “Solaris.”

  14. Tomas says:

    Wonderful piece, it makes me think and review.

    I also see books that I probably should have read, but missed, and others that I read long ago (50 years?) and need to read again as old friends.


  15. Anonymous says:

    @jerwin: “Mission of Gravity” is right after the F&SF bulb, between Bester and Dick.

    An impressive work, for all its essential incompleteness.

  16. palindrome says:

    Heh. He spelled Elric wrong.

  17. Yamara says:

    It’s missing Cowboy Bebop. Should have it’s own color and widget, too, since it’s “a genre onto itself”.

    And the Irwin Allen TV shows should be grouped together, not flailing around Star Trek.

    On the other hand, now that I put it that way…

  18. Shibi says:

    I wish that it was a little easier to read.

  19. John Farrier says:

    I wonder how Shelley is defining “speculative fiction”.

  20. Anonymous says:

    He’s trolling us. He’s got to be.
    He listed “the forever war” as “the forever peace”

  21. mwt says:

    Gorgeous. I love the alien blob of it all.

  22. ackpht says:

    The order of the last two “Planet of the Apes” films is reversed. No, I’m not counting Tim Burton’s remake.

  23. genre slur says:

    Wow. Sturgeon squeezed in. The template for Kilgore Trout just squeezed in with More Than Human? The man is a monster of 20th century literature… ask most of the writers on the map. anyway, rant done.

  24. Anonymous says:

    It is just my lack of observation or are there no mentions of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

    Anyone capable of pointing out the books, movies, television show or radio series to me?

    • Bookburn says:

      Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is listed as a book and it’s between “Space Opera” and “New Space Opera”, beneath “Ender’s Game” and “Speaker for the Dead”, just above the break into movies.

  25. RadioSilence says:


  26. Calimecita says:

    It’s fantastic. I love that there is so much in there that I haven’t read yet – I’m always looking for book recommendations, especially among the classics of SF and fantasy. Why, I only read ‘More than human’ last month!

  27. Vnend says:

    Yarp: “Solaris” is there, top, with a line linking it to New Age.

    I am trying to think of what book he is thinking of by Zelazny when he puts ‘This Immortal’ on the ‘Sword and Sorcery’ limb. Amber, no argument, but “This Immortal”/”…And Call Me Conrad” is easily as much Science Fiction as “Dune” (which is just below ‘Dangerous Visions’ on the top branch).

    Interesting, but with the occasional odd lapse.

  28. Anonymous says:

    An interesting map, but where is Algernon Henry Blackwood, CBE (14 March 1869 – 10 December 1951)? And just to be knit-picking (cos that’s just like a Virgoan), Ward has left out the (d) in Alexan(d)er Dumas…I point these out in a light hearted manner you understand. Lol.

  29. Walt Guyll says:

    It’s Amazing, Astounding and full of Wonder. I’d love to know how he sketched the outline.

  30. Anonymous says:

    A magnificent graphic, but Arthur Clarke’s ‘Space Odyssey’ series is the only science-fiction produced yet that may be as good as the ‘Metroid’ series (especially ‘Prime’), and ‘Metroid’ aint here.

  31. jerwin says:

    I’m not so sure that “Blood Music” is hard SF. Where are Hal Clement’s books?

    And Tau Zero is closer to hard SF than Space Opera.

Leave a Reply