Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected articles

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected article/1

The Vampire, Philip Burne-Jones' most famous photographic work.
Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person. Although vampiric entities have been recorded in many cultures and in spite of speculation by literary historian Brian Frost that the "belief in vampires and bloodsucking demons is as old as man himself", and may go back to "prehistoric times", the term vampire was not popularized until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe.

The success of John Polidori's 1819 The Vampyre established the charismatic and sophisticated vampire of fiction as it is arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century inspiring such works as Varney the Vampire and eventually Dracula. However, it is Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula that is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and which provided the basis of modern vampire fiction. The success of this book spawned a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century, with books, films, video games, and television shows. The vampire is such a dominant figure in the horror genre that literary historian Susan Sellers places the current vampire myth in the "comparative safety of nightmare fantasy".

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected article/2 Survival horror is a subgenre of action-adventure video game inspired by horror fiction. These games make the player vulnerable by providing them with less ammunition and fewer heavy weapons than other action games. Although combat is a part of the gameplay, the player must ration ammunition by evading enemies and avoiding direct confrontation. The player is also challenged to find items that unlock the path to new areas, and solve puzzles at certain locations. Games make use of strong horror themes, and the player is often challenged to navigate dark maze-like environments, and react to unexpected attacks from enemies.

The term "survival horror" was first used for the original Japanese release of Resident Evil in 1996, which was influenced by earlier games with a horror theme such as Sweet Home and Alone in the Dark. The name has been used since then for games with similar gameplay, and has been retroactively applied to games as old as Haunted House from 1981. Starting with the release of Resident Evil 4 in 2005, the genre began to incorporate more features from action games, which has led game journalists to question whether long-standing survival horror franchises have abandoned the genre. Still, the survival horror genre has persisted in one form or another.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected article/3

Amazing Stories, April 1926. Volume 1, Number 1
Amazing Stories was an American science fiction magazine launched in April 1926 by Hugo Gernsback's Experimenter Publishing. It was the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction. Before Amazing, science fiction stories had made regular appearances in other magazines, including some published by Gernsback, but Amazing helped define and launch a new genre of pulp fiction.

Amazing was published, with some interruptions, for almost eighty years. The title first changed hands in 1929, when Gernsback was forced into bankruptcy and lost control of the magazine. Amazing became unprofitable during the 1930s and in 1938 was purchased by Ziff-Davis, who hired Raymond A. Palmer as editor. Palmer made the magazine successful though it was not regarded as a quality magazine within the science fiction community. In the late 1940s Amazing began to print stories about the Shaver Mystery, a lurid mythos which explained accidents and disaster as the work of robots named "deros"; the stories were presented as fact, and led to dramatically increased circulation but also widespread ridicule.

Palmer was replaced by Howard Browne in 1949, who briefly entertained plans of taking Amazing upmarket. These plans came to nothing, though Amazing did switch to a digest format in 1953, shortly before the end of the pulp-magazine era. A brief period under the editorship of Paul W. Fairman was followed, at the end of 1958, by the leadership of Cele Goldsmith. Despite her lack of experience she was able to bring new life to the magazine, and her years are regarded as one of Amazing's most creative eras. She was unable to arrest the declining circulation, though, and the magazine was sold to Sol Cohen's Universal Publishing Company in 1965.



Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected article/4 Authentic Science Fiction was a British science fiction magazine published in the 1950s that ran for 85 issues under three editors: Gordon Landsborough, H.J. Campbell, and E.C. Tubb. The magazine was published by Hamilton and Co., and began in 1951 as a series of novels appearing every two weeks; by the summer it had become a monthly magazine, with readers' letters and an editorial page, though fiction content was still restricted to a single novel. In 1952 short fiction began to appear alongside the novels, and within two more years it had completed the transformation into a science fiction magazine.

Authentic published little in the way of important or ground-breaking fiction, though it did print Charles L. Harness's "The Rose," which later became well-regarded. The poor rates of pay—£1 per 1,000 words—prevented the magazine from attracting the best writers. During much of its life it competed against three other moderately successful British science fiction magazines, as well as the American science fiction magazine market. Hamilton folded the magazine in October 1957, because they needed cash to finance an investment in the UK rights to an American best-selling novel.



Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected article/5 Professor Bernard Quatermass is a fictional character, originally created by the writer Nigel Kneale for BBC Television. Quatermass appeared in three influential BBC science fiction serials of the 1950s (The Quatermass Experiment, Quatermass II, and Quatermass and the Pit), and returned in a final serial for Thames Television in 1979 (Quatermass). A remake of the first serial appeared on BBC Four in 2005.

The character also appeared in films, on the radio and in print over a fifty-year period. Kneale picked the character's unusual surname from a London telephone directory, while the first name was in honour of the astronomer Bernard Lovell. Quatermass is an intelligent and highly moral British scientist, who continually finds himself confronting sinister alien forces that threaten to destroy humanity. In the initial three serials he is a pioneer of the British space programme, heading up the British Experimental Rocket Group.

The character of Quatermass has been described by BBC News Online as Britain's first television hero, and by The Independent newspaper as "A brilliantly conceived and finely crafted creation... [He] remained a modern 'Mr Standfast', the one fixed point in an increasingly dreadful and ever-shifting universe." In 2005, an article in The Daily Telegraph suggested that "You can see a line running through him and many other British heroes. He shares elements with both Sherlock Holmes and Ellen MacArthur."



Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected article/6

Cover of July 1953 issue of Beyond Fantasy Fiction
Beyond Fantasy Fiction was a US fantasy fiction magazine edited by H. L. Gold, with only ten issues published from 1953 to 1955. The last two issues carried the cover title of Beyond Fiction, but the publication's name for copyright purposes remained as before.

Although not a commercial success, it included several significant short stories by distinguished authors, such as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick. The publication has been described by critics as a successor to the tradition of Unknown, a fantasy magazine that ceased publication in 1943. It was noted for printing fantasy with a rational basis such as werewolf stories that included scientific explanations. A selection of stories from Beyond was published in paperback form in 1963, also under the title Beyond.

James Gunn, a historian of science fiction, regarded the magazine as the best of the fantasy magazines launched in the early 1950s, and science fiction encyclopedist Donald H. Tuck contended it printed very good material. Not every critic viewed Beyond as completely successful, however; P. Schuyler Miller, in a 1963 review, commented that the stories were most successful when they did not try to emulate Unknown.



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Tom Swift and His Giant Telescope (1939), from the original Tom Swift series.
Tom Swift (in some versions Tom Swift, Jr.) is the name of the central character in five series, totaling over 100 volumes, of juvenile science fiction and adventure novels that emphasize science, invention, and technology. The character was created by Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a book-packaging firm. His adventures have been written by a number of different ghostwriters over the years. Most of the books are published under the collective pseudonym Victor Appleton. The 33 volumes of the second series use the pseudonym Victor Appleton II.

The character first appeared in 1910. New titles have been published as recently as 2007. Most of the various series focus on Tom’s inventions, a number of which have anticipated actual inventions. The character has been presented in different ways over the years. In general, the books portray science and technology as wholly beneficial in their effects, and the role of the inventor in society has been treated as admirable and heroic.

Translated into a number of languages, the books have sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Tom Swift has also been the subject of a board game and a television show. Development of a feature film based on the series was announced in 2008. A number of prominent figures, including Steve Wozniak and Isaac Asimov, have cited "Tom Swift" as an inspiration. Several inventions, including the taser, have been directly inspired by the fictional inventions.



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The iCub robot at the Genoa Science Festival in 2009
The Three Laws of Robotics are a set of three science fiction laws written by Isaac Asimov, which most robots appearing in his fiction have to obey. First introduced in his short story "Runaround" (1942), they state the following:

1. A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The Three Laws are an organizing principle and unifying theme for Asimov's fiction, appearing in the Foundation Series and the other stories linked to it, as well as Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter. Other authors working in Asimov's fictional universe have adopted them, and references (often parodic) appear throughout science fiction and in other genres. Technologists in the field of artificial intelligence, working to create real machines with some of the properties of Asimov's robots, have speculated upon the role the Three Laws play in such research.



Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected article/9 Ace Books is the oldest active specialty publisher of science fiction and fantasy books. The company was founded in New York City in 1952 by Aaron A. Wyn, and began as a genre publisher of mysteries and westerns. It soon branched out into other genres, publishing its first science fiction (sf) title in 1953; this was a successful innovation, and within a few years, sf titles outnumbered both mysteries and westerns. Today, Ace-published novels have won or been nominated for 93 major science fiction and fantasy awards. Other genres also made an appearance, including nonfiction, gothic novels, media tie-in novelizations, and romances.

Ace became known for the tête-bêche binding format used for many of its early books, although it did not originate the format. Most of the early titles were published in this "Ace Double" format, and Ace continued to issue books in varied genres, bound tête-bêche, until 1973. These have proved attractive to book collectors, and some rare titles in mint condition command prices up to $1,000.

Ace, along with Ballantine Books, was one of the leading S.F. publishers for its first ten years. With the death of owner A. A. Wyn in 1967, however, the company's fortunes began to decline. Two prominent editors, Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr, left in 1971, and in 1972 Ace was sold to Grosset & Dunlap. Despite financial troubles, there were further successes, particularly with the third Ace Science Fiction Specials series, for which Carr was the editor. Further mergers and acquisitions resulted in the company becoming a part of Berkley Books. Ace then became an imprint of Penguin Group (USA); its editorial team is also responsible for the Roc Books imprint, although the two imprints maintain a separate identity.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected article/10

May 1955 issue of If; the cover is by Kenneth Fagg
If was an American science fiction magazine launched in March 1952 by Quinn Publications, owned by James L. Quinn. Quinn hired Paul W. Fairman to be the first editor, but early circulation figures were disappointing, and Quinn fired Fairman after only three issues. Quinn then took over the editorial position himself. He stayed in that role until late 1958, though Larry T. Shaw took over most editorial duties for a year from mid-1953. In 1958 Damon Knight was hired as editor, but within three issues Quinn sold the magazine to Robert Guinn at Galaxy Publishing.

The new editor at Galaxy Publishing was Horace L. Gold, who was also editing Galaxy Science Fiction. After two years Frederik Pohl took over as editor, and it was under Pohl that If reached its greatest success, winning the Hugo Award for best professional magazine three years running from 1966 to 1968. In 1969 Guinn sold all his magazines to Universal Publishing and Distribution (UPD). Pohl decided not to continue as editor as he wanted to return to his writing career. Ejler Jakobsson became editor; the magazine was not successful under his management and circulation plummeted. In early 1974 Jim Baen took over from Jakobsson as editor, but increasing paper costs meant that UPD could no longer afford to publish both Galaxy and If. Galaxy was regarded as the senior of the two magazines, so If was merged into Galaxy after the December 1974 issue, its 175th issue overall.



Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected article/11 Michael Myers is a fictional character from the Halloween series of slasher films. He first appears in John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) as a young boy who murders his older sister, then fifteen years later returns home to murder more teenagers. In the original Halloween, the adult Michael Myers, referred to as The Shape in the closing credits, was portrayed by Nick Castle for most of the film, with Tony Moran and Tommy Lee Wallace substituting in during the final scenes. He was created by Debra Hill and John Carpenter. Michael Myers has appeared in eight films, as well as novels, a video game and several comic books.

The character is the primary antagonist in the Halloween film series, except Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which was not connected in continuity to the rest of the films. Since Castle, Moran, and Wallace put on the mask in the original film, six people have stepped into the role. There have been no actors to portray the character in consecutive films, with a new actor filling the role in each succeeding film; only one actor has portrayed the character more than once. Michael Myers is characterized as pure evil, whether directly in the films, by the filmmakers who created and developed the character over eight films, or random participants in a survey.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected article/12

Kane Hodder, one of Jason's portrayors.
Jason Voorhees is a fictional character from the Friday the 13th series of slasher films. He first appeared in Friday the 13th (1980) as Mrs. Voorhees' son, portrayed by Ari Lehman. Created in combination by Victor Miller, Ron Kurz, Sean S. Cunningham and Tom Savini, he was not originally intended to carry the series as the main villain. Jason Voorhees has also been represented in numerous novels, comic books, and a cross-over film with another horror legend, Freddy Krueger.

The character has primarily been an antagonist in the films, whether by stalking and killing the characters, or acting as a psychological threat to the lead character, as is the case in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. Since Lehman's portrayal, the character has been represented by numerous actors and stuntmen, sometimes by more than one at a time; this has caused some controversy as to who should receive credit for the portrayal. Kane Hodder is the most well known of the stuntmen to portray Jason Voorhees, having played the character in four consecutive films.

The character's physical appearance has gone through many transformations, with various special makeup effects artists making their mark on the character's design, including makeup artist Stan Winston. Tom Savini's initial design has been the basis for many of the later incarnations. The trademark hockey mask did not appear until Friday the 13th Part 3. Since Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, filmmakers have given Jason superhuman strength, and near invulnerability. He has been seen as a sympathetic character, albeit one whose motivation for killing has been cited as driven by the immoral actions of his victims.

Jason Voorhees has been featured in many humor magazines, referenced in feature films, parodied in television shows, and been the inspiration for a horror punk band. Several toy lines have been released based on various versions of the character from the Friday the 13th films. Jason Voorhees's hockey mask is one of the most recognizable images in popular culture.

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Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected article/13 Randall Flagg is a fictional character created by Stephen King. The character first appeared in the novel The Stand (1978), and has since been featured in various novels by King, sometimes as the main antagonist and others as in a brief cameo. He often goes under different names, most of which can be abbreviated by the initials R.F. However, there are exceptions to this rule; in The Dark Tower series, the name most often associated with Flagg is Walter o'Dim. Flagg is described as "an accomplished sorcerer and a devoted servant of the Outer Dark" with general supernatural abilities involving necromancy, prophecy, and unnatural influence over predatory animal and human behavior. His goals typically center on spreading destruction and causing conflict, usually through bringing down civilizations.

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