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Selected works lists

Science fiction

Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/1 Alien vs. Predator, also known as AVP, is a 2004 American science fiction film directed by Paul W.S. Anderson for 20th Century Fox. The film adapts the Alien vs. Predator crossover imprint bringing together the eponymous creatures of the Alien and Predator series, a concept which originated in a 1989 comic book. Anderson, Dan O'Bannon, and Ronald Shusett wrote the story, and Anderson and Shane Salerno adapted the story into a screenplay. Their writing was influenced by Aztec mythology, the comic book series, and the writings of Erich von Däniken.

Set in 2004, the film follows a group of paleontologists, archaeologists, and others assembled by billionaire Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) for an expedition near the Antarctic to investigate a mysterious heat signal. Weyland hopes to claim the find for himself, and his group discovers a pyramid below the surface of a whaling station. Hieroglyphs and sculptures reveal that the pyramid is a hunting ground for Predators who kill Aliens as a rite of passage. The humans are caught in the middle of a battle between the two species and attempt to prevent the Aliens from reaching the surface.

The film was released on August 13, 2004, in North America and received mostly negative reviews from film critics. Some praised the special effects and set designs, while others dismissed the film for its "wooden dialogue" and "cardboard characters". Nevertheless, Alien vs. Predator was a commercial success, grossing over $172 million against its $60 million production budget. The film's success led to a sequel in 2007 titled Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/2 Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is based loosely on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 in which genetically engineered beings called replicants—visually indistinguishable from adult humans—are manufactured by the all-powerful Tyrell Corporation. As a result of a violent replicant uprising, their use on Earth is banned, and replicants are exclusively used for dangerous or menial work on Earth's "off-world colonies". Any replicants who defy the ban and return to Earth are hunted down and "retired" by police assassins known as "blade runners". The plot focuses on a brutal and cunning group of recently escaped replicants hiding in Los Angeles and the semi-retired blade runner, Rick Deckard, who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment.

Blade Runner initially polarized critics: some were displeased with the pacing, while others enjoyed its thematic complexity. The film performed poorly in North American theaters. Despite the box office failure of the film, it has since become a cult classic. Blade Runner has been hailed for its production design, depicting a "retrofitted" future. It remains a leading example of the neo-noir genre. Blade Runner brought the work of author Philip K. Dick to the attention of Hollywood, and several more films have since been based on his work. Ridley Scott regards Blade Runner as "probably" his most complete and personal film. In 1993, Blade Runner was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2007, the American Film Institute named it the 97th greatest American film of all time in the 10th-anniversary edition of its 100 years ... 100 Movies list.

Seven versions of the film have been shown for various markets as a result of controversial changes made by film executives. A rushed director's cut was released in 1992 after a strong response to workprint screenings. This, in conjunction with its popularity as a video rental, made it one of the first films released on DVD, resulting in a basic disc with mediocre video and audio quality. In 2007, Warner Bros. released in select theaters, and on DVD/HD DVD/Blu-ray, the 25th anniversary digitally remastered definitive Final Cut by Scott.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/3 Anarky (Lonnie Machin) is a fictional character in the DC Comics Universe. Co-created by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, he first appeared in Detective Comics #608 (November 1989) as an adversary of Batman. Stories revolving around Anarky often focus on political and philosophical themes. The character, who was named after the philosophy of anarchism, primarily espouses anti-statism. When Grant himself transitioned to the philosophy of Neo-Tech, he transformed Anarky from a vehicle for socialist and populist philosophy, to rationalist, atheist, and free market-based thought.

Grant avoided using the character often, but addressed multiple issues whenever the character appeared, including environmentalism, antimilitarism, economic exploitation, and political corruption. Inspired by multiple sources, early stories featuring the character often included homages to political and philosophical books. The creation of the character was also partially influenced by Alan Moore's character "V" from V for Vendetta.

Originally intended to only be used in the debut story in which he appeared, Anarky was created to be a violent but highly intelligent youth who rationalized murder in the name of a higher cause. At the request of Dennis O'Neil, this early interpretation was altered before publication, and Anarky was instead portrayed as violent but non-lethal. Following positive reception by readers and Dennis O'Neil, Grant decided to continue using Anarky as a recurring character throughout the early 90s.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/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 science fiction work/5 Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 is a 2000 American film adaptation of the novel Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard. Directed by Roger Christian, the film stars John Travolta, Forest Whitaker, and Barry Pepper. The film depicts an Earth that has been under the rule of the alien Psychlos for 1,000 years and tells the story of the rebellion that develops when the Psychlos attempt to use the surviving humans as gold miners.

Travolta, a long-time Scientologist, had sought for many years to make a film of the novel by Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. He was unable to obtain funding from any major studio due to concerns about the film's script, prospects, and connections with Scientology. The project was eventually taken on by an independent production company, Franchise Pictures, which specialized in rescuing stars' stalled pet projects. Travolta signed on as a co-producer and contributed millions of dollars of his own money to the production, which was largely funded by a German film distribution company. Franchise Pictures was later sued by its investors and was bankrupted after it emerged that it had fraudulently overstated the film's budget by $31 million.

Battlefield Earth was released on May 12, 2000. The film was a major commercial failure and critical flop and has been widely dismissed as one of the worst films ever made. Reviewers universally panned the film, criticizing virtually every aspect of the production. Audiences were reported to have ridiculed early screenings and stayed away from the film after its opening weekend. This resulted in Battlefield Earth failing to recoup its costs. Travolta originally envisioned the film as the first of two adapted from the book, as the screenplay only covered the first half of the novel. The film's poor box office performance meant that the planned sequel would not be made.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/6 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 science fiction work/7 Lost is an American live-action television series. It follows the lives of plane crash survivors on a mysterious tropical island, after a commercial passenger jet flying between Sydney and Los Angeles crashes somewhere in the South Pacific. Each episode typically features a primary storyline on the island as well as a secondary storyline from another point in a character's life, though other time-related plot devices change this formula in later episodes. The pilot episode was first broadcast on September 22, 2004, and since then five full seasons have aired with a sixth currently in progress set to finish on May 23, 2010. The show airs on the American Broadcasting Company in the United States, as well as on regional networks in many other countries.

Due to its large ensemble cast and the cost of filming primarily on location in Oahu, Hawaii, the series is one of the most expensive on television. It was created by Damon Lindelof, J. J. Abrams and Jeffrey Lieber and is produced by ABC Studios, Bad Robot Productions and Grass Skirt Productions. The score is composed by Michael Giacchino. The executive producers of the final season are Lindelof, Abrams, Bryan Burk, Jack Bender, Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, Jean Higgins, Elizabeth Sarnoff and Carlton Cuse.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/8 Pattern Recognition is a novel by science fiction writer William Gibson published in 2003. Set in August and September 2002, the story follows Cayce Pollard, a 32-year-old marketing consultant who has a psychological sensitivity to corporate symbols. The action takes place in London, Tokyo, and Moscow as Cayce judges the effectiveness of a proposed corporate symbol and is hired to seek the creators of film clips anonymously posted to the internet.

The novel's central theme involves the examination of the human desire to detect patterns or meaning and the risks of finding patterns in meaningless data. Other themes include methods of interpretation of history, cultural familiarity with brand names, and tensions between art and commercialization. The September 11, 2001 attacks are used as a motif representing the transition to the new century. Critics identify influences in Pattern Recognition from Thomas Pynchon's post-structuralist detective story The Crying of Lot 49.

The novel is Gibson's eighth and the first to be set in the contemporary world. Like his previous work, it has been classified as a science fiction and postmodern novel, with the action unfolding along a thriller plot line. Critics approved of the writing but found the plot unoriginal and some of the language distracting. The book peaked at #4 on the New York Times Best Seller list, was nominated for the 2003 British Science Fiction Association Award, and was shortlisted for the 2004 Arthur C. Clarke and Locus Awards.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/9 Raptor Red is a 1995 American novel by paleontologist Robert T. Bakker. The book is a third-person account of dinosaurs during the Cretaceous Period, told from the point of view of Raptor Red, a female Utahraptor. Raptor Red features many of Bakker's theories regarding dinosaurs' social habits, intelligence, and the world in which they lived.

The book follows a year in Raptor Red's life as she loses her mate, finds her family, and struggles to survive in a hostile environment. Bakker drew inspiration from Ernest Thompson Seton's works that look at life through the eyes of predators, and said that he found it "fun" to write from a top predator's perspective. Bakker based his portrayals of dinosaurs and other prehistoric wildlife on fossil evidence, as well as studies of modern animals.

When released, Raptor Red was generally praised: Bakker's anthropomorphism was seen as a unique and positive aspect of the book, and his writing was described as folksy and heartfelt. Criticisms of the novel included a perceived lack of characterization and average writing. Some scientists, such as paleontologist David B. Norman, took issue with the scientific theories portrayed in the novel, fearing that the public would accept them as fact, while Discovery Channel host Jay Ingram defended Bakker's creative decisions in an editorial.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/10 Starship Troopers is a military science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, first published (in abridged form) as a serial in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (October, November 1959, as "Starship Soldier") and published hardcover in December, 1959.

The first-person narrative is about a young soldier named Juan "Johnnie" Rico and his exploits in the Mobile Infantry, a futuristic military unit equipped with powered armor. Rico's military career progresses from recruit to non-commissioned officer and finally to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between mankind and an arachnoid species known as "the Bugs". Through Rico's eyes, Heinlein examines moral and philosophical aspects of suffrage, civic virtue, the necessities of war and capital punishment, and the nature of juvenile delinquency.

Starship Troopers won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960. The novel has attracted controversy and criticism for its social and political themes, which some critics claim promote militarism. Starship Troopers has been adapted into several films and games, with the most widely known being the 1997 film by Paul Verhoeven.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/11 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy series created by English writer, dramatist and musician Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, and over several years it gradually became an international multi-media phenomenon. Adaptations have included stage shows, a series of five books first published between 1979 and 1992 (and a sixth by Eoin Colfer published in 2009), a 1981 TV series, a 1984 computer game, and three series of three-part comic book adaptations of the first three novels published by DC Comics between 1993 and 1996.

There were also two series of towels, produced by Beer-Davies, that are considered by some fans to be an "official version" of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as they include text from the first novel. A Hollywood-funded film version, produced and filmed in the UK, was released in April 2005, and radio adaptations of the third, fourth and fifth novels were broadcast from 2004 to 2005. Many of these adaptations, including the novels, the TV series, the computer game, and the earliest drafts of the Hollywood film's screenplay, were done by Adams himself, and some of the stage shows introduced new material written by Adams.

The title is the name of a fictional, eccentric, electronic travel guide, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, prominently featured in the series.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/12 The Illuminatus! Trilogy is a series of three novels written by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson first published in 1975. The trilogy is a satirical, postmodern, science fiction-influenced adventure story; a drug-, sex- and magic-laden trek through a number of conspiracy theories, both historical and imaginary, which hinge around the authors' version of the Illuminati. The narrative often switches between third and first person perspectives and jumps around in time. It is thematically dense, covering topics like counterculture, numerology and Discordianism.

The trilogy comprises The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple and Leviathan. They were first published as three separate volumes starting in September 1975. In 1984 they were published as an omnibus edition, and are now more commonly reprinted in the latter form. In 1986 the trilogy won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, designed to honor classic libertarian fiction. The authors went on to write several works, both fiction and nonfiction, that dealt further with the themes of the trilogy, but they did not write any direct sequels.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/13 The Time Traveler's Wife, published in 2003, is the debut novel of American author Audrey Niffenegger. It is a love story about a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel unpredictably, and about his wife, an artist, who has to cope with his frequent absences and dangerous experiences. Niffenegger, frustrated in love when she began the work, wrote the story as a metaphor for her failed relationships. The tale's central relationship came to her suddenly and subsequently supplied the novel's title. The novel, which has been classified as both science fiction and romance, examines issues of love, loss, and free will. In particular, it uses time travel to explore miscommunication and distance in relationships, while also investigating deeper existential questions.

As a first-time novelist, Niffenegger had trouble finding a literary agent. She eventually sent the novel to MacAdam/Cage unsolicited and, after an auction took place for the rights, Niffenegger selected them as her publisher. The book became a bestseller after an endorsement from author and family friend Scott Turow on The Today Show, and as of March 2009 had sold nearly 2.5 million copies in the United States and the United Kingdom. Many reviewers were impressed with Niffenegger's unique perspective on time travel. Some praised her characterization of the couple, applauding their emotional depth; others criticized her writing style as melodramatic and the plot as emotionally trite. The novel won the Exclusive Books Boeke Prize and a British Book Award. A film version was released in August 2009.


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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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First edition (1896) cover of The Island of Doctor Moreau
The Island of Doctor Moreau is an 1896 science fiction novel written by H. G. Wells. When the novel was written in the late 19th century, European society was absorbed with concerns about degeneration, and Britain's scientific community was engulfed by debates on animal vivisection. Interest groups were even formed to tackle the issue: the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection was formed two years after the publication of the novel.

It begins with the protagonist, an upper class gentleman who was named Edward Prendick, finding himself shipwrecked in the ocean. A passing ship takes him aboard, and a doctor named Montgomery revives him. He explains to Prendick that they are bound for an unnamed island where he works, and that the animals aboard the ship are traveling with him. Prendick also meets a grotesque, bestial native named M'ling, who appears to be Montgomery's manservant.

When they arrive on the island, however, both the captain of the ship and Doctor Montgomery refuse to take Prendick with either of them, stranding him between the ship and the island. The crew pushes him back into the lifeboat from which they rescued him. When they see that the ship truly intends to abandon him, the islanders take pity and end up coming back for him. Montgomery introduces him to Doctor Moreau, a cold and precise man who conducts research on the island. After unloading the animals from the boat, they decide to house Prendick in an outer room of the enclosure in which they live. Prendick is exceedingly curious about what exactly Moreau researches on the island, especially after he locks the inner part of the enclosure without explaining why. Prendick suddenly remembers that he has heard of Moreau, and that he had been an eminent physiologist in London before a journalist exposed his gruesome experiments in vivisection.


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First edition (1897) cover of The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man is a science fiction novella by H.G. Wells published in 1897. Wells' novel was originally serialised in Pearson's Magazine in 1898, and published as a novel the same year. The Invisible Man of the title is Griffin, a scientist who theorises that if a person's refractive index is changed to exactly that of air and his body does not absorb or reflect light, then he will be invisible. He successfully carries out this procedure on himself, but cannot become visible again, becoming mentally unstable as a result.

Russian writer Yakov I. Perelman pointed out in Physics Can Be Fun (1913) that from a scientific point of view, a man made invisible by Griffin's method should have been blind, since a human eye works by absorbing incoming light, not letting it through completely. However, Wells briefly addresses this in Chapter 20. In the passage describing the experiment on the invisible cat Wells wrote "there remained two little ghosts of her eyes" meaning that its eyes (and retinas presumably) were just visible, and thus able to function by absorbing light.


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First edition (1898) cover of The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds (1898) is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells. It describes the experiences of a character who travels through London as the Earth is invaded by Martians. It is said to be the first story that details a conflict between mankind and an alien race.

The War of the Worlds is split into two parts : Book one: The Coming of the Martians and Book two: The Earth under the Martians. The novel is narrated by an unnamed writer of philosophical articles. Throughout the narrative he struggles to reunite with his wife, while witnessing the Martians rampaging through the southern English counties. Part one also features the tale of his brother, who accompanies two women to the coast in the hope of escaping England as it is invaded.

The plot has been related to invasion literature of the time. The novel has been variously interpreted as a commentary on evolutionary theory, British imperialism, and generally Victorian fears and prejudices. At the time of publication it was classed as a scientific romance. Since then, it has influenced much literature and other media, spawning several films, radio dramas, comic book adaptations, a television series, and sequels or parallel stories by other authors.


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First edition cover (1895)
The Time Machine is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895 and later directly adapted into at least two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction in all media. This 32,000 word novella is generally credited with the popularization of the concept of time travel using a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposefully and selectively. The term "time machine", coined by Wells, is now universally used to refer to such a vehicle. Wells introduces an early example of the Dying Earth subgenre as well.

Wells had considered the notion of time travel before, in an earlier (but less well-known) work titled The Chronic Argonauts. He had thought of using some of this material in a series of articles in the Pall Mall Gazette, until the publisher asked him if he could instead write a serial novel on the same theme; Wells readily agreed, and was paid £100 on its publication by Heinemann in 1895. The story was first published in serial form in the New Review through 1894 and 1895. The book is based on the Block Theory of the Universe, which is a notion that time is a fourth space dimension.

The story reflects Wells's own socialist political views and the contemporary angst about industrial relations. Other science fiction works of the period, including Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, and the later Metropolis, dealt with similar themes.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/19 Odd John: A Story Between Jest and Earnest is a 1935 science fiction novel by the British author Olaf Stapledon. The novel explores the theme of the Übermensch (superman) in the character of John Wainwright, whose supernormal human mentality inevitably leads to conflict with normal human society and to the destruction of the utopian colony founded by John and other superhumans.

The novel resonates with the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche and the work of English writer J. D. Beresford, with an allusion to Beresford's superhuman child character of Victor Stott in The Hampdenshire Wonder (1911). As the devoted narrator remarks, John does not feel obligated to observe the restricted morality of Homo sapiens. Stapledon's recurrent vision of cosmic angst -- that the universe may be indifferent to intelligence, no matter how spiritually refined -- also gives the story added depth. Later explorations of the theme of the superhuman and of the incompatibility of the normal with the supernormal occurs in the works of Stanisław Lem, Frank Herbert, Wilmar Shiras and Vernor Vinge, among others.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/20 Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future is a science fiction novel written in 1930 by the British author Olaf Stapledon. A work of unprecedented scale in the genre, it describes the history of humanity from the present onwards across two billion years and eighteen distinct human species, of which our own is the first and most primitive. Stapledon's conception of history is based on the Hegelian Dialectic, following a repetitive cycle with many varied civilizations rising from and descending back into savagery over millions of years, but it is also one of progress, as the later civilizations rise to far greater heights than the first. The book anticipates the science of genetic engineering, and is an early example of the fictional supermind; a consciousness composed of many telepathically-linked individuals.

A controversial part of the book depicts humans, in the far-off future, escaping the dying Earth and settling on Venus — in the process totally exterminating its native inhabitants, an intelligent marine species. Stapledon's book has been interpreted by some as condoning such interplanetary genocide as a justified act if necessary for racial survival, though a number of Stapledon's partisans denied that such was his intention, arguing instead that Stapledon was merely showing that although mankind had advanced in a number of ways in the future, at bottom it still possessed the same capacity for savagery as it has always had.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/21 Star Maker is an influential science fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, written in 1937. Stapledon undertakes the immense task of describing the entire history of life in the universe. It dwarfs in scale even his 1930 book Last and First Men, which is a history of the human species over two billion years. It tackles philosophical themes such as the essence of life, of birth, decay and death, and the relationship between creation and creator. The narrator starts with a concern at the clash of ideas on Earth and finds analogies to both communism and fascism among the aliens he visits.

A pervading theme is that of progressive unity within and between different civilizations. Some of the elements and themes briefly discussed prefigure later fiction concerning genetic engineering and alien life forms. Arthur C. Clarke considered Star Maker to be one of the finest works of science fiction ever written.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/22 Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert, published in 1965. It won the Hugo Award in 1966, and also the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Dune is frequently cited as the world's best-selling science fiction novel.

Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary fiefdoms are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the Imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and the scion of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the "spice" melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe. The story explores the complex and multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the forces of the Empire confront each other for control of Arrakis and its "spice".

Herbert wrote five sequels to the novel Dune: Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse: Dune. The first novel also inspired a 1984 film adaptation by David Lynch, a 2000 Sci Fi Channel miniseries and its 2003 sequel, computer games, a board game, a song, and a series of prequels, interquels, and sequels that were co-written by Kevin J. Anderson and the author's son, Brian Herbert, starting in 1999.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/23 Animal Farm is a dystopian allegorical novella by George Orwell. Published in England on 17 August 1945, the book reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era before World War II. Orwell, a democratic socialist and a member of the Independent Labour Party for many years, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and was suspicious of Moscow-directed Stalinism after his experiences with the NKVD during the Spanish Civil War. In a letter to Yvonne Davet, Orwell described Animal Farm as his novel "contre Stalin".

The original title was Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, but A Fairy Story was dropped by the US publishers for its 1946 publication. Of all the translations during Orwell's lifetime, only Telugu kept the original title. Other variations in the title include: A Satire and A Contemporary Satire. Orwell suggested for the French translation the title Union des républiques socialistes animales, recalling the French name of the Soviet Union, Union des républiques socialistes soviétiques, and which abbreviates URSA, which means "bear", a symbol of Russia, in Latin.

Time Magazine chose the book as one of the 100 best English-language novels (1923 to 2005); it also places at number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels. It won a Retrospective Hugo Award in 1996 and is also included in the Great Books of the Western World.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/24 Halo: Contact Harvest is a science fiction novel by Joseph Staten, set in the Halo universe. Staten is a longtime employee of Bungie, the developer of the Halo video game series; he directed the cut scenes in the video games and is a major contributor to Halo's storyline. The book was released on October 30, 2007, and is the fifth Halo novel, following 2006's Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, written by Eric Nylund. Staten set out to write a novel that appealed to gamers, as well as those who had never read a Halo novel.

Set in 2525, twenty-seven years before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, the novel tells the story of the United Nations Space Command's first encounter with the alien collective known as the Covenant on the colony world of Harvest, and the beginning of the long war that follows. The novel is an ensemble piece, with the action being narrated from both human and Covenant viewpoint The protagonist is a young Marine, Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson, who also appears in the Halo video games. Upon release, the book was generally well-received and became a New York Times bestseller in its first week. Critics pointed to the novel's success as a sign of the increasing importance of story in video games.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/25 Firefly is an American space western television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, under his Mutant Enemy Productions. Its future setting, modeled after traditional Western movie motifs, has been praised as an "oddball genre mix". Whedon served as executive producer, along with Tim Minear.

The series is set in the year 2517, after the arrival of humans in a new star system, and follows the adventures of the renegade crew of Serenity, a "Firefly-class" spaceship. The ensemble cast portrays the nine characters who live on Serenity. Whedon pitched the show as "nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things". The show explores the lives of people who fought on the losing side of a civil war who now make a living on the outskirts of the society, as part of the pioneer culture that exists on the fringes of their star system. In addition, it is a future where the only two surviving superpowers, the United States and China, fused to form the central federal government, called the Alliance, resulting in the fusion of the two cultures as well. According to Whedon's vision, "nothing will change in the future: technology will advance, but we will still have the same political, moral, and ethical problems as today."


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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.


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Fantasy

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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.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/2 Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is the first novel by British writer Susanna Clarke. An alternative history set in 19th-century England around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, it is based on the premise that magic once existed in England and has returned with two men: Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange. Centring on the relationship between these two men, the novel investigates the nature of "Englishness" and the boundary between reason and madness. It has been described as a fantasy novel, an alternative history, and a historical novel.

The narrative draws on various Romantic literary traditions, such as the comedy of manners, the Gothic tale, and the Byronic hero. The novel's language is a pastiche of 19th-century writing styles, such as those of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Clarke describes the supernatural with mundane details. She supplements the text with almost 200 footnotes, outlining the backstory and an entire fictional corpus of magical scholarship.

Clarke began writing Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in 1993; ten years later she submitted the manuscript for publication. It was accepted by Bloomsbury and published in September 2004, with illustrations by Portia Rosenberg. Bloomsbury was so sure of its success that they printed 250,000 hardcover copies. The novel was well-received by critics and reached number three on the New York Times bestseller list. It was longlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize and won the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Novel.


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Title page of Honoré de Balzac's The Magic Skin (1831).
La Peau de chagrin (English: The Magic Skin or The Wild Ass's Skin) is an 1831 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). Set in early 19th-century Paris, it tells the story of a young man who finds a magic piece of shagreen that fulfills his every desire. For each wish granted, however, the skin shrinks and consumes a portion of his physical energy. La Peau de chagrin belongs to the Études philosophiques group of Balzac's sequence of novels, La Comédie humaine.

Before the book was completed, Balzac created excitement about it by publishing a series of articles and story fragments in several Parisian journals. Although he was five months late in delivering the manuscript, he succeeded in generating sufficient interest that the novel sold out instantly upon its publication. A second edition, which included a series of twelve other "philosophical tales", was released one month later.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/4 The Green Child is the only completed novel by the English anarchist poet and critic Herbert Read. Written in 1934 and first published by Heinemann in 1935, the story is based on the 12th-century legend of two green children who mysteriously appeared in the English village of Woolpit, speaking an apparently unknown language. Read described the story in his English Prose Style, published in 1931, as "the norm to which all types of fantasy should conform".

The novel's three parts all end with the apparent death of the story's protagonist, President Olivero, dictator of the fictional South American Republic of Roncador. In each case, Olivero's death is an allegory for his translation to a "more profound level of existence", reflecting the book's overall theme of a search for the meaning of life. Read's interest in psychoanalytic theory is evident throughout the novel, which is constructed as a "philosophic myth ... in the tradition of Plato".

The story contains many autobiographical elements, and the character of Olivero owes much to Read's experiences as an officer in the British Army during the First World War. The novel was positively received, although some commentators have considered it to be "inscrutable", and one has suggested that it has been so differently and vaguely interpreted by those who have given it serious study that it may lack the form and content to justify the praise it has received.


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An illustration by John Tenniel depicting Alice with some creatures from Wonderland.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures. The tale is filled with allusions to Dodgson's friends. The tale plays with logic in ways that have given the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the "literary nonsense" genre, and its narrative course and structure have been enormously influential, especially in the fantasy genre.

Alice was written in 1865, exactly three years after the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat up the River Thames with three young daughters of Henry George Liddell: Lorina Charlotte Liddell, Alice Pleasance Liddell, and Edith Mary Liddell. Most of the book's adventures were based on and influenced by people, situations and buildings in Oxford and at Christ Church. It is believed that a carving of a griffon and rabbit, as seen in Ripon Cathedral, where Carroll's father was a canon, provided inspiration for the tale.

The journey had started at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village of Godstow. To while away time, the Reverend Dodgson told the girls a story that, not so coincidentally, featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice asked Dodgson to write it down for her. After a lengthy delay—over two years —he eventually did so and on 26 November 1864 gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/6 The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in a time "Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men", The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. The book remains popular and is recognized as a classic children's book.

Bilbo's journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings into darker, deeper territory. The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of creature, of Tolkien's Wilderland. By accepting the disreputable, romantic, fey and adventurous side of his nature (the "Tookish" side) and applying his wits and common sense, Bilbo develops a new level of maturity, competence and wisdom.

The final chapters deal with the climactic Battle of Five Armies, where many of the characters and creatures from earlier chapters re-emerge to engage in conflict. Critics have cited Tolkien's own experiences and the themes of other writers who fought in World War I, along with the author's professional knowledge of Anglo-Saxon literature and personal interest in fairy tales, as the chief influences.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/7 The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by philologist and Oxford University professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit (1937), but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in stages between 1937 and 1949, much of it during World War II. Although generally known to readers as a trilogy, the work was initially intended by Tolkien to be one volume of a two-volume set along with The Silmarillion; however, the publisher decided to omit the second volume and instead published The Lord of the Rings in 1954-55 as three books rather than one, for economic reasons. It has since been reprinted numerous times and translated into many languages, becoming one of the most popular and influential works in 20th-century literature.

The title of the book refers to the story's main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron, who had in an earlier age created the One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power, as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth. From quiet beginnings in the Shire, a hobbit land not unlike the English countryside, the story ranges across Middle-earth following the course of the War of the Ring through the eyes of its characters, most notably the hobbits, Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee (Sam), Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry) and Peregrin Took (Pippin).


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/8 The Silmarillion is a collection of J. R. R. Tolkien's mythopoeic works, edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien in 1977, with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay, who later became a noted fantasy writer. The Silmarillion, along with J. R. R. Tolkien's other works, forms a comprehensive, yet incomplete, narrative that describes the universe of Middle-earth within which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place.

The Silmarillion comprises five parts. The first part, Ainulindalë, tells of the creation of , the "world that is". Valaquenta, the second part, gives a description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural powers in Eä. The next section, Quenta Silmarillion, which forms the bulk of the collection, chronicles the history of the events before and during the First Age, including the wars over the Silmarils which gave the book its title. The fourth part, Akallabêth, relates the history of the Downfall of Númenor and its people, which takes place in the Second Age. The final part, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, is a brief account of the circumstances which led to and were presented in The Lord of the Rings.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/9 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis. Published in 1950 and set in circa 1940, it is the first-published book of The Chronicles of Narnia and is the best known book of the series. Although it was written and published first, it is second in the series' internal chronological order, after The Magician's Nephew. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

Initially the character of Aslan was not present in the story. Lewis had already conceived of the land of Narnia as a frozen kingdom under the terror of the totalitarian rule of the White Witch, mostly probably reflecting the events of the Second World War and the situation of countries under Nazi occupation. He had suffered from nightmares for most of this life. Around the time he was writing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe he had a number of dreams with lions in them and soon the figure of Aslan made a dramatic entrance into his imagination, effecting a complete transformation upon the story and drawing the novel and the entire series of Narnia stories together.

Lewis very much enjoyed writing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and embarked on the sequel Prince Caspian soon after finishing the first novel. He completed the sequel in less than a year, by the end of 1949. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had not been widely released until 1950; thus his initial enthusiasm did not stem from favourable reception by the public.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/10 Howl's Moving Castle is a young adult fantasy novel by British author Diana Wynne Jones, first published in 1986. It won a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and was named an ALA Notable book for both children and young adults. In 2004 it was loosely adapted as an Academy Award-nominated animated film by Hayao Miyazaki. A sequel, Castle in the Air, was published in 1990. A second sequel, House of Many Ways was released in June 2008.

A young woman named Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three daughters living in the town of Market Chipping in the magical kingdom of Ingary, where many fairy-tale tropes are accepted ways of life. She is very deft with the needle and makes the most beautiful hats and dresses. She unknowingly talks life into objects. As the eldest, she is resigned to the "fact" that she will have no chance of finding her fortune, accepting that she will have a dull life running the family hat shop—until she is turned into an old crone by the Witch of the Waste, a powerful witch who has mistaken Sophie for her sister, the current love interest of Wizard Howl. Sophie leaves the shop and finds work as a cleaning lady for the notorious Howl, famed in her town for eating the hearts of beautiful young women.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/11 Dragons of Autumn Twilight is a fantasy novel by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, based on a Dungeons & Dragons game session. Written in 1984, Dragons of Autumn Twilight was the first Dragonlance novel, and first in the Chronicles trilogy, which, along with the Dragonlance Legends trilogy, are generally regarded as the core novels of the Dragonlance world. The Chronicles trilogy came about because the designers wanted novels to tell the story of the game world they were creating, something to which TSR only reluctantly agreed. Dragons of Autumn Twilight details the meeting of the Companions and the early days of The War of the Lance. This novel corresponds with the first two Dragonlance game modules, DL1 Dragons of Despair and DL2 Dragons of Flame, but the novel has a different ending from the modules. The novel introduces many of the characters that are the subject of many other novels and short stories.

The title Dragons of Autumn Twilight follows a pattern with the other novels in the series, Dragons of Winter Night and Dragons of Spring Dawning, as they all start with Dragons, followed by a series of seasons, Autumn, Winter, and Spring, as well as a series of time, Twilight, Night, and Dawning.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/12 The Gathering Storm is the 12th book of the The Wheel of Time fantasy series. It was incomplete when its author, Robert Jordan, died on September 16, 2007, from cardiac amyloidosis. His widow Harriet McDougal and publisher Tom Doherty chose Brandon Sanderson to continue the book after Jordan's death.

Jordan originally intended to finish the series in a single volume titled A Memory of Light, but when Sanderson began writing the book it became clear a split was required as it was believed a single volume would be too large to print. The expected final book was then split into three volumes: The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light. The books would be published a year apart with the first volume, The Gathering Storm, published on October 27, 2009; a week earlier than originally announced. Upon its release, it immediately rose to the #1 position on the The New York Times hardcover fiction Best Seller list, making it the fifth consecutive Wheel of Time book to reach the #1 position on that list.

The three books will together encompass what can be considered Jordan's final vision of the series. In the foreword, Sanderson states that they can be thought of as "the three volumes of A Memory of Light or as the final three books of The Wheel of Time. Both are correct." He also comments on the differing writing style, suggesting that it could be compared to different film directors directing the same script.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/13 The Eye of the World (abbreviated as tEotW or EotW by fans) is the first book of The Wheel of Time (WoT) fantasy series written by American author Robert Jordan. It was published by Tor Books and released on January 15, 1990. The unabridged audio book is read by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading (Jennifer Mendenhall).

On January 2, 2002, The Eye of the World was re-released as two separate books aimed at a young adult literature market, with larger text and a handful of illustrations. These were From the Two Rivers and To the Blight. The former included an additional prologue entitled "Ravens", focusing on Egwene al'Vere. The American Library Association put The Eye of the World on its 2003 list of Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults.

Jordan has stated that he consciously intended the early chapters of The Eye of the World to evoke the Shire of Middle-earth in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Other strong allusions to The Lord of the Rings exist as well, particularly the incorporeal and invisible Dark Lord, the dark home realm of Mordor compared to Thakan'dar (as well as Shayol Ghul to the fiery pit of Mount Doom), obvious similarities between Trollocs and Orcs, Myrddraal and Nazgûl, and Padan Fain and Gollum.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/14 The Last Unicorn is a fantasy novel written by Peter S. Beagle and published in 1968. It has sold more than five million copies worldwide since its original publication, and has been translated into at least twenty languages. The third-person narrative centers on a unicorn who, believing she is the last of her kind in the world, sets off on a journey to discover what has happened to the others. She encounters a host of diverse characters as her journey progresses, each of them bringing her closer to her goal.

It took Beagle "close to two years" to write The Last Unicorn, and he states that "it was hard every step of the way". Beagle came up with the idea for the novel in 1962 while on an "artistic retreat" in Berkshire Hills after Viking Press rejected his novel, The Mirror Kingdom. He stated that though the idea for the novel was "just suddenly there", he also said that he had "read tons of fantasy and mythology" from childhood, and that his mother told him that he had shared a story about unicorns during a visit to one of the elementary school classes she taught. He also mentioned that he loved the book The Colt from Moon Mountain by Dorothy Lathrop (a story about a unicorn in Kansas) as a child, and that Spanish artist Marcial Rodriguez had given him a painting of unicorns fighting bulls when he was seventeen. Once he had the idea, he did research on unicorns at the Pittsfield Library.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/15 The Penelopiad is a novella by Margaret Atwood. It was published in 2005 as part of the first set of books in the Canongate Myth Series where contemporary authors rewrite ancient myths. In The Penelopiad, Penelope reminisces on the events during the Odyssey, life in Hades, Odysseus, Helen, and her relationships with her parents. A chorus of the twelve maids, whom Odysseus believed were disloyal and whom Telemachus hanged, interrupt Penelope's narrative to express their view on events. The maids' interludes use a new genre each time, including a jump-rope rhyme, a lament, an idyll, a ballad, a lecture, a court trial and several types of songs.

The novella's central themes include the effects of story-telling perspectives, double standards between the genders and the classes, and the fairness of justice. Atwood had previously used characters and storylines from Greek mythology in fiction such as her novel The Robber Bride, short story The Elysium Lifestyle Mansions and poems "Circe: Mud Poems" and "Helen of Troy Does Counter Dancing" but used Robert GravesThe Greek Myths and E. V. Rieu and D. C. H. Rieu's version of the Odyssey to prepare for this novella.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/16 "Harap Alb" or "Harap-Alb" (Romanian pronunciation: [haˈrap ˈalb]), known in full as Povestea lui Harap Alb ("The Story of Harap Alb"), is a Romanian-language fairy tale. Based on traditional themes found in Romanian folklore, it was recorded and reworked in 1877 by writer Ion Creangă, becoming one of his main contributions to fantasy and Romanian literature. The narrative centers on an eponymous prince traveling into a faraway land whose throne he has inherited, showing him being made into a slave by the treacherous Bald Man and eventually redeeming himself through acts of bravery. The plot introduces intricate symbolism, notably illustrated by the secondary characters. Among these are the helpful and sage old woman Holy Sunday, the tyrannical Red Emperor, and a band of five monstrous characters who provide the prince with serendipitous assistance.

An influential work, "Harap Alb" received much attention from Creangă's critical posterity, and became the inspiration for contributions in several fields. These include Ion Popescu-Gopo's film De-aş fi Harap Alb, a Postmodernist novel by Stelian Ţurlea and a comic book by Sandu Florea, alongside one of Gabriel Liiceanu's theses in the field of political philosophy.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected fantasy work/17 Carnivàle /kɑːrnɪˈvæl/ is an American television series set in the United States during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. In tracing the lives of two disparate groups of people, its overarching story depicts the battle between good and evil and the struggle between free will and destiny; the storyline mixes Christian theology with gnosticism and Masonic lore, particularly that of the Knights Templar. The show was filmed in Santa Clarita, California, and other Southern Californian locations.

Carnivàle was produced by HBO and ran for two seasons between September 14, 2003 and March 27, 2005. The show was created by Daniel Knauf, who also served as executive producer with Ronald D. Moore and Howard Klein. The incidental music was composed by Jeff Beal. Nick Stahl and Clancy Brown starred as Ben Hawkins and Brother Justin Crowe, respectively.

Early reviews praised the style of Carnivàle but questioned the approach and execution of the story. Carnivàle's first episode set a new audience record for an HBO original series, but the show was unable to retain its ratings in its second season. Carnivàle was canceled after 24 episodes, cutting its intended six-season run short by four seasons. The show won five Emmys in 2004, was nominated for 10 further Emmy awards, and received numerous other nominations and industry awards between 2004 and 2006.


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Horror

Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected horror work/1 Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a 1982 American horror film and the third installment in the Halloween series. Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and starring Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin and Dan O'Herlihy, the film is based on an original screenplay by Nigel Kneale and focuses on an evil scheme by the owner of a mask company to kill the children of America on Halloween night through a series of popular Halloween masks: a witch, a jack-o'-lantern, and a skull.

Season of the Witch is unrelated to the previous films featuring the character Michael Myers, and was intended to begin Halloween as an anthology series, releasing a new Halloween storyline every year. The only connection this movie has with the others in the series is a scene where the trailer for Carpenter's original 1978 Halloween is airing on a TV. Besides wholly abandoning the Michael Myers plotline, Halloween III departs from the slasher film genre which the original Halloween spawned. The focus on a psychopathic killer is replaced by a "mad scientist and witchcraft" theme.

Produced on a budget of $2.5 million, Halloween III grossed $14.4 million at the box office in the United States. In addition to relatively weak box office returns, most critics gave the film negative reviews. Where Halloween had broken new ground and was imitated by many genre films following in its wake, this third installment seemed hackneyed to many. One critic twenty years later suggests that if Halloween III was not part of the Halloween series, then it would simply be "a fairly nondescript eighties horror flick, no worse and no better than many others."


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected horror work/2 BioShock is a first-person shooter video game developed by 2K Boston/2K Australia—previously known as Irrational Games—designed by Ken Levine. It was released for the Windows operating system and Xbox 360 video game console on 21 August 2007 in North America, and three days later in Europe and Australia. A PlayStation 3 version of the game, which was developed by 2K Marin, was released internationally on 17 October 2008 and in North America on 21 October 2008 with some additional features. The game was also released for the Mac OS X operating system on October 7, 2009. A version of the game for mobile platforms is currently being developed by IG Fun. A sequel, BioShock 2, is scheduled for release on February 9, 2010.

Set in an alternate history 1960, the game places the player in the role of a plane crash survivor named Jack, who must explore the underwater city of Rapture, and survive attacks by the mutated beings and mechanical drones that populate it. The game incorporates elements found in role-playing and survival games, and is described by the developers and Levine as a "spiritual successor" to their previous titles in the System Shock series.

The game received overwhelmingly positive reviews, being particularly well-reviewed in the mainstream press, which praised its "morality-based" storyline, immersive environment and Ayn Rand-inspired dystopian back-story.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected horror work/3 Bride of Frankenstein (advertised as The Bride of Frankenstein) is a 1935 American horror film, the first sequel to the influential Frankenstein (1931). Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and stars Boris Karloff as The Monster, Elsa Lanchester in the dual role of his mate and Mary Shelley, Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein, and Ernest Thesiger as Doctor Septimus Pretorius.

The film follows on immediately from the events of the first film, and is rooted in a subplot of the original novel, Frankenstein (1818). In the film, a chastened Henry Frankenstein abandons his plans to create life, only to be tempted and finally coerced by the Monster, encouraged by Henry's old mentor Dr Pretorius, into constructing a mate for him. The Bride rejects the Monster however, resulting in her death, that of Pretorius, and apparently the Monster's own death, when he destroys Henry's laboratory.

Preparation began shortly after the first film premiered, but script problems delayed the project. Principal photography started in January 1935, with creative personnel from the original returning in front of and behind the camera. Bride of Frankenstein was released to critical and popular acclaim, although it encountered difficulties with some state and national censorship boards. Since its release the film's reputation has grown, and it is hailed as Whale's masterpiece. Modern film scholars, noting Whale's homosexuality and that of others involved in the production, have found a gay sensibility in the film, although a number of Whale's associates have dismissed the idea.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected horror work/4 Cannibal Holocaust (1980) is a controversial exploitation film directed by Ruggero Deodato from a screenplay by Gianfranco Clerici. Filmed in the Amazon Rainforest, the movie tells the story of four documentarians who journey deep into the jungle to film indigenous tribes. Two months later, after they fail to return, famous anthropologist Harold Monroe travels on a rescue mission to find the group. Eventually, he recovers and views their lost cans of film, which reveal the missing filmmakers' fate. The film stars Robert Kerman as Monroe, Carl Gabriel Yorke as director Alan Yates, Francesca Ciardi as Alan's girlfriend Faye, Perry Pirkanen as cameraman Jack Anders, and Luca Barbareschi as fellow cameraman Mark Tomaso.

Cannibal Holocaust is a well known exploitation film because of the controversy following its release. After premiering in Italy, the film was seized by a local magistrate, and Deodato was arrested on obscenity charges. He was later accused of making a snuff film due to rumors which claimed that certain actors were killed on camera. Although Deodato was later cleared of these charges, the film was banned in Italy, the UK, Australia, and several other countries due to its graphic depiction of gore, sexual violence, and the inclusion of six genuine animal deaths. Many nations have since revoked the ban, yet the film is still barred in several countries. This notoriety notwithstanding, some critics view Cannibal Holocaust as a social commentary about civilized society.


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Theatrical release poster
Night of the Living Dead is a 1968 independent black-and-white zombie film directed by George A. Romero. Ben (Duane Jones) and Barbra (Judith O'Dea) are the protagonists of a story about the mysterious reanimation of the recently dead, and their efforts, along with five other people, to survive the night while trapped in a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse.

George Romero completed the film on a US$114,000 budget, and after a decade of cinematic re-releases, it grossed some $12 million domestically and $30 million internationally. On its release in 1968, Night of the Living Dead was strongly criticized for its explicit content. However, in 1999, the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry as a film deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".

Night of the Living Dead was cited by many as being a groundbreaking film; given its release during the Vietnam-era, due to perceived critiques of 1960s American society, historian Adam Rockoff described it as "subversive on many levels". Although it is not the first zombie film, Night of the Living Dead is the progenitor of the contemporary "zombie apocalypse" subgenre of horror film, and it influenced the modern pop-culture zombie archetype. Night of the Living Dead (1968), is the first of six Dead films directed by George Romero, and twice has been remade, as a film of the same name in 1990, directed by Tom Savini, and as Night of the Living Dead 3D in 2006.


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Original 1927 quad poster
The Cat and the Canary (1927) is an American silent horror film adaptation of John Willard's 1922 black comedy play of the same name. Directed by German Expressionist filmmaker Paul Leni, the film stars Laura La Plante as Annabelle West, Forrest Stanley as Charles "Charlie" Wilder, and Creighton Hale as Paul Jones. The plot revolves around the death of Cyrus West, who is Annabelle, Charlie, and Paul's uncle, and the reading of his will 20 years later. Annabelle inherits her uncle's fortune, but when she and her family spend the night in his haunted mansion they are stalked by a mysterious figure. Meanwhile, a lunatic known as "the Cat" escapes from an asylum and hides in the mansion.

The Cat and the Canary is part of a genre of comedy horror films inspired by 1920s Broadway stage plays. Paul Leni's adaptation of Willard's play blended expressionism with humor, a style Leni was notable for and critics recognized as unique. Leni's style of directing made The Cat and the Canary influential in the "old dark house" genre of films popular from the 1930s through the 1950s. The film was one of Universal's early horror productions and is considered "the cornerstone of Universal's school of horror." It has been remade five times, with the most notable starring comedic actor Bob Hope.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected horror work/7 The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes, also known as The Simpsons Halloween episodes, are a series of episodes in the animated series The Simpsons. They are Halloween specials, each consisting of three separate, self-contained segments. These segments usually involve the Simpson family in some horror, science fiction, or supernatural setting. They take place outside the show's normal continuity and completely abandon any pretense of being realistic. The first, entitled "Treehouse of Horror", aired on October 25, 1990, as part of the second season and was inspired by EC Comics horror tales. The episodes are known for being far more violent and much darker than an average Simpsons episode. As of 2009, there are 20 Treehouse of Horror episodes, with one airing every year, and the newest episode, "Treehouse of Horror XX", premiered on October 18, 2009.

Episodes contain several trademarks, including the alien characters Kang and Kodos, "scary names" in the credits, a special version of the opening sequence, and parodies of horror, science fiction and fantasy films. The show's staff regard the Treehouse of Horror as being particularly difficult to produce as the scripts often go through many rewrites, and the animators typically have to design new characters and backgrounds.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected horror work/8 The Historian is the 2005 debut novel of American author Elizabeth Kostova. The plot blends the history and folklore of Vlad Ţepeş and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula. Kostova's father told her stories about Dracula when she was a child, and later in life she was inspired to turn the experience into a novel. She worked on the book for ten years and then sold it within a few months to Little, Brown, and Company, which bought it for a remarkable US$2 million.

The Historian has been described as a combination of genres, including Gothic novel, adventure novel, detective fiction, travelogue, postmodern historical novel, epistolary epic, and historical thriller. Kostova was intent on writing a serious work of literature and saw herself as an inheritor of the Victorian style. Although based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Historian is not a horror novel, but rather an eerie tale. It is concerned with history's role in society and representation in books, as well as the nature of good and evil. As Kostova explains, "Dracula is a metaphor for the evil that is so hard to undo in history." The evils brought about by religious conflict are a particular theme, and the novel explores the relationship between the Christian West and the Islamic East.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected horror work/9 The Pit and the Pendulum is a 1961 horror film directed by Roger Corman, starring Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, John Kerr, and Luana Anders. The screenplay by Richard Matheson was based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story of the same name. Set in 16th century Spain, the story is about a young Englishman who visits a forbidding castle to investigate his sister's mysterious death. After a series of horrific revelations, apparently ghostly appearances and violent deaths, the young man becomes strapped to the titular torture device by his lunatic brother-in-law during the film's climactic sequence.

The film was the second title in the popular series of Poe-based movies released by American International Pictures, the first having been Corman’s House of Usher released the previous year. Like House, the film features widescreen cinematography by Floyd Crosby, sets designed by art director Daniel Haller, and a film score composed by Les Baxter. A critical and box office hit, Pit's commercial success convinced AIP and Corman to continue adapting Poe stories for another six films, five of them starring Price. The series ended in 1965 with the release of The Tomb of Ligeia.

Film critic Tim Lucas and writer Ernesto Gastaldi have both noted the film’s strong influence on numerous subsequent Italian thrillers, from Mario Bava’s The Whip and the Body (1963) to Dario Argento’s Deep Red (1975). Stephen King has described one of Pit’s major shock sequences as being among the most important moments in the post-1960 horror film.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected horror work/10 The Mummy is a 1999 American adventure film written and directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah and Kevin J. O'Connor, with Arnold Vosloo in the title role as the reanimated mummy. The film features substantial dialogue in ancient Egyptian language, spoken with the assistance of a professional Egyptologist. It is a loose remake of the 1932 film of the same name which starred Boris Karloff in the title role. Originally intended to be part of a low-budget horror series, the movie was eventually turned into a blockbuster adventure film.

Filming began in Marrakech, Morocco, on May 4, 1998, and lasted seventeen weeks; the crew had to endure dehydration, sandstorms, and snakes while filming in the Sahara. The visual effects were provided by Industrial Light & Magic, who blended film and computer-generated imagery to create the titular Mummy. Jerry Goldsmith provided the orchestral score.

The Mummy opened on May 7, 1999, and grossed $43 million in 3,210 theaters; the movie went on to gross $416 million worldwide. Reception to the film was mixed, with reviewers alternatively praising or complaining about the special effects, the slapstick nature of the story and characters, and the stereotyped villains. The box-office success led to a 2001 sequel, The Mummy Returns, as well as The Mummy: The Animated Series, and the prequel film The Scorpion King. Another sequel, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, opened on August 1, 2008. Universal Studios also opened a roller coaster, Revenge of the Mummy, in 2004. The movie and its sequel's novelizations were written by Max Allan Collins.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected horror work/11 Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, known in Japan as Castlevania: Akatsuki no Menuett (キャッスルヴァニア ~暁月の円舞曲~, Kyassuruvania Akatsuki no Menuetto, lit. "Castlevania: Minuet of Dawn"), is an action-adventure game developed and published by Konami for the Game Boy Advance. It is part of Konami's Castlevania video game series, and the third installment of the series on the Game Boy Advance. The game was released in North America on May 6, 2003 and released in Japan on May 8, 2003. Although Aria of Sorrow sold poorly in Japan, selling only 27,000 units nearly one month after its release, it was commercially successful in the United States, with more than 158,000 units sold three months following its release.

Aria of Sorrow is set in the year 2035, where Dracula has long been sealed away from a battle in 1999. His powers are to be passed on to his reincarnation. The plot follows the adventures of Soma Cruz, a high school student who is granted powers as a result of Dracula's death, and his battle against those who wish to acquire Dracula's powers.

Aria of Sorrow takes many elements from other Castlevania games, including Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, which was in production at the same time as Aria of Sorrow. The game incorporates the combination of elements from platform and role-playing video games that were initially utilized in the best-selling Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Aria of Sorrow introduces several new features to the series, such as the "Tactical Soul" system and a futuristic storyline, a contrast to the medieval setting of many other Castlevania games. Aria of Sorrow received praise from several video game publications, with many considering it one of the best games in the Castlevania series since Symphony of the Night.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected horror work/12 Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, known in Japan as Akumajō Dracula: Sougetsu no Jūjika (悪魔城ドラキュラ 蒼月の十字架, lit. "Devil's Castle Dracula: Cross of the Blue Moon"), is an action-adventure game developed and published by Konami. It is part of Konami's Castlevania video game series and the first Castlevania game to be released on the Nintendo DS. The game is the sequel to Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and incorporates many elements from its predecessor. Dawn of Sorrow was commercially successful, selling more than 15,000 units in its first week in Japan and 164,000 units in the United States three months after its initial release.

Dawn of Sorrow continues the story of Aria of Sorrow, in which Dracula has been completely defeated, and his powers assumed by his reincarnation, Soma Cruz. With the help of his allies, Soma avoids becoming the new dark lord. A cult forms to bring forth a new dark lord by killing Soma. Soma and his allies move to ensure that a new dark lord is not created.

Dawn of Sorrow incorporates many features from previous Castlevania games: the combination of elements from platform and role-playing video games, the "Tactical Soul" system featured in Aria of Sorrow, and a dark, gothic atmosphere. Dawn of Sorrow also introduces new gameplay elements, such as the "Magic Seal" system, which requires the use of the DS stylus to draw a pattern in order to defeat powerful enemies, a distinctive anime character design, and a multiplayer mode, where two players compete for fastest times on a prerendered level. The game received high scores from many video game publications, and was considered one of the best games on the Nintendo DS for 2005. The game was re-released in Japan on June 29, 2006 and later in North America during 2007 as part of the "Konami the Best" line.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected horror work/13 Silent Hill 4: The Room is the fourth installment in the Konami Silent Hill survival horror series. The game was released in Japan in June 2004 and in North America and Europe in September of that same year. Silent Hill 4 was released for the Sony PlayStation 2 and the Microsoft Xbox consoles as well as the PC. A soundtrack release was also made at the same time.

Unlike the previous installments, which were set primarily in the disturbed town of Silent Hill, this game is set in the fictional town of South Ashfield, and is focused on the character of Henry Townshend attempting to escape from his locked-down apartment. He explores a series of supernatural worlds and finds himself in conflict with an undead serial killer.

Silent Hill 4 features an altered gameplay style with third-person navigation and plot elements taken from previous installments. Upon its release the game received a mixed critical reaction due to deviations from the original Silent Hill style.


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Biographies and companies

Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected biography/1

Carbon print of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1869, printed 1875/79
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892), much better known as "Alfred, Lord Tennyson," was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular poets in the English language.

Tennyson excelled at penning short lyrics, "In the valley of Cauteretz", "Break, Break, Break", "The Charge of the Light Brigade", "Tears, Idle Tears" and "Crossing the Bar". Much of his verse was based on classical mythological themes (Oenone, Ulysses, Tithonus), as well as works based on Arthurian legends (Idylls of the King, The Lady of Shalott, Sir Galahad). Tennyson also wrote some notable blank verse including Idylls of the King, Ulysses, and Tithonus. During his career, Tennyson attempted drama, but his plays enjoyed little success.

Tennyson wrote a number of phrases that have become commonplaces of the English language, including: "Nature, red in tooth and claw", "'Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all", "Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die", "My strength is as the strength of ten, / Because my heart is pure", "Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers", and "The old order changeth, yielding place to new". He is the second most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations after Shakespeare.


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Edgar Allen Poe
Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.

He attended the University of Virginia for one semester but left due to lack of money. Poe's publishing career began humbly, with an anonymous collection of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), credited only to "a Bostonian". Poe switched his focus to prose and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals, becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. In January 1845, Poe published his poem "The Raven" to instant success. His wife died of tuberculosis two years later. He began planning to produce his own journal, The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), though he died before it could be produced.

Poe and his works influenced literature in the United States and around the world, as well as in specialized fields, such as cosmology and cryptography. Poe and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. A number of his homes are dedicated museums today.


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William Gibson
William Ford Gibson (born March 17, 1948) is an American-Canadian writer who has been called the "noir prophet" of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction. Gibson coined the term "cyberspace" in his short story "Burning Chrome" and later popularized the concept in his debut novel, Neuromancer (1984). In envisaging cyberspace, Gibson created an iconography for the information age before the ubiquity of the Internet in the 1990s. He is also credited with predicting the rise of reality television and with establishing the conceptual foundations for the rapid growth of virtual environments such as video games and the Web.

Having changed residence frequently with his family as a child, Gibson became a shy, ungainly teenager who often read science fiction. After spending his adolescence at a private boarding school in Arizona, Gibson dodged the draft during the Vietnam War by emigrating to Canada in 1968, where he became immersed in the counterculture and after settling in Vancouver eventually became a full-time writer. He retains dual citizenship. Gibson's early works are bleak, noir near-future stories about the effect of cybernetics and computer networks on humans – a "combination of lowlife and high tech". The short stories were published in popular science fiction magazines. The themes, settings and characters developed in these stories culminated in his first novel, Neuromancer, which garnered critical and commercial success, virtually initiating the cyberpunk literary genre.


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William Hanna 1977.jpg
William Denby "Bill" Hanna (July 14, 1910 – March 22, 2001) was an American animator, director, producer, television director, television producer, and cartoon artist, whose movie and television cartoon characters entertained millions of fans worldwide for much of the twentieth century. When he was a young child, Hanna's family moved frequently, but they settled in Compton, California by 1919. There, Hanna became an Eagle Scout. He briefly attended college but dropped out at the onset of the Great Depression.

After working odd jobs in the first months of the Depression, Hanna joined the Harman and Ising animation studio in 1930. During the 1930s, Hanna steadily gained skill and prominence while working on cartoons such as Captain and the Kids. In 1937, while working at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Hanna met Joseph Barbera. The two men began a collaboration that was at first best known for producing Tom and Jerry and live action films. In 1957, they co-founded Hanna-Barbera, which became the most successful television animation studio in the business, producing programs such as The Flintstones, The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, The Smurfs, and Yogi Bear. In 1967, Hanna-Barbera was sold to Taft Broadcasting for $12 million, but Hanna and Barbera remained head of the company until 1991. At that time the studio was sold to Turner Broadcasting System, which in turn was merged with Time Warner, owners of Warner Bros., in 1996; Hanna and Barbera stayed on as advisors.


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Portrait of Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Godwin's mother died when she was eleven days old; afterwards, she and her older half-sister, Fanny Imlay, were raised by her father. When Mary was four, Godwin married his neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont. Godwin provided his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his liberal political theories. In 1814, Mary Godwin began a romantic relationship with one of her father’s political followers, the married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, they left for France and travelled through Europe; upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy's child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816 after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife, Harriet.


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Tolkien in 1916
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE (/ˈtɒlkn/ or US: /ˈtlkn/; 3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973), was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature there from 1945 to 1959. He was a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972.

After his death, Tolkien's son, Christopher, published a series of works based on his father's extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about an imagined world called Arda, and Middle-earth within it. Between 1951 and 1955 Tolkien applied the word legendarium to the larger part of these writings.


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J. K. Rowling, after receiving an honorary degree from The University of Aberdeen
Joanne "Jo" Murray, OBE (née Rowling; born 31 July 1965), better known under the pen name J. K. Rowling (/ˈrlɪŋ/ "rolling"), is a British author best known as the creator of the Harry Potter fantasy series, based on an idea she conceived on a train trip from Manchester to London in 1990. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies, and been the basis for a popular series of films.

Aside from writing the Potter novels, Rowling is perhaps equally famous for her "rags to riches" life story, in which she progressed from living on welfare to multi-millionaire status within five years. The 2008 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling's fortune at £560 million ($798 million), ranking her as the twelfth richest woman in Britain. Forbes ranked Rowling as the forty-eighth most powerful celebrity of 2007, and Time magazine named her as a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fandom. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, and the Children's High Level Group.


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Honoré de Balzac, by Nadar (1842)
Honoré de Balzac (French pronunciation: ​[ɔnɔʁe də balzak]) (20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels, short stories and plays collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815.

Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous authors, including the novelists Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Marie Corelli, Henry James, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, and Italo Calvino as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, and they continue to inspire other writers.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected biography/9

Frank Klepacki, from his album Morphscape
Frank Klepacki (born May 25, 1974) is an American musician, video game music composer and sound director best known for his work on the Command & Conquer series. Having learned to play drums as a child, he joined Westwood Studios as a composer when he was only 17 years old. He scored several games there, including the Lands of Lore series, Westwood Studios' Dune games, the The Legend of Kyrandia series, Blade Runner, and the Command & Conquer series. His work in Command & Conquer: Red Alert won two awards.

He lives in Las Vegas, where he has shaped a solo career and played and produced for several local bands. His personal and band work touches upon several genres, including orchestral, rock music, hip hop music, soul music, and funk. He has dubbed the style of music he writes as "Rocktronic". His work has appeared in various media, including the Spike TV program The Ultimate Fighter.

Klepacki is currently the audio director of Petroglyph games, where he scored Star Wars: Empire at War. He was contacted to score Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, but was too busy with Petroglyph to take the project, and declined to mention the offer. Klepacki most recently composed three songs, including "Hell March 3", for Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 by EA Los Angeles. His most recent solo CD is entitled Infiltrator.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected biography/10

A 1610 portrait of Johannes Kepler by an unknown artist
Johannes Kepler (IPA: [ˈkʰɛplɐ]) (December 27, 1571 – November 15, 1630) was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, and key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution. He is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican Astronomy. They also provided one of the foundations for Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation.

Around 1611, Kepler circulated a manuscript of what would eventually be published (posthumously) as Somnium (The Dream). Part of the purpose of Somnium was to describe what practicing astronomy would be like from the perspective of another planet, to show the feasibility of a non-geocentric system. The manuscript, which disappeared after changing hands several times, described a fantastic trip to the moon; it was part allegory, part autobiography, and part treatise on interplanetary travel (and is sometimes described as the first work of science fiction). Years later, a distorted version of the story may have instigated the witchcraft trial against his mother, as the mother of the narrator consults a demon to learn the means of space travel. Following her eventual acquittal, Kepler composed 223 footnotes to the story—several times longer than the actual text—which explained the allegorical aspects as well as the considerable scientific content (particularly regarding lunar geography) hidden within the text.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected biography/11

A photograph of Robert E. Howard taken in 1934.
Robert Ervin Howard (January 22, 1906 – June 11, 1936) was an American author who wrote pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres. He is regarded as the father of the Sword and Sorcery genre and he created, amongst other characters, Conan the Cimmerian. Howard created Conan the Barbarian, in the pages of the Depression-era pulp magazine Weird Tales, a character whose pop-culture imprint has been compared to such icons as Tarzan, Count Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, and James Bond.

Howard was born and raised in the state of Texas. He spent most of his life in the town of Cross Plains with some time spent in the nearby Brownwood. A bookish and intellectual child, he was also a fan of boxing and spent some time in his late teens bodybuilding, eventually taking up amateur boxing himself. From the age of nine he dreamed of becoming a writer of adventure fiction but did not have real success until he was twenty-three. He was published in a wide selection of magazines, journals and newspapers but his main outlet was the pulp magazine Weird Tales.

He was successful in several genres and was on the verge of publishing his first novel when he committed suicide at the age of thirty.


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Bradbury in 1975
Ray Douglas Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) was an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953) and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and The Illustrated Man (1951), Bradbury is one of the most celebrated among 20th and 21st century American writers of speculative fiction. Bradbury's popularity has been increased by more than 20 filmed dramatizations of his works.

Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois, to a Swedish immigrant mother and a father who was a power and telephone lineman. His paternal grandfather and great-grandfather were newspaper publishers. Bradbury was a reader and writer throughout his youth, spending much time in the Carnegie library in Waukegan, Illinois. He used this library as a setting for much of his novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, and depicted Waukegan as "Green Town" in some of his other semi-autobiographical novels—Dandelion Wine, Farewell Summer—as well as in many of his short stories.

He attributes his lifelong habit of writing every day to an incident in 1932 when a carnival entertainer, Mr. Electrico, touched him on the nose with an electrified sword, made his hair stand on end, and shouted, "Live forever!" It was from then that Bradbury wanted to live forever and decided his career as an author in order to do what he was told: live forever. It was at that age that Bradbury first started to do magic. Magic was his first great love. If he had not discovered writing, he would have become a magician.


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Isaac Asimov in 1965
Isaac Asimov (/ˈæzɪmɒv/; c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited about 500 books and over 9,000 letters and postcards. His works have been published in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System (the sole exception being the 100s: philosophy and psychology).

Isaac Asimov is widely considered a master of the science-fiction genre and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, he was considered one of the "Big Three" science-fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov's most famous work is the Foundation series; his other major series are the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series, both of which he later tied into the same fictional universe as the Foundation Series to create a unified "future history" for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He penned numerous short stories, among them Nightfall, which, in 1964, the Science Fiction Writers of America voted the best short science fiction story of all time—an accolade many still find persuasive. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.


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Robert Silverberg at the 67th World Science Fiction Convention
Robert Silverberg (born January 15, 1935) is an American author, best known for writing science fiction. He is a multiple winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Silverberg was born in Brooklyn, New York. A voracious reader since childhood, he began submitting stories to science fiction magazines during his early teenage years. He attended Columbia University, receiving an A.B. in English Literature in 1956. His first published novel, a children's book called Revolt on Alpha C, appeared in 1955, and he won his first Hugo the following year for "best new writer". For the next four years, by his own count, he wrote a million words a year, mostly for magazines and Ace Doubles. In 1959 the market for science fiction collapsed, and Silverberg turned his ability to write copiously to other fields, from carefully researched historical nonfiction to softcore pornography.

In the mid-1960s, science fiction writers were starting to become more literarily ambitious. Frederik Pohl, then editing three science fiction magazines, offered Silverberg carte blanche in writing for them. Thus inspired, Silverberg returned to the field that gave him his start, paying far more attention to depth of character development and social background than he had in the past and mixing in elements of the modernist literature he had studied at Columbia.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected biography/15 Cordwainer Smith was the pseudonym used by American author Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger (July 11, 1913–August 6, 1966) for his science fiction works. Linebarger was a noted East Asia scholar and expert in psychological warfare. Linebarger also employed the literary pseudonyms "Carmichael Smith" (for his political thriller Atomsk), "Anthony Bearden" (for his poetry) and "Felix C. Forrest" (for the novels Ria and Carola).

Linebarger was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His father was Paul M. W. Linebarger, a lawyer and political activist with close ties to the leaders of the Chinese revolution of 1911. As a result of those connections, Linebarger's godfather was Sun Yat-sen, considered the father of Chinese nationalism. As a child, Linebarger was blinded in his right eye; the vision in his remaining eye was impaired by infection. His father moved his family to France and then Germany while Sun Yat-sen was struggling against contentious warlords in China. As a result, Linebarger was familiar with six languages by adulthood.

At the age of 23, he received a Ph.D. in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected biography/16 Alfred "Alfie" Bester (December 18, 1913 – September 30, 1987) was an American science fiction author, TV and radio scriptwriter, magazine editor and scripter for comic strips and comic books. Though successful in all these fields, he is probably best remembered today for his work as a science fiction author, and as the winner of the first Hugo Award in 1953 for his novel The Demolished Man.

Bester was born in Manhattan, New York City, on December 18, 1913. His father James owned a shoe store, and was a first-generation American whose parents were both Austrian. Alfred's mother, Belle, was born in Russia and spoke Yiddish as her first language before coming to America as a youth. Alfred was James and Belle's second and final child, and only son. (Their first child, Rita, was born in 1908.) Though his father was of Jewish background, and his mother became a Christian Scientist, Alfred Bester himself wasn't raised within any religious traditions.

Bester attended the University of Pennsylvania where he was a member of the Philomathean Society. He went on to Columbia Law School, but tired of it and dropped out. Bester and Rolly Goulko married in 1936. Rolly Bester had a successful career as a Broadway, radio and television actress before changing careers to become an advertising executive during the 1960s. The Besters remained married for 48 years until her death on January 12, 1984. Bester was very nearly a lifelong New Yorker, although he lived in Europe for a little over a year in the mid-1950s and moved to Pennsylvania with Rolly in the early 1980s. Once settled there, they lived on Geigel Hill Road in Ottsville, Pennsylvania.


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Stanisław Lem in 1966
Stanisław Lem (Polish pronunciation: [staˈɲiswav ˈlɛm] (About this sound listen); 12 September 1921 – 27 March 2006) was a Polish writer of science fiction, philosophy and satire . He was named a Knight of the Order of the White Eagle. His books have been translated into 41 languages and have sold over 27 million copies. He is perhaps best known as the author of the 1961 novel Solaris, which has twice been made into a feature film. In 1976, Theodore Sturgeon claimed that Lem was the most widely read science-fiction writer in the world.

His works explore philosophical themes; speculation on technology, the nature of intelligence, the impossibility of mutual communication and understanding, despair about human limitations and humankind's place in the universe. They are sometimes presented as fiction, but others are in the form of essays or philosophical books. Translations of his works are difficult and multiple translated versions of his works exist.

Lem made his literary debut in 1946 as a poet, and at that time he also published several dime novels. Beginning that year, Lem's first science fiction novel Człowiek z Marsa (The Man from Mars) was serialized in the magazine Nowy Świat Przygód (New World of Adventures). Between 1947 and 1950 Lem, while continuing his work as a scientific research assistant, published poems, short stories, and scientific essays. However, during the era of Stalinism, all published works had to be directly approved by the communist regime. Lem finished a partly autobiographical novella Hospital of the Transfiguration (Szpital Przemienienia) in 1948, but it was suppressed by the authorities until 1955 when he added a sequel more acceptable to the doctrine of socialist realism. In 1951 he published his first book, Astronauci (The Astronauts); it was commissioned as juvenile SF and Lem was forced to include many references to the 'glorious future of communism' in it. He later criticized this novel (as well as several of his other early pieces, bowing to the ideological pressure) as simplistic; nonetheless its publication convinced him to become a full-time writer.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected biography/18 John Wood Campbell, Jr. (June 8, 1910 – July 11, 1971) was an influential figure in American science fiction. As editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later called Analog Science Fiction and Fact), from late 1937 until his death, he is generally credited with shaping the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction.

Isaac Asimov called Campbell "the most powerful force in science fiction ever, and for the first ten years of his editorship he dominated the field completely." As a writer, Campbell published super-science space opera under his own name and moody, less pulpish stories as Don A. Stuart. However, he stopped writing fiction after he became editor of Astounding.

Campbell's first published story, "When the Atoms Failed," appeared in the January 1930 issue of Amazing Stories when he was 19; he had had a previous story, "Invaders from the Infinite", accepted by Amazing's editor, T. O'Conor Sloane, but Sloane had lost the manuscript. Campbell's early fiction included a space opera series based on three characters, Arcot, Morey and Wade, and another series with lead characters Penton and Blake. This early work established Campbell's reputation as a writer of space adventure; and when he began in 1934 to publish stories with a different tone, he used a pseudonym derived from his wife's maiden name.


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Signature of A. E. van Vogt
Alfred Elton van Vogt (April 26, 1912 – January 26, 2000) was a Canadian-born science fiction author regarded by some as one of the most popular and complex science fiction writers of the mid-twentieth century: the "Golden Age" of the genre.

Van Vogt's first published SF story, "Black Destroyer" (Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939), was inspired by On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. The story depicted a fierce, carnivorous alien stalking the crew of an exploration spaceship. It was the cover story of this issue of Astounding, the issue often described as having ushered in the Golden Age of science fiction. The story became an instant classic and eventually served as the inspiration for a number of science fiction movies. In 1950 it was combined with "War of Nerves" (1950), "Discord in Scarlet" (1939) and "M33 in Andromeda" (1943) to form the novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950).

In 1941, van Vogt decided to become a full time writer, quitting his job at the Canadian Department of National Defence. Extremely prolific for a few years, van Vogt wrote a large number of short stories. One of van Vogt's best-known novels of this period is Slan, which was originally serialised in Astounding Science Fiction (September - December 1940). Using what became one of van Vogt's recurring themes, it told the story of a 9-year-old superman living in a world in which his kind are slain by Homo sapiens.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected biography/20 Roger Joseph Zelazny (May 13, 1937 – June 14, 1995) was an American writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels. He won the Nebula award three times (out of 14 nominations) and the Hugo award six times (also out of 14 nominations), including two Hugos for novels: the serialized novel ...And Call Me Conrad (1965; subsequently published under the title This Immortal, 1966) and then the novel Lord of Light (1967). The ostracod Sclerocypris zelaznyi was named after him.

His first fanzine appearance was part one of the story "Conditional Benefit" (Thurban 1 #3, 1953) and his first professional publication and sale was the fantasy short story "Mr. Fuller's Revolt" (Literary Calvalcade, 1954). As a professional writer, his debut works were the simultaneous publication of "Passion Play" (Amazing, August 1962) and "Horseman!" (Fantastic, August 1962). "Passion Play" was written and sold first. His first story to attract major attention was "A Rose for Ecclesiastes", published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, with cover art by Hannes Bok.

Roger Zelazny was also a member of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA), a loose-knit group of Heroic Fantasy authors founded in the 1960s, some of whose works were anthologized in Lin Carter's Flashing Swords! anthologies.


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Arthur C. Clarke at his home office in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 28 March 2005
Sri Lankabhimanya Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, most famous for the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, written in collaboration with director Stanley Kubrick, a collaboration that also produced the film of the same name; and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke were known as the "Big Three" of science fiction.

Clarke emigrated to Sri Lanka in 1956 largely to pursue his interest in scuba diving, and lived there until his death. He was knighted by the British monarchy in 1998, and was awarded Sri Lanka's highest civil honour, Sri Lankabhimanya, in 2005.

While Clarke had a few stories published in fanzines, between 1937 and 1945, his first professional sales appeared in Astounding Science Fiction in 1946: "Loophole" was published in April, while Rescue Party, his first sale, was published in May. Along with his writing Clarke briefly worked as Assistant Editor of Science Abstracts (1949) before devoting himself to writing full-time from 1951 onward. Clarke corresponded with C. S. Lewis in the 1940s and 1950s and they once met in an Oxford pub, The Eastgate, to discuss science fiction and space travel. Clarke, after Lewis's death, voiced great praise for him, saying the Ransom Trilogy was one of the few works of science fiction that could be considered literature.


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Heinlein signing autographs at the 1976 Worldcon
Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of the genre. He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was one of the first writers to break into mainstream, general magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, in the late 1940s, with unvarnished science fiction. He was among the first authors of bestselling, novel-length science fiction in the modern, mass-market era. For many years, Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke were known as the "Big Three" of science fiction.

Within the framework of his science fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly integrated recognizable social themes: The importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress non-conformist thought. He also examined the relationship between physical and emotional love, explored various unorthodox family structures, and speculated on the influence of space travel on human cultural practices. His 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land put him in the unexpected role of a pied piper of the sexual revolution, and of the counterculture, and through this book he was credited with popularizing the notion of polyamory.


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Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne (French: [ʒyl vɛʁn]; 8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwright best known for his adventure novels and his profound influence on the literary genre of science fiction. Born to bourgeois parents in the seaport of Nantes, Verne was trained to follow in his father's footsteps as a lawyer, but quit the profession early in life to write for magazines and the stage. His collaboration with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel led to the creation of the Voyages Extraordinaires, a widely popular series of scrupulously researched adventure novels including Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days.

Verne is generally considered a major literary author in France and most of Europe, where he has had a wide influence on the literary avant-garde and on surrealism. His reputation is markedly different in Anglophone regions, where he has often been labeled a writer of genre fiction or children's books, not least because of the highly abridged and altered translations in which his novels are often reprinted.

Verne is the second most translated author in the world (following Agatha Christie), and his works appear in more translations per year than those of any other writer. Verne is one writer sometimes called "The Father of Science Fiction," as are H. G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback.


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H G Wells pre 1922.jpg
Herbert George Wells (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946) was an English author, best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary. Together with Jules Verne, Wells has been referred to as "The Father of Science Fiction". Wells was an outspoken socialist and sympathetic to pacifist views, although he supported the First World War once it was under way, and his later works became increasingly political and didactic. His middle period novels (1900–1920) were less science-fictional; they covered lower-middle class life (The History of Mr Polly) and the 'New Woman' and the Suffragettes (Ann Veronica).

His early novels, called "scientific romances", invented a number of themes now classic in science fiction in such works as The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, When the Sleeper Wakes, and The First Men in the Moon. He also wrote other, non-fantastic novels that have received critical acclaim including Kipps and the satire on Edwardian advertising, Tono-Bungay.

Wells wrote several dozen short stories and novellas, the best known of which is "The Country of the Blind" (1904). His short story "The New Accelerator" was the inspiration for the Star Trek episode Wink of an Eye.


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Painting depicting Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745) was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for the Whigs, then for the Tories), poet and cleric who became Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

He is remembered for works such as Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier's Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, and is less well known for his poetry. Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms—such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B. Drapier—or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.

Gulliver's Travels, of which Swift wrote a large portion in Woodbrook House, County Laois was first published in 1726, and is regarded as his masterpiece. As with his other writings, the Travels was published under a pseudonym, the fictional Lemuel Gulliver, a ship's surgeon and later a sea captain. Some of the correspondence between printer Benj. Motte and Gulliver's also-fictional cousin negotiating the book's publication has survived. Though it has often been mistakenly thought of and published in bowdlerized form as a children's book, it is a great and sophisticated satire of human nature based on Swift's experience of his times. Gulliver's Travels is an anatomy of human nature, a sardonic looking-glass, often criticized for its apparent misanthropy. It asks its readers to refute it, to deny that it has not adequately characterized human nature and society. Each of the four books--recounting four voyages to mostly-fictional exotic lands--has a different theme, but all are attempts to deflate human pride. Critics hail the work as a satiric reflection on the failings of Enlightenment modernism.


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Huxley ca.1970
Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. He spent the later part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1963. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts.

Brave New World (1932) as well as Island (1962) form the cornerstone of Huxley's damning indictment of commercialism based upon goods generally manufactured from other countries. Indeed also, Brave New World (along with Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Yevgeni Zamyatin's We) helped form the anti-utopian or dystopian tradition in literature and has become synonymous with a future world in which the human spirit is subject to conditioning and control. Island acts as an antonym to Brave New World; it is described as "one of the truly great philosophical novels".

When he wrote a synopsis of Alice in Wonderland, Walt Disney rejected it on the grounds that "he could only understand every third word". Huxley's leisurely development of ideas, it seemed, was not suitable for the movie moguls, who demanded fast, dynamic dialogue above all else.


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Lee in 2007
Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber; December 28, 1922) is an American comic book writer, editor, actor, producer, publisher, television personality, and the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics.

In collaboration with several artists, most notably Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he co-created Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Avengers, Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and many other fictional characters, introducing complex, naturalistic characters and a thoroughly shared universe into superhero comic books. In addition, he headed the first major successful challenge to the industry's censorship organization, the Comics Code Authority, and forced it to reform its policies. Lee subsequently led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation.

With the help of his uncle, Robbie Solomon, Lee became an assistant at the new Timely Comics division of pulp magazine and comic-book publisher Martin Goodman's company in 1939. Timely, by the 1960s, would evolve into Marvel Comics. Lee, whose cousin Jean was Goodman's wife, and was formally hired by Timely editor Joe Simon. His duties were prosaic at first. "In those days [the artists] dipped the pen in ink, [so] I had to make sure the inkwells were filled", Lee recalled in 2009. "I went down and got them their lunch, I did proofreading, I erased the pencils from the finished pages for them". Marshaling his childhood ambition to be a writer, young Stanley Lieber made his comic-book debut with the text filler "Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge" in Captain America Comics #3 (May 1941), using the pseudonym "Stan Lee", which years later he would adopt as his legal name. Lee later explained in his autobiography and numerous other sources that he had intended to save his given name for more literary work. This initial story also introduced Captain America's trademark ricocheting shield-toss, which immediately became one of the character's signatures.


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The signature of C. S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as Jack, was an Irish-born British novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist. He is also known for his fiction, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy.

Lewis was a close friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, and both authors were leading figures in the English faculty at Oxford University and in the informal Oxford literary group known as the "Inklings". According to his memoir Surprised by Joy, Lewis had been baptised in the Church of Ireland at birth, but fell away from his faith during his adolescence. Owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, at the age of 32 Lewis returned to Christianity, becoming "a very ordinary layman of the Church of England". His conversion had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.

Lewis's works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies over the years. The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have sold the most and have been popularised on stage, in TV, in radio, and in cinema.


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Lovecraft with his wife, Sonia
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American author of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction.

Lovecraft's guiding literary principle was what he termed "cosmicism" or "cosmic horror", the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. As early as the 1940s, Lovecraft had developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fiction featuring a pantheon of human-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Christian humanism. Lovecraft's protagonists usually achieve the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality and the abyss.

Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. According to Joyce Carol Oates, Lovecraft — as with Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century — has exerted "an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction". Stephen King called Lovecraft "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale."


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Moore in 2008
Alan Moore (born 18 November 1953) is an English writer known for work in comics, including the acclaimed comic book series Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell. He wrote the novel Voice of the Fire, and performs "workings" (one-off performance art/spoken word pieces) with The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, some released on CD.

As a comics writer, Moore applied literary sensibilities to the mainstream of the medium as well as including challenging subject matter and adult themes. He brings a wide range of influences to his work, such as William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Anton Wilson and Iain Sinclair, New Wave science fiction writers like Michael Moorcock and horror writers like Clive Barker. Influences within comics include Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kirby and Bryan Talbot.

Moore's British work brought him to the attention of DC Comics editor Len Wein, who hired him in 1983 to write Swamp Thing, then a formulaic and poor-selling monster comic. Moore, along with artists Stephen R. Bissette, Rick Veitch and John Totleben, deconstructed and reimagined the character, writing a series of formally experimental stories that addressed environmental and social issues alongside the horror and fantasy, bolstered by research into the culture of Louisiana, where the series was set. He revived many of DC's neglected magical and supernatural characters, including the Spectre, the Demon, the Phantom Stranger, Deadman and others, and introduced John Constantine, an English working-class magician based visually on Sting, who later got his own series, Hellblazer, currently the longest continuously published comic of DC's Vertigo imprint.


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Orwell ca.1933
Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense, revolutionary opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language and a belief in democratic socialism.

Considered perhaps the 20th century's best chronicler of English culture, Orwell wrote literary criticism and poetry, as well as fiction and polemical journalism. He is best known for the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and the satirical novella Animal Farm (1945). His Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences as a volunteer on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, and his numerous essays are also widely acclaimed. Orwell's influence on culture, popular and political, continues. Several of his neologisms, along with the term Orwellian, now a byword for any draconian or manipulative social phenomenon or concept inimical to a free society, have entered the vernacular.

Modern readers are more often introduced to Orwell as a novelist, particularly through his enormously successful titles Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The former is often thought to reflect developments in the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution; the latter, life under totalitarian rule. Nineteen Eighty-Four is often compared to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; both are powerful dystopian novels warning of a future world where the state exerts complete control. In 1984, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 were honored with the Prometheus Award for their contributions to dystopian literature.


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Sagan at the Planetary Society
Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, author, cosmologist, and highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics and other natural sciences. During his lifetime, he published more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles and was author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books. In his works, he advocated skeptical inquiry and the scientific method. He pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

Sagan became world-famous for his popular science books and for the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he narrated and co-wrote. A book to accompany the program was also published. Sagan also wrote the science fiction novel, Contact, the basis for the 1997 film of the same name.

From Cosmos and his frequent appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Sagan became associated with the catch phrase "billions and billions". Sagan stated that he never actually used the phrase in the Cosmos series. The closest that he ever came was in the book Cosmos, where he talked of "billions upon billions":

A galaxy is composed of gas and dust and stars—billions upon billions of stars.

— Carl Sagan, Cosmos, chapter 1, page 3

However, his frequent use of the word billions, and distinctive delivery emphasizing the "b" (which he did intentionally, in place of more cumbersome alternatives such as "billions with a 'b'", in order to distinguish the word from "millions" in viewers' minds), made him a favorite target of comic performers including Johnny Carson, Gary Kroeger, Mike Myers, Bronson Pinchot, Penn Jillette, Harry Shearer, and others.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected biography/33 William Olaf Stapledon (May 10, 1886 – September 6, 1950) was a British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction. Stapledon's writings directly influenced Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, Stanislaw Lem, C. S. Lewis and John Maynard Smith and indirectly influenced many others, contributing many ideas to the world of science fiction. The "supermind" composed of many individual consciousnesses forms a recurring theme in his work. Star Maker contains the first known description of what are now called Dyson spheres. Freeman Dyson credits the novel with giving him the idea. Last and First Men features early descriptions of genetic engineering and terraforming. Sirius describes a dog whose intelligence is increased to the level of a human being's.

Stapledon's fiction often presents the strivings of some intelligence that is beaten down by an indifferent universe and its inhabitants who, through no fault of their own, fail to comprehend its lofty yearnings. It is filled with protagonists who are tormented by the conflict between their "higher" and "lower" impulses.

Last and First Men, a "future history" of 18 successive species of humanity, and Star Maker, an outline history of the Universe, were highly acclaimed by figures as diverse as Jorge Luis Borges, J. B. Priestley, Virginia Woolf and Winston Churchill (Stapledon maintained a long correspondence with Woolf). In contrast, Stapledon's philosophy repelled C. S. Lewis, whose Cosmic Trilogy was written partly in response to what Lewis saw as amorality, although Lewis admired Stapledon's inventiveness and described him as "a corking good writer".


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Stanley G. Weinbaum
Stanley Grauman Weinbaum (April 4, 1902 – December 14, 1935) was an American science fiction author. His career in science fiction was short but influential. His first story, "A Martian Odyssey", was published to great (and enduring) acclaim in July 1934, but he would be dead from lung cancer within eighteen months.

He is best known for the groundbreaking science fiction short story, "A Martian Odyssey", which presented a sympathetic but decidedly non-human alien, Tweel. Even more remarkably, this was his first science fiction story (in 1933 he had sold a romantic novel, The Lady Dances, to King Features Syndicate, which serialized the story in its newspapers in early 1934). Isaac Asimov has described "A Martian Odyssey" as "a perfect Campbellian science fiction story, before John W. Campbell. Indeed, Tweel may be the first creature in science fiction to fulfil Campbell's dictum, 'write me a creature who thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man'." Asimov went on to describe it as one of only three stories that changed the way all subsequent ones in the science fiction genre were written. It is the oldest short story (and one of the top vote-getters) selected by the Science Fiction Writers of America for inclusion in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929–1964.


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Aldiss at Interaction in Glasgow, 2005
Brian Wilson Aldiss, OBE (born 18 August 1925) is an English author of both general fiction and science fiction. His byline reads either Brian W. Aldiss or simply Brian Aldiss. Greatly influenced by science fiction pioneer H. G. Wells, Aldiss is a vice-president of the international H. G. Wells Society. He is also (with Harry Harrison) co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. His writings have been compared to those of Isaac Asimov, Greg Bear and Arthur C. Clarke. His influential works include the short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long", the basis for the Stanley Kubrick-developed Steven Spielberg film A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

In 1955, The Observer newspaper ran a competition for a short story set in the year 2500, which Aldiss won with a story entitled "Not For An Age". The Brightfount Diaries had been a minor success, and Faber asked Aldiss if he had any more writing that they could look at with a view to publishing. Aldiss confessed to being a science fiction author, to the delight of the publishers, who had a number of science fiction fans in high places, and so his first science fiction book, a collection of short stories entitled Space, Time and Nathaniel was published. By this time, his earnings from writing equalled the wages he got in the bookshop, so he made the decision to become a full-time writer.


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Lessing at lit.cologne 2006
Doris May Lessing CH, OBE (née Tayler; born 22 October 1919) is an Iranian-born British writer, author of works such as the novels The Grass is Singing and The Golden Notebook.

Lessing's fiction is commonly divided into three distinct phases: the Communist theme (1944–1956), when she was writing radically on social issues (to which she returned in The Good Terrorist (1985)), the psychological theme (1956–1969), and after that the Sufi theme, which was explored in a science fiction setting in the Canopus series.

Lessing's switch to science fiction was not popular with many critics. For example, in the New York Times in 1982 John Leonard wrote in reference to The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 that "One of the many sins for which the 20th century will be held accountable is that it has discouraged Mrs. Lessing.... She now propagandizes on behalf of our insignificance in the cosmic razzmatazz." To which Lessing replied: "What they didn't realize was that in science fiction is some of the best social fiction of our time. I also admire the classic sort of science fiction, like Blood Music, by Greg Bear. He's a great writer." Unlike some authors primarily known for their mainstream work, she has never hesitated to admit that she writes science fiction. She was Writer Guest of Honour at the 1987 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), and made a well-received speech in which she described her science-fictional Memoirs of a Survivor as "an attempt at an autobiography."


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Butler signing a copy of "Fledgling"
Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant.

Her first published story, "Crossover," appeared in Clarion's 1971 anthology; another short story, "Childfinder," was bought by Harlan Ellison for the never-published collection The Last Dangerous Visions. (Like other stories purchased for that volume, it has yet to appear anywhere.) "I thought I was on my way as a writer..." Butler wrote in her short fiction collection Bloodchild and Other Stories. "In fact, I had five more years of rejection slips and horrible little jobs ahead of me before I sold another word."

Butler is well known for her Patternist series, Lilith's Brood (formerly the Xenogenesis trilogy), and the Parable series. The first book that she wrote for the Patternist series, Patternmaster (1976), is actually the last in the internal chronology of the series. In fact, most of the Patternmaster novels were written and published out of sequence. The four novels in Butler's Patternist series other than Survivor were released in 2006 as the single volume Seed to Harvest.


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Herbert at the Octocon II convention in Santa Rosa, California, October 1978 (Robert E. Nylund).
Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Although a short story author, he is best known for his novels, most notably Dune and its five sequels. The Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, deals with themes such as human survival and evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics and power. Dune itself is the "best-selling science fiction novel of all time," and the series is widely considered to be among the classics in the genre.

In 1947 Frank Herbert sold his first science fiction story, "Looking for Something", to Startling Stories. His career as a novelist began with the publication of The Dragon in the Sea in 1955, where he used the environment of a 21st century submarine as a means to explore sanity and madness. The book predicted worldwide conflicts over oil consumption and production. It was a critical success but not a major commercial one.

Dune took six years of research and writing to complete. Far longer than commercial science fiction of the time was supposed to run, it was serialized in Analog magazine in two separate parts ("Dune World" and "Prophet of Dune"), in 1963 and 1965. It was then rejected by nearly twenty book publishers before finally being accepted. One editor prophetically wrote back "I might be making the mistake of the decade, but..." before rejecting the manuscript.


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Vinge at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in 2006
Vernor Steffen Vinge /ˈvɪni/ (born October 2, 1944 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, U.S.) is a retired San Diego State University Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author. He is best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels and novellas A Fire Upon the Deep (1992), A Deepness in the Sky (1999), Rainbows End (2006), Fast Times at Fairmont High (2002) and The Cookie Monster (2004), as well as for his 1993 essay "The Coming Technological Singularity", in which he argues that exponential growth in technology will reach a point beyond which we cannot even speculate about the consequences.

Vinge published his first short story, "Bookworm, Run!", in the March 1966 issue of Analog Science Fiction, then edited by John W. Campbell. The story explores the theme of artificially augmented intelligence by connecting the brain directly to computerised data sources. He became a moderately prolific contributor to SF magazines in the 1960s and early 1970s, adapting one of his stories into a short novel, Grimm's World (1969), and publishing a second novel, The Witling (1975).

Vinge came to prominence in 1981 with his novella True Names, which is one of the earliest stories to present a fully fleshed-out concept of cyberspace, which would later be central to cyberpunk stories by William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and others.

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