A Select Timeline of Selected Events Which Shaped Science Fiction

* by Mr Andy Sawyer in September 2003
* I received this handout as my course began

1492 Columbus lands in the West Indies and finds lands and peoples unknown to Europeans.
1492 Leonardo da Vinci draws a flying machine.
1516 Thomas More's Utopia.
1543 Copernicus publishes his theory that the earth revolves around the sun.
1609 Galilleo builds telescope.
1610 Galilleo observes moons of Jupiter, Saturn's rings, and the phases of Venus.
1620 Francis Bacon's New Atlantis published posthumously.
1637 Rene Descartes's Discourse de la methode pour conduire la raison at chercher la verite dans les sciences argues for the deductive method in science.
1640 John Wilkins, Bishop of Chester's The Discovery of a New World (3rd ed.) in which he speculates about travel to the moon.
1649 Execution of Charles I.
1649 May 1st: Leveller manifesto An Agreement of the Free People of England.
1651 Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan examines the "matter, form and power" of a Commonwealth.
1652 Gerrard Winstanley's The Law of Freedom in a Platform sets out a revolutionary reconstruction of society.
1657 The first (expurgated) Book of Cyrano de Bergerac's L'Autre Monde (written about 1650) published posthumously.
1660 The Royal Society founded in England as an "Invisible College" to promote knowledge.
1660 Robert Boyle's The Sceptical Chymist published, introducing modern concepts of elements and compounds.
1663 The Royal Society receives charter from Charles II.
1664 Anon [F. Cheynell] Aulicus His Dream of the King's Sudden Coming to London cited by I. F. Clarke as the first "tale of the future" -- a "forecast of the perils to be expected if Charles I returned to London".
1667 Milton, after Giordano Bruno, speculates about life on other worlds (Paradise Lost, Book VIII, 140-178).
1668 Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing World.
1687 Isaac Newton's The Principia sets out his three laws of motion and his law of universal gravitation.
1690 John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
1698 Thomas Savery patents a steam engine to pump water from coal mines.
1726 Jonathan Swift's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World...... by Lemuel Gulliver (aka Gulliver's Travels) published.
1751 Benjamin Franklin's experiments and observations on electricity.
1752 Voltaire's short story Micromegas in which an alien from a planet orbiting Sirius visits Earth.
1763 The Reign of George VI, the earliest future-war story.
1776 American Declaration of Independence.
1778 Franz Anton Mesmer holds healing sessions based upon "animal magnetism" in Paris.
1783 Balloon (Montgolfier Brothers).
1785 First balloon crossing of the English Channel.
1789 French Revolution.
1791 Luigi Galvini publishes his discovery of the action of electricity on the muscle tissue of frogs (see Mary Shelley, Frankenstein).
1794 Erasmus Darwin discusses spontaneous generation in Zooomia. (see Mary Shelley, Frankenstein).
1798 Robert Fulton builds a four-person submarine.
1802 Wordsworth's preface to reissue of Lyrical Ballads includes the speculation that someday, "[t]he remotest discoveries of the chemist, the botanist, or mineralogist, will be as proper objects of the poet's art as any upon which it can be employed."
1818 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
1829 First volume of Principles of Geology (Charles Lyell).
1830 15 Sep: Opening of Liverpool & Manchester Railway by Duke of Wellington. By end of 1850 there were around 6,000 miles of railway open for public travel in Britain.
1832 Charles Babbage's proto-computer "Analytical Engine" (never fully built).
1833 Karl Fredrich Gauss & Wilhelm Weber, electric telegraph operating over 2 km.
1837 Samuel Morse patents his "Morse Code" telegraph.
1846 Discovery of the planet Neptune by Johann Galle.
1848 Communist Manifesto.
1848 Tennyson's Poems includes "Locksley Hall", written 1834/5, in which he speculates on "The fairy tales of science and the long result of time".
1849 Death of Edgar Allan Poe.
1849 W. H. Smith opens bookstalls in railway stations.
1851 Great Exhibition.
1851 First use of the term "science fiction" by William Wilson: "......Science-Fiction, in which the revealed truths of Science may be given, interwoven with a pleasing story which may itself to poetical and true". (See Stableford, Foundation 10 (June 1976) pp 6-12)
1854 Electric telegraph between Paris and London.
1859 Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.
1860 Erasmus and Irwin Beadle publish the first "dime novels".
1863 10 Jan: First underground railway opens in London
1863 Jules Verne's Cinq semaines en ballon. Paris au Vingtieme Siecle written but not published.
1865 Jules Verne's De la Terre a la Lune.
1866 Transatlantic telegraph cable laid.
1867 Karl Marx's Kapital.
1867 Jules Verne's De la Terre a la Lune translated into English.
1869 20 Mar: Jules Verne's Vingt Mille Lieues sous les mers begins serialisation in the Magasin d'Education et de Recreation.
1869 Edward Everett Hale's "The Brick Moon", possibly the first fiction about an artificial satellite, published.
1871 George Chesney's "The Battle of Dorking" in Blackwoods Magazine.
1871 Bulwer-Lytton's The Coming Race.
1871 Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man.
1872 Samuel Butler's Erewhon.
1876 Harry Enton (under the pseudonym "Noname") writes the first "Frank Reade" dime novel, Frank Reade and the Steam Man of the Plains in "The Boys of New York" series.
1876 Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.
1877 Giovanni Sciaparelli sees "channels" on the Martian surface. The italian word "canali" is translated as "canals" and subsequent writers such as astronomer Lowell weave scenarios about dying Martian civilisations.
1878 First commercial telephone exchange (New Haven, CT).
1880 Mary E. Bradley Lane's Mizora, the "first known feminist utopian novel written by a woman" (??) begins serialisation in the Cincinnati Commercial.
1880 Percy Greg's Across the Zodiac includes a space voyage to Mars.
1882 Electric lighting brought to New York by Pearl Street power station.
1882 Society for Psychical Research founded. Lewis Carroll was a member.
1882 The term "telepathy" coined by Fredric W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research.
1882 Jan: Albert Robida begins serialising his Le Vingtieme Siecle.
1884 H. G. Wells obtains scholarship to the Normal School of Science in London and studies biology under Thomas Henry Huxley.
1887 Gottlieb Daimler develops one of the first automobiles using an internal-combution engine to drive a four-wheeled vehicle.
1887 Michaelson-Morley experiment to measure the velocity of light in two directions at right angles and calculate the earth's motion through the ether. They found no difference in velocity suggesting there was no ether.
1887 H. Rider Haggard's She.
1888 William S. Burroughs patents adding machine.
1888 Heinrich Hertz produces and detects radio waves.
1888 H. G. Wells publishes "The Chronic Argonauts", the first version of The Time Machine in the Science Schools Journal.
1888 Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward, 2000-1887.
1888 Mary E. Bradley Lane's Mizora published in book form.
1889 Thomas Alva Eddison's electric generation station opened in London.
1889 Lewis Carroll speculates about levels of consciousness and the flow of time in Sylvie and Bruno.
1890 William Morris, News From Nowhere.
1891 George Newnes starts Strand Magazine.
1893 Lewis Carroll speculates about hive-minds and satirises contemporary discussion of science in Sylvie and Bruno Concluded.
1894 Marconi's first radio device.
1895 H. G. Wells's The Time Machine.
1895 8 Nov: X-rays discovered by Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen.
1895 Konstantin Tsiolkovsky proposes that liquid-fueled rockets can be used to propel space vehicles.
1897 Albert Robida's La Guerre au vingtieme siecle.
1898 Marie and Peter Curie discover radioactivity.
1899 Ernest Rutherford identifies alpha and beta rays in radioactivity from uranium.
1900 2 Jul: First successful flight of Count Ferdinand von Zepplin's dirigible airship.
1900 George Griffith's A Honeymoon in Space.
1901 H. G. Wells's The First Men in the Moon.
1901 First transatlantic radio transmission.
1902 George Melies makes La Voyage Dans La Lune, possibly the first sf film.
1903 17 Dec: First successful aeroplane launched at Kitty Hawk (Orville and Wilbur Wright).
1904 Huangjiang Diaosuo [荒江釣叟]'s Yueqiu zhimindi xiaoshuo [Tales of Moon Colonisation, 月球殖民地小說] serialised in the Chinese magazine Portrait Fiction [繡像小說].
1904 H. G. Wells 's "The Land Ironclads" published in Strand.
1905 Einstein publishes his papers on Relativity, devising the equation E=mc2.
1905 Rudyard Kipling's "With the Night Mail" in McClure's Magazine.
1906 Reginald Aubrey Fessenden invents AM radio and transmits music and voice.
1907 Thomas Hunt Morgan begins work on breeding fruit flies which will lead to an understanding of heredity.
1908 Orville Wright's first flight to last an hour.
1908 H. G. Wells's The War in the Air.
1908 William Hope Hodgson's The House on the Borderland.
1908 Apr: Hugo Gernsback's Modern Electrics.
1909 25 Jul: Louis Bleriot's first flight across the English Channel.
1911 Ernest Rutherford's theory of the atom as a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negative electrons.
1911 Frederick W. Taylor publishes The Principles of Scientific Management.
1911 Apr-Mar 1912: Ralph 124C 41+ serialised in Modern Electrics.
1912 Feb-Jul: Edgar Rice Burroughs's "Under the Moons of Mars" serialised in All-Story.
1912 William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land.
1913 Henry Ford introduces assembly line car production.
1914 Outbreak of World War One.
1917 Russian Revolution.
1918 The Technical Alliance (forerunner of the Technocratic movement) started by Howard Scott.
1920 Konrad Tsiolkowski's Beyond the Planet Earth.
1920 First licensed radio broadcast.
1921 Karel Capek's R. U. R. (Rossum's Universal Robots).
1923 Mar: First issue of Weird Tales.
1924 J. B. S. Haldane's Daedelus: or, Science and the Future.
1924 Vladimir Zworykin develops "iconoscope", a form of television.
1926 10th Mar: First (April) issue of Amazing Stories.
1926 John Logie Baird produces television images using the "Nipkow disc".
1926 Fritz Lang's Metropolis.
1926 First talking motion picture (Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer).
1927 "Society for Space Travel" founded in Germany, including Werner von Braun and Willy Ley.
1927 J. W. Dunne's An Experiment with Time.
1927 J. B. S. Haldane's "The Last Judgement" in his collection of essays Possible Worlds suggests ideas of human evolution later taken up by Olaf Stapledon in Last and First Men.
1927 "Big Bang" theory of the origin of the universe suggested by Georges F. Lemaitre.
1927 The term "science fiction" is used in the letter column of the January Amazing.
1928 Aug: Hugo Gernsback begins transmission of tv images in New York.
1929 First "offcial" use of the term "science fiction" in Science Wonder Stories.
1930 Discovery of the planet Pluto by Clyde William Tombaugh.
1930 Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men in which, among other things, Venus is terraformed by invading humanity.
1932 Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.
1932 "The Time Traveller", the first "true" fanzine published by Julius Schartz and Mort Weisinger. [Some would count Raymond Palmer's "The Comet", May 1930.]
1933 H. G. Wells's The Shape of Things to Come.
1933 British Interplanetary Society founded in Liverpool by Philip Cleator. Arthur C. Clarke, Eric Frank Russell and William Temple were among the early members.
1934 Hugo Gernsback launches the Science Fiction League through Wonder Stories.
1934 Joseph Banks Rhine's book Extra-Sensory Perception details his experiments at Duke University and claims evidence for precognition.
1934 Stanley Weinbaum's "A Martian Odyssey" published in Wonder Stories.
1936 Regular public tv transmissions in Britain.
1936 William Cameron Menzie's film of Wells's Things to Come.
1936 The British fanzine Novae Terrae edited by Maurice Hanson with involvement from John Carnell, Arhtur C. Clarke and William Temple. Carnell takes over as editor for the last 4 issues as New Worlds.
1937 First science fiction convention held in Leeds, attended by Arthur C. Clarke, Eric Frank Russell, Walter Gillings and John Carnell.
1937 Oct: Prototype of first electronic computer completed.
1937 Rocket tests at the Peenemunde research station. Leaders include Verner von Braun.
1937 Frank Whittle builds first working jet engine.
1937 J. B. Priestley's Time and the Conways.
1937 Katharine Burdekin's Swastika Night (as by Murray Constantine).
1937 Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker suggests what is to be come known as the Dyson Sphere.
1938 30th Oct: Orson Welles's radio dramatisation of The War of the Worlds causes panic in the USA.
1938 Superman, created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, first appears in Action Comics.
1939 The first World SF Convention, New York World Fair.
1939 Isaac Asimov's first story ["Marooned off Vesta"] (Amazing Mar 1939).
1939 Robert A. Heinlein's first story ["Line-Line"] (Astounding Aug 1939)
1940 First colour tv broadcast.
1940 Isaac Asimov begins his "robot" series with "Strange Playfellow" (aka "Robbie") in Super Science Stories.
1941 Russ Chauvenet coins the term "fanzine".
1942/3 Jack Williamson coins the term "terraforming" in a series of stories later published as Seetee Ship, 1951.
1943 Alan Turing leads team which develops electronic calculating device to crack German codes.
1945 6 Aug: Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
1945 Oct: Wireless World publishes Arthur C. Clarke's paper "Extraterrestrial Relays" on geosynchronous satellite communication networks.
1946 Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan.
1946 Murrey Leinster's "A Logic Named Joe"; one of the few sf stories to imagine something like a desktop computer.
1946 New Worlds begins publication as a professional fiction magazine under editorship of John Carnell.
1947 The term "flying saucer" coined after Kenneth Arnold sees nine disc-like objects moving "like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water" while flying near Mt Rainier, Washington State.
1948 Judith Merril's first story "That Only a Mother" published in Astounding.
1949 George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.
1949 New Worlds revived as a digest magazine by Nova Publications, a group of fans including John Beynon Harris (John Wyndham).
1950 Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast.
1950 Destination Moon based on Robert A. Heinlein's 1947 novel Rocket Ship Galileo is perhaps the first realistic movie of a moon expedition.
1950 14 Apr: First issue of Eagle, featuring Dan Dare.
1950 May: L. Ron Hubbard's "Dianetics" article in Astounding.
1951 1 Jan: First issue of Authentic Science Fiction.
1951 3 Jan: John Wyndham's Revolt of the Triffids begins serialisation in Colliers.
1951 Aug: John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids published in book form (US edition, with slightly reduced text published in March).
1951 Arthur C. Clarke's "The Sentinel".
1952 Philip K. Dick's first published story "Beyond Lies the Wub" in Planet Stories (July).
1953 Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End.
1953 Nigel Kneale's The Quatermass Experiment broadcast on BBC TV.
1953 Charles Chilton's radio serial Journey into Space begins serialisation on BBC.
1954 First vol. of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
1954 William Golding's Lord of the Flies.
1954 Brian Aldiss's first published sf "Criminal Record" in Science Fantasy.
1955 C. S. Lewis's "On Science Fiction".
1955 John Wyndham's The Chrysalids.
1956 J. G. Ballard's first story "Escapement" published in New Worlds.
1956 Arthur C. Clarke's The City and the Stars.
1957 4 Oct: First artificial satellite (Sputnik 1) launched by Soviet Union.
1957 Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud.
1957 John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos.
1958 Brian Aldiss's first novel, Non-Stop.
1959 Soviet Union probe Lunik III gives first photographs of the far side of the Moon.
1959 William S. Burroughs's The Naked Lunch published by Olympia Press in Paris.
1959 C. P. Snow's The Two Cultures analyses the intellectual divide between the arts and sciences.
1959 Physicist Freeman Dyson proposes "Dyson Sphere", as a shell of solar collectors or habitats around a star in the paper "Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radition" published in Science (vol. 131 p. 1667).
1959 Extrapolation established as an academic critical journal of science fiction.
1960 Kinsley Amis's New Maps of Hell.
1960 May: first laser.
1960 Frank Donal Drake runs Project Ozma in an attempt to find signs of extraterrestrial life.
1962 Crick, Wilkins and Watson win Nobel Prize for identifying the molecular structure of DNA.
1962 Telstar is launched and relays first transatlantic television pictures.
1962 Mariner 2 reaches Venus and becomes first man-made object to travel to another planet.
1962 J. G. Ballard's guest editorial, "Which Way to Inner Space?" in May issue of New Worlds.
1962 Theodore Sturgeon's story "When You Care, When You Love" explores the implication of growing a woman's dead lover from one of his cells.
1963 Sep: First series of Dr Who broadcast on BBC TV.
1964 Michael Moorcock takes over editorship of New Worlds.
1966 First series of Star Trek begins.
1967 Harlan Ellison edits Dangerous Visions.
1968 Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
1968 John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar.
1969 20 Jul: Neil Armstrong takes first step on Moon.
1970 Apr: New Worlds ceases publication (although it has appeared intermittently in various guises ever since).
1970 Larry Niven's Ringworld.
1971 Science Fiction Foundation established at the then Polytechnic of East London, thanks to lobbying of George Hay.
1972 First public demonstration of ARPANET, the precursor of the Internet.
1972 John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up attacks complacency about environmental pollution.
1975 Altair 8800 home computer kit introduced in USA. It has 256 bytes of memory.
1975 John Brunner's The Shockwave Rider.
1975 Joanna Russ's The Female Man.
1977 Apple II first assembled personal computer.
1977 William Gibson's first story "Fragments of a Hologram Rose" in Unearth.
1977 First issue of 2000 AD published.
1978 8 Mar: The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy first broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
1978 Oct: Omni magazine founded by Bob Guccione of Penthouse. Although a popular-science magazine, it features much influential fiction, including early stories by William Gibson.
1979 Doris Lessing's Shikasta.
1979 First edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by Peter Nicholls.
1980 Clive Sinclair's ZX 80 microcomputer opened up the possibility of mass home computers in the UK, selling at under 100 pounds.
1980 Chinese scientists clone a fish.
1981 IBM releases DOS-based personal computer.
1982 First issue of Interzone.
1982 Ridley Scott directs Blade Runner.
1983 Nov: Bruce Bethke's "Cyberpunk" published in Amazing.
1984 William Gibson's Neuromancer.
1986 Bruce Sterling edits Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology.
1989 4 Nov: The Fall of the Berlin Wall.
1990 Tim Berners Lee of CERN creates a global hypertext system, The World Wide Web.
1993 Second edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls.
1995 Omni becomes a webzine with fiction edited by Ellen Datlow, at that time fiction editor of print version.
1997 "Dolly the Sheep" cloned at the Roslin Institute.
1997 First edition of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy edited by John Clute and John Grant.
2001 THE FUTURE ARRIVES......Where are the aliens, blakc monoliths and flying cars?

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