cover image Voices from the Radium Age

Voices from the Radium Age

Edited by Joshua Glenn. MIT, $19.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-262-54337-8

The significance of these seven stimulating early 20th-century tales as what editor Glenn terms “proto-sf” lies in their foreshadowing of the golden age of science fiction, with both famous and obscure authors developing important science fiction tropes still popular today. Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Horror of the Heights” (1913) displays Sherlockian logic in the face of a tentacled monster. Jack London’s eerie but incredibly racist “The Red One” (1918) pits a “civilized” naturalist against a hatefully described tribe in a work of cosmic horror. In William Hope Hodgson’s “The Voice in the Night” (1907), occult detectives confront a man-eating fungus. Neil R. Jones’s “The Jameson Satellite” (1931) ponders life as a cyborg, while E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” (1909) preaches the dangers of technology. W.E.B. Du Bois’s “The Comet” (1920) is an early offering in the subgenre of Afrofuturism, while Rokeya Sakhawal Hossein’s “Sultana’s Dream” (1905) imagines a matriarchal utopia. The dated stylings of these pieces may put off the casual reader, but there are plenty of rich ideas here that offer food for thought. For early SF buffs, this will be a substantial delight. (Mar.)