Difference between revisions of "Out of This World"

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  A two-page spread in Ashley's book is devoted to posters by William Heath called “The March of Intellect” that appeared between 1825 and 1829 under the alias Paul Fry. Ashley explains that the March of Intellect was a movement devoted to the quest for knowledge and to scientific research, a movement that was embraced by luminaries as diverse as Robert Owen and Queen Caroline. Heath’s posters were a spoof of that movement – which must have gotten a lot of attention to be worth spoofing.
 
  A two-page spread in Ashley's book is devoted to posters by William Heath called “The March of Intellect” that appeared between 1825 and 1829 under the alias Paul Fry. Ashley explains that the March of Intellect was a movement devoted to the quest for knowledge and to scientific research, a movement that was embraced by luminaries as diverse as Robert Owen and Queen Caroline. Heath’s posters were a spoof of that movement – which must have gotten a lot of attention to be worth spoofing.
  
  The posters Ashley reprints depict automatons, balloons and steam-powered transport, which all figure in [Jane] Webb’s novel [''The Mummy'' (1827)]. But one also depicts a “Direct to Bengal” express of the Grand Vacuum Tube Company. Even so, apart from ''The Mummy!'' there is little if any sign that Heath influenced sf, although there might have been some connection – direct or indirect – between his poster and a trans-oceanic express tube in [Jules] Verne’s ''Paris in the 20th Century'' (not published until 1994), and even the express tubes in Albert Robida’s ''[[The Twentieth Century]]''.  (Pierce 71)
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  The posters Ashley reprints depict automatons, balloons and steam-powered transport, which all figure in [Jane] Webb’s novel [''The Mummy'' (1827)]. But one also depicts a “Direct to Bengal” express of the Grand Vacuum Tube Company. Even so, apart from ''[[The Mummy! (1827)|The Mummy!]]'' there is little if any sign that Heath influenced sf, although there might have been some connection – direct or indirect – between his poster and a trans-oceanic express tube in [Jules] Verne’s ''Paris in the 20th Century'' (not published until 1994), and even the express tubes in Albert Robida’s ''[[The Twentieth Century]]''.  (Pierce 71)
 
   
 
   
  

Latest revision as of 21:34, 23 May 2020

Ashley, Mike. Out of This World: Science Fiction But Not as You Know It. London: British Library, 2011. 144 p. ISBN 978-0-7123-5835-4. Companion volume to exhibition of the British Library, 25 May-15 September 2011. (Bibliographical information from Ransom review, cited and linked below, and John J. Pierce discussion.)

Reviewed Amy J. Ransom, Belphégor: Issue on "Littératures populaires et médiatique" (Popular Literature and Media), 11 January 2013 ("11-1 | 2013").[1]

The volume’s most attractive trait is [...] its 175 color illustrations, which include book and magazine covers and illustrations, film stills and sets, works of art, author portraits, manuscript pages, and even photos of astronomical features and space travel.
Ashley mentions a number of works not often cited [...]. In particular, he traces the alternate history back to Livy and identifies a Spanish text as the first purposeful time machine story. He also points out that William Gibson and Bruce Sterling did not invent steampunk, identifying Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1962) and several 1980s works by Michael Moorcock as doing so.
Further sections explore the questions of “Be Prepared!” for future wars, “Inventing the Future,” “Cities of the Future,” and “Machine or Human,” which looks at the iconic figure of the robot. Ashley gives significant coverage to the concept of the “Singularity,” the moment when technology will have advanced so far that an artificial intelligence spontaneously achieves consciousness, identified by Vernor Vinge in a 1993 speech. He also describes nanotechnology, identifying Charles Stross’s Singularity Sky (2003) and Rudy Rucker’s Postsingular (2007), as novels exploring this area.

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John J. Pierce also stresses the illustrations in Ashley's book ("Imagination and Evolution: A Conceptual History of Science Fiction" [in revision]):

A two-page spread in Ashley's book is devoted to posters by William Heath called “The March of Intellect” that appeared between 1825 and 1829 under the alias Paul Fry. Ashley explains that the March of Intellect was a movement devoted to the quest for knowledge and to scientific research, a movement that was embraced by luminaries as diverse as Robert Owen and Queen Caroline. Heath’s posters were a spoof of that movement – which must have gotten a lot of attention to be worth spoofing.
The posters Ashley reprints depict automatons, balloons and steam-powered transport, which all figure in [Jane] Webb’s novel [The Mummy (1827)]. But one also depicts a “Direct to Bengal” express of the Grand Vacuum Tube Company. Even so, apart from The Mummy! there is little if any sign that Heath influenced sf, although there might have been some connection – direct or indirect – between his poster and a trans-oceanic express tube in [Jules] Verne’s Paris in the 20th Century (not published until 1994), and even the express tubes in Albert Robida’s The Twentieth Century.  (Pierce 71)


RDE, with thanks to John J. Pierce, 23May20