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Science Fiction

Today most things called science fiction are either fantasy or some other genre entirely, but I was introduced to the classic and pulp works, rather different to today's offerings.

My introduction to Science Fiction came in the late 1950's with the juvenile books by Angus MacVicar (the Lost Planet series) and E C Eliott (Kemlo stories). A watercolour I painted at primary school for Martin Magnus, Planet Rover by William F Temple so impressed my teacher she took me and the painting to show the headmaster! Should I include the fantasy world of Hugh Lofting's Dr Dolittle here?

I quickly moved on to Galaxy Magazine and the Ace paperbacks, and onward from there. So first, the written word element....

There were a number of British science fiction magazines that I started reading from around 1962, (including New Worlds under the editorship of John Carnell, and British editions of If and Venture, and also bought some older ones from market stalls.
At this time I enjoyed reading the short stories of F G Rayer (article by Andrew Darlington). Not too long after, the British SF magazine market went all new-wave and obscure (Michael Moorcock took over editorship of New Worlds), and stopped buying the stories that I enjoyed, so by the end of the sixties I had stopped buying what British SF mags remained, as I think many others did. Fortunately the classic SF story continued to be welcome in the several SF magazines from America which were available here.

Due to an interest in amateur radio, I made contact with my first SF Author, radio amateur F G Rayer who died in July 1981. It would be nice to have his works collected, and I did try to offer some on the internet to mark the 30th anniversary of his death but negotiations with his executors led nowhere. From 2015 others have been placing his work online- by mid 2017 88% of his SF work! Also quite a lot of his work is available from Amazon Marketplace as second hand SF magazines. There is an article regarding himself and SF at Space Diversions as an image only- no text - My transcription. ).

Francis G Rayer was an early British SF author who few know of today. Here we remember George and his works.
Read George's writing which I have collected in one place, mostly already on the Web, a handful I have scanned from my collection.

Many science fiction magazines from the golden era are now online courtesy of Luminist using a variety of servers to hold the material. When a magazine has its own page outside the main list, there is a chance the pdf's (eg Astounging, authentic, f and sf, galaxy) may be held on google cloud, with all the technical aggression and problems that involves, but most of the magazines are more accessible.

Before reading any science fiction from this long past era- please remember the times were different- read my note on context. .

To explore old SF further, check out Project Gutenberg (link below), and also

You can check out each individual magazines history and their market position at Wikipedia- read the articles for each magazine (list at bottom of wikipedia page) and discover which magazine served the pulp market, which the intellectual market, which the surreal market, which paid peanuts, which paid highly....

Read Project Gutenberg SF texts - they have a SF Bookshelf listing SF books available.
A short sample SF authors available on Project Gutenberg (following a site redesign you may have to scroll UP two or three lines to see the authors name and first book! Gutenberg have not adjusted the shortcuts for the new headers -applies to certain screen widths only.) :
Marion Zimmer Bradley,     John W Campbell,     Ray Cummings,    H Beam Piper,     Murray Leinster,     Andre Norton
Alan E Nourse,    Lester del Rey,    Robert Sheckley,    Edward E (Doc) Smith,    Jules Verne,     H G Wells,    Robert H Wilson

The complete works of Sydney Fowler Wright || Wayback archived copy of SFW site, which is often down.

There is an extensive bibliography available at Center for the Study of Science Fiction.
Useful introduction to Science Fiction from wikipedia.

My next involvement with science fiction was through film, and a move from fantasies such as tom thumb (all lower case of course) to the more serious material, with George Pals Time Machine. Next we look at films...

The boundary between tv and film is now quite blurred. An excellent introductory article on film and science fiction is at Wikipedia.

Naturally I was there for the first television showings of Doctor Who, Space Patrol (the puppet series), Star Trek, Out of this World (wikipedia), Out of the Unknown (wikipedia), and the others of the era. So television...

Wikipedia has a good article about SF on TV.

Currently (tm) CBS Studios Inc.
I watched many classic SF tv programs on first run, including Doctor Who and Star Trek. When a Star Trek convention was held in nearby Manchester in 1992, we obviously went along to see what it was all about. There were no actors present so we spent most of our time watching the new American shows that the BBC were not yet showing. Also at this event I made my first contact with Japanese Anime.

I was also one of those pesky fans who wrote to Bob Justman to encourage him to produce his book "Inside Trek" and I have some lovely letters from him.

Star Trek podcasts aiming for over 750 covering one episode per podcast plus supplementals - John and Ken were asked by Rod Roddenberry to discuss all the Star Trek episodes. Web redesign means this link is to who hold only the earlier podcasts (more recent material seems to require a subscription to a streaming source).

Star Trek Continues

There have been a number of extensions to the original Classic trek, including a number of "official" paperback books. There have been several fan made animated and live action shows made- of varying quality it has to be admitted. However I can recommend "Star Trek Continues" which has a very professional approach including some original Classic and TNG actors and some very famous sf-genre guest actors. The engineer is played by Jimmy Doohan's son. The storylines seem to be taking a classic episode and then continuing the plot - what next? sort of thing. Worth searching for.[Youtube video references starting with the first show, are: Pilgrim of Eternity 3G-ziTBAkbQ     Lolani 4mOpmIFTxkE     Fairest of them All dJf2ovQtI6w     The White Iris 6PvgJI6cvh8     Divided we Stand KChYhXhj7vY     Come not between the Dragons uSFHGyLYQ-c     Embracing the Winds yMasSzFXaKQ     Still Treads the Shadow GQeO5uuUbH4     What Ships are for 3VEZH8bqytA     To Boldly Go Part 1 eCBuaTnDsQs     To Boldly Go Part 2 29L8P1XwnaA

Star Trek fans filled the void after the first three years with their own fiction- Fan Fiction, usually duplicated. Scot Press have made a number of these stories available online. Scotpress includes the fanzines Idic and the Star Trek Action Group (STAG) publications. The website is Sheila Clark, Valerie Piacentini, Janet Quarton- the latter, Janet, provided the Trek universe with its jokester character Q, named by Gene in tribute to her support.
You can find the indexes to the Idic Newsletter and links to the pdf's at scotpress and read my writings in the newsletters - search for "Stephen Shaw" when the index lists appear.

1995 was the first Babylon 5 convention in Britain, held in Manchester - so we went along and enjoyed meeting with jms (Joe) the creator. Michael O'Hare had left the show by this stage but was there, in Manchester, reading poetry - not a hint of his problems which led to his departure from the show. Also present was Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who just happened to agree to appear in B5 whilst she was there in Manchester, and indeed she did make an episode of B5.

jmsNews has archived ALL of jms news posts where he discussed the writing and production of the show in searchable form. Joe has now moved away from usenet onto Facebook.
The Lurkers Guide although long a dormant web site still has a great deal of info. Here is the preferred B5 episode viewing order.

jms very early on indicated he had enjoyed the UK puppet series Space Patrol. When I heard the films had been discovered I contacted the intended videotape company and jms and arranged for a set of videotapes to be sent to jms. Upon release the Space Patrol videotape covers had a quotation from jms (emailed to me) and subsequently when the Space Patrol series came out on DVD there- to everyone's bafflement- was a bonus interview with jms on the set of B5.

Where did it all start? . How about a story of a visit to the moon ??? Not so much Science Fiction perhaps (science did not exist...) but more of a fantasy. Written in what is now Turkey by Lucien of Samosata. Around the year 150 CE (AD). A translation of "Lucian's True History" is now on Project Gutenberg as book No 45858 as text or pdf or .epub or kindle format (.mobi). (Also available on Librivox).

Radio has been an important source for science fiction drama, but my own involvement has only been quite recent, with the new availability of so many old time radio shows - I have some links for free downloads on my music web page - towards the bottom under Listen to...

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