Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction

Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction

Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction

Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction


Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction is a collection of engaging essays on some of the most significant figures who have shaped and defined the genre. Diverse groups within the science fiction community are represented, from novelists and film makers to comic book and television writers. Important and influential names discussed include:

Octavia Butler

George Lucas

Robert Heinlein

Gene Roddenberry

Stan Lee

Ursula K. Le Guin

H.G. Wells

This outstanding reference guide charts the rich and varied landscape of science fiction and includes helpful and up-to-date lists of further reading at the end of each entry. Available in an easy to use A-Z format, Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction will be of interest to students of Literature, Film Studies, and Cultural Studies.


While many people have a fairly clear idea about what they think science fiction (sf) is, typically no two of them agree precisely. Some have called it a literature of ideas, emphasizing works that imagine new and better ways to organize human society or that explore the implications of genetics or astrophysics. Some will insist that sf is not merely a “literature,” “paraliterature,” or “popular literature,” but has long existed in other media, and others will point to quite how ridiculous many of sf’s ideas actually are (what would it be like if there were a species of cat women on the moon?). Some consider sf to be a visionary genre, imagining the environment at the heart of a star or encounters with god-like beings. Others will point to the banality of much sf, in which aliens all speak English and spaceships are driven like cars or behave like fighter planes (and sound like them, too, despite being in a vacuum). Sometimes sf offers thought-experiments in which an idea is entertained for the pleasure of rigorously pursuing it to its conclusion or charting the ethical and political issues that arise from it: what would happen if half a mind was replaced with a computer? How could this be done? How would it affect notions about and the experience of subjectivity? At other times, sf throws open the galaxy as a playground in which to have adventures, or brings the world crashing to a halt so we can see what happens afterwards. And amid this wild variety, different people and institutions will judge some texts and practices central to the genre and others marginal, shaping understandings of sf in complex and contradictory ways.

Consequently, in selectinpeting understandings of the genre. Initially, each editor came up with a list of 50 names, which gave us a core of around 100 figures. From then on there were arguments, debates, horse-trading, cajoling, and the occasional sulk. The publisher’s readers all suggested names we had missed – with little overlap – and then the final choices were made.

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