NOVAE TERRAE #14 - Vol. 2 No. 2 (June 1937)
Other SFA publications this month:
NOVAE TERRAE----------------------NEW WORLDS
NOVAE TERRAE...............NEW WORLDSJune 1937.......................Volume 2 Number 2
Interest in scientific fiction need not be confined to reading the current examples of this type of literature; much can be gained from an acquaintanceship with the various organization and publications of enthusiasts; (as well as from a study of pseudo, or super scientific films and plays). British enthusiasts devoted to American science-fiction probably possess greater knowledge than is usual of the psychology of the American. The general aversion to co-operation, the infrequent occurrence of intelligent discrimination - not only in America, but wherever science-fiction is read - and numerous other qualities are reflections of general tendencies in other spheres. Scientific fiction provides a world, an immensely entertaining one, of its own.
Nevertheless it exercises a very definite influence on society; it has its effect on science, on the arts and on man. A partial attempt to illustrate that impact of scientific fiction upon society has been made in this issue of "Novae Terrae". It is by no means complete, however, and various articles appearing in future issues will also have a bearing upon the subject. (An article on science-fiction and the drama will appear in the July "Novae Terrae".)
Editor Maurice K. Hanson, 95, Mere Road, Leicester, England.
by D .R. Smith
This branch of literature may be roughly divided into two classes, the magazine type whose public is limited to the tolerant minded and that published in book form which aims at attracting a much wider public, and is necessarily of a higher standard literally and, a lower standard scientifically. These conditions are, of course, far from rigid, but it is fair to say that the greater part of scientific fiction in book form is of a higher standard than the average magazine story, and these stories are read and admired by large numbers of people who have never heard of "scientifiction", and who would be annoyed if they did hear the word. The true imperishable classics of scientific romance are in book form, and it is interesting to trace the development of this form of fiction side by side with that of science itself.
Chronologically the first writer of this form of fiction to leave any important mark on history was Edgar Allan Poe, one of the great names of the world of literature, whose short stories have been taken as classic models by the authors of many countries and whose poetry is equally famous. More essentially a writer of weird stories his fidelity to scientific principles shames many modern authors. Perhaps his most entertaining tale from our point of view is the story of Hans Pfaal and his voyage to the Moon. The logic of the method (by balloon) may be severely criticised in the light of a century's extra scientific development, but even yet the excellence of his arguments is such that we can appreciate it.
When Poe died in 1849 Jules Verne had yet to publish his first literary effort, and it was some years before he commenced writing the imaginative stories that have justly won him the title 'father of scientific fiction'. It has been said that Verne's success was partly due to there being no precedents,
and it will be admitted that he had not the brilliance as a stylist that
Poe had. Yet he introduced scientific fiction to an age far less
scientifically minded than the present day, and the accent was on the
science. We are often told that love interest is the essential part of
any story, that the science must be as unobtrusive as possible in a story,
after that the story must proceed so fast that the reader is panting two
space wars and an abduction behind the plot all the time. Well, "Round
the Moon", a classic interplanetary story and one that everybody can
enjoy time after time, contains no love interest and no fighting while
a greater part of the story is taken up with descriptions of the moon's
surface, names and details that are banned even from popular astronomical
books today as dull. There were no strange sights to be seen, except once,
nothing bizarre happened, the characters just went round the moon.
Much of Verne's, work was like that, he preferred to tell of the wonders of known science rather than create wonders of impossible science. A truly great writer who won himself a well deserved immortality, and saw before he died the English master, H. G. Wells, bearing on the torch, for Verne lived to be twice as old as Poe.
Wells apparently prefers to be thought of as a writer of sociological novels than of scientific romance. I have read his work in both fields and I feel that his scientific fiction will be living long after his other work has been forgotten, for there are many great novel writers. He was the inventor of the modern type of story, skillfully shaping science to his purpose, but never becoming absurd. His characters are peculiarly his own characters that are so commonplace and "Earthy" that they bring a vital touch of prosaic realism into the most fantastic development. Probably his more expansive stories such as "Food of the Gods" and "The Time Machine" will stand the test of time better than such stories as
"The Sleeper Awakes" and "The War of the Worlds" which are already
becoming dated. Thus in the second story the reader feels that a modern
army equipped with aeroplanes and gas masks would have prevailed where
the armaments of the beginning of the century were overcome by the heat
ray and gas shells of the Martians.
There were other writers at the beginning of the century introducing science to fiction and setting good examples for later writers to copy. Rider Haggard won a worthy place in our affection with romances of lost civilizations, Conan Doyle published his excellent story of prehistorical creatures in "The Lost World", and C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne, unequalled as an adventure story writer, spiced his stories with varying amounts of science. Scientific fiction was developing fast, and side by side with books of popular science grew into the limelight.
Today there is no doubt as to public's enthusiasm for scientific fiction. Even such aloof persons as newspaper book critics regret the shortage of good scientific romances, and a skilful author can go to the limit of his imagination if he likes without alienating his audience "Last and First Men" by Dr. Olaf Stapledon, hailed as the best imaginative story since Wells left the field, and "The World Below" by S. Fowler Wright are immense in their scope. Edgar Rice Burroughs has taken the thriller to strange worlds; "Vandals of the Void" by J. M. Walsh is a very typical interplanetary war story; George C. Foster. with "Full Fathom Five" contributes a love story told simultaneously over several eras in time, from the day of pithecanthropus erectus to the present day, very high entertainment value. Science has won its place in literature and year by year more and more authors, great and poor, are experimenting in this fascinating field of literature.
Meanwhile, what of the magazine authors? Surely we must not forget the many excellent stories it has been our pleasure to read. There have been stories published in the magazines as good and as
as any published in book form, but unless those stories are published
in a more enduring form they will be forgotten far too soon. Fortunately
book publishers are beginning to show more enterprise in this line, and
we may yet see a Skylark Omnibus, or an Interplanetary Series running
side by side with the "Not at Night" series. But as yet there are many
admirers of Wells and Stapledon who are sublimely unconscious of the
rare jewels found published in this form.
What of the future? Will scientific fiction continue its advance? Undoubtedly there is much room for expansion, and equally undoubtedly scientific education is spreading, and preparing the ground for true appreciation of both the science and the literature. The outlook is very bright, and the day is not far off when every critic will freely admit that scientific fiction is a form of literature equal to any other. Not far off, that is, to a scientific fiction fan accustomed to talking of eons.
ALL IS DUST
We live in a nerve-wracking age, an age of clatter and bang, war and
rumour of war. We are all young men (even old science-fiction fans are
young), most of us thrust into existence during the horrific years of
Man's last effort to "end war". Perhaps because of this fact we have
taken to reading science-fiction. The young are always hopeful, ever
ready to leave the world a better place than they found it. But their
efforts, like those of their predecessors, have so far been doomed to
And the reason? Man is a puny creature. Having formed tribes and nations
for mutual self-protection., nevertheless he created a greater danger
than ho averted by preying on his follow men to a degree that varies
only according to his capacity to "succeed" in the jungle of civilisation.
We live in a nerve-wracking age, an age of clatter and bang, war and rumour of war. We are all young men (even old science-fiction fans are young), most of us thrust into existence during the horrific years of Man's last effort to "end war". Perhaps because of this fact we have taken to reading science-fiction. The young are always hopeful, ever ready to leave the world a better place than they found it. But their efforts, like those of their predecessors, have so far been doomed to failure.
And the reason? Man is a puny creature. Having formed tribes and nations for mutual self-protection., nevertheless he created a greater danger than ho averted by preying on his follow men to a degree that varies only according to his capacity to "succeed" in the jungle of civilisation.
Scientifiction is either an opiate or a stimulant. The effects of the
drug vary according to the individual. As the former it carries us away
from the unceasing struggle for existence. It transports us to new worlds,
new situations - and new men! And we badly need new men...
A science fiction reader is stimulated to exert himself to work towards the ideal existence often portrayed in his favourite type of literature. But whether widespread happiness and contentment are possible is extremely doubtful. There are so many conflicting interests that combine to make up our polyglot civilisation that it seems well nigh impossible to reconcile them for the common good.
There are, of course, always at least two sides to an argument. Situations have a habit of suddenly changing when least expected. Truly, the darkest hour is often just before the dawn. History abounds with instances of this kind. But, as things are, I can see very little future for our much-vaunted civilisation of today.
Strangely enough, the greatest enemy of mankind would appear to be Science. Or the misuse of Science! We can see the results of this in Spain today. Peaceful villages are wiped out of existence by bombing planes; fear and destruction wreak havoc with the nation. And how much more frightful would a real war turn out to be? Only time can tell, for to my mind it is only a matter of time before we find out the facts from first-hand experience. Such a situation is damnable when it is realised that many of the inventions prostituted to destruction were brought about in the earnest hope that they would prove a boon to mankind. Instead of this they are put to unscrupulous purposes by desperate fanatics, who would rather ruin the world than admit their own failure.
Civilisation needs no condemnation. It condemns itself! Britain spends £1,500,000,000 on armaments! Little or nothing is done that is really progressive, but when the failure of our foreign policy turns itself into bombing plane and cannon, we boast of our "lead for peace".
Such manufacture of munitions is a boon to our
distressed areas! Maybe a boon to certain profiteers, too, but that is
only incidental! Or is it? Like bees that sting they encompass their own
While children starve, wheat and coffee are burnt, fish thrown back into the sea! Because, we are told, it profits no man to sell it. And that is the explanation of our present chaos. Profit! Shriek it to the skies and emblazon it at every street corner. But it's only the outward sign of inward disgrace. It is the heart of Man that's wrong, if we get down to fundamentals.
Thus are sown the seeds of destruction. And what can science-fiction do to right this state of affairs? As an opiate it can temporarily distract from the horror and terror of modern civilisation. As a saviour of humanity it may reveal to Man what he is doing to himself. If Man will only heed...
I hear cries of "Pessimist!", "Anarchist!", "Red Revolutionary!". Maybe I am. But certainly, when I look upon war, starvation, greed, incompetence and sheer stupidity, I despair of mankind. If a pessimist can save mankind, or an anarchist, or a "Red", then I am all or any of them. Most readers of scientifiction are either idealists or cynics. There is a mote of difference between the two that is yet as wide as an ocean. I was an idealist. I still read science-fiction.
Some may ask "What is progress?" To me it means the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Once it meant great machines, mighty civilisations, space travel…Now it means Peace and Goodwill amongst men, with the fullest physical and mental blessings such an existence can bestow.
Perhaps I am getting old (at twenty-three!), perhaps my scale of values has altered. Maybe I am disillusioned. But it seems that even a Utopia may not be desirable, even were it possible. Drive (as I did) through certain of the Lancashire cotton towns; through Liverpool (certain parts). Study the people and see if you can estimate the possible future date of our Utopia.
It will need a big change in human nature. There are centuries of bad
environment, oppression and slum-dwelling to be overcome. There are also
the interests of those who batten on this state of affairs.
And when you've got your Utopia, will everyone be satisfied? It may not be Utopia if they weren't, so our Utopia would have to be a place of diverse opportunity. And when we have out Utopia it can't last! For it would tend towards stagnation, and stagnation is decay; in the end Nature will have her way - surely there will come the day when all Man's race and ambitions are nothing but DUST!
Science-Fiction – Past, Present and Future
It is commonly asserted by science-fiction fans, and by editors of
science-fiction magazines wishing to increase their circulation, that their
peculiar brand of literature has in the past exerted a considerable influence
on scientists and inventors by suggesting new lines of development which have
been followed up to produce epoch-making results. They would, for example,
praise Jules Verne as the inspirer or originator of such mechanical
achievements as the airplane and the submarine, but somehow this attitude
seems altogether too enthusiastic.
Although in many of his tales, Verne quite accurately predicted the course
of future invention, it seems improbable that he can be considered responsible
for the later fulfillment of his own stories. The airplane and the submarine
would have been invented if "The Clipper of the Clouds" and "Twenty Thousand
Leagues Under the Sea." had never been written. It is the influence of the
It is commonly asserted by science-fiction fans, and by editors of science-fiction magazines wishing to increase their circulation, that their peculiar brand of literature has in the past exerted a considerable influence on scientists and inventors by suggesting new lines of development which have been followed up to produce epoch-making results. They would, for example, praise Jules Verne as the inspirer or originator of such mechanical achievements as the airplane and the submarine, but somehow this attitude seems altogether too enthusiastic.
Although in many of his tales, Verne quite accurately predicted the course of future invention, it seems improbable that he can be considered responsible for the later fulfillment of his own stories. The airplane and the submarine would have been invented if "The Clipper of the Clouds" and "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." had never been written. It is the influence of the social
background of the time that is
primarily responsible for both science-fiction story and invention; it is
seldom that the story produces the inventions although the reverse may often
In the opinion of the writer, for what it is worth, the real use - apart from its entertainment value - of scientific fiction in the past has been in preparing people's minds for coming changes and discoveries. If invention after invention were to burst unheralded upon an unsuspecting world, the effect would in time be devastating. Thanks to the science-fiction story those people whose minds are less acrobatic and elastic than that of the average 'fan' have a chance to get used to ideas, which, had they come suddenly, might have completely upset their mental equilibrium. Grandfather may never have believed that man would fly, any more than father thinks that one day little Tommy will be wandering across the Mare Imbrium carefully ignoring the "Rubbish Here, Please" notices of the Lunar Anti-Litter Society. But when the first airplanes buzzed and staggered into the sky, Grandpa was not altogether unprepared, while when the first space ships begin their deafening onslaught upon the Empyrean, the people who start removing the cotton wool from their ears after the last concussion has echoed down from the stratosphere will have been used to the ideas all their lives.
In this case, perhaps for the first time, science-fiction authors have actually influenced future development to no small extent, and when space is eventually crossed - which I venture to predict will be somewhat earlier than the appearance of a printed issue of "Novae Terrae" - science-fiction will have played an enormous part in the final accomplishment. In the theoretical development of the space ship, which is now almost completed, science-fiction authors and engineers have derived mutual benefit from the work of each other. Indeed, often the author has turned engineer or the engineer has left the work-bench for the typewriter, as in the cases of Valier, Manning, Pendray, Ley and Cleator. The engineer creates some new device, and the author tests its functioning by
incorporating it in a story. Should there be anything wrong with the idea,
a myriad furious fans very quickly draw attention to the fact. As a
substitute to an actual trial, which is usually impossible at the moment,
this procedure may give very useful results. Think of the storm over "The
Irrelevant", which I have no doubt cleared away many dynamical cobwebs
from the minds of would-be astronauts who had not realised that although the
same laws of motion and energy hold everywhere we use particular forms of
them here on earth and must not forget it.
The public gets practically all its ideas about space flight from science-fiction stories and for that reason any gross errors in such stories should be dealt with neatness and dispatch. (There are those who say that Paul Ernst should have been slowly dehydrated for "The World Behind the Moon". Personally I think that complete ionization was indicated.) The Interplanetary Societies recruit their members chiefly from the ranks of science-fiction readers, and it would probably be an underestimate to say that inveterate fans make up seventy-five per cent of their total numbers. When space is eventually conquered, it will be Science-Fiction's greatest triumph.
It might be thought that when we have reached the nearer planets, authors will no longer write stories about them for fear that the discovery of new facts will soon make their tales ridiculous. What is much more probable, however, is that interplanetary travel will give authors a whole host of new themes for their plots. For every fact that we shall discover about Mars there will be a hundred intriguing mysteries, and the science-fiction author will not be slow to take advantage of them. He will always be one step ahead of the scientist, writing stories about Jupiter when we are clambering round the asteroids, letting his imagination run riot on Pluto when the first ship is circling Neptune.
Is it too disrespectful to think of the science-fiction story as the carrot that is dangled in front of the
donkey-scientist to lure him on to ever greater effort? With
it the author will entice him from Proxima Centauri to the Clouds of Magellan,
at the edge of the first universe, and then on to the neighbouring galaxies
floating in space just a little further away. After that, onwards to the
farthest nebulae, a thousand million light years out, that appear as faint
smudges on the photographic plates after hours of exposure with the greatest
telescopes of earth. Not until the Cosmos has been circumnavigated will the
story be ended, and how long that will take no man of today can imagine then,
and only then, will the science fiction author, should he still exist in what
we hope will be an otherwise perfect universe, find his activities somewhat
But before him will still stretch the Future and the frail vessel of man's imagination will venture forth into the uncharted wastes of this ocean, just as untold ages before, he first sailed the seas of tiny earth, and, a very little while later, crossed the gulfs of space to the other planets of the sun.
THE EVOLUTION OF SCIENCE-FICTION
Beside the fires of the first speaking men, in the dim mysteries of prehistoric
times science-fiction was born. The primitive cave-man, gazing with awe at the
manifestations of Nature, spun together in an imaginative web the ideas of
demons of the forest, of the gods of the mountains, and of the lords of the
sky. The stars were strange beings moving in the fixed vault of heaven. The
sun was the Lord of Creation, the omnipotent Light-Giver, and the moon was
the Queen of the Night.
The pedantic reader will accuse me of confusing science-fiction and fantasy.
The difference between them, however, is merely one of time. So long
as a story keeps ahead of science, and presents
Beside the fires of the first speaking men, in the dim mysteries of prehistoric times science-fiction was born. The primitive cave-man, gazing with awe at the manifestations of Nature, spun together in an imaginative web the ideas of demons of the forest, of the gods of the mountains, and of the lords of the sky. The stars were strange beings moving in the fixed vault of heaven. The sun was the Lord of Creation, the omnipotent Light-Giver, and the moon was the Queen of the Night.
The pedantic reader will accuse me of confusing science-fiction and fantasy. The difference between them, however, is merely one of time. So long as a story keeps ahead of science, and presents
conceptions which science can
neither support or deny, it is science-fiction. When however, science catches
up, should it confirm the theme, the story becomes commonplace, or should it
prove the ideas wrong, then the story is relegated to the realm of fantasy.
Our modern stories of night-marish life on Mars will, in all probability, in
a few hundred years time, when our knowledge of that planet is complete, appear
to our descendants just as the myths of the Greeks and the Romans appear to us
Perhaps the first science-fiction story to be actually recorded is the Book of Genesis, which weaves an imaginative romance around the creation of the earth and of man. Unfortunately, the story is not in keeping with our present scientific knowledge, and has been supplanted by other stories of man's origins, such as "The Endless Chain" or "Worlds Within".
Then came the mythology of the Greeks, to be followed by more rational stories such as the "Republic" of Plato, a fore-runner of "Utopia" by Sir John More, "Erewhon" by Samuel Butler, "Looking Backwards" by Edward. Bellamy, or even "The Shape of Things to Come" by H. G. Wells.
A more noted Greek science-fiction writer was Lucian of Samosata. His "True Story" contains details of a voyage to the moon, made in a boat caught in a whirlwind. The sun, the morning star, and several comets are also visited. Many of the ideas for the 17th Century tales of travel to weird and wonderful countries are supposed to be derived from this, and "Icarmenippus", another work of Lucian, and one critic commenting on "The Travels of Baron Munchausen" states: "some of the hints and a few of the facts are taken from Lucian's 'True Story', as he ironically calls it, particularly a short account of such things as a new discovery in the moon. Lucian's motive for writing such extraordinary tales was, partly, to entertain readers after more severe stories, and partly as a satire upon writers who had related a. number of monstrous and incredible stories in their works.
Lucian's "Icaremenippus", or the "Sky Man" gives an account of a flight to
heaven, via the moon and the sun, with a pair of vulture and eagle wings. A
quotation from this story appears on the title page of several editions of Wells'
"First Men in the Moon".
During the time of the Greek myths, the fantasies of the East were coming into prominence. They are described as "a series of gorgeous and grotesque foams, in which all conditions of time and space appear to be obliterated, and in which the universe is pictured as it might appear in, the visions of a smoker of haschisch". About the year 900 A.D., "The Arabian Nights" appeared, probably based on a Persian collection entitled. "Hazar Afsonah, The Thousand Fanciful Stories".
In 1516 there appeared the "Utopia" of Sir Thomas Hero, and seventeen years later "Gargantua and Pantagruel" by the Frenchman, Dr. Francis Rabelais. This latter work is a typical "Baron Munchausen-cum-Gulliver's Travels" work, dealing with the highly improbable adventures of two 'Odd John's of the past who, like Gulliver ("Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift, 1726) visited many peculiar, strangely-inhabited countries.
In 1648 there appeared what is, perhaps, the first work which satisfies the criteria of a modern science-fiction story, "A Voyage to the Moon" by Cyrano le Bergerac, though this was preceded by "The Man in the Moon" by Bishop Godwin. Although written primarily as an attack on religion, his story contains many advanced scientific discussions and inventions - being better in this respect than much modern science-fiction - and, in fact, advocates the use of a hot-air balloon and rockets. Two years later, the sequel, "A Voyage to the Sun" was published.
About a hundred years later, the celebrated "Travels of Baron Munchauson", the authorship of which has never been definitely settled, appeared. Some of the tales are merely examples of "Believe it or
not" carried to the Nth degree, yet others show a similarity in style to the
"Gulliver's Travels" type of story) in which the moon or strange lands are
visited (predecessors of Warner Van Lorne's stories?). In what is, perhaps,
the most scientific episode the intrepid adventurer raises sunken ships by means
of hot-air balloons, thus showing how those early writers, like those of today,
make use of the advanced scientific ideas of their time.
After this stage of "adventure in strange lands", there came the "weird" phase in science-fiction, illustrated by "Frankenstein" and other works by Mary Shelley, and by the works of Edgar Allen Poe. Then, followed the stage of "pure" science-fiction, so well handled by Jules Verne, in which the sole object was to present logical scientific ideas and to weave an interesting story round them.
Finally, as an offshoot from the writings of Lucian, More or Bergerac, we have the modern sociological science-fiction, as written by Wells, Stapledon, Capek or Maurois; we have the "ray-gun" adventure type - probably an outcome of Wells' early, more adventurous works; we have the "adult fantasy" and "thought variant" type, probably derived from the Oriental, fantasies, and written by Clark Ashton Smith and John Russell Fearn respectively, and these, together with the writings of a few German adherents of Verne (Otfrid von Hanstein, etc.), and a rapidly dying clique of adherents to Poe (Otis Adelbert Kline, etc.), complete the pot-pourri of what, today, passes under the much abused name of science-fiction.
Possessing barely fifty years experience, the cinema has developed through years in which scientific fiction as we know it today has largely developed, and it is not surprising to find the ideas and principles of scientific fiction embodied in numerous films. Nevertheless the cinema has by no means reached the saturation point, possibly because it is so suitable a medium for the expression of fantasy. Paul Rotha in "Celluloid", remarks "I am surprised that the film is not more often used to present the extreme flights of the imagination. The vary nature of the medium suggests its unlimited possibilities… In the presentation of amazing inventions, adventurous undertakings and undreamed of exploits, the cinema is performing functions proper unto itself."
This fact was grasped as early as 1897 by George Melies who showed a film in Paris in that year entitled "A Trip to the Moon", probably the first super-scientific film ever made. The contrast between this and, say, "Things To Come", illustrates not only the development of the cinema but that of science-fiction as well.
"Atlantis" a film of the lost continent was shown at Covent Garden Opera House before the war, while the Russian "Aelita" taken from a story by Alexis Tolstoi appeared la 1919. (A remarkable shot from this film is to be found "Art in the U.S.S.R.). In 1925 "The Crazy Ray" proved of real importance for in it the genius of Rene Clair, the French director who is probably the wittiest director in Europe, was revealed for the first time in the story of a scientist's ray that reduced all but six of the population of Paris to a state of suspended animation. The marvelous command of Fritz Lang over the film is best illustrated by "Metropolis" and "The Girl in the Moon (appearing in 1926 and 1930 respectively).
The former especially is a considerable achievement as a work of art and there
no reason why its value is not enhanced by its super-scientific nature, while
the latter processed an excellent scientifictional plot.
Of more recent films "Things To Come" is probably the most outstanding as an intelligent production, but the thrillers of "The Invisible Ray" and "The Man Who Changed His Mind" class which are becoming increasingly common, are also of some value owing to the sound cinematic principles on which they are generally constructed.
Leaving motion pictures for the more staid sphere of painting one is struck by the lack of pictures of a true scientifictional basis. Illustrations of classical mythology and legends are numerous, however, and such legends are probably one of the earliest forms of science-fiction. "The Origin of the Milky Way" by Tintoretto is interesting in this respect as are "Mars and Venus" and "The Birth of Venus" by Botticelli. Other examples abound - "The Minotaur" by Watts, awaiting the annual tribute of maidens, is constructed upon a theme not unknown to Victor Rousseau and others. I suppose it is unpardonable to mention Paul and Wesso in this paragraph, but those illustrators alone (with the exception of Virgil Finlay in weird stories illustrations) occasionally produce excellent drawings thoroughly imbued with the spirit of science-fiction.
Mythology again, is almost the only sign of the effect of scientific fiction upon the useful arts. Pottery from the Grecian urn onwards has been decorated with Psyche and Cupid, Prometheus and the rest. Unfortunately we have, yet to see the super-scientific wood-carver, but it would be unsafe to say that philately, for example, is untouched by all-encompassing science-fiction, as witness the various rocket-inscribed stamps. "Modernistic" and "futuristic" buildings cannot be denied a place in this
scheme of things and architecture in general
appears to show very definite evidence of the influence upon of scientific
fiction. Indeed the magnum opus of Le Corbusier probably the best known
architect in this country, is entitled "The City of Tomorrow".
It seems likely that there are various major poetical works which might be included here, and, it would be strange if some appropriate material could not be selected from the eccentricities of modern poetry.
Music in particular, contributes several very interesting items. There are, of course, numerous works inspired by the various legends which might be considered a form of science-fiction. There are also numerous descriptive compositions (Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens, The Noonday Witch by Dvorak, Gnomenreigen by Liszt, etc.) inspired by the supernatural. Of greatest interest, though, is the music written by Bliss for "Things To Come", and this work is probably unique in its unquestionable authenticity as music inspired by the ideas of scientific fiction - the future, marvelous machinery, destruction and rebuilding of civilization. "The Planets" suite composed by the mystic Gustav von Holst consists of seven orchestral tone-poems suggested by astrological associations – and the scientific basis of astrology, though championed by a few, is sufficiently vague to come well within the bounds of pseudo-science.
The attempt made above to make a survey (a shamefully skimped one) of the possible influence that science-fiction exerts on certain of the arts will have served some useful purpose if it has demonstrated at all the interest that lies in this field and if it is at all instrumental the initiation of a more thorough survey.