Unsettling Scientific Stories

Blogging the History of the Future

September 21, 2016
Iwan Morus

A Boy’s Own Radium

Author: Iwan Rhys Morus

A few years ago, during one of our occasional forays to Hay on Wye and its second hand bookshops, I came across a boys’ adventure novel called The Radium Casket, published in 1926 (by Oxford University Press – I had no idea they published such things, though a few seconds research showed me how wrong I was: https://global.oup.com/education/children). Obviously, no historian of physics was going to leave something like that in a bookshop, so I bought it. It’s a classic imperialist yarn, set in China in the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion. The British hero rescues a Chinese fugitive from his attackers and the dying man bequeaths him a mysterious casket filled with a strange silvery metal that turns out to have some peculiar properties. (more…)

July 12, 2016
Amy C. Chambers

OSIRIS 2019 | Presenting Past Futures: SF and the History of Science

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We’re very pleased and proud to announce that volume 34 of Osiris will be edited by Amanda Rees (University of York) and Iwan Morus (Aberystwyth University).

June 13, 2016
Amanda Rees

Species, Race, Slavery: SF Literature and Defining Humanity

Author: Amanda Rees


By their works, you shall know them…according to Vercors (the war-time pen name of French writer, Jean Bruller). His 1952 novel, Les Animaux dénaturés, opens with the death of a baby in Guildford. The father, who has arranged for the infant’s birth to be registered and for him to be baptised – thus ensuring that both Church and State recognise the child’s existence – is the killer: the mother, on the other hand, is a member of the species Paranthropus erectus (a genus of extinct hominins). So, is the father a murderer?



June 7, 2016
Mat Paskins

Science Fictions: Mat’s List

Author: Mat Paskins

  1. Michel Faber, The Book of Strange New Things

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June 2, 2016
Lisa Garforth

One of my favourite words is ‘sfnal’

Author: Lisa Garforth

Sfnal: it’s a term that says a lot about contemporary sf, its journeys, its uses, the cleverness of its readers and writers. I like the idea that something can be ‘science fictional’, that sf is not necessarily an object or a genre in the sense of a container, but rather that it is a shared way of thinking and doing things. (more…)