Unsettling Scientific Stories

Blogging the History of the Future

October 5, 2016
Amy C. Chambers

Science & Future World Building in Westworld’s Credit Sequence

Author: Amy C. Chambers

Westworld finally got its UK premier last night. It seemed like an eternity between the US release and our chance to explore, and I successfully navigated the minefield of avoiding spoilers and opinions on the first episode that might interfere with my own initial response (and enjoyment). The first episode wasn’t perfect – I wanted more, but it was necessary to give over time and space for worldbuilding (both the Western theme-park and the futuristic workplace) and introducing the basic concept of the show. It’s based on the 1973 SF-Western movie Westworld written and directed by science fiction writer Michael Crichton (Jurassic ParkAndromeda StrainDisclosure), it was Crichton’s first foray in directing, and it famously stars Yul Brynner as a killer-robot called ‘The Gunslinger’. The film and now the HBO TV series is set in a near-future adult amusement park where the super-rich can pay ($40,000/day) for an immersive storyworld ‘holiday’ where they can do use the robots as they please to act out their wildest Wild West fantasies. (more…)

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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