Unsettling Scientific Stories

Blogging the History of the Future

May 11, 2016
Mat Paskins

Five Possible Engagements between Science Fiction and History of Science

Author: Mat Paskins

This post is an attempt to tease out some possible connections between Science Fiction and History of Science. I’m not aware of anyone having tried to do this before so this is necessarily quite a tentative list; you may see many more, or completely disagree! Obviously, these kinds of taxonomies can only be a starting point.


May 9, 2016
Sam Robinson

Sam’s Science Fiction Suggestions (Cold War SF with an Aquatic Theme)

Author: Sam Robinson


I am a Cold War historian, with a focus on the history of science. This means that I write about militaries, politics and science (with a specific environmental focus) in the period after 1945 (but more realistically 1938 onward) up until about the end of the 20th century. In my research I look at the interactions, real or imagined, between governments and scientists. My research makes administrative history interesting by appealing to ‘sexy’ topics such as geopolitics, surveillance, and secrecy. In summary I think the oceans are endlessly fascinating, whales are cool, and that government policy making is a form of comedy.


May 4, 2016
Iwan Morus

Y Dydd Olaf (The Last Day)

Author: Iwan Rhys Morus

71t2ssnlpplI’ve just finished re-reading a book I first (and last) read when I was twelve or thirteen. Welsh SF was a rare commodity in the 1970s. The classic Wythnos yng Nghymru Fydd (A Week in Future Wales) by Islwyn Ffowc Elis had been published in 1957. It was an utopian, time-travelling vision of a future independence married to a warning of what might go wrong. I can vaguely remember something about travelling to Venus as another example, and the Welsh children’s magazine Cymru’r Plant serialized a space travelling adventure story sometime in the late 60s or early 70s. Owain Owain’s Y Dydd Olaf (The Last Day), published (and read by me) in 1976, was certainly not a space opera adventure, or a piece of Plaid Cymru propaganda. It was weird and uncomfortable, which is probably why I didn’t read it again. (more…)

April 29, 2016
Amanda Rees

Naming Storms is a Serious Matter

Author: Amanda Rees

Detail from cover art for ‘Storm’

Not at any price would the Junior Meteorologist have revealed to the Chief that he was bestowing names – and girls’ names at that – upon these great moving low pressure areas. But he justified the sentimental vagary by explaining mentally that each storm was really an individual and that he could more easily say (to himself of course) ‘Antonia’ than ‘the low-pressure centre which was yesterday in latitude on-seventy-five East, longitude forty-two North’ (George R. Stewart, Storm, 1941)


April 27, 2016
Lisa Garforth

History and Science Fiction

Author: Lisa Garforth

One of the aims of the Unsettling Scientific Stories project is to think about how sf creates futures, looking back from the present to see how it has done so in the past. But I’ve been thinking recently about how some writers see sf working the other way around, creating histories by looking back from an imagined future. (more…)