" In this universe the night was falling; the shadows were lengthening towards an east that would not know another dawn. But elsewhere the stars were still young and the light of morning lingered; and along the path he once had followed, Man would one day go again"

Arthur C. Clarke Against the Fall of Night

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Extra Credits: The History of Science Fiction

  Helen and I have been watching a wonderful educational series on youtube by Extra Credits on the history of science fiction. Starting with Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and moving through "Golden Age" writers like John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and on to Virtual Reality and Willian Gibson the series just seems to get better. 
The episodes are short and presentations well researched, informative and clearly delivered. The episodes on Frankenstein also looked at other books that influenced Shelly. Other episodes cover topics like pseudo-science, the forgotten foundations of science fiction and authors like Robert Chambers, William Hope Hodgson, Cordwainer Smith and Alfred Bester. This is a modern treatment of the topics and problematic aspects of the author's works or trends in the science fiction of any particular period are mentioned. It is also supported by fun graphics that also give a nod to TV programs like Futurama and Star Trek. I have taken the liberty of including some here.  
Some episodes I found particularly interesting include:

William Gibson: The Gernsback Continuum - Semiotic Ghosts - Extra Sci Fi - #8


The Canals of Mars - Eye of the Beholder - Extra Sci Fi - #10


The Forgotten Foundations Part 1 - The History of Sci Fi - Extra Sci Fi - #4 (well all the Forgotten Foundations)


The following quotes from Tubefilter offers some additional information or better yet simply watch an episode for yourself. 
"Extra Credits is exploring a new genre with its latest series. The educational channel, which is best known for dissecting the design and business of video games, has launched Extra Sci-Fi, which sheds light on famous works of science fiction.
The first videos in the Extra Sci-Fi series will take on Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein, which has influenced centuries of science fiction works. The Extra Credits team tackles the classic by examining its themes and linking them to later developments."
  “Science fiction uses the possible as a lens for our world,” explained Extra Sci-Fi writer James Portnow in a press release. “It may be the remote and the unlikely, but what better way to look at human nature than to set it against the extreme cases of what it might someday encounter and see what rolls out. This is so important to Mary Shelley that it’s the very first thing that’s presented to the reader at the beginning of Frankenstein. Without this idea of the fantastic possible, I don’t think we have science fiction.”


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