British Science Fiction: A Chronology, 1478-1990

Nicholas Ruddick



British Science Fiction: A Chronology, 1478-1990. [Bibliographies and Indexes in World Literature, Number 35.] New York, Westport, CT and London: Greenwood Press, 1992. xxvi + 250 pp. ISBN 0-313-28002-9.

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This chronology outlines British science fiction from 1479-1990, highlighting the important biographical and publishing events in the field of science fiction literature and fandom, as well as in other media. The chronology includes biographical information on more than 700 authors, listings of more than 2,000 works, including anthologies, criticism and essays, publishing and fandom milestones, first publications, and awards. The works are fully cross-referenced and indexed, with introductory definitions of the field and descriptive headnotes for five periods: The Descent of Scientific Romance, 1478-1894; The Wellsian Synthesis, 1895-1936; British Science Fiction, 1937-1961; New Wave S(peculative) F(iction), 1962-1978; and The British Fantastic, 1979-1990.

This book is an outgrowth of and is complementary to Ruddick’s critical work, Ultimate Island. Together the two works define the scope and the nature of British science fiction – an enormous field that was not, until recently, examined separately from American science fiction in spite of considerable differences.






Summary and Guide


1. The Descent of Scientific Romance: 1478-1894

2. The Wellsian Synthesis: 1895-1936

3. British Science Fiction: 1937-61

4. New Wave Speculative Fiction: 1962-78

5. The British Fantastic: 1979-1990

Author Index

Title Index

Film and TV Index

Works Consulted



“Ruddick’s chronology is an effort to provide an outline of the most important biographical and publishing events in the area of British science fiction from 1478 (the year of the birth of Sir Thomas More, the author of Utopia) through 1990. After 1913, figures and works are included from ‘other’ media – film, radio, television.) The compiler divides the time period into five segments reflecting factors unique to British SF: ‘Scientific Romance,’ the ‘Wellsian Synthesis,’ the rise of British SF (dominated by John Wyndham), the ‘New Wave,’ and finally what the compiler calls the ‘British Fantastic,’ heavily influenced by American SF. … This would be a welcome addition to the reference section for those academic and research libraries supporting a program in science fiction studies or in popular culture.” – R.S. BravardChoice

British Science Fiction functions not only as an admirable reference tool, but also as a fascinating work offering a sense of the chronological development of the literature. The quality of bibliographical accuracy is very high, the cross-referencing and pseudonyms are useful, and the depth of information reveals an extended knowledge of the subject. Ruddick’s British Science Fiction is highly recommended for large academic libraries and students of science fiction.” – Wilson Library Bulletin

“Ruddick is quite candid about his biases regarding the inclusion or exclusion of material … but the reader must consult Ultimate Island for a complete discussion of what exactly constitutes British science fiction. Suffice it to say, however, that he uses the term science fiction broadly to include fantasy (e.g., Tolkien) and utopian/dystopian fiction (e.g., Utopia, Brave New World.) The usefulness of this work is further enhanced by the inclusion of nonbook media, such as films, television, radio, and comic books. This comprehensive and detailed chronology should become a standard reference work in the field.” – Jeffrey R. Luttrell, American Reference Books Annual 1993

“Ruddick is very thorough when dealing with ‘literary’ SF figures like Wells, Aldiss, Moorcock, Wyndham, and so on, but includes only casual references to John Russell Fearn, Lionel Fanthorpe, and other prolific, if less than critically acclaimed writers. A handy guide if the information you’re interested in falls within his parameters.” – Science Fiction Chronicle

“The fact remains that there is no other book in print devoted specifically to British science fiction, and the information gathered here will be very useful to both the historian and the general researcher. Recommended.” – Lynn F. Williams (Emerson College), Utopian Studies

“A reference book should be thorough and inclusive and this one is, from Shakespeare and Bacon to Eric Brown and David Wingrove. Cries out for some fan to make charts and graphs.” – David G. HartwellNew York Review of Science Fiction