# 14 = Volume 5, Part 1 = March 1978
On What Is and Is Not an SF Narration; With a List of
101 Victorian Books That Should Be Excluded From SF Bibliographies
The annotated list of books that concludes this essay derives from a research
project1 for which I had to establish a list of SF books published in
the United Kingdom in the period 1848-1900.2 Since the existing
bibliographies of science fiction deal only with such subgenres as "the
tale of the future" or "voyages in space," I had to supplement
them with information from the more general bibliographies of
"fantasy," "utopias," "the novel of science," etc.
At the conclusion of the project I found that I had read about 100 novels (many
in 3 volumes) that could not be regarded as SF. I offer the resulting list to
future researchers in hope that they will be able to avoid going off on the same
or similar tangents. After all, in research a negative result is sometimes as
important as, or even more important than, a positive one, for — as Spinoza
figured out for us all even before Hegelian dialectics — "Omnis
determinatio est negatio."
If any determination is also a negation, each negation is also a
determination. My list does not escape that general law, for it was compiled on
the basis of a determining and excluding premise: that SF is distinguished by
the narrative dominance of a fictional novelty (novum, innovation)
validated both by being continuous with a body of already existing cognitions
and by being a "mental experiment" based on cognitive logic. This
is not only nor even primarily a matter of scientific facts or hypotheses, and
critics who protest against such narrow conceptions of SF as the Verne-to-Gernsback
orthodoxy are quite right to do so. But such critics are not right when they
throw out the baby with the bath by denying that what differentiates SF from the
"supernatural" genres or fictional fantasy in the wider sense
(including mythical tales, fairy tales, etc., as well as horror and/or heroic
fantasy in the narrower sense) is the presence of scientific cognition as the
sign or correlative of a method (way, approach, atmosphere, world-view,
sensibility) identical to that of a modern philosophy of science.
This is not the place to go into all the consequences that follow if one
accepts some such determination of SF as the one stated above. Nonetheless, I
shall try — proceeding from the general to the particular — to indicate a
few categories or ensembles of writings that are excluded by it.
1. Non-Fiction. The inclusion of a non-fictional work on science or
pseudoscience in an SF bibliography presumably arises most often from a sloppy
bibliographer's listing a work on the basis of its title or of hearsay. We may
find such errors amusing and even say that they have the value of indicating
which kinds of writing are sufficiently near SF in the topology of literature
for errors to be likely, but the confusion of science or pseudoscience with
science fiction is not a trivial matter. For some of the most pernicious
ideological impostures in or near SF are perpetrated exactly when the
fundamental condition of "as if" is forgotten or wilfully violated.
From Mr Hubbard's Dianetics and Scientology to Mr. von Daniken's Chariots of the
Gods, there are unfortunately many examples of the obscurantist fringe near or
even in SF whose basic procedure is to blur the firm boundaries between
imaginative literature and empirical reality. I do not, of course, argue for art
for art's sake; I do, however, argue that the contribution of art (literature,
SF) to the human reality from which it springs and to which it returns can be
useful, or even sane, only if one keeps firmly and continuously in mind that it
is an imaginative construct. When any art — e.g. SF literature — sets itself
up as a "real ontological alternative rather than as a stimulus for
understanding and changing our collective reality, it becomes a branch of the
dope trade, an opium for the people. Hopefully, even the most fervent fans
usually know that even the most "mind-expanding" wishdreams of a
Clarke or Heinlein are only imaginatively and not ontologically real — but did
This confusion between fact and fiction applies also, as I have argued
elsewhere (Studies in the Literary Imagination, Fall 1973), to the
confusion of non-fictional political writings with utopian or sociopolitical SF,
from Cabet to Skinner.
2. Non-Realistic Mode. A category that cannot be called SF consists of
those works for which the question of whether they possess a novelty cannot even
be posed, because they use novel worlds, characters, or relationships not as
coherent albeit provisional ends but instead as immediately transitive and
narratively non-autonomous means for direct and sustained reference to the
author's empirical world and some system of belief in it. In other words, the
question whether a writing is SF is meaningless for works written in a non-realistic
mode such as moral allegory, whimsy, satire, and the lying tall-tale (Muenchhauseniade,
as the Germans call it). The moral allegory by "Lookup" in my list,
for example, will use an allegorical character such as General Power to bring
justice to the USA and then the world in a manner not too dissimilar — though
desiccated and degenerated — from medieval allegories, only with reference to
Jeffersonian, Jacksonian, or Lincolnian politics rather than to scholastic
philosophy or troubador erotic casuistry. And though I am in favor of
retroactive traditions in culture, where each new significant work or genre
rearranges our perception of the past, it would seem rather absurd to call the Roman
de la Rose or Dante's Comedy SF. Whimsy can well be exemplified by
Delorme in my list, with his seas of fried fish on the moon; the Munchhausen-type
tall tale by Carruth; and the transparent satire with contemporary allusions
that prevent the narration from ever developing an SF novelty in its own right,
Coming into the 20th century, this means that most of Kafka, Borges, and a
number of other writers around and after them cannot be claimed for SF. No
doubt, as in all distinctions I am making here, there are borderline cases, such
as Barth's Giles Goat Boy and Kafka's Metamorphosis, as well as
exceptions that use a predominantly science-fictional narrative procedure of
letting the novelty develop on its own and underlie in its turn the whole
narrative logic, as in Borges's Library of Babel, Kafka's In the Penal
Colony, or Book 3 of Gulliver's Travels. But all such gray areas and
exceptions should not prevent us from employing our time better than in
comparing incommensurables — fiction in which a novelty is used in the
realistic mode with fiction in which it is used in the "transitive"
mode, tenor with vehicle.
3. Naturalistic Fiction with Minor SF Elements. Within fiction of the
realistic mode it is of course necessary to distinguish between SF and such
tales as possess no innovation or novum that is unknown in the author's
empirical environment: the events do not happen in a different space or time,
nor with characters that are not Homines sapientes, nor with any
significant and as yet unknown modification of basic relationships (as by the
introduction of a startingly new invention). This should be clear, for it is the
usual watershed between SF and the naturalistic "mainstream." The
difficulty here lies in borderline cases such as were mentioned in section 2 and
will be mentioned in later sections. There are many writings — hundreds if not
thousands in the 19th century alone — that contain one or even several minor
elements or aspects of an SF kind but still do not strike us as SF stories. When
SF — it seems so long ago! — was being defined as fiction about science and
scientists, Sinclair Lewis's Arrowsmith was usually mentioned as being on
the other side of the watershed, dealing as it does with the ethics of present-day
science. No doubt, this is correct; but on what basis do we erect the watershed?
Clearly, on the basis of differentiating between part and whole, the peripheral
and the central. Therefore, I would like to propose the concept of an SF
narration as an important tool in analysis. An SF narration is not just a
story that possesses this or that SF element or aspect: utopian strivings, as
with Lookup; visions of other worlds, better or worse than our own, as in
Milton, Swedenborg, and thousands of their popular imitators (of whom more in
section 4); new technological gadgets; or anything else of the kind. An SF
narration is a fiction in which the SF element or aspect is hegemonic —
i.e., so central and significant that it determines the whole narrative logic,
or at least the overriding narrative logic, regardless of any impurities that
might be present. For example, although Grant Allen's Recalled to Life
has a new invention, an automatic electric camera, whose existence becomes a
factor in the search for its inventor's murderer, this strand in the story is
quite minor and quite overwhelmed by Allen's usual sensationalist melodrama, in
this case a long account of how the inventor's daughter is shocked into amnesia
and has dream-visions by which she is "recalled to life" and without
which no one would have thought of using the new invention as a piece in the
destruction puzzle. Typically and confusingly enough, Allen's novel is a
detective-cum-supernatural-fantasy tale with a subordinate SF element.
Similarly, Andrew Lang had five years earlier used a newly invented flying
machine for the purpose of having its inventor witness a crime in one of the 16
chapters of The Mark of Cain, otherwise a standard detective-mystery
novel, which to my mind can only be called a detective tale with one SF element
(tenuous at that, though no doubt there).
To claim for SF both those tales whose narrative logic is, and those
whose narrative logic is not determined by the SF novum, seems to
me insensitive, confusing, and useless. This is my major objection to
"thematic" studies of SF elements and aspects. From J.O. Bailey's Pilgrims,
which had of course an excuse in being a pioneering work, down to the present-day
practitioners of SF criticism in the atomistic and positivistic vein, strongly
present in e.g. Extrapolation, these studies seem to me to ignore the
basic and determining feature of what they are studying: the narrative logic
of a fictional tale. (Correlatively, they also tend to become boring
catalogs of raisins picked out of a narrative cake, and shriveled in the
process.) Of course all this does not necessarily mean that a discussion of
cameras or flying machines in fiction (whether SF or not) cannot be, for some
strictly limited purposes, found useful; and for such limited purposes we should
probably know where new cameras or satellites or creatures first appeared (a
task facilitated by the delight it gives to squirrelly fact-gatherers,
especially to "who was there first" collectors such as Mr Moskowitz).
But we should not be lured by this very peripheral necessity into annexing any
and every tale with a new invention or such into SF, as e.g. Bailey does with
Bulwer-Lytton's A Strange Story, Wilkie Collins's Moonstone, and
Thomas Hardy's Two on a Tower by putting them into his bibliography of
"Scientific Romances" at the end of Pilgrims. SF scholarship
that does this (without the excuse that Bailey may have had) is sawing off the
branch on which it is — on which we are — sitting; for if these three works
are SF just like (are not radically different animals from), say, The
Invisible Man, then in fact there is no such thing as SF.
4. Supernatural Fantasy. Within fiction whose narrative logic is
determined by a novelty strange to the author's empirical reality, it is
necessary, if we accept the italicized premise in the second paragraph of this
essay, to distinguish between SF and fantastic fiction — i.e. fiction in which
the novelty is not validated by reference to both existing cognitions and
intrinsic cognitive logic. Of the two, the second — the intrinsic, culturally
acquired cognitive logic — seems the crucial one to me. Though I would at the
moment be hard put to cite an SF tale whose novelty is not in fact directly
continuous with (extrapolated from) or at least analogous to existing
"scientific" cognitions, I would be disposed to accept theoretically a
faint possibility of a fictional novelty that would at least seem to be based on
quite new, imaginary cognitions, beyond all real possibilities known or dreamt
of in the author's empirical reality. (My doubts here are not so much
theoretical as psychological, for I do not see how any author could imagine
something not even dreamt of by anyone else before; but then, I don't believe in
individualistic originality.) But besides the "real" possibilities
there are also the much stricter (though also much wider) limits of
"ideal" possibility, meaning any conceptual or thinkable possibility
whose premises and/or consequences are not internally contradictory. Any tale
based on metaphysical wishdreams — e.g. omnipotence — is "ideally
impossible" (can an omnipotent god create a stone he won't be able to
lift?, etc.) according to the cognitive logic humanity has cumulatively acquired
in its culture from the beginnings to the present day. It is this, and not
positivistic scientism, which separates boys from men, supernatural fantasy from
SF. (I cannot enter here into the complications that stem from the very
different narrative role the supernatural or metaphysical elements may play
according to whether they are vehicle or tenor, signifier or signified; suffice
it to say that in the great majority of cases, and certainly in those discussed
below, they are a muddled blend of both.)
In my list of non-SF books, allowing for both borderline cases and the
occasional skimpiness of my notes (since I was not interested in whether a given
tale was or was not supernatural fantasy, but only in whether it was or was not
SF), much the largest group, about 45 of the 101 books, is constituted by tales
of more or less supernatural fantasy. This is not accidental, but is instead a
result of the ideological and commercial habit, stimulated by irrational
capitalist conditions of life and still very strong in our field of research, of
confusing SF and supernatural fantasy on the purely negative basis that their
imagined realities are not identical with the author's empirical reality. This
habit has resulted not only in bibliographies such as Bleiler's and Day's, but
on a deeper and more pathological level in tales that incongruously mingle
science-fictional and fantastic narrative. A misshapen subgenre born out of such
mingling is "science fantasy," about which I could only repeat the
strictures of the late James Blish in More Issues at Hand (US 1970, pp 98-116).
I can add a historical point: the subgenre did not begin with Merritt or such,
but much earlier, and it is represented in my list by Chambers's The Maker of
Moons. Nonetheless, I would guess that the flowering of "science
fantasy" does come in our century, since the 19th was much more
straightforward about basing tales on ghosts, occultism, and such, without the
shamefaced alibi of a super-science lurking in the background, which seems
necessary for 20th-century readers.
In supernatural fantasy proper, the supposed novelty (usually going back to
18th-century gothic novels or even to Renaissance Neo-Platonism) rejects
cognitive logic and claims for itself a higher "occult" logic —
whether Christian, or a-Christian, or indeed atheistic (as will be the case in
Lovecraft), or, as is most usually the case, an opportunistic blend of Christian
and a-Christian, such as Corelli's "Electric Christianity." This type
of writing, well known to Romantic poets and a number of cognoscenti
among earlier writers, was rediscovered for English 19th-century prose by Edward
Bulwer-Lytton in his tales Zanoni (1842) and A Strange Story
(1861), and all subsequent writers have cribbed from and watered down these
tales of his. Recent research (Robert Lee Wolff, Strange Stories [US
1971]; Allan Conrad Christensen, Edward Bulwer-Lytton [US 1976]) has
shown how the central postulate of this type of writing is the existence of a
"sympathetic" quasi-electric fluid pervading both Man and Nature, so
that an adept can — for good or evil — command this Principle of Existence
or "Soul" of the Universe (these writings are much given to pseudo-allegorical
capitalization). The adept, trained in ancient Chaldean lore, can thus command
both Nature beyond "our mere science" (Bulwer) and Man's mind (by
mesmeric or other forms of hypnotic will-control or by telepathy and such);
since Time and Space do not exist for the World Soul, the adept can achieve
clairvoyance and/or immortality (in such variants as the Wandering Jew, the
transmigration of souls, or the posthumous spirit-life impinging on the
The character system of such tales includes usually some combination of an
older adept-mentor, an evil adept abusing his powers, our hero hesitating
between the two, and a pure woman taming or channeling the hero toward the Good.
The energies unleashed are clearly to be connected with sex — openly in Bulwer,
coyly and titillatingly in later Victorian fiction, e.g. Corelli, and the proper
analysis of these works would to my mind have to be a Freudo-Marxist one. The
Marxist aspect would follow up the insights of the Bulwer research by going more
thoroughly into Bulwer's avowed association of Evil with Materialism, the French
Revolution, Communism, and the Theory of Evolution. Bulwer is interesting and
important, first because he both knows and avows what he is doing, and second
because he is uneasily fascinated by his principle of Evil (most clearly, of
course, in his SF novel The Coming Race, where the vril-fluid is borne by
Among later writers, the most popular prolific practitioner, who might well
be called the Haggard of the occult tale, is Marie Corelli, represented in my
list by half a dozen entries. I think that her first, and probably most
developed, novel of this kind is A Romance of Two Worlds (1886). In it a
young woman musician narrates the story of how she met a Chaldean wiseman who
uses "human electricity," who gradually and fascinatingly teaches her
the existence of twin souls for each of us (her second soul is off Earth, as it
happens), and who in a trance shows her life on other planets (Saturn, Venus,
Jupiter — probably from Flammarion). The inhabitants of Saturn can communicate
directly with spirits, and they know no sickness or aging because of the
"electric belt" around their planet, which is a Terrestrial Paradise,
as are all the other planets, except Earth, which is unique in having humans so
corrupt as to doubt God. The character of the Chaldean wiseman obviously fuses
the good adept with the sexually fascinating young man, just as that of the
woman musician fuses the young protagonist (usually male) with the pure girl,
reminding us that the main readership of Corelli must have been middle-class
females. Among other matters in the melodramatic plot, our narrator can in her
vision do a "Miniature Creation" to understand Christ better, and the
occult science propounded is finally revealed to be the "Electric Principle
of Christianity." Of course, the narration itself is much less coherent and
much more boring (it goes on for 500 pages!) than this résumé in which I have
loyally focused on the elements nearest to SF. Nonetheless, although a number of
SF writings, from J.J. Astor to C.S. Lewis, have cribbed from Corelli, so that
SF historians have to know that she existed, I hope it is clear that her type of
narration is not only fraudulent (e.g., in reconciling a totally superordinated
world with all the Victorian sexual, religious, political, and ethical taboos),
is not only a proto-Fascist revulsion against modern civilization, materialist
rationalism, etc., is not only a narration based on ideology unchecked by any
cognitive logic, but is also (even in Bulwer, but much more so in his followers)
cobbled together from parts and scraps of esoteric metaphysics, so that the
narrative logic is simply ideology plus Freudian erotic patterns. If SF exists
at all, this is not it.
A limit-case of considerable importance which I have left out of my list, is
Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stevenson is, no
doubt, a better literary craftsman than any of the supernatural-fantasy writers
in my list after Bulwer; nonetheless, he is cheating in terms of his basic
narrative logic. On the one hand, his moral allegory of "good and
evil" takes bodily form with the help of a chemical concoction. On the
other hand, the transmogrification Jekyll-Hyde becomes not only unrepeatable
because the concoction contained unknown impurities, but Hyde also begins
"returning" without any chemical stimulus, by force of desire and
habit. This unclear oscillation between science and fantasy, where science is
used for a partial justification or added alibi for that part of the readership
that would no longer be disposed to swallow a straightforward fantasy or moral
allegory, is to my mind the reason for the elaborate — clever but finally not
satisfying — exercise in detection from various points of view, which
naturalistically shelves but does not explain the fuzziness of the narrative
nucleus. This marginal SF is therefore, in my opinion, an early example of
"science fantasy," with its force not stemming from any cognitive
logic, but rather from the anguish of Jekyll over his loss of control and from
the impact of the underlying moral allegory (which is both so very cognate to
Victorian bourgeois repressions of the non-utilitarian or non-official aspects
of life, and holding out the unsubstantiated promise that the oscillation
between SF and fantasy does not matter anyway since we are dealing with an
5. The Lost-Race Tale. The final ensemble of writings discussed here
is the one based on a geographic or ethnographic novelty foreign to the author's
time, place, and social mores, which has for historical reasons evolved into a
genre contiguous to and sometimes overlapping SF, but still, in my opinion, to
be distinguished from it; i.e. the lost-race tale. It is true that a
number of such tales — e.g. H. Rider Haggard's She, the most famous
work by the codifier of the genre, though probably not typical of the genre
itself — are dominated by a supernatural-fantasy element, but that is not a
necessary characteristic of the genre; this would at worst prove that a number
of important works in it are "science fantasy" in the Blishian sense.
Instead, my argument for sundering the lost-race tale from SF is that, although
the formal framework of the lost-race tale — i.e. a fictional community whose
history develops in radical isolation from the author's known world — is
potentially quite orthodox SF in that it can be used to show us a cognitively
strange new relationship in sociopolitics (as in More's Utopia), in
technology (as in Bacon's New Atlantis), in biology (as in Foigny's La
Terre australe connue or Paltock's Peter Wilkins), or in other
matters, and with the most significant works usually combining several such
headings (e.g. technology, biology and politics in Book 3 of Gulliver's
Travels); nonetheless, the very listing of the above titles makes it
immediately apparent that the lost-race tale, as it has been developed in
19th-century English fiction, does not as a rule actualize these potentialities.
Only in exceptional cases is there a sociopolitical (utopian-dystopian),
technological or other novum present, and such cases are of course SF to
the extent that such a novum is narratively dominant. But as a historical
genre, the lost-race tale uses instead (and on the contrary) uncouth
combinations of tribal, slave-owning, and feudal societies, usually with a
beautiful princess and wicked high priest in trio with the virtuous white
explorer-protagonist. This nostalgia of primitivism has been highly influential
in the historical development of SF, but that does not make the lost-race tale
SF. As Professor Mullen has noted, in an unpublished MS, "the lost-race
concept is latently science-fictional in that it raises a what-if question: what
would happen to a civilized society isolated for centuries from the Ekumene?"
The trouble is that in Haggard and his imitators "the community's economy
is simply ignored [modern SF follows the lost-race tale faithfully in this, DS];
its pre-modern technology is simply taken for granted; and its politics appears
only in a hierarchy of royalty, nobility, priesthood, and common people. In sum,
the latent SF remains merely latent" — or, I would add, preempted. These
writings, then, should only be investigated as SF in those exceptional cases
where a real novum is present, and I have used my sources (mainly Teitler)
only to check on such potential exceptions.
1. I am grateful to the Canada Council for a two-year grant for research into
19th-century SF given to Professor Angenot and myself, as well as to the
Montreal Interuniversity Centre for European Studies for a 1977 travel grant;
and I owe Marc Angenot many insights into modern narratology and the
possibilities of its application to SF.
2. In some cases the publication consisted simply in the wholesale
importation of books from the USA (which is in the following list indicated by
the initials US before the date of publication), as evidenced either by an entry
in the English Catalogue or by the book's having a US+UK imprint. My
reason for counting such books as UK books is simple: I am not interested
primarily in any "national genius," but in actual historical
situation, e.g. what books would have been available to an average UK reader at
a given time.
BIBLIOGRAPHIES USED FOR THIS PROJECT
Bailey, J.0. Pilgrims Through Space and Time: Trends and Patterns in
Scientific and Utopian Fiction. US 1947, rpt 1972. Like the Bleiler Checklist
in the next entry, this is a pioneering and still necessary research tool;
unlike the Bleiler, it lists only titles the author has actually read.
Methodologically, however, its insistence on thematic analysis leads to a strong
atomization, very rarely taking into account the narrative whole that determines
the use of the themes, which has aged it heavily. This is responsible for the
strange inclusion into "Scientific Romances" of Bulwer-Lytton,
Collins, and Hardy.
Bleiler, Everett F. The Checklist of Fantastic Literature: A Bibliography
of Fantasy, Weird, and Science Fiction Books Published in the English Language.
US 1948, rpt. 1972. Still a basic tool, though the original errors (e.g. in
dates and pseudonyms) have aged it greatly. Its main drawback for SF research is
twofold: first, it did not set itself the goal of distinguishing between SF and
supernatural fantasy; second, within its own frame of reference, it succumbs
from time to time to the temptation of listing books (books that turn out to be
neither SF nor fantasy) simply on the basis that the author was prominent in the
field (as with some titles by Haggard and Wells, and in my list titles by Allen,
Besant, Boothby, Chambers, Corelli, Cromie, Hyne, and Le Queux) or on the
strength of likely plots or even titles (as with Chamerovzow, Farjon, Hodgson,
and Oliver in my list).
Clarke, I.F. The Tale of the Future From the Beginning to the Present
Day.... UK 1972, superseding first edn of 1961. Again a basic tool, with a
few marginal items included that to my mind are not SF (Ferrar, Nisbet in my
Day, Bradford M. The Supplemental Checklist of Fantastic Literature.
US 1962. A simplified supplement to Bleiler, with numerous mistakes, relatively
few titles that are SF, and many that are not even fantasy.
Henkin, Leo J. "Problems and Digressions in the Victorian Novel (1860-1900),
Part 13: Science," Bulletin of Bibliography 19(1948):156-59. Can be
a useful research tool only if its often one-sided and not wholly trustworthy
annotations are re-checked.
Locke, George. "An Annotated Addendum to Bleiler and Day," Ferret
Fantasy's Christmas Annual for 1972. UK 1972. A useful tool, much better in
its range than Bleiler or Day since the reliable annotations strive to
differentiate SF from fantasy; I disagree in only a few cases.
Messac, Régis. Esquisse d'une chrono-bibliographie des utopies.
Lausanne 2962 [i.e. 1962]. A checklist of titles 1502-1940 called
"utopias" by any one of 38 sources. Left in MS by the author at the
time of his death at the hands of the Gestapo, and published with notes by
Pierre Versins. Very useful, especially for non-English titles, but subject to
the vagaries of Messac's sources.
Rooney, Charles J., Jr. "Utopian Literature as a Reflection of Social
Forces in America, 1865-1917," Diss. George Washington University, 1968.
Pages 249-81 contain a rich but, in spite of some annotations, very unclearly
classified primary bibliography. The lack of clarity begins when utopian fiction
is defined as works advocating extensive change in the status quo. Two sections
relevant but exasperating to the SF researcher are not annotated:
"Romances," which throws together clearly SF titles with those that
are either fantasy (Chambers) or neither SF nor fantasy (Dement, Glasgow,
Hillhouse, Prince, Webster, and Westcott in my list); "Science Fiction and
Fantasy," which defines SF as "works of fantasy whose wonders violate
present laws of nature" and lists at least one UK title that is neither.
Teitler, Stuart A. Eureka!: A Survey of Archeological Fantasies and
Terrestrial Utopias. Kaleidoscope Books Catalogue #29, US 1975. An
invaluable annotated list of lost-race tales. As explained above, I do not think
such tales are SF unless they contain narratively important sociopolitical,
technological, or other novelties of an SF kind. I have listed from this source
only those titles whose annotations suggest that they might be SF in my sense
but which turned out not to be SF.
101 BOOKS TO BE EXCLUDED FROM SF BIBLIOGRAPHIES
Adderly, James Granville. Stephen Remarx: The Story of a Venture in Ethics.
1893. Messac. Ideal young nobleman-priest works and dies in Franciscan poverty
to Christianize and better the lot of the lower classes.
Alldridge, Lizzie. The World She Awoke In: A Narrative. 1879. Henkin.
The world in which the heroine awakes (from illness) is simply the everyday
world. Though the main male characters are scientists, this story has no SF
Allen, Grant. Babylon. 1885. Henkin. The lives and loves of artists in
the US, England, and Italy. There is no trace of the "utopian story"
Henkin finds in it.
——. The Desire of the Eyes. 1895. Bleiler. Short stories, love
——. The Great Taboo. 1890. Bleiler (as US 1891). English gentleman
and pure white maiden shipwrecked on a cannibal island in the Pacific, where
they are faced with a mysterious savage taboo that is finally revealed by a
——. Hilda Wade. 1900. Bleiler (as US & UK with subtitle).
Medical shenanigans and dastardies.
——. The Jaws of Death. 1889. Bleiler. Two stories: the first
concerns a murdering Chinese in San Francisco, the second an English poet gone
native in Jamaica, whose manuscript masterpiece is burned after his death.
——. Recalled to Life. nd . Henkin. The minor SF element is
an automatic electric machine that takes six photographs a minute, but it is
smothered by the melodrama of the inventor's daughter, who becomes amnesiac, by
the dream-visions by which she is "recalled to life," and by the
detective story. I do not find Henkin's "chemicals powerful enough to
reduce a man to ashes."
Arnold, Andrew W. The Attack on the Farm and Other Stories. 1899. Day.
Stories of the Franco-Prussian war with some hints of supernatural fantasy.
Arnold, Edwin Lester. The Wonderful Adventures of Phra the Phoenician.
1891. Bleiler (as US). Metempsychosis of hero and heroine through the ages, but
no SF narration.
Besant, Walter. All Sorts and Conditions of Men: An Impossible Story.
1882. Bleiler (as US, without subtitle, and with James Rice as co-author). Rich
heroine lives incognito in poor district working for reform. Love and politics
but no SF.
——. and James Rice]. The Case of Mr. Lucraft; And Other Tales.
1876. Bleiler (as US). Some supernatural fantasy but no SF.
Black, William. The Magic Ink and Other Stories. 1892. Bleiler (as
US). Three tales, two of them supernatural fantasy, but no SF.
——. Strange Adventures of a Phaeton. 1878. Bleiler. The
"phaeton" is a coach implicated in strange adventures, but not SF
Boothby, Guy [Newell]. A Bid for Fortune: Or, Dr. Nicola's Vendetta.
1895. Dr. Nicola. 1896. Dr. Nicola's Experiment. 1899. Bleiler. A
series with a mesmerizing villain in melodramatic plots; no SF narrations.
——. The Lost Endeavour. 1895. Bleiler (as A Lost Endeavor,
US). Colonial romance, with no SF content.
——. Pharos the Egyptian. 1899. Bleiler (as US). Supernatural
fantasy: ancient black magician and hypnotist, after being revived, loosens
plague upon the world, but is defeated by ancient gods.
Bourdillon, Francis William. Nephelé. 1896. Bleiler (as US, with subtitle).
[Braddon, Mary E., pseud. of Mary Maxwell]. Ralph the Bailiff and Other
Stories. London: Maxwell, nd. Bleiler (different publisher, 1862). Realistic
criminal stories, and some supernatural fantasy.
[Bulwer-]Lytton, Edward George. A Strange Story. 1861. Bailey. Occult
supernatural fantasy with elixir of life and mesmerism. Bulwer's earlier tale, Zanoni
(1842) is also occult fantasy.
Burnand, F.C. Mokeanna!: A Treble Temptation, etc. 1873. Day. Four
satirical stories with contemporary allusions. In "Chikkin Hazard" (pp
79-222), some strange races, but not developed as an SF narration.
Canton, William. The Invisible Playmate: A Story of the Unseen. 1894.
Bleiler. Letter about a little girl and her "invisible playmate," a
child who had died earlier.
Carrel, Frederic. The Adventures of John Johns. 1897. Day. Career of a
philandering adventurer; no SF elements.
Carruth, Hayden. The Adventures of Jones. 1895. Bleiler (as US).
Muenchhausen-type tall tales.
Chambers, Robert W. In the Quarter. 1895. Bleiler (as US 1894).
Bohemian life in Paris during Franco-Prussian war, with love and crime.
——. The Maker of Moons. 1896 Bleiler (As US). Series of
"science-fantasy" stories. Chamerovzow, Louis Alexis. The Man of
Destiny: A Romance of Modern History. 1860. Bleiler. About Napoleon III
during and after 1848.
Cheney, Walter T. An Apocalypse of Life. US 1893; imported 1894.
Bleiler. Christian spiritualism: in dream, the narrator flies through
"celestial spheres," meeting Beings from various stars and Christ.
Clarkson, L. (pseud. of Louise Clarkson Whitelock). The Shadow of John
Wallace. US 1884; imported. Bleiler. Sentimental story of a mysterious
stranger with a vague "magnetism"; there is occurrence of clairvoyance
a la Jane Eyre, but this novel is no more a supernatural fantasy than Jane
Coleridge, Christabel. The Thought-Rope. 1898. Locke. Old woman with
second-sight helps in love story.
Collins, W. Wilkie. The Moonstone. 1868. Bailey. The only novelties
are the mysterious Brahmins and the assumption that sleepwalking under the
influence of opium leads to a re-enactment of past behavior. I do not know why
Bailey calls this assumption a "relatively scientific theory"; it is
not such, and even if it were, that would not make the whole narration SF.
Conrad, Joseph. Tales of Unrest. 1898. Bleiler (as US). Adventure
tales, one with a haunted Malay. Alas, one ghost (illusory or real) doth not a
fantasy make (not to speak of SF).
Corelli, Marie. Ardath: The Story of a Dead Self. 1889. Bleiler (as US
189?). Occult supernatural fantasy oscillating between horror and redemption,
including dream trips to the past, a woman-angel incarnating, etc.
——. A Romance of Two Worlds. 1886. Bleiler (as US 1888). Occult
supernatural fantasy of the "Electric Principle of Christianity" and
trance communication with spirits on other planets, all earthly paradises,
unlike our corrupt Earth, where some humans doubt God (a theory better known
today from C.S. Lewis).
——. The Sorrows of Satan: Or, the Strange Experiences of One Geoffrey
Tempest, Millionaire: A Romance. 1895. Bleiler (as US 1896). The narrator,
Tempest, meets sorrowful Satan.
——. The Soul of Lilith. 1892. Bleiler (as US). Occult supernatural
fantasy, similar to A Romance of Two Worlds, but the trance shows the
planet of a double sun with immortal happy people.
——. Vendetta! or, The Story of One Forgotten. 1886. Bleiler (as
US). A Neapolitan nobleman buried alive during a plague takes a 3-volume revenge
on his wife. Neither fantasy nor SF.
——. Ziska: The Problem of a Wicked Soul. 1897. Bleiler (as US).
Occult supernatural fantasy, with posthumous life, etc.
Cromie, Robert. The King's Oak and Other Stories. nd . Bleiler.
Certainly not SF, and so far as my skimpy notes serve, not supernatural fantasy
——. The Lost Liner. 1899. Bleiler. A shipwreck story; neither SF
nor supernatural fantasy.
Curtois, M[argaret] A[nne]. The Romance of a Country: A Masque. 1893.
Henkin. A proto-Tolkien fantasy.
Delorme, Charles (pseud. of Charles Rumball). The Marvellous and
Incredible Adventures of Charles Thunderbolt in the Moon. 1851. Bleiler.
Whimsical tale; the hero finds a sea of fried fish, dragons, etc.
Dement, R[ichmond] S[heffield]. Ronbar: A Counterfeit Presentment. US
1895. Rooney (with author's given name as Richard S.). Love intrigues and
illegal coining of silver; at the end free minting for all is foreshadowed, but
that's not enough to make the story SF.
Denison, Tho[ma]s S[tewart]. My Invisible Partner. nd . Bleiler
(as US). Fantasy about an invisible second self.
Dering, Ross George (pseud. of Frederic H. Balfour). Dr. Mirabel's Theory:
A Psychological Study. 1893. Bleiler (as US). Supernatural fantasy;
hypnotism is used for murder, but not in an SF narration.
Diehl, Mrs. A[lice] M. Dr. Paull's Theory: A Romance. nd .
Bleiler [as US]. Supernatural fantasy: the transmigration of souls.
Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Parasite. 1894. Bleiler (as US 1895).
Criminal story about a professor and his mesmerico-hypnotic medium; not an SF
Du Maurier, George. Trilby: A Novel. 1894. Bleiler. This well-known
melodrama turns on Svengali's use of mesmerism to make Trilby into a great
singer; no SF development is given to the premise of mesmerism, which thus
remains occult supernatural fantasy.
Ellis, Henry Havelock. The Nineteenth Century: A Dialogue in Utopia.
1900. Messac (as The Twentieth Century, a title I was unable to verify).
A strong critique of the 19th century from a utopian perspective, but truly a
dialogue and not a fictional story.
Falkner, John Meade. The Lost Stradivarius. 1895. Bleiler.
Supernatural fantasy of music and deviltry.
Farjeon, B[enjamin] L[eopold]. The Last Tenant. 1893. Bleiler. A
"haunted" house turns out to harbor a banal crime mystery; neither SF
nor supernatural fantasy.
Fenn, Geo[rge] Manville. The Golden Magnet: A Tale of the Land of the
Incas. 1884. Bleiler (as US 1900). Adventure story of search for Inca gold;
neither SF nor supernatural fantasy.
——. The Man With a Shadow. 1888. Bleiler. Villains and occult
secrets of nature in medical research, but with no SF narration.
[Ferrar, William M.]. Artabanzanus: The Dream of the Great Lake: An
Allegorical Romance of Tasmania: Arranged from the Diary of the late Oliver
Ubertus by William M. Ferrar. 1896. Bleiler; Teitler. Religious fantasy
visions of a subterranean land, mixing balloons and fiends. Possibly
allegorical; certainly not SF.
Frith, Walter. The Sack of Monte Carlo: An Adventure of To-day. 1897.
Day. Robbery of the gambling casino; neither SF nor supernatural fantasy.
Glasgow, Ellen. Phases of an Inferior Planet. 1898. Rooney. Love and
religion in New York; the planet of the title is simply Earth.
Gordon, Lord Granville. Notes from Another World. 1886. Bleiler. Life
after death; a satirical fantasy of sorts.
Halliday, Andrew, ed. Savage Club Papers for 1868. Day (author's first
name as Arthur). A collection of stories and poems; none is SF.
Hardy, Thomas. Two on a Tower. 1882. Bailey. Love and astronomy; no SF
Hatch, Mary R. [Platt]. The Missing Men. US 1892?; imported 1893.
Bleiler (as 1893). The setting of the narration in 1917 is mentioned once in the
first chapter and then promptly and totally forgotten. For the rest it is a
melodramatic fantasy with magnetic mind-reading, unknown twins, amnesia, crime,
dastardy, and love triumphant.
Hildreth, Charles L[otin]. Oo: Adventures in Orbello Land. US 1889;
imported 1890. Bleiler. Lost white race similar to ancient Greeks found in
Hillhouse, Mansfield Lovell. Iola, The Senator's Daughter: A Story of
Ancient Rome. 1894. Rooney. Life of the "Business classes" in
ancient Rome, with clear parallels to 19th-century New York, but no SF
Hocking, Joseph. The Weapons of Mystery. 1890. Bleiler. Crime and
mesmerism; no SF narration.
Hodgson, William Earl. Haunted by Posterity. 1895. Bleiler.
——. Unrest: or, The Newer Republic. 1887. Bleiler. Contains a
little speculation on psychic research, but neither SF nor supernatural fantasy.
Holland, Clive. Raymi; or The Children of the Sun. 1889. Teitler.
Adventures on sea and land in the 18th century; hero finds Inca chief, his
daughter Raymi, and their treasure.
Hyne, [Charles J.] C[utcliffe W.]. The Adventures of Captain Kettle.
1898. Bleiler (as US). Outrageous nautical tall tales.
Jane, Fred[erick] T. The Incubated Girl. 1896. Bleiler. Secret from
Egyptian papyrus used by sinister professor in his lab for creating a new race
of chaste women. His first sample, a girl constituted both chemically and with
the help of supernatural influences, is also used as an innocent eye on London.
Oscillates between satire and horror fantasy, with the small SF element
overridden by these two types of narration.
Lang, Andrew. The Mark of Cain. 1886. Locke. A crime-mystery narration
that uses SF for a moment (but only a moment) in the 11th of its 16 chapters
with the appearance of a flying machine whose inventor witnesses the crime.
Le Queux, William. England's Peril: A Novel. 1899. Bleiler. In spite
of the title exploiting the popularity of future-war SF, this is simply a spy
——. The Great White Queen: A Tale of Treasure and Treason. 1896.
Bleiler (as 1898). Lost-race tale (or more precisely, as Mullen's unpublished
MS. suggests, a "forbidden world" tale).
Lockhart-Ross, H.S. Hamtura: A Tale of an Unknown Land. 1892? Day.
Unknown island in the Pacific contains treasure; a magic prophecy comes true;
perhaps supernatural fantasy but not SF.
Lookup, Alexander (pseud.). Excelsior; or, The Heir Apparent. 1860.
Bleiler. Political allegory-drama about reform of US government.
——. The Soldier of the People: Or, The World's Deliverer. 1860.
Bleiler. Dramatic allegory of General Power bringing justice to the world.
M'Crib, Theophilus (pseud. of Henry Boyle Lee). Kennaquhair: A Narrative
of Utopian Travel. 1872 (1871?). Bleiler. Description of a world in which
literary characters live as long as people remember. Fantasy rather than utopian
fiction or SF.
[Mackay, Charles.] Baron Grimbosh: Doctor of Philosophy and Sometime
Governor of Barataria. A Record of His Experience. 1872. Messac (as
anonymous). Whimsical political satire, with no utopian or SF narration.
Mason, Eveleen Laura. Hiero-Salem: The Vision of Peace. US 1889;
imported 1890. Rooney. Occult supernatural fantasy of spirits, religious
salvation, metempsychosis, etc., in tandem with political reform.
Mathew, Frank. At the Rising of the Moon: Irish Stories and Studies.
1893. Bleiler. No SF stories included.
Mendum, Bedloe. The Barbarian and Other Stories. 1899. Teitler. Short
short stories, one a satire on Vulgaria (i.e. USA) as seen by a Chinese visitor,
but without SF narration.
Moody, Dr. H.A.. The City Without a Name. 1898. Bleiler. Lost-race
story of a hidden Inca city, with only faint echoes of a better state.
[Newman, John Henry]. Callista: A Sketch of the Third Century. .
Day. Historical story by the future cardinal about Christian martyrs.
Nisbet, Hume. The Great Secret: A Tale of Tomorrow. 1895. Clarke.
Despite the subtitle, this is merely a confused tale of anarchists taking people
to an island in the Indian Ocean where they find the abode of dead spirits and
the Garden of Hesperides (!).
Oliver, J[ohn] A. Westwood. The Doomed Comet and the World's End.
1882. Bleiler. A real goof proving Bleiler did not read some of his titles: not
fiction but an introduction to "Cometic Astronomy" combating alarmism.
Peek, Hedley. The Chariot of the Flesh. 1897. Locke. The discovery of
a MS by Descartes on thought-reading and mesmeric "will-force." The
initial pretense at rational explanation, making for an SF narration, is soon
abandoned for occult supernatural fantasy.
Phillips, L[undern] M. The Mind Reader. 1898. Day. Occult supernatural
fantasy where hypnotism, clairvoyance, mind-reading, and astral protection foil
dastardly capitalist swindlers.
Prince, Helen Choate. The Story of Christine Rochefort. 1895. Rooney.
Religious reformism in conflict of capital and labor.
Rowel, M. [pseud. of Valdemar Adolph Thisted]. Letters from Hell.
1886. (Danish original 1866). Locke. Religious fantasy.
Russell, W[illiam] Clarke. The Frozen Pirate. 1887. Bailey (as US).
The potential SF element of a frozen pirate thawed out after 48 years is lost in
an adventure-story narration.
Sewell, Elizabeth M[issing], "editor." Uncle Peter's Fairy Tale
for the Nineteenth Century. 1869. Locke. Fairy pills fulfilling wishes for
improving the world; no SF narration.
[Shorthouse, J. Henry]. John Inglesant: a Romance. 1880. Day.
Historical romance of the 17th century about Catholic plots, etc.; neither
supernatural fantasy nor SF.
Slosson, Annie Trumbull. Seven Dreamers. 1899 (US 1891). Day. Fantasy
Smeaton, [William Henry] Oliphant. A Mystery of the Pacific. 1899.
Teitler. Lost-race story of a large island with ancient Romans, magic Atlanteans,
etc., with Vernean adventure elements, but no SF.
Smith, Mrs. J. Gregory. Atla: A Story of the Lost Island. 1886.
Bleiler (as US). Love and intrigue in Atlantis up to its destruction; pseudo-historical
romance but with all the cliches of the lost-race story.
Stebbing, W[illiam], "edited by." Probable Tales. 1899.
Teitler. Grotesque and whimsical European Ruritanias; e.g. Ipsiland, the land
without comparisons. No SF narration.
Taylor, U[na] Ashworth. The City of Sarras. 1887. Bleiler. Fantasy of
love and religion in Galahad's city for souls of the elect.
Wait, Frona Eunice [Smith Colburn]. Yermah, The Dorado: The Story of a
Lost Race. 1897. Teitler (as US). Adventure story of Atlantis colony in
California 11,000 years ago, with no SF narration.
Webster, Henry K. The Banker and the Bear. 1900 (US 1898). Rooney.
Muckraking social comment about a stock-market "corner."
Westcott, Edward Noyes. David Harum: A Story of American Life. 1899.
Rooney (as US 1898). This well-known story has really no SF elements at all.
Wright, Thomas. The Blue Firedrake; or, The Wonderful and Strange Relation
of the Life and Aduentures of Nathan Souldrop. 1892. Day. Story of the last
English witch in the 18th century, with no SF elements.
The annotated list of books that concludes this essay derives
from a research project for which I had to establish a list of SF books
published in the United States in the period 1848--1900. Since the existing
bibliographies deal only with such subgenres as "tales of the future" or
"voyages in space," I had to supplement them with information from more general
bibliographies of fantasy, Utopia, the novel of science, etc. By the conclusion
of the project, I had read about 100 novels that could not be regarded as SF. I
offer this list to future researchers in the hope they will be able to avoid
going off on similar tangents. My list was compiled on the basis of a
determining and excluding premise: that SF is distinguished by the narrative
dominance of a fictional novelty (novum, innovation) validated both by being continuous
with a body of already existing cognitions and by being a "mental experiment"
based on cognitive logic. Among the categories of works sometimes seen on SF
bibliographies that are excluded here: works of non-fiction, non-realistic narratives,
naturalistic fiction with minor SF elements, and supernatural fantasies. I offer an
annotated guide to nine standard bibliographies of the field, concluding with the 101
works excluded, with notes on why they cannot be regarded as SF.
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