19th century science fiction

Over the years several anthologies have reprinted science fiction short stories from the 1800’s. These tales are fascinating to read on many levels. Way before the establishment of the science fiction genre, writers were telling science fictional stories. Even without modern technology, they explored the same SF possibilities we do today. Ideas I thought original with Golden Age science fiction writers turn out to be much older. Reading these stories reveals universals about human nature that you don’t get from history books.

The Anthologies

The Stories

Here are all the stories from the above anthologies. You can see the editors have done a good job of finding stories the other editors haven’t, although there are stories loved by more than one editor. Where I can, I’ve linked to an online version of the story. If one isn’t available, I’ll link to an essay about the story. For some stories, you’ll need to get the anthology. Actually, reading the anthologies are much more convenient.

Year Title Author Editor
1809 The Conquest of the Earth by the Moon Washington Irving Franklin
1833 The Mortal Immortal Mary Shelley Asimov, Moskowitz
1835 The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Phall Edgar Allan Poe Moskowitz
1835 The Great Moon Hoax Richard A. Locke Lester, Sims
1839 The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion Edgar Allan Poe Kuebler
1840 A Heavenward Voyage Samuel-Henry Berthoud Stableford
1844 A Tale of the Ragged Mountains Edgar Allan Poe Franklin
1844 Rappaccini’s Daughter Nathaniel Hawthorne Franklin, Asimov, Gunn
1844 The Artist of the Beautiful Nathaniel Hawthorne Franklin, Stableford
1844 The Sandman E. T. A. Hoffman Asimov
1845 The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar Edgar Allan Poe Sims
1849 Mellonta Tauta Edgar Allan Poe Franklin, Gunn
1852 A Descent Into the Maelstrom Edgar Allan Poe Asimov
1854 The Birthmark Nathaniel Hawthorne Franklin
1855 The Bell-Tower Herman Melville Franklin
1858 The Diamond Lens Fitz-James O’Brien Franklin, Gunn, Lester
1859 The Wondersmith Fitz-James O’Brien Moskowitz
1859 What Was It? Fitz-James O’Brien Stableford
1860 The Atoms of Chladni J. D. Whelpley Franklin
1863 Darwin Among the Machines Samuel Butler Lester
1870 Annie Denton Cridge Franklin
1872 The Brick Moon Edward Everett Hale Moskowitz
1872 The End of the World Eugène Mouton Stableford
1873 The Automaton Ear Florence McLandburgh Sims
1874 The Tachypomp Edward Page Mitchell Davies
1875 The Soul Spectroscope Edward Page Mitchell Davies
1875 The Story of the Deluge Edward Page Mitchell Davies
1876 The Inside of the Earth Edward Page Mitchell Davies
1876 The Telescope Eye William Henry Rhodes Sims
1877 The Age of Science Frances Power Cobbe Lester
1877 The Man Without a Body Edward Page Mitchell Davies
1879 A Paradoxical Ode (After Shelley) James Clerk Maxwell Stableford
1879 A Psychological Shipwreck Ambrose Bierce Franklin
1879 The Ablest Man in the World Edward Page Mitchell Davies, Stableford
1879 The Facts in the Ratcliff Case Edward Page Mitchell Davies
1879 The Senator’s Daughter Edward Page Mitchell Davies, Sims
1880 From Mizora: A Prophecy Mary E. Bradley Lane Franklin
1880 The Professor’s Experiment Edward Page Mitchell Davies
1881 The Clock That Went Backwards Edward Page Mitchell Asimov, Davies, Sims
1881 The Crystal Man Edward Page Mitchell Davies
1882 Into the Sun Robert Duncan Milne Asimov, Davies
1882 Josuah Electricmann Ernest d’Hervilly Stableford
1884 A Tale of Negative Gravity Frank R. Stockton Asimov, Davies
1884 The Child of the Phalanstery Grant Allen Stableford
1885 Old Squids and Little Speller Edward Page Mitchell Davies
1885 The Great Keinplatz Experiment Arthur Conan Doyle Asimov, Davies
1886 The Blindman’s World Edward Bellamy Franklin
1886 The Monarch of Dreams Thomas Wentworth Higginson Franklin, Sims
1887 Christmas 200,000 B.C. Stanley Waterloo Franklin
1887 The Horla, or Modern Ghosts Guy de Maupassant Asimov
1887 The Shapes (Les Xipéhuz)  J. H. Rosny aîné Asimov
1888 An Express of the Future Jules Verne Moskowitz
1888 Tornadres J. H. Rosny aîné Stableford
1889 Our Second Voyage to Mars W. S. Lach-Szyrma Evans
1889 To Whom This May Come Edward Bellamy Asimov, Davies
1890 Dr. Materialismus Frederic Jesup Stimson Franklin
1890 In the Year Ten Thousand Edgar Fawcett Stableford
1890 Professor’s Bakermann’s Microbe Charles Epheyre Stableford
1891 Old Doctor Rutherford D. F. Hannigan Moskowitz
1891 The Revolt of the Machines Emile Goudeau Stableford
1891 The Salvation of Nature John Davidson Stableford
1892 In the Year Ten Thousand Will N. Harben Franklin
1892 The Doom of London Robert Barr Moskowitz
1892 The Los Amigos Fiasco Arthur Conan Doyle Moskowitz
1892 The Philosophy of Relative Existence Frank R. Stockton Stableford
1893 June, 1993 Julian Hawthorne Stableford
1893 Mysterious Disappearances Ambrose Bierce Sims
1893 The Damned Thing Ambrose Bierce Gunn, Kuebler
1895 A Wife Manufactured to Order Alice W. Fuller Sims
1895 Lost in a Comet’s Tale Frank Reade, Jr. Moskowitz
1895 The Purple Death W. L. Alden Davies, Russell
1896 Citizen 504 Charles H. Palmer Moskowitz
1896 In the Abyss H. G. Wells Asimov
1896 In the Deep of Time
George Parsons Lathrop, Thomas A. Edison
Locke
1896 London’s Danger
C. J. Cutcliffe Hyne
Evans, Russell
1897 The Aeriel Brickfield John Mills Evans
1897 The Crystal Egg H. G. Wells Knight
1897 The Microbe of Death Rudolph De Cordova Russell
1897 The Star H. G. Wells Kuebler, Stableford
1897 The Thames Valley Catastrophe Grant Allen
Asimov, Davies, Evans, Moskowitz, Russell, Sims
1898 A Corner in Lightning George Griffith Evans, Moskowitz, Stableford
1898 From the “London Times” of 1904 Mark Twain Franklin, Knight
1898 The Lizard C. J. Cutcliffe Hyne Asimov, Evans, Russell
1898 Where the Air Quivered L. T. Meade, Robert Eustace Moskowitz
1899 A Thousand Deaths Jack London Asimov, Davies, Franklin
1899 Moxon’s Master Ambrose Bierce Knight
1899 The Master of the Octopus Edward Olin Weeks Russell
1899 The Monster of Lake LaMetrie Wardon Allan Curtis Moskowitz, Russell, Sims
1899 The Purple Terror Fred M. White Davies, Evans, Moskowitz, Russell
1899 The Wheels of Dr. Ginochio Gyves Ellsworth Douglass, Edwin Pallander Locke, Russell

James Wallace Harris (9/20/18)

6 thoughts on “19th Century Science Fiction Short Stories

  1. I’d also recommend Brian Stableford’s Scientific Romances and the first and fifth volumes of James Gunn’s The Road to Science Fiction. I’m not sure if Stableford’s work with Black Coat Press has any good collections of 19th French sf though there are some French works in Scientific Romances and in some author collections like Edmond Haracourt’s work.

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    1. Thanks, Marzaat. I went and bought Scientific Romances. I have Stableford’s 4-volume New Atlantis, so this will make a great supplement. I’ve owned The Road to Science Fiction series for years, so I should have remembered to include it. I’ll update the list in the future with Stableford and Gunn.

      Since I don’t know French, I haven’t tried to keep up with French science fiction. I take it, you do?

      By the way, did you see the other day Gunn’s The Dreamers were on sale for ebooks?

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      1. I have a copy of The Dreamers under the VT The Mind Master. I didn’t happen to make any notes on that one when reading it, so no review.
        Black Coat Press specializes in translated French works and lately Stableford has been putting in a lot of time translating and writing scholarly introductions to the books. You can find some of those introductions for free at the New York Review of Science Fiction website.

        I don’t read French myself so I only know the work through Stableford.

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  2. Damon Knight edited an anthology of French science fiction stories (Thirteen French Science-Fiction Stories) and also translated some French SF himself.

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  3. I read the very earliest piece—by Washington Irving—and I was passably well entertained, but it’s not science fiction. In fact, it isn’t fiction at all. It’s political satire; more particularly, it’s a scathingly sarcastic (albeit humorous) argument/indictment of the assumed right of white settlers to occupy North America and displace the indigenous population.

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    1. Yeah, often these editors don’t use my definition of science fiction. On the other hand, most readers don’t use my definition of science fiction either. It bugs we when people think anything weird or strange must be science fiction.

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