The History of Science Fiction

Ever wonder who influenced Star Wars or Harry Potter? There’s a map for that. Award-winning artist Ward Shelley has created a alien-like timeline that describes the evolution of Science Fiction, from fear and wonder to Wall*E.

History of Science Fiction

A Map of the History of Science Fiction

According to the artist, “History of Science Fiction” is a graphic chronology mapping the genre from its roots in mythology and fantasy to the space operas of today:

The movement of years is from left to right, tracing the figure of a tentacled beast, derived from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds Martians. Science Fiction is seen as the offspring of the collision of the Enlightenment (providing science) and Romanticism, which birthed gothic fiction, source of not only SciFi, but crime novels, horror, westerns, and fantasy (all of which can be seen exiting through wormholes to their own diagrams, elsewhere). Science fiction progressed through a number of distinct periods, which are charted, citing hundreds of the most important works and authors. Film and television are covered as well.

The image was inadvertently leaked onto the Internet a couple weeks ago, going viral enough to prompt Shelley to start collecting emails from fans interested in a possible poster version of the map. In addition to being a visual delight to explore, it is also a great reading-viewing to-do list for a complete science fiction education.

Shelley—a Brooklyn artist specializing in large paintings and sculpture installations—has also done paintings depicting the evolution of Avant Garde, the New York downtown scene, media role models, and Fluxus.