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Top 10 Underrated Sci-Fi Stories Before 1864

ophiucha . . . Comments

Unlike fantasy, which had a clear genre launcher in J.R.R. Tolkien, the science fiction genre developed over the latter half of the 19th century with the works of Jules Verne and, subsequently, H.G. Wells. For the sake of a clear cut off date, however, we shall say the cut off date for novels not to be influenced by these fathers of the genre is 1864, the year in which Verne published “A Journey to the Center of the Earth.” These are the classic science fiction novels that preceded the fathers of the genre that are commonly overlooked by modern audiences.


Urashima Tar?
Publication Date: circa 8th century


As with many of these examples, the line is blurred between fantasy and science fiction. This was written in the 8th century and there is literally no line. The story tells of a fisherman who rescues a turtle and lets it go to sea, only to find out that she was a princess and he is invited to their palace below the seas. A few days pass before he decides to return to the surface, but when he returns to his village, he is shocked to find that he is far into the future. This is an old, folkloric tale with a classic bit of mythology to it, and it also serves as the earliest example of time travel in fiction.


Johannes Kepler, Publication Date: 1620 to 1630


A weird little fantasy involving the lunar eclipse and demons on the moon. What makes this science fiction, then? It began as a piece of nonfiction, defending the ideas of Earth’s rotation and our planetary relationship with the moon. How the demons became involved is beyond me. Nonetheless, this is particularly significant when one considers that it was written by Kepler, who was a key astronomer in the scientific revolution. He defined the laws of planetary motion, among other things.


Niels Klim’s Underground Travels
Ludvig Holberg, Publication Date: 1741


This is a strange tale of a Norwegian man who falls into space. After floating about for a while, he is attacked by a gryphon and crashes onto Nazar, the nearby planet, and climbs a tree for safety. The tree, however, is a woman, and he gets put on trial for rape. Already you should be able to tell what sort of novel this will be. From here, he begins to record the way of life of these ent-esque creatures, Potuans, before he inevitably gets kicked out and moves on to the inner rim of the planet. Basically, it is social commentary with an early example of hollow earth fiction, and it is quite a fun read. Read it online here.


The Last Man
Mary Shelley, Publication Date: 1826


Mary Shelley is a big contributor to the science fiction genre, as she wrote the classic Frankenstein. This is another story of hers that details an apocalyptic future where a plague has ravaged the Earth, although the themes are – as is usual – far more symbolic than that. The novel is also notable for its semi-biographical depictions of Lord Byron (a famous Romanticist, as well as the father of her niece) and her husband, Percy Shelley. The novel has great significance for any literature fan, and it is also an early novel of the apocalyptic genre (at least in regards to science fiction, as opposed to the wrath of God). Read it online here.


Taketori Monogatari
Publication Date: circa 10th century

Taketori Monogatari 2

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, another piece from Japanese folklore, is a significant piece in Japanese literary history – being a very early example of conventional narrative, as well as a very early proto-science fiction novel. The story tells of a bamboo cutter who finds a glowing bamboo stick, and inside is a tiny baby, which he loves and raises with his wife. When she is older, though, it is discovered that she is of the moon and that she must leave her parents and the Emperor, who loved her dearly. Before she left, she gave the Emperor the elixir of life, but he instead burnt it with her note atop the tallest mountain in Japan. Legend has it that Mt. Fuji was named for the word for immortality (fushi, or fuji) due to this incident, and that the volcano is a symbol of the burning letter/elixir (Mt. Fuji is, in fact, a volcano, although it has been inactive for some time now).


Voltaire, Publication Date: 1752


Voltaire, French philosopher and satirist of grand fame, happened to also write science fiction. Micromégas, as with most of his works, is a commentary on western culture and societal norms, here told from the point of view of an alien from a planet circling the star Sirius, and his friend from Jupiter. It is a simple application that would be repeated throughout science fiction history, and that is certainly worth mentioning. Not to mention, as with all of his works, it is hilarious (or depressing, depending on your point of view) to see how he depicts his culture, and how little, in many regards, it’s changed. Read it online here.


The Man in the Moone
Francis Godwin, Publication Date: 1638

Cressy Fig01B

Also known as “The English Fortune Teller,” this novel is another story of travels to the moon, possibly influenced by the above mentioned Kepler work (as the two were contemporaries), though this idea is quite heavily debated amongst astronomers. The story, which some say is the first science fiction novel in the English language, details the travels of the astronaut Domingo Gonsales, who travels to the moon with a chariot of trained geese. At this point in the list, that shouldn’t seem too absurd. Aliens ensue, as is typical. Aside from being a great story in its own right, this is particularly notable due to his reference to the possibility of weightlessness in space, and the potential influence of this novel on the most classic example of pre-Verne science fiction, Gulliver’s Travels. Read it online here.


Theologus Autodidactus
Ibn al-Nafis, Publication Date: 1267 to 1277


This was not just an early example of science fiction, this novel is one of the earliest examples of desert island stories, coming-of-age stories, theological stories (that is, stories that answer the deep questions usually left to discourses), and one of the earliest books published in Arabic. To top it off, the author of this novel made significant discoveries in a number of medical fields and still had the time to study history, languages, geography, Islam, and write a few books. Amazing, no? Anyway, the novel begins as you might expect from all the other descriptors, aside from science fiction. A young man on a desert island contemplating life and coming to decisions that change him forever. And then the world ends. Additionally, there are numerous references to significant advances in biology and medicine that the author made. It’s significance is profound, but it might be a bit too complicated a read without the right background for it.


True History
Lucian of Samosata, Publication Date: circa 2nd century

Ws Images Reading 09 Jan Im01 Lucian True Story

Another ‘earliest example’ of the genre, True History is a satire of the classic epics of the past, put into the stars instead of the clouds and across the seas. There are aliens, interplanetary wars, space travel, planet colonization, and what may even be an early precedent to the concept of a robot. This has all the tropes of your average B-movie sci-fi feature, yet it was written over a millennium before the invention of the telescope. Think about that. Read it online here.


The Description of a New World
Margaret Cavendish, Publication Date: 1666


Full title: The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World. Blazing World is considered by a number of scholars to be the earliest example of science fiction as we would come to know it, and it is unique in that, given the century, it was written by a woman. The story follows a woman from Earth who finds this blazing world and becomes empress. This is a (satirical) utopian piece, and the world she arrives in has submarines, anthropomorphized beings, and talking animals. It is a relatively short piece of prose (by modern standards, at least), and it is truly an interesting look at the roots of the genre. It was also referenced in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, for those who are fans of Alan Moore. Read it online here.


The Coming Race
Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Publication Date: 1871


This novel would have been my number one, without a doubt, but it just barely missed the cut off date set for this article. Nonetheless, I believe it deserves a mention for being one of the most influential, and underrated, science fiction novels of all time. The word vril, used in the novel, was a short-lived word in the English language, and the novel itself has been linked to many a conspiracy theory involving the Nazis (due to the themes of a superior race present in the novel). All the elements of a classic, yet overlooked by many, even within the science fiction fandom. Also, Bulwer-Lytton is responsible for the clichés “It was a dark and stormy night,” and “the pen is mightier than the sword,” so you know, if nothing else, that this novel is quite quotable. Read it online here.

  • Swark

    really? i doubt u even read the list before commenting.

  • awesome list. i have all 7 links open in the other tabs. seems i'll be bust reading these for quite some time… And right now also i am reading a dystopian (not really sci-fi, but well… almost) book. Fahrenheit 451. Good list… thanks for the links.

    And @ shandya- my son, its read and not watch (should have been watched). yes. you are first. congrats. now grow up.

    • Swark

      yeah…he read sci-fi and he thought – movies!
      this is before 1864, surely they exist mostly only in books.

    • Hmm – you seem to be competing to beat me on comment points! I had better get commenting more!

      • Ha ha Jamie… I don't know how that happened… I only post comment once every list… Anyway, I'm sure your comments are the ones people wait for and not mine. Have never talked to you one on one. Just wanted to say keep up the good work. Take care.

    • We read Fahrenheit 451 in high school, and I actually think it's an awesome book. Is it a form of irony that it's a book? Hahaha, I have the movie also. It's alright, but the book is way better, as usual.

      • Isnt it always so? The book beats the movie any day… Yes. There's a lot of Irony in the book… And I am loving it. Read 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley if you liked this…. You'll love it. Take care.

    • shandya

      no, I want to spend my childhood days first. sorry

  • lalabhaiya

    oh that was busy and not bust… screws the whole sentence, doesnt it?

    • astraya

      It would screw it up even more if you'd said "I'll be busty reading these"!

  • Hey I want to read em' all, please give the relevant links,plz plz plz
    And this was a super-duper list..amazing stuff was written before..

  • Hi – please don't post "first" comments – they clutter up the site and annoy people.

    • Julius

      I thought comments get deleted automatically if they get sufficient downvotes? ;-) 43 not enough?

      • No – that was a misunderstanding made by me – they get deleted if they get sufficient reports complaining about them.

  • ArjayM

    I haven't read any of those. If I have a spare time, I will check those links that was provided. I think these are very interesting to read just like the #1 spot and the bonus…

  • ZedroZ

    Some of the books sound fantastic, I hadn't heard of any except for The Coming Race. Well written on a very interesting subject,
    Nice work!

  • Ibn al nafis was a polymath, that is why he could do all these things together. Haven't heard about any of these books except the last man.

    An interesting list after those mediocre lists published recently.

    • wow I think you even beat the general in negative rating, what's up with that?

      • I dont even get this shit. How does it go into negative, I don't know. If people want me to lick their asses & keep on praising lists that I don't like, the won't succeed.

        Perhaps you would care to explain how this whole piece of shit system works.

        • The Major

          If you don't like a list, perhaps just carry on with your day and not act as if the website revolves around your interests?

        • yes i would care to explain . if you have a bad attitude without the added veil of humour and or humility then you gonna have a bad time . If however you are funny and humble(and nice) you can pretty much get away with anythng . Or if you are just plain old nice and not arrogant you will also have a good rating. Also if you are funny , handsome awesome , dashing ,sauve , hysterically funny , charming , exiting interesting ,engaing , thought provoking , wise and above all extremly humble(exactly like myself) you can also end up with a favourable rating . But if you are constantly negative and have an attitude , then either you start licking butts or live with the bad rating because bitchng about it ,will only make it worse ( unless you are like the general and want bad ratings)

          also if you pizza when you are supposed to french fry – you gonna have a bad time …

          • if you pizza when youre supposed to french fry youre just going to go slow

            if you french fry when youre supposed to pizza,…..*then* youre gonna have a bad time

            dammit man… wouldnt stand a chance against darsh — the youth center is saved!

          • LOL! think the hitler is the funniest thing ive ever seen .

          • Pretty interesting. So I'll just ignore those list that aren't good enough & if I feel like complaining, I have to keep quiet. Easy as anything, I'll just do it.
            More like I have to.
            (However, sorry to say, this isn't the kind of LV I imagined. Everyone will now try hard & not criticise any list if it isn't upto standards just because it may upset their precious rating. Shameful.)

          • & I actually praised this list, you know.

          • Hey, I feel good and I just gave you the thumbs up. You're on your way up again!

          • if you dont mind me asking, why in the world do you care about that little number? i mean…..people not saying shit because their number is in jeopardy of lowering, *thats* not the kind of l.v. we're imagining……
            some of us might value your opinion, even as a dissenter (although it seems to me as if you said positive things about that list)

            youre not getting graded on your number… arent getting paid less cause of that number
            if anything, the little icon is pretty……you get upside down triangles, and curvey exclaimation points, and its a neat oval shape, and a beautiful shade of red.

            i seriously doubt that a majority of the people are even gonna care what number is there……………and we still love general tits too…….

            a lot of times in the comments, its nice to have opposing views to further discussion, unless youre being a raging dick about it (which i dont think ive ever seen you do)—or if youre being just super-retarded, like 'first'-guy. doesnt really matter what the number is (much less, tag it as precious)

            –just wondering man……

          • if you had a friend who made it *that* easy, like leopold butters stotch, im sure you couldnt contain yourself anyway…..

            "oh hamburgers, it smells kinda stinky in here"

        • Hey asshole stop being so disliked! Thats my job.

    • Robben

      Way to go :)…

  • Sega

    I dont know if it falls under the science fiction category, but if your gonna add entries like #3 Theologus Autodidactus, then the narrative of arthur gordon pym of nantucket should be on here aswell. It influenced Jules Verne! It's awesome. Published 1838.

    and great list too!

    • sega

      *You're !

    • I had definitely considered it, but in the end I decided that, between it being a very light sci-fi example as well as being by Edgar Allan Poe (who is, on his own, a bit above deserving the title 'underrated'), it just didn't quite fit the list. Nonetheless, that is an excellent book that I'd recommend. :3

  • Shirokuma

    Thank you ophiucha, I liked the list very much and be definitely looking into some of them soon (first of all "The Coming Race", I guess).

    As for Urashima Tarou, I was working on that topic for some time in the past, and there are early examples of "traveler experiencing re-entry shock" topics in Russian folklore, as well as the New Testament.
    So I (probably) also disagree with the time travel interpretation, but it's a fun one^^

    • True enough. Urashima Taro is just well known amonst sci-fi scholars as being such an early example, and it is probably one of the more heavily discussed, so I put it on the list. Also, I've never read anything from Russian folklore, so I wouldn't have felt very justified in putting something of that nature on the list.

  • Wow, only read 2 of those before….cool list ophiucha…

    • Swark

      you've read 2? that's impressive. i know none.

      • swark—– the voltaire one (aside from being my favourite of the 5 ive read)
        is only 35 to 45 pages…… (cant remember exactly — its been a while)

        you can be half way to julius' total within the next 85 minutes

  • Akashtorturedmind

    Very interesting list. Great job.

  • awesome love the read it online links.

  • Jobrag

    Vril in The Coming Race is a mysterious substance with near magical powers, when the makers of a beef extract wanted a name for their new product they decided to call it bovine vril contracted to Bovril. For the unenlightened Bovril is a beef product that can either be spread on bread etc or mixed with hot water to make a beef tea. It's one of those love it or loathe it products.

    • I've never heard that before (most likely because I imagine I'd be in the 'loathe it' category), but that is an excellent little bit of trivia. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Nice list, one that lead me to ponder a few things. So a lot of people consider the first work of science fiction to have been published in 1666. I wonder why there was nothing published in this genre before this date? Perhaps it has something to do with our knowledge of the world, and how in earlier times our own planet was enough cause for wonder and amazement that we did not need to think of imaginary worlds?

    Or perhaps it has something to do with the history and development of literature. I know most early books were focused on religion and publishing a book was an arduous task, limiting the scope of available genres.

    Whatever the reason, I'm glad it came about because it's a genre that I certainly enjoy.

    • It might be related to the fact that astrology (not in the fortune telling sense but in the influence of the heavens over man) was considered science before that time – giving man an outlet to discuss the mysterious stars. Once the belief in the influence of the skies dwindled perhaps sci-fi was needed to fill the gap. And let's face it, even after all these years the heavens still holds more mysteries than the earth.

  • Great list and fantastic stories.

    About the Urushima Taro story, my Japanese teacher gave it to me for reading as an exercise.

    Before Urushima decides to return to the surface, the princess gives him a special box and tells him to never open it. But after he is frustrated by the fact that he is 60 yrs in the future, he opens the box and some white smoke comes out and he becomes really old.

    My teacher then asked us what do you think was the white smoke??

    Basically the exercise was whether i could understand the story after reading it in Japanese and guess the answer.

    If you all have not read the whole story already, I think its a simple guess what the white smoke was. Don't google!!

    Cheers :D

    • time?

      • or a really really old jam sandwich ?

      • white smoke is his old age!!

        nice try tho :)

    • I read it in my Japanese class, too! Although they gave it to us early on in the semester, so not many of us could read it. I ended up googling a translation. ^^;;

      • great!!
        konnichiwa then!!

        As for googling the translation, I couldn't do it as we had to give our conclusions right after reading the story.

  • I'm a bit worried about your statement that Tolkien launched the fantasy genre. A bit of research (ok, Wikipedia) immediately showed: the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Odyssey, Beowulf, the Mahabharata, 1001 Nights, the Ramayana, the Journey to the West, the Arthurian legend and the Divine Comedy, all considerably predating Tolkien. In general, fantasy developed far earlier than science fiction, because fantasy doesn't have to be scientifically plausible (even in our scientific age, and especially before it).

    • Jobrag

      You left out the Old Testament

      • I didn't leave out anything. I was indirectly quoting from Wikipedia, and it didn't list the Old Testament.

        In any case, the Old Testament is not fantasy. The broad historical sweep of the OT is true. And there's a big difference between writing something that you know you're making up and writing something you believe is true.

    • coocoocuchoo

      ye i immediately thought of Beowulf when i read that…

    • As I wrote the list on underrated fantasy novels which predate the Hobbit, one must presume that I am very aware of the fact that fantasy predates Tolkien. However, many of those books are religious books – which I purposely left off my list – and it is rather undeniable that Tolkien became the genre codifier, which was very much the point of my original list. Similarly, this list covers all stories prior to the solidification of the genre with Verne and Wells.

  • dontletmedown

    people who are annoyed of "firsts" are only annoyed because they weren't!

    • and just when i thought shandya's 'im first' comment was the stupidest
      comment we were going to see today, we get this gem….

    • LOL I really hope you are kidding, if not I´m worried for you.

  • astraya—i read this the same way you did…..
    i was thinking ..w t f ?
    then it occured to me that there was that list 2 or 3 months ago, which used used 1937 and the hobbit as a cut off point for the genre of fantasty.

    i mean — obviously that doesnt mean tolkein launched the genre, but i figured ophiucha was making a reference to tolkein being a major stepping stone for modern fantasy works….

    after all, that was an ophiucha list, as well, and the list was "fantasy books before……"
    if you read he introduction to that list, its pretty succinct
    but i'll give him/her a pass since he made an entire list based on things before tolkein's flagship fantasy work.

    • Yes, I am working off the genre codifier, as opposed to the genre creator. It is also worth noting that the idea of a "genre" wasn't really present until the Victorian era, with Verne and Wells being the staples by which sci-fi was defined. Poe and Lovecraft sort of 'defined' horror, and Tolkien was the one who ended up setting in stone what fantasy would be known as. While, yes, fantasy novels were WRITTEN before Tolkien, they were neither necessarily called fantasy, nor were they necessarily definitively attempting to BE fantasy. Some were fantasy-horror, or fantasy-scifi. So, I suppose a more accurate title would be "Top 10 Underrated Sci-Fi/Fantasy Stories Before Sci-Fi/Fantasy Was A Genre."

  • Very excellent list and a novel premise. Most of stories are new to me and I've read tons of sf/fantasy. Providing links to on-line editions is a bonus. Thanks.

  • Wow….I actually read 3 of these. I would like to read number 10 and 6 as both sound interesting. Cool list.

    • ive read 5 1/2 of them (counting the bonus)
      10—-6—-5—-about half of 2——1—-and the bonus

      i am putting this comment here primarily to remind myself to tell you about the
      ones you mentioned……..but i gotta goto work first :p ……….

      which 3 have you read?

      • 2, 4 and 7 were the ones I read. I read a lot of sci fi when I was younger. I lived at the library. :)

        • thats funny……4 and 7 were the ones that looked cool to me…….
          2—-see, the idea behind the story seems as if it would be extremely iteresting. there is something in the way it was written (or translated) that drove me crazy page after page. i had to put it down, and declare for the only the third time in my life: i wish this was a movie.
          sacrilege, i know…..

          i didnt like urishima taro *that much*—other than the time travel aspect it just seemed really cliched and tired…not that i expected any different
          –its a little slow, but fairly interesting

          taketori monogatari was great—-it gave way to much modern anamie, and had great imagry, and quite an interesting story.
          this one did have a movie….came out 1985 or so. sucked….(i mean….it was *ok* but not nearly as fulfilling as the book) …which i actually found to be a very easy read.

  • Riesstu

    Although probably more well-known than those on this list, I'm surprised not to see Johnathan Swift's 'Gulliver's Travels' (1726) mentioned. A bitter satire on human nature and society, it has several science fiction elements (races of immortals, giants, midgets, intelligent horses, a flying island inhabited by scientists, to name a few.) There are several film versions, though the television series starring Ted Danson comes close to the novel (i.e. less child-orientated and more graphic.) Also, I suspect the novel is little read outside of university English literature courses these days.

    • That's Insulting

      It's dwarfs or little people, not midgets.

      • Riesstu

        I used midget because the Lilliputians are only six inches tall (too small to be called dwarfs.) And how is 'dwarf' less insulting than 'midget', quite apart from the fact we aren't even discussing fictional beings in a novel…

        • Riesstu

          I meant are discussing fictional beings.

      • So what do you call a person who is naturally little but not a dwarf or midget? Political correctness confuses the English language and should be shunned. It takes a person very lacking in self-confidence to be offended by such terms.

    • I considered it to be the 'obvious' example, so I left it off the list. Though I did mention it in context of another book (or maybe two) somewhere on the list, as I am madly in love with Jonathan Swift. <3

  • I would suggest the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili by Francesco Colonna from 1499.
    More because i want to show off my knowledge than for it being actually sci-fi.
    Indeed it's more a fantastic novel.
    Also interesting is Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto (early 1500); it features moon travel.

    • I have heard of Orlando Furioso, but I've never had the chance to read it. Not in my local or university libraries, but if I can find it online, I'd certainly give it a read. Same with the first one you mentioned, though I've never heard of it. I'll keep an eye out for it now, though. :)

  • msn

    10/6 underrated for Americans/Western world maybe. My parents (2nd Generation Japanese/American) read me those Japanese Folklore stories when I was a child.

  • As interesting, well written and researched as this list may be, I disagree with the Sci-Fi label as the actual concept of "Science" wasn´t even properly established before 1600.

    • Indeed, quite true, although the term "science fiction" (or even "science romance", as it was called for Verne and Wells' time) wasn't defined until around the cut off date, so were I being truly loyal to my title, there really wouldn't be much to list. ^ .^;;

      • In fact, quite UNtrue – see my comment below :)

    • This is completely untrue. Science was well established by the Greek philosophers. Aristotle was a scientist of far greater measure than many moderns. He used both reason and the empirical method – as did all scientists until the 17th century when modern science started. Modern science is basically the same method as Aristotle but they stopped using logic and reason as part of science and relied only on empiricism which, I must add, leads to no end of problems as the empirical method can only ever show something with a level of probability; reason, on the other hand, can be used to supplement it and prove things with certainty.

      If you want to read some good ancient Greek physics, I would recommend Aristotle's "Physica".

      The other thing lost in modern science which the Greeks had was not just a study of the material and formal cause (which is really all modern science can deal with due to rejection of some fundamental logical proofs) but also the efficient and final cause.

      He also refuted the erroneous theory of pangenesis held by Darwin many many years later. For a good list of his scientific achievements (and you will be shocked) go here:

      • I believe she was referring more to the term and concept of science than science in and of itself. People obviously studied medicine and other branches of science prior to the sixteen hundreds, but in many parts of the world, even the more "advanced" parts, it was inseparable from metaphysics and mysticism, regardless of its roots in actual science. Nonetheless, you are correct.

        • You are right, I´m glad you got it, and it´s a HE as far as I´m concerned :)

  • The Blurbist

    The real-life Cyrano de Bergerac wrote two science-fiction novels in the 17th century: 'The Other World: The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon' and 'The Comical History of the States and the Empires of the Sun,' which describe fictional journeys to the Moon and Sun. As does his character in the famous play, Cyrano described in his novels methods of space travel that are inventive, often ingenious, and sometimes rooted in science.

    (Quoted in part from Wikipedia.)

    • Indeed. I considered those when making the list, but I didn't feel justified in adding them, as I have never read either. Can't, in good consciousness, recommend something I haven't actually read (yet).

      • sachmo

        I can! I've read them and they were quite interesting and funny.

  • Charlos

    Cyrano de Bergerac wrote a couple of SF novels in the mid Seventeenth Century.

  • I don't comment often but I must here…

    I LOVE this list. Great descriptions and I love the link to Project Gutenberg (it's bookmarked for heavy use in the near future).

    Well done Ophiucha !!

  • Metalwrath

    I don't have the impression that Voltaire's Micromegas is overlooked. I actually had to read it in class when I was younger… but then again, I'm french..
    Great book and very fast read for those who haven't read it yet.

    • Fair enough, I am working on the Americanadian outlook I have, and over here, I know a great deal of people don't KNOW Voltaire, and if they have read something of his, it is Candide.

  • List is pretty cool. Sci-fi has been ruined for me by Dune though.

    • I'm with you on that. Most sci-fi I read I compare to Dune.
      Almost all are not even worthy to be on the same shelf.

  • I hadn't heard of any of these except the Last Man. Great list.

  • Not a bad list at all, I have read 2 of them well written.

  • I do love the fact that the image chosen for Kepler's Somnium has my very namesake in the image. (For those less obsessed with constellations, the picture shows Ophiuchus, or Serpentarius in Latin.) I just changed the -us to an -a, as I am a woman. :) I was totally going to be biased and put that at #1, for the very reason just defined, but I ended up exerting self control and put him a little lower on the list. Still awesome, though.

  • Not a big Sci-fi reader, but I was very impressed with the internationality of the entries on the list. Strangely of all the entries, it was only the two Japanese stories that I've heard of before.

  • shandya

    lol. I write the "first" comment because I know people really hate the "first" comment. so I wrote it as a joke (note the multiple keystrokes) coz I really tempted how people would reacted.
    and yes. I wrote 'watched' by mistake. I laughed when I realize it. hehe. I'm really sorry :p

    nevertheless, I read the list anyway and it turned out that I have read Urashima Tar? & Taketori Monogatari.
    one thing I like in Urashima Tar? is, before taro return to his village, the sea princess gave him a pandora box as a present and told him not to open it. but taro, devastated when he found out that he went to the future, opened the box. smokes busted from the box and taro rapidly aged .it found out that the box was his old age.

    • shandya

      oh wait. @smokingfrog had said about that before. and unintentionally I answered his question.

    • lol. I write the "first" comment because I know people really hate the "first" comment. so I wrote it as a joke

      Well that failed miserably, didn’t it?

      • shandya

        well IT IS SUPPOSED to be a lame joke!

    • imcrystalclear

      Don't give away the endings or anything else someone else may want to read in the story, please. It only ruins it for others that want to read the story. Thank you.

  • Sci-fi is pretty cool. Traveling through time, living in space, all these things are great because they give us hope for the future. I mean, who wouldn't want a gigantic tube sucking you around a city to whatever location you desire?__This is a totally of subject question but wtf is with all the people with -70p stuff? Do they intentionally do it because they are jacka**'s or are they honestly that stupid, ignorant, and stubborn? Which everone it is, I fudging hate them, or double negative like them.

  • yeah

    Very cool list.

  • Dear site admins – would you please contact me to let me know what I can do so as to not have future comments of mine censored? If it's the swearing, I can censor that myself. But I need to know before I do so.

    • I have sent you an email on the subject. :)

  • Karl

    Nice list.

  • Someone needs to write a book SO out of this world, that it will break minds after it has been absorbed! If only. Great list.

  • you usually don't watch books. Reading them is usually more beneficial to absorbing the material

  • IdontCare

    Jfrater’s a freak. Not such a nice one either, it would seem :p

    • oliveralbq

      @ idontcare said "Jfrater's a freak. Not such a nice one either, it would seem"___

      _what the hell are you talking about?

      either youre kidding (and have a good dry sense of humour), or you are
      on the same intellectual level as my 5 year old nephew who tried to trade me
      a quarter for 7 of my pennies because i had 'more things'

    • Hmm – what did I do to raise your ire?

    • Weirdo…

  • "Unlike fantasy, which had a clear genre launcher in J.R.R. Tolkien"


    • Genres weren't defined until at least the Victorian era, but weren't really solidified in many cases for decades later. While numerous fantasy novels were published BEFORE Tolkien, Tolkien – without a doubt – solidified the genre, and hence forth, launched it in terms of what was considered "fantasy". Even today, when saying "what counts as fantasy?" the Lord of the Rings model is used (versus, say, Verne and Wells, who were the definitive genre launchers of science fiction).

  • gravyleg

    I'm curious how your bonus book missed the cut off date for the article, when it was published in 1871? didn't YOU miss the cut off date? don't blame the book…

    • I needed a cut off date, and 1864 was the most obvious choice in that regard. Unlike Tolkien, whose "Hobbit" was a very definitive point in the defining of fantasy, there was no single book by Verne or Wells that said "here's sci-fi" (although many would argue for it). Verne's first MAJOR work, though, was published in 1864, so that was the most obvious date to choose.

  • Hi, I know this is more 'science fantasy' but I got to see the original Beowulf in the British Library this weekend. Epic!

  • This was a fun list to read. I'm looking forward to reading the one that have links to them. I love to read and love to read science fiction. Thank you, ophiucha, you did a great job without giving away too much of the story, just enough information to make me want to read them.

  • Martin

    Something on this page makes my CPU Usage go off the chart! In Firefox, win 7.

    It¨s not happening anything weird when I'm on the main page but its only this page.

    Also, the "Stop Loading button" in my Firefox keeps going on and off and the loading bar at the bottom is like trying to load something except it doesnt.

    So wasup?

  • Awesome! All look ver y interesting, especially Mary Shelley's "The Last Man".

  • laura

    very interesting read! I just wanted to thank the contributor for not including "the holy bible" or other religious texts on this list.

  • sdf

    i know its only a short story, but the greek tale of Icarus should be on this list as wekk

  • June

    Glad to see The Last Man on this list! Potential readers should be aware that Mary Shelley likes to go on a bit, though…

  • Sean

    I'm glad someone noticed The Blazing World. Cavendish is by far underappreciated and underrecognized.

  • kefka1337

    Does "Dante: The Divine Comedy" count?

  • Pete

    RE: the bonus story "The Coming Race".

    The word "Vril" is actually still in common use. Combined with the word "Bovine" (meaning – of cows or cow-like) it gives us the word – BOVRIL! (if you arn't british, its a sort of beef-derived spread, you can also make a hot drink from it.)

    Yes, this really is where the name comes from :)

  • Karl Kapler
  • Kaylie

    Number four was included in the PS2 game ‘Ookami’.

    • Kaylie

      Oops! My bad guys! I mean that number 6 was included in the PS2 game ‘Ookami’.