June 28, 2023

Under the direction of HILOBROW’s Josh Glenn, in 2022 the MIT Press launched its RADIUM AGE series of proto-sf reissues from 1900–1935.

In these forgotten classics, sf readers will discover the origins of enduring tropes like robots (berserk or benevolent), tyrannical supermen, dystopias and apocalypses, sinister telepaths, and eco-catastrophes. With new contributions by historians, science journalists, and sf authors, the RADIUM AGE book series recontextualizes the breakthroughs and biases of these proto-sf pioneers, and charts the emergence of a burgeoning literary genre.


Below, please find updates on the RADIUM AGE project from 2Q2023.


During 2Q2023, Josh collaborated with Noah Springer and the rest of the extremely competent MIT Press team to send the following titles to press:

  • G.K. Chesterton’s THE NAPOLEON OF NOTTING HILL (1904), with a new introduction by Madeline Ashby. Cover illustration by Seth. “More modern than the moderns, more medieval than the medievalists, funnier than all of them — reading Chesterton today is like watching someone give a speech of unimpeachable common sense from the bridge of a departing UFO.” — Atlantic columnist James Parker. Coming August 1. See this title at the MIT Press website.
  • MORE VOICES FROM THE RADIUM AGE, edited and introduced by Joshua Glenn. Cover illustration by Seth. A planetary escape pod, an alien body-snatcher, an underground Alaskan city, and a war between the sexes in Atlantis! Includes stories by Algernon Blackwood, Valery Bryusov, George Allan England, Abraham Merritt, Edith Nesbit, May Sinclair, Booth Tarkington, George C. Wallis, and H.G. Wells. Coming August 1. See this title at the MIT Press website.
  • William Hope Hodgson’s THE NIGHT LAND (1912), with a new introduction by Erik Davis. Cover illustration by Seth. “For all its flaws and idiosyncracies, The Night Land is utterly unsurpassed, unique, astounding. A mutant vision like nothing else there has ever been.” — China Miéville. Coming August 15. See this title at the MIT Press website.


Josh also collaborated with the MIT Press team on proofing the series’ Spring 2024 titles: The Inhumans and Other Stories: A Selection of Bengali Science Fiction (March 12, edited and translated by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay) and Charlotte Haldane’s Man’s World (March 12, introduced by Philippa Levine).


During 2Q2023, Josh worked with Ted Chiang, S.L. Huang, Lisa Yaszek, and Paul March-Russell on edits to their introductions for four Fall 2024 and Spring 2025 titles (to be announced). He also submitted the manuscripts for the series’ Fall 2024 titles; and he and MITP’s Noah Springer pitched two Spring 2026 titles to the MITP editorial board.

More info on forthcoming RADIUM AGE series titles here.


During 2Q2023, Josh continued to research stories and novels for potential future publication.


Arguably the highest resolution image of the 1919 eclipse. More info.

HILOBROW published new installments in the RADIUM AGE POETRY series.

Here’s the 2Q2023 lineup:

D.H. Lawrence’s BOMBARDMENT | Robert Graves’s WELSH INCIDENT | D.H. Lawrence’s TO LET GO OR TO HOLD ON —? | Nancy Cunard’s ZEPPELINS | W.J. Turner’s MISS AMERICA | Julian Huxley’s TO A DANCER | W.B. Yeats’s SAILING TO BYZANTIUM | John Collings Squire’s THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST | D.H. Lawrence’s WELLSIAN FUTURES | Julian Huxley’s COSMIC DEATH | Robinson Jeffers’s SCIENCE | D.H. Lawrence’s SUBURBS ON A HAZY DAY | A.S. Eddington’s ONE THING IS CERTAIN | Rudyard Kipling’s THE TRADE | Emil Raymond’s REFRACTION OF LIGHT | D.H. Lawrence’s THE TRIUMPH OF THE MACHINE.

PS: Here’s a new page where you’ll find all poems from this HILOBROW series sorted into Radium Age sf-ish themes such as CATASTROPHE, COSMIC AWE, DEHUMANIZATION, FAR-OUT MATHEMATICS, SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH, and SINGULARITY.


Hannah Hoch’s Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany (1919)

Josh has also been researching art works from c. 1900–1935, the form and subject of which seem to suggest Radium Age sf-ish themes such as (again) CATASTROPHE, COSMIC AWE, DEHUMANIZATION, FAR-OUT MATHEMATICS, SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH, and SINGULARITY. Later this year, HILOBROW will launch a series dedicated to his findings.


In June we added the page SISTERS OF THE RADIUM AGE — an amazing resource of proto-sf stories by women; compiled by Lisa Yaszek and her students.

AI-assisted illustration by HILOBROW

Here at HILOBROW, as we have been doing for a decade now, during 2Q2023 we serialized a few favorite Radium Age proto-sf stories and novels. Here’s the lineup:


Here’s what they’re saying about the series:

“Joshua Glenn’s admirable Radium Age series [is] devoted to early- 20th-century science fiction and fantasy.” — Michael Dirda, Washington Post | “Neglected classics of early 20th-century sci-fi in spiffily designed paperback editions.” — The Financial Times | “New editions of a host of under-discussed classics of the genre.” — Tor.com | “The best proto-science fiction novels and stories from 1900 to 1935.” — The Washington Post. | “Long live the Radium Age.” — Scott Bradfield, Los Angeles Times | “Shows that ‘proto-sf’ was being published much more widely, alongside other kinds of fiction, in a world before it emerged as a genre and became ghettoised.” — BSFA Review. | “A huge effort to help define a new era of science fiction.” — Transfer Orbit | “It’s an attractive crusade. […] Glenn’s project is well suited to providing an organizing principle for an SF reprint line, to the point where I’m a little surprised that I can’t think of other similarly high-profile examples of reprint-as-critical-advocacy. ” — The Los Angeles Review of Books | “An excellent start at showcasing the strange wonders offered by the Radium Age.” — Maximum Shelf

Here are a handful of 2Q2023 word-spreading examples…

  • On July 14, Josh will participate in several panels at Readercon — an sf convention held each July in the Boston area. Tentatively, these panels include: SF Treasures of the Radium Age (with Annalee Newitz); as well as How We Shape and Reshape Older Works (with Gary Wolfe, John Clute, Nadia Bulkin, and Pat Murphy; Josh is moderator) and The Pyrite Age of Science Fiction (with Gary Wolfe, Graham Sleight, Jeff Hecht, and Robert Killheffer; Josh is moderator).
  • Keep an eye peeled for RADIUM AGE-related interviews with Josh Glenn in Foreword Review’s This Week newsletter and also the sf/f magazine Clarkesworld. Coming later this summer…
  • Rememory Library event

  • The MIT Press donated a stack of copies of the RADIUM AGE edition of Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood to the Rememory Library‘s book giveaway party. The library project is led by Shacoya Kidwell, a Ph.D. student at Cornell who studies “the relationship between adverse atmospheric conditions and oppressive ideologies with specific attention to how Black people inhabit, subvert colonial conceptions of time and space.”
  • 5/27/23

  • RADIUM AGE series friend Kelly Webster spotted this DIY Radium Age series display at a bookstore in Brattleboro, VT. Nice!


On to 3Q2023…


MORE RADIUM AGE SCI FI ON HILOBROW: RADIUM AGE SERIES from THE MIT PRESS: In-depth info on each book in the series; a sneak peek at what’s coming in the months ahead; the secret identity of the series’ advisory panel; and more. | RADIUM AGE: TIMELINE: Notes on proto-sf publications and related events from 1900–1935. | RADIUM AGE POETRY: Proto-sf and science-related poetry from 1900–1935. | RADIUM AGE 100: A list (now somewhat outdated) of Josh’s 100 favorite proto-sf novels from the genre’s emergent Radium Age | SISTERS OF THE RADIUM AGE: A resource compiled by Lisa Yaszek.


Radium Age SF