December 23, 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 4Q2023.


During 4Q2023, the series’ two Spring 2024 titles went to press:

  • THE INHUMANS AND OTHER STORIES: A SELECTION OF BENGALI SCIENCE FICTION (March 12, edited and translated by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay). “A genuine moment of science fiction’s arrival in interwar Bengal.” — Anindita Banerjee. Cover illustration by Seth. See this title at the MIT Press website.
  • Charlotte Haldane’s MAN’S WORLD (March 12, introduced by Philippa Levine). “The whole of human relations are regulated by science in this book, and the process appears to be successful and quite inhuman.” — The Spectator (1926). Cover illustration by Seth. See this title at the MIT Press website.


Also during 4Q2023, the series two Fall 2024 titles went through MITP’s copy-editing and proof-reading process:

  • Edward Shanks’s THE PEOPLE OF THE RUINS (August 6, introduced by Paul March-Russell). “The first of the many British postwar novels that foresee Britain returned to barbarism by the ravages of war.” — Anatomy of Wonder. Cover illustration by Seth. See this title at the MIT Press website.
  • Francis Stevens’s THE HEADS OF CERBERUS AND OTHER STORIES (Sept. 17, edited and introduced by Lisa Yaszek). “Those who insist on the close reasoning and the satirical wit of modern science fiction will find surprising amounts of both here.” — Damon Knight, In Search of Wonder. Cover illustration by Seth. See this title at the MIT Press website.


PS: The series’ two Spring 2025 titles are listed on this page. They’re ready to enter the copy-editing and proof-reading process; and Josh and Seth have begun discussing the cover art….


During 4Q2023, in addition to researching stories for potential future publication (and in some cases, translation), Josh published the following research-in-progress posts at HILOBROW.

Salvador Dali’s Birth of Liquid Anxieties (1932)

Below is a selection of the poetry reprinted, during 4Q2023, via Josh’s ongoing series RADIUM AGE POETRY:

Valery Bryusov’s DUSK | John Lehmann’s THIS EXCELLENT MACHINE | Jean Toomer’s HER LIPS ARE COPPER WIRE | D.H. Lawrence’s RELATIVITY | Clark Ashton Smith’s AFTERWARDS | Rudyard Kipling’s MACDONOUGH’S SONG | Archibald MacLeish’s EPISTLE TO BE LEFT TO THE EARTH | and others.

To see the full series lineup, organized thematically into such categories as CATASTROPHE and FAR-OUT MATHEMATICS, please visit this page.


Production image from the play BLOOD AND IRON

For over a decade now, HILOBROW has serialized some of Josh’s favorite Radium Age proto-sf stories. Here’s the 4Q2023 lineup:


Brookline Booksmith, October 2

The Golden Notebook (Woodstock, NY), Dec. 17

It’s always a pleasure to spot RADIUM AGE titles in the wild….

During 4Q2023, the series’ titles received the following publicity.

  • In an October 6 roundup of spooky stories for the Halloween season, Michael Dirda of The Washington Post mentioned two recent Radium Age titles: More Voices from the Radium Age (“Reprints, among other good things, A. Merritt’s ‘The People of the Pit,’ a story that could have served as the template for half of Lovecraft’s contributions to Weird Tales“) and The Night Land (“William Hope Hodgson’s extravagantly baroque vision of a desolate future Earth”).
  • In November, Josh was interviewed by Miranda Melcher for England’s NEW BOOKS NETWORK podcast. Excerpt:

    Let me also mention Francis Stevens’s novella The Heads of Cerberus, in which three characters travel from the present time to a far-future Philadelphia, which has become a kind of fascist city-state. I bring this up because we recently had some poll results from Pennsylvania about the next presidential contest that make me quite worried about where that state is headed.

  • In the December (50th anniversary!) issue of England’s Fortean Times, a magazine that “chronicles the stranger side of life,” David V. Barrett reviews The Napoleon of Notting Hill like so: “A fascinating study of arrogance and folly, of progress and tradition and, oddly, of human nature itself.”
  • On December 2, Josh attended the TWELVE TOMORROWS / MIT MUSEUM event event Write Science: Twelve Tomorrows: How Science Fiction uses Today’s Technology to Envision the Future. (Twelve Tomorrows is an annual anthology of science fiction short stories published by the MIT Press in partnership with Technology Review.) Hugo and Nebula Award-winning authors Elizabeth Bear (who contributes to the 2023 Twelve Tomorrows), James Patrick Kelly, Suzanne Palmer, and [RADIUM AGE series advisor] Ken Liu reflected on the value and utility of using science fiction and cutting-edge research to imagine the future and interrogate the present. William Alexander moderated. Afterwards, Josh went out for a lovely dinner with the entire group — he’s grateful to MITP publicist David Olsen for inviting him along.


On to 1Q2024…

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