March 12, 2024

Under the direction of HILOBROW’s Josh Glenn, the MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE series is reissuing notable proto-sf stories from the underappreciated era between 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 will recontextualize the breakthroughs and biases of these proto-sf pioneers, and chart the emergence of a burgeoning literary genre.

Today marks the publication of the following Radium Age series title…


Edited & and Translated by BODHISATTVA CHATTOPADHYAY
(March 12, 2024)

The first English translation of a cult science fiction favorite by Hemendrakumar Roy, one of the giants of early Bangla literature, and other sf stories from the colonial period in India.

Kalpavigyan — science fiction written to excite Bengali speakers about science, as well as to persuade them to evolve beyond the limitations of religion, caste, and class — became popular in the early years of the twentieth century. Translated into English for the first time, in this collection you’ll discover The Inhumans (1935), Hemendrakumar Roy’s satirical novella about a lost race of Bengali supermen in Uganda. Also included are Jagadananda Ray’s “Voyage to Venus” (1895), Nanigopal Majumdar’s “The Mystery of the Giant” (1931), and Manoranjan Bhattacharya’s “The Martian Purana” (1931).

The Inhumans represented a genuine moment of science fiction’s arrival in interwar Bengal — a region caught up in the brutality of imperial backlash against accelerating waves of enlightened self-determination.” — Anindita Banerjee, author of Science Fiction Circuits of the South and East

“This anthology of Bengali science fiction captures the timelessness of human speculation. The stories explore and interrogate many of the same questions we have today, and Chattopadhyay’s translation perfectly evokes the language of the Radium Era.” — S. B. Divya, Hugo- and Nebula-nominated author of Machinehood

Press for The Inhumans includes the following…

“Offers a valuable peek into genre history.” — Publishers Weekly

“A welcome expansion of speculative fiction for anglophone readers.” — Words Without Borders

“Makes for a great introduction to this moment in SF history.” — Reactor (formerly

“Contains a number of stories never before published in English, and it looks like a fascinating read.” — Transfer Orbit

Inhumans editor and translator Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay was interviewed about the project in Clarkesworld. Excerpt: “I think what might surprise readers of the book is how closely connected SF literary cultures were in the early twentieth century. While the works have distinct Bengali characteristics, as well as Indian mythological references, influences from Anglophone SF, and Anglophone adventure literature are omnipresent.”

“Chattopadhyay’s collection will add to [Bengali science fiction] canon in English and is sure to appeal to fans of sci-fi and general readers alike.” — Kajal Magazine


BODHISATTVA CHATTOPADHYAY is Associate Professor in Global Culture Studies at the University of Oslo. He is the leader of CoFUTURES, an international research group on contemporary futurisms headquartered in Oslo. He is a World Fantasy Award-winning editor, translatorm writer, and critic of speculative fiction, and the producer of Kalpavigyan: A Speculative Journey, the first documentary on Indian science fiction.

MANORANJAN BHATTACHARYA (1903–1939) was a fiction writer, translator, and editor who contributed extensively to children’s and young adult literature. He is particularly known for editing the magazine Ramdhanu, which served as one of the main periodicals via which Bangla SF took shape.

NANIGOPAL MAJUMDAR (1897–1938) was an Indian archaeologist and Sanskrit scholar. Known among archaeologists as NGM, he is credited with having discovered numerous Indus Valley Civilization sites.

JAGADANANDA RAY (1869–1933) was a Bengali science writer and author. His story “Voyage to Venus” (1895) was one of the earliest scientific romance stories written in Bangla.

HEMENDRAKUMAR ROY (1888–1963) is a founding figure for Bangla sf as a writer, editor, and translator. “Hemen Roy” also wrote social realist fiction and non-sf genre fiction, not to mention essays on Bengali culture, popular science, and art. Via sf, he popularized scientific and technological breakthroughs and promoted an anti-colonial vision… while criticizing the excesses of nationalist chauvinism. Roy continues to be one of the most widely read figures in Bangla literature.

Cover designed by Seth. See this book at The MIT Press.


RADIUM AGE PROTO-SF FROM THE MIT PRESS: VOICES FROM THE RADIUM AGE, ed. Joshua Glenn | J.D. Beresford’s A WORLD OF WOMEN | E.V. Odle’s THE CLOCKWORK MAN | H.G Wells’s THE WORLD SET FREE | Pauline Hopkins’s OF ONE BLOOD | J.J. Connington’s NORDENHOLT’S MILLION | Rose Macaulay’s WHAT NOT | Cicely Hamilton’s THEODORE SAVAGE | Arthur Conan Doyle’s THE LOST WORLD & THE POISON BELT | G.K. Chesterton’s THE NAPOLEON OF NOTTING HILL | MORE VOICES FROM THE RADIUM AGE, ed. Joshua Glenn | William Hope Hodgson’s THE NIGHT LAND | Hemendrakumar Roy’s THE INHUMANS | Charlotte Haldane’s MAN’S WORLD | Francis Stevens’s THE HEADS OF CERBERUS & OTHER STORIES | Edward Shanks’s THE PEOPLE OF THE RUINS | J.D. Beresford’s THE HAMPDENSHIRE WONDER | John Taine’s THE GREATEST ADVENTURE | Marietta Shaginyan’s MESS-MEND | & more to come.

RADIUM AGE PROTO-SF: “Radium Age” is Josh Glenn’s name for the nascent sf genre’s c. 1900–1935 era, a period which saw the discovery of radioactivity, i.e., the revelation that matter itself is constantly in movement — a fitting metaphor for the first decades of the 20th century, during which old scientific, religious, political, and social certainties were shattered. More info here.


Kudos, Radium Age SF