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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

Saturday cute: the entire history of science fiction distilled

Is it an alien? Is it a manifestation of an elder god? Is it a deformed octopus? What is it?

It is, seen from afar, artist Ward Shelley’s brilliant infographic detailing the history of science fiction, from its roots in the fear and wonder of early humans to the Enlightenment to the Gothic novel to space opera to cyberpunk. Just a tiny snippet:

Cliff Kuang at Co.Design explains why this is so amazing:

[I]n lesser hands, the chart might have simply been a record of all the various strains of sci-fi as we know it. But Shelley is as much a historian as he is an artist, and he tracks the very first flowering of sci-fi to the Enlightenment’s fascination with science, which begat Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which begat Jules Verne:

(I shrunk this down a bit to make it fit here. Kuang’s got a larger version, or you can see the full piece at full size here.)

Shelley manages to encapsulate dozens of PhD’s in just that little bit of real-estate — just witness all the counter movements that attend the Enlightenment.


(Thanks to Roz for the heads-up. Got a photo or image that’s adorable and at least vaguely pop-culture related? Found such a photo online? Send a link or an image, and I might post it!)

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