Joshua Glenn

Joshua Glenn, writer and semiotician, is the editor of the Radium Age series and the publisher of HiLobrow. He is the coauthor several books, including The Idler's Glossary and Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun.

  • Voices from the Radium Age

    Voices from the Radium Age

    Joshua Glenn

    A collection of science fiction stories from the early twentieth century by authors ranging from Arthur Conan Doyle to W. E. B. Du Bois.

    This collection of science fiction stories from the early twentieth century features work by the famous (Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes), the no-longer famous (“weird fiction" pioneer William Hope Hodgson), and the should-be-more famous (Bengali feminist Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain). It offers stories by writers known for concerns other than science fiction (W. E. B. Du Bois, author of The Souls of Black Folk) and by writers known only for pulp science fiction (the prolific Neil R. Jones). These stories represent what volume and series editor Joshua Glenn has dubbed “the Radium Age”—the period when science fiction as we know it emerged as a genre. The collection shows that nascent science fiction from this era was prescient, provocative, and well written.

    Readers will discover, among other delights, a feminist utopia predating Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland by a decade in Hossain's story, “Sultana's Dream”; a world in which the human population has retreated underground, in E. M. Forster's “The Machine Stops”; an early entry in the Afrofuturist subgenre in Du Bois's last-man-on-Earth tale, “The Comet”; and the first appearance of Jones's cryopreserved Professor Jameson, who despairs at Earth's wreckage but perseveres—in a metal body—to appear in thirty-odd more stories.

    Contents

    Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, “Sultana's Dream” (1905)William Hope Hodgson, “The Voice in the Night” (1907)E. M. Forster, “The Machine Stops” (1909)Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Horror of the Heights” (1913)Jack London, “The Red One” (1918)W. E. B. Du Bois, “The Comet” (1920)Neil R. Jones, “The Jameson Satellite” (1931)

    • Paperback $19.95

Contributor

  • Nordenholt's Million

    J. J. Connington

    As a bacteria threatens to wipe out humankind, a plutocrat sets himself up as the benignant dictator of a survivalist colony.

    In this novel originally published in 1923, as denitrifying bacteria inimical to plant growth spreads around the world, toppling civilizations and threatening to wipe out humankind, the British plutocrat Nordenholt sets himself up as the benignant dictator of a ruthlessly efficient, entirely undemocratic, survivalist colony established in Scotland's Clyde Valley. Discovering just how far their employer is willing to go in his effort to spare one million lives, Jack Flint, the colony's director of operations, and Elsa Huntingtower, Nordenholt's personal assistant, are forced to grapple with the question of whether a noble end justifies dastardly means.

    • Paperback $19.95
  • The World Set Free

    The World Set Free

    H. G. Wells

    In a novel written on the eve of World War I, H. G. Wells imagines a war “to end all wars” that begins in atomic apocalypse but ends in an enlightened utopia.

    Writing in 1913, on the eve of World War I's mass slaughter and long before World War II's mushroom cloud finale, H. G. Wells imagined a war that begins in atomic apocalypse but ends in a utopia of enlightened world government. Set in the 1950s, Wells's neglected novel The World Set Free describes a conflict so horrific that it actually is the war that ends war.

    Wells—the first to imagine a “uranium-based bomb”—offers a prescient description of atomic warfare that renders cities unlivable for years: “Whole blocks of buildings were alight and burning fiercely, the trembling, ragged flames looking pale and ghastly and attenuated in comparison with the full-bodied crimson glare beyond.” Drawing on discoveries by physicists and chemists of the time, Wells foresees both a world powered by clean, plentiful atomic energy—and the destructive force of the neutron chain reaction.

    With a cast of characters including Marcus Karenin, the moral center of the narrative; Firmin, a proto-Brexiteer; and Egbert, the visionary young British monarch, Wells dramatizes a world struggling for sanity. Wells's supposedly happy ending—a planetary government presided over by European men—may not appeal to contemporary readers, but his anguish at the world's self-destructive tendencies will strike a chord.

    • Paperback $19.95
  • The Clockwork Man

    The Clockwork Man

    E. V. Odle

    In the first-ever novel about a cyborg, a machine-enhanced man from a multiverse of the far future visits 1920s England.

    In 1920s England, a strange being crashes a village cricket game. After some glitchy, jerky attempts to communicate, this creature reveals that he is a machine-enhanced human from a multiverse thousands of years in the future. The mechanism implanted in his skull has malfunctioned, sending him tumbling through time onto the green grass of the cricket field. Apparently in the future, at the behest of fed-up women, all men will be controlled by an embedded “clockwork,” camouflaged with hats and wigs. Published in 1923, The Clockwork Man—the first cyborg novel—tells the story of this odd time traveler's visit.

    Spending time with two village couples about to embark upon married life, the Clockwork Man warns that because men of the twentieth century are so violent, sexist, and selfish, in the not-too-distant future they will be banned from physical reality. They will inhabit instead a virtual world—what we'd now call the Singularity—in which their every need is met, but love is absent. Will the Clockwork Man's tale lead his new friends to reconsider technology, gender roles, sex, and free will?

    Overshadowed in its own time by Karel Čapek's sensational 1923 play R.U.R., about a robot uprising, The Clockwork Man is overdue for rediscovery.

    • Paperback $19.95
  • A World of Women

    A World of Women

    J. D. Beresford

    When a plague wipes out most of the world's male population and civilization crumbles, women struggle to build an agrarian community in the English countryside.

    Imagine a plague that brings society to a standstill by killing off most of the men on Earth. The few men who survive descend into lechery and atavism. Meanwhile, a group of women (accompanied by one virtuous male survivor) leave the wreckage of London to start fresh, establishing a communally run agrarian outpost. But their sexist society hasn't permitted most of them to learn any useful skills—will the commune survive their first winter? This is the bleak world imagined in 1913 by English writer J. D. Beresford—one that has particular resonance for the planet's residents in the 2020s. This edition of A World of Women offers twenty-first century readers a new look at a neglected classic.

    Beresford introduces us to the solidly bourgeois, prim and proper, Gosling family. As once-bustling London shuts down—Parliament closes, factories grind to a halt, nature reclaims stone and steel—the paterfamilias Mr. Gosling adopts a life of libertinism while his daughters in the countryside struggle to achieve a radically transformed and improved, egalitarian and feminist future.

    • Paperback $19.95