THE TIMELINE: An Entirely Accurate but Partially Incomplete and Definitely Biased History of Science Fiction
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THE TIMELINE: An Entirely Accurate but Partially Incomplete and Definitely Biased History of Science Fiction

This article originally appeared at The Interplanetary Railroad.

Amazing Stories: February 1947

1818 - Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley publishes Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. It is often considered to be the first true science fiction novel.

1870 - Jules Verne publishes Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.

1895 - H. G. Wells' novel The Time Machine: An Invention is published.

1921 - The word "robot" is used for the first time in the Czech play R.U.R. by Karel Capek. It is derived from the Czech word robota which means "statute labour."

1926 - In the premier issue (April) of Amazing Stories Hugo Gernsback defines a term he has recently coined: "scientifiction." This term soon evolves into "science fiction."

1926 - Director Fritz Lang releases the influential SF film Metropolis.

1937 - The legendary editor John W. Campbell Jr takes charge of the magazine Astounding Science-Fiction. His leadership inaugurates what is often known as "The Golden Age of Science Fiction" and helps start the careers of numerous influential SF writers such as Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein.

1938 - Orson Welles presents a radio drama based on H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, in the form of a news broadcast. Unfortunately, many listeners mistakenly believe they are hearing a real newscast about actual martian invaders.

1939 - The first World Science Fiction Convention is held in New York.

1941 - Isaac Asimov publishes the short story "Nightfall," in Astounding Science-Fiction. It is now among the most famous SF short stories of all time.

1950 - Ray Bradbury publishes the book The Martian Chronicles, a brilliant and influential collection of interconnected stories which relate the history of humanity's exploration and colonization of the red planet.

1966 - NBC broadcasts the first episode of Gene Roddenberry's highly influential television program, Star Trek.

1968 - Director Stanley Kubrick releases the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, based loosely on the short story The Sentinel by Arthur C. Clarke. Shortly thereafter, Clarke publishes a novel based on the film.

1977 - George Lucas releases his ultrapopular film, Star Wars, and changes the look of summer entertainment forever.

1982 - This year sees the release of numerous important SF films, including Steven Spielberg's megahit ET: The Extraterrestrial, the influential Blade Runner (which is credited with jump-starting the cyberpunk movement), Tron (which was the first film to make extensive use of CGI special effects), and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (which many consider to be the best of the Trek movies).

1985 - Orson Scott Card publishes his novel Ender's Game, which is based on a short story he published in 1977.

1997 - The brilliant websites The Interplanetary Railroad and Talkin' Smeg are founded by Argus Skyhawk.

1999 - After having generously handed control of the aforementioned sites over to Realm Scribe Shadren and §amantha, Argus founds a new site, The Rings of Saturn. It goes on to become the most popular site on the internet.

The information in this timeline was compiled from various sources, but most of it comes from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction by John Clute and Peter Nicholls.

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