Novels like 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Martian Chronicles have had, and continue to have, a tremendous impact on the way readers view outer space and space exploration.
In honor of Space Exploration Month, Questia, the premier online research tool for students, has granted access to content on or by their library’s top five most researched science fiction authors for free for an entire month.
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Ray Bradbury was born in 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. His family moved often, finally relocating to California where Bradbury enrolled in Los Angeles High School and became active in the areas of writing and drama. It was in high school that Bradbury began to publish short stories, poetry and articles, in addition to becoming a member of the Los Angeles Science Fiction League. “The late 1940s and 1950s were when much of his best-known work was written and published: The Martian Chronicles (1950), The Illustrated Man (1951), Fahrenheit 451 (1953), and Dandelion Wine (1957)” (Reid 3). Ray Bradbury passed away on June 5, 2012 in Los Angeles at the age of 91 after a long, successful career marked by numerous awards, honors, and the translation of his pieces into nearly thirty different languages. [Reid, Robin Anne. Ray Bradbury: A Critical Companion. Westport, CT: GreenwoodPress, 2000. Questia. Web.]
Though he authored works in numerous genres in addition to science fiction, H.G. Wells is considered one of the pioneers of the genre.The First Men in the Moon was published at the beginning of the 20th century and is what is referred to as a “scientific romance,” a genre that Wells visited often. It tells the story of two men in the English countryside that journey to the moon. “I take it the reader has seen pictures or photographs of the moon, so that I need not describe the broader features of that landscape, those spacious ringlike ranges vaster than any terrestrial mountains, their summits shining in the day, their shadows harsh and deep, the grey disordered plains, the ridges, hills, and craterlets, all passing at last from a blazing illumination into a common mystery of black” (Wells 70). [Wells, H. G. The First Men in the Moon. London: Macmillan, 1904. Questia. Web.]
Born on February 8, 1928 and having authored famous novels like A Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days andTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne is thought by many to be the one responsible for pioneering the genre of science fiction. One of the earlier science fiction works, From the Earth to the Moon, tackles space travel after the American Civil War. [Verne, Jules. From the Earth to the Moon: And Round the Moon. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1962. Questia. Web.]
Born on December 16, 1917, Arthur C. Clarke is best known for his classic novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, among others. “Like many of the early rocket pioneers, Clarke had been inspired by the science fiction vision of the world evoked in the works of Verne and Wells. He wrote technologically-based science fiction in order to promote this future to a wider public” (Poole 39). Clarke strongly believed that science fiction, including his own works, played a large role in public support of the space program. “The distinguishing feature of Clarke’s own science fiction had always been his combination of technological realism with a sense of wonder and what he called ‘a search for ultimate’ values'” (Poole 39). Clarke passed away in March of 2008 at the age of 90. [Poole, Robert. “2001 a Space Odyssey.” History Today Jan. 2001: 39. Questia. Web.]
Robert Heinlein was born on July 7, 1907 in Butler,Missouri, and is the author of numerous science fiction books for both children and adults, including Have Spacesuit – Will Travel and Stranger in a Strange Land. “Some scholars argue that Robert A. Heinlein was the most influential writer of the 20th Century” (Price). It has been noted that one can find a Heinlein reference for many modern day occurrences, meaning that the author was thinking well beyond his time. The author of the piece notes a specific instance having to do with Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. “In this 1966 novel, Heinlein’s revolutionary war leader was Adam Selene, who was not human, but entirely computer generated. It’s interesting to note that Heinlein created Adam Selene two decades before the computer-animated TV character Max Headroom and long before today’s avatars” (Price). Heinlein passed away in 1988. [Price, Cynthia. “A Heinlein Child Pays Homage to the Master.” ETC.: A Review of General Semantics 64.4 (2007): 349+. Questia. Web.]
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