Medieval Science Fiction

June 2016
9 colour illustrations
328 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780953983889
Format: Hardback
Kings College London Medieval Studies
BISAC LIT011000, LIT004260

Medieval Science Fiction

Edited by Carl Kears, James Paz

Essays looking at the idea of "science fiction" as it can be applied to medieval texts, and the synergies between the genres.
This volume brings two areas of study that have traditionally been kept apart into explosive contact. For the first time, it draws the historical literatures and cultures of the Middle Ages into the orbit of modern science fiction, aligning the cosmologies, technologies and wonders of the past with visions of the future. The essays it contains consider where, how and why "science" and "fiction" interact in medieval literature; they explore the ways in which works of modern science fiction illuminate medieval counterparts; and they also identify the presence and absence of the medieval past in science-fiction history and criticism. From the science and fictions of Beowulf to the medieval and post-medieval appearances of the Green Children of Woolpit; from time travel in the legend of the Seven Sleepers to the medievalism of Star Trek; from manmade marvels in medieval manuscripts to the blurring of medieval magic and futuristic technology in tales of the dying earth, the chapters repeatedly rethink the simplistic divides that have been set up between modern and pre-modern texts. They uncover striking resonances across time and space while also revealing how arguably the two most popular genres of today, science fiction and fantasy, have been constructed around conceptions, and misconceptions, of the Middle Ages.

JAMES PAZ is Lecturer in Early Medieval English Literature at the University of Manchester; CARL KEARS is currently based at King's College London, where he teaches Old and Middle English Literature.

Contributors: Daniel Anlezark, Mary Baine Campbell, Guy Consolmagno, Denis Ferhatovic, Michel F. Flynn, Alison Harthill, Patricia Clare Ingham, Minsoo Kang, R.M. Liuzza, Jeff Massey, James Paz, Andy Sawyer, Andrew Scheil

Table of Contents

Medieval Science Fiction: An Impossible Fantasy?
Is Beowulf Science Fiction?
The Future is a Foreign Country: The Legend of the Seven Sleepers and the Anglo-Saxon Sense of the Past
Untimely Travel: Living and Dying in Connie Willis's Doomsday Book
"On Second Thought, Let's Not Go to Camelot... `Tis a Silly Space": Star Trek and the Inconsequence of SF Medievalism
"Those two green children which Nubrigensis speaks of in his time, that fell from heavem", or the Origins of Science Fiction
Aliens and Anglo-Saxons in Edwin Morgan's "The First Men on Mercury"
The Riddle of Medieval Technology
Dreams of War, Dreams of Dragons' Fire: Conrad Kyeser's Bellefortis
Courtly Love on Mars: E.R. Burroughs and the Medieval Lineage of Planetary Romance
The Medieval Dying Earth
Catapunk: Toward a Medieval Aesthetic of Science Fiction
Medieval Cosmology and World Building
Discovering Eifelheim


The choice to bring in scientific, historic, and philosophical texts as well as literary works is a strength of this anthology, giving it a breadth that is sometimes lacking in academic anthologies even in a diverse field like medieval studies. Paz and Kears have put together an excellent, interdisciplinary volume that emphasizes the wide range of approaches we can take as the study of medievalism continues to develop. MEDIEVALLY SPEAKING