Saturday, 7 September 2013

20th Century Tales: A Beginning

Old Books!

That's what this blog is about. Sci-fi, fantasy and magic realism from the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. 

Books with amazing illustrations that didn't just limp weakly off the LOTR movies, work by artists like Jeff Easley, Rodney Matthews, Josh Kirby...

This blog isn't about the classics of literature, contemporary fiction or politics, ideologies or the computer games that I've played. This blog is an attempt to review and renew interest in those 20th century tales (i.e. fantasy, science fiction, magic realism, horror) that may be doomed to be forgotten in this period of digital transition.

I read an article once about the books that might not ever be considered 'classic' or 'literary', but which have managed to survive through a pure belovedness amongst their readers (The Lord of the Rings is a perfect example). In this age of near universal electronic media, a number of beloved but less famous books may disappear into the olde world of print. 

These kinds of books are likely to be swamped by what has come to be called the Age of Distraction, where there is just too much digital media trying to catch our attention.
While a lot of great old books are still in print, there are hundreds of lesser known but no less talented, original and innovative authors who are at risk of falling to the wayside. The SF and Fantasy Masterworks series published by Millennium (Orion Group) is a great place to start. Another company dedicated to the preservation of books that might be lost in the transfer of information to digital storage is Dodo Press, one of the publishing arms of The Book Depository (Amazon owned).

A lot of older books however are unknown by the casual sci-fi or fantasy reader and if you don't know what you are looking for, it becomes nearly impossible to find a lesser known book
especially in today's huge online databases.

I come from a bookish background: my parents encouraged me to read books as a child, I was good at English in primary school and truly appalling in high school. After that, I studied English, Literature and Creative Writing at university. During all this, I learned that there are a lot of ways for us to remember the 'classics' of literature. We will never ever ever ever forget Shakespeare or Proust or Orwell, they are absolutely safe. But my favourite sci-fi books from the 80s? Pffft. Good luck.

The focus of this blog then, is to review the classics of science fiction, magic realism and fantasy of the 20th century
books that were very much beloved at the time. Some reviews will be of books that are very much still in print, but which I feel could be granted a new perspective by my review. Others may be so forgotten that they will only be available at your local second-hand store or interweb site. I will attempt to shy away from immensely popular 20th century books that will obviously be kept alive e.g. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but it's not a hard-and-fast rule. 

I am also only working off what I know, so feel free to email me with recommendations or requests that I haven't covered! I’ll do my best to track them down and give a response.


  1. fantastic project - based on loyalty to loved authors - where one has had the idea that these books loved us in return - in a world that is less than loving in general

  2. Awesome!!

    I have found it reasonably easy to dig out some of the classics as .epub files and read them on the train, in the car or anywhere which I think is great.

    True some of the more obscure stuff might be difficult to find but i've found Edgar Rice-Burroughs, Conan-Doyle, Joseph Conrad and a raft of late 1800, early 1900 writers stuff without having to try too hard.

    Looking forward to reading more write ups though as you've already given me a bunch of writers I haven't read before!!

    Bren :)

    1. Really happy that the blog's helped in some way, Bren!