A Speculative Fiction Timeline

This timeline is not complete, nor is it comprehensive. It is a work in progress. Currently, it is focused on science fiction, but I’ll be adding more information in regards to fantasy and horror as I continue my research.

Pre-1400s

  • 850-600 BC: Iliad and Odyssey by Homer
  • 700-730: Beowulf
  • 1000: Christian’s expect the end of the world
  • 1100s: Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes
  • 1298: Spinning wheel
  • 1300s: Gunpowder introduced in Europe
  • 1321: The Divine Comedy by Dante
  • 1347: Black Death strikes Europe

1400s

Age of Exploration begins

  • c. 1450: Printing press invented by Johannes Gutenberg
  • 1492: Christopher Columbus discovers America for Europe

1500s

  • 1520: August Kotter improved the Rifle
  • 1589: Knitting machine invented by William Lee
  • 1589-1592: Galileo Galilei put forward the basic principle of relativity
  • 1590: Microscope invented by Zacharias Jansen

1600s

  • 1605: Don Quixote by Cervantes
  • 1608: Refracting telescope invented by Hans Lippershey
  • 1609-1619: Laws of planetary motion by Johannes Kepler
  • 1628: Circulation of blood described by William Harvey
  • 1638: The Man in the Moone by Francis Godwin
    The micrometer used with a telescope invented by William Gascoigne
  • 1657: Voyage to the Moon by Cyrano De Bergerac
  • 1661: James Gregory proposes an optical reflecting telescope with parabolic mirrors

1700s

  • 1703: Iter Lunare or A Voyage to the Moon by David Russen
  • 1726: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  • 1741: Nicolai Klimii Iter Subterraneum or Niels Klim’s Underground Travels by Ludvig Holberg
  • 1764: The Castle of Otronto by Horace Walpole (1st Gothic Novel)
    Spinning jenny invented by James Hargreaves
  • 1765: Condensing steam engine invented by James Watt
  • 1771: Memoirs of the Year Two Thousand Five Hundred by Louis-S├ębastien Mercier
  • 1776: Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (scientific method applied to political economy)
  • 1783: Age of Flight begins
    Balloon and parachute
    Steam boat
  • 1789: French Revolution
  • 1793: A Voyage to the Moon by Aratus (the penname of an anonymous British author, not the original Greek scientist)
    Cotton gin invented by Eli Whitney

1800s

  • 1800: Electric battery
  • 1802: Atomic theory, Dalton
  • 1812: Storage battery
  • 1813: A Flight to the Moon by Fowler
  • 1817: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • 1822: Camera, Niepce
    Electric motor
  • 1824: Electromagnet
  • 1826: The Last Man by Shelley
  • 1827: A Voyage to the Moon by Atterley (Tucker)
  • 1830: The Moon Hoax by Locke
  • 1832: Electric generator
  • 1833: “Ms. Found in a Bottle” by Edgar Allan Poe
  • 1835: “Hans Pfaall” by Edgar Allan Poe
    Telegraph
  • 1836: “Three Hundred Years Hence” by Griffith
  • 1838: Arthur Gordan Pym by Edgar Allan Poe
  • 1839: Electrotyping
    Vulcanized rubber
  • 1846: Nitroglycerine
  • 1848: Communist Manifesto by Marx & Engels
  • 1849: Safety pin
    Rifle bullet
  • 1850s: Science of spectroscopy, Kirchshoff & Bunsen
  • 1852: Passenger elevator
  • 1854: Firearm magazine
  • 1855: First submarine telegraph cable
  • 1856: Baseline process of turning iron into steel
  • 1858: “The Diamond Lens” by O’Brien
    Railroad sleeping car
  • 1859: Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin
    Internal combustion engine
    Spectrascope
  • 1860: Steam warship
  • 1862: Dynamite
    Machine gun
  • 1863-1864: Smokeless powder
    Player piano
    Typewriter
    Five Weeks in a Balloon by Jules Verne
  • 1864: A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  • 1865: From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne
  • 1866: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
    Trans-Atlantic Cable
  • 1868: The Steam Man of the Prairies by Ellis
    Refrigerator car
  • 1869: The Brick Moon by Hale
  • 1870: Celluloid, Hyatt
    Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • 1872: Motion pictures, Muybridge & Isaacs
  • 1874: Barbed wire
  • 1876: Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Prairies by Enton
  • 1877: Off on a Comet by Jules Verne
  • 1879: Frank Reade, Jr. and His Steam Wonder by no name (Senarens)
  • 1885: Flatland by Square (Abbott)
  • 1888: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Rober Lewis Stevenson
  • 1889: Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
  • 1895: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
  • 1896: The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells
    Radioactivity in uranium, Becquerel
  • 1897: War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
    The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
  • 1898: Edison’s Conquest of Mars by Serviss
  • 1899: When the Sleeper Wakes by H. G. Wells

1900s

  • 1900: Quantum theory, Planck
    Cellophane
    Dirigible
    Caterpillar tractor
    “The Lost Continent” by Hyne
  • 1901: The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells
    Mercury vapor lamp
  • 1902: Radio telephone
  • 1903: Heavier-than-air machine flown by Wright brothers
    The Food of the Gods by H. G. Wells
    A Round Trip to the Year 2,000 by Cook
  • 1904: Vacuum tube diode
  • 1905: Einstein announces Theory of Relativity
  • 1906: Vacuum tube triode
    Britain launches the Dreadnaught, the first large battleship
    In the Days of the Comet by H. G. Wells
  • 1907: Helicopter
    Bahelite Vacuum cleaner
  • 1908: Model T — “The Universal Car,” “tin lizzie” — costs $850
  • 1909: A Columbus of Space by Serviss
  • 1911: Ralph 1Z4C41+ by GernsbackCombine Air conditioning Gyrocompass
  • 1912: Under the Moons of Mars by Burroughs
  • 1913: Hot filament X-ray tube
    Multimotored airplane
  • 1914: Panama canal
    World War I begins Tank invented
    At the Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • 1915: Radio-tube oscillator
    Arc search-light
  • 1916: Stainless steel
    Model T now costs only $360
  • 1918: The Moon Pool by Meritt
    Mass spectascope
    Automatic electric toaster
  • 1921: R.U.R. by Capek (where we get the word “robot” from)
    Einstein wins the Nobel Prize for his General Theory of Relativity
  • 1922: U.S.S.R. established
    Radar
  • 1923: Weird Tales founded by Hugo Gernsback
    Iconoscope scanner
    Bulldozer
  • 1924: Existence of other galaxies, Hubble
    The Land that Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • 1926: Amazing Stories founded by Hugo Gernsback
  • 1927: Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang
  • 1928: TV image pickup tube, Farnsworth
    Skylark of Space by Smith
    Electric shaver
    Differential analyzer computer
  • 1929: Science Wonder Stories founded by Hugo Gernsback
    Perfection of the rocket engine by R.H. Goddard
    Penicillin
  • 1930: Astounding Stories founded by Lawrence
    Cyclotron
  • 1932: Brave New World by Aldus Huxley
    When Worlds Collide by Balmer & Wylie
    Pirates of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • 1934: The Shape of Things to Come by H. G. Wells
    The Legion of Space by Miles J. Breuer
  • 1935: Synthetic rubber
    Nylon
  • 1937: Campbell named editor of Astounding Stories
    The first planned SF convention takes place in Leeds, Britain
  • 1938-42: Boom in SF magazines
    Orson Welles’s radio version of The War of the Worlds panicks large numbers of people who believed the program to be a real newscast.
  • 1938: The first American SF convention, held in NY
    Xerography
  • 1939: Lest Darkness Fall by DeCamp
    The First world SF convention (Worldcon), held in NY
    Betatron FM broadcasting
    Electron microscope
  • 1940: “The Roads Must Roll” by Robert Heinlein
  • 1941: “Nightfall” by Isaac Asimov
    “Microcosmic God” by Theodore Sturgeon
  • 1942: Foundation by Isaac Asimov
    Controlled fission of uranium
  • 1944: The Pocket Book of Science Fiction by Wollheim
  • 1945: Atom bomb, Oppenheimer and others
  • 1947: The Best of Science Fiction by Conklin
    1984 by George Orwell
    Adventures in Time and Space by Healy & McComas
  • 1948: Worldcon held in Canada
    Westercon started
    “Mars Is Heaven” by Ray Bradbury
  • 1949: Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction founded by Boucher & McComus
  • 1949-53: Boom in SF magazines
  • 1950: Galaxy Science Fiction founded by Gold
    “Coming Attraction” by Leiber
    Midwestcon started
    Disclave started
  • 1951: New Tales of Space and Time by Healy
    Eastercon started in Britain
  • 1952: The Space Merchants by Pohl and Kornbluth
  • 1953: Star Science Fiction created by Pohl
    Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
  • 1954: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • 1957: Sputnik launched, U.S.S.R.
    Worldcon held in Britain
    Lunacon started in New York
  • 1960: A Canticle for Leibowitz by Miller
  • 1961: First man in orbit, Gargarin
    Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
  • 1963: First Episode of Doctor Who airs on BBC
    Deepsouthcon started
  • 1964: Boskone started in Boston
  • 1965: Dune by Frank Herbert
    Worldcon held in Britain
  • 1966: Orbit founded by Knight
    Star Trek airs on NBC
  • 1967: Dangerous Visions by Harlan Ellison
  • 1969: First men on the moon, Armstrong, Aldrin & Collins
    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • 1970: Worldcon held in Germany
    Ringworld by Larry Niven
  • 1971: Novacon started in Birmingham, England
    Eurocon started
  • 1972: The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
  • 1973: Wordcon held in Canada
    Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
    Sept. – Oct. Moonbase III on BBC
  • 1974: Windycon started in Chicago
  • 1975: Space: 1999 first airs
    Worldcon held in Australia
  • 1976: Eurocon held in Poland, the first SF convention in the Communist block
  • 1979: Star Wars directed by George Lucas
    Worldcon held in Britain
  • 1982: Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott
  • 1984: The Terminator directed by James Cameron
    Neuromancer by William Gibson, makes cyberpunk movement known to the larger literary world
  • 1986: Enemy Mine directed by Peterson
  • 1990: Total Recall directed by Verhoeven
  • 1991: Terminator 2: Judgement Day directed by James Cameron
  • 1992: The Sci Fi Channel is launched on cabel
    Isaac Asimov dies
  • 1993: Marvel Films founded
  • 1996: Marvel created Marvel Studios, an incorporation of Marvel Films
  • 1999: 50th Anniversary of Worldcon
    Panic spreads of the Y2K bug in computers

2000s

  • 2000: The Y2K bug doesn’t create as big a problem as anticipated
    The world does not end
    Some people erroneously think this is the first year of the new Millennium
  • 2001: The 22nd Century Begins
    Terrorist attack and destroy the World Trade Center in New York on 9/11
  • 2002: Largest planetary object since Pluto discovered
    Enron scandal
  • 2003: World’s first brain prosthesis tested — an artificial hippocampus hooked to slices of living rat brain
    First nearby dark matter galaxy discovered
    First person from China in orbit, Yang Liwei, orbits 14 times, making China the third country to achieve this goal
    First Interstellar Age begins
  • 2004: Fahrenheit 911, a film bashing President Bush and directed by Moore, borrows its name from a Bradbury classic without prior permission, causing some difficulty between Bradbury and Moore
  • 2005: The first ever YouTube video is uploaded, titled Me at the zoo
    Christopher Eccleston, as the Ninth Doctor, launches the “New Who” series of Doctor Who
  • 2006: NASA launches the first space mission to Pluto
    The Human Genome Project publishes the last chromosome sequence, in Nature.
  • 2007: Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduces the original iPhone
  • 2008: SpaceX Falcon 1 becomes the world’s first privately developed space launch vehicle to successfully make orbit
    Authur C. Clarke dies
    Marvel releases its first Marvel Cinematic Universe films Iron Man starring Robert Downey, Jr.
  • 2009: International Year of Astronomy
    NBCUniversal announced that Sci Fi was rebranding as “Syfy”
    Paleontologists announced the discovery of an Ardipithecus ramidus fossil skeleton, deeming it the oldest remains of a human ancestor yet found.
  • 2010: Scientists conducting the Neanderthal genome project announce that they have sequenced enough of the Neanderthal genome to suggest that Neanderthals and humans may have interbred.
  • 2012: Ray Bradbury Dies
  • 2015: Episode VII: The Force Awakens renews faith in the Star Wars film franchise
    Scientists announce the discovery of Homo naledi, a previously unknown species of early human in South Africa
    Gravitational waves are detected for the first time, by LIGO
    NASA announces that liquid water has been found on Mars.
  • 2018: Ursula K. LeGuin dies

Last updated on March 12, 2018