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Drug Themes in Science Fiction/Annotated Bibliography

< Drug Themes in Science Fiction


The science fiction works selected for this bibliography are arranged chronologically within the categories described below.

Primitive Period circa 1900–1935. Science fiction was then, at least in the specialist magazines, a crude and artless form, and the stories tend to be skeletal and formula-ridden. Typically, a scientist working in secret (often a mad scientist) devises a drug whose effects operate on the mind in some extreme fashion, and through secret experiments demonstrates the perils of this drug. Examples: Barnes, Binder, Fearn, Gatter, Hall, etc.

Predictive Period circa 1935–1965. As the genre matured, authors began to seek greater complexity of style and structure in their fiction, and to achieve greater thematic perception. The stories of this period characteristically attempted to consider the most wide-ranging consequences of drug use; the authors themselves typically had had no experience with drugs other than alcohol, and based their ideas partly on imaginative projection and partly on the reports of such early experimenters with drugs as Baudelaire and deQuincy. Examples: Guin, Pohl,Collins, Huxley (1932), MacDonald, Hartley, Gunn.

Contemporary Period circa 1965 to date. With drug use now a matter for the news media as well as for solitary experimenters and literateurs, experience with mind-altering phenomena grows; many authors now sample marijuana and LSD and use their experiences as a basis for projections of trends. The changes in society are presumed to be permanent and become fixtures in stories, so that characters in a story set in 1999 use drugs like marijuana and LSD as casually as characters in a futuristic story written in 1950 would use cigarettes and alcohol. Drug use is taken for granted in the future, and new uses are postulated as an outgrowth of a richness of drug experience not available to earlier science-fiction writers, who had neither the personal experience nor the wealth of published data that present-day writers may draw upon. Examples: Aldiss, Spinrad, Silverberg, Dick, Anderson, Disch, Moorcock, Brunner.