The Periodic Table of Science Fiction [eBook] by Michael Swanwick
A COLLECTION by Michael Swanwick
PUBLICATION DATE January 2020
COVER ART Fantastic Depiction of the Solar System (woodcut) (later colouration) German School, (19th century)
Private Collection/Bridgeman Art Library
INTRODUCTION Theodore Gray
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When Mendeleev set forth the Periodic Table of the Elements, he revolutionised chemistry—but just as importantly, he planted the seeds for Michael Swanwick’s Periodic Table of Science Fiction. Now, after their epochal appearances online at www.scifi.com, this collection gathers together the one hundred and eighteen stories of the PTSF in print for the first time, in their definitive form. Life, Chemistry, and Science Fiction will never be the same again.
Swanwick, grand master of the SF short story and absolute master of the short-short, is at his exuberant and ingenious best in these tales, each inspired by a single chemical element. Here are cosmos-spanning future histories, slyly conceived alternative timelines, shockingly subversive secret chronicles of intellectual passion, divine jests, and fragments of incomparable wisdom. In The Periodic Table of Science Fiction, revelations flow like heady wine: the real reason the Hindenburg exploded; how to measure the apocalyptic mood swings of God; why you never want pond scum to preside over your office; which is the most boring element in existence; how the Plains Indians adopted not the horse but the motorcycle; the best way to avert a spaceship hijacking; how to make a fortune in interplanetary metals prospecting; robot ideology; and much, much more. If Mendeleev encompassed all matter in his Periodic Table, Michael Swanwick’s encompasses all that really matters . . . With an Afterword by the author, and an Introduction by Theodore Gray, winner of the Ig Nobel Prize for his Wooden Periodic Table.
Michael Swanwick has received the Hugo, Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards for his work and has the distinction of having lost more of those awards for fiction than any other writer.
His ten novels include In the Drift, an Ace Special; Vacuum Flowers, Jack Faust; Stations of the Tide, which was honored with the Nebula Award; Bones of the Earth; Dancing with Bears and Chasing the Phoenix, which chronicle the adventures of postutopian con men Darger and Surplus, and the Iron Dragon trilogy The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, The Dragons of Babel, and The Iron Dragon’s Mother. Most of his short fiction has been collected, most notably in Gravity’s Angels, A Geography of Unknown Lands, Moon Dogs, Tales of Old Earth, The Dog Said BowWow, The Best of Michael Swanwick, and Not So Much Said the Cat. In his spare time, he writes biographies and literary essays.