space epic n.

a subgenre of science fiction featuring adventure-driven plots set in outer space; a work in this genre; cf. space opera n.

SF Criticism


  • 1943 H. Kuttner Soldiers of Space in Astonishing Stories Feb. 92/1 page image Henry Kuttner bibliography

    It’s a cooperative job…. A gang of bums trying to come back. Even Helsing’s a bum now. He’s been on the Hollywood skids for years. Once a man starts going down there, nobody’ll give him a job. But Dan Helsing’s still a damn good director. His space epics used to raise my hair.

  • 1947 ‘R. E. Ward’ Reward in Startling Stories Sept. 9 (letter) page image

    It seems STF is changing a little lately—as Chad Oliver said not long ago. Our thundering space epics are slowly dwindling, without doubt.

  • 1953 L. S. de Camp Science Fiction Handbook 232 L. Sprague de Camp bibliography

    The space-opera and its glorified form, the space-epic, still has many faithful followers.

  • 1957 K. F. Slater Something to Read in Nebula Science Fiction (#25) Oct. 105/1 page image Ken Slater bibliography

    Charles Eric Maine’s High Vacuum…. As the title suggests, the story is a ‘space’ epic, the first manned moon trip.

  • 1959 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Apr. 41 (editorial introduction to a translation of Anton Chekhov’s The Flying Islands) page image

    The following hilarious parody…purports to be a translation into the Russian of a Jules Verne space epic.

  • 1976 I. A. Rogers The Gernsback Era, 1926–1937: Bibliography in N. Barron Anatomy of Wonder I. iii. 109 Ivor A. Rogers bibliography

    Nowlan, Philip Francis. Armageddon 2419 A.D.…. Better than E. E. Smith’s space epics, the book was far from the lowest common denominator of popular taste and does not deserve the scorn usually accorded it.

  • 1995 R. Silverberg Gresham’s Law Continued in Asimov’s Science Fiction Mar. 4/2 page image Robert Silverberg bibliography

    There has always been a place in our field for well-done action-adventure science fiction. I remember fondly the glorious space epics of Leigh Brackett and Poul Anderson and even Ted Sturgeon in the lively magazine Planet Stories of the 1940s.

  • 2003 N. Spinrad On Books in Asimov’s Science Fiction Mar. 130/2 page image Norman Spinrad

    Permanence is another reasonably far future space epic set in quite a different universe than that of Ventus and constructed around an intriguing and, as far as I know, novel astronomical premise.

  • 2021 L. Bahr Sequel or No, ‘Dune’ is a Dream for Creators in Chicago Tribune 7 Sept. ii. 10/2

    Villeneuve, the director behind ambitious and cerebral space epics like ‘Arrival’ and ‘Blade Runner 2049’, was not deterred by the wreckage that had come before.

Research requirements

antedating 1943

Earliest cite

Startling Stories

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a 1953 cite from L. Sprague de Camp's "Science Fiction Handbook".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1950 cite from an ad in Astounding.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1943 cite from Henry Kuttner in Astonishing Stories.

Last modified 2022-06-07 14:01:43
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.