Gernsbackian adj.

of, relating to, or characteristic of the writing that appeared in the magazines edited by Hugo Gernsback, esp. in featuring extensive discussions of scientific or technological issues

SF Criticism

  • 1952 P. S. Miller Reference Library in Astounding Science Fiction Sept. 163 page image P. Schuyler Miller

    The first of the fan organizations….was a counterpart to the Gernsbackian philosophy of science fiction. Gernsback believed…that science fiction existed as a new and powerful medium for teaching the facts, theories, and understanding of science…. The stories of this formative era considered the description of a flight through weightlessness, the surface of the Moon or Mars, or an exposition of some of the quirks and paradoxes of relativity ample justification for using up several thousand words in which very little might happen.

  • 1953 L. S. de Camp Science-Fiction Handbook 130 L. Sprague de Camp bibliography

    Astounding, because of its bent towards science fiction in the pure or Gernsbackian sense as well as its high literary quality, is particularly attractive to professional scientists.

  • 1972 A. Panshin & C. Panshin Domestication of the Future in Fantastic Dec. 94/1 page image Alexei Panshin Cory Panshin bibliography

    Short stories ceased to be Gernsbackian and became (for them) more imaginative—space opera. Some few stories of alien exploration did continue to be written, but they became more and more tenuous, more and more private, sillier and sillier.

  • 1988 D. Schweitzer Realistic Science Fiction in Aboriginal Science Fiction May–June 17/1 page image Darrell Schweitzer bibliography

    Reacting against the Gernsbackian tradition in which characters routinely lectured one another in stupefying detail about the wonders of the future (and the editor added footnotes to explain the science even further, usually incorrectly), Campbell wanted lived-in futures, in which people got on with their lives, taking everything in their world for granted, just like we do.

  • 1994 Interzone Feb. 67/1

    As John Taine, [Eric Temple] Bell was one of the pioneers of science fiction. His first published work The Purple Sapphire (1924) appeared before the advent of the sf magazines, but he was an ideal Gernsbackian writer, capable of blending scientific extrapolation with a stimulating narrative.

  • 2001 J. Haldeman Foreword in G. A. Landis Impact Parameter xi Joe Haldeman bibliography

    The small wry ‘Ouroboros’ does take an ancient Gernsbackian concept, but makes it eerily real by applying modern but mundane computer technology to it.

  • 2020 P. Kinkaid in Extrapolation (vol. 61, no. 1/2) 217

    It could be that Gernsbackian space opera and Campbellian hard sf do not actually define sf, but are rather aberrations, distortions, meanderings away from the true path.

Research requirements

antedating 1952

Earliest cite

P. Schuyler Miller, in Astounding

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a 1953 cite from L. Sprague de Camp's "Science-Fiction Handbook".
Jeff Prucher has a cite from Apr 03 Locus, 86/2.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1963 cite from Michael Girsdansky's "Science and Science Fiction: Who Borrows What?"

Last modified 2021-08-03 14:34:04
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.