In the March Penn Press podcast, historian and patent-holder John Cheng discusses the early culture of popular science fiction. Cheng's new book, Astounding Wonder: Imagining Science and Science Fiction in Interwar America, examines the origins of the genre and its community of fans. Cheng shows how pulp science fiction magazines of the 1920s and 30s reflected mainstream views of race and gender while inspiring both professional scientists and amateurs to pursue research.
Cheng talks about science fiction publishing pioneer Hugo Gernsback, Ming the Merciless, and a group of science fiction fans and rocket enthusiasts first known as the American Interplanetary Society. AIS spawned Reaction Motors, makers of the rocket engine that powered the Bell X-1.
Visit the Penn Press podcast page to listen.