Dr Keith Williams gave a talk about the Science Fiction programme’s Robert Duncan Milne project at CYMERA (7-9 June), Scotland’s new annual festival of SF, Fantasy and Horror at the Pleasance, Edinburgh: Click here for more information
Remembering the ‘Lost’ Scottish Father of American science fiction
Robert Duncan Milne (1844-99), from Cupar, Fife, was an astonishingly prescient pioneer, publishing some 90 stories, mostly in San Francisco’s Argonaut magazine, in the 1880s and ‘90s.
Milne imagined fantastic technologies for visual time-travelling before Wells. He also foresaw forms of tele-presencing, remote surveillance, mobile phones and worldwide satellite communications – not to mention climate change, scientific terrorism and drone warfare, cryogenics and molecular re-engineering. Sam Moskowitz credited him as America’s first full-time SF writer. Milne’s ideas, as realised by scientists, engineers and technologists, have fundamentally shaped the networked, media-driven world we live in.
At Dundee’s SF Programme, we are developing a major research project – including a PhD thesis, a new critical anthology and a graphic novel retelling his stories in visual form – to show Milne is a missing link between Scotland and the origins of modern SF.