Religious Science Fiction Before Science Fiction
A close relative of SF is horror, another genre that makes great use of the fantastic and a willing suspension of disbelief. Two well-known writers of the modern era who worked in both areas, occasionally in the same story, were H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937) and Ray Bradbury (1920–2012). Long before the rise of SF to what it has become today, the literary niche occupied by horror stories for the masses was a busy place. Dating back to before the start of the nineteenth century and the invention of the high-speed rotary printing press, the Georgian and Victorian periods in England, in particular, were seemingly populated by endless numbers of people who couldn’t get enough of tales involving supernatural entities like ghosts, vampires, the devil, demons, werewolves, and other assorted monsters (a role played later in SF by ‘aliens from the stars’). Sex sold well, too, and the Gothic horror novel had a tremendous following, with hack writers often out-selling more recognized authors such as Dickens and Thackeray. Not all such works were prurient, of course, with the 1818 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1797–1851) considered today to be a classic, as is the much later 1897 vampire horror novel Dracula by Bram Stoker (1847–1912).