This collection contains writings that are representative of Hugo Gernsback’s thinking across an incredibly prolific and varied career, as well as pieces that are uniquely interesting documents in the history of science fiction and media technology. The book has been designed to invite several different points of entry for different kinds of readers. In order to preserve a sense of how the Gernsback magazines seamlessly toggled between fantastic futures and hard technical detail, the book is arranged chronologically. Much like the way in which each issue of a Gernsback title contained an impressive variety of topics from one page to the next, this book read chronologically encourages a similarly kaleidoscopic reading experience. As a navigational aid, the reader will find an additional table of contents that is arranged thematically. These categories in fact bleed into one another, with articles rarely touching solely on regulation or solely on television, for instance. Nevertheless, this thematic table of contents allows readers interested in particular aspects of Gernsback’s career to drop in at those points. Finally, the book’s electronic Manifold edition, which will be available early in 2017 at manifold.umn.edu, makes available the complete magazine issues in which each of these pieces first appeared and will serve as a resource for those interested in digging further.
A few notes on the text: pieces that are included in this collection are referenced throughout the book with their titles in bold and can be found alphabetically using the index. Any footnotes included in the original magazines are prefaced by “Gernsback: . . . ,” followed by the note. Finally, Gernsback experimented with many idiosyncratic spellings throughout his career as a magazine editor, including words like publisht, diafram, altho, and slipt. I have chosen to retain these spellings. The writings are reproduced as closely as possible to their original versions, including odd capitalizations, punctuation, omitted words, and the like.