Saturday, 22 October 2016

Rudyard Kipling’s Influence on Science Fiction

I was surprised to find it could be argued that Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) has exerted the most lasting influence on modern science fiction. Poul Anderson says, ‘His influence pervades modern science fiction and fantasy writing.’

Rudyard_Kipling (w)

Although his best-known work is not science fiction, Kipling wrote stories whose subject-matter is explicitly science-fictional. With the Night Mail: A Story of 2000 AD portrays futuristic aviation in a journalistic present-tense. The Eye of Allah deals with the introduction of advanced technology into a medieval society that may not be ready for it.

An article on the Kipling Society’s website says:

Kipling’s appeal to modern readers lies instead in his approach and his technique.

The real subject-matter of Rudyard Kipling’s writing is the world’s work and the men and women and machines who do it. Whether that work be manual or intellectual, creative or administrative, the performance of his work is the most important thing in a person’s life…

Today’s science fiction writers find their audience among the same strata of society that in Victoria’s time read Kipling: adults engaged in the shaping of our world and young people exploring what life has to offer.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist.

Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including The Man Who Would Be King (1888). His poems include Mandalay (1890), Gunga Din (1890), The Gods of the Copybook Headings (1919), The White Man's Burden (1899), and If— (1910). He is regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story; his children's books are classics of children's literature; and one critic described his work as exhibiting ‘a versatile and luminous narrative gift’.

Kipling was one of the most popular writers in the United Kingdom, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1907, at the age of 42, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and its youngest recipient to date. He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, both of which he declined.

[adapted from Wikimedia and the Kipling society’s website]

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at

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