In 500 Words or Less: Lost Transmissions by Desirina Boskovich
Cover by Paul Lehr
Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy
By Desirina Boskovich
Abrams Image (304 pages, $29.99 hardcover, $13.99 eBook, September 10, 2019)
Did you know that Johannes Kepler wrote speculative fiction that got his mother imprisoned for witchcraft? Or that Weezer almost had an epic concept album to rival Pink Floyd and Rush? Or that Space Island One was even a thing?!
Maybe you did. We can’t quite use the excuse that an almost-thirty Millennial like myself obviously wouldn’t know a lot about the rich history of sci-fi and fantasy, however, since Lost Transmissions focuses on far more than the Golden Age. Desirina Boskovich has accumulated information on lesser-known SFF from across history, and I guarantee there are things in here you weren’t aware of. I had to tweet at Desirina while I was reading my ARC, for example, because the chapter “Speculative Music of the New Millennium” outlined artists and albums I’d never heard of, even though I should have grown up paying attention to them in the nineties and early 2000s. (My “To Listen” list doesn’t need to be any bigger, Desirina.)
My To-Read and To-Watch list doesn’t need to be any bigger, either, but too late now. After Charlie Jane Anders’ passionate and excited article about Space Island One, I’m determined to find a way to watch it, even though a DVD or streaming version doesn’t exist, apparently. Now that I’ve read the premise and background of Clair Noto’s The Tourist, I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for a Netflix or Amazon adaptation. I need to look into the Mellon Chronicles to explore Lord of the Rings fandom. I want to find a group of people to try Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play. And so on and so on and so on.
Transmissions even taught me about my absolute favorite fandoms, ones I thought I knew inside and out. I didn’t know about the epic lawsuit between Lucasfilm and Glen Larson. (I know! How did I not know that!) And K.M. Szpara’s article “On the Internet, No One Knows You Aren’t a (Gay) Wizard: An Ode to Fan Fiction” gave me a completely different mindset for considering fan fiction, while teaching me about a Harry/Draco slash market that I completely missed when I was growing up.
I could go on and on here about Lost Transmissions. I’ve read maybe two-thirds of it, and my mind is already blown; once I’ve finished, I’ll go back and reread it again, but in a different order than before. While some narratives flow between articles, most chapters function as standalone tidbits you can pick out depending on mood and interest. Curious about afrofuturist music influences of the 1970s? Nisi Shawl has you covered. Never heard of Hugh Ferriss and his connection to Gotham? Check it out. Between the passion and energy put into this by Boskovich and the impressive array of other contributors, Lost Transmissions is an absolute gift to SFF studies, and a book I imagine our industry has been waiting to receive.
An Ottawa teacher by day, Brandon has been published in On Spec, Pulp Literature, Electric Athenaeum, and elsewhere. You can follow Brandon at brandoncrilly.wordpress.com or on Twitter: @B_Crilly.
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