Hugo Gernsback, the 'Father of Science Fiction'

Born in Luxembourg, Hugo Gernsback invented, among others, the dry cell or the first wireless radio. As the author and editor of many scientific journals and novels, he is nowadays considered as 'the father of science fiction'.

Hugo Gernsback, the inventor

Portrait de Hugo GernsbackHugo Gernsback was born on 16 August 1884 in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

After studying in Brussels (Belgium) and Bingen (Germany), Hugo Gernsback immigrated to the United States in 1904 and became an American citizen.

At the beginning of his career in his new homeland, Hugo Gernsback filed several patents, the first one being granted to him in 1907 for a dry cell. During his lifetime, he held around forty patents. However, he did not succeed in making a fortune with this activity.

As an undertaker, he was the first to sell a complete and cheap set for radio amateurs, in 1905. At the start of 1909, he founded the Wireless Association of America, then, in 1915, the Radio League of America, and during the 1930s, the Short Wave League.

In 1925, he launched his own radio station, WRNY. Three years later, he was involved in the first television broadcasting.

Author and editor

Exposition "Hugo Gernsback, An amazing story"In 1908, Hugo Gernsback edited his first magazine, Modern Electronics. Other technical and scientific journals followed, the most important being Radio News, which started in 1919.

In 1926, Hugo Gernsback launched Amazing Stories, the first periodical entirely devoted to science fiction, then at the end of the 1920s Science Wonder Stories and Air Wonder Stories, which merged in 1930 and were renamed Wonder Stories, with monthly and quarterly editions. Due to financial failure, he had to sell the latter in 1936.

Hugo Gernsback twice attempted fruitless comebacks on the science fiction market, with Superworld Comics in 1938 and Science Fiction Plus in 1953.

Hugo Gernsback is also the author of several science fiction stories. His famous novel Ralph 124C 41+ was published for the first time in 1911, while Ultimate World was published posthumously.

Some of his predictions and forecasts have become true over the years, such as the radar, audiovisual equipment and tele-applications.

The father of science fiction

In the August 1923 edition of Science and Invention, Hugo Gernsback used the term 'science fiction' for the first time. In the editorial of the first edition of Amazing Stories, Hugo Gernsback called the new literature that he intended to publish in the journal 'scientifiction'. With Science Wonder Stories, he finally created the term 'science fiction'.

Today, Gernsback is considered to be the 'Father of Science Fiction', not only because he invented the term, but also because of his dedication to the development of science fiction.

The most prestigious science fiction award is named after him: the Hugo Awards, awarded each year by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention. In 1996, Hugo Gernsback was one of the inductees into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

In 1954, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the Oak Crown by Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg.

Hugo Gernsback died in New York on 19 August 1967.

 

  • Updated 28-04-2015