"Edisonade" is a term, coined in 1993 by John Clute in his and Peter Nicholls' The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, for fictional stories about a brilliant young inventor and his inventions, many of which would now be classified as science fiction. This subgenre started in the Victorian and Edwardian eras and had its apex of popularity during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[1] Other related terms for fiction of this type include scientific romances. The term is an eponym, named after famous inventor Thomas Edison, formed in the same way the term "Robinsonade" was formed from Robinson Crusoe.


Usually first published in cheaply printed dime novels, most such stories were written to appeal to young boys. The Edisonade formula was an outgrowth of the fascination with engineering and technology that arose near the end of the 1800s, and a derivative of the existing Robinsonade formula.

Clute defines the word in his book:

As used here the term "edisonade"—derived from Thomas Alva Edison (1847–1931) in the same way that "Robinsonade" is derived from Robinson Crusoe—can be understood to describe any story which features a young US male inventor hero who uses his ingenuity to extricate himself from tight spots and who, by so doing, saves himself from foreign oppressors.[2]

and he defines it again in a column referring to "The Plutonian Terror" by Jack Williamson written in 1933:

It is an Edisonade, a paradigm kind of science fiction in which a brave young inventor creates a tool or a weapon (or both) that enables him to save the girl and his nation (America) and the world from some menace, whether it be foreigners or evil scientists or aliens; and gets the girl; and gets rich.[3]

One frequent theme in Edisonades was the exploration of little-known, "untamed" parts of the world. To that degree, the stories reflected the contemporaneous era of large-scale colonization and exploration.


See also


  1. ^ The Edisonade Archived 2006-09-02 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Notes on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #2". 2009-10-26. Archived from the original on October 26, 2009. Retrieved 2016-05-21.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ Clute, John, Yore Is Us, column in Infinite Matrix, 2000
  4. ^ Beadle's American Novel No. 45, August 1868, "The Steam Man of the Prairies" by Edward S. Ellis
  5. ^ a b Everett Franklin Bleiler, Science-fiction, the Early Years, Kent State University Press, 1990; https://books.google.com/books?id=KEZxhkG5eikC&q=noname#v=snippet&q=noname&f=false
  6. ^ The Nugget Library No. 128, January 14, 1892, "Tom Edison Jr.'s Electric Mule; or, The Snorting Wonder of the Plans," by Philip Reade.
  7. ^ www.philsp.com https://web.archive.org/web/20091031210906/http://www.philsp.com/homeville/FMI/f23.htm. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Fantastic Victoriana: E". reocities.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-05-21.