Periodic Table of Science Fiction

by Michael Swanwick
Reviewed date: 2004 Jul 21
cover art

In partnership with Sci Fiction magazine, Michael Swanwick has gifted the world with the Periodic Table of Science Fiction. (Check it out on Swanwick's blog. is now defunct, but they had a version formatted as a periodic table and I managed to save a cached version.) A science fiction short story for each chemical element in the periodic table--118 in all, including some as-yet undiscovered elements. It's an interesting idea, and some of the stories are real gems. I particularly enjoyed Magnesium.

The stories are all short, most less than 500 words. If you imagine that the quality varies dramatically in a collection of 118 elementally-themed stories, you would be right. About half are merely good, a few are excellent, and a few are dull. I found the Lanthanides and Actinides rather dull sections. I wouldn't recommend reading the Periodic Table of Science Fiction in one sitting. Just read one or two or more every day.

And just because I love you, dear reader, I have written up a snazzy Daily Element web page just for you. Set it as your home page in the browser, and every day it will show you one story from the Periodic Table of Science Fiction.

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