In the back of the science fiction pulp magazines of the 1920s through the 1950s there were adds for stamps on approval - a practice that still exists - where a company sends a group of stamps to a collector so that he may pick the ones he wants for his collection, then send the payment and the unkept stamps back. Advertisers knew that science fiction fans were similar to stamp collectors in interest and temperament: Once they get attached to something they are passionate fans forever, willing to spend on their passion. Turn the science fiction reader into a stamp collector and watch the money roll in.
Science Fiction Comes to Philately
Stamp collecting started in the Victorian era, the time when the fictional master detective Sherlock Holmes was following clues to rout criminals like Moriarity through deduction and ratiocination. Meanwhile, setting stories in the future and on other worlds were H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, who were writing in roughly the same period of time as was Holmes' creator Arthur Conan Doyle. Today all three authors are well represented on stamps. While Wells was largely concerned with the future on earth, Verne, in stories like From the Earth to the Moon and others saw that the future included travel by rocket.
Genre literature - science fiction, mystery, detective, horror, etc., but particularly science fiction - had an enthusiastic fan base. But the SF fan/stamp collector would have to wait quite a while until it became easy to add rocket stamps to his collection via the great number of space stamps that have been issued since the early 1960s. But the 30's was a big time for rocket flights, and many of them carried covers franked with unofficial rocket stamps and labels.
It was another man of science fiction and rocketry, Willie Ley, who contributed to philately with rockets carrying mail. Well-known is the Greenwood Lake flight of 1936, a failure that nonetheless helped move rocket mail along the line of progress, while producing postcards and unofficial stamps that are sought by collectors of aerophilately.
But the topical stamp collector must decide how much of the world of genre literature he wants to include. While comic books had for decades been considered trash literature the current popularity (and acceptance by some quarters of the literary world) of graphic novels could open up another branch for the philatelic genre literature topicalist to collect. The philatelic genre author of the moment, thanks to the release of a Forever Stamp is Edgar Rice Burroughs, pictured with the friend of the apes, Tarzan.
Journalism on Stamps
Many years ago newspapers would run serials of adventure stories like The Lost World -- would the topicalist add newspaper stamps (not the BOB versions, but commemoratives that honor or are related to journalism, like Pulitzer stamp, the Ochs/NY Times commem and the Columbia U. Library stamp) to their collections. As topical collections tell a story - practically a cross between feature journalism and Pinterest sometimes - they would fit into the collection quite well.
What about rare and exotic stamps themselves? Some like the Blue Mauritius and the 1 cent British Guiana have figured in stories and plays themselves. Although the topicalist may not be financially equipped to add great rarities to his collection/exhibit, their stories can be told through philatelic items commemorating these things. For one's collection there could be reproductions to illustrate an historic item, of the sort found on cachets and other illustrations. If a stamp is important enough a dealer may make a cacheted cover that he will have postmarked on the date of the auctioning of the rarity in order to record the milestone in stamp collecting history.
Adding some fiction, perhaps a pulp magazine from the golden age, would lend the SF topic some added authenticity. After all, science fiction began with the written word. But as soon as film came into being science fiction was a much more popular topic, not just for the geeks, but also for the masses. Mieles A Trip to the Moon, one of the earliest films with a plot is also a science fiction film.
So one might add stamps of science fiction that became science reality as Moon trips which have been a reality for many decades. And for a seasonal touch, Halloween standby Frankenstein would be a candidate to include in such a collection. The USPS has done the topical collector the favor of giving them that particular monster, created by science in Mary Shelly's novel, in the Famous Hollywood Monsters stamps.