Sep
20

Five American Science Fiction Classics

science fiction classics, American Science Fiction: Five Classic Novels American Science Fiction: Five Classic Novels – edited by Gary K Wolfe

It doesn’t really matter if you are someone who, like me, was exposed to science fiction classics at an early age or just discovered the genre. When I first read many of the authors in this amazingly well thought-out collection of the best of early science fiction, I was astounded at the imagination and insight that I saw in this kind of story. Every author in the collection here, this one covers 1956-1958, is a master at this. In addition, most of the stories in this science fiction classics collection are the ones that this particular author made their mark with, or at the least established themselves as science fiction authors to be reckoned with.

You have to remember that at the time these were being written, the cold war was in full swing and America was also gearing up to be the superpower they were as the 60s dawned. It was a time of looming prosperity, endless possibilities and not the best time to be questioning the path that America was taking. But that is exactly what these science fiction classics did.

Each story is a novel on its own, and as far as I can tell, since I have almost all of these in paperback from the 60s reprints, none have been edited significantly. So you will get to enjoy the full glory of Alfred Bester at his height with the novel that was to define him as an author for years and see Fritz Leiber establish himself in the genre that was to be home for over 50 years.

Double Star by Robert Heinlein – This one deals with the question of humanities morality, as so much of Heinlein’s novels did. This is an early work; done before his landmark Stranger in a Strange Land but it deals with a lot of the same issues. Quirky and character driven as only Heinlein can do.

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester – This is the science fiction classics Golden Age story that really defines the relentless optimism of the age, coupled with some interesting insights into the question of where mankind is going with this idea of conquering planets. This is the story that inspired Star Wars and so many other writers for years to come.

A Case of Conscience by James Blish – Blish went on to do a lot of television but at this point he was a young up and coming writer and this novel was his statement about who and what we are when we make our move beyond the Earth. The question of souls and religion is an interesting one here, and I often wonder if he would have had problems getting this concept even published these days.

Who? by Algis Budrys – This story was a true product of the Cold War, and the power of its telling is the varying points of view. The mystery of who is behind the mask is magnified by the classic paranoia of the time. It’s an amazing character piece, to say the least.

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber – A time travel mystery with an endless war sub-story, this is one of the science fiction classics that won a Hugo in 1958 and was to push Leiber into the big time writer’s league. The two sides of an endless war use time travel to choose personalities such as Alexander the Great or Napoleon to aid their cause, but no one is really sure how long this war has gone on or if there is even an end in sight. Told from the viewpoint of common foot soldiers taking a break at base, it is a great time capsule of the time period.

So those are the ones you can expect to see in Five Classic Novels, a collection of amazing science fiction novels from a time when we were first reaching out to the stars and wondering just what the cost might be. We had not yet landed on the moon and Russia seemed the biggest threat to our continued lifestyle. We seldom get a chance to read five landmark science fiction classics as these in one publication. Don’t miss out on this chance to read a bit of history!

Categories : Science Fiction Books   

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