Friday, October 06, 2017

Science Fiction Oldies but Goodies

      Groff Conklin. 12 Great Classics of Science Fiction (1963) This collection marks the border of the shift from the technological age of SF, when writers and readers were satisfied with gee-whiz extrapolations of gadgetry (later affectionately satirised in Inspector Gadget and Bruce McCall’s drawings for Esquire, New Yorker, etc), to the subsequent sociological age, when writers explored the social and psychological effects of extrapolated social and technical trends. For example, “Thirty Days had September” does a what-if supposing all social institutions are “sponsored” and operated by corporations. The collection also shows a shift to more subtle attempts at imagining the Alien, a task that’s inherently impossible, but which dreamlike fantasies approximate, as in “On the Fourth Planet”, which imagines a dying race of Martians barely subsisting by nibbling bacteria off lichens. Every story prompts thoughts beyond itself. Recommended, if you can find a copy. ***

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