On his recent show featuring the new Doctor Who, late-night host Craig Ferguson extolled the venerable British TV show as "the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism." While there's plenty of science fiction that puts brute force and cynicism front and center, my favorite examples of the genre show how, despite the serious issues we face as a species, determination, intelligence, and goodwill will take us to the stars.
The history of science fiction, as distinct from other fantasy, can be traced back to Thomas More, Jonathan Swift, and Voltaire; in other words, when science began to capture the popular imagination, so did science fiction. The works of "literary" authors from Mary Shelley and Virginia Wolfe to Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, and David Foster Wallace aren't often called science fiction, but their plots and themes fit the description.
Last week, we asked Red Roomers to blog about their favorite science fiction stories. We welcomed examples by the famous masters—Wells, Asimov, LeGuin...Roddenberry—but were eager to hear about undiscovered gems as well. A few posts stood out:
- It's not about a single favorite story per se, but "I Sing Bradbury Everlasting," author Jacquelyn Mitchard's appreciation of Ray Bradbury the man shows some of the qualities that made him and his stories into a legend.
- After giving up on science and science fiction after his father's death, member Richard Martin's appreciation was reawakened by a story that gave him new insight into storytelling in general. He recounts this journey movingly in "Where Would I Be If My Father Hadn't Died?"
- In his entry "On Proton Deflectors and Mind-Reading Mutants," member Eric A. Olsen frames science fiction's place in literature and his struggle to enjoy both in this way: "They were making us read Hawthorne and I'm wondering where the hell are the proton beam deflectors?"
These bloggers will receive books by Red Room authors:
Jonthan Maberry's military-science, anti-terror hero Joe Ledger returns in The King of Plagues. Joe must "tear down the veils of deception to uncover a vast and powerful secret society using weaponized versions of the Ten Plagues of Egypt to destabilize world economies and profit from the resulting chaos. Millions will die unless Joe Ledger meets this powerful new enemy of their own terms as he fights terror with terror."
In Geoffrey Thorne's Dreamnasium Vol. I, the author collects stories about "(a) lonely god at the end of the universe," "A scientist with a physics problem that just might be murder," and "(a) young girl with a secret bundle," facing "monsters in the dark woods."
Michael Boatman tackles the classic "aliens-invade-the-Earth" theme in his e-book The Red Wake, giving it several twists, including a child of two worlds who emerges from the rubble of a small Midwestern town who might hold the secret to humanity's salvation.
You can see all of the favorite science fiction story entries here. I hope you'll find some favorites and let the bloggers know in the comments what you liked about their posts. All of Red Room's past blog topics are here. Thanks as always for blogging!
–Huntington W. Sharp, Senior Editor, Red Room