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Classics of Science Fiction, by John Hertz

We’ll take up three Classics of Science Fiction at this year’s Loscon, one discussion each.  Come to as many as you like.  You’ll be welcome to join in.

I’m still with “A classic is a work that survives its own time.  After the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.”  If you have a better definition, bring it.

Each of our three is famous in a different way.  Each may be more interesting now than when first published.  Have you read them?  Have you re-read them?


Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers (1959)

His second Hugo-winning novel; Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) his third. When asked how he wrote such contradictory books, he said “I’m a science-fiction author. I make things up.” Troopers may get praise from those who feel drawn to its world, blame from those who feel repelled. Is that all there is?


Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan(1959)

Inventive, check.  Novel about the meaninglessness of it all, check.  The Times Literary Supplement said “He is doing something unique to science fiction.”  This may be true.  No one else seems to have done anything like this to us.  Extra credit: more, or less, didactic than Troopers?  Than Andromeda?  Why?


Ivan Yefremov, Andromeda Nebula (1957)

Poetic, lyrical.  Sold 20 million copies.  Changed Soviet science fiction.  A thousand years in the future when Earth is a Communist paradise, starships at 5/6 the speed of light meet alien challenges and we struggle against Time.  First English translation by George Hanna (as Andromeda) 1959, recently by Maria  Kuroshchepova 2014.