Our protagonist is Helva, who was born with an exceptional brain and severe physical disabilities… so she was raised as an indentured servant destined to be a starship brain. In the s, McCaffrey and co-authors produced six sequels. When he is fourteen, Van Veen, who will grow up to be a psychologist and renegade scholar, falls in love with his eleven-year-old cousin, Ada; they begin a life-long sexual affair, despite later discovering that they are half-siblings.
The story begins in the early 19th century, though characters discuss airplanes, motion pictures, and other anachronistic technologies; everything is powered by water, and it is forbidden to mention electricity. Van and Ada — who are maybe somehow, respectively, Eve and Adam — live on a planet known as Antiterra, which is geographically similar to Earth, although politically England has conquered most of it, and American culture is influenced by Russia.
Nineteen-Sixties culture is, somehow, a myth from the past. I might include works by Samuel R. Delany and Michael Moorcock in which the Beatles become mythical figures. Sent to Luna in search of criminal telepaths, Joe and Pat and the rest of their team is caught in an explosion… after which nothing is ever the same again. Are they moving backwards in time? Are they in some other reality? Are they caught up in a cosmic battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness — and if so, what is the ultimate source of these forces?
Every interpretation that they posit is frustrated; meaning remains elusive. Each chapter is prefaced with an advertisement for Ubik, salvation in a spray can. John Lennon, at one point, was interested in adapting the film version. During the Battle of the Bulge in , he is captured and transported to Dresden. Like them, Billy becomes a philosophical ironist because — thanks to his time-traveling — the entire human experience strikes him as absurd. Is he crazy, or a visionary?
Fun facts: As a prisoner of war in , Vonnegut experienced the Dresden firebombing; the narrator of Slaughterhouse-Five is the author, speaking in his own voice. Efforts have been mounted to re-establish a galactic civilization; some eighty planets have organized themselves into a union called the Ekumen.
In this novel, Genly Ai, an agent of The Ekumen, has spent a frustrating couple of years as an envoy to the frozen planet Gethen. Fun facts: The Left Hand of Darkness is one of the first feminist sci-fi novels, though some feminists have argued that it does not go far enough in critiquing gender stereotypes. Our narrator, Rat, is an unpleasant, misogynistic character who runs a tiny London boarding house and brothel. Fun fact: An exceedingly difficult book to find! Social norms have collapsed. Colin Charteris, a young Serbian who has been working in UN refugee camps in Italy, travels to England… where he falls under the influence of the hallucinogenics and finds himself hailed as a prophet by the pharmaceuticalized populace.
Preaching a trippy Gurdjieffian gospel, Charteris could usher in a utopian social order… or perhaps his movement will help European civilization utterly devolve. In this experimentalist, poetic work, a year-old boy rescues a baby girl when her mother dies in childbirth. He raises her in a world devoid of other humans. What has happened?
Are Sam and An being studied by them? Who is leaving them messages — and what do the messages mean? As An grows older, sexuality introduces itself to this strange idyll. One by one, fourteen human colonists, none of whom understands their collective mission, are transferred to the planet Delmak-O — which is populated by gelatinous cubes who offer advice in the form of I Ching-like anagrams.
A naturalist, a linguist, a geologist, a theologian, a physician, a pyschologist, and so forth: They are each eccentric and disgruntled, particularly once they begin to die off. What is the factory-like building towards which they are drawn? Are they trapped in a maze — being observed and experimented upon?
Lost fans, read this one.
Fun fact: Except for Ubik , this is the book Dick most frequently references in his Exegesis. In the near future Bob Shairp, writer and dreamer and government worker, agrees to be a guinea-pig in a military experiment — to determine whether a human being can be reconstituted like orange juice. However, as his persona is being uploaded to computer tapes in the form of data, his body is accidentally destroyed. Fun fact: The pieces collected here had appeared elsewhere, in various forms, previously. The first US edition was published in by Grove Press, after an earlier edition was cancelled because the publisher feared lawsuits.
The book inspired the Joy Division song of the same name from their album Closer. As riots break out in the streets, the government introduces psychoactive drugs into the drinking water; Tichy escapes to the sewers beneath the hotel, only to be evacuated several times — each of which turns out to be a hallucination — and then shot, and placed by doctors into a cryogenic coma. He wakes up in a transformed world; Lem is affectionately parodying H.
Has the world become an overpopulated hellscape threatened by a new Ice Age? Fun facts: First published along with a collection of short stories shown above. Operating under the influence of Philip K. Dick, LeGuin wrote an uncanny, thought-provoking novella about George Orr, a Portland, Oregon man who has begun self-medicating in an attempt to prevent himself from dreaming.
For everyone else, things have always been the way they are now. Visiting the well-meaning psychologist and sleep researcher Dr. Unforeseen consequences ensue.
For example, in an effort to dream about peace on Earth, Orr conjures up a fleet of invading alien spacecraft… which does unite humankind, but at what cost? The protagonist of this proto-postmodernist philosophical novel, Dr. In the near future of the s, politics have become fragmented to the point of neo-tribalism, mainline churches have become secularized to the point of banality or else overly dogmatic, and liberals and conservatives alike are prone to shocking acts of what they imagine to be justified violence.
Meanwhile, African Americans stage an armed uprising, and college-educated young whites gather in swamp communes. When chaos engulfs Paradise, More retreats to an abandoned motel… with three beautiful women. A certain type of Episcopal girl has a weakness that comes on them just past youth…. They fall prey to Gnostic pride, commence buying antiques, and develop a yearning for esoteric doctrine. When Jack Kirby left Marvel Comics for DC in , he launched a science-fictional epic revolving around aliens with superhuman abilities arriving on Earth.
These proto-postmodernist comics are a volatile admixture of religion the character Izaya evokes the biblical Isaiah , ancient-astronaut theories, sci-fi technology the Boom Tube, the Mobius Chair, the Mother Box , and s culture the Forever People are cosmic hippies. Truly awesome. Fun fact: The Fourth World storyline was intended to be a finite series, which would end with the deaths of the characters Darkseid and Orion. In the distant future, a medieval-style way of life has risen from the ashes of civilization.
Scavengers scour the ruins for power blades, energy cannons, and airboats. When news comes that the North plans to deploy scavenged alien automata against the South, a brooding poet-warrior, Lord tergeus-Cormis, travels with a mercenary, Birkin Grif, in search of a mad dwarf who is expert in ancient weaponry. The adventurers encounter mechanical birds, brain eaters, and a wizard of sorts; and they discover that a complex, lethal technology from the past lives on.
This is an affectionate, but also sardonic reimagining of the fantasy genre — nothing is resolved, things get murkier instead of more clear, heroes are unheroic. After the incidents, universally assumed to have been an alien visitation, bizarre artifacts have been discovered. So he embarks on one last mission, a quixotic effort to make everything come out right. Fun facts: Roadside Picnic was refused publication in book form in the Soviet Union for eight years due to government censorship.
Three subtly interlinked stories set on Ste. Anne and Ste. Croix — twin Earth-colony planets circling one another.
Royal Shakespeare: a playwright and his king - The British Library
Though not his first novel, Wolfe considered it his first good one. Raw materials are running out, and insects and micro-organisms have become resistant to efforts to eradicate them. Disaster could be averted if world governments and the wealthy were willing to make sacrifices; instead, the rich live obliviously in gated communities while the right-wing US administration, headed by an idiot president, is in thrall to corporations seeking only to maximize shareholder value.
The media, meanwhile, focuses on entertainment and delivers fake news. Environmental and social-justice activists are dismissed as un-American hippies. We learn all of this through fractured vignettes about multiple characters, headlines, reports. As both government and corporate services break down, and as food is poisoned, rioting and civil unrest sweep the United States.
Clairvoyant and Present Danger
Cause and effect are out of whack, here; ambiguity is the whole point. He does stop a peace conference — violently — though. There are other Cornelius stories, too. Selig has failed to develop meaningful relationships, or to carve a purposeful place for himself in society. Barry N. Evans, the surviving astronaut, in an insane asylum — and interrogates him.
What went wrong? He killed the Captain; the Captain tried to kill him; Venusians killed the Captain; there are no Venusians; he is the Captain, disguised as Evans. Was there a Captain, in the first place? Or is he just insane?