Posts tagged ‘classic science fiction’

THE STARS MY DESTINATION by ALFRED BESTER

I’m trying to include in my science fiction reading some of the classic works by some past authors in the genre.  Science fiction has been with us long enough that it has a history we can follow and chart the progress of the genre incorporating prediction of the future and science fact, observing when fact becomes fact.

The book I presently wish to discuss is The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester copyrighted in 1956.

In this work we find the main character, Gully Foyle, marooned on a derelict spaceship, its sole survivor.  He thinks he is about to be saved when he spies an approaching spacecraft.  He signals, but they just pass him by.  Able to read the name of the craft, Vorga – T – 1339, his mind is consumed with the desire to revenge this abandonment.  This becomes the overwhelming theme of the book.

Through the remainder of the book he survives by the twists and turns of fate and ultimately discovers why the spacecraft passed him by.  The ship was about to dump 600 refuges into the blackness of space on the orders of the woman he falls in love with once he returns to earth, not knowing that she was the cause of his abandonment.

An interesting process introduced in this work is ‘jaunting’.  This is the ability to think yourself to another location discovered by an individual caught in a precarious situation.  He thinks of the safety of another location and suddenly finds himself there much to his surprise.  However, this ability is limited by the fact that you must know the coordinates of the location you want to go to.  You cannot go to the unknown, but Foyle somehow can.

March 17, 2014 at 8:32 pm 1 comment

THE GREEN BRAIN by FRANK HERBERT

The Green Brain another science fiction novel by one of the giants of the genre.

This novel deals with a subject overly used today, many times in the guise of making a profit.  Right or wrong, that is my opinion.  The subject Herbert deals with long before it was in vogue is the environment.

My paperback copy was published in 1966, with part of the story appearing in 1965 in Amazing Stories as a novelette, Greenslaves.

The story begins with the world wanting to protect the production of food from destruction by insects.  Countries begin to eliminate all insects in farm areas and then populate the land with genetically altered bees.  China is at the forefront of this effort and one of its scientists, Chen Lhu, travels to Brazil to assist in insect elimination.  What he doesn’t reveal until far into the story is that the process does not work.  This revelation only comes to light after he and other scientists are trapped in the jungle by strange insect populations.  These insects, along with other bizarre occurrences are put into play by the green brain.  This intelligence has the ability to manipulate insects and much more.

Herbert’s novel predates real world efforts to manipulate the environment with nonnative plant and animal species in order to control some condition in the habitat that man finds troublesome.  More times than not the cure is worse than the problem.

One interesting sideline not pursued to a great extent but mentioned is the existence of a group of environmentalists called Carsonites.

Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962.

 

 

March 9, 2014 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment

READING THE MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION

While riding the train to work, my neighbor would read science fiction. Long retired now, he asked me if I would like science fiction books. I, of course, was more than enthusiastic and bags of books came my way and found a home in my study much to my wife’s displeasure. If you saw my study you would understand her fear for it is overflowing with books read and to be read.
Recently, I began reading these classic works. The authors include the likes of Lester Del Rey, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein and Ursula Le Guin to name a few. Most were published in the fifties and sixties costing as little as fifty cents.
The novel I would like to discuss is one I recently finished reading, The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein. This book was interesting in that it dealt with the future, a future which is already our past.
Heinlein published this novel in 1956 so it was probably written in the early fifties. The setting of the book is 1970 and the main character travels, via suspended animation, to the year 2000, both needing the author’s speculation of what life would be like in those years.
His take of the not too distant future of 1970 is most interesting. There is talk of a nuclear war with the United States being the target, but it is handled as no more than a minor inconvenience. The year of the war isn’t given and neither is the adversary. My thinking is that it could only be Russia who developed their bomb in 1947. Also, in 1970, robots are beginning to take over the mundane tasks in both domestic and commercial settings. When he gets to the year 2000 he finds society completely changed. The story deals with more of the social rather than the technological changes, but there is a scientist dabbling with time travel which plays an important part of the story for it allows travel into the past. However, this can only be accomplished with great risk for the scientist can set the length of time but cannot control whether the subject goes forward or backward in time.
What amazes me is how the author envisions both years, to compare reality to what he predicts. The world today is full of robot used by industry but nothing like the talking androids, human-like creatures, created by the minds of Asimov and Dick. Time will tell.
I enjoy reading ‘dated’ science fiction and see the author’s take on the future and compare it to what has come to pass.

September 23, 2013 at 10:20 pm 1 comment


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