By John Hertz: We’ll discuss three classics at Westercon LXVII, one discussion each. Will you be there?
For our starting definition, “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 one, bring it.
This year’s Worldcon is the 75th anniversary of the very first, in 1939. We gave no Hugos that year, so Loncon III can and will present Retrospective Hugos for work of 1938 (see Section 3.13 of the Constitution).
The Retro-Hugo ballot has been announced. We’ll take up three of the nominees. We might call them Diamonds of 1938.
Each is interesting in a different way. Each may be more interesting now than when first published.
Have you read them? Have you re-read them?
John W. Campbell, Jr.
“Who Goes There?”
Terse – tense – it touches questions of identity pointed more explicitly by others decades later. It is of course a detective story, fifteen years before Campbell taunted Asimov into writing The Caves of Steel. See how he manages the hints, the personalities, the masterly sequence of Kinner – Dutton – Connant – Blair.
Out of the Silent Planet
We never do hear about the space drive. Weston, who clothes himself in the trappings of science, is a harsh caricature. Yet it is he who gets the party to Malacandra; who gets them, almost impossibly, back again. Theodore Sturgeon said “Science fiction is knowledge fiction.” Chapter 9 says “The love of knowledge is a kind of madness.”
Samuel Johnson said “The essence of poetry is invention”; Patrol has that. It struck fires still burning today. Its vitality, and its focus through all the coruscations, are remarkable. So is its thorough handling of its imaginary science. Characterization? Look at Kinnison’s leaving footprints all over Blakeslee.