Classics of S-F at Detcon

By John Hertz: It’s a busy month for those of us who like Westercons and NASFiCs.

Westercon LXVII (Salt Lake City) starts any minute now. (A reminder of the S-F Classics for that con is here.)

There’s a North America S-F Con this year because the Worldcon (Loncon III) is overseas. The NASFiC is Detcon (Detroit) 17-20 Jul. It pretty much has to be then to accommodate people who also wish to and can attend the Worldcon a month later.

Detcon Programming has confirmed we’ll do two Classics of S-F discussions. I was asked “How about tying to our Young Adult theme?”

Are you now or have you ever been a Young Adult? Do you think you might be one some day?

That can be tricky in our community. We’re not all so sure about being adult. We’re happy anyone takes an interest in S-F, or in any human being.

A good story shows us people we want to hear about. In S-F some of those people may be aliens. We might want to hear about them because they’re like us or because they’re unlike us – or both. John Campbell said S-F is Minds as good as you, only different.

Here are the Detcon choices.

One is a favorite of mine which I suddenly realized is a Young Adult novel. The other may well be too.

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.

Arthur C. Clarke
The City and the Stars (1956)

Soon after we meet Alvin we find he is in fact the only Young Adult in the City of Diaspar, over a billion years in the future. By advanced technology everyone there has lived many times – except him. At his age people’s memories begin to come back. He is beyond his teacher, beyond Khedron the Jester, perhaps beyond the Central Computer but it does not tell all. What if he keeps looking?

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“The Little Prince” (1943)

Not everyone, says the narrator, has had a friend. This remarkable novella, which may be science fiction, has friends all over the world. The prince may be a Young Adult; he confides “I was too young to know how to love her,” and is puzzled by grown-ups. We get to know him through his asking questions. That’s only one reason to recall Socrates, if you happen to have met him.

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One thought on “Classics of S-F at Detcon

  1. I’m not too sure these qualify as “Young Adult” because there’s timelessness about the two of them, one closer to our own era, and one set in a distant period of times that seems strangely familiar…

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