By John Hertz: We’ll take up three Classics of Science Fiction at Loscon 41, one discussion each. Come to as many as you like. You’ll be welcome to join in.
Each of our three is famous in a different way. Each may be more interesting now than when first published. Extra credit: compare any two to the third.
Have you read them? Have you re-read them?
The Stars My Destination (1957)
One of our best titles; possibly the author’s best book. The graphics near the end are by Jack Gaughan. Brilliant, compulsive, pulse-pounding, undaunted, its future is filthy and rich; Gulliver Foyle — don’t think for a moment Bester didn’t grasp that name — starts as one and becomes the other. What is purpose to passion and power? Do imagination, self-assertion, danger, originality, drive beyond good and evil?
In fact, two years after Moonraker the R-7 and Atlas still could not burn hydrogen and fluorine. Can James Bond take it? What about the craftsmanship? What about the card game? What about asking the next question? What about the end with Gala Brand? Talk at Boskone 50 flamed with inquiry whether this story is s-f, fueled by a rocketman of British fandom who happened to be present.
Skylark Three (1948)
The Skylark of Space pioneered adventuring to the stars; in this sequel the ship Skylark Two for a little appears. John Campbell wrote, “Skylark of Space was the best story of scientifiction ever printed, without exception. I have recently changed my opinion, however, since Skylark Three has come out.” Wonders never cease; we see the drama of discovery, the crucible of collaboration, and — yes — character.