Classics of S-F at Westercon 69

By John Hertz: Westercon LXIX has confirmed we’ll discuss three Classics of Science Fiction, one discussion each. Come to as many as you like. You’ll be welcome to join in.

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.

Each of our three won fame a different way. Each may be more interesting now than when first published.

Have you read them? Have you re-read them?

Alfred Bester

The Stars My Destination (1956)

The Stars My Destination cover
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?

Eugene Burdick & Harvey Wheeler

Fail-Safe (1962)

Hugely popular when published, with technology so slightly advanced and drama so tense it can go unnoticed as S-F; yet the science – Theodore Sturgeon said Science fiction is knowledge fiction – is absolutely central to the story. Biting portrait of a Presidential advisor in a side-light.

Aldous Huxley

Brave New World (1932)

The late great Art Widner called Nineteen Eighty-four slavery by pain, Brave New World slavery by pleasure. Sex, drugs, and perhaps for some of us a nasty picture of rock ’n’ roll are here; as in Fahrenheit 451 a bad man terrifyingly knows all about it. Are the elevator men the sharpest sting?

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