History of Classic Science Fiction

CRRL Collection Showcase: Science Fiction

CRRL Collection Showcase: Science Fiction

If you want to read a science fiction novel that favors intelligent, subversive writing with unique twists, try one of these novels. Many are critically acclaimed and highly influential within the science fiction genre. Most of their authors have been honored as Grand Masters of Science Fiction. If you are a science fiction fan, I strongly recommend you check out some of these books from our collection.

The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt

The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt

One of the earliest adventure novels detailing the journey of a group of explorers from the surface world through a subterranean civilization, Abraham Merritt’s The Moon Pool is also one of the best examples of the genre.  With an exciting narrative full of thrilling action sequences, memorable characters, and a fascinating civilization of bizarre wonders, The Moon Pool is a great adventure novel that will thrill fans of classic science fiction.  For fans of shorter novels, it is also a fast-paced read. Edited together from two novellas titled “The Moon Pool” and “Conquest of the Moon Pool,” it is under 300 pages in length and can be completed by most readers in about 3-5 days.  For those seeking to discover the roots of sci-fi adventure stories in the early twentieth century, The Moon Pool is an excellent trip back in time.

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Many early science fiction “space operas” were simple narratives of good vs. evil, with clean-cut heroes, dastardly villains, and no more ambition than seeing the hero fly off to another adventure at the end. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, with its sprawling narrative, morally ambiguous characters, and realistic interpretation of both social and mathematical science, changed the course of science fiction forever. Asimov’s masterpiece presents an intriguing story of the fall of civilization, and the many people from varying walks of life who attempt to restore it.  With Asimov’s meticulous attention to detail and a vibrant, chaotic universe, this novel will satisfy any fan of thoughtful, socially-aware science fiction.

Foundation is the story of the planet Terminus, a resource-poor planet at the edge of the galaxy that becomes the seed of a movement to save civilization after the fall of the Galactic Empire.  The novel begins as the renowned “psychohistorian” Hari Seldon, having developed a mathematical model for the behavior of human beings on a mass scale, has foreseen the doom of the Empire and gathers up a group of scholars to create an encyclopedia of knowledge to aid humanity in the coming Dark Age.  

The Illustrated Man

By Ray Bradbury

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"The Illustrated Man is classic Bradbury - a collection of tales that breathe and move, animated by sharp, intaken breath and flexing muscle. Here are eighteen startling visions of humankind's destiny, unfolding across a canvas of decorated skin - visions as keen as the tattooist's needle and as colorful as the inks that indelibly stain the body. The images, ideas, sounds and scents that abound in this phantasmagoric sideshow are provocative and powerful: the mournful cries of celestial travelers cast out cruelly into a vast, empty space of stars and blackness...the sight of gray dust selling over a forgotten outpost on a road that leads nowhere...the pungent odor of Jupiter on a returning father's clothing. Here living cities take their vengeance, technology awakens the most primal natural instincts, Martian invasions are foiled by the good life and the glad hand, and dreams are carried aloft in junkyard rockets. Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man is a kaleidoscopic blending of magic, imagination, and truth, widely believed to be one of the Grandmaster's premier accomplishments: as exhilarating as interplanetary travel, as maddening as a walk in a million-year rain, and as comforting as simple, familiar rituals on the last night of the world."
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A History of Classic Science Fiction: Isaac Asimov

No discussion of twentieth-century science fiction writing can be complete without mention of Isaac Asimov, the biochemistry professor and visionary writer who was responsible for creating the popular characterization of robots and incorporating themes of social science into “hard” science fiction. His most popular works, the Foundation trilogy and the Robot series, are considered landmarks of science fiction to this day. 

A History of Classic Science Fiction: A.E. Van Vogt and E.E. "Doc" Smith

The period of time from the late 1930s to the end of the 1950s is commonly known as the "Golden Age" of science fiction.  The Golden Age was noted for the volume of science fiction produced due to the large number of science fiction-oriented pulp magazines and the depth of the creative talent involved.  Many of the writers working in this period established concepts that would have a tremendous cultural impact on their readers.

A History of Science Fiction: Ray Bradbury & Arthur C. Clarke

Over the course of the twentieth century, many authors have emerged to define the popular perception of science fiction. These authors have created some of the most-read science fiction works and continue to have an enormous influence on the science fiction world to this day. It is the work of these authors that has made the genre into a more diverse and critically respected field.

A History of Classic Science Fiction: John Carter’s Mars and Flash Gordon’s Universe

The most famed and prolific area of science fiction is the planetary adventure, featuring strange environments, exotic alien races, and massive battle scenes. Many of the most popular science fiction universes, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and Avatar, take place in these environments. Most of these universes owe their existence to the adventure fiction of one author.