With the popularity of The Queen’s Gambit, the Post points out that its author, Walter Tevis, was hardly a one-hit wonder. Tevis wrote science fiction greats like “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and the overlooked classic “Mockingbird,” as well as “The Hustler,” later turned into a movie with Paul Newman.
Way back in the 20th Century, science fiction couldn’t get no respect. Jack Williamson barely escaped being committed for the lunacy of writing tales about possible tomorrows. Aside anomalous best sellers like When Worlds Collide, it took Heinlein to get anything like real books distributed beyond the drug store pulp rack. Later best-sellers like Vonnegut, Atwood and Le Guin kept waffling whether to spurn or embrace their roots in a genre that had fostered them. Academics sneered and while many universities had to run a science fiction class - (a lit course ‘for the nerds’) - that SF instructor almost never got tenure. And every five years or so there appeared a hit piece in The Atlantic, or Harpers, or The New Yorker, slagging the entire field as “febrile fantasies.”
My how things have changed! Last month a postage stamp was issued honoring Ursula Le Guin (my former teacher.) Science fiction research programs sprout up at many universities. And those same elite magazines now run reviews of - or sober reflections upon - SF in its many forms. True, much of this new status comes packaged in vehement liberation-rhetoric, some of it unfairly ungrateful to earlier SF generations who were generally progressive and friendlier toward inclusion than their times. But no one can sanely object to the overall trend, discovering and developing appreciation for exploratory literature and film created by members of many nations, races, genders and mythic systems! Setting aside the occasional, spate of undeserved and self-defeating hostility toward allies, this is a trend that science fiction can justifiably be proud of.
(Much of this is discussed in my own recently released academic tome Vivid Tomorrows: Science Fiction and Hollywood.)
Exemplifying this trend is a series of fine reviews that has been appearing on the website of National Public Radio (NPR), including...
… this rumination by Ramtin Arablouei on my dear friend and colleague, the late Octavia E. Butler. After whom the Perseverance Mars probe landing site was recently named!
… and for some non-fiction that has that good old sci fi apocalypse feeling to it, take a look at Elizabeth Kolbert’s Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future. This volume covers in a reporter’s thorough detail some of the dire topics of humanity's impacts on ecological change I conveyed in novel form, in Earth.
Kazuo Ishiguro has long been recognized as one of the greatest writers in the English language, exploring fretful, endangered lives, as in Never Let Me Go, and clashes with modernity and ethics and constrained personality, in The Remains of the Day.
Now, Nobel laureate Ishiguro returns to science fiction with a novel in the point-of-view of a robot companion, seeking to understand the humans it is confusedly trying to serve - with his newly released, Klara and the Sun.
== The adventure Sci Fi series you've been seeking? ==
Suppose your descendants – people of the future – reach back in time to ask for your help. Would you go?
24th Century humanity has created a Utopia. No more War. Disease. Prejudice. Crime. But no heroes! And suddenly they need heroes, fast. So they reach out across time… for you.
Would you go?
And what if only teens can survive the trip?
In the first Out of Time novel, Nebula Award winning author Nancy Kress takes you on an adventure, with a 10th Century Viking girl, a New Jersey high school basketball star and a young thief from Shakespeare’s London who are yanked into a future of both promise and peril and asked achieve what adults of that time cannot… rescue a lost star-colony. But even if they succeed, will they ever make it back home?
And then more such adventures from the mighty Sheila Finch(!) and Roger McBride Allen... and soon a new wave of new novels resumes with one from Bram Stoker Award winner Patrick Freivald... and more in queue!