SF Author, editor, and Times Online columnist Brian Aldiss makes an impassioned plea for his genre.

SF is a city literature. It thrives in developed countries. It’s the magic brewed, not in the high street, but in side streets, in high-rise apartments, in hotel rooms, in offices, in airport lounges. It is predominantly an urban literature, written from within that love-hate relationship we have for our big cities. For the citizen, this is city Zen. Just a touch short of oceans and glaciers and impenetrable forests.

Ever since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Or, The Modern Prometheus, SF has been dishing out a variety of gloom and diets of catastrophe. The refreshed version of my A Science Fiction Omnibus offers a modest selection. Well, it is not all gloom; there is also fine satire, such as William Tenn’s Liberation of Earth, and the comedy of Katherine Maclean’s The Snowball Effect. There are also magisterial stories that it is difficult to classify, such as Eric Frank Russell’s Sole Solution and Ward Moore’s Lot.

You know the names of all these authors, of course. What, you don’t? I have known and enjoyed many of them for decades, in all their variety.

Filed under: Books

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