Following its acclaimed three-volume edition of the novels of science fiction master Philip K. Dick, The Library of America now presents a two-volume anthology of nine groundbreaking works from the golden age of the modern science fiction novel. Long unnoticed or dismissed by the literary establishment, these “outsider” novels have gradually been recognized as American classics. Here are genre-defining works by such masters as Robert Heinlein, Richard Matheson, James Blish, and Alfred Bester. The themes range from time travel (Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time) to post-apocalyptic survival (Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow), from the prospect of a future dominated by multinational advertising agencies (Pohl and Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants) to the very nature of human identity in a technological age (Theodore Sturgeon’s More Than Human and Algis Budrys’s Who?). The range of styles is equally diverse, by turns satiric, adventurous, incisive, and hauntingly lyrical. Grappling in fresh ways with a world in rapid transformation, these visionary novels opened new imaginative territory in American writing.
Want to know more?
Over at the Kirkus Reviews Blog today, I talk about American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s edited by Gary K. Wolfe.