Sci-Fi Pulp Before PC – The Real Stuff Illustrated

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Banks: the Culture begins here. Of the latter, the aliens have made a hodge-podge: the stories of Orpheus, the Minotaur, Billy the Kid, Jean Harlow, Ringo Starr, Jesus Christ — these and other traditions of all dead generations weigh like a nightmare on the brains of the living. The Einstein Intersection is pretentious — but in the best possible way. All of this occurs over a vast span of time; the book is epic in scope — in fact, two of the chapters were first published as stand-alone novellas in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Eventually, the crew members assume the powers and names of Hindu deities; their main concern is preventing enlightenment, and scientific or technological advancement among their human subjects. Dangerous Visions Still, Philip K. I should also mention John T. Ellison published a sequel, Again, Dangerous Visions , in ; a third, as yet unpublished sequel, is now infamous. As a new Ice Age dawns sparked by a nuclear holocaust? War and revolution break out everywhere. Plot possibilities unfurl, only to furl back up again; is the narrator insane?

In this metafictional cult classic, set in the near future, not long after the Bicentennial, when video phones and personal hovercraft are common, a ragtag group of Greenwich Village hippies discover that their acid trips are beginning to come true. Can these drug-addled pacifists thwart the alien invasion? Fun fact: The blog io9. In the year , interstellar human society is divided into three constellations — each of which was originally colonized by different Earth socio-economic classes.

Draco, which includes Earth and other wealthy planets, is an aristocratic constellation ruled by the caucasian Red family, whose Red-Shift Limited is the sole manufacturer of faster-than-light drives; the Pleiades Federation, a middle-class constellation, is the home of operations for the rival mixed-race Von Rays. The Outer Colonies, settled by working-class Earthlings, are the source of the important energy source illyrion, a superheavy element essential to starship travel and terraforming planets.

Our protagonist is Lorq Von Ray, a playboy who — years earlier — was attacked and scarred by Prince Red. There is a central story line, with recurring characters including Shalmaneser, a super-computer. Meanwhile, a Southeast Asian country has achieved a breakthrough in genetic engineering. We briefly meet many other characters, via fragmented, information-rich chapters devoted solely to world-building. Political slogans, advertising, song lyrics, journalism, and slang recorded in a glossary titled The Hipcrime Vocab , by sociologist Chad C.

Mulligan , help us experience the social, economic, and cultural consequences of unchecked population growth. Although there are plenty of thrills and chills here for example, Deckard is seduced by an android whose mission it is to make it impossible for him to kill Pris , this is as much a philosophical novel about empathy as it as an adventure.

The androids have no emotions — the only way that Deckard can tell them apart from humans is by giving them empathy tests. And the sequel, Blade Runner , further muddies the waters. Our unnamed narrator, a writer, lives outside an unnamed town, on the fringes of a commune called iDEATH.

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The commune features a trout hatchery which produces oil used to light their lamps and a watermelon works which produces multicolored sugars used to fashion every sort of commodity , not to mention huge statues of vegetables, and shacks to which those who want to spend time alone can retreat.

The setting is idyllic, but also somehow post-apocalyptic. The mood is elegiac, light-hearted, sad, and critical all at the same time. We are reading the diary of an imprisoned conscientious objector, the poet Louis Sacchetti, who has been sent to Camp Archimedes, the inmates of which are dosed unwittingly with a strain of syphilis as part of a military experiment. With Ignatius J. Reilly, Sacchetti is one of the great obese fictional characters. Does God exist? Does alchemy work? Do we humans create Hell for ourselves?

Fun fact: Serialized in New Worlds in In , Philip K. Dick wrote a paranoid letter to the FBI suggesting that there were coded messages in Camp Concentration.

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Before Iain M. Our protagonist is Helva, who was born with an exceptional brain and severe physical disabilities… so she was raised as an indentured servant destined to be a starship brain. In the s, McCaffrey and co-authors produced six sequels. When he is fourteen, Van Veen, who will grow up to be a psychologist and renegade scholar, falls in love with his eleven-year-old cousin, Ada; they begin a life-long sexual affair, despite later discovering that they are half-siblings.

The story begins in the early 19th century, though characters discuss airplanes, motion pictures, and other anachronistic technologies; everything is powered by water, and it is forbidden to mention electricity. Van and Ada — who are maybe somehow, respectively, Eve and Adam — live on a planet known as Antiterra, which is geographically similar to Earth, although politically England has conquered most of it, and American culture is influenced by Russia. Nineteen-Sixties culture is, somehow, a myth from the past.

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I might include works by Samuel R. Delany and Michael Moorcock in which the Beatles become mythical figures. Sent to Luna in search of criminal telepaths, Joe and Pat and the rest of their team is caught in an explosion… after which nothing is ever the same again. Are they moving backwards in time? Are they in some other reality?

Are they caught up in a cosmic battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness — and if so, what is the ultimate source of these forces? Every interpretation that they posit is frustrated; meaning remains elusive. Each chapter is prefaced with an advertisement for Ubik, salvation in a spray can. John Lennon, at one point, was interested in adapting the film version. During the Battle of the Bulge in , he is captured and transported to Dresden.


Like them, Billy becomes a philosophical ironist because — thanks to his time-traveling — the entire human experience strikes him as absurd. Is he crazy, or a visionary? Fun facts: As a prisoner of war in , Vonnegut experienced the Dresden firebombing; the narrator of Slaughterhouse-Five is the author, speaking in his own voice. Efforts have been mounted to re-establish a galactic civilization; some eighty planets have organized themselves into a union called the Ekumen.

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In this novel, Genly Ai, an agent of The Ekumen, has spent a frustrating couple of years as an envoy to the frozen planet Gethen. Fun facts: The Left Hand of Darkness is one of the first feminist sci-fi novels, though some feminists have argued that it does not go far enough in critiquing gender stereotypes.

Our narrator, Rat, is an unpleasant, misogynistic character who runs a tiny London boarding house and brothel. Fun fact: An exceedingly difficult book to find! Social norms have collapsed.

2. From 1978 to 1992

Colin Charteris, a young Serbian who has been working in UN refugee camps in Italy, travels to England… where he falls under the influence of the hallucinogenics and finds himself hailed as a prophet by the pharmaceuticalized populace. Preaching a trippy Gurdjieffian gospel, Charteris could usher in a utopian social order… or perhaps his movement will help European civilization utterly devolve. In this experimentalist, poetic work, a year-old boy rescues a baby girl when her mother dies in childbirth.

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He raises her in a world devoid of other humans. What has happened? Are Sam and An being studied by them?

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Who is leaving them messages — and what do the messages mean?