The Big Bada-Bom: Science Fiction Literature History, Part 3

Modern SF

Of all science fiction novels that have been captured on film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by the late Stanley M. Kubrick is certainly one of the most celebrated. This movie is based on the similarly named work by novelist Arthur C. Clarke, whose novels are internationally treasured. In fact, the novel 2001… is originally based on a screenplay made by Clarke and Kubrick together, and the very screenplay was in turn based on a short story called The Sentinel. Clarke is also known for his inclusion of philosophical and religious issues in his works, and he made three sequels to 2001: A Space Odyssey, namely 2010: Odyssey 2 (which has also been filmed), 2061: Odyssey Three and 3001: The Final Odyssey.

Another author who certainly deserves mentioning on a list such as this is Douglas Adams, whose novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy added the factors of humorous plots, outrageous absurdity and, not to forgotten, a sizable share of environmental and moral questions, to the scene of science fiction. Adam’s work featured unforgettable characters such as Slartibartfast, president Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford Prefect, Trillian, the manodepressive robot Marvin and, of course, the utterly charismatic and thoroughly British traveler Arthur Dent. The first book in the Hitchhiker series filmed was in 2005, and the books still have a huge following to this day.


Now

Science fiction literature is still going strong and shows no signs of disappearing. New sci-fi novels repeatedly find their way to the toplists, and some old classics still occupy the shelves in bookstores worldwide. In addition, the scene has changed and many new, original themes have emerged, refusing to be easily categorized. While it is possible or even likely to run across many works by aforementioned authors, here follows a brief list of other, popular and influential writers and examples of novels.

One novel which might fall in under the Cyberpunk category is Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Featuring a Katana-toting, speed-addicted and hot-tempered pizza delivery driver at work in a dark, twisted future; this is a highly enjoyable and well-written ride. Neal Stephenson is also the author of The Diamond Queen, which deals with nanotechnology and its hazards.

Another novelist who rose to stardom with his hugely successful novel Revelation Space is Alastair Sinclair, who combines hard-edged action and distinct characters with incredibly vast storylines and time frames. Reynolds work is also characterized by vivid, larger-than-life but also very creative and imaginative ideas. Recent work includes Century Rain and Pushing Ice.

Peter F Hamilton is one of Britain’s most recognized science fiction writers. Famous work includes the Night’s Dawn series and the recent Commonwealth Saga series.

In 1987, Consider Phelbas by British author Ian M. Banks was first published. Accredited as one of the most important and influential science fiction novels to ever have been published,
Banks remains a productive writer today, also active in other genres.

Richard Morgan exploded onto the scene with the hard-boiled, distinctly noir and fantastically well-penned Altered Carbon. Subversive language is here blended with sinister plots, idealistic clashes and really impressive, immersive writing, sometimes bordering on the poetic. Highly recommended.

Despite him having already been mentioned, William Gibson is good enough to be brought into the spotlight once again. His early contribution to the genre of science fiction with his flamboyant and innovative novel The Neuromancer is grand enough to warrant him a place among the top three most important science fiction writers ever. However, while he isn’t the most productive writer out there, Gibson deserves further attention for his subsequent works, most of which are of the same high standard as his debut.


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