Time for one of my intermittent efforts to catch up on the greats of science fiction. For SciFiMonth (ahem, and the Hive prompt for Dancing with Fantasy and SciFi) I chose Arthur C Clarke’s first novel – one of his earliest and apparently one of his best.
Last autumn, I ‘fessed up that I rarely read SF classics. Looking at “scifi novels every fan must read” lists, I’m a very bad SF fan indeed. This year I made a half-hearted effort to mend my ways (I haven’t exactly let them dominate my reading), but Sci Fi Month was my inspiration to tackle a giant.
When the High Priestess dies, the lesser priestesses leave the Tombs of Atuan and go in search of the newborn she has become. If she grows healthy and unblemished, she is fed to the Nameless Ones, keeper of their rituals, heir to their secrets. Could such a child ever turn her back on the Dark?
Daniel Dann doesn’t believe in ESP, but he’s monitoring telepaths on a top secret Navy project. The Navy wants to talk securely to submarines, but across the galaxy a desperate race on a dying planet latch on to the little group’s signals as their last best hope to save their children. Whatever the cost.
Double whammy confession time: I hadn’t previously read Philip K Dick’s classic, and I don’t much like Blade Runner. Spot the obvious problem though: I have seen Blade Runner, and it’s really hard to read the book without being influenced by it.
It occurred to me that classics of fantasy are as important to me as classics of scifi. So I’m cheating this month, and visiting Earthsea in my celebration of genre classics. I’ll come completely clean: this isn’t even a first read. This was one of my first loves. Can it survive my adult prejudices?
Okay, having ‘fessed up about how few classics I’ve read, I shall endeavour to read at least half a dozen seminal SF works next year in my ongoing Confessions. But first, some catch-up – I read Slaughterhouse Five a while back. I knew it was hailed as a great SF AND great anti-war novel, but I didn’t really know what to expect. It certainly wasn’t what I got.
Confession time: every time I see a list of ‘must-read scifi novels’ or ‘scifi to read before you die’, my heart sinks. Just for a moment. I guess I’m just a bad SF fan – the classics that typically dominate these lists very rarely float my boat. But is that my failing or theirs?