“Anything you dream is fiction, and anything you accomplish is science. The whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.”
-Ray Bradbury, 1920 – 2012
Ray Bradbury. Photo by Alan Light.
Ray Bradbury, one of the great pioneers of science fiction, died this week. He helped lay the foundation for the genre as we know it today, from movies and TV shows to the contemporary tales of futuristic chaos and dystopia that have popped up in teen lit recently.
Science fiction is fascinating because it asks us to imagine possibilities. How will our world evolve? Where will our society be in thirty years? In one hundred years? As technology expands at dizzying rates and infiltrates every part of our lives, we are faced with big questions about humanity and progress, conformity and individuality, and a future that might not be so far off.
Many of the masters of the sci-fi genre got started back in the day, when the threat of the atomic bomb made people ponder the potential of nuclear destruction, and the thrill of space travel made the future seem nearer than ever before. In honor of Ray Bradbury and his visions of the techno-future, check out one of these vintage science fiction hits.
The Martian Chronicles (1950) by Ray Bradbury
This short story collection explores the struggles of humans as they colonize Mars in the wake of Earth’s destruction. The stories poetically dissect topics like space travel, aliens, and global nuclear devastation. Pure sci-fi bliss.
“There was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves.”
Foundation (1951) by Isaac Asimov
Foundation: the original novel in sci-fi master Isaac Asimov’s epic Foundation series. This one is about a group of scientists in the Galactic Empire who discover that their civilization is crumbling around them and must figure out how to preserve the knowledge of their dying culture.
“The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity—a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop. “
A Wrinkle In Time (1962) by Madeline L’Engle
A Wrinkle In Time is a teen lit classic that blends sci-fi with fantasy. The brainy protagonist Meg travels through strange folds in the space-time continuum guided by mysterious entities named Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which in a quest to rescue her scientist father from some unknown dark force. Quantum physics, romance, tesseracts, and teenage heros…what’s not to like?
“What could there be about a shadow that was so terrible that she knew that there had never been before or ever would be again, anything that would chill her with a fear that was beyond shuddering, beyond crying or screaming, beyond the possibility of comfort?”
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) by Philip K. Dick
This one explores a post-apocalyptic Earth where humans coexist with androids on the burnt out planet and nearly all animals have fallen to extinction by radiation poisoning. The story (which inspired the 1980’s classic Bladerunner) shifts between a bounty hunter of androids and a group of his fugitive targets in the ultimate study of man and machine.
“You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.”
-Maggie, CLP- Carrick
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