Classics of Science Fiction

By Kevin on June 20th, 2011
Posted in Programming | 2 Comments »

John Hertz will be leading discussions of three classic SF works at Westercon 64. As he puts it, “A classic is a work that survives its own time. After the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.” If you have a better definition, bring it to the panels.

Each of the three classics is worth reading, or re-reading. Each discussion will take up one. Come to as many as you like. You’ll be welcome to join in. Check the program schedule at the convention for the specific time and location of the discussion.

Poul Anderson
Brain Wave (1954)

Humankind didn’t invent it; we escaped it. The Solar System suddenly moves out of a cosmic cloud after hundreds of millions of years. It was a suppressor field, so everything that has a brain is about five times smarter – people and animals. Now what?

Philip K. Dick
The Man in the High Castle (1962)

This won Dick’s only Hugo. The Allies lost World War II; Nazi Germany controls the east coast of North America, Imperial Japan the west, where most of the story is set. Avram Davidson, who was no dope, said “It’s all here, extrapolation, suspense, action, art philosophy.”

Murray Leinster
“The Ethical Equations” (1945)

Here are hostile aliens we can’t take advantage of, astounding technology ditto, bureaucrats who get their noses pulled, neatly and deftly shown. Leinster coined “first contact” for the first meeting of humans and aliens; the Sidewise Award for alternative history is named after a Leinster novella. He was one of s-f’s best craftsmen.

Our thanks to the estate of Murray Leinster and the Virginia Kidd Agency for their permission to offer a free download of Leinster’s story for a limited time prior to Westercon 64 in conjunction with this program item. (The free download offer is now over and the copy has been removed.)

Note that Leinster’s daughters Billee J. Stallings and Jo-an J. Evans have written a biography of Murray Leinster, to be published in the near future by McFarland.

“The Ethical Equations,” copyright © 1945, 1973 by the Estate of Murray Leinster; first appeared in Astounding (now known as Analog); used by permission of the author’s Estate and the Estate’s agents, the Virginia Kidd Agency, Inc.

Image from the NESFA Press collection First Contacts (Joe Rico ed.), used by permission.



By Ah, The Classics! « File 770 on 06.20.11 10:02 pm

[…] three works being discussed at Westercon 64 are: Poul Anderson, Brain Wave (1954): Humankind didn’t invent it; we escaped it. The Solar […]


By AmyCat =^.^= (Book Universe) on 06.27.11 1:29 pm

I hope someone in the Dealers’ Room will have used copies… BRAIN WAVE is only “in print” in audio format (and out of stock in the MP3 CD version, the only one under $50), but I’ve stocked a couple copies of MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE (and it’s included in a 3-volume boxed PKD hardcover set that I’ve got in stock).

Thanks for having the Leinster story as PDF!


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