Sunday, December 31, 2006

Science Fiction as Literature

At "The Volokh Conspiracy" Jonathan Adler asks whether there are any science fiction books that would qualify as literary masterpieces. As one commenter notes early on, a number of Jules Verne's novels are obvious cases of science fiction works that qualify as literary masterpieces. What I found interesting about the discussion, though, was that almost immediately the running favorite was Walter J. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz; because that was going to be my answer. It's exquisite, influential, and likely to last for a very long time. If you haven't read it, you should, particularly if you like science fiction.

I would also like to suggest that Olaf Stapledon's Sirius and Starmaker are both excellent attempts to craft literary masterpieces in science fiction format -- the former more successful than the latter -- even if you don't think they quite make it.

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