Visions of Paradise

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Science Fictional ABCdery

The following ABCdery originally appeared in Tom Sadler’s fanzine The Reluctant Famulus #71:

A is for Isaac ASIMOV, one of the stalwarts of sf’s “Golden Years”

B is for Michael BISHOP, who wrote my single favorite novel Brittle Innings in the 1990s. So where the heck has he been the past 15 years?

C is for John W. CAMPBELL, one of the great writers of the 1930s who became the most influential editor in the history of the genre

D is for Gordon R. DICKSON, one of those reliable story-tellers who always wrote on a high level that continuously raised sf above its pulp origins (such as Poul Anderson, Clifford D. Simak, Frederik Pohl, Marion Zimmer Bradley and many others)

E is for George Allan ENGLAND, one of the overlooked giants of the pre-Amazing Stories years, best known for his Darkness and Dawn trilogy

F is for Philip José FARMER, creator of two of the most exciting universes in science fiction, the World of Tiers and the Riverworld

G is for GALAXY Magazine, my favorite prozine in the 1960s until Frederik Pohl retired in 1969 and left it in the incompetent hands of Ejler Jacobsson

H is for Joe HALDEMAN, one of sf’s finest writers for nearly 40 years, but who is so consistent that he is often overlooked in favor of other, flashier writers

I is for IF, a three-time Hugo winner for Best Prozine in the 1960s, breaking the lockhold on that category held by F&SF and Astounding / Analog

J is for The JEWELS of Aptor, which launched the career of 19-year old Samuel R. Delany who was probably more responsible for making “space opera” respectable than any other writer

K Is for Damon KNIGHT, sf’s renaissance man: outstanding author (The Best of Damon Knight, The Other Foot), influential critic, editor (Orbit) and founder of the Science Fiction Writers of America

L is for Ursula K LE GUIN, whose The Left Hand of Darkness was one of those rare sf novels which burst onto the scene like a supernova, immediately influencing everything which followed it

M is for Jack MCDEVITT, one of my favorite current writers who combines classic sf storytelling with an historical worldview and damned good mysteries

N is for Larry NIVEN, who earned a reputation as a top hard science fiction writer during the peak of the New Wave when such writing was considered passé by many fans and critics

O is for OMNI, a popular science magazine which recognized the quality and importance of science fiction, but will be best remembered for hiring Ellen Datlow as its fiction editor near the end of its existence

P is for Edgar Allan POE, a rare genius who helped define science fiction, mystery fiction and horror fiction, thus deserving all the reminiscences on his 200th birthday

Q is for Don QUIXOTE, one of the seminal quest novels which has influenced more fantasy than most people realize

R is for Kim Stanley Robinson who walks the border between genre sf and literary sf so well in such novels as the Mars trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt

S is for Robert Silverberg, one of the “big three” for children of the New Wave era, along with Roger Zelazny and Ursula K Le Guin, and author of Nightwings and Dying Inside, among others

T is for William TENN, whose sharp satires ( along with those of fellow writers such as Robert Sheckley, Pohl & Kornbluth and Damon Knight) set the tone for much sf of the 1950s

U is for UNKNOWN Worlds, one of the earliest genre prozines which treated fantasy with as much rigor as science fiction already contained

V is for Jack VANCE, a master of sense of wonder in stories such as “The Dragon Masters,” “The Last Castle,” the Demon Prince series and the Galactic Cluster novels

W is for H.G. WELLS, the father of science fiction, who created both the format of science fiction as well as many of its seminal topics in works such as The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and The Island of Doctor Moreau

X is for XICCARPH, by Clark Ashton Smith, one of the many early influencers of sf who, along with Lord Dunsany, Mervyn Peake, William Hope Hodgson, and others, has been sadly neglected

Y is for The YIDDISH Policemen’s Union, last year’s Hugo and Nebula winning novel which combined noir mystery with alternate history

Z is for Roger ZELAZNY, who burst onto the sf scene with stories such as “A Rose For Ecclesiastes,” “He Who Shapes” and “...And Call Me Conrad”


  • Interesting.

    However, there seems to been only one female on the list. What about Connie Willis, Elizabeth Moon, or Lois McMaster Bujold, award-winners all? Or Zenna Henderson, or Marion Zimmer Bradley. Or, to go way back, Mary Shelley?

    By Blogger Martin LaBar, At 3:16 PM  

  • it's funny, but whenever people make lists nowadays, it seems that the only thing some people look for in the list is how many women are on it. i made the list with the first things that came to mind for each letter, and ursula was the only woman which occurred to me. if that makes me politically incorrect, so be it. i bet if the list contained all women except only one man nobody would complain.

    By Blogger adamosf, At 3:21 PM  

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