Audiobook showcase: Classic Sci-Fi
March 12, 2014
When I was a youngster I had one thing I cherished more than anything.
The book lovers out there will understand.
In my small hometown, we had a fine library, a stone building filled with books.
It had two other features that distinguished it from the other public buildings in town, and from my small frame house.
It had a basement and air-conditioning.
My favorite thing was to walk to the library, take a Robert A. Heinlein book off the shelf, meander down the stairs to the basement and set up camp in one of the cool, overstuffed armchairs.
That’s why classic sci-fi is more than literature to me. It evokes the best of my childhood, the best of what a love of reading can do for a young kid from the sticks.
So today on our audiobook showcase, I bring you classic scif-fi tales.
Anyone who hasn’t read Ray Bradbury’s classic owes it to himself to take a few hours and remedy that problem. The publisher’s summary on Audible says:
The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning, along with the houses in which they were hidden. Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires. And he enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs or the joy of watching pages consumed by flames, never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid. Then Guy met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think. And Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do.
And who can afford to miss H.G. Wells classic, The War of the Worlds?
First published by H. G. Wells in 1898, The War of the Worlds is the granddaddy of all alien invasion stories. The novel begins ominously, as the lone voice of a narrator intones, “No one would have believed in the last years of the 19th century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s.”
Things then progress from a series of seemingly mundane reports about odd atmospheric disturbances taking place on Mars to the arrival of Martians just outside of London. At first, the Martians seem laughable, hardly able to move in Earth’s comparatively heavy gravity, even enough to raise themselves out of the pit created when their spaceship landed. But soon the Martians reveal their true nature as death machines 100 feet tall rise up from the pit and begin laying waste to the surrounding land. Wells quickly moves the story from the countryside to the evacuation of London itself and the loss of all hope as England’s military suffers defeat after defeat.
With horror, the narrator describes how the Martians suck the blood from living humans for sustenance and how it’s clear that man is not being conquered so much as corralled.
My final choice is a little less obvious.
C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet.
The publisher’s summary:
Out of the Silent Planet is the first novel of the Cosmic Trilogy, considered to be C.S. Lewis’ chief contribution to the science fiction genre. The trilogy concerns Dr. Ransom, a linguist, who, like Christ, was offered a ransom for mankind. The first two novels are planetary romances with elements of medieval mythology. Each planet is seen as having a tutelary spirit; those of the other planets are both good and accessible, while that of Earth is fallen, twisted, and not known directly by most humans. The story is powerfully imagined, and the effects of lesser gravity on Martian planet and animal life is vividly rendered.
I stumbled on this book when I was a freshman in college searching the shelves for a book to write a report about for my English class. I knew something of C.S. Lewis but had no idea he had written sci-fi. The book made a lasting impression on me, so much so that I still remember it all these aeons later.
So if you get a chance check out some of these class sci-fi works.