16 March 2009

Librivox Short Science Fiction Collection Volume 009

Librivox readers have issued 13 volumes of short stories from the science fiction genre. In this particular collection, there are stories from such imminent writers as Kurt Vonnegut, Randall Garrett, Jack Williamson, Tom Goodwin and Algis Budrys.

As you all know, I am a big fan of the science fiction genre. It presents the writer (and reader for that matter) with a blank canvas. When you have all time and space in which to explore, authors are free to interpolate social issues into domains where few may recognize them. The writer may chose to veil their message as subtle or as expressively as they wish. Often a seemingly plot driven story underlines a scathing social commentary by the author. Writers are able to place marginalized characters at the forefront of their plots, by imagining alternate universes. Science fiction - not to be confused with fantasy - is often socially progressive astute observations of both the universal human conditions and the specific culture in which the writer has experienced.

Of these particular stories, many of the stories reflect the almost magnetic pull that "rockets" had on the American culture in the 1950s. Rockets, it would seem looking back, were seen as harbingers of both the mystery and the possibility of the burgeoning science and technology surrounding, in particular, the fields of physics and nuclear atomics. What can certainly be said of sci-fi writers, they will be laughed out of town, if they don't get their science correct.

From Kurt Vonnegut's 2BR02B:
"In the year 2000," said Dr. Hitz, "before scientists stepped in and laid down the law, there wasn't even enough drinking water to go around, and nothing to eat but sea-weed--and still people insisted on their right to reproduce like jackrabbits. And their right, if possible, to live forever."