What Do You Think Are the Most Literate Science Fiction books and Stories Ever Written

BAYLOR

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And what qualities do you think make them so ?:)
 
The Time Machine and The Lost World. Tough to beat the quality of the writing and the quality of the vision.
 
Based on the quality of writing and having some depth, I would say (from SF I've read):

Short fiction of Ballard;
Greybeard by Aldiss;
The best (early 70's work) of Silverberg;
Wyndham at his best;
Some of Vance's prose writing (particularly his descriptive turn of phrase) is genuinely great;
I think there are scenes and moments of pathos in Simak's best work (Way Station, Why Call them Back from Heaven) that reach real literary heights;
Flowers for Algernon (short story) - Keyes
And there will come soft rains (plus other bits of Martian Chronicles) - Bradbury.

EDIT: This post belongs in Baylors companion thread on SF not this fantasy one - maybe a Mod could move it over. Oops
 
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Possibly.

(Nevertheless, let us ponder Bick's suggestions now that they have been planted in more congenial soil.)
 
Hucley's Brave New World and Orwell's 1984 are always the two that immediately spring to my mind as being literary Science Fiction. Not sure I'm qualified to say exactly why though! :oops:
This topic has been already done? :unsure:
I think Teresa's 'done' was referring to moving Bick's post rather than the thread being a repeat!
 
Arthur C. Clarke's "2001:A Space Odyssey"

Visionary for its time; enthralling from start to finish, which is so typical of Clarke's descriptive style.
 
The space trilogy by C. S. Lewis. The three books seem to me very well written in general, teeming with imagination and inventiveness. I think they were written for the ear, which perhaps has been uncommon for a long time and seems so especially today, rather than just being written to get the job done, the job of putting words on paper. They are rich in literary allusiveness, but it's always an allusiveness that works, that's doing something worth doing that can't be done some other way. An instance comes early in the first book, Out of the Silent Planet, in which Ransom, who has been kidnapped, tries to process what he is experiencing in space, and finds himself recalling a passage of Milton's wonderful, magical poetic masque Comus, which I wish more Chrons people would read. His Venus in Perelandra is nothing like the real second planet, but it is one of the very greatest science fiction planets. There too comes poetic allusion, for example when Ransom sees one of the creatures of that world and thinks of the guardian-dragon of the Hesperides. The third book, That Hideous Strength, would make many a reader want to delve into the legends of Merlin if he or she were not already acquainted with them. The book teems with leads for reading and even made me, on first reading around 9th grade (age 14), wish I could learn Latin! The books may all be read with enjoyment even if one doesn't sense the rich traditions of learning and poetry that permeate them, but they grow with the reader. I enjoyed them as a youngster whose other reading tended to Howard, Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs, etc. (and Tolkien), and I still love them in my seventh decade, when I have learned a little about things like Renaissance Platonism.
 
That Hideous Strength is one of the most bizarre books I've ever read. I find it hard to imagine a reader who would tick all the boxes to fully enjoy it. But it is very entertaining and unsettling.

I would add The Island of Doctor Moreau to the list. In about 200 pages, Wells raises more issues that most writers discuss in their whole career: animal rights, religion as a tool of control, nature vs nurture, the moral obligations of a parent/creator, colonialism, eugenics and a load more. It's a pretty disturbing read even now. The Handmaid's Tale is also a pretty literate book, in the broader sense of touching on a lot of different background material. The more you know of what it references, the more you get out of it.

I also suspect that the Gormenghast novels are very literate, but in a different sort of way. They seem to be written to be appreciated in a different way to modern books. I don't think you're supposed to get emotionally involved in the way that more recent stories want, but to be entertained by it all rather than moved. I find this quite difficult to explain as a concept: perhaps it's that the writer's aim is to create an intellectual response in the reader more than an emotional one.
 
Ronald T., do you know if Asimov was closely influenced in writing the Foundation Trilogy by Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? I have a vague impression that someone may have said he was at least somewhat influenced. Haven't read Gibbon myself. Read the trilogy over forty years ago!
 
Toby, I thought about mentioning Peake's Gormenghast books too. I really want to get a second reading of Gormenghast i. I've tried, but I seem to bog down with all the Prunesquallor stuff, which it seems Peake found a lot more entertaining than I do. Maybe I just need to skim that material. But yeah, literate indeed: resourceful vocabulary, a real work of imagination that suggests, what -- ? Piranesi's prisons? And Dickens? De Quincey?
 
Sorry, Ex T, but I must admit, with a certain amount shame, I haven't read "DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE". So I'm unqualified to answer your question. But I'd be interested to hear the answer if someone out there knows how to answer you properly.

And by the way, that artwork above is beautiful. I would love to know the source.
 
I'm not sure what to suggest re Gormenghast. Dickens is definitely in there (especially the Prunesquallor episodes) and perhaps Peacock as well. I've only read a bit of Peacock, but the characterisation makes me think of him. But it also reminds me of lighter books like Cold Comfort Farm in its grotesqueness (and also in some of the landscape and buildings, which are both pretty absurd). And of course there are a lot of Peake's own experiences in there: the Forbidden City in China, his time on Sark, and (in Titus Alone especially) his time as a war artist. There might even be a bit of Bruegel or Blake in the mix. I'm sure I'll think of some more options (perhaps even Lewis Carroll, who Peake illustrated?).

Incidentally, I suspect everyone has a least favourite aspect of Gormenghast. I find the Keda interludes pretty boring, and the teachers always left me a bit cold.

One of the problems in pinning Gormenghast down is the tone: it's not quite a load of jolly eccentrics being splendid, but nor is it miserable grimdark. Interestingly, it seems to anticipate both goth and steampunk in popular culture, but they're probably influenced by it, to an extent - the Cure did a song about Fuschia.
 
I'm not sure what to suggest re Gormenghast. Dickens is definitely in there (especially the Prunesquallor episodes) and perhaps Peacock as well. I've only read a bit of Peacock, but the characterisation makes me think of him. But it also reminds me of lighter books like Cold Comfort Farm in its grotesqueness (and also in some of the landscape and buildings, which are both pretty absurd). And of course there are a lot of Peake's own experiences in there: the Forbidden City in China, his time on Sark, and (in Titus Alone especially) his time as a war artist. There might even be a bit of Bruegel or Blake in the mix. I'm sure I'll think of some more options (perhaps even Lewis Carroll, who Peake illustrated?).

Incidentally, I suspect everyone has a least favourite aspect of Gormenghast. I find the Keda interludes pretty boring, and the teachers always left me a bit cold.

One of the problems in pinning Gormenghast down is the tone: it's not quite a load of jolly eccentrics being splendid, but nor is it miserable grimdark. Interestingly, it seems to anticipate both goth and steampunk in popular culture, but they're probably influenced by it, to an extent - the Cure did a song about Fuschia.

Ive gotten to about page 75, every once in while a read a few pages of it. It's not quite like anything I've ever read.
 
I think some of William Gibson's more recent stuff might qualify. His allusions and descriptions are incredibly thoughtful.

And I would agree with Dune, along with Herbert's Jesus Incident.
 

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