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The Best Year for Science Fiction Was 1953

8 Books | by Bob O’Keefe

Highly biased, but just look at this list:
The Demolished Man

The Demolished Man

Alfred Bester

In 2301, a psychopathic business magnate comes up with the ultimate plan to eliminate his competition and destroy the order of society.
Childhood’s End

Childhood’s End

Arthur C. Clarke

In the near future, enormous silver spaceships appear without warning over mankind’s largest cities. They belong to the Overlords, an alien race far superior to humanity in technological development—and their purpose is to dominate the Earth. Their demands, however, are surprisingly beneficial—end war, poverty, and cruelty. Their presence, rather than signaling the end of humanity, ushers in a golden age—or so it seems. But it comes at a price. Without conflict, humanity ceases to work toward creative achievement, and culture stagnates. And as the years pass, it becomes more and more clear that the Overlords have a hidden agenda for the evolution of the human race—that may not be as beneficial as it seems. Originally published in 1953, Childhood’s End is Clarke’s first successful novel—and is considered a classic of science fiction literature. Its dominating theme of transcendent evolution appears in many of Clarke’s later works, including the Space Odyssey series. In 2004, the book was nominated for the Retro Hugo Award for Best Novel.
Mission Of Gravity

Mission Of Gravity

Hal Clement

Mesklin is a vast, inhospitable, disc-shaped planet, so cold that its oceans are liquid methane and its snows are frozen ammonia. It is a world spinning dizzyingly, a world where gravity can be a crushing 700 times greater than Earth's, a world too hostile for human explorers. But the planet holds secrets of inestimable value, and an unmanned probe that has crashed close to one of its poles must be recovered. Only the Mesklinites, the small creatures so bizarrely adapted to their harsh environment, can help. And so Barlennan, the resourceful and courageous captain of the Mesklinite ship Bree, sets out on an heroic and appalling journey into the terrible unknown. For him and his people, the prize to be gained is as great as that for mankind... Hal Clement's MISSION OF GRAVITY is universally regarded as one of the most important and best loved novels in the genre. The remarkable and sympathetic depiction of an alien species and the plausible and scientifically based realisation of the strange world they inhabit make it a major landmark in the history of hard SF.
Second Foundation

Second Foundation

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels are one of the great masterworks of science fiction. As unsurpassed blend of nonstop action, daring ideas, and extensive world-building, they chronicle the struggle of a courageous group of men and women dedicated to preserving humanity's light in a galaxy plunged into a nightmare of ignorance and violence thirty thousand years long. After years of struggle, the Foundation lies in ruins—destroyed by the mutant mind power of the Mule. But it is rumored that there is a Second Foundation hidden somewhere at the end of the Galaxy, established to preserve the knowledge of mankind through the long centuries of barbarism. The Mule failed to find it the first time—but now he is certain he knows where it lies. The fate of the Foundation rests on young Arcadia Darell, only fourteen years old and burdened with a terrible secret. As its scientists gird for a final showdown with the Mule, the survivors of the First Foundation begin their desperate search. They too want the Second Foundation destroyed…before it destroys them. From the Paperback edition.
Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury

The terrifyingly prophetic novel of a post-literate future Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the source of all discord and unhappiness, the printed book.
More Than Human

More Than Human

Theodore Sturgeon

Six misfits, one powerful entity. An award-winning novel about belonging by “one of the greatest writers of science fiction and fantasy who ever lived” (Stephen King). Individually, they are a seemingly simpleminded young man living in the woods who can read the thoughts of others, a runaway girl with telekinetic powers, twin girls who can barely speak but can teleport across great distances, and an infant with a mind like a supercomputer. Together, they are the Gestalt—a single extraordinary being comprised of remarkable parts—although an essential piece may be missing . . . But are they the next stage in human development or harbingers of the end of civilization? The answer may come when they are joined by Gerry. Powerfully telepathic, he lacks a moral compass—and his hatred of the world that has rejected him could prove catastrophic. Winner of the International Fantasy Award and considered Theodore Sturgeon’s masterpiece, More Than Human is a genre-bending wonder that explores themes of responsibility and morality, individuality, and belonging. Moving and suspenseful, lyrical and provocative, the novel was one of the first to elevate science fiction into the realm of literature, and inspired musicians and artists, including the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills and Nash. From the Nebula Award–winning author of Godbody, The Dreaming Jewels, and other great works of science fiction, this is an unforgettable reading experience and a must for anyone who enjoys Ramsey Campbell, Robert Silverberg, or Philip José Farmer. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Theodore Sturgeon including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the University of Kansas’s Kenneth Spencer Research Library and the author’s estate, among other sources.
The Space Merchants

The Space Merchants

Frederik Pohl, Cyril M. Kornbluth

Mitchell Courtenay, an advertising copywriter of the future is assigned to sway public support for the American colonization of Venus
Against the Fall of Night

Against the Fall of Night

Arthur C. Clarke

In the year ten billion A.D., Diaspar is the last city on Earth. Agelss and unchanging, the inhabitants see no reason to be curious about the outside world. But one child, Alvin - only seventeen and the last person to be born in Diaspar - finds that he is increasingly drawn to what lies outside the city walls. Even though he knows the Invaders, who devastated the world, may still be out there... Later rewritten, expanded and republished as The City and the Stars, this early novella by one of the greats of science fiction remains a powerful and evocative depiction of the future of humanity...
The Demolished Man

The Demolished Man

Alfred Bester

In 2301, a psychopathic business magnate comes up with the ultimate plan to eliminate his competition and destroy the order of society.
Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury

The terrifyingly prophetic novel of a post-literate future Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the source of all discord and unhappiness, the printed book.
Childhood’s End

Childhood’s End

Arthur C. Clarke

In the near future, enormous silver spaceships appear without warning over mankind’s largest cities. They belong to the Overlords, an alien race far superior to humanity in technological development—and their purpose is to dominate the Earth. Their demands, however, are surprisingly beneficial—end war, poverty, and cruelty. Their presence, rather than signaling the end of humanity, ushers in a golden age—or so it seems. But it comes at a price. Without conflict, humanity ceases to work toward creative achievement, and culture stagnates. And as the years pass, it becomes more and more clear that the Overlords have a hidden agenda for the evolution of the human race—that may not be as beneficial as it seems. Originally published in 1953, Childhood’s End is Clarke’s first successful novel—and is considered a classic of science fiction literature. Its dominating theme of transcendent evolution appears in many of Clarke’s later works, including the Space Odyssey series. In 2004, the book was nominated for the Retro Hugo Award for Best Novel.
More Than Human

More Than Human

Theodore Sturgeon

Six misfits, one powerful entity. An award-winning novel about belonging by “one of the greatest writers of science fiction and fantasy who ever lived” (Stephen King). Individually, they are a seemingly simpleminded young man living in the woods who can read the thoughts of others, a runaway girl with telekinetic powers, twin girls who can barely speak but can teleport across great distances, and an infant with a mind like a supercomputer. Together, they are the Gestalt—a single extraordinary being comprised of remarkable parts—although an essential piece may be missing . . . But are they the next stage in human development or harbingers of the end of civilization? The answer may come when they are joined by Gerry. Powerfully telepathic, he lacks a moral compass—and his hatred of the world that has rejected him could prove catastrophic. Winner of the International Fantasy Award and considered Theodore Sturgeon’s masterpiece, More Than Human is a genre-bending wonder that explores themes of responsibility and morality, individuality, and belonging. Moving and suspenseful, lyrical and provocative, the novel was one of the first to elevate science fiction into the realm of literature, and inspired musicians and artists, including the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills and Nash. From the Nebula Award–winning author of Godbody, The Dreaming Jewels, and other great works of science fiction, this is an unforgettable reading experience and a must for anyone who enjoys Ramsey Campbell, Robert Silverberg, or Philip José Farmer. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Theodore Sturgeon including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the University of Kansas’s Kenneth Spencer Research Library and the author’s estate, among other sources.
Mission Of Gravity

Mission Of Gravity

Hal Clement

Mesklin is a vast, inhospitable, disc-shaped planet, so cold that its oceans are liquid methane and its snows are frozen ammonia. It is a world spinning dizzyingly, a world where gravity can be a crushing 700 times greater than Earth's, a world too hostile for human explorers. But the planet holds secrets of inestimable value, and an unmanned probe that has crashed close to one of its poles must be recovered. Only the Mesklinites, the small creatures so bizarrely adapted to their harsh environment, can help. And so Barlennan, the resourceful and courageous captain of the Mesklinite ship Bree, sets out on an heroic and appalling journey into the terrible unknown. For him and his people, the prize to be gained is as great as that for mankind... Hal Clement's MISSION OF GRAVITY is universally regarded as one of the most important and best loved novels in the genre. The remarkable and sympathetic depiction of an alien species and the plausible and scientifically based realisation of the strange world they inhabit make it a major landmark in the history of hard SF.
The Space Merchants

The Space Merchants

Frederik Pohl, Cyril M. Kornbluth

Mitchell Courtenay, an advertising copywriter of the future is assigned to sway public support for the American colonization of Venus
Second Foundation

Second Foundation

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels are one of the great masterworks of science fiction. As unsurpassed blend of nonstop action, daring ideas, and extensive world-building, they chronicle the struggle of a courageous group of men and women dedicated to preserving humanity's light in a galaxy plunged into a nightmare of ignorance and violence thirty thousand years long. After years of struggle, the Foundation lies in ruins—destroyed by the mutant mind power of the Mule. But it is rumored that there is a Second Foundation hidden somewhere at the end of the Galaxy, established to preserve the knowledge of mankind through the long centuries of barbarism. The Mule failed to find it the first time—but now he is certain he knows where it lies. The fate of the Foundation rests on young Arcadia Darell, only fourteen years old and burdened with a terrible secret. As its scientists gird for a final showdown with the Mule, the survivors of the First Foundation begin their desperate search. They too want the Second Foundation destroyed…before it destroys them. From the Paperback edition.
Against the Fall of Night

Against the Fall of Night

Arthur C. Clarke

In the year ten billion A.D., Diaspar is the last city on Earth. Agelss and unchanging, the inhabitants see no reason to be curious about the outside world. But one child, Alvin - only seventeen and the last person to be born in Diaspar - finds that he is increasingly drawn to what lies outside the city walls. Even though he knows the Invaders, who devastated the world, may still be out there... Later rewritten, expanded and republished as The City and the Stars, this early novella by one of the greats of science fiction remains a powerful and evocative depiction of the future of humanity...