Science fiction's most popular literary writers from Isaac Asimov to Stephen King and Frank Herbert, and the rising stars of today.
In a recent Omni article, "New Words Were Needed," I looked at some of the commonalities between modernism and science fiction. After inventorying some of the ways science fiction transposes modernist formal concerns to the level of story, I wrote, "And those are just some of the techniques of modernism; I won't even mention postmodernism."
Orwell's 1984 Was Optimistic
When George Orwell wrote his most famous, and last, novel, 1984, it was against a backdrop of rising fascist totalitarianism in Europe. Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, all turned their respective democratic nations into oppressive regimes. While Hitler sought war with Europe, Stalin declared war on his own people, purging the Soviet Union of anyone he feared might usurp him – they numbered in the millions. It was after participating in the Spanish Civil War, against Franco’s Nationalists, that Orwell’s writing direction turned towards one of speaking out against totalitarianism and promoting democratic socialism.
Most Influential Female Sci-Fi Authors
Science fiction is traditionally a boys club. Men have dominated the genre for years, and it wasn't until the second wave of feminism in the 60s that more and more female sci-fi authors began to be recognized. Women like Madeleine L'Engle, Octavia Butler, and Ursula K. Le Guin were just a few to break out into the sci-fi scene with a vengeance. Their novels and short stories have inspired women of all ages to enter the science fiction and fantasy genres and demand to be respected as equals, and the exceptional authors they are. The women who make up the list of the most influential female sci-fi authors will continue to lead a generation of women to create award-worthy work for years to come.
How to Write a Gothic Novel
Since Walpole, many writers have written books set in a world with meager villages back-dropped by terrifying but alluring castles, and a heroine fleeing from dangers. Two Gothic novels have pervaded popular culture, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and Bram Stroker's Dracula. Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus. With its themes of mad science and technology run amok the book is considered by some scholars to be the first true science fiction novel. Shelly devised her novel through imagination alone, but Stroker was inspired by historical events. Dracula from the historical account of Vlad the Impaler, also known as Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia. Vlad earned the name 'Dracula' after being initiated into the Order of the Dragon in 1431. In Romanian, the word 'dracul' can mean 'the dragon' or, more often today, 'the devil.' It should mean 'vampire.'
Best 'Star Wars' Expanded Universe Books
In a galaxy far, far away, there are even more Star Wars universes. The Star Wars Expanded Universe (SWEU) is a marvelous creation of fictional material to complement the Star Wars saga beyond the movies, the Clone Wars movie and book trilogy, and many other parts of the Star Wars bibliography. Apart from the fact that the Expanded Universe includes comic books, video games, toys, and other assorted media, the focus of the entire galactic story is in the bibliography. Moreover, many of the Star Wars Expanded Universe books are comparable in quality to the Star Wars trilogy itself. In fact, many overlap with out list of the Best Star Wars Books. OMNI has compiled a list of some of the best Star Wars Expanded Universe books.
Reviewing Ann Leckie's 'Ancillary Justice'
To say that Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice was one of the most important novels of 2013 would be a bit obvious. The novel won both the Hugo and the Nebula for Best Novel and a host of other awards. It is all the more impressive considering that it is Leckie’s first. The ambitious style, believable characterization, and a gripping conspiratorial plot has excited old fans of science fiction, and even gathered the attention of critics of so-called 'mainstream' literature. True, not everyone has been so impressed. Nina Allan, writing for Arc, felt that the novel gave in too easily to the broadest tropes of the space opera genre. I disagree. I think, instead, that giving in to such tropes while stressing our conception of them is precisely where the novel derives its strength.
Reviewing Neil Stephenson’s 'Snow Crash'
Re-reading Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson a little over a year after reading it for the first time was not only fun, but necessary. Snippets of the book from my first reading had been coming back to me for the last year or so, but so much happens in the space of 469 pages that I was remembering separate plots of the book as belonging to entirely different novels. That isn’t to say, however, that the book is especially confusing, or even complicated. It is, however, dealing with a lot of big, esoteric ideas, and Stephenson’s genius shows itself in his ability to expound on all these ideas in detail without slowing the story down. The exposition and explanation is as entrancing as the fast-paced plot.
Most Underrated Sci-Fi Authors
Science fiction is a massively popular genre these days, and while some authors have achieved mainstream recognition, there are gems to be discovered amongst the most underrated sci-fi authors. Casual readers of sci-fi will have heard of writers such as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, and Kurt Vonnegut. And film directors have snapped up the rights to works by authors such as Philip K. Dick and Robert Heinlein to ensure their enduring fame. But other writers have created masterpieces of imagination and storytelling in sci-fi, and yet not become household names like their contemporaries. Beyond the established sci-fi bestsellers, who are the most underrated sci-fi authors awaiting your discovery?
Chris Beckett's 'Dark Eden'
Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden highlights the evolution of narrative in a quiet coming-of-age story set on an alien planet with no sun. Often considered one of the best space colonization books, the novel spends much of its first half detailing the ways in which humans cope with life on a dark world. Light and warmth comes from “lantern trees,” which pump up hot liquid of some kind from the center of the planet. People hunt dark animals with green-grey meat. They measure time in “wombs” (the amount of time it takes for a baby to be born), as well as in “wakings” and “periods.” Words in Chris Beckett's Dark Eden universe have developed double meanings to make them emphatic, as language evolved from standard English. All five-hundred members of Family (as they are called) are descended from two humans who decided to stay on this strange planet, called Eden, and that the “Three Companions” made a risky attempt to return to Earth. Now, once a year (years are the Earth-time kept by the oldest members of Family), they gather to see the story of their origin acted out in drama, and to touch items from Earth.
Liu Cixin's 'The Wandering Earth'
In Liu Cixin’s novella, The Wandering Earth, hope is a viscous substance clinging rather tenaciously to the remnants of humanity. At times, it seems as if this is the only theme running an even course throughout the story; however, tucked beneath the surface and erupting later in the story is another powerful theme that speaks to many of our problems today: a distrust of scientists.
Best Apocalyptic Books
The apocalyptic theme has captivated the world for many decades, reaching an all-time peak in the 21st century with the rise in fascination of zombie-thrillers, technological-disasters, and "end of the world" survivors. From video games to books to even albums, our society has undeniably been influenced by our own morbid fascination into the potential for apocalypses.
- Top Story - August 2016
Greatest Sci-Fi Authors of All Time
Readers of science fiction sometimes neglect to do our homework, don’t we? We fail, at intervals, to learn more about the creative geniuses slaving over their typewriters and keyboards to provide us with our daily amusement. That ain’t right! The greatest sci-fi authors have given us so very much, these authors; Through their painstaking labors, they’ve allowed us countless hours of reading pleasure as well as plenty of genre fodder to debate with our friends. Thus they deserve better. They deserve our respect, our affection, and for the intent of this article, a few moments of our attention as we rut around in their history to explore the factors and forces which forged them into the stars they became!