Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Top Ten classic bizarro Science Fiction novels #3! Dogs and Robots talk about humans around the campfire!

Over the summer I did a ten week countdown of my favorite horror novels of all time. I had fun doing it and it seems based on the numbers that a lot of people were reading them. I enjoyed the discussions and so I decided to do another top down. So here are some rules, one book by each author because in this list it runs the risk of becoming the Philip K.Dick list. The second rule is nothing published in the 21st century. There are great gonzo sci-fi novels released in the last thirteen years for sure, The Skinner by Neal Asher and Dr. Identity by D.Harlan Wilson are great examples. They are great but we are talking old school now. The more weird the better, they can be serious or totally funny, the most important thing is that they are bizarro and awesome.

10.Shockwave Rider by John Brunner

9. Transmaniacon By John Shirley

8.Void Captain’s tale By Norman Spinrad

7. Beyond Apollo by Barry Malzberg

6. Software by Rudy Rucker

5. Always Coming Home by Ursala K.Leguin

4. Two Hawks from Earth By Philip Jose Farmer

Number three is:
Released: 1953 (although it was Serialized during the 40's)

The plot: This novel is more or less a collection of interwoven stories that do build on each other. I do believe the story was conceived as a novel. It was published as separate stories and could be read that way. City is the story of a far future society that is made up of sentient dogs and androids. Basically it is several campfire stories about the long lost humans. One of the main characters is Jenkins a robot who lived and worked with humans over many generations. He ends up becoming one of the lone voices who remembers our species and civilization.

The Weirdest Aspect:

Written some 70 years ago but projecting a future thousands of year out makes for a completely surreal feeling. I mean it is about a future dogs society talking about ancient humans so yeah every page is strange.

What does it say about our world?

Maybe I am bias because of my animal rights beliefs, and my love for dogs but I always found this an interesting exploration of the problems with the human race. I would love to do/read a modern adaptation of this novel in a Graphic novel or film but it is not likely to happen. What is a City? What is a War? How does Jenkins explain such things to Doggish culture? He tries and it says a lot of things about our world, mostly about how we gather as a society and how conflict threatens to destroy us.

Bottom line is it good?

Amazing. This novel is very dated but considering the bulk of it was written in the 40's it holds up very well. Serious golden age science fiction that is not for everyone.

The author:

Clifford Simak was first suggested to me by Belgian Waffles (Experimental noise band from my home town Blomington Indiana) Bassist Matthew Whittaker in the early 90's. I went straight to Caveat Emptor a used book store in town and bought the time travel adventure Time and Again. I have been a fan ever since. Simak lived in Rural minnesota until his death in 1988. While City is considered his masterpiece other highlights include Cemetery World, Way Station, Ring Around The Sun and Choice of the Gods. All worth reading.

Honorable mention of the week:

Crompton Divided by Robert Sheckley

David Agranoff is the author of two published novels the Wuxia Pan style horror fantasy crossover "Hunting The Moon Tribe," and the satire "The Vegan Revolution With Zombies. He is also the author of the Wonderland award short story collection "Screams From a Dying World." His next novel Boot Boys of the Wolf-Reich is due to be released soon by Deadite press.

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