Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction works

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Selected science fiction works

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Selected works lists

Science fiction

Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/1 Alien vs. Predator, also known as AVP, is a 2004 American science fiction film directed by Paul W.S. Anderson for 20th Century Fox. The film adapts the Alien vs. Predator crossover imprint bringing together the eponymous creatures of the Alien and Predator series, a concept which originated in a 1989 comic book. Anderson, Dan O'Bannon, and Ronald Shusett wrote the story, and Anderson and Shane Salerno adapted the story into a screenplay. Their writing was influenced by Aztec mythology, the comic book series, and the writings of Erich von Däniken.

Set in 2004, the film follows a group of paleontologists, archaeologists, and others assembled by billionaire Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) for an expedition near the Antarctic to investigate a mysterious heat signal. Weyland hopes to claim the find for himself, and his group discovers a pyramid below the surface of a whaling station. Hieroglyphs and sculptures reveal that the pyramid is a hunting ground for Predators who kill Aliens as a rite of passage. The humans are caught in the middle of a battle between the two species and attempt to prevent the Aliens from reaching the surface.

The film was released on August 13, 2004, in North America and received mostly negative reviews from film critics. Some praised the special effects and set designs, while others dismissed the film for its "wooden dialogue" and "cardboard characters". Nevertheless, Alien vs. Predator was a commercial success, grossing over $172 million against its $60 million production budget. The film's success led to a sequel in 2007 titled Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/2 Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is based loosely on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 in which genetically engineered beings called replicants—visually indistinguishable from adult humans—are manufactured by the all-powerful Tyrell Corporation. As a result of a violent replicant uprising, their use on Earth is banned, and replicants are exclusively used for dangerous or menial work on Earth's "off-world colonies". Any replicants who defy the ban and return to Earth are hunted down and "retired" by police assassins known as "blade runners". The plot focuses on a brutal and cunning group of recently escaped replicants hiding in Los Angeles and the semi-retired blade runner, Rick Deckard, who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment.

Blade Runner initially polarized critics: some were displeased with the pacing, while others enjoyed its thematic complexity. The film performed poorly in North American theaters. Despite the box office failure of the film, it has since become a cult classic. Blade Runner has been hailed for its production design, depicting a "retrofitted" future. It remains a leading example of the neo-noir genre. Blade Runner brought the work of author Philip K. Dick to the attention of Hollywood, and several more films have since been based on his work. Ridley Scott regards Blade Runner as "probably" his most complete and personal film. In 1993, Blade Runner was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2007, the American Film Institute named it the 97th greatest American film of all time in the 10th-anniversary edition of its 100 years ... 100 Movies list.

Seven versions of the film have been shown for various markets as a result of controversial changes made by film executives. A rushed director's cut was released in 1992 after a strong response to workprint screenings. This, in conjunction with its popularity as a video rental, made it one of the first films released on DVD, resulting in a basic disc with mediocre video and audio quality. In 2007, Warner Bros. released in select theaters, and on DVD/HD DVD/Blu-ray, the 25th anniversary digitally remastered definitive Final Cut by Scott.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/3 Anarky (Lonnie Machin) is a fictional character in the DC Comics Universe. Co-created by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, he first appeared in Detective Comics #608 (November 1989) as an adversary of Batman. Stories revolving around Anarky often focus on political and philosophical themes. The character, who was named after the philosophy of anarchism, primarily espouses anti-statism. When Grant himself transitioned to the philosophy of Neo-Tech, he transformed Anarky from a vehicle for socialist and populist philosophy, to rationalist, atheist, and free market-based thought.

Grant avoided using the character often, but addressed multiple issues whenever the character appeared, including environmentalism, antimilitarism, economic exploitation, and political corruption. Inspired by multiple sources, early stories featuring the character often included homages to political and philosophical books. The creation of the character was also partially influenced by Alan Moore's character "V" from V for Vendetta.

Originally intended to only be used in the debut story in which he appeared, Anarky was created to be a violent but highly intelligent youth who rationalized murder in the name of a higher cause. At the request of Dennis O'Neil, this early interpretation was altered before publication, and Anarky was instead portrayed as violent but non-lethal. Following positive reception by readers and Dennis O'Neil, Grant decided to continue using Anarky as a recurring character throughout the early 90s.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/4 Authentic Science Fiction was a British science fiction magazine published in the 1950s that ran for 85 issues under three editors: Gordon Landsborough, H.J. Campbell, and E.C. Tubb. The magazine was published by Hamilton and Co., and began in 1951 as a series of novels appearing every two weeks; by the summer it had become a monthly magazine, with readers' letters and an editorial page, though fiction content was still restricted to a single novel. In 1952 short fiction began to appear alongside the novels, and within two more years it had completed the transformation into a science fiction magazine.

Authentic published little in the way of important or ground-breaking fiction, though it did print Charles L. Harness's "The Rose," which later became well-regarded. The poor rates of pay—£1 per 1,000 words—prevented the magazine from attracting the best writers. During much of its life it competed against three other moderately successful British science fiction magazines, as well as the American science fiction magazine market. Hamilton folded the magazine in October 1957, because they needed cash to finance an investment in the UK rights to an American best-selling novel.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/5 Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 is a 2000 American film adaptation of the novel Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard. Directed by Roger Christian, the film stars John Travolta, Forest Whitaker, and Barry Pepper. The film depicts an Earth that has been under the rule of the alien Psychlos for 1,000 years and tells the story of the rebellion that develops when the Psychlos attempt to use the surviving humans as gold miners.

Travolta, a long-time Scientologist, had sought for many years to make a film of the novel by Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. He was unable to obtain funding from any major studio due to concerns about the film's script, prospects, and connections with Scientology. The project was eventually taken on by an independent production company, Franchise Pictures, which specialized in rescuing stars' stalled pet projects. Travolta signed on as a co-producer and contributed millions of dollars of his own money to the production, which was largely funded by a German film distribution company. Franchise Pictures was later sued by its investors and was bankrupted after it emerged that it had fraudulently overstated the film's budget by $31 million.

Battlefield Earth was released on May 12, 2000. The film was a major commercial failure and critical flop and has been widely dismissed as one of the worst films ever made. Reviewers universally panned the film, criticizing virtually every aspect of the production. Audiences were reported to have ridiculed early screenings and stayed away from the film after its opening weekend. This resulted in Battlefield Earth failing to recoup its costs. Travolta originally envisioned the film as the first of two adapted from the book, as the screenplay only covered the first half of the novel. The film's poor box office performance meant that the planned sequel would not be made.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/6 Professor Bernard Quatermass is a fictional character, originally created by the writer Nigel Kneale for BBC Television. Quatermass appeared in three influential BBC science fiction serials of the 1950s (The Quatermass Experiment, Quatermass II, and Quatermass and the Pit), and returned in a final serial for Thames Television in 1979 (Quatermass). A remake of the first serial appeared on BBC Four in 2005.

The character also appeared in films, on the radio and in print over a fifty-year period. Kneale picked the character's unusual surname from a London telephone directory, while the first name was in honour of the astronomer Bernard Lovell. Quatermass is an intelligent and highly moral British scientist, who continually finds himself confronting sinister alien forces that threaten to destroy humanity. In the initial three serials he is a pioneer of the British space programme, heading up the British Experimental Rocket Group.

The character of Quatermass has been described by BBC News Online as Britain's first television hero, and by The Independent newspaper as "A brilliantly conceived and finely crafted creation... [He] remained a modern 'Mr Standfast', the one fixed point in an increasingly dreadful and ever-shifting universe." In 2005, an article in The Daily Telegraph suggested that "You can see a line running through him and many other British heroes. He shares elements with both Sherlock Holmes and Ellen MacArthur."


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/7 Lost is an American live-action television series. It follows the lives of plane crash survivors on a mysterious tropical island, after a commercial passenger jet flying between Sydney and Los Angeles crashes somewhere in the South Pacific. Each episode typically features a primary storyline on the island as well as a secondary storyline from another point in a character's life, though other time-related plot devices change this formula in later episodes. The pilot episode was first broadcast on September 22, 2004, and since then five full seasons have aired with a sixth currently in progress set to finish on May 23, 2010. The show airs on the American Broadcasting Company in the United States, as well as on regional networks in many other countries.

Due to its large ensemble cast and the cost of filming primarily on location in Oahu, Hawaii, the series is one of the most expensive on television. It was created by Damon Lindelof, J. J. Abrams and Jeffrey Lieber and is produced by ABC Studios, Bad Robot Productions and Grass Skirt Productions. The score is composed by Michael Giacchino. The executive producers of the final season are Lindelof, Abrams, Bryan Burk, Jack Bender, Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, Jean Higgins, Elizabeth Sarnoff and Carlton Cuse.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/8 Pattern Recognition is a novel by science fiction writer William Gibson published in 2003. Set in August and September 2002, the story follows Cayce Pollard, a 32-year-old marketing consultant who has a psychological sensitivity to corporate symbols. The action takes place in London, Tokyo, and Moscow as Cayce judges the effectiveness of a proposed corporate symbol and is hired to seek the creators of film clips anonymously posted to the internet.

The novel's central theme involves the examination of the human desire to detect patterns or meaning and the risks of finding patterns in meaningless data. Other themes include methods of interpretation of history, cultural familiarity with brand names, and tensions between art and commercialization. The September 11, 2001 attacks are used as a motif representing the transition to the new century. Critics identify influences in Pattern Recognition from Thomas Pynchon's post-structuralist detective story The Crying of Lot 49.

The novel is Gibson's eighth and the first to be set in the contemporary world. Like his previous work, it has been classified as a science fiction and postmodern novel, with the action unfolding along a thriller plot line. Critics approved of the writing but found the plot unoriginal and some of the language distracting. The book peaked at #4 on the New York Times Best Seller list, was nominated for the 2003 British Science Fiction Association Award, and was shortlisted for the 2004 Arthur C. Clarke and Locus Awards.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/9 Raptor Red is a 1995 American novel by paleontologist Robert T. Bakker. The book is a third-person account of dinosaurs during the Cretaceous Period, told from the point of view of Raptor Red, a female Utahraptor. Raptor Red features many of Bakker's theories regarding dinosaurs' social habits, intelligence, and the world in which they lived.

The book follows a year in Raptor Red's life as she loses her mate, finds her family, and struggles to survive in a hostile environment. Bakker drew inspiration from Ernest Thompson Seton's works that look at life through the eyes of predators, and said that he found it "fun" to write from a top predator's perspective. Bakker based his portrayals of dinosaurs and other prehistoric wildlife on fossil evidence, as well as studies of modern animals.

When released, Raptor Red was generally praised: Bakker's anthropomorphism was seen as a unique and positive aspect of the book, and his writing was described as folksy and heartfelt. Criticisms of the novel included a perceived lack of characterization and average writing. Some scientists, such as paleontologist David B. Norman, took issue with the scientific theories portrayed in the novel, fearing that the public would accept them as fact, while Discovery Channel host Jay Ingram defended Bakker's creative decisions in an editorial.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/10 Starship Troopers is a military science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, first published (in abridged form) as a serial in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (October, November 1959, as "Starship Soldier") and published hardcover in December, 1959.

The first-person narrative is about a young soldier named Juan "Johnnie" Rico and his exploits in the Mobile Infantry, a futuristic military unit equipped with powered armor. Rico's military career progresses from recruit to non-commissioned officer and finally to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between mankind and an arachnoid species known as "the Bugs". Through Rico's eyes, Heinlein examines moral and philosophical aspects of suffrage, civic virtue, the necessities of war and capital punishment, and the nature of juvenile delinquency.

Starship Troopers won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960. The novel has attracted controversy and criticism for its social and political themes, which some critics claim promote militarism. Starship Troopers has been adapted into several films and games, with the most widely known being the 1997 film by Paul Verhoeven.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/11 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy series created by English writer, dramatist and musician Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, and over several years it gradually became an international multi-media phenomenon. Adaptations have included stage shows, a series of five books first published between 1979 and 1992 (and a sixth by Eoin Colfer published in 2009), a 1981 TV series, a 1984 computer game, and three series of three-part comic book adaptations of the first three novels published by DC Comics between 1993 and 1996.

There were also two series of towels, produced by Beer-Davies, that are considered by some fans to be an "official version" of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as they include text from the first novel. A Hollywood-funded film version, produced and filmed in the UK, was released in April 2005, and radio adaptations of the third, fourth and fifth novels were broadcast from 2004 to 2005. Many of these adaptations, including the novels, the TV series, the computer game, and the earliest drafts of the Hollywood film's screenplay, were done by Adams himself, and some of the stage shows introduced new material written by Adams.

The title is the name of a fictional, eccentric, electronic travel guide, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, prominently featured in the series.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/12 The Illuminatus! Trilogy is a series of three novels written by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson first published in 1975. The trilogy is a satirical, postmodern, science fiction-influenced adventure story; a drug-, sex- and magic-laden trek through a number of conspiracy theories, both historical and imaginary, which hinge around the authors' version of the Illuminati. The narrative often switches between third and first person perspectives and jumps around in time. It is thematically dense, covering topics like counterculture, numerology and Discordianism.

The trilogy comprises The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple and Leviathan. They were first published as three separate volumes starting in September 1975. In 1984 they were published as an omnibus edition, and are now more commonly reprinted in the latter form. In 1986 the trilogy won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, designed to honor classic libertarian fiction. The authors went on to write several works, both fiction and nonfiction, that dealt further with the themes of the trilogy, but they did not write any direct sequels.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/13 The Time Traveler's Wife, published in 2003, is the debut novel of American author Audrey Niffenegger. It is a love story about a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel unpredictably, and about his wife, an artist, who has to cope with his frequent absences and dangerous experiences. Niffenegger, frustrated in love when she began the work, wrote the story as a metaphor for her failed relationships. The tale's central relationship came to her suddenly and subsequently supplied the novel's title. The novel, which has been classified as both science fiction and romance, examines issues of love, loss, and free will. In particular, it uses time travel to explore miscommunication and distance in relationships, while also investigating deeper existential questions.

As a first-time novelist, Niffenegger had trouble finding a literary agent. She eventually sent the novel to MacAdam/Cage unsolicited and, after an auction took place for the rights, Niffenegger selected them as her publisher. The book became a bestseller after an endorsement from author and family friend Scott Turow on The Today Show, and as of March 2009 had sold nearly 2.5 million copies in the United States and the United Kingdom. Many reviewers were impressed with Niffenegger's unique perspective on time travel. Some praised her characterization of the couple, applauding their emotional depth; others criticized her writing style as melodramatic and the plot as emotionally trite. The novel won the Exclusive Books Boeke Prize and a British Book Award. A film version was released in August 2009.


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Tom Swift and His Giant Telescope (1939), from the original Tom Swift series.
Tom Swift (in some versions Tom Swift, Jr.) is the name of the central character in five series, totaling over 100 volumes, of juvenile science fiction and adventure novels that emphasize science, invention, and technology. The character was created by Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a book-packaging firm. His adventures have been written by a number of different ghostwriters over the years. Most of the books are published under the collective pseudonym Victor Appleton. The 33 volumes of the second series use the pseudonym Victor Appleton II.

The character first appeared in 1910. New titles have been published as recently as 2007. Most of the various series focus on Tom’s inventions, a number of which have anticipated actual inventions. The character has been presented in different ways over the years. In general, the books portray science and technology as wholly beneficial in their effects, and the role of the inventor in society has been treated as admirable and heroic.

Translated into a number of languages, the books have sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Tom Swift has also been the subject of a board game and a television show. Development of a feature film based on the series was announced in 2008. A number of prominent figures, including Steve Wozniak and Isaac Asimov, have cited "Tom Swift" as an inspiration. Several inventions, including the taser, have been directly inspired by the fictional inventions.


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First edition (1896) cover of The Island of Doctor Moreau
The Island of Doctor Moreau is an 1896 science fiction novel written by H. G. Wells. When the novel was written in the late 19th century, European society was absorbed with concerns about degeneration, and Britain's scientific community was engulfed by debates on animal vivisection. Interest groups were even formed to tackle the issue: the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection was formed two years after the publication of the novel.

It begins with the protagonist, an upper class gentleman who was named Edward Prendick, finding himself shipwrecked in the ocean. A passing ship takes him aboard, and a doctor named Montgomery revives him. He explains to Prendick that they are bound for an unnamed island where he works, and that the animals aboard the ship are traveling with him. Prendick also meets a grotesque, bestial native named M'ling, who appears to be Montgomery's manservant.

When they arrive on the island, however, both the captain of the ship and Doctor Montgomery refuse to take Prendick with either of them, stranding him between the ship and the island. The crew pushes him back into the lifeboat from which they rescued him. When they see that the ship truly intends to abandon him, the islanders take pity and end up coming back for him. Montgomery introduces him to Doctor Moreau, a cold and precise man who conducts research on the island. After unloading the animals from the boat, they decide to house Prendick in an outer room of the enclosure in which they live. Prendick is exceedingly curious about what exactly Moreau researches on the island, especially after he locks the inner part of the enclosure without explaining why. Prendick suddenly remembers that he has heard of Moreau, and that he had been an eminent physiologist in London before a journalist exposed his gruesome experiments in vivisection.


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First edition (1897) cover of The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man is a science fiction novella by H.G. Wells published in 1897. Wells' novel was originally serialised in Pearson's Magazine in 1898, and published as a novel the same year. The Invisible Man of the title is Griffin, a scientist who theorises that if a person's refractive index is changed to exactly that of air and his body does not absorb or reflect light, then he will be invisible. He successfully carries out this procedure on himself, but cannot become visible again, becoming mentally unstable as a result.

Russian writer Yakov I. Perelman pointed out in Physics Can Be Fun (1913) that from a scientific point of view, a man made invisible by Griffin's method should have been blind, since a human eye works by absorbing incoming light, not letting it through completely. However, Wells briefly addresses this in Chapter 20. In the passage describing the experiment on the invisible cat Wells wrote "there remained two little ghosts of her eyes" meaning that its eyes (and retinas presumably) were just visible, and thus able to function by absorbing light.


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First edition (1898) cover of The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds (1898) is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells. It describes the experiences of a character who travels through London as the Earth is invaded by Martians. It is said to be the first story that details a conflict between mankind and an alien race.

The War of the Worlds is split into two parts : Book one: The Coming of the Martians and Book two: The Earth under the Martians. The novel is narrated by an unnamed writer of philosophical articles. Throughout the narrative he struggles to reunite with his wife, while witnessing the Martians rampaging through the southern English counties. Part one also features the tale of his brother, who accompanies two women to the coast in the hope of escaping England as it is invaded.

The plot has been related to invasion literature of the time. The novel has been variously interpreted as a commentary on evolutionary theory, British imperialism, and generally Victorian fears and prejudices. At the time of publication it was classed as a scientific romance. Since then, it has influenced much literature and other media, spawning several films, radio dramas, comic book adaptations, a television series, and sequels or parallel stories by other authors.


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First edition cover (1895)
The Time Machine is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895 and later directly adapted into at least two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction in all media. This 32,000 word novella is generally credited with the popularization of the concept of time travel using a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposefully and selectively. The term "time machine", coined by Wells, is now universally used to refer to such a vehicle. Wells introduces an early example of the Dying Earth subgenre as well.

Wells had considered the notion of time travel before, in an earlier (but less well-known) work titled The Chronic Argonauts. He had thought of using some of this material in a series of articles in the Pall Mall Gazette, until the publisher asked him if he could instead write a serial novel on the same theme; Wells readily agreed, and was paid £100 on its publication by Heinemann in 1895. The story was first published in serial form in the New Review through 1894 and 1895. The book is based on the Block Theory of the Universe, which is a notion that time is a fourth space dimension.

The story reflects Wells's own socialist political views and the contemporary angst about industrial relations. Other science fiction works of the period, including Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, and the later Metropolis, dealt with similar themes.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/19 Odd John: A Story Between Jest and Earnest is a 1935 science fiction novel by the British author Olaf Stapledon. The novel explores the theme of the Übermensch (superman) in the character of John Wainwright, whose supernormal human mentality inevitably leads to conflict with normal human society and to the destruction of the utopian colony founded by John and other superhumans.

The novel resonates with the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche and the work of English writer J. D. Beresford, with an allusion to Beresford's superhuman child character of Victor Stott in The Hampdenshire Wonder (1911). As the devoted narrator remarks, John does not feel obligated to observe the restricted morality of Homo sapiens. Stapledon's recurrent vision of cosmic angst -- that the universe may be indifferent to intelligence, no matter how spiritually refined -- also gives the story added depth. Later explorations of the theme of the superhuman and of the incompatibility of the normal with the supernormal occurs in the works of Stanisław Lem, Frank Herbert, Wilmar Shiras and Vernor Vinge, among others.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/20 Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future is a science fiction novel written in 1930 by the British author Olaf Stapledon. A work of unprecedented scale in the genre, it describes the history of humanity from the present onwards across two billion years and eighteen distinct human species, of which our own is the first and most primitive. Stapledon's conception of history is based on the Hegelian Dialectic, following a repetitive cycle with many varied civilizations rising from and descending back into savagery over millions of years, but it is also one of progress, as the later civilizations rise to far greater heights than the first. The book anticipates the science of genetic engineering, and is an early example of the fictional supermind; a consciousness composed of many telepathically-linked individuals.

A controversial part of the book depicts humans, in the far-off future, escaping the dying Earth and settling on Venus — in the process totally exterminating its native inhabitants, an intelligent marine species. Stapledon's book has been interpreted by some as condoning such interplanetary genocide as a justified act if necessary for racial survival, though a number of Stapledon's partisans denied that such was his intention, arguing instead that Stapledon was merely showing that although mankind had advanced in a number of ways in the future, at bottom it still possessed the same capacity for savagery as it has always had.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/21 Star Maker is an influential science fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, written in 1937. Stapledon undertakes the immense task of describing the entire history of life in the universe. It dwarfs in scale even his 1930 book Last and First Men, which is a history of the human species over two billion years. It tackles philosophical themes such as the essence of life, of birth, decay and death, and the relationship between creation and creator. The narrator starts with a concern at the clash of ideas on Earth and finds analogies to both communism and fascism among the aliens he visits.

A pervading theme is that of progressive unity within and between different civilizations. Some of the elements and themes briefly discussed prefigure later fiction concerning genetic engineering and alien life forms. Arthur C. Clarke considered Star Maker to be one of the finest works of science fiction ever written.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/22 Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert, published in 1965. It won the Hugo Award in 1966, and also the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Dune is frequently cited as the world's best-selling science fiction novel.

Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary fiefdoms are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the Imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and the scion of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the "spice" melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe. The story explores the complex and multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the forces of the Empire confront each other for control of Arrakis and its "spice".

Herbert wrote five sequels to the novel Dune: Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse: Dune. The first novel also inspired a 1984 film adaptation by David Lynch, a 2000 Sci Fi Channel miniseries and its 2003 sequel, computer games, a board game, a song, and a series of prequels, interquels, and sequels that were co-written by Kevin J. Anderson and the author's son, Brian Herbert, starting in 1999.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/23 Animal Farm is a dystopian allegorical novella by George Orwell. Published in England on 17 August 1945, the book reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era before World War II. Orwell, a democratic socialist and a member of the Independent Labour Party for many years, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and was suspicious of Moscow-directed Stalinism after his experiences with the NKVD during the Spanish Civil War. In a letter to Yvonne Davet, Orwell described Animal Farm as his novel "contre Stalin".

The original title was Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, but A Fairy Story was dropped by the US publishers for its 1946 publication. Of all the translations during Orwell's lifetime, only Telugu kept the original title. Other variations in the title include: A Satire and A Contemporary Satire. Orwell suggested for the French translation the title Union des républiques socialistes animales, recalling the French name of the Soviet Union, Union des républiques socialistes soviétiques, and which abbreviates URSA, which means "bear", a symbol of Russia, in Latin.

Time Magazine chose the book as one of the 100 best English-language novels (1923 to 2005); it also places at number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels. It won a Retrospective Hugo Award in 1996 and is also included in the Great Books of the Western World.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/24 Halo: Contact Harvest is a science fiction novel by Joseph Staten, set in the Halo universe. Staten is a longtime employee of Bungie, the developer of the Halo video game series; he directed the cut scenes in the video games and is a major contributor to Halo's storyline. The book was released on October 30, 2007, and is the fifth Halo novel, following 2006's Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, written by Eric Nylund. Staten set out to write a novel that appealed to gamers, as well as those who had never read a Halo novel.

Set in 2525, twenty-seven years before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, the novel tells the story of the United Nations Space Command's first encounter with the alien collective known as the Covenant on the colony world of Harvest, and the beginning of the long war that follows. The novel is an ensemble piece, with the action being narrated from both human and Covenant viewpoint The protagonist is a young Marine, Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson, who also appears in the Halo video games. Upon release, the book was generally well-received and became a New York Times bestseller in its first week. Critics pointed to the novel's success as a sign of the increasing importance of story in video games.


Portal:Speculative fiction/Selected science fiction work/25 Firefly is an American space western television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, under his Mutant Enemy Productions. Its future setting, modeled after traditional Western movie motifs, has been praised as an "oddball genre mix". Whedon served as executive producer, along with Tim Minear.

The series is set in the year 2517, after the arrival of humans in a new star system, and follows the adventures of the renegade crew of Serenity, a "Firefly-class" spaceship. The ensemble cast portrays the nine characters who live on Serenity. Whedon pitched the show as "nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things". The show explores the lives of people who fought on the losing side of a civil war who now make a living on the outskirts of the society, as part of the pioneer culture that exists on the fringes of their star system. In addition, it is a future where the only two surviving superpowers, the United States and China, fused to form the central federal government, called the Alliance, resulting in the fusion of the two cultures as well. According to Whedon's vision, "nothing will change in the future: technology will advance, but we will still have the same political, moral, and ethical problems as today."


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The iCub robot at the Genoa Science Festival in 2009
The Three Laws of Robotics are a set of three science fiction laws written by Isaac Asimov, which most robots appearing in his fiction have to obey. First introduced in his short story "Runaround" (1942), they state the following:

1. A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The Three Laws are an organizing principle and unifying theme for Asimov's fiction, appearing in the Foundation series and the other stories linked to it, as well as Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter. Other authors working in Asimov's fictional universe have adopted them, and references (often parodic) appear throughout science fiction and in other genres. Technologists in the field of artificial intelligence, working to create real machines with some of the properties of Asimov's robots, have speculated upon the role the Three Laws play in such research.


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