Five Science-Fiction Authors to Scan Darkly

ST 37 captain Scott Telles pulls five notables off the SF bookshelf.

Five Science-Fiction Authors to Scan Darkly

J.G. Ballard

This seminal Brit crops up everywhere from Joy Division ("The Atrocity Exhibition") to Steven Spielberg (Empire of the Sun). Primarily concerned with inner landscapes of the human psyche rather than space opera.

Start with: High-Rise or Concrete Island: A Novel.

Move on to: Super-Cannes: A Novel.

Philip K. Dick

If you've seen Blade Runner, Total Recall, or any of the other films inspired by PKD, you're already familiar with the watered-down version of this famed Berkeley meth-head's tortured fever dreams.

Start with: Ubik or any of his short-story collections.

Move on to: Elegiac masterpiece Valis or designer drug nightmare A Scanner Darkly.

Neal Stephenson

Five Science-Fiction Authors to Scan Darkly

Stephenson began with the college hijinks of The Big U and the environmental parable Zodiac, but really hit his stride with the high-tech Victorianism of The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer.

Start with: Cryptonomicon, the best World War II code-breaking steampunk novel ever.

Move on to: The Baroque Cycle, a recently completed three-volume work.

William Gibson

This bespectacled British Columbian got the whole cyberpunk ball rolling along with Austin's own Bruce Sterling, with whom he co-wrote the quintessential steampunk book The Difference Engine.

Start with: Neuromancer, the proverbial 800-pound gorilla of cyberpunk.

Move on to: Virtual Light or his last, Spook Country: A Novel.

Michael Moorcock

This grand old man of British science fiction and part-time Bastrop resident was the editor of New Worlds, the important late-1960s/early-1970s journal that helped start the careers of J.G. Ballard, Brian Aldiss, Norman Spinrad, Kate Wilhelm, etc.

Start with: Mother London, in all its multifaceted glory.

Move on to: The Cornelius Chronicles, a four-part motet starring cyberpunk precursor Jerry Cornelius.

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READ MORE
More J.G. Ballard
New in Print
The Complete Short Stories of J.G. Ballard
Ballard's influence on modern culture remains readily apparent

Marc Savlov, Sept. 25, 2009

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Scott Telles, ST 37, J.G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick, Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, Michael Moorcock

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