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25 November 2016: Science Fiction

 Last week the world saw the ‘supermoon’. The moon appeared at its largest and brightest since 1948 due to the coincidence of a full moon with the orbit being at its closest to earth. The fascination with the moon and space is almost habitual and has been central to both myth and legends since ancient times. 

However, when astronomy and science rapidly developed post Renaissance during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries a different angle came from stories about space; Science Fiction. 
 
The exact origins of Science Fiction as a genre is widely debated. Some argue that elements of the genre can be found as early as the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh whereas the other school of thought is that the genre only became possible with the development of the The Enlightenment between the 17th and 19th centuries. 
Fundamentally, Science Fiction is known for blurring the line between fiction and reality. As a genre, it rapidly developed and took off during the early 20th century. This was due to the further integration of science and inventions in daily life. This sudden development and change in lifestyle caused a turn to literature so as to explore the relationship of technology with both society and the individual.  
 
Here at Rooke Books we have some fascinating works of Science Fiction from the peak of its ‘Golden Age’ and more specifically, works of Science Fiction to do with space.  
 
One particularly famous name in the Science Fiction field is Robert A Heinlein. Heinlein is often referred to as the 'Dean of Science Fiction' and his works were incredibly influential to the genre. We have four of Heinlein’s works in our library, the earliest of which is his The Man Who Sold the Moon. This title is from Heinlein’s prestigious ‘Future History’ series which describes a projected future of the human race from the mid 20th Century to the early 23rd Century. The Man Who Sold The Moon is a prequel to his previously written Requiem. It discusses events around a fictional first Moon landing in 1978 and the schemes of Delos D Harriman, a businessman who wishes to personally reach and control the moon. 
 
A second interesting work by Heinlein is his Universe. Universe is a short story centering around a character named Hugh Hoyland. Hoyland lives on a spaceship as big as a city which houses and mountains the lives of thousands of humans on their journey to the closest star to earth, Proxima Centaurus. The initial trip began in 2119 and was intended to take sixty years. However, rebellion broke out and those with the knowledge of navigating the ship died allowing it to drift aimlessly in space. When we meet Hoyland years have passed and to those on board their universe is the ship. Hoyland learns the truth that there is more to life on the ship and this work follows his discovery. The text deals with the concept of ‘universe’ and how humans relate to the world around them. 
 
Another space-themed science fiction text we have is Garrett P Serviss’ Edison’s Conquest of Mars. This is an interesting work with fantastic illustrations. It is a sequel to Serviss’ prior novel Fighters from Mars, an unauthorized and heavily altered rendition of H G Wells’ The War of The Worlds. This novel features Thomas Edison as its primary character who leads a group of scientists to develop weapons to defend Earth from further devastating Martian attacks.
 
The final book for discussion in this post is John Brunner’s Bedlam Planet. John Brunner was a British science fiction author. The most notable of his many novels and stories is his Stand on Zanzibar which won him the 1969 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel. Bedlam Planet centres around a new world named Sigma Draconis. A pioneering colony from earth travel there to create a ‘second earth’ and encounter some mysterious problems. 
 
We have many more works of science fiction on our website by these authors and more.  
 

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