A Book I Recommend: Mr. Guerrero
The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories, edited by Tom Shippey.
Science Fiction is a genre that I feel very strongly about, a genre that I believe is unfairly over-looked or dismissed as trivial. But it is, I think, the defining literary genre of the twentieth century. Where to start, though? What to recommend?
I own several anthologies of stories, but my favourite is the collection of thirty short stories put together by Tom Shippey. Ordered chronologically, they begin with The Land Ironclads, a 1903 piece by the grandfather of SF, HG Wells, which spookily predicts trench warfare and the development of tanks. By the time we finish with David Brin’s Piecework (1990), we’ve had a guided tour of the genre with a selection of tasty morsels covering robots, aliens, time travel, mad scientists, apocalypse, artificial intelligence, and any other theme you can dream up.
Shippey’s collection is a perfect introduction to the genre, and to a couple of dozen authors whose work you might be inspired to read in more detail. Do I have any favourites? William Gibson’s Burning Chrome (1982), which is widely credited with inventing the concept of virtual reality. And that’s why I love SF: the predictions and inventions; the sense of possibility; the sense that it influences the direction humanity takes, not the other way round!