“…but since I realised that peace and freedom were unattainable on earth, my spirit aspired aloft, and everything that my chosen path required ceased to conflict with my conscience, because my conscience was calling me out into space, and was not much interested in what was happening on earth.”
~Victor Pelevin, Omon Ra
“Victor Pelevin’s novel Omon Ra has been widely praised for its poetry and its wickedness, a novel in line with the great works of Gogol and Bulgakov: ‘full of the ridiculous and the sublime,’ says The Observer [London].
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“Anyway, that’s what life is, just one learning experience after another, and when you’re through with all the learning experiences you graduate and what you get for a diploma is, you die.”
~Frederik Pohl, Gateway
“Gateway opened on all the wealth of the Universe… and on reaches of unimaginable horror. When prospector Bob Broadhead went out to Gateway on the Heechee spacecraft, he decided he would know which was the right mission to make him his fortune.
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“You mean old books?”
“Stories written before space travel but about space travel.”
“How could there have been stories about space travel before -”
“The writers,” Pris said, “made it up.”
~Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
“By 2021, the World War has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remain covet any living creature, and for people who can’t afford one, companies have built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. They’ve even built humans.
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“One time we had the whole world in our hands, but we ate it and burned it and it’s gone now.”
~Harry Harrison, Make Room! Make Room!
“A gangster is murdered during a blistering Manhattan heat wave. City cop Andy Rusch is under pressure solve [sic!] the crime and captivated by the victim’s beautiful girlfriend. But it is difficult to catch a killer, let alone get the girl, in crazy streets crammed full of people.
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“And no matter how much the gray people in power despise knowledge, they can’t do anything about historical objectivity; they can slow it down, but they can’t stop it. Despising and fearing knowledge, they will nonetheless inevitably decide to promote it in order to survive.”
~Arkadi & Boris Strugatsky, Hard to Be a God
“The novel follows Anton, an undercover operative from the future planet Earth, in his mission on an alien planet, that is populated by human beings, whose society has not advanced beyond the Middle Ages. The novel’s core idea is that human progress throughout the centuries is often cruel and bloody, and that religion and blind faith can be an effective tool of oppression, working to destroy the emerging scientific disciplines and enlightenment.
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“A long time ago. I came to the understanding that all men are friends by convenience and enemies by choice.”
~John Christopher, The Death of Grass
“A post-apocalyptic vision of the world pushed to the brink by famine, John Christopher’s science fiction masterpiece The Death of Grass includes an introduction by Robert MacFarlane in Penguin Modern Classics.
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“It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping in the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains.”
~Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man
“The Illustrated Man is classic Bradbury – a collection of tales that breathe and move, animated by sharp, intaken breath and flexing muscle. Here are eighteen startling visions of humankind’s destiny, unfolding across a canvas of decorated skin – visions as keen as the tattooist’s needle and as colorful as the inks that indelibly stain the body.
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