The Golden Age
The Golden Age of science fiction is twelve
- Terry Carr


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The Day of the Triffids
by John Wyndham (1951)


The best of UK writer Wyndham's 'cosy catastrophe' books. Orbiting explosions blind almost everyone and then, to make matters worse, large mobile stinging plants start devouring the survivors. Resistance is haphazard, with some managing to conduct themselves in a civilised middle-class manner despite their dire circumstances. Arthur C. Clarke called the novel an "immortal story".





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The Demolished Man
by Alfred Bester (1953)


At first glance The Demolished Man comes across as a run-of-the-mill detective story with a few nifty sci-fi trimmings. But Bester's attention to humanitarian issues surrounding the lot of the 'peepers' sparks some intriguing ethical dilemmas. A gorgeous woman and some good old-fashioned corporate crime top off a perfect mix. The book was the first Hugo Award winner in 1953.





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More Than Human
by Theodore Sturgeon (1953)


Six psionically gifted social misfits wander the backwoods of America and eventually morph into a single being... a symbiotic Homo gestalt superman. This proves to be an effective cure for loneliness and the need for love, although the creature's road to maturity contains its fair share of stuggles. Beautifully written book with unsurpassed sensitivity and compassion.





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Mission of Gravity
by Hal Clement (1954)


Multi-legged alien Mesklinites help a team of humans to recover a vital component from a space probe downed on a heavy gravity planet. In return, the humans provide scientific knowledge. Characterisation of decidedly non-human Capt. Barlennan as both cultured and capable was atypical for its day. Clement's knowledge of physical parameters made this a 'hard sci-fi' classic.





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The Stars My Destination
by Alfred Bester (1955)


Energetic 24th century tale of the motivational power of revenge, loosely based on The Count of Monte Cristo. Central character Gully Foyle is left to die in space when a passing ship refuses to render aid. He taps the under-utilised resources of his mind to wreak revenge - becoming a psionic superman in the process. A classic of technological prophecy and timeless narrative enchantment.





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Non-Stop
by Brian W. Aldiss (1958)


Curiosity was discouraged in the Greene tribe. Its members lived out their lives in cramped Quarters, hacking away at the encroaching ponics. As to where they were, that was forgotten. Roy Complain decides to find out. With the renegade priest Marapper, he moves into unmapped territory, where they make a series of discoveries which turn their universe upside-down.





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Starship Troopers
by Robert A. Heinlein (1959)


A pivotal book in the history of militaristic sci-fi. After some seriously gung-ho training, a space-marine is thrown into a war against some really nasty and violent alien bugs. Duty and country (i.e. America) are of paramount importance. A popular 1997 feature film was roundly criticised by RAH supporters for its depiction of society as a fascist state rather than a libertarian democracy.





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Little Fuzzy
by Harry Harrison (1961)


The Zarathustra Company's charter for a Class III "uninhabited" planet meant they owned it in full. They exploited it, developed it and reaped the huge profits from it without interference from the Colonial Government. Then Jack Holloway, a sunstone prospector, appeared on the scene with his family of Fuzzies and the passionate conviction that they were not cute animals, but little people.





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Way Station
by Clifford D. Simak (1963)


Simak is famous for espousing gentle pastoral values. This is the story of a Civil War veteran whose farmhouse is an Earthly 'way station' for alien visitors. While in the farmhouse he does not age. When the local folk get suspicious the authorities close in, potentially threatening galactic peace. The book addresses the Cold War and basic human drives towards violence and peace.


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