Though the “Golden Age” of science fiction ended purportedly ended in 1946, the 1950s were an astounding time for the genre. Some of the most enduring, shocking, risk-taking, and memorable American science fiction novels were published in the 1950s, and any fan of the genre knows it. Now a new two-volume set celebrating this period is coming from the Library of America!
Come September, the Library of America is publishing a two volume set containing nine complete novels. The are: The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon, The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett, The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson, Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, A Case of Conscience by James Blish, Who? By Algis Burdys, and The Big Time by Fritz Leiber.
These volumes look to be beautiful, but the special treat (beyond the great books themselves) is the essays by contemporary SF luminaries over on the Library of America website. There’s also some great pictures from period of several of the authors and other SF greats.
Both books are edited by Gary K. Wolfe, which includes an insightful introduction. From his essay:
“Taken together, all of these works, and many others, were part of a new and distinctly American literature. By the end of the decade, a field once dominated by short “pulp” fiction had reinvented itself, and expanded the range of “the novel” more generally.”
The novel definitely changed in the 1950’s, and we’ll be looking forward to re-exploring these awesome books come September!