The Coode Street Podcast

The Coode Street Podcast Episode 232: On Canon Formation

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Welcome to The Coode Street Podcast, an informal weekly discussion about science fiction and fantasy featuring award-winning critics and editors Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe. The Coode Street Podcast debuted in 2010 and has been nominated for the Hugo, British Science Fiction, and Aurealis awards.

This week we return, without guests, to a topic with which we have annoyed listeners in podcasts for years—the idea of SF canon formation: who gets dropped from the canon, who gets added, and whether such things as Hugo nominations make any difference at all.

The decade between 1985 and 1995 (20-30 years ago now), saw the deaths of many of the writers who helped establish much of the “classic” SF canon—Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, Frank Herbert, Alfred Bester, Fritz Leiber, John Brunner, Roger Zelazny, James Tiptree Jr, Cliffard Simak, Lester del Rey, Philip K. Dick, C.L. Moore, and more.

Who among them are still being discovered by new readers, and which writers and books in the last 20 years are likely candidates for a future canon? Does it take 50 years or more to determine what is canonical? Are Hugos any sort of reliable guide? And what difference do canons make anyway, beyond collective lists of personal favorites?

Coode Street, Episode 232 (1:22:48)

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