With the first ever XRT 4-D Flashback Weekend: The 1980s coming up this Friday, let’s prep with some appropriate reading material. Start with these classics of future history:
- “Friday” by Robert Heinlein. A return to form for the “Dean” of modern science fiction with an action-packed tale of the near future starring a superior “ artificial person” who still must deal with human prejudice. (Nobody said the future was gonna be perfect.)
- “Millennium” by John Varley. What happens to people who die in plane crashes? This riveting novel, based on the (even better) short story “Air Raid”, offers an explanation. One of the best time travel stories ever. Not for in-flight reading. The film stars Kris Kristofferson and Cheryl Ladd and a wise robot!
- “Neuromancer” by William Gibson. The grandaddy of cyberpunk novels is set in a dystopian future run by Japan and filled with computer augmentation, high-tech cold war intrigue and artificial intelligence. It was the first science fiction novel to win all the major awards. Logging on was never the same again.
- “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. This novel, also expanded from a short story, deals with children, the learning process and a curious contest.
- “Footfall” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Alien elephants try to make us the herd animals. We resist.
- “Hyperion” by Dan Simmons. A glorious blend of intelligent machines, matter transmission, the church and the deadly blades of the Shrike.
- “Blood Music” by Greg Bear. Human transcendence via biological singularity. It’s not pretty.
- “When Gravity Fails” by George Alec Effinger. What if you could plug in a module to learn something instantly or even become someone else? What if you didn’t want to and took drugs instead? Set in a fascinating version of the middle east. Title comes from Dylan’s song “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.”
- “The Postman” by David Brin. A fake letter-carrier saves a post-apocalyptic America. The movie (a legendary bomb) starred Kevin Costner and Tom Petty as a hero!