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American Science Fiction, Classic Novels of the 1950's


The Stars My Destination Alfred Bester

The Stars My Destination

William Gibson on The Stars My Destination

What is the price of revenge?

A celebrated tale of betrayal and revenge set in a nightmarish future, in which telepathic "jaunting" has become the preferred mode of transportation. "The perfect cyberpunk novel," says Neil Gaiman.

A Case of Conscience James Blish

A Case of Conscience

James Morrow on A Case of Conscience

What in God's name are we to do with aliens?

Space voyagers on the remote planet Lithia find themselves challenged by the values of an alien civilization. What is morality on another world—without religion, God, or sin?

The Long Tomorrow Leigh Brackett

The Long Tomorrow

Nicola Griffith on The Long TOmorrow

Who will control post-apocalyptic America?

In a future United States dominated by anti-technological sects that harshly punish any attempt to advance civilization, the young Len Colter hears rumors of a hidden community where now-forbidden science still flourishes. He resolves to pursue his curiosity to the source—but what will he make of what he discovers?

Who? Algis Budrys


Tim Powers on Who?

Who . . . can you trust?

Almost killed in an accident, an American physicist is returned to his government by Soviet technicians. Or is he? His friends cannot determine if he is one of their own or an ingenious cyborg double, as his head and much of his body have been replaced with artificial parts. Published in 1958, this suspenseful novel raises questions of identity and allegiance amid the intensities of the Cold War and emerging biomimetic technologies.

Double Star Robert A. Heinlein

Double Star

Connie Willis on Double Star

Do actors make the best politicians?

When the real candidate goes missing, a skilled actor and mimic is forced to assume the role of an interplanetary politician intent on forging bonds between Earthlings and Martians. Along the way he learns hard lessons about the nature and dynamics of political power.

The Space Merchants Frederik Pohl & C. M. Kornbluth

The Space Merchants

Michael Dirda on The Space Merchants

What happens when Philip K. Dick meets Mad Men?

Mitch, a professional ad man in a world governed by feuding mega-corporations, is handed a big account promoting a new colony on uninhabitable Venus. But as he takes a step up the career ladder, the world as he knows it falls out from under him: why is everyone suddenly out to get him? And who is he really working for?

The Big Time Fritz Leiber

The Big Time

Neil Gaiman on The Big Time

Is the past ever really past?

Set in "The Place," a bar and bordello in the backwater of the stream of spacetime, Leiber's 1958 novel explores the implications of a vast "Change War," an endless cosmic struggle in which two shadowy antagonists dart in and out of history in a contest to control the course of destiny.

The Shrinking Man Richard Matheson

The Shrinking Man

Peter Straub on The Shrinking Man

How low can you go?

After being exposed to radioactive material, Scott Carey finds that he is shrinking at the slow and increasingly alarming rate of one-seventh of an inch per day. Vividly imagined, this 1956 novel was the basis of The Incredible Shrinking Man, one of the 1950s' classic sf movies.

More Than Human Theodore Sturgeon

More Than Human

Kit Reed on More Than Human

What does the next stage of evolution look like?

Little by little, a group of mysteriously precocious misfits band together and learn to "blesh." Working as one, can they survive in a world of "normals"? Sturgeon's 1953 novel has been a perennial favorite of speculative fiction readers from generation to generation.

Related volumes from The Library of America

Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of the 1960s

Four of Dick's novels are presented in this volume: The Man in the High Castle, Ubik, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Posting the questions "What is human?" and "What is real?" in a multitude of fascinating ways, Dick's words—fantastic and weird, yet developed with precise logic, marked by wild humor and soaring flights of religious speculation—are startlingly prescient imaginative anticipations of twenty-first-century quandaries.

Philip K. Dick: Five Novels of the 1960s and 70s

Five novels from the height of Philip K. Dick's career—A Scanner Darkly, Now Wait for Last Year, Martian Time-Slip, Dr. Bloodmoney, and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said—offering a breathtaking overview of the range of this science-fiction master, who made and unmade fictional world-systems with ferocious rapidity and unbridled speculative daring.

Philip K. Dick: VALIS and Later Novels

Four later novels—The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, VALIS, The Divine Invasion, and A Maze of Death—journey into the religious and mystical terrain that preoccupied Dick towards the end of his life.

The Philip K. Dick Collection (boxed set)

All three of the Library of America's Philip K. Dick volumes, thirteen novels in all, in a specially designed boxed set.

H. P. Lovecraft: Tales

This collection of twenty-two "weird tales"—including The Call of Cthulhu, The Shadow Out of Time, At the Mountains of Madness, The Color Out of Space, and The Shadow Over Innsmouth—presents the fearful beings, horrendous forces, and eerie events for which Lovecraft is renowned in a single, deeply unsettling volume.

Kurt Vonnegut: Novels & Stories 1963–1973

Vonnegut's most famous novels, Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, and a gathering of short stories in a volume of brilliant speculative and satirical fiction that helped redraw the map of mainstream American writing.

Kurt Vonnegut: Novels & Stories 1950–1962

Kurt Vonnegut's signature qualities as a writer—what John Updike called "his free flow of invention, the surreal beauty of his imagery, and a colloquial American style justly ranked with Mark Twain's—are everywhere on display in this authoritative collection of his early fiction. It includes The Sirens of Titan, Player Piano, and Mother Night, along with a selection of classic short stories.

Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Princess of Mars

After seeking refuge in a sacred cave, Civil War veteran John Carter is mysteriously transported to Mars and becomes a central figure in the conflict between two warring tribes. Pulitzer Prize–winner Junot Díaz writes in his introduction: "A Princess of Mars is a New World Conquest turned Western turned Lost Race romance turned Indian Captivity narrative turned swashbuckler turned eugenics parable . . . It's a kaleidoscopic mash-up to end all kaleidoscopic mash-ups and yet despite all this whirl of disparate influences the damn thing holds together."

American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps

Incorporating stories from such authors as Poe, Ambrose Bierce, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, Robert E. Howard, and Washington Irving, this anthology offers some of America's most exciting, and disturbing, horror tales full of gothic imagery, curses, trance states, and sinister presences.

American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940s to Now

Continuing the Library of America's Fantastic Tales collection, this volume features the writings of Stephen King, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Vladimir Nabokov, and many other authors whose stories integrate elements of horror, malevolent forces, and the unexplained.

American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to Now (boxed set)

Peter Straub, a contemporary master of literary horror and fantasy, offers an authoritative and diverse gathering of stories calculated to unsettle and delight, in styles ranging from the exquisitely insinuating speculations of Henry James's "The Jolly Corner" to the nightmarish post-apocalyptic savagery of Harlan Ellison's "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream." Ghostly narratives of the Edwardian era, lurid classics from the pulp heyday of Weird Tales, latter-day masterpieces by Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and Steven Millhauser: over 80 stories in all, with a generous selection of contemporary authors who continue to push the genre in new and startling directions. Both of the Library of America's American Fantastic Tales volumes are included in this deluxe boxed set.