New Year’s reading resolutions are floating around. Lately, my tendency is to avoid making lists of books to read, and instead to carry out reading projects. My current one is to read 1952: a good year for both mainstream literature and science fiction. Awhile back I started a post-apocalyptic sci-fi reading project (which I have yet to finish). One of the best ever post-apocalyptic novels came out in 1952, Wilson Tucker’s The Long Loud Silence. A couple of lousy ones came out too, Poul Anderson Vault of the Ages, and Andre Norton’s Star Man’s Son. I’ve read those three, but there’s one more big one from 1952, Bernard Wolfe’s Limbo, a post-apocalyptic cyborg novel that was on David Pringle’s top 100 Sci-fi Novel list. So I’m reading that one, since I picked it up for Christmas (thanks, Dad).
1952 was a great year for literature. I’m currently reading Steinbeck’s majestic East of Eden (thanks for the recommendation, Yago), which I will follow up with Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Other remarkable books that came out that year are Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano. Charlotte’s Web also came out in 1952.
Other interesting sci-fi published in book form that year includes Asimov’s Foundation and Empire, Clifford Simak’s City, van Vogt’s The Weapon Makers, and the very first Hugo award winner, Alfred Bester’s edgy, proto-cyberpunk The Demolished Man.
Why do this? In part because I was already reading East of Eden, but also, given my chronological sci-fi reading, I’m interested in contrasting what was going on in post-Hiroshima science fiction with the concerns that show up in mainstream literature.
So there it is - 1952 in (English) literature, and my first reading project of the year.
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