Reports of the death of British literary science fiction have, for some decades now, proved to be greatly exaggerated. Every time it seems that written SF on these islands has nothing left to say, that every possible permutation has been wrung from the genre and its various subsets, along comes a novel that changes everything.
In some cases, the book in question seems utterly new, without precedent – or at the very least it draws inspiration from unexpected sources. Other novels sum up a movement or a moment in time, clarifying ideas that have been out there in the ether.
So far so portentous… let’s get to the pub argument bit. Which Brit SF novels (we’ll have the fantasy argument another time if that’s okay…) deserve to be considered as crucial, the books that pull off the apparently paradoxical trick of defining the genre by revolutionising it?
At SFX we’ve made our selection. We’d like to say it’s the result of an exhaustive editorial consultation process that involved spreadsheets and stuff, but frankly we’re not that organised. However, we can at least guarantee that we argued and sent each other some emails.
So here’s the list, over the next 10 pages, in chronological order. We know it’s not comprehensive and you’ll have favourites that aren’t here, so do tell us about the novels we missed and why you’d include them.
Click here to go to the first book.