Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 1956


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Forbidden Area: As chilling now as when it was first published

Forbidden Area by Pat Frank

Foreign espionage and sabotage undermining the credibility of American armed forces. A counter-intelligence group mocked and silenced for its theories. Shadowy plans, decades in the making. The fate of the world caught in the balance between devastation and salvation. Pat Frank describes all of these in Forbidden Area, which was first published in 1956 and is still terrifying sixty-one years later.

Harper Perennial’s 2016 re-issue of Forbidden Area only clocks in at just over 200 pages and contains four interlocking plotlines,


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The Man Who Japed: PKD shines in his third novel

The Man Who Japed by Philip K. Dick

Cult sci-fi author Philip K. Dick‘s third novel, The Man Who Japed, was originally published in one of those cute little “Ace doubles” (D-193, for all you collectors out there), back to back with E.C. Tubb’s The Space-Born, in 1956, and with a cover price of a whopping 35 cents. (Ed Emshwiller’s cover for The Man Who Japed was his first of many for these beloved double-deckers.) As in Dick’s previous novel,


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The Dragon in the Sea: Submarine treachery

The Dragon in the Sea by Frank Herbert

The East and the West rule the world, but the West is running out of oil. The West has been sending subtugs (specialized submarines) to smuggle oil from the East, but the last twenty missions have failed. It’s treachery! Security knows that the East has a lot of sleeper agents among their ranks, so they assign John Ramsey, who specializes in psychology and electronics, aboard the next mission in order to uncover the sleeper agent.

There are four men aboard the subtug,


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The Stars My Destination: Tiger, tiger, burning bright, intent on revenge

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

Much has been written about Alfred Bester’s classic 1956 SF novel The Stars My Destination (Tiger! Tiger! in the United Kingdom). According to Wikipedia, it is considered one of the best SF books of all time by many authors such as Neil Gaiman, Joe Haldeman, Samuel. R. Delany, Robert Silverberg, and William Gibson.

Predating cyberpunk by almost three decades (if you count from Gibson’s Neuromancer in 1984),


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The 13th Immortal: One of Silverberg’s earliest novels

The 13th Immortal by Robert Silverberg

The 13th Immortal is one of Robert Silverberg’s earliest novels, and though it’s not considered one of his great works, I certainly enjoyed it thoroughly and recommend it to those who like short science fiction novels from the 1950s. It’s a post-apocalyptic story about twelve immortals who have divided most of the world among themselves into separate Empires, leaving a few other places to whoever claims them. Those few key other spaces include a mutant city, a computerized city with no human inhabitants,


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Double Star: No second-rate actor could ever become president, right?

Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein

Most of Robert A. Heinlein’s adult novels have interesting ideas or premises but many lack likeable characters and/or fun quickly-moving plots. Fortunately Double Star has all the right elements and is entertaining from start to finish. It’s one of Heinlein’s best novels, I think, and I must not be alone in that opinion since it won the Hugo Award in 1956 and was nominated for Locus’ All-Time Best Science Fiction Novels. Double Star is a character-based novel that explores some important political issues without getting preachy.


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The World Jones Made: Compulsively readable

The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

By 1956, the sensation of seeing his name in print was not a new one for author Philip K. Dick. Between 1952 and 1955, he had placed around 75 (!) short stories in the various science fiction magazines and digests of the day, and in 1955 his first novel, Solar Lottery, saw its first publication. That novel appeared in one of those cute little “Ace doubles” (D-103, for all you collectors out there), backed with Leigh Brackett’s The Big Jump.


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Time for the Stars: One of Heinlein’s best juveniles

Time for the Stars by Robert A. Heinlein

Time for the Stars is one of my favorite Heinlein Juveniles, and I like his juveniles better than his books for adults, so I guess that makes Time of the Stars one of my favorite Heinlein works. It’s got everything that makes his stories so much fun to read, especially for kids. Likeable heroes, sweet relationships, real emotions, a touch of romance, a bit of physics, spaceship travel and exploration of distant planets. (And also, as usual,


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The Incredible Shrinking Man: A beautiful psychological study of masculinity

The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson

Every day Scott Carey is getting shorter by 1/7 of an inch. The doctors have figured out why — he was exposed to a combination of insecticide and radioactivity — but so far they have not been able to make him stop shrinking. Now Scott is only one inch tall and he is trapped in the cellar of his family’s rented home with a stale piece of bread, an out-of-reach box of crackers, a sponge, a garden hose, a water heater, and a black widow spider.


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To Live Forever: Vance writes about things that fascinate me

To Live Forever by Jack Vance

Note: You may also find this book published with the name Clarges.

In Clarges, a city in the far future, humans have conquered death. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough room for billions of immortal people to live forever, so they’ve passed the fair-play act which divides society into 5 phyle which must be maintained at certain population ratios. Those who choose to participate in fair-play must register in Brood, the lowest phyle, and receive 82 years of life, after which an “assassin”


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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