Two major events in geek literature happened today: a handful of phenomenal individuals entered the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and the winners of the 2010 Locus Awards were announced.

First and foremost, via io9.com, the Science Fiction Hall of Fame welcome four new individuals today: authors Octavia Butler, Richard Matheson, and Roger Zelazny and special effects expert Douglas Trumbull. Now I won’t admit to knowing a whole lot about Octavia Butler or Douglas Trumbull, but Richard Matheson and Roger Zelazny are two of my absolute favorites.

One summer during my undergraduate career at the University of Connecticut, I decided to take an online class to fulfill one of my general education requirements, an English class in Science Fiction Literature taught by Professor Leigh Grossman. It was an intensive session class, so we ended up diving head-first into the material at a breakneck pace. There was some Philip K. Dick, there was a book by Elizabeth Moon, and there were short stories by Samuel (Chip) Delaney, but one of the most powerful stories that I read was a short story called, “This Moment of the Storm” by Roger Zelazny. It was in a collection called “Modern Classics of Science Fiction,” edited by Gardner Dozois and you can find it here if you’re interested.

Anyway, I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but inflection points in the direction of one’s life are rare and it’s even rarer that we both know that they’re happening while they’re happening and can look back on them to know that what we felt at the time was true. Reading “This Moment of the Storm” was one of those inflection points. I couldn’t even tell you exactly what it was about this story in particular and I don’t wholly remember the plot or even the characters, just that I was beholding something very special and that I wasn’t the same person after reading it as I was before.

I went on to independently read more Roger Zelazny after that class and quickly found one of my all-time favorite books, still a contender in my top three: Lord of Light. Awarded the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1968, Lord of Light is invariably one of the first books that I recommend to anyone that I recommend books to, so now I’m recommending it to you, internet.

Shortly after Lord of Light and in my quest to devour more science fiction literature, I found out about The Chronicles of Amber and subsequently ended up reading all ten books of it (some of which are admittedly much better than others), affirming Zelazny’s writing ability. Point being, reading Zelazny’s work became an unstoppable source of momentum for me and the man was a brilliant writer, so I’m thrilled to see him in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

As for the next writer who I wanted to mention, you’ve probably already heard of him. His work has made waves in Hollywood and he has been an immortal inspiration in fantasy, horror, and general literature for decades.

 

That man is Richard Matheson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have never read anything by Richard Matheson, you owe it to yourself to do so at your soonest convenience. You’ll probably read I Am Legend and think, “This all feels very familiar,” possibly comparing it to other suspense and horror that you’ve read. Then you’ll realize that I Am Legend was published in 1954, well before you and even some of your parents were born, never mind capable of reading or writing fiction.

After you get through I Am Legend, I recommend What Dreams May Come for a complete change of pace. You may find it in a completely different section of the bookstore, if you still do your shopping there. You may have to hunt through science fiction, fantasy, or even general fiction, but that’s probably because nobody can definitively decide what this book is. You’ll read through a love story and a dizzying trip through the afterlife and back and you might find yourself wondering, “Is this really the same guy who scared the hell out of me with vampires clawing at the walls?”

That’s the magic of Richard Matheson: he’s not a gifted science fiction writer, fantasy author, or horror novelist, but a peerless creator of all of those things. He knows how to piece together words in ways that excite and terrify, that give us nightmares at night or bring us to tears. I may have wanted to sleep with the light on after I Am Legend, but I honest-to-goodness cried at the heartbreak and raw emotion in What Dreams May Come.

Congratulations to both Roger Zelazny and Richard Matheson on making it into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

 

Secondly, the Locus Award winners were announced today, reminding us that science fiction isn’t just about the old classics and established masters like Zelazny and Matheson, but also a modern wave of authors like Cherie Priest, China Miéville, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Neil Gaiman. Congratulations to the authors of Boneshaker, The City & The City, The Windup Girl, and “An Invocation of Incuriosity,” respectively, as well as all of the other nominees and award winners from this year.

I wanted to give a special mention to Boneshaker and Cherie Priest as well as a heads-up to the internet. I’m in the middle of this book right now as a result of the io9 book club (The City & The City is next month’s book) and I have to say, it’s pretty damn cool. It’s an alternate history, steam punk romp through a plague-infested, walled-in Seattle replete with zombies, airships, pirates, drug smugglers, civil war era fantasy technology, and all sorts of other wonderful elements, all well-told with Cherie Priest’s blend of quick pacing, a mother’s concern for her too-curious son, and gripping action. Boneshaker is a gem and much-deserving of the 2010 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

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