Today: May 28, 2024

Folio Focusses On Sci-Fi

From Asimov, to Aldiss, to Philip K. Dick… many of us now know the works of the world’s greatest science fiction authors though film and TV adaptations of their work. However, this month the Folio Society releases two brand new editions which takes sci-fi fans back to the source material in fine style …

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Science fiction has always been a fertile home for the short story and the Folio Society’s new Science Fiction Anthology, compiled by Brian Aldiss, ( A.I. and Frankenstein Unbound) is a shining constellation of science-fiction stars, each story exemplifying the very best of the genre.

In H. G. Wells’s The Star, an intruder in the solar system has disastrous consequences for Earth. Fans of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series get the chance to revisit his universe in Bridle And Saddle. Recall Mechanism is a typically mind-bending story from Philip K. Dick, author of The Man In The High Castle and Blade Runner. Also included are stories from Harry Harrison, James Tiptree Jr, Tom Godwin, James H. Schmitz, Voltaire and Anna Kavan, the writer who Aldiss once described as Kafka’s sister. Writing under a pen name, Aldiss has also provided an extra story exclusively for this anthology, making it an irresistible collection for any science-fiction fan.

Award-winning German artist Florian Schommer has created seven atmospheric colour illustrations which cleverly shadow the chronology of the book. Voltaire’s Micromégas, the earliest story featured, is accompanied by a beautiful illustration composed of greys and blacks and, as the stories move towards the modern age, a palette of deep oranges and reds is gradually introduced. The spectacular binding features a three colour foil design, evoking the glittering golden age of science fiction.

Each of the stories is prefaced with an introduction by Aldiss, often touching on his relationships with the genre’s greats – he describes eating dinner with Philip K. Dick on the roof of a glamorous hotel in California – or providing a wider commentary on the vital role of short stories.

I, Robot, is the second of the Folio Society’s sci-fi offerings, presenting the classic selection of stories  which would ultimately sow the seeds for Isaac Asimov’s acclaimed Foundation series (also available from The Folio Society).

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Via the reminiscences of Chief Robopsychologist Dr Susan Calvin, I, Robot offers the reader snapshots of a future fraught with remarkable technologies and unthought-of moral conundrums. In Robbie, a little girl grows so attached to her robot nanny that she is inconsolable when her parents try to replace him. Field engineers Powell and Donovan must deal with the religious mania of a robot that refuses to believe that human beings – creatures so “soft and flabby” and “makeshift” – could be responsible for its creation. In Liar! a telepathic robot lies to its human colleagues to save their feelings, with terrible consequences.

Isaac Asimov was more than one of the greatest science-fiction writers of his age. In his introduction to this Folio Society edition, robotics engineer and author Daniel H. Wilson describes how Asimov’s fictional vision of the future – and particularly his Three Laws of Robotics – would have a significant impact on the development of real-world technology. Asimov’s gift, Wilson writes, was to ‘lift our eyes to the horizon; to show us worlds worth living in’. Alex Wells’s vibrant illustrations and binding design capture the fundamentally uneasy relationship between a burgeoning artificial intelligence and its creator.

Featured image by Florian Schemer from The Folio Science Fiction Anthology.

The Folio Science Fiction Anthology, Introduced and edited by Brian W. Aldiss is priced £29.95.

I, Robot is available for pre order now for 14th October at http://www.foliosociety.com/book/IRB/i-robot

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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