In Science Fiction Seen from the Right I speak about the science fiction genre as I know it. And since I’m a conservative it’s done from a conservative point of view. The book gives you an opinionated overview, presenting 20th century sf literature, film and comics from the angle of eternal values. I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, when presenting the book by looking at Robert A. Heinlein.
Heinlein is a portal figure of the study. And I liked re-reading some Heinlein books before writing it. Now, as for other books I enjoyed checking up I’d mention these three, viable conservative sf classics that have some pizazz, energy and allure to them, in this or the other respect. They convey timeless wisdom and they are good reads.
First, I’d mention Dorsai! (1960) by Gordon R. Dickson. In the book’s chapter 32 I summed it up thus:
With its brainy reflections, its elaborations in a tight but eminently readable framework, Dorsai! is an alltime lodestar, not just of military SF. It’s the novel to read for the executive, responsible mind. Also, Dorsai! portrays a human interstellar culture (= no aliens), thus forming a conceptual chessboard of grand-scale politics, strategy and technology. — Dorsai! burns with a quiet fire, a Dune before Dune, an Asimov with a sense of urgency.
Another sf classic of the conservative kind is L. Ron Hubbard’s Return to Tomorrow (1954). It might not be overly original as such, this story of a young man becoming a spaceman and learning to assume responsibility. However, compared to Robert Heinlein (God bless him) and his similar space stories Hubbard’s had more allure, more basic artistry. In chapter 28 of my study I for instance say this about the book:
This is also a novel about taking responsibility, praising the traditional values of the service life: duty, courage, self-restraint and self-determination. Memorable is a scene at the end where Alan has become the captain himself. A navigator comes onto the bridge and sits down by the plotting table, putting a whisky bottle on it. He’s an alcoholic and the former captain tolerated this drinking while on duty. But now Alan grabs the bottle and throws it into the wall, shattering it. There’s a new regime on deck – Alan’s regime. That’s a symbolic scene of resonsibility and leadership, credible as such, mirroring the life at sea that Hubbard knew as a naval officer. Smashing the bottle (…) brought the message home, that of the Responsible Man taking charge.
Finally, as for discreet sf classics of the conservative kind I’d pick That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis. This is part three of his “space trilogy” — and if part one and two were entertaining reads with a traditional slant then it was all taken to an even higher level in part three, being both an impressive stance against negative nihilism and a good read. In chapter three of my study I say this of the book:
That Hideous Strength (1947) stands in line with Nineteen Eighty-Four, Anthem and Brave New World as a critic of our times, a warning against the forces of nihilism and leveling and an apology for spiritual values and humanity, all the more efficient by being set in contemporary England but still having fantastic elements. And by stressing the need for the spiritual dimension, for individuals to acknowledge the Inner Light, the spark of the Divine Light, the soul-light that essentially makes us human.
There you have it. As intimated all the quotes are from Science Fiction Seen from the Right, published by Manticore Books in 2016, possibly the only modern study conceptualizing the sf genre from a traditional point of view. I mean, virtually all the others are cosmopolitan and left-leaning (q.v. Aldiss, Disch, Lundwall…).