Fun for Monday: 6 Degrees of Vintage SFnal Separation

I nearly made it a whole month without doing a tag, but then I thought what the hey, let’s conclude Vintage SciFi Month with jazz hands. And so here we are, playing another round of 6 degrees of SFnal separation … vintage style! *makes jazz hands*

The rules are as follows: take six (vintage) science fiction books and link them one to the other in a chain using shared themes or tropes. Extra points (and a choccie biscuit) are awarded to those who are able, at the end of their chain of association, to link the last book back to the first, creating a vibrant circle of vintage science-fictional awesomeness.


Cover art by David Bergen

The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe by D G Compton (1974)

And I decided to start my chain with my first ever Vintage SciFi Month read. Set in a bleak-and-getting-bleaker future, The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe foresaw the rise of reality television. Katherine is terminally ill and is therefore fair game for the suffering-starved populace. Her every moment is filmed for TV by Roddie, a man with cameras for eyes, and the story deals with themes like privacy, morality and mortality, and human connection.


Iconic cover art by David Pelham

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)

In Burgess’ bleak future the inescapable tool of the State is television and ‘worldcasts’ and ‘Statefilms’ keep people under control, safely tucked away in their homes absorbing whatever information the State prescribes. In this future violence reigns, empathy no longer seems possible, and even choice may be an illusion.


Cover art by Carl Berkowitz

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin (1971)

This future is no better than the previous two in many ways. War, over-population and climate change are chipping away at everyone’s quality of life, but there is one man who may have the power to change everything. When George Orr dreams he alters the world: his dream worlds become our reality and when his psychiatrist discovers this he starts trying to use his patient’s ability for his own ends. George and Dr Haber make choices based on diametrically opposed philosophies.


More awesome cover art from David Pelham

The Drowned World by J G Ballard (1962)

I had to squeeze Ballard in somewhere, and his flooded, tropical London, a result of climate change, fits perfectly here. Dr Kerans is part of scientific team studying the plant and animal life in the lagoons of London when members of the group begin to experience strange dreams. The book is chock-full of surreal images, but the lingering one is of the giant red sun towards which Kerans eventually sets a course, the implication being that the far future will inevitably return the world to a prehistoric state.


Cover art by Richard Powers

The Time Machine by H G Wells (1895)

A story that popularised the idea of time travel, The Time Machine follows the adventures of an unnamed Time Traveller who visits a number of points in the Earth’s future and witnesses how humanity could change. First he visits a future in which humanity has split into two distinct groups, the Eloi and the Morlocks. Then he makes a series of rapid jumps into the far future of Earth in which humanity dies out and the giant red sun slowly dims until all is cold and dark.


Cover art by R D Scudellari

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy (1976)

This book presents a much more organic take on time travel, in which Connie Ramos gains access to the utopian future society of Mattapoisett via visions, even as she is incarcerated in a mental hospital in her own time. She witnesses how humanity could change for better and for worse over the course of the story, and her empathy highlights again and again the importance of human connection and acceptance.



So have you read any of these older titles? Or can I perhaps lure you into a game of 6 degrees of SFnal separation (vintage or otherwise)? There’s got to be some better links than I’ve made with my very limited vintage reading list.  




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