Saturday, 26 July 2014
A British SF Classic
CS Lewis' reply to HG Wells' The Shape Of Things To Come, That Hideous Strength, was published in 1945, four years before Orwell's 1984 and twelve years before Fred Hoyle's first novel, The Black Cloud.
The Black Cloud contains an apt Biblical quotation but otherwise is an excellent British sf novel in the Wellsian tradition but based on updated data. Hoyle presents not Martians invading Earth but an intelligent gas cloud entering the Solar System. The chapter in which a scientist proves by answering and asking questions that the invasive cloud is alive is a perfect Platonic dialogue.
In Greek literature, "Homer and the poets" were followed by Plato and the philosophers. One of Hoyle's characters realizes that, by answering a question, he has conceded a point, as though he were arguing with Plato's mentor and dramatic persona, Socrates - and, in fact, Socrates appears as a historical character in Hoyle's later sf novel, October The First Is Too Late.