Fred Saberhagen boasts not only an exceptionally cool authorial moniker but also stands as a luminary in science fiction, chiefly owing to his creation of one of the genre’s most mysterious, notorious, and impactful adversaries—The Berserkers.
A prolific American science fiction and fantasy writer, Fred Saberhagen (1930-2007) left an indelible mark on the genre. His notable contributions include the renowned “Berserker” series, featuring self-replicating robotic warships with a singular mission to annihilate all life in the cosmos. Additionally, Saberhagen reimagined the classic vampire archetype in a contemporary context with his “Dracula” series, introducing the iconic character of Dracula. Renowned for his imaginative storytelling and inventive approaches to traditional science fiction and fantasy themes, Saberhagen’s legacy endures.
In the scorching desert heat, a spirited delivery man ventures into the vast emptiness, unaware of the horrifying fate that awaits him. With his present cargo tightly secured, he has no inkling that within its confines lay a mystery too gruesome to comprehend. And then, as the cargo is unveiled, a ghastly truth is revealed – a man-eating beast, more sinister than any nightmare, lurks behind those timber slates. The desert becomes an arena of terror, where life and death hang in the balance.
Left trapped in a bone-chilling dilemma, his every move determines his own survival. The stakes had never been higher, and the desert bears witness to a harrowing battle for survival, as the hunter becomes the hunted, and fear carves its path amidst the arid wasteland.
This horror sci-fi story is part one of the series, The Sell Outs, based on the short story.
It could sound like a clique stating my first ever science fiction read was Isaac Asimov back in the late ’70s, but this may have been unavoidable. This guy was an iconic American writer and professor who dominated the genre for half a century. He even boasted he was the “Best Science Writer” backed up by none other than Arthur C. Clarke. They actually had made an agreement with each other, negotiated as they shared a cab in New York, the so-called “Clarke–Asimov Treaty of Park Avenue”.
The treaty stipulated that Asimov would always proclaim Clarke as the greatest science fiction writer in the world, with himself as runner-up, and Clarke would similarly proclaim Asimov as the best science writer, with himself as runner-up.
Historiography (or Historiology) is a term that refers to the study of historical writing and its methods of interpretation. In science fiction, historiography plays a significant role in exploring the complexities of the past, present and future of a story.
Nothing builds intricate worlds like the attention to detail given to the story’s geography. What makes a setting compelling is the effort that goes into creating elaborate planets that are logical and familiar in terms of geology, history, climate and all that encompasses the geographical nature of the fictional world.
Of all the tropes, the ‘Last of a Kind’ concept is one of that rare theme, plot and character devices that has evolved into mythical existence with one perfect master stroke. Richard Matheson’s classic vampire novel towers over them all. ‘I Am Legend (1954)’ is an ingenious hybrid of two previous classics, such as Mary Shelley’s ‘The Last Man (1826)’ and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula (1897)’. Vampirism and plague, a combination that captures the definitive pretext for a last man alive narrative, grounding the myth of the supernatural with the reality of pathogens.
Matheson also deploys another trope in the finale of the story, one that is more devastating in its social commentary. The vampires, the pandemic, and the last man on Earth are just the setup for the novella’s central message, and it’s the one element shunned by all the film adaptations to date.
Here I am, facing the nadir of my existence, and I have the need to go to work. A specialist recommended I do so. I don’t think that the psychiatrist had any inkling of who I am, or how volatile I had become, but I take the advice. Learning to live again, and going back to work is the first step.
The field of economics probably bores the average lit reader and probably most sci-fi readers as well. Yet the best sci-fi reads are the ones that construct plausible alternative financial constructs and economic environments. Whether we like it or not, our lives are immersed and enslaved to whatever the current economic paradigm is in place. So much so that most people don’t even know that alternatives exist. They don’t comprehend that the economic system that they are bound to be only an invention, and that other (maybe better, possibly worse) systems can exist.