I love science fiction. I say this time and again but that does not mean that I don’t enjoy other styles of writing. I read quite widely and I enjoy most of it, and there are some authors I’ve read that would love to see write some science fiction or wish they had written some science fiction.
First among these authors has to be Bernard Cornwell. For those of you who have not heard of Mr. Cornwell he is the prolific author of the Richard Sharpe series of novels. Set during the Peninsular Wars, Cornwell writes with a verve and authority as if he had actually stood alongside Sharpe and the boys of the 95th and fired his Baker rifle with withering effect on the advancing French columns.
While Cornwell has written novels based on the Saxons in England and the search for the Holy Grail, they are not really fantasy. I would love to see what Cornwell would do if he inverted his backward gaze to the far future. Perhaps it might come off a bit pulpy, but I have no doubt that it would be an exciting one.
The next author I would love to see write science fiction is Antony Beevor. Beevor is the acclaimed history writer of books such as Stalingrad (1998) and Berlin: The Downfall 1945 (2002).
Many history books are dry and inaccessible, but Beevor researches his subject extremely well and has a knack for bringing dry facts to life. I’ve read, or tried to read, many history books on subjects I’m very interested in, but Beevor is the only one I read as freely as I would a novel.
I think that if Beevor were to tackle a science fiction book it would be a grand and sweeping space opera that involved many disparate characters and ideals that would resolve itself in spectacular fashion. Think something along the lines of Frank Herbert’s Dune.
I would also have to include Boris Pasternak among writers I wish had written science fiction. Pastnerak won the Nobel prize for literature in 1958 for his novel Doctor Zhivago (1957). While many of you have seen the 1965 film with Omar Sharif and Julie Christie, and as good as that film is, it still fails to really capture Pasternak’s writing.
While any science fiction novel from Pasternak would be a sombre and sorrowful affair, I’m quite sure it would have won any award available to be won.
And while I’m speaking of Russian writers, I would also wish for a science fiction novel from Leo Tolstoy. A contemporary of Jules Verne, I often wonder how science fiction would be different if Tolstoy had written novels about technology and adventure.
Tolstoy’s writing is very detailed and thought out. I have heard many people criticise War and Peace (1869) for its length, saying that it really only got good at the last third of the book. However, I feel it’s Tolstoy’s delving into Russian life and culture that make the book what it is. A science fiction novel by Tolstoy, perhaps with an eye on a new alien culture, would have been a tremendous thing.
The last author I will mention in this list (although I could probably add writers ad infinitum) is Patrick Taylor. I discovered Patrick Taylor a couple of years ago while wandering around the bookshop. I found his first novel An Irish Country Doctor (2007) and was intrigued enough to pick it up.
Taylor writes with joyful and humourous voice and An Irish Country Doctor had me laughing out loud many times. Taylor is himself a physician turned writer so his views of a country doctor’s office, while taken with a grain of salt, are very probably somewhat biopic. I have read each subsequent book and they are all wonderful.
With Taylor writing a science fiction novel we might expect something that Douglas Adams might give us. It would be a very skewed view of whatever universe Taylor might choose to show us.
While we can expect not to see any science fiction from authors such as these any time soon, it is fun to speculate on what sort of science fiction they could give us.