26 October 2010

Literary Refs in SF/F/H?

I recently read the 1956 science fiction novel The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester and there are surprisingly-many literary associations in it. Bester's literary references in Stars begin in the epigraph; he quotes part of William Blake's 1794 poem "The Tyger" and sets the tone for the entire novel. Also, I believe the novel as a whole is a SF version of Alexandre Dumas' 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo. I could go on and on with examples, from William Shakeaspeare's Hamlet to James Joyce's literary device to Arthur Rimbaud poems, but my point isn't what Bester references, it's that he makes literary references at all.

Do other SF/F/H works utilize references to other literature? Yes, some of them. For example, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury has a section "Usher II" which is very reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado", and of course, there's Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher". Another example is To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis--an hommage to Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome from 1889!

Can you think of other examples of literary references in SF/F/H? Do think they're a good idea, or a short cut? If the former, consider sending us a story with a literary reference. :)


Milo James Fowler said...

Bradbury again, but his Leviathan 99 combines Moby Dick with Shakespeare pretty darn well.

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.