It is over ten years since my solo outing was published courtesy of TWB press, namely C.A.T. What amazes me is that it and the two follow-on stories continue to sell. It does make me wonder whether this will ever turn into one of those classic short stories that will be read decades hence. (If you haven’t read it the UK Amazon link is here.)
It got me wondering what stories become classics? They are the ones that you talk about to other people. And the reason we do is that they have a clear message about an interesting situation. The classic story everyone knows is Nightfall by Isaac Asimov. I don’t even need to describe it to most of you because you already know the story. Its premise is still as true today as when it was first published in 1941.
I’m sure you can go on to name many other stories. But how old does a story have to be before it can be considered a classic? I reckon it has to cover at least one generation if only to show the enduring quality and applicability between generations.
So C.A.T. has about another fifteen years to go before it can even begin to be considered a classic. But does it qualify with having an idea that people talk about? Well it is a very simple idea and there are consequents. In fact all three C.A.T. stories have big ideas in them. At least I think so, but then I’m biased, aren’t I? No, only the general readership can give that answer.
There are posts around the internet that give you lists of the best classic science fiction stories. A lot of choices will be right. Some will be dubious. A few will be downright wrong. These few will have slipped into the lists because they were hot topics of conversation at the time the lists were compiled and have since disappeared into the slurry of has-been stories. Which is another reason not to say a classic is a classic until it is at least 25 years old.
And when I look through my list of stories, wondering which will become classics in their due time, I can only say each one is a favourite! Though some shine out from others. One such is Rings Around Saturn, which will be published later this month in Best of British Science Fiction 2020. Below is a picture (O.K. I’m lousy at photography) of the courtesy copies I received in the post yesterday thanks to Donna Bond and Ian Whates.
One thing I’m sure of is that some of the stories in this anthology will be described as classics in years to come.