Penguin Classics boldly goes into science fiction

Penguin Classics boldly goes into science fiction

Penguin Classics is to launch a new series of science fiction—with livery designed by Penguin art director Jim Stoddart—which will aim "to challenge stereotypes about the genre and celebrate science fiction as the essential genre of modern times". 

Penguin Classics Science Fiction will kick off with 10 titles in August, with a further 10 to follow in November. The launch list will include two books by giants of world SF who have not often been published in English: Andreas Eschbach's The Hair Carpet Weavers (translated by Doryl Jensen) and Angélica Gorodischer's Trafalgar (Amelia Gladhart). German superstar Eschbach has only had three of his more than 40 novels translated into English; The Hair Carpet Weavers is his 1995 space opera debut. The 91-year-old Argentine Gorodischer is arguably Latin America's best-known SF writer and Trafalgar follows the titular roguish intergalatic trader through a series of adventures. 

Jessica Harrison, Penguin Classics editorial director, said: "As real life increasingly comes to resemble a science fiction novel, these are the books we need now more than ever. Science fiction helps us make sense of the world as it is—and dream about the worlds that might lie ahead."

Other titles on the August launch are Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, Edwin Abbott's Flatland and Ten Thousand Light-years from Home by James Tiptree Jr, the pseudonym of pioneering American feminist SF writer Alice Bradley Sheldon.

Of the designs, Stoddart said Penguin was aiming for "simple line drawings to express the warped familiarity of each book". He added: "The covers feature work from modernist masters such as Picasso, Le Corbusier, Herbert Bayer—as well as some less widely known artists—who, like the authors, have developed alternative and often visionary ways of presenting reality."