Mark Clifton:The Science Fiction of Mark Clifton

Mark Clifton is one of those writers about whom it has been said, "If he were around today, he'd be up there with Heinlein." This may be an exaggeration in his case, but I think he'd certainly be up with Sturgeon or Ellison... He did co-write the second Hugo-award-winning novel, They'd Rather Be Right, with Frank Riley. (It's the only novel in the list I'd never heard of...)

His stories show some of the sense of people that Sturgeon had, and some of the cynicism that Ellison often displays. In Clifton's case, it was a result of the late-50's McCarthyism and the attendant fear of being too "different".

Several of the stories in this collection deal with psychic abilities of some sort; from the frequent references, Clifton was fairly impressed with Rhine's ESP research. He seemed to feel that man had to move beyond what he was now, by means of these abilities; apart from that, he shows little faith in human kindness.

A series of four stories, featuring a personnel officer(Clifton's own occupation for many years)confronted with several unusual problems involving psychics, culminate in the psychics' withdrawal from human society, as does another story, "Star, Bright".

He died in 1963, just a few years from an American society he would probably have liked better; perhaps that would have taken the bite out of his writing, and proved the "If only--" prophets wrong. These days, it's easy enough to think, "Thank god we don't live in such a time." But then, what would he have thought of Political Correctness?

%A Clifton, Mark
%T The Science Fiction of Mark Clifton
%I Southern Illinois University Press
%C Carbondale, IL
%D Copyright 1980
%G ISBN 0-8093-0985-8
%P 296 pp.
%O Hardcover

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The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com