What makes a book a science fiction or fantasy “classic”? Moderator Van Plexico led his lit experts into inquiries about the ages of SF achievement and what characterizes a classic story. The thorny questions carried the panelist and lively audience from early masterpieces to novels written today. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and John Carter of Mars series were noted as significant early works that left us with characters and situations which have defied the passage of time.
The John W. Campbell Golden Era of SF, when the famous editor and other notables nurtured emerging authors like Robert Heinlein, Issac Asimov, and Theodore Sturgeon through Astounding and other early magazines, was discussed as perhaps the premier period of SF classics. But the issue of the expansion and availability of scientific information through immediate internet and Wifi access led panelists to add yet another question: are we on the cusp of a new golden age of SF writing? The consensus was that great things are in our SF future as well as for fantasy, horror, and other new speculative genre contenders such as paranormal romance.