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One of my best high school teachers (a very short list) would have no truck with the science fiction the guys loved to read. The question of whether sci-fi's any good has reemerged in the blogosphere, and even the ultrareactionary Joseph Bottum at First Things is asking it, apropos of another blog discussion in which the commenters simply derided the very idea of literature.
He writes: "I would have preferred to see the discussion begin with the acknowledgement that Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe produced literature. Now, does any science fiction stand near them?"
OK, OK. But how about we move one rank down? At that level I'll nominate Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle from 1963 and David Marusek's 1999 novella "The Wedding Album" (not online but in this collection), which is also short enough that it won't take the whole evening.... I'm sure I'm forgetting some folks.
(The books we loved in high school were, at best, by great storytellers like Robert Heinlein, who I'd now put on a level with good genre writers like his approximate contemporary Rex Stout. Brad DeLong and commenters have some interesting thoughts on Starship Troopers — the book, that is.)