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The Stars Are Isles: Moby-Dick’s Enduring Influence on Science Fiction


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Moby-Dick may be a revered classic today, but it sank like the whale-rammed Pequod when it was first published in 1851. The novel sold fewer copies than Herman Melville’s previous books, and was so little regarded it was out of print by the time its author died–in relative obscurity–in 1891. It wasn’t until the 1920s that the novel experienced a revival and became enshrined in the Western canon. But while the literary canon and academia didn’t come to recognize the genius of Moby-Dick until well into the 20th Century, science fiction got a considerable head start, and Melville’s whaling novel has been a profound influence on the genre ever since.

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