Dialogues in the form of Novels

I’m trying to think of examples (in science fiction, preferably, but others are welcome too) where a novel is written and published as a “response” or “rebuttal” to another.

The best example I can come up with is Haldeman’s “The Forever War,” which was largely a response/rebuttal to Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers.”

I’m not so much thinking of novels that are inspired by others – Sword of Shannara as inspired by Lord of the Rings – but specifically novels thataddress the matter of other novels, actually engaging in a kind of dialogue.

I can’t remember the name of the book or author, but didn’t someone write a book where Asimovian Robots took over the world, in order to prevent anyone from “harm” – “No, you may not ride a bicycle! I am bound by the First Law to prevent you from coming to harm!” This would be an example of a story written as a rebuttal to Asimov’s robot stories. I’m mostly interested in novels, but stories are good here too!

Other good examples?

Thank you most mucho for any suggestions! (No, I’m not asking you to do my homework for me!) (Well, only kinda…)

You’re thinking of Jack Williamson’s "Humanoid"s.

Also rebutting Asimov was a novel called “Psychohistorical Crisis”, by Donald Kingsbury.

The Last Ringbearer?

E-DUB: Actually, the Kingsbury was the one I was trying (and failing!) to remember. I’ll track down the Williamson! Thank you!

Ignotus: Oh, good example! “The Last Ringbearer” is a rebuttal – I think it is also a parody/satire, but it is a “rebuttal in dialogue” also. Thank you!

Flashman was certainly a rebuttal to Tom Brown’s Schooldays, and the narrator said as much in the first chapter. Something along the lines of “Thomas Hardy was trying to tell a moral tale, whereas I just want to set the record straight.” If only there weren’t 112 years between them.

Interesting! I know next to nothing about the Flashman novels, nor about Tom Brown’s Schooldays. (Flashman as in G.M. Fraser? I’ve read another novel by him – Pyrates – and adored it. Should I launch into Flashman? How readable, in modern terms, is T.B.S.?)

Anthony Burgess’ 1985 was a rebuttal to George Orwell’s 1984. Burgess didn’t buy the idea that a sexually repressive dictatorship was viable, if memory serves, and I guess pointing to Huxley’s Brave New World wasn’t good enough.

Sattua: I’d never heard of 1985! Ignorance fought! Thank you!

Not a novel, but Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death concurred with Burgess.

Try a few chapters here. I’d say Harry Potter is strongly influenced by this novel. Harry Flashman is the bully in it, and a century later G.M. Fraser resurrected the character as an antihero against the backdrop of Victorian military adventures.

Would you include novels that essentially retell or revisit classic novels from a different point of view, like The Wind Done Gone or Wicked?

Thudlow Boink: (By God, I love your user-name!) Those are interesting examples, but might broaden the point too far. I’m mostly looking for rebuttals, books that zero in on a flaw (as perceived) in the original work, and expose it.

The expanded genre of books such as you name is certainly a fascinating one!

(The Last Ringbearer might belong in that category, but I think it serves as a “rebuttal” also, highlighting certain moral flaws in Lord of the Rings. Maybe a borderline case.)

(Wicked frustrated the hell out of me! Such a lively premise…but the book has a big break, during which time passes, and it skips right over the most important era in Elphaba’s life! We, as readers, never actually get to see her major transition from good to evil! Why the hell bother writing the book, if it doesn’t explore that central concept! Infuriating!)

Heinlein’s “Tunnel in the Sky” and Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” are likely both responses to “The Coral Island” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Coral_Island

Pohl’s short story “The Deadly Mission of Philip Snodgrass” is a response to de Camp’s “LEst Darkness Fall” (Pohl even mentions the story by name).

Hubbard and de Camp mistreated each other’s characters in a few short stories as well (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Harold_and_the_Gnome_King).

Andy L: Sweet examples! (“Tunnel in the Sky” is my favorite Heinlein novel!) I’ve read “Lest Darkness Fall” but had never heard of “The Deadly Mission of Philip Snodgrass.” I was looking for novels, not stories, but that sounds like a lovely example of a prose-fiction rebuttal.

(Amusing…but also a bit sad…that the first meaningful Google citation is…this discussion thread!)

Thank’ee most kindly!

Mack Reynolds wrote a few books that were essentially responses/rebuttals to each other, each pair of books taking more or less the same characters and premise and mirroring them so in one book things would work out well, in the other they’ll go terribly.

Looking Backward from the Year 2000 and *Equality in the Year 2000 *were two of them IIRC; in both, the same character wakes up from cryogenic sleep in the future (remember when 2000 was The Future?) and meets the same people and the same basic “post scarcity” society where there’s abundance for all, no one needs to work anymore and so on. Except in one version there’s a flowering of arts and science and human progress in response to this opportunities this creates, and in the other more and more people are retreating into simulated dream worlds since they don’t need to do anything real anymore.

Glad you liked them. By the way, I had a typo - it’s “Phineas” not “Philip” (and it’s on audio here http://www.sffaudio.com/aboutsf-audio-the-deadly-mission-of-phineas-snodgrass-by-frederik-pohl/) The most recent edition of “Lest Darkness Fall” that I’m aware of has the Pohl (and several other responses to “Lest Darkness Fall”) collected with it http://www.amazon.com/Lest-Darkness-Fall-Related-Stories-ebook/dp/B004Q9U4S4

Another couple of examples occurred to me: Spider Robinson explicitly critiques Varley’s “Press Enter” in his “Callahan’s Secret” and a Russian SF writer, Ivan Yefremov, wrote a response to Leinster’s “First Contact” (called “The Heart of the Serpent” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Heart_of_the_Serpent).

Helen Hooven Santmyer’s “And Ladies of the Club,” which became a surprise best seller when she was nearly 90, was written as a rebuttal to Sinclair Lewis’ cynical portrayals of the American Midwest.

Do they have to be partially antagonistic or a counterpoint, or can they expand o?

BF Skinner’s *Walden Two *is a fictional response to Thoreau’s nonfiction, but also to expand on his own psychological theories.

Gregory Maguire seems to specialize in changing the POV of a character, e.g. *Wicked * for Oz.

I was mostly thinking of rebuttals or debates, where some element of disagreement was intended.

Expansions and interpolations are wonderful stuff, but would end up overwhelming my list. There’s tons of 'em! I do love to read that kind of thing.

Philip Jose Farmer’s “The Other Log of Phileas Fogg” is a joy, as it zeroes in on logical and dramatic shortcomings of “Around The World in Eighty Days.” But I see it more as a parody than as a rebuttal per se: Farmer has to make up too much stuff from whole cloth. He rebuts things Verne never actually intended. (But doggone, it’s a fun book!)