London Calling turned 40 this month. The second full-length album by the Clash, one of the forbearers of punk music (and perhaps the creators of the pop punk subgenre), is iconic in so many ways. From the unforgettable album art depicting bassist Paul Simonon smashing his guitar on the stage floor to the two hit singles that brought the band into the mainstream (the eponymous “London Calling” and “Train in Vain”), the influence of the Clash and this album in particular is hard to overlook.
Undercut by its cheekily jaunty riffs, London Calling’s lyrics and frenetic pace evoke feelings of anxiety and distrust of authority. But that nervous energy isn’t hopeless; it’s more a call to action: to question, resist, and call bullshit where bullshit is found.
Such feelings of resistance and bucking authority are bedrocks of sci-fi, too. I love the political and rebellious stories of rogue AI, mutiny on spaceships, and overthrowing seemingly unbeatable, all-seeing techno-garchies (just made that one up).
So if you want to celebrate London Calling, take a look at these books, matched with some of my favorite songs, and pick one (or two!) that inspire you the most.