Monday, October 27, 2008

Do You Like Sci-Fi?

I didn't realize I did until I glanced at the list provided by these guys and saw how many of the top 50 I'd read.

Here are some of the ones I recommend:

Foundation, Isaac Asimov
1984, George Orwell
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clark
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut
Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

What about you? Are there some on the top 50 that I really need to read? Do you have any favorites?


  1. Mike,

    Great recommendations. I think the only one I haven't read multiple times is Foundation. That is the only one on your list I haven't read many times.

    I would add a couple
    Dune by Frank Herbert - sub oil for spice and it's a fair summary of the politics and economics.
    Starship Troopers - Heinlein - forgot about the atrocious movie, the book deals with such topics as who should have the franchise to vote (sound familiar?)
    and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress also by the SciFi Master.

  2. Foundation and the rest of the trilogy are some of my favorite books of all time. I recently re-read them and they are still as good as they were when I first came across them.

    Ender's Game is another that I would highly recommend. I liked all of Orson Scott Card's "Ender" novels (there are a bunch of them), but this one can be read as a standalone. Very well done.

    I loved Hyperion by Dan Simmons as well. You need to read it along with its sequel(s), but it's a fantastic book. The four books that make up his cantos are a nice mix of sci-fi and theology.

  3. you haven't read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? that's almost on par with not having read Lord of the Rings. almost. get yourself the whole series in one of those collection volumes and get to reading.

    Heinlein is Heinlein, but i'd recommend Starship Troopers long before Stranger in a Strange Land. i've not seen the movie, but several good critics have convinced me it's got little to do with the novel, which latter is thought-provoking and most worth a read. Time Enough for Love is even more of an old man's wank-fantasy than the rest of his efforts; i'd avoid it.

    Dune is worth reading, for the atmosphere and the setting of it. its sequels are a waste of time.

    Hyperion is the best pastiche of Canterbury Tales i've come across; read it. its sequels are... nah, don't bother with them.

    Neuromancer made William Gibson rightly famous overnight. you're missing an entire genre if you haven't read that one.

    Ender's Game is worth reading, but doesn't deserve to top anybody's list. it deserves a slot in the top ten, but not the topmost. its sequels were potboilers, and got progressively worse with every one. caveat: Card is a despicable, homophobic bigot who's got quite enough cash as it is --- read his books at your local library, don't spend money buying copies.

    Fahrenheit 451 should have told you of Bradbury's genius, so what's your excuse for not having read the rest of his works, eh?

    Rendezvous with Rama is a good introduction to Clarke. he's not bad, deserves his reputation, although there are certainly better writers.

    everything Stanislaw Lem ever wrote is worthwhile. Solaris is his most famous work, but not really representative; he was usually much more light-hearted. read it anyway, it's thought-provoking enough.

    i'm currently reading Carl Sagan's Contact. so far, i'd warmly recommend it.

    The Gods Themselves is among Asimov's best efforts. if you're sick and tired of humans in funny makeup as "aliens", sit down with this one.

    Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep deserves much better than #47. read it straightaway.

    Greg Bear's Eon is good, but suffers from the same problem every other Bear work i've read so far; the man cannot seem to write an ending worth a damn. his books mostly just peter out unsatisfyingly. pity, his beginnings and middles are quite good.

    Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat stories are underappreciated gems. hilarious romps, all of them.

    Abbott's Flatland is mostly of historical interest for the trail it blazed, but it's short and not bad, so pick up a copy if you can.

    what really should be on that list but isn't, is Keith Laumer's Retief stories. get over to the Baen Free Library and read them for nothing, then buy them in the Baen reprints to keep a hardcopy.

    what really shouldn't be on the list is Orwell, and Huxley's Brave New World. they're both must-reads, of course, but neither of them is Science Fiction. as well include Animal Farm (yet another must-read) as 1984.

    i'd list John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up as a good, thoughtworthy sci-fi dystopia, except most of it seems to have already come true. it was sci-fi when published in 1972, but now it's future history past.

  4. PKD is the important stuff, all else is secondary!!!!! PKD RULEZ FOREVER!!!!!

    Seriously, I believe that. I would add a few other novels, but the ones listed here are widely considered the CANON. Also, I would (of course) place them far higher on the list than they are.

    And Mike!--you've been tagged! For TWO MEMES this time! :P

    (You'll love em!)

  5. Yes, Ender's Game and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy are going in the on-deck circle.