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I have a burning need to know stuff and I love asking awkward questions.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Classic SF – Must Reads.

Stephen from This Week at the Library recently asked me for a list of recommended SF Classics. I read LOTS of this sort of stuff in my youth (which is why you don’t see much of it reviewed here) so should be able to provide a pretty good list. So (in no particular order) here it is:

1984 – George Orwell
Dune – Frank Herbert
I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
Inverted World – Christopher Priest
City – Clifford Simak
Deathworld One – Harry Harrison
Why call them back from Heaven? – Clifford Simak
The Day After Tomorrow – Robert Heinlein
One Step From Earth – Harry Harrison
The Dragon in the Sea – Frank Herbert
Night Walk – Bob Shaw
Childhood’s End – Arthur C Clarke
The City and the Stars – Arthur C Clarke
Beyond this Horizon – Robert Heinlein
The Martian Way – Isaac Asimov
A Fall of Moondust – Arthur C Clarke
Rendezvous with Rama – Arthur C Clarke
Tau Zero – Poul Anderson
The Eyes of Heisenberg – Frank Herbert
Slan – A E Van Vogt
The Sands of Mars – Arthur C Clarke
Foundation – Isaac Asimov
2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C Clarke
The Gods Themselves – Isaac Asimov
Flow my tears, the Policeman said – Philip K Dick
War with the Robots – Harry Harrison
The Mote in God’s Eye – Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
Ringworld - Larry Niven
Lucifer’s Hammer – Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
A Scent of New Mown Hay – John Blackburn
A Martian Odyssey – Stanley G Weinbaum
Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein
The War of the Worlds – H G Wells
The Man who Awoke – Laurence Manning
The Man in the High Castle – Philip K Dick
The Dosadi Experiment – Frank Herbert
The Time Machine – H G Wells
The First Men in the Moon – H G Wells
To Your Scattered Bodies Go – Philip Jose Farmer
The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
Non-Stop – Brian Aldiss
We Can Build You – Philip K Dick
Tactics of Mistake – Gordon R Dickson
The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
Hothouse – Brian Aldiss
Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Mission of Gravity – Hal Clement
Bring the Jubilee – Ward Moore
The Death of Grass – John Christopher
The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton
A Case of Conscience – James Blish
The Lovers – Philip Jose Farmer
The Dispossessed – Ursula K LeGuin
The Midwich Cuckoos – John Wyndham
Make Room, Make Room! – Harry Harrison

A fairly long list, but hardly an exhaustive one I’m afraid. There’s probably a ton of books I’ve left off the list for a whole host of reasons but this should give anyone new (or reasonably new) to the genre a good idea of where to start.


Mudpuddle said...

i read almost all of these in my youth; that might have been in some ways the happiest time; well, no... being retired is pretty good, also... don't care much for current sci fi, though - my imagination has attenuated somewhat, i guess...

CyberKitten said...

Ditto. I read these in my late teens/early 20's. Back then I read SF almost exclusively. I'm rather more.... widely read these days. There's still *some* SF but nowhere near as much. The problem with a lot of modern stuff is either it's all been done before or it's a TV or movie tie-in. There are some gems out there though...

Stephen said...

Holy cow, that's a lot of book for me to research on Goodreads. Time to get to work... :p

Any real favorites here? Like,a going on an international flight, can only bring five-books-along list?

CyberKitten said...

...and just think - that was the super cut down list!

But you wanted 5:

The Dispossessed – Ursula K LeGuin
A Fall of Moondust – Arthur C Clarke
Ringworld - Larry Niven
The Dosadi Experiment – Frank Herbert
The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham

...and you've already read a few of them, so... Not so bad really!

VV said...

I read Jess Stearn, Taylor Caldwell and Ursela LeGuin in my teen years. I didn't have readers around me to suggest anything to me or to influence my reading, so I just pulled books off the library shelves at random. I've seen the movie versions of a few of these. I'm really looking forward to retirement and more time to read.

Mudpuddle said...

i should not probably mention this, VV, but there's a peculiar thing that happens when you retire: time speeds up so the retiree is still busy all the time and has not too much time to squeeze in reading... i don't know why it is this way, but it is... not fair...

Brian Joseph said...

I also read alot of science fiction when I was younger. I am currently rereading some Classics and reading a few new ones for the first time. I have read many, but not all on your list. I will try to read some of the ones that I missed in the coming years. I recently reread Ringworld. What a fun book!

R. T. (Tim) Davis said...

Thank you for sharing your recommendations. I read a few of these but have a long way to go if I would ever want to consider myself reader of S/F. As you are well-grounded in the genre, help me reduce the challenging list by recommending your top five. I look forward to your feedback.

R. T. (Tim) Davis said...

Oops! Ignore my request. If I had read the comments instead of yielding to my impulse, I would have saved space and time, and I would have avoided an annoying comment. Mea culpa!

CyberKitten said...

@ VV: Not heard of Jess Stearn or Taylor Caldwell. I was lucky in my early years to have a Maths teacher who liked SF as much as I did and he lent me lots of SF classics to start my obsession off with great foundations. After that I pretty much followed my nose both into book shops and libraries. I've now been reading SF for over 40 years and it still sends tingles through me - though not as much these days.

@ Mudpuddle: I'm hoping to get my reading back up to my teenage levels - about 100 a year - post retirement. But then again I'm also planning/hoping to do a PhD so that might slow me down a bit!

@ Brian: I LOVED Ringworld and am a HUGE Niven fanboy. I also really liked quite a few of his collaborations with Jerry Pournelle who could also knock out a few good SF novels on his own. I think I read just about everything Niven wrote.

@ RT: Maybe not my *top* 5 but certainly some of the best ones. I have a weakness for John Wyndham who managed to destroy England in so many interesting ways. I also think he's a recognisably ENGLISH SF author which I really like. The Dispossessed by Ursula K LeGuin is one of the very few books I've read at least 3 times. Every time it blows me away at how wonderful it is. But then I've always been really interested in SF's ability to produce fully functioned other worlds, complete with their own histories, politics and culture. This kind of thing had a huge influence on my and probably explains why most of my qualifications are in the Humanities.

VV said...

Mudpuddle, I am determined to find more time to read! Although I never run out of things to do, so I suspect eeking out reading time will still be a challenge. 😟