Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A question for the heathen masses

My 26 year old son recently finished his first hardcore science fiction novel, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.  He asked for a recommendation for his next read. I need to set the Sci-Fi hook. My recommendations are:

  1. Isaac Asimov - Foundation Trilogy
  2. Robert Heinlein - Starship Troopers
  3. Joe Haldeman - The Forever War
  4. William Gibson - Neuromancer
  5. Neal Stephenson - Cryptonomicon
  6. Alfred Bester - The Stars My Destination
  7. Phillip K. Dick - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  8. Jack Chalker - Dancers in the Afterglow
  9. Tim Powers - Dinner at Deviant's Palace
  10. Niven & Pournelle - Lucifer's Hammer

It is important to me that my son continue on his Sci-Fi education. I've read nearly everything published in the genre, as has my wife. This list is my favorites. I would like to hear your recommendations and/or critiques. What are your Top 10 Sci-Fi books?

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Riker said...

I have to say,especially since Neal Stephenson is already on your list, that Snow Crash is one of the best sci-fi books I've ever read. Definitely. Happy Winter Solstice!

RG said...

I second your 2 and 5 specifically, I would also add from my personal favs:

Red/Green/Blue Mars -- Kim Stanley Robinson

Fire Upon the Deep -- Vernor Vinge

Ringworld -- Larry Niven (And a bonus here is that he can see where the Halo concept in the video games came from)

Brave New World -- Aldus Huxley (probably doesn't count as hard SF, but it is important.)

Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams (also not hard SF but it is big I important, Don't Panic! (and bring your towel))

Johnny Crow said...

William Gibson - Neuromancer, All tomorrows parties.

Niven & Pournelle - Lucifer's Hammer, The mote in gods eye, the gripping hand.

Charles pellegrino - Dust

and also my personal favs that are scifi/apocolyptic:

Alas Babylon and Earth Abides... Both are some of the best books I have ever read.

DaVinci said...

Asimov, I read the Intergal Tree's, when I was a teenager. I had to re-read it to get anything out of it. If he wants a challenge, I recommend it.

Mojoey said...

rg - did you ever read any spider robinson? Great stuff.

Carolyn Ann said...

Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Job: A Comedy of Justice, Robert Heinlein
2001, A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clark
The Heinlein (I think) with the kid in the space suit, who saves the planet, etc.
Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
Definitely "Brave new world" and "Hitchhikers"

Not Sci-Fi, but Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is an absolute must! :-)

And I'm having trouble remembering them all! (I guess they weren't so great, after all...)

Carolyn Ann

Carolyn Ann said...

And who's this 'heathen masses'?!? I'm might be heathen, but I'm on a diet! Well, I will be. In the new year... :-)

Carolyn Ann

Mojoey said...

I love Farenheit 451, he (and I) read it in high school. It is on the Must Read list here. I also like Something Wicked This Way Comes. One of my favs.

The Barefoot Bum said...

I concur wholeheartedly with The Forever War, The Stars My Destination, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.

For Heinlein, I would go with The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Asimov's short stories are, IMnsHO, better than his novels, but the Foundation Trilogy is still a classic. And I concur in part with Riker: Snow Crash is Stephenson's best book.

I don't find Stephenson, Chalker, and Niven/Pournelle to be first-rate. Lucifer's Hammer isn't bad, but too long and with a tendentious, implausible ending. I'll have to check out Powers; I don't think I've read him.

I would definitely put some great short story collections on the list: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame (all four volumes), Dangerous Visions and Again Dangerous Visions, Greg Egan's Axiomatic. All of Gardner Dozois's annual collections contain must-read stories.

There's a lot more modern stuff that's first rate. All of Greg Egan's work is top notch, especially his "Anthrocosmology" series. And every atheist should enjoy Oceanic and The Moral Virologist.

Stanislaw Lem deserves a nod, though the best of his novels are hard going, as well as John Brunner (especially The Shockwave Rider and The Sheep Look Up). Everything by Jack Vance is good; I would pay money for his grocery list. Pohl, Le Guin, Leiber, Spinrad, Clarke, Goulart, Ellison, Reynolds, Herbert, Kornbluth, Simak, Resnik, Sturgeon, Benford, Baxter, Ruckner. And there's Vern & Wells, of course. How about Radix, To Cage a Man,
The Witches of Karres, The Merchants of Venus?

Some obscure names I enjoy are Neil Barrett Jr. (especially Stress Pattern) and Barrington J. Bayley (The Fall of Chronopolis).

And that's just glancing at one bookshelf.

Psychodiva said...

You need Midwich Cuckoos and Day of the Triffids on there - John Wyndham of course. Then anything by Ian Banks - especially Excession- and if you like Larry Niven then go for {rotector- a good take on the Genesis story in there :)