Good Minds Suggest—Michael J. Sullivan's Favorite Science Fiction

Posted by Goodreads on April 7, 2014
If you had a time machine sitting in your garage, where would you go? And could you safely drink the water when you arrived? Or accidentally kill your grandfather? At the crosshairs of fantasy and sci-fi, time travel is that perfectly alluring blend of plausible and impossible, which makes it the ideal subject for Michael J. Sullivan's first stand-alone novel. He's betting that the numerous fans of his epic fantasy series, Riyria Revelations and Riyria Chronicles, will embrace Hollow World, his first foray into science fiction. Hero Ellis really does have a time machine in his garage, and since his doctor tells him he only has six months to live, he's got nothing to lose.

Sullivan, who has found success through both self- and traditional publishing, funded this book through a Kickstarter project, which asked for $3,000 and raised $30,000. Based in Virginia, the reader-friendly author can often be found hanging out in his Goodreads group. (Some readers may even find their way into "The Dark Room," a secret, private group! Ask Sullivan for details.) He shares his top five science fiction reads.

The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
"I really appreciated how Asimov dealt with societal evolution but framed it in a context of a really enjoyable read. While his themes relating to individualism, the behavior of mass mobs, and the ability to predict the future were interesting at an intellectual level, it was my emotional connection to the characters and concern for the fate of mankind that kept me riveted. It's an amazing book that can hit you on multiple levels—one of the reasons it was an instant classic."

The Stand by Stephen King (Goodreads Author)
"I consider this apocalyptic sci-fi thriller to be King's masterwork. A man-made virus escapes and kills most of the world's population, and those who survive discover they are drawn to one side or the other for a showdown between good and evil. Memorable characters and realistic scene depictions kept me glued to this massive volume. It's been over 30 years since I read it last, and yet characters and scenes are still imprinted in my memory."

Dune by Frank Herbert
"With its extensive world building and boy-to-hero-changes-the-universe story, I consider this a great classic heroic adventure fantasy that just happens to have a science fiction setting. I found myself immersed in Herbert's world, which was vivid, extensive, and a character in its own right. As a history buff, it's impossible not to make correlations between Dune and how corruption and excess contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire."

World War Z by Max Brooks (Goodreads Author)
"So much more than 'just a zombie book.' This novel explores in believable detail, and some humor, how interrelated the world has become and how society might collapse if faced with a devastating killer virus...this one just happens to make people into zombies, which makes everything more interesting. The format was an exceptional choice for exploring multiple facets of the same event, and I was entertained from cover to cover."

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Goodreads Author)
"This book can best be described as Willy Wonka meets Harry Potter in a dystopian future. I know that sounds ridiculous, but trust me, it works marvelously. Fun adventure, great characters, and lots of 1980s references entertained me from the start. My favorite books are the ones that I would like to live out myself, and I would have had a blast hanging with Wade and his friends/competitors as we race along this Easter egg hunt on a galactic scale."

Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Best Science Fiction

Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)

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Athena Shardbearer Martin wrote: "This article was perfect for me in that I emphatically agree with Sullivan's views on those works listed which I have already read so much so that I can now place those that I haven't read in my mu..."

Oh Ready Player One is amazing! If you like the 80's and video games.

Athena Shardbearer Martin wrote: "Athena (Shardbearer) wrote: "Martin wrote: "This article was perfect for me in that I emphatically agree with Sullivan's views on those works listed which I have already read so much so that I can ..."

Yes, if you like high fantasy, I highly recommend The Way of Kings. I'm on book two now, Words of Radiance. So far it's much better than the first, and I gave the first 5 stars.

Athena Shardbearer Martin wrote: "Thanks! That works perfectly into my system: literary and tedious stuff during the day, fantasy and pure escapist at night. Second best thing to do in bed!"

I agree! lol.

message 4: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Good list! But any science fiction/fantasy list without The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is incomplete! The second book of the Kingkiller Chronicle Trilogy is out also, The Wise Man's Fear. Hopefully he will release the third book soon.

Athena Shardbearer Yes! The Name of the Wind is amazing, but I know many people that did not like it.

message 6: by Danielle (new)

Danielle Martin wrote: "I have been marginally interested in reading Brooks's novel, but I've never really been a "zombie guy."

I'm not a zombie girl either but I happened to pick up the audiobook of World War Z at random from the library and loved it. They use different readers throughout the book to capture each story and it's a great read (er, listen?). Some of the stories are incredibly clever.

message 7: by SarahBeth (new)

SarahBeth I don't think The Stand will ever be on my favorites list. That book seriously freaked me out when I read it years ago. But I agree that there are scenes I will never forget.

Love Dune. I re-read it every few years.

message 8: by Saul (new)

Saul Stokar I would have to add "The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury as well as "The Stories of Ray Bradbury (ISBN 0-394-51335-5)"

message 9: by Daviddhh (new)

Daviddhh I bought the hard copy of 'Foundation' in my teens, with a month's allowance. The series is one of my all-time favorites. I believe it was written in the 1940's and contains the first reference to a pocket calculator that I know of (first chapter of 'Foundation'). The story is so good, that few people notice that, in the first book, there are NO women characters at all, except a brief mention of the Governor's wife. Asimov made up for this in the later part of the trilogy, of course. Note that Astounding Science Fiction did not allow stories with sex in them during that period, and that was where the Foundation stories started out. It was a very different era.

message 10: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Loved Ready Player One! It made me happy to see it on Michael's Top Five list. I'm eagering awaiting the Hollow World audio book, but the advanced e-chapters already have me hooked. Oh, and if you haven't read The Riyira books, you should....ASAP!

message 11: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Olausen Athena (Shardbearer) wrote: "Martin wrote: "Thanks! That works perfectly into my system: literary and tedious stuff during the day, fantasy and pure escapist at night. Second best thing to do in bed!"

I agree! lol."

... I like sleeping too...

message 12: by Frank (new)

Frank Shumaker My top 5 scifi are: 1. No blade of grass by John Christopher, 2. Druss the Legend series by David Gemmell, 3. Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov, 4. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson and 5.The Timeships (Time Machine sequel) by Stephen Baxter. Elantris and the Druss series have indicators of post nuclear war so thus I class them as sci fi.
On fantasy 1. Lord of the Ringstrilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, 2. Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson,3. Riyria quint set by Michael Sullivan, 4. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin and 5. First 7 or 8 novels of Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (seriesjust kept going)....shu

Athena Shardbearer @Frank that's a pretty good list!

message 14: by Frank (last edited Apr 11, 2014 05:40AM) (new)

Frank Shumaker Athena (Shardbearer) wrote: "@Frank that's a pretty good list!"
THANKS...Gemmell's series are wonderful reads. There are, I think, over 20 all told...shu

message 15: by Kristi (new)

Kristi Richardson I would also add Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke and The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin. I also enjoyed the Rendevous with Rama series by Arthur C. Clarke.

message 16: by Frank (new)

Frank Shumaker I have LeGuin's books but have yet to read them. Except for Bernard Cornwell, John Lutz, George Martin, Michael Connelly, and Patricia Cornwell I have been reading mainly Kindle books as with larger letters, almond screens and faster read speeds I can enjoy more books than ever. The mentioned ones are all here in hardbound so I cannot wean myself off collecting them still. I read Michael Sullivan's last 3 books on Kindle before I could have even got them by mail...shu p.s. I too liked Childhood's end.

message 17: by Porterblues (last edited Apr 24, 2014 05:16PM) (new)

Porterblues The Scanners Live in Vain, The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzal, Norstrilla and The Rediscovery of Man: by Cordwainer Smith (Paul Myron Anthony Linebeger) one of the greatest and mysterious science fiction writer ever. If you've never read any of his work, as they say, "John Snow you know nothing..." let me know what you think, would love some feedback.

message 18: by Kevmcveigh (new)

Kevmcveigh Yawn, yet another predictable list of male SF writers. Asimov, Herbert, I read them 30 years ago, but SF had already moved on then. Writing had moved on, ideas had moved on. Sf now has people in, not stock 1 dimensional figures, people who have emotions, react with intelligence and feelings. Cline and Brooks just don't do it for me. Zombies are the most ludicrous trend in SFF and the Game thing is already a cliche. And The Stand is a fine Horror novel, but not the best and not SF.

message 19: by Kristi (new)

Kristi Richardson So, Kevmcveigh, what does it for you? It's not helpful to just say everyone else is wrong or outdated but not have a few favorites of your own to add.

message 20: by Kevmcveigh (new)

Kevmcveigh Well the best SFF I've read post-2000 would include Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Hall, Andrea Hairston, Gwyneth Jones, Mary Gentle, Ekaterina Sedia, Tricia Sullivan, Stephanie Saulter, Sofia Samatar, M John Harrison, Ken MacLeod, Geoff Ryman, Ian McDonald.
Before that? Kim Stanley Robinson, Joanna Russ, Judith Moffett, Pat Cadigan, Samuel R Delany, Iain M Banks, Rosel George Brown, Nicola Griffith, Vonda N McIntyre, Pat Murphy, Neal Barrett Jr, Lucius Shepard, Tim Powers, Leigh Kennedy, Ernest Hogan, Josephine Saxton, Misha.
There's 30 great SF writers of various styles and subgenres who I'd recommend above any of the list above.

message 21: by Michael (new)

Michael Kevmcveigh that's a great list, thanks for sharing it. It's always hard to narrow down a top 5...and yes it's a completely subjective list. This isn't me saying "These are the top five science fiction books of all time." It's these are MY favorite books...nothing more.

message 22: by Charlie (new)

 Charlie Great list! All books I'd love to have 1st editions of.

message 23: by Michael (new)

Michael @Charlie - thanks. I agree with you would love to have first editions of all of these.

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