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Top Five Everything!

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message 1: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 278 comments Mod
One idea for episode 200 is to share some top 5 lists, so here is your chance to join in. Share your top 5 of anything to do with science fiction books (or fantasy (or movies)):


message 2: by Sean (last edited Jun 12, 2013 07:13AM) (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 53 comments Top 5 Books I Can't Convince People to Read Because They Know How Weird My Taste Is

1) The Illuminatus! by Robert Anton Wilson
2) The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
3) Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime by Mizuki Nomura
4) Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
5) The Situation by Jeff Vandermeer


message 3: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Evans | 43 comments My top five would be
1) Foucaults' Penduluum (though its not Sci Fi)
2) Dune
3) Use of Weapons
4) Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy (though again, not Sci Fi)
5) Lord of the Rings

I suppose I could fill that with dozens of others, including The Shadow of the Wind, but if I were to replace my non-sci-fi with Speculative Fiction I'd put in

Ender's Game and something by Alistair Reynolds (though which one would be hard).


message 4: by Emanuel (new)

Emanuel Landeholm (elandeholm) | 14 comments 1) La Commedia by Dante Alighieri
2) Cities of the red night by W. Burroughs
3) Singularity sky by whatshisname
4) The Qu'ran by Allah et alia, which I actually own but have not yet read
5) XML in a Nutshell by Elliotte Rusty Harold and W. Scott Means


message 5: by Ric (new)

Ric (ricaustria) | 4 comments How about top five SF trilogies?
1. Dune (the original) by Frank Herbert
2. Gaia series by John Varley
3. The Expanse by James S.A. Corey
4. The Void by Peter F. Hamilton
5. Uplift Saga by David Brin


message 6: by Guillermo (new)

Guillermo   | 29 comments I agree with Children of God.


message 7: by Guillermo (new)

Guillermo   | 29 comments I thought Gateway was disappointing too. I know everyone rants and raves about how great it is, but I thought it was rubbish. Also The Road. Dont get me started on that one.


message 8: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Evans | 43 comments Moidelhoff wrote: "What does yours represent..."

Sorry, I thought that was clear from the original discussion title of Top Five Everything.

The list I put up there would probably my Top Five Favorite Novels as of the day that I posted them. It normally changes every day. Each represents a slightly different element of what I love about fiction... though on that day I suppose they all have a bit of a common theme.

I guess if I'm going to be analytical about it, I would choose (in no particular order)

1) The Shadow of The Wind, because it has extremely sympathetic characters that drew me into the tale almost at once.
2) Lord of the Rings, because it creates a wholly internally reflected and cohesive world that needs no reference to our own. To that end, it illustrates how to world build while giving a good story at the same time.
3) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, because it is a thoughtful and realistic spy story in which the stakes are high and the answer is immediately in front of you the whole time without it ever being revealed.
4) War and Peace, because it has some of the best rip-roaring adventures tied together with humanistic tales and told with flowing language. I Alternate this with Crime and Punishment... because of the way that story is told.
5) Dune, because it shows deep politics in an enthralling tale AND keeps you on the edge of your seat even though you know, without a doubt, exactly what everyone plans to do. To this end, it reflects the precognition of its central character who has visions but is still given choices.


message 9: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 278 comments Mod
The title should probably be: Top Five Everythings. As in, post any top five.


message 10: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 278 comments Mod
Moidelhoff wrote: "TOP 5 FAVOURITE SCI-FI MOVIES


1. DONNIE DARKO
2. THE MATRIX
3. DISTRICT 9
4. TERMINATOR 2
5. GROUNDHOG DAY

That's the hardest thing I've ever done."


If you like Groundhog Day, you might enjoy the musical/concept album I wrote: http://www.lukeburrage.com/blog/archi...


message 11: by T.L. (last edited Jun 13, 2013 07:20PM) (new)

T.L. Evans | 43 comments Moidelhoff wrote: "...I'll will push it up the to read list."

If you haven't read much LeCarre, you might want to start with The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. It is really well done, but much shorter, so that if you don't like the style you are not in for a four hundred page book.

I've got reviews on my blog site, but out of deference to Luke, I won't give a link here 'cause that's tacky.

I will say I do mention Luke in a couple of my reviews. In fact, I intend to get to his Minding Tomorrow Series as soon as I clear a bit of my backlog.


message 12: by Guillermo (new)

Guillermo   | 29 comments Minding Tomorrow was pretty damn good. Gotta read Combat this year.


message 13: by Guillermo (new)

Guillermo   | 29 comments What, no Alien in that list?


message 14: by Dawn (new)

Dawn | 3 comments Moidelhoff wrote: "Guillermo wrote: "I thought Gateway was disappointing too. I know everyone rants and raves about how great it is, but I thought it was rubbish. Also The Road. Dont get me started on that one."

The..."


Moidelhoff wrote: "Guillermo wrote: "I thought Gateway was disappointing too. I know everyone rants and raves about how great it is, but I thought it was rubbish. Also The Road. Dont get me started on that one."

The..."


I love The Road too! It would be at the top of my top 5 books. Not so sure about the film though.


message 15: by Guillermo (new)

Guillermo   | 29 comments Did they change alot in the movie or was it faithfull to the book? Its been a long time since I watched it.


message 16: by Jason (new)

Jason (moeguevara) | 3 comments I haven't graduated to 21 Century sci-fi lit yet; I am still mining the classics of the last century. Therefore, my list for best sci-fi short story writer:
1) James Tiptree Jr. (Luke, you she read her)
2) Arthur C. Clarke
3) Robert Heinlein
4) Ursula K. Le Guin
5) Philip K. Dick


message 17: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 40 comments Fun topic! Here are some of my own lists (admittedly biased towards books I've read in recent years and probably forgetting some "classics").

Top five science fiction books that bent my mind (and I enjoyed)

1. Cloud Atlas
2. Solaris
3. The Man in the High Castle
4. Roadside Picnic
5. Stories of Your Life and Others

Top five can't-put-this-down SF/fantasy

1. Game of Thrones
2. Hyperion
3. Gateway
4. Nausicaa Valley of the Wind
5. Ready Player One

Top five getting-me-to-think-about-the-world-differently SF

1. Neuromancer
2. Anathem
3. The Windup Girl
4. Snow Crash
5. The Forever War

Top five dystopian/post-apocalypse reads

1. 1984
2. The Hunger Games
3. The Road
4. Feed
5. Ship Breaker


message 18: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 40 comments Best "literary" books with a science fiction-y feel (okay, more than five)

Slaughterhouse Five
Life of Pi
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
The Handmaiden's Tale
The City & The City
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
Winter's Tale
Super Sad True Love Story
Confessions of Max Tivoli


message 19: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Evans | 43 comments My Top 5 Movies of all Time

1)Kind Hearts and Coronets
2)Ordinary People
3)Better off Dead (stupid... but it's comfort viewing for me)
4)The Libertine
5)The Wrath of Khan (really? over Star Wars? Alien? Citizen Kane? Yeah... well.. again, it's a touchstone view for me).


message 20: by Isabel (kittiwake) (last edited Jun 15, 2013 03:43AM) (new)

Isabel (kittiwake) | 59 comments My Top 5 Near Future Science Fiction

Alphabetically by author, because apart from Stand in Zanzibar coming in at number one, I can't decide on an order.

Stand on Zanzibar
Virtual Light
9Tail Fox
The Star Fraction
Holy Fire


message 21: by Isabel (kittiwake) (last edited Jun 15, 2013 09:14AM) (new)

Isabel (kittiwake) | 59 comments My Top 5 Alien Species

the Affront from Excession
the Foxen/Hippae from Grass
the Fuzzies from Little Fuzzy
the Martians from The Martian Chronicles
the Vogons from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


message 22: by Guillermo (new)

Guillermo   | 29 comments TOP FIVE FEMALE BADASS CHARACTERS IN SCI FI THAT I WOULDNT WANT TO RUN INTO IN A DARK ALLEYWAY

1. Paula Myo from Peter Hamilton's Commonwealth and Void Series

2. Jessica Atreides from Frank Herbert's Dune

3. Ilia Volyova from Alastair Reynold's Revelation Space Series

4. Signy Mallory from C.J Cherryh's Downbelow Station

5. Moneta from Dan Simmon's Hyperion


message 23: by Alan (new)

Alan Smith | 15 comments Moidelhoff, aren't 3 and 4 on your " best of everything" list more or less the same thing? ;-)


message 24: by Isabel (kittiwake) (last edited Jun 16, 2013 08:45AM) (new)

Isabel (kittiwake) | 59 comments 35> If I posted a Top 5 of books ruined by their endings, Air would come top. If it had ended differently it would definitely have made the Top 5 Near Future Science Fiction list.


message 25: by Kevin (last edited Jun 25, 2013 09:24AM) (new)

Kevin Frost | 2 comments My favorite SF guilty pleasures.

1. Venus on the Half Shell. Sez it's by the infamous Kilgore Trout, so you are thinking Kurt Vonnegut but it's really Philip Jose Farmer. Smart, fun, fast.

2. Passing for Human. Jody Scott. She is a space- dolphin/anthropologist in the body of a hot chick and not being all serious about everthing.

3. Fat Men from Space. Daniel Pinkwater. Yes it's a children's book. But you're missing out if you don't read a little Pinkwater.

4. A Princess of Mars. Edgar Rice Burroughs Felt guilty liking it even at age 12. But some nights I sit out in my hottub and think if I stare at a star hard enough and long enough I'll be instantly transported to a cool world.

5. Paranoia: Title Deleted for Security Reasons Ed Bolme Good book, just felt a little paranoid with the title out in public.


message 26: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 278 comments Mod
I think everyone's favourite Culture novels are the earlier ones. Who would put Matter or Surface Detail or Hydrogen Sonata up against your list there? (except Inversions) (actually I liked Inversions)


message 27: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Evans | 43 comments Top 5 Favourite Culture Novels

1)Use of Weapons
2)Excession
3)Consider Phlebas
4)Player of Games
5) Look to Windward (but only as a companion piece to Consider Phlebas).


Isabel (kittiwake) | 59 comments Top 5 Favourite Culture Novels

1. Inversions
2. The Player of Games
3. Use of Weapons
4. Look to Windward
5. Consider Phlebas

The same books as Middelhoff's list and in nearly the same order, except that Player of Games is up at Number 2. Use of Weapons might be a better book, but Player of Games is the first Culture book I read, and it blew me away!


message 29: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 278 comments Mod
T.L. wrote: "Top 5 Favourite Culture Novels

1)Use of Weapons
2)Excession
3)Consider Phlebas
4)Player of Games
5) Look to Windward (but only as a companion piece to Consider Phlebas)."


I think my list would have to include these:

1. Player of Games
2. Use of Weapons
3. Consider Phlebas
4. Excession
5. Look to Windward

My recommended reading order would be different though.


message 30: by T.L. (last edited Jun 27, 2013 08:28AM) (new)

T.L. Evans | 43 comments Luke wrote: "...I think my list would have to include these:

1. Player of Games
2. Use of Weapons
3. Consider Phlebas
4. Excession
5. Look to Windward ..."


Oh I completely agree. In fact, I did a "Order in Which to Read Iain Banks Books" piece on over on my book review blog when he died. I'd love to see how our list compares.

In fact, your list could be a great episode.


message 31: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 40 comments I wonder if I've been reading Iain M. Banks in the wrong order. I started with Surface Detail and wasn't too dazzled by it, though I didn't dislike it, either. Next I read Player of Games and had a similar response -- it was interesting and entertaining enough, but I didn't really get what made it this amazing science fiction masterpiece in the minds of other readers. The commentary on present-day human society, via a world of human-like aliens, seemed rather obvious. Maybe my experience was spoiled by the fact that Surface Detail had more or less explained the Culture for me?

I think I'm going to try Use of Weapons next, unless someone can steer me in a different direction.


message 32: by T.L. (last edited Jun 27, 2013 11:37AM) (new)

T.L. Evans | 43 comments Ryan wrote: "I wonder if I've been reading Iain M. Banks in the wrong order. I started with Surface Detail and wasn't too dazzled by it, though I didn't dislike it, either. Next I read Player of Games and had a..."

I think Use of Weapons is his best work, so that may be a good place to go. Alternately, Consider Phlebas.

I put up a suggested reading order on my blog a couple of weeks ago (which you can get to via my Goodreads page). It is slightly different to what Luke has suggested in some of his podcasts, but I'd love to see what his list is (hint, hint).

Of course, it is completely possible that you have good that and yet not like his stuff. I love it, but my wife does not, despite the fact that we have a lot of overlap in what we like (e.g. we both like Alistair Reynolds and Gabriel Garcia Marquez). Tastes differ. His linguistic skill is high, but he does occasionally let his sentences ramble in such a way that I look succinct.


message 33: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 55 comments Luke wrote: "I think everyone's favourite Culture novels are the earlier ones. Who would put Matter or Surface Detail or Hydrogen Sonata up against your list there? (except Inversions) (actually I liked Inversi..."

This sf author argues that Surface Details is his best since Player of Games:

http://meuploads.com/2011/08/25/revie...


message 34: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 278 comments Mod
My recommended reading order would put a few good books at the end, just to make sure people have something of high quality to look forward to.

1. Player of Games. Probably the best introduction to the Culture, laying out Contact and Special Circumstances and all the rest. Viewpoint: normal culture citizen.

2. Consider Phlebas. The war in this is the main threat threat the culture experiences at its own level. It's also the first book chronologically, so it makes sense to go near the start. Viewpoint: outside enemy.

3. Excession. The best introductions to ships. While there are human-level characters, it's really all about the ships. It's also super fun! You need a break after some of the heavier books.

4. Use of Weapons. Really heavy stuff, showing how war isn't all about ship minds having fun. Viewpoint: outsider being used by Contact and SC.

5. The State of the Art. Once the Culture has been established, it's good to see where the Earth fits in with it. We also get to see more of Diziet Sma. Viewpoint: Culture insider looking at Earth.

6. Inversions. A Culture novel without any character knowing about the Culture. This fits well with State of the Art, as you can imagine what it would be like for someone on Earth to be in the same situation.

7. Matter. This is probably the most "minor" Culture book in the series, in my opinion. It's okay, and that's about it. At least after Inversions it'll get you back into the swing of spending time with ships and drones.

8. Surface Detail. The first on the list of three "death and afterlife" Culture novels. This shows "man's" attempt at creating an afterlife.

9. The Hydrogen Sonata. This shows the "science" of a true kind of afterlife on a civilization level, with much talk of subliming, or not subliming, and what life actually means when faced with something better after death.

10. Look to Windward. This is quite out of sequence chronologically and by publishing date, but could be the best way to finish off the series. While the viewpoint is from an alien visiting the Culture, most of the action takes place within it, rather than outside it (like most of the other novels). It also goes well with Consider Phlebas, so it's good to have them topping (almost) and tailing this list. Finally it rounds out the mini-series about what happens after death... but I don't want to spoil it.


What do you think of that then?


message 35: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Evans | 43 comments Maybe there should be a thread entitled spoilerific conversations about books Luke reviewed.


message 36: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 40 comments Thanks for the helpful lists and analysis, T.L. and Luke; I'll definitely use those as a guide. I think I've gathered that I need to explore Banks's work a little more before coming to conclusions about the whole body of it. It seems there's a wide spectrum of ideas and stories that he explored, and some might be more my style. To be fair, I did *like* the books I read -- I just had higher hopes for them.


message 37: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Evans | 43 comments Ryan wrote: "Thanks for the helpful lists and analysis, T.L. and Luke; I'll definitely use those as a guide. I think I've gathered that I need to explore Banks's work a little more before coming to conclusions ..."

One of the greatest curses an author faces is that his books are highly praised... it frequently leads to disappointment by the reader as that the novel can't live up to expectations.


message 38: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 278 comments Mod
Don't start with State of the Art! That's a terrible idea! It'll make people think that the Culture series is Earth-centered or anything to do with Earth. It isn't. We're meant to come to the realization that the people aren't from Earth, and are not from our future. Starting with such a story gives a very strange view of the series.


message 39: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Evans | 43 comments Luke wrote: "Don't start with State of the Art! That's a terrible idea! It'll make people think that the Culture series is Earth-centered or anything to do with Earth. It isn't. We're meant to come to the reali..."

I suppose that is a good point, but I found that a lot of people find his style hard to get a hold of if they start with his novels. Starting with short stories allows one to get used to his prose. Besides, State of the Art itself states unequivocally that most of the species are not from Earth and Earth is being observed.


message 40: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Evans | 43 comments Moidelhoff wrote: "Interesting.
I like the fact you are finishing with one of the better books.
Matter, Surface Detail and Hydrogen Sonata somehow felt bolted on to the end of a classic body of work, like very very good fan fiction?
The 8 year gap shows. ..."


I always thought that Look to Windward was intended to be a farewell to the Culture, but that he got sucked back in by the lack luster response to the Algebraist (which I loved) and the general clamour for more Culture books... money can tempt all.


message 41: by Ric (new)

Ric (ricaustria) | 4 comments I've only read Player of Games and Consider Phlebas in that order. Both left me cold. Started both Use of Weapons and Look to Windward but quit early. Have Hydrogen Sonata on the shelf. Am looking for a reason to keep reading Banks. As a reference, I read Neal Asher's Gridlinked and thought that was a more interesting universe. A Banks top 5 podcast? Maybe.


message 42: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Evans | 43 comments Moidelhoff wrote: "Maybe you're right.
Still, I would rather have more Culture novels than less. ..."


Agreed... but that's why I think Look To Windward is best left for last.


message 43: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 278 comments Mod
You should add the narrators to that list.


message 44: by Tom (new)

Tom Rowe (spinnerrowe) | 21 comments Top 5 Narrators
1. Grover Gardner
2. John Lee
3. Peter Kenny
4. Jonathan Davis
5. Susan Bennett

Honorable Mention for celebrity narrators:
Tim Curry
Alan Cumming
Paul Giamatti


message 45: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 278 comments Mod
It's hard to avoid Grover Gardener.


message 46: by Gregg (new)

Gregg Kellogg (greggkellogg) | 16 comments Top 5 Golden Age Authors:

1. Arthur C. Clarke
2. Isaac Asimov
3. Robert Heinlein
4. Theodore Sturgeon
5. Ray Bradbury


message 47: by Jason (new)

Jason (moeguevara) | 3 comments Luke wrote: "It's hard to avoid Grover Gardener."

Grover Gardner is also Tom Parker and Alexander Adams.


message 48: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 278 comments Mod
Jason wrote: "Luke wrote: "It's hard to avoid Grover Gardener."

Grover Gardner is also Tom Parker and Alexander Adams."


That was my point! Or half of it. The other half was that he's super prolific.


message 49: by Jason (new)

Jason (moeguevara) | 3 comments Moidelhoff wrote: "Jason wrote: "Luke wrote: "It's hard to avoid Grover Gardener."

Grover Gardner is also Tom Parker and Alexander Adams."

What do you mean?
He has three names?"


Sorry. I should have said he has pseudonyms.
Another top narrator is Dick Hill. He has several people living in his mouth, both male and female.


message 50: by Bob (new)

Bob Luke, I'm relatively new to your podcast, so I'd enjoy a "my favorite 5 books I've reviewed since the podcast began" and then I could go back and listen to those 5 reviews and decide if I want to read them. I think a "top 5 scifi of all time" is too controversial and subjective and would just be endless qualifying: "well, if you enjoy this subgenre, then the top 5 would be..." and "if you look at it this way, it is good, but...", etc.


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