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SF/F Book Recommendations > Science Fiction recommendations for Sci-fi survey

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message 1: by AlienBritt (new)

AlienBritt | 4 comments Hi everyone!!
I'm going to be going on a science fiction survey/marathon/adventure soon and am looking for recommendations. I want to read science fiction from different eras so I can look at the differences in sci-fi in history. I would love any suggestions of books people have found particularly good throughout history.
Thanks!!
Brittany


message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan Kite | 57 comments 60's and 70's.... Andre Norton. Also McCaffrey in the 70's.
50's Robert Heinlein

Also consider Asimov, Clarke, Simak... there are too many to remember.


message 3: by Dimitris (new)

Dimitris Bokis | 6 comments Maybe if you could say a bit more about what you want it would be easier. Have you ever read SF? What is your goal? Getting a historical perspective or just getting to know the genre? After all we are talking hier about 150, 200 or 2500 years, depending on who you ask!


message 4: by Marco (new)

Marco Silva | 1 comments Read "Wild Seed", Octavia Butler.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

AlienBritt wrote: "I want to read science fiction from different eras so I can look at the differences in sci-fi in history...."

Like Dimitris said, It would be helpful to know a little more about what you're trying to do.

If you're looking for an historical survey, rather than a "favorites" list, and if you are restricting it to Science Fiction and excluding fantasy, I think you might start with...

Brian Aldiss' Billion Year Spree, which is a pretty good historical survey of science fiction.

Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley,
Which is not really the Gothic horror it's usually portrayed as.

Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas is a good, early, novel that extrapolates then-current technology.

Of HG Wells' SF work, I'd try The Time Machine, Not just for being an early time travel story, but for its relation to politics.

ER Burrough's Is probably the quintessential pulp SF writer, so you might as well try the space-fantasy, A Princess of Mars.

Capek's R.U.R. offers the first robot uprising.

Asimov'sFoundation & I, Robot are important milestones in moving sci-fi from the fantastical pulps of Burroughs to something slightly more grounded in science.

Zamyatin's We & Orwell's 1984 tracks a more literary/political branch of futurism.

Heinlein's Starship Troopers or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Bradburry's Fahrenheit 451

"New Wave":

Le Guin's The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness

Zelazny's Lord of Light

Herbert's Dune

The Dangerous Visions anthology

Delany's Babel-17

Sephenson's Snow Crash for the cyberpunk movement.

Bujold's The Vor Game

Robinson's Red Mars

For the modern era, I'd suggest perusing Locus Magazine's Best Science Fiction Novels of the 20th Century and Locus Magazine's Top SF Novels of the 21st Century


message 6: by Jose (new)

Jose Brox (josebrox) | 3 comments I'll try to give you a walk around the literary science-fiction world:

1) There are subgenres with very different tastes: philosophical/speculative scifi, hard scifi, cyberpunk, technothriller, first contact scifi, space opera, military scifi, social scifi, dystopian and postapocaliptic scifi, posthuman/superhuman scifi, science fantasy...

2) There have been some shifts in subjects addressed, scope, styles of writing and literary quality. We could talk about several "eras":

* Proto scifi (pre 1900)
* Early scifi (1900-1940)
* Classic or golden-age scifi (1940-1960)
* New wave scifi (1960-1980)
* Modern scifi (1980-2000)
* Contemporary scifi (2000 onwards)

3) There are some awards that can give you clues about what to read: the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Arthur C. Clarke and Philip K. Dick are the most important ones.

4) Apart from the usual famous people (Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Silverberg, Bradbury, Vance, Le Guin, Harlan Ellison), there are less known but really good authors.

Stanislaw Lem and Kurt Vonnegut are names to have in mind.

For smart but naive space opera, try the Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold (don't matter what they say, start with The warrior's apprentice).

George R.R. Martin, of A Song of Ice and Fire fame (i.e., Game of Thrones), has really good stories and novels (with several awards); for example Dying of the Light, Windhaven...

5) The best format for science fiction is the short story, in my opinion. It constitutes a subgenre in itself and historically it has been the most explored format. Apart from novels, you should read lots of short stories compilations (for example, those of the Nebula Award winners). There are authors who have only written short stories, or who have excelled in this format (although some have neat novels too).

You must absolutely read some by Philip K. Dick. I recommend those of his Collected Short Stories, volume IV.

You should also read short stories by:

*James Tiptree Jr. (her best short stories are collected in Her smoke rose up forever, but it lacks a favorite of mine, The milk of paradise)
* Fredric Brown
* Cordwainer Smith
* Greg Egan (Axiomatic is his finest work, but quite hard scifi)
* Ted Chiang
* Arthur C. Clarke
* Isaac Asimov
* Robert A. Heinlein ("All of you zombies" is an all-time classic)
* Henry Kuttner
* Roger Zelazny
* Theodore Sturgeon
* Harlan Ellison
* Robert Sheckley
* Hal Clement (if you want to read some really hard science fiction)
* Stanley G. Weinbaum (as an example of good early scifi)
* James Blish
*J.G. Ballard

6) Novels that are generally acclaimed and considered among the best:

* Dune (Frank Herbert)
* The moon is a harsh mistress (Robert A. Heinlein)
* Farenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
* I, robot (Isaac Asimov, actually a collection of short stories)
* Rendevous with Rama (Arthur C. Clarke)
* Ender's game (Orson Scott Card)
* The Foundation trilogy (Isaac Asimov)
* The hitchiker's guide to the galaxy (Douglas Adams)
* The man in the high castle (Philip K. Dick)
* The dispossessed (Ursula K. Le Guin)
* The stars my destination (Alfred Bester)
* Ringworld (Larry Niven)
* The demon princes (Jack Vance)
* The futurological congress (Stanislaw Lem)
* Dragon's egg (Robert L. Forward)
* The forever war (Joe Haldeman)
* The martian chronicles (Ray Bradbury)
* The Xenogenesis trilogy (Octavia Butler)
* Hyperion (Dans Simmons)
* A clockwork orange (Anthony Burgess)
* Lord of light (Roger Zelazny)
* Solaris (Stanislaw Lem)
* Neuromancer (William Gibson)
* The warrior's apprentice (Lois MacMaster Bujold)
* The gods themselves (Isaac Asimov)
* Childhood's end (Arthur C. Clarke)
* The left hand of darkness (Ursula K. Le Guin)
* Ubik (Philip K. Dick)
* Tales of the dying Earth (Jack Vance)
* Sandkings (George R.R. Martin)
* 1984 (George Orwell)
* The postman (David Brin)
* Gateway (Frederik Pohl)
* The lathe of heaven (Ursula K. Le Guin)
* Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes)
* I am legend (Richard Matheson)
* The mote in God's eye (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle)
* Snow crash (Neal Stephenson)
* Cat's cradle (Kurt Vonnegut)
* The fifth head of Cerberus (Gene Wolfe)
* The cyberiad (Stanislaw Lem)
* Contact (Carl Sagan)
* Speaker for the dead (Ender #2, Orson Scott Card)
* Mission of gravity (Hal Clement)
* Star maker (Olaf Stapledon)
* City (Clifford D. Simak)
* Stand on Zanzibar (John Brunner)
* Tuf voyaging (George R.R. Martin)
* Slaughterhouse five (Kurt Vonnegut)
* Riddley walker (Russell Hoban)
* The pride of Chanur (C.J. Cherryh)
* A canticle for Leibowitz (Walter M. Miller jr.)
* Roadside picnic (Strugatsky brothers)
* Dying inside (Robert Silverberg)
* The day of the triffids (John Wyndham)

7) "Modern" classics are:

* The martian (Andy Weir)
* The golden age (John C. Wright)
* The Mars trilogy (Kim Stanley Robinson)
* Permutation city (Greg Egan)
* Ancillary justice (Ann Leckie)
* The diamond age (Neal Stephenson)
* Perdido Street Station (China Miéville)
* Leviathan wakes (Expanse #1, James A. Corey)
* Beggars in Spain (Nancy Kress)
* Pandora's star (Common Wealth #1, Peter F. Hamilton)
* The reality disfunction (Night's Dawn #1, Peter F. Hamilton)
* A fire upon the deep (Vernor Vinge)
* The player of games (The Culture #2, Iain M. Banks)
* Revelation space (Alastair Reynolds)
* World War Z (Max Brooks)
* Cryptonomicon (Neal Stephenson)
* Diaspora (Greg Egan)
* Blindsight (Peter Watts)
* Doomsday book (Connie Willis)


message 7: by Mike (new)

Mike (mikekeating) | 242 comments I'll suggest The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove as a '90s classic.


message 8: by AlienBritt (new)

AlienBritt | 4 comments Dimitris wrote: "Maybe if you could say a bit more about what you want it would be easier. Have you ever read SF? What is your goal? Getting a historical perspective or just getting to know the genre? After all we ..."

Thanks everyone for their suggestions so far! In response to the above question: I'm looking partly to get a little more acquainted and spend some quality time with a genre I already love. I've read sci-fi before, including some things that I would probably include on the list for this sort of survey (ie. Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey, and H.G. Wells War of the Worlds [probably going to be reading The Time Machine in this particular marathon]).
My goal is to kind of just read stuff from different eras so I can see if there's any sort of progression, or what different authors vision of the future were.
It's a lofty endeavour, but it's personal, not academic, so there are no hard core rules. Overall, I just have a general curiosity about the progression of sci-fi over time. Looking into this myself by googling, I realized that there were lots of great authors from the past that I've never heard of, so I wanted to get recommendations from people rather than lists on the internet. Though I plan to read some more H.G. Wells and Arthur C. Clarke and some Isaac Asimov, I am also looking for other authors, possibly ones I hadn't heard of before. ( I noticed when thinking of the authors and books I should read, they kind ended up being the above three gentlemen, plus a couple others, but I'm looking for a bit more than just them).
I hope this answers your question... I'm sorry I'm a bit of a rambler and don't always express my ideas very well, but I hoped I made a bit more sense here.
I'm pretty excited about this personal project, though. Hoping to revisit books I've read before and look at some new stuff! Thanks again for everyone's suggestions so far!!


message 9: by AlienBritt (new)

AlienBritt | 4 comments P.S. I'm also interested in all sorts of sub genres, which I think plays into what I'm thinking of doing here... it's possible that instead of a historical sort of survey, I'll do more of a comparison of science fiction sub genres. Or maybe some sub genres were more prevalent in different times in history, who knows.
Basically, if it's set in space or involves science it's good... I know that sometimes the line between fantasy and sci fi is a bit blurry (for example, not a book reference, I consider Star Wars to be fantasy set in space, but still lump it into the sci fi category, and would consider it for this sort of a survey).


message 10: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Povey | 31 comments I can't let this go past without mentioning Vernor Vinge and C.J. Cherryh (this year's Grand Master) in the contemporary realm. I know they've already been mentioned, but I have to double up ;).

Another good thing to do if you can find them is to look into back issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Astounding/Analog, Fantastic Stories, Galaxy and Asimov's. Getting a few of these magazines from the same year can give a nice overview of what was "fashionable" at that particular time (and help cancel out editorial biases).


message 11: by Bryan (new)

Bryan | 261 comments Others have given great suggestions and starting points.
To enjoy them fully, I would just suggest to really keep in mind the era in which they were written when you read these books (especially if it was before say the 70s). People reading them decades after they were written without making this 'effort' may as a result be unimpressed because they've already been exposed to some later version of the story, or because they don't realize how groundbreaking (socially, politically, idea-wise, etc.) they were.


message 12: by Dimitris (new)

Dimitris Bokis | 6 comments Bryan wrote: "Others have given great suggestions and starting points.
To enjoy them fully, I would just suggest to really keep in mind the era in which they were written when you read these books (especially i..."


I totally agree! If you are interested in the historical sicnificance of each work then you have to immerge in its age and probably watch the way it influenced the evolution of the genre. There are now excellent books on that subject like https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... which i enjoyed very much.
But the most importand part i think is that all these "classics" are not dusty reference for scolars but very much still enjoyable works. After all isn't that what we are all looking for?


message 13: by AlienBritt (new)

AlienBritt | 4 comments Jennifer wrote: "I can't let this go past without mentioning Vernor Vinge and C.J. Cherryh (this year's Grand Master) in the contemporary realm. I know they've already been mentioned, but I have to double up ;).

A..."


Double ups are good! Gives me good idea of the really good ones! ^.^ Also, thanks for the idea about the magazines, I'll check them out if I can.

To enjoy them fully, I would just suggest to really keep in mind the era in which they were written when you read these books (especially if it was before say the 70s). People reading them decades after they were written without making this 'effort' may as a result be unimpressed because they've already been exposed to some later version of the story, or because they don't realize how groundbreaking (socially, politically, idea-wise, etc.) they were.
For sure! I'll definitely look into it as much as I can. :)

I totally agree! If you are interested in the historical sicnificance of each work then you have to immerge in its age and probably watch the way it influenced the evolution of the genre. There are now excellent books on that subject like https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... which i enjoyed very much.
But the most importand part i think is that all these "classics" are not dusty reference for scolars but very much still enjoyable works. After all isn't that what we are all looking for


Thanks for the link!! I'll check out that book! Definitely looks like something I would be interested in.
I would definitely still enjoyable!


message 14: by Joel (new)

Joel Horn (joelhorn) The Man who Awoke The Man Who Awoke by Laurence Manning The book says it was published in the 70's but it was written in the 30's.

This I think is an under rated book that was technically detailed, about a pre through post apocalyptic comet impact of earth. One of the early well researched apocalyptic sci fi novels by Larry Niven.
Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven


message 15: by Mike (last edited Oct 15, 2016 12:19PM) (new)

Mike (mikekeating) | 242 comments I'll second Lucifer's Hammer. It's definitely more accurate than any of the extinction-level impact stories done for film or TV. The story is good on the human level as well.

Despite that, I think I would have enjoyed it even more if the authors had been able to incorporate some of the science that came after it was published. I read it for the first time about thirty years after it came out, and it's hard to overlook how these days, computers could calculate a comet's orbit well, rather than (view spoiler) And there's absolutely no mention of Luis Alvarez or the dinosaur extinction, because a giant space rock hadn't been proposed as the killer yet in real life. I think these things would have made a significant positive impact* on the novel.

*Thank you ladies and germs, I'll be here all week.


message 16: by Joel (new)

Joel Horn (joelhorn) Mike wrote: "I'll second Lucifer's Hammer. It's definitely more accurate than any of the extinction-level impact stories done for film or TV. The story is good on the human level as well.

Despite that, I thin..."

Good points, Mike. I think I read it for the first time not long before I heard Luis Alvarez detail his theory of the KT boundary at the commonwealth cub at San Francisco. I head it broadcast on the radio and he was one dynamic speaker. He sold me on the theory and I never went back.


message 17: by Peter (new)

Peter Sartucci | 1 comments I also liked 'Lucifer's Hammer', the characters and setting were well-done save for one minor point that has always rankled. My father was a construction engineer and I'm well acquainted with how California's mountain hydropower plants (and their attendant powerlines) are built. When the deluge-rain after the Pacific strike caused all the rivers to flood and wiped out all the hydro plants (to clear the deck for the nuclear plant to star) I choked on that one. Most of the hydro plants and their lines should have survived - they're built to take floods and earthquakes, at least as well as the nuclear plant, and as a system they do not have a point-failure source (the nuke plant has several). But they needed a gimmick for the story and had an agenda to push, so I just shrugged and read on. A well-told story makes foibles like this one forgivable.


message 18: by Joel (last edited Oct 22, 2016 08:07AM) (new)

Joel Horn (joelhorn) Peter wrote: "I also liked 'Lucifer's Hammer', the characters and setting were well-done save for one minor point that has always rankled. My father was a construction engineer and I'm well acquainted with how C..." Good points. I will have to disagree with you a bit on the hydro dams. Most are built to 1000 of 10,000 year flood specs not geologic era level flood event specs.
Trinity dam in northern Ca almost was lost in the 1974 flood because the inflow was greater than the design out flow.


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