Books on the Nightstand discussion

Looking to create a list of the best Phliosophical SF/Fantasy Novels

Comments Showing 1-19 of 19 (19 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Marion (last edited Nov 07, 2014 06:58PM) (new)

Marion Hill (kammbia1) I would like to create a list of the best Philosophical Science-Fiction and Fantasy Novels that I want to read in the next couple of years. I will start with some titles here and please add to that list with your own suggestions.

1) The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
2) The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson
3) Parable of the Sower/ Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
4) The Child Goddess by Louise Marley
5) The Chess Garden by Brooks Hansen
6) Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright
7) Litany of the Long Sun/ Epiphany of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe
8) Raising the Stones by Sheri S. Tepper
9) The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Leguin
10) Outcasts/Captives/Rebels Safe Lands Series by Jill Williamson

That's my list to start with. Any other suggestions?

message 2: by Janet (last edited Nov 08, 2014 09:42AM) (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 790 comments I don't read a lot of Sci-Fi but I would add Ready Player One if you have not already read it.

message 3: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (vicki_c) | 366 comments What is philosophical science fiction? I haven't read any of those books, so don't really have a sense.

And even though I said that and asked the question, what about the new book recommended by Michael on last week's podcast (304), The Book of Strange New Things?

message 4: by Eric (new)

Eric | 1175 comments Mod
Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun.

message 5: by Janet (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 790 comments There's actually a list on Goodreads.

message 6: by Marion (new)

Marion Hill (kammbia1) Thanks Janet!

Eric, I mentioned the Book of the Long Sun instead of the Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. But you are right it is Philosophical SF or Science Fantasy for Wolfe's books.


message 7: by Gerald (new)

Gerald Miller | 808 comments Vicky ditto I guess I should have gone to college. I am not that sure what philosophical science fiction is. How about THE FOUNDATION SERIES by Asimov? That had some heavy thinking. 2001 that was heavy,no?

message 8: by Gerald (new)

Gerald Miller | 808 comments Janet So basically it just good old Sci fi. I actually read s couple or saw the film version. I am surprised at that list because there is no BLADERUNNER By Dick. It's DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP. I read that. I read FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON as required reading and 2001 was written by Clarke while the film was being made. I did read that also. I would say that FOUNDATION is on the list or it should be.i read that series. It's all great sci fi.

message 9: by Lara (last edited Nov 10, 2014 06:04AM) (new)

Lara | 75 comments I liked the first two books in the Sci Fi trilogy by C. S. Lewis. Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra. The last book, not so much.

Oh, and Brave New World, of course. And Cat's Cradle.

message 10: by Outis (new)

Outis Yeah, Dick is philosphical.

But the most openly philosophical SF authors I've read are Greg Egan and Peter Watts. A list of Philosophical SF which doesn't feature Egan is just wrong.
Lots of SF successfully includes a little philosophy. Among the most famous authors, Herbert does that for instance. I also want to mention Sterling even though he's not so famous. There are of course many others...

I'm less knowledgable about fantasy but it seems genre authors who try to include philosophy are usually less skillful (Bakker for instance). But Zelazny got it right I think.

message 11: by Jen (new)

Jen (jenlb) | 51 comments I'd recommend Dan Simmons' Hyperion/Endymion books, as well as Ilium/Olympos. They do have action in them and they're great reads, but there's also a lot of discussion about the place of individuals in society, religion, government etc.

You might also like David Brin. His Uplift series talks a lot about ethics in different ways- regarding aliens, animals, 'religion', science etc. Earth Earth by David Brin has a lot to say about privacy/conservation/politics.

John Brunner's The Shockwave Rider The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner is a great, fun read, but it also tackles some fairly heavy philosophical questions (what 'goal' should a society have, etc).

Connie Willis has a number of great books/short stories that are very thoughtful- I'd look for a short story collection that includes "All My Darling Daughters". It's a difficult read, but it's certainly food for thought.

Good luck with Thomas Covenant- it's the most 'difficult' fantasy series I've read (and also my favourite). I haven't read another fantasy author that's paid so much attention to questions of power and guilt, or who's so willing to have very complex characters at the centre of the series.

But the books can be a very hard go- Covenant does some very despicable things, and the series as a whole is pretty bleak. I think that they're very worth reading, but they're not everyone's cup of tea. I think that the 'good' in the books outweighs the hard slogging, but a lot of people just put the series down in the first book.

message 12: by Gerald (new)

Gerald Miller | 808 comments I suggest that a good place to find this type of fantasy or sci fi or any kind of sci fi or fantasy is the SWORD AND LASER site here on GOODREADS. They also have a nice little podcast on ITunes. It's an amazing genre.

message 13: by Michele (new)

Michele Definitely Peter Watts.

message 14: by Michele (new)

Michele Specifically "Blindsight" by Peter Watts.

message 15: by Marion (new)

Marion Hill (kammbia1) Thanks to all your suggestions. They were helpful.


message 16: by Penelope (new)

Penelope | 1 comments If you're up for a longish book, I'd recommend Anathem by Neal Stephenson. Made me see things in a whole new way ...

message 17: by Cathy (new)

Cathy | 2 comments I recommend "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Walter Miller, Jr. It's a scifi/fantasy that takes place at a Catholic Monastery after a nuclear war & explores questions of faith, science and morality, spanning thousands of years.

message 18: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 3 comments Interesting topic! I just looked on Amazon for a Canticle for guides and other short stories by it there somewhere?

message 19: by Cathy (new)

Cathy | 2 comments Here is a link to the book on Amazon (assuming this is what you're looking for?): Hope you like it!

back to top