The Sword and Laser discussion

What is the one book or series you would give away to someone who is reading SF/Fantasy for the first time?

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message 1: by Marion (new)

Marion Hill (kammbia1) This question came to mind recently and I've been thinking about it a lot lately. What is the book or series I would give to a 1st time reader of SF/Fantasy?

I have several that come to mind but I will go with The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell as the one book to give to someone. I read this wonderful novel finally last year and I have given several copies away since reading it.

Here's the review from my website:

Also, I must mention Winters Tale by Mark Helprin as my alternate choice to give away. For the choice of a series, it will be the Retrieval Artist Series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

What would you choose?

message 2: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4112 comments Wow, difficult one. I'll go with Ringworld.

Reasons: It is sufficiently different from other fiction that the SF-ness will be clear right away. However, Niven makes an effort to write in the "literary" fashion and non-SF readers would tend to react well to that. Also, at heart it is an extended dinner conversation where we find that the Puppeteers have been manipulating Kzinti and humans for generations. There's even a romance angle.

message 3: by Pickle (last edited Nov 19, 2014 12:25PM) (new)

Pickle | 192 comments i'd recommend Neverwhere for fantasy. Really easy read, set in a city we all know, great characters. There's so many 'other'types of fantasy id recommend but this is my favourite.

Sci-fi ive found a lot harder to pick a book or series, my favourite genre, so ive found it difficult to narrow it down. Possibly the 2001: A Space Odyssey series, which i thought was excellent and started me on my voyage into reading for fun at 29.

message 4: by Ken (last edited Nov 19, 2014 12:25PM) (new)

Ken (kanthr) | 334 comments David Mitchell: Ghostwritten, or number9dream.

The 'fantasy' parts aren't overt and cloying, they creep in from the margins.

If they're up for a deep dive in the deep end, Gene Wolfe. But that is a daunting labyrinth to enter uninitiated.

message 5: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 4198 comments This seems like a relevant thread

message 7: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 4198 comments And this one!

As you can see, it's a popular topic.

I bet there are more, this was just looking at recent threads.

message 8: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Nagy | 379 comments There is no singular right answer, best bet is to pick a hybrid genre book that combines something they already like with something new. What movies people like and why can also give you a good feel for what they are looking for in a book. Starwars vs Star Trek(plot+characters vs new idea/concept) and why, what did you like the most about Lord of the Rings(adventure/worldbuilding/military fantasy). There are a few books that I feel do require prerequisite genre knowledge Sanderson's Stormlight Archives series feels like a for experienced fantasy readers only book, but I feel that most SFF is pretty easy to pick up even if you don't really know the genre past what you have seen in a few movies.

message 9: by Alex (new)

Alex (alexcpierce) | 47 comments Fantasy is easy: The Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson
They're fast paced, easy to read, and wholly original and captivating. And none of them are doorstops (which makes some people shy away from Fantasy).

I would have recommended Terry Pratchet's The Colour of Magic, but I've actually tried that and people balk at the first book of a series that's a bajillion books long.

For Science Fiction, yikes, that's a tough one. I would LOVE to say that our current book pick, Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep would be my choice (and it would be) except that far too many people go in expecting Blade Runner, which it isn't.

In that case, for Science Fiction I'd go with Andy Weir's The Martian, because it's a fantastic and realistic character piece full of suspense.

message 10: by Igor (new)

Igor (igork) | 105 comments Mistborn.

message 11: by Andrea (new)

Andrea (tigerr) | 32 comments Pickle wrote: Possibly the 2001: A Space Odyssey series, which i thought was excellent and started me on my voyage into reading for fun at 29.

I haven't read scifi because of this book. Guys like Asimov and Clarke are undoubtedly THE men of scifi but they are so drying and boring.

I'm trying to write a scifi and now I'm considering scrapping it just because it's harder for me to wrap my mind around the scifi.

If I were to give a first time reader a book, it'd be fantasy and it would either be The Sword of Shannara or The Hobbit.

But the above are, of course, just my opinions.

message 12: by Tom (new)

Tom Allman Whenever I see a copy a "Nova" by Samuel Delaney I buy it and give it to a friend.

message 13: by Kris (new)

Kris (kvolk) For fantasy Tolkien or Feist for SciFi I think I would give them Andy Weirs book The Martian or David Brin's Earth or even Niven/Pournelle Lucifers Hammer.

message 14: by Ally (new)

Ally (leopardqueen) My sister has never been a fan of the fantasy genre, and she doesn't watch HBO either, but a few months back she told me she picked up A Game of Thrones and couldn't put it down. I was hoping it would be a gateway into reading more books that I love.

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