SF Masterworks Group discussion

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message 1: by Bill (new)

Bill Wellham (stereodeluxe) | 35 comments I just wanted to start a discussion, while this group is small and friendly.

I have re-launched my interest in reading sci-fi after a long long period of lazyness. I have worked my way through forty great books over the last eighteen months; some of them I am revisiting and many others are new to me. I have always noticed the SF Masterworks series, scattered across the shelves of many a good book shop. I soon researched the list of the series, and realised what an awesome collection it is.

My first SF Mwks was 'The stars my destination' by Alfred Bester. (#5). A real blast of a read. This was the book that made me decide to work my way through the entire list, even if it takes me years.

I went on to read :

'Eon' Greg Bear (#50) Hard SF worth a go. Left me a little cold. Some awesome ideas though.

'Babel 17' Samuel R. Delany (#6) Some strange ideas. The written style takes a while to get used to.

'Last and First Men' Olaf Stapledon (#11) 30's SF on a grand scale.

'The City and the Stars' Arthur C Clarke (#39) A fine story by one of the masters.

I have some more lined up to read. I have also read some of the others but not in the SF Mwks release. I feel that I want to collect them all, even if I have read them. It must be nice to own a complete collection. Personally I am not after hard cover versions; I like paperbacks!

I was womdering if any of the releases are becoming hard to get? I hope not.

So... tell us how and why SF Masterworks.. which you have read. Which ones you think un-deserving to be in the list. And which one I should buy next!

Bill, Colchester, UK


message 2: by Geoff (new)

Geoff (geoffbratt) | 49 comments I've only recently completed the set myself. Actually, that is a lie - I haven't got Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle yet because it was mistakenly printed with number 72 on the side instead of 73, and I have been waiting to see if a newer batch has the correct number. Some of the books I had to buy second hand as they are out of print and very difficult to find new.

There are several which are (very) difficult to get your hands on. For me, these were:
- All the H.G. Wells books (Time Machine/War of the Worlds (#24), First Men in the Moon (#38), Invisible Man (#47))
- A Case of Conscience (#30) by James Blish
- The Drowned World (#17) by J.G. Ballard
- Nova (#37) by Samuel R. Delany
- Downward to the Earth (#56) by Robert Silverberg
- Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (#67) by Kate Wilhelm
- The Complete Roderick (#45) by John Sladek

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending or your perspective) the publisher, Gollancz, is starting to re-release books in the series this year. This will hopefully bring some of the titles back into print, BUT the books are being released with a different style of cover to the current set, so anyone who has been collecting the series but hasn't completed it may have to put up with books which don't match if they don't get them before they come out.

Three of the titles (the most recent three; Dune (#71), The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (#72), and The Man in the High Castle (#73)) have been released in hardcover versions, so these won't quite match the others anyway. Gollancz also publishes an SF Masterworks hardcover series. These are numbered with roman numerals, and there are only 10 of these to date. Of these 10, 4 are NOT published in the paperback series.

I've only read around 10 with the SFM covers, and maybe 5 or so not in the SFM release. So far I've found most of them to be deserving to be in the list as they've covered original concepts and have been thoroughly enjoyable. The only exception for me was Flowers for Algernon (#25) by Daniel Keyes; it was a good read but I wouldn't really classify it as sci-fi.

Bill, if you haven't already read it, I would suggest Star Maker (#21), Olaf Stapledon's follow up to Last and First Men (#11). If you thought Last and First Men was SF on a grand scale, wait until you read this. Instead of giving the entire history of the human race, it details the history of life in the universe! It also contains no dialog and no real 'story', and it can get a little tedious at times, I thought, but was still a great read as Stapledon thoroughly explored the possibilities of sentient life in any possible form. If you've read that already, I would consider either Mission of Gravity (#62) by Hal Clement or Tau Zero (#64) by Poul Anderson. I am biased towards 'Hard' sci-fi, so others may disagree with my suggestions.


message 3: by Art (new)

Art Vanderlay | 4 comments I have always loved sf and saw Valis by PKD in the local library, so i read that, and a few other PKD books they had, all as sf masterworks editions. From there i branched off and am reading and collecting books from the list. I have only been collecting them for the last few months.

At the moment i own
The Forever War - Joe Haldeman (Peace and War edition)
The Stars, My Destination - Alfred Bester (on order)
Lord of Light - Roger Zelanzy
Last and First Men - Olaf Stapledon
Martian Time Slip - PKD
Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner (havent read yet)
The Dispossesed - Ursula le Gruin (on order)
A Scanner Darkly - PKD
Star Maker - Olaf Stapledon (currently reading)
Dr Bloodmoney - PKD
Valis - PKD (on order)
The Shrinking Man - Richard Matheson
The Dancers at the End of Time - Micheal Moorcock (havent read yet)
Time Out of Joint - PKD

as well as having read
I Am Legend - Richard Matheson
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - PKD
Non Stop - Brian Aldiss
Now Wait For Last Year - PKD
Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - PKD
Dune - Frank Herbert


message 4: by Sooz (new)

Sooz i think i was 10 or 11 when i read my first sci-fi. it was a complete throw away called, The Big Eye. absolutely B movie stuff, but i loved it, and have had a soft spot in my heart for sci-fi every since.

i just joined this group - not because i have any prior knowledge of SF Masterworks - but because i love sci-fi, and i've been looking for a sci-fi specific group that was serious about the novels of this genre.

i have read quite a few of these titles - most of them years ago. Dune, Grass, The Stars My Destiny, Star Maker, A Canticle for Lebrowitz, The Earth Abides etc.

just picked up Ballard's Drowned World which i hope to start shortly.


message 5: by Sean (last edited Jul 21, 2010 12:36PM) (new)

Sean Byrne (stegofreak) | 24 comments For myself the SF Masterworks is single-handedly responsible for getting me into Science Fiction. Up until I was sixteen or so I didn't read much but around that time I got into reading fantasy novels (Robin Hobb, David Eddings, Raymond E. Feist and the like.)

About two years ago I decided to give SF a try and thought the Masterworks series would be a good place to start. As of now I've read

The Forever War
I Am Legend
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Babel-17
The Sirens of Titan
More Than Human
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
The Space Merchants
Rendezvous With Rama
Mockingbird
The Man in the High Castle
Cat's Cradle - Upcoming

Currently reading Childhood's End.


message 6: by Simon (last edited Jul 22, 2010 12:56AM) (new)

Simon (friedegg) | 39 comments I've read the following titles (some Masterworks editions, some not):


2 - I Am Legend - Richard Matheson
3 - Cities in Flight - James Blish
4 - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick
7 - Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny
16 - The Dispossessed - Ursula K. Le Guin
17 - The Drowned World - J. G. Ballard
18 - The Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
20 - A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick
22 - Behold the Man - Michael Moorcock
23 - The Book of Skulls - Robert Silverberg
26 - Ubik - Philip K. Dick
28 - More Than Human - Theodore Sturgeon
30 - A Case of Conscience - James Blish
31 - The Centauri Device - M. John Harrison
33 - Non-Stop - Brian Aldiss
39 - The City and the Stars - Arthur C. Clarke
42 - Bring the Jubilee - Ward Moore
44 - The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. Le Guin
49 - A Fall of Moondust - Arthur C. Clarke
52 - The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - Philip K. Dick
53 - The Dancers at the End of Time - Michael Moorcock
55 - Time Out of Joint - Philip K. Dick
57 - The Simulacra - Philip K. Dick
58 - The Penultimate Truth - Philip K. Dick
60 - Ringworld - Larry Niven
64 - Tau Zero - Poul Anderson

I have the following lined up to read:

5 - The Stars My Destination - Alfred Bester
12 - Earth Abides - George R. Stewart
32 - Dr. Bloodmoney - Philip K. Dick
43 - VALIS - Philip K. Dick
50 - Eon - Greg Bear


message 7: by Phoenixfalls (new)

Phoenixfalls | 6 comments I'm American, so sadly I didn't discover this series until last year. :( Now I'm determined to collect them all! (What can I say? I like things that match.)

But I've been reading science fiction since I was a young teen, so I have actually already read seven in the series:

Original Series
7. Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny
18. Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut
25. Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
71. Dune, by Frank Herbert

New Series:
Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

I started A Canticle for Leibowitz but couldn't finish it (but it's one of my dad's all-time favorite novels, so I will reattempt at some point) and I can't remember if I read Earth Abides or not -- I feel like I did, but I remember nothing at all of the plot or characters. And I will be starting Hyperion as soon as I remember where I laid it down. . .

Other titles that are already on my TBR:
1. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
3. Cities in Flight, by James Blish (I own this one!)
5. The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester
24. The Time Machine & The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells (I own this one too!)
34. The Fountains of Paradise, by Arthur C. Clarke
48. Grass, by Sheri S. Tepper


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