YOUR RECOMMENDED SF READING LIST


Following are books that you out there in Webland have suggested. Comments are mostly yours, not mine. Some of these I have read and can heartily second; others I have not read. You be the judge.


  • (Anonymous) – Beowulf
  • Adams, Douglas — (Says a reader: “All his books are hysterical!”)
  • Anderson, Poul – Boat of a Million Years
  • Asimov, Isaac – The Stars, Like Dust and The End of Eternity
  • Banks, Iain M. – Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games, Use of Weapons, and Excession (all space operas about the Culture, a fictitious future civilization); also Against a Dark Background, an SF thriller
  • Barnes, Steven – Firedance (almost a religious experience)
  • Baxter, Stephen – The Time Ships
  • Bear, Greg – Blood Music and Moving Mars
  • Benford, Gregory – Great Sky River (Part of the Galactic Center series: human tribe in the heart of a monstrous machine civilization.)
  • Bishop, Anne — Daughter of the Blood (First of a trilogy. Says a reader: “One of the best books I have ever read.”)
  • Bishop, Michael – Nebula winning No Enemy But Time, and more recently his Brittle Innings (The Frankenstein monster turns up in the 1940s, and plays semi-pro baseball during WWII, the story told with a realist, Southern grit. An amazing feat.)
  • Blish, James – Cities in Flight collection (good one: a classic in the field!)
  • Brackett, Leigh – The Long Tomorrow
  • Bradbury, Ray – Fahrenheit 451, another classic
  • Bradley, Marion Zimmer – The Hunters of the Red Moon (Earth human plucked off his sailboat by intergalactic slavers.)
  • Briggs, Patricia – Masques, When Demons Walk, and Steal the Dragon (three loosely-connected fantasy novels that have strong female leads and excellent dialogue)
  • Brin, David – Startide Rising (Well thought-out universe and very good sociology)
  • Brooks, Terry – the Shannara series
  • Brown, Fredric – collected works, esp. the short stories
  • Brunner, John – Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, and The Crucible of Time. Also, from another reader, The Shockwave Rider.
  • Burke, James Lee – In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead (“Not SF at all, other than the ghostly aspect, but…incredible characterizations…”)
  • Burroughs, Edgar Rice – John Carter, Warlord of Mars series; the Venus or the Pellucidar books, and the Tarzan books
  • Butler, Octavia – Wild Seed and Mind of My Mind (unscientific but terrific writing)
  • Carver, Jeffrey A. – The Rapture Effect (I was asked by a reader to add this.)
  • Chalker, Jack – Midnight at the Well of Souls
  • Clarke, Arthur C. – Rendezvous with Rama, Rama II, The Garden of Rama, Rama Revealed [JC note: the first book garnered almost univeral praise. The sequels received far more mixed reviews.]
  • Crichton, Michael – Sphere (“Scares, shock, and surprises all the way,” says a reader.) [JC note: Just goes to show how tastes differ. I found the book manipulative, incoherent, and badly crafted. Maybe I missed something?] From another reader: Jurassic Park
  • Cook, Paul – The Fortress on the Sun
  • DeLint, Charles – Spiritwalk, Moonheart, and The Little Country (urban fantasies)
  • Dick, Philip K. – Counter-Clock World, Valis, Eye in the Sky, Clans of the Alphane Moon
  • Eddings, David – Belgarion series and the Mallorean series as well as the additional books of Belgarath and Polgara
  • Ellison, Harlan – The Essential Ellison, or just about any other collection of his short stories
  • Feist, Raymond E. – Magician; also, from another reader, all of the books of the Riftwar Saga, and of the Serpentwar Saga
  • Forward, Eve – Villains By Necessity (“Very funny and somewhat light-hearted as well as gripping,” says a reader.)
  • Forward, Robert L. – Dragon’s Egg and its sequel Starquake, as well as Camelot 30K and Time Masters
  • Foster, Alan Dean – Flinx series (The Tar-Aiym Krang, Orphan Star, The End of the Matter, Flinx in Flux)
  • Freidman, C. S. – In Conquest Born and Madness Season, and from another reader, the Coldfire Trilogy
  • Freireich, Valerie J. – Being Human
  • Furey, Maggie — Aurian (first of a quartet- a sorceress must save the world from the evil mage Miathan)
  • Goonan, Kathleen Ann – Queen City Jazz
  • Green Sharon – The Blending series (“…comes alive! It’s truly a great work of Fantasy!”)
  • Hamilton, Peter F. – The Reality Dysfunction and its sequels and A Second Chance at Eden
  • Harrison, Harry – Stainless Steel Rat series and Eden series (West of Eden, Winter in Eden, Return to Eden), plus Bill the Galactic Hero
  • Haydon, Elizabeth – Rhapsody: Child of Blood (The first of a trilogy. “Rhapsody is not a babe in bikini chainmail, and her two fellow travellors are an assassin and a giant army sergeant.”)
  • Heinlein, Robert – a vote from a reader for his later novels (no particular titles, but especially the Lazarus Long series); The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
  • Herbert, Frank – Dune (classic novel) and its sequels
  • Hobb, Robin (a.k.a. Meghan Lindholm) – Chronicles of the Farseer: Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin’s Quest
  • Hogan, James P. – especially the Giants series (Inherit the Stars, Giants’ Star, The Gentle Giants of Ganymede, Entoverse) and Code of the Lifemaker & its sequel The Immortality Option
  • Howard, Robert E. – Conan the Conquerer and other novels (Reader says: “I believe Howard is also the ‘father’ of Heroic Fantasy. Certainly, he can lay claim to being one of the best ‘pulp fiction’ writers of all time . . . Howard and that book inspired me to become a professional writer. . . .”)
  • Hugo, Avenue Victor – Les Miserables (not SF, but “while sometimes drawn-out in descriptions, is very powerful in language and character development.”)
  • Jordan, Robert – Wheel of Time fantasy series
  • Keyes, Daniel — “Flowers for Algernon” (basis for the movie Charly)
  • Koestler, Arthur – Darkness at Noon (for lovers of 1984…”deals with the relationship between the individual and the revolutionary state, and the way language bends under superimposed definitions.”)
  • King, Stephen – The Eyes of The Dragon (as well as The Stand and The Dead Zone)
  • LeGuin, Ursula K. – The Dispossessed (“…a novel written with Le Guin’s signature love for her characters that causes the reader to think hard about what a government should do.”)
  • Lewis, C.S. – Out of the Silent Planet, Voyage to Venus, and That Hideous Strength (“…rare delights…some of the images have the timeless sense of wonder. They are far more obviously theological…than the Narnia series.”)
  • Logan, Charles – Shipwreck (“…quite stunning, yet it does not seem to be well known in the science-fiction world, in spite of winning a competition in 1975.”)
  • Martin, George R.R. – A Game of Thrones (“A beautiful and gripping story from a god-gifted writer,” says one reader. An enthusiastic second from another.)
  • Martin, George RR & Tuttle, Lisa – Windhaven
  • MacLeod, Ian R. – Voyages by Starlight (short story collection) and The Great Wheel (novel).
  • May, Julian – Jack the Bodiless (“wicked”)
  • Modesitt, L.E., Jr.’s – The Parafaith War, Adiamante (“excellent!”), The Forever Hero trilogy (“old, but very well-conceived and orchestrated”)
  • Moorcock, Michael – World Fantasy Award Winning Gloriana, and for younger readers any of his Elric of Melnibone books
  • Naylor, Grant – the Red Dwarf series (based on the British TV series)
  • Norman, Lisanne – the Sholan series: Turning Point, Fortune’s Wheel, Fire Margins, Razor’s Edge
  • Norton, Andre – the novels of Witchworld, where the setting remains, even if individual characters pass on
  • Orwell, George – 1984 (A real classic. Thanks to the reader who reminded me.)
  • Paolini, Christopher – Eragon (bestselling novel written by a teenager, “a hard-to-put-down novel about a land searching for hope; along with dragons, riders, humans, elves, dwarfs, good guys and bad guys”)
  • Perry, Steve – Aliens vs. Predator
  • Piper, H. Beam – Fuzzy Sapiens
  • Pohl, Frederik and Kornbluth, Cyril – The Space Merchants [JC note: classic satirical extrapolation of the advertising industry]
  • Pullman, Philip – The Amber Spyglass and the books preceding in the Golden Compass trilogy
  • Rand, Ayn – The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. (Not SF, but powerful novels on themes of individuality that often figure in SF.)
  • Rosenberg, Joel – Guardians of the Flame series
  • Russell, Mary Doria – The Sparrow and its sequel, Children of God. “Science, philosophy, religion, and some love interest too… These are her first books and they are excellent!”
  • Russell, Sean – Initiate Brother
  • Saberhagen, Fred – The Veils of Azlaroc; and from another reader, the Berserker series, and the Book of Swords series
  • Sawyer, Robert – Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, Foreigner (describe interesting scientific discoveries which parallel our own)
  • Schmitz, James H. – just about anything, but especially the Hub series
  • Shaw, Bob – Who Goes Here? (“Delightfully funny,” says a reader.)
  • Sheffield, Charles – (“Anything by Sheffield,” says a reader. “Charles, we miss you,” says I.)
  • Silverberg, Robert – Hot Sky at Midnight (Reader: “Exciting and thought-provoking.”) Also, Lord Valentine’s Castle (“a marvelous world with terrific aliens”)
  • Smith, Sherwood and Trowbridge, David – Phoenix in Flight and other novels of the “Exordium” series
  • Stephenson, Neal – The Diamond Age (“A cross between William Gibson and Thomas Pynchon. This novel has good characters, good plot, and a good ending.”)
  • Stewart, Mary – Merlin trilogy (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment)
  • Stirling, S.M. – Drakon (Genetically engineered superbeing from alternate universe comes through rift into ours)
  • Stoker, Bram – Dracula
  • Strugatski, Arkadi and Boris – A Roadside Picnic (authors are Russian scientists, whose Hard to be a God got them into serious hot water with the regime; provided the basis for the dark SF classic film, Stalker. “Some of the humour is extraordinary.”)
  • Vance, Jack – Big Planet, Eyes of the Overworld, Lyonesse, and (1996) Night Lamp
  • van Vogt, A.E. – The World of Null-A
  • Varley, John – Titan trilogy (Titan, Wizard, Demon)
  • Weber, David – Path of the Fury
  • Weis, Margaret and Hickman, Tracy – Death Gate series; Dragon Lance Chronicles
  • Weinbaum, Stanley G. – The Black Flame and The New Adam
  • Williams, Tad – Otherland and Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn
  • Williamson, Jack – The Humanoids (the novel version of “With Folded Hands”)
  • Wurts, Janny – The Wars of Shadow and Light (“A series still in progress . . . an excellent series, especially for those who enjoy battle strategy in their fantasy books.”)
  • Zahn, Timothy – Conquerors’ Pride, and from another reader, The Icarus Hunt (“very entertaining, full of intrigue, near misses, death defying situations, technology that is thoroughly explained,” reminiscent of the Star Wars novels also written by Zahn)
  • Zelazny, Roger – A Night in the Lonesome October (“The gall is for writing a book with a dog/familiar as the narrator, and for doing it so damned well!”). Other nominees: Lord of Light (already listed in the other list, but it bears repeating!), This Immortal, and Creatures of Light and Darkness. Roger, we miss you.
  • Zindell, David – Neverness, The Broken God, The Wild
  • The Science Fiction Hall of Fame – vols. I, IIA, IIB, III, IV
  • And as an aside, a strong vote for the classics–such as the works of Dickens and Shakespeare, and such works as The Iliad, The Prince, and The Art of War.

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