Essential SF Books You Should Read

We are all fans of science fiction here. Some of us enjoy it more than the others, but most of us read it. Most literary genres have their share of crappy novels, but it often seems like ours has it in spades. Which I guess is par for the course, seeing how it originated from pulp fiction stories of mystery and high adventure published in high volume magazine. Despite that pedigree, it has managed to produce some of the most thought provoking and interesting works to date. Unlike many of the more mainstream genres, it encourages authors to ask strange what-if questions, and build their narratives on far fetched premises. It can be used to tell captivating cautionary tales, to examine human condition under the most bizarre circumstances, and to engage in complex thought experiments. A good SF book will leave a long lasting impression upon the reader. A great book will imprint itself on his consciousness.

This is especially true for those of us who grew up reading it. Geek jargon is full of expressions and vocabulary borrowed wholesale from SF classics. We use them as a cognitive shorthand, or pass them around as inside jokes. But not everyone has been lucky enough to be born into this environment. For example, I never really read SF as a kid, because there was simply none in the house. My dad liked pulp spy novels and action thrillers, while my mom would mix up her high brow readings (she would discuss with her co-workers at the teacher’s lounge) and guilty pleasure romances. Neither one of them was particularly interested in what they considered to be stories exclusively about space ships and astronauts. So it wasn’t until I made friends with fellow geeks somewhere between Junior High and High School, and had to constantly ask my new friends to explain things to me that I realized I missed a large chunk of cultural geek heritage. To get me up to speed, a friend constructed a rapid geek-education kit for me. He came to school one day, started pulling out books from his backpack and stacking them in front of me. That day I came home with copies of Felowship of the Ring, Dune, I-Robot, Neuromancer and a few RPG manuals. I have been playing catch-up since then – and even now, I sometimes still discover classic SF books that I missed out on.

I figured we could sit down, and try to put together a list of essential, classic and important works of SF that could help kids who like me, did not discover their inner geek until much later in life. Naturally, I don’t want to list every good SF book under the sun. There are scores of really good novels out there, but I want to limit this list to the important ones. Books that became part of our culture, our vocabulary or introduced then revolutionary concepts. I also don’t really want to get much into the Fantasy realm, because as far as I’m concerned the entire genre consists of a single worthwhile book cycle: Lord of the Rings. Everything else is more or less a variation on that theme. Some stuff is more successful than the other, but for the most part Fantasy novels do not usually generate a lot of memes that ingrain themselves into the geek culture.

Feel free to chime in, and post your favorites in the comments section.

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by George Orwell

1984 is the quintessential dystopia novel. One of the first and the best of the kind. Orwell’s vision of the distant future 1984 Englad is bleak, frightening and evocative. So much so, that certain phraseology from the book bleed into our common language. If you have ever heard expressions such as “Big Brother”, “thought crime” this is where they originated. It is a cautionary tale about runaway totalitarianism, but at the same time an eerily prophetic example of how ruling party can use propaganda and technology to lull citizenry into apathy. Most importantly it is the book you need to read in order to participate in any slippery slope internet discussion about politics. 1984 references much classier than Godwinizing the trhead.

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A Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

The other important dystopian story, written from a completely different angle. It’s characters live in a world that is as scary and dysfunctional as that of Orwell’s but without the totalitarian overtones. Huxley talks about runaway consumerism and self indulgence resulting in degeneration of the society. Much ahead of it’s time, and a sobering, important read especially for us – transhumanist and singularitarians. It paints a bleak picture of a complacent society too busy keeping track of their entertainment news, social gossip and participating in “orgy-porgies” to pay attention to the intellectual and spiritual malaise and emptiness of their existence. A world not unlike the one we live in right now. Not as memetic, and iconic as Orwell’s work, but an important complement. Also, Huxley imagined a advanced eugenics program used to breed custom-tailored laborers for specific jobs without actually knowing about DNA or genetic engineering. We would later see themes from this novel echoed in countless other works – like the movie Gattaca for example.

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Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury

Yet another mainstream classic, but at the same time an important read. Bradbury’s observations of American anti-intellectual attitudes and it’s love for mass media pulp entertainment shoveled down their throats is just as astute now as it was when the book was published. It is a book about a conflict between ignorance and knowledge; about information suppression; about the mind numbing effects of the mass media. This is the book that Michael Moore referred to in the title of his controversial 9/11 documentary, and the conceptual framework Kurt Weimer used as a basis for Equilibrium.

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I, Robot
by Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov coined the “3 Laws of Robotics”, and we have been arguing about them ever since. This collection of short stories is his attempt to put the concept of hard-wiring fail-safe controls into artificial minds could work. It is quite ironic how the Will Smith movie adaptation of this book completely trashed the philosophy Asimov spent most of his life defending. Whether you agree with it, or think the idea of constraining our AI progeny with logical paradox booby traps is silly, it is something you cannot ignore. Furthermore reading this book is essential to understanding some more recent work – such as the excellent Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect which I reviewed recently.

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Stranger in a Strange Land
by Robert A. Heinlen

In this classic Heinlen story a man raised by martians returns to Earth to give us a fish-out-of-water look at the eccentricities and irrational quirks of the human condition. If you have ever seen us geeks using an expression “to grok something” to denote a deep, complete understanding – we got it from this book. While the social mores, and attitudes are somewhat dated (Heinlen was describing contemporary America of his time) it is still a fascinating read about an alien who is bewildered by our culture, embraces it and then tries to change it for better via active participation.

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Childhood’s End
by Arthur C. Clarke

Short and oft overlooked novel which described the humanity reaching the Omega Point, long before it was fashionable to talk about singularity. Granted, Clarke’s vision of human ascent to godhood is a biological outcome of evolution, not technological rapture we have grown to expect these days. Still, I feel that anyone who haven’t read it is missing out. It is one of classic books that I have only discovered very recently but it should be on the mandatory reading list for all SF enthusiasts.

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Starship Troopers
by Robert A Heinlen

This is the book that started the “Space Marine” trope. If you have ever played a game, or watched a movie featuring heavily armored men, shooting their way through swats of aliens, this is where it came from. It was the source of inspiration for much of the Warhammer 40k imagery – down to the hydraulic-assist power armors and jump-packs. The movie adaptation of the book is quite an interesting animal. It threw away the bulky power armors, and high tech warfare, and embellished Heinlens serious philosophical thoughts about military-fascist driven societies to turn them into self-aware campy awesomeness that has almost nothing to do with the original. If you like Space Marines, you should read this book.

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by William Gibson

The novel that more or less started the entire cyberpunk subgenre, and also probably indirectly contributed to the invention of steam-punk (which is essentially is to fantasy what cyberpunk is to hard SF). That silly concept of cyberspace being a virtual reality like environment where you can actually fly around, and interact with visual representation of data is actually Gibson’s idea. This is where it came from. Personally, I was never a fan of this idea but still – it has captured the imagination of millions. Neuromancer is worth reading for one other reason – Gibson predicts the arrival of of crypto-anarchist youth groups. His Panther Modersn resemble modern day Anonymous in more than one way.

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by Frank Herbert

Dune series remains one of my all time favorite SF cycles. It was one of the earliest and best takes on the whole concept of feudal space empires, star faring blue bloods, and stellar scale court intrigues. It inspired many imitators, and next to Heinlen, Herbert was the other great influence that helped to shape the Warhammer 40k universe. Dune, being Herbert’s magnum opus simply overflows with his thoughts about philosophy, ecology, terraforming projects, religion, human consciousness and expansion of it via the user of mind altering substances. It depicts an empire held in thrall by a scarce commodity harvested from a backwater, unhospitable world. Personally I consider the Dune series to be more or less the “Lord of the Rings” equivalent of fantasy. Granted, it is not as monumental, or genre defining – but it fulfills the same role of being that one massive, epic tale that everyone has read. Whether or not you read through the entire series, Dune is essential.

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The Left Hand Of Darkness
by Ursula K. Le Guin

The most popular book from Le Guin’s Hanish cycle, a story about gender relations in genderless societies. It is possibly one of the very few novels that will force you to re-examine how much your gender influences your identity, and how much or how little does it matter in the long run. A fascinating look at an utterly alien, but at the same time very human world and it’s inhabitants. It is also one of the novels that popularized the concept of “Ansible” – a device that used quantum entanglement effect to facilitate faster-than-light communication.

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Roadside Picnic
by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky

Aliens landed on Earth, and then left. If they have even noticed our civilization they didn’t think we were worth talking to, or even acknowledging. The sites of their landing were strewn with incomprehensible, and dangerous garbage. The novel follows the exploits of Stalkers – scavengers making a living extracting useful artifacts from these landing zones, where a single misstep may mean permanent disfigurement, instant death or something much worse. This short novel inspired several movies, and the popular video game series – and yet, it is often ignored by the American SF enthusiasts.

by Dan Simmons

Hyperion is by all accounts a cult classic. It is modern hard SF at it’s best – thought provoking, riveting, disturbing and well written. The book is the first part of a series spanning for thick tomes, but remains the most striking of the cycle. In fact, it is probably the best thing that Simmons have written to date. The novel is composed of a number of short stories, differing in their themes but masterfully woven into a larger narrative. Simmons aptly mixes post singularity topics, cyberpunk themes, religious mystycism, horror and mystery in an explosive blend that should not be missed.

by Neil Stephenson

To me, Anathem is an amazing work of SF. Chock full of philosophy, science and dense discussions about the quantum physics of the human consciousness. Some people find this book’s pace slow, and the endless dialogues between the philosopher-scientist monks too dry. But to an agile mind it is a high pressure fountain of ideas, sprayed directly onto your frontal lobes. I kept reading it not necessarily because I wanted to find out what’s next, but because I wanted the characters to go onto another philosophical or scientific tangent.

by Charless Stross

This is a book you ought to read if you don’t fully comprehend the concept of singularity. The story captures this elusive moment in progress, following a very dysfunctional, broken modern family. It is an inspired, chilling and well described vision of a possible fate of the human race in the near and far future. Stross captures both the giddy excitement of those of us who ride the bleeding edge of technology all the way towards the omega point, and the concerns and woes of post-singularity civilization. Stross is a very good author to start with if you want to get into the very recent, very modern singularity themed SF.

Now it is your turn. What important works of SF have I missed? What else should be on this list? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you decide to pick up any of these novels, could you use the picture-links above? Amazon said it will give me monies if you do.

Suggestions from the readers

Below are some books suggested by the readers in the comments:

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33 Responses to Essential SF Books You Should Read

  1. astine UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I didn’t really care for Childhood’s end when I read it. Clarke falls into that really annoying trope (or maybe he invents it) of abusing the theory of evolution for narrative purposes. Evolution by natural selection works through a massive heuristic to filter out poor genes, promote successful ones, and keep the pool diverse enough to avoid local optima (overspecialization) and allow for changing circumstances. *spoiler* I can’t really see how humanity would instantly evolve en mass in a coordinated fasion especially when evolution is explicitly competitive and uncoordinated. *end spoiler*

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  2. ST/op DENMARK Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I’m surprised you omitted Solaris, by Stanisław Lem :)
    Another – less known – novel is the original Planet of the Apes, by Pierre Boule which more or less accurately was the basis for the movie franchise.
    I read that stuff ages ago and might need to re-read them some time, together with those on the list which I never read, like Accelerando…

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  3. Hexren GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    The link for ‘Roadside Picnic’ seems to point not to the book but to an article about the book ?
    Good list anyway.

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  4. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    For some reason out of this list I have only read Anathem. I never was very fond of all those “must-reads/watchs/whatevers”.

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  5. Makers should certainly be on your list.

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  6. Victoria Netscape Navigator Mac OS says:

    Somehow my teen years were about fantasy and not SF at all. Must confess, I disliked SF a lot. Fantasy started with Howard’s Conan, then Lovecraft, then LOTR. I owned only the Two Towers book and I knew it by heart :) Moorcock, Zelazny, McCaffrey, Norton, Cook, etc. I read piles of fantasy books until I finally got sick of them.

    In college I went through cyberpunk phase, so I can cross out Stephenson and Gibson from your list. Surprisingly I didn’t read a single Strugatskie’ book at the time (though they were much more accessible being Russian and all). I knew the quotes but not the books. A couple of years ago I finally gave up and read Picnic after watching anime that referenced it heavily. I disliked it immensely, the language felt like a rough translation from English, and I didn’t care for the characters. I tried Hard to be a God next and hated it even more – it seemed predictable and immature. Basically I missed the age when I could enjoy it or it wasn’t my style. Same with 1984 – I suffered through it this summer and it made my teeth ache.

    I love Dune (but not the sequels) and quite like Starship Troopers. I’m mustering the courage to go trough Fahrenheit :) Weak of spirit, am I.

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  7. icebrain PORTUGAL Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    Personally I don’t consider Stranger a great novel. While the concept that names it is interesting, the religious and sexual themes are frankly boring and feel more as if Heinlein was describing his own fantasies. The second half is hardly worth reading, in my opinion.

    The ones I miss from your list is PKD’s, although the movie were much more influential than the books (e.g. Bladerunner vs Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep). I’ve still only read four of his books, but every one of them has made a strong impression on me.
    Stanislaw Lem’s PKD: A Visionary Among the Charlatans is a good read too.

    The other which has definitively entered the geek lexicon is Hitchhiker’s Guide, of course. Lots of memes and references there ;)

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  8. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Well, I can cross most books on your list. Although I have to say that I did read other Clarke books and found them extremely boring and not that good, even from the scientific perspective. Although I did not read this specific Clarke book. I miss one book in your list and interestingly it is one typical of a genre which is often considered inferior: space opera. Okay, Dune and Starship Trooper can be considered part of it, but they are much more than that. Dune is a treaty of political sciences, disguised as an SF opus, while Starship Trooper is a fable about a militaristic hiplocracy (essentially a fascist memento). The quintessential Space Opera SF book is for me the Cyteen series and C. J. Cherry’s setting.

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  9. Eric UNITED STATES Google Chrome Ubuntu Linux says:

    Cities in flight by James Blish
    I sing the body electric by ray bradbury
    ring world by larry niven
    The Stainless steel rat by harry harrison
    Farmer in the sky by Heinlein.

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  10. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ astine:

    Very good point. Now I have second thoughts about putting it on this list. :)

    @ ST/op:

    Ah, Solaris is not on the list because it is yet another of these books that slipped through the cracks for me. I need to give it a read one of these days.

    @ Hexren:

    I have fixed it. I think I accidentally grabbed the wrong Amazon link. :)

    @ Travis McCrea:

    Do you mean the Cory Doctorow book? I have not read it. It’s on my to-read list now.

    @ Victoria:

    I read Picnic in Polish (I figured it would be closer to the original that way) but I wasn’t impressed with the language either. I chalked it up to a sloppy translation though. Perhaps Strugatski just write that way.

    I didn’t much care for the characters in the Picnic either but I did like the whole idea of “the zone” and the incomprehensibility of the alien tech.

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  11. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Alphast:

    I have not read Cyteen. I will need to check it out.

    @ Eric:

    I have not read any of these. Thanks for the suggestions.

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  12. SheriffFatman Google Chrome Linux says:

    Joe Haldeman, The Forever War. Sort of a mirror image of Starship Troopers, by a Vietnam vet. Fascinating in its treatment of the effects of time dilation (hence title).

    Ian M. Banks — any Culture novel: try Consider Phlebas for rip-roaring Space Opera, Use of Weapons for almost-too-clever-by-half story structure with an excellent twist, Excession for imagining how a civilisation far advanced from ours could itself suffer culture shock, and Look to Windward for why, under no circumstances, do you ever fuck with the Culture. Also, coolest spaceship names in the history of SF (e.g., a science/exploration vessel called Poke it with a Stick).

    Lovecraft from his later cosmic/scientific horror phase (e.g., At the Mountains of Madness).

    Jack Vance’s Dying Earth stories (probably technically fantasy, but I’m going to claim them for SF under the “sufficiently advanced technology” cop-out).

    In similar vein, Michael Moorcock’s An Alien Heat.

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  13. Jason M CANADA Netscape Navigator Mac OS says:

    Nice list! I’d also include Neal Stephenson’s Snowcrash, China Miélville’s Perdido St Station, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale…

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  14. James Brown UNITED KINGDOM Safari Mac OS says:

    A HUGE space-opera classic that is missing from this list is the trilogy by Peter F Hamilton, which starts with “The Reality Dysfuntion”…absolutely brilliant and I just got lost in it for about 6 months…

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  15. James Brown UNITED KINGDOM Safari Mac OS says:

    …oh, and not forgetting “Transition” by Iain Banks…

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  16. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ SheriffFatman:

    I read Consider Phlebeas and while entertaining, I did not really think it was a great novel. I enjoyed it, and I appreciate the authors sadistic tendency to kill characters by the truck-load but I didn’t think it was exceptional. Good, not great. Hence I did not put it on the list.

    @ Jason M:

    I wouldn’t really consider Perdido St. Station SF novel though. It is a really good twist on Fantasy/Steampunk themes (and I enjoyed the hell out of it), but not necessarily SF. I would rather put Embassytown or City and the City here.

    @ James Brown:

    Uh, Hamilton. I enjoyed the first book mainly because of the interesting descriptions of the pioneer life of colonists on the maiden world, the pseudo-Victorian era world, and the mystery of that alien civilization that left the ruins the hero was scavenging in the opening scenes. It was corny, but it had some interesting ideas.

    I got the second book, and it ruined all the things I liked. It explained that the alien race was wiped out by the ghost dudes. All the cool worlds were turned into battlefields with a “space marines vs invincible ghost-men” premise. Etc.. Was disappointed.

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  17. Eric UNITED STATES Google Chrome Ubuntu Linux says:

    @ Luke Maciak:

    You are welcome. Enjoy.

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  18. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ icebrain:

    Speaking of PKD, I forgot to put VALIS on the list.

    And yes, the Stranger is definitely dated. You have to consider it within the context though. The book was published in 1961, just as the hippie movement was blowing up in US, turning the traditional, conservative value systems on their head, and bootstrapping the sexual revolution. So it’s not surprising that a human from Mars, “un-tainted” by a traditional childhood would base his philosophy on what then was the bleeding edge of counterculture and spiritual enlightenment. At least that’s what was my mindset when I read it – Valentine Michael Smith’s philosophy was basically a product of the times Heinlen created him in.

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  19. StDoodle UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    I’m surprised there’s no mention of the Foundation series by Asimov. Perhaps I’m biased as a longtime fan (luckily, my father actually had a few of his novels around the house, and while not the best of his work — they were in the Spacer / Elijah Bailey plotline — they helped steer me towards his works at a young age [ie carrying around “I, Robot” in second grade]), but the story of trying to plan out an entire civilization always resonated for me. Though I admit, SF from that era can be difficult to read for the first time at the present.

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  20. i don’t know how everybody did miss all books by Larry Niven, but since you did: put at least Ringworld into your list!

    Another one, verry important to me would be Alexander Krögers “Expedition Mikro” (i don’t know if his books have been translated to english)

    Also i allways loved to read really old, sf-books like (example that everyone knows) Jules Verne or the ingenious Skylark-Cycle of Edward E. “Doc” Smith.

    Other then that there is a huge amount of great books i read, but where i couldn’t name the autor, even if my life would depend on it.

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  21. Helen Lowe NEW ZEALAND Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    As much as Cyteen, I would advocate strongly for CJ Cherryh’s “Downbelow Station,” which pioneered so much in terms of faster-than-light travel and the way human devlopment in space might play out culturally and politically. And then there’s the faster-than-light ships and big guns …

    And fa rmore than “Anathem”, I would put forward Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash.”

    Other greats, in my opinion, include:

    David Brin’s “Startide Rising”
    Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War”
    Nicola Griffiths “Ammonite”
    Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Windup Girl”
    Olaf Stapledon’s “Babel 17”
    John Wyndham’s “The Chrysalids”
    Joan Voight’s “The Snow Queen”

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  22. @ Dr. Azrael Tod:
    whoops.. Eric already mentioned ringworld. :-)

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  23. Dileep UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    The list needs a good Biopunk entry. Should we elevate “The Windup Girl” into a SF Essential?

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  24. jambarama Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    The only suggestion for the essential list is Slaughterhouse-Five, though I don’t think it is Vonnegut’s best, and the sci-fi elements aren’t significant. Delightfully moving book. He had some others that were more sci-fi-ish, but none that were more sci-fi-ish and better than SH5. Cat’s Cradle is also very good but less sci-fi; Sirens of Titan is only good but more sci-fi. The Mars Trilogy is among the best researched I’ve read, but not the best fiction.

    I’d also suggest Hitchhikers’s Guide; Fahrenheit 451; Foundation Series over I, Robot; Neil Gaiman’s American Gods; Watchmen; Clockwork Orange (I just finished it); H.G. Wells Time Machine (better than War of the Worlds); Cormac McCarthy’s The Road; maybe I Am Legend; Jurassic Park; and Ender’s Game (though I don’t think it is particularly good).

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  25. jambarama Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    A sentence was misplaced in my previous comment. The Mars Trilogy has nothing to do with Vonnegut, and belongs at the end of the next paragraph. Ah, the hazards of copy/paste.

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  26. Dave Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Here are two classics I would recommend to anyone, both have sequels:
    Anne McCaffrey – The Ship Who Sang
    Philip José Farmer – To Your Scattered Bodies Go

    There was another SF book that I read years ago and I absolutely cannot remember the name of the book or the author. Basically it went like this…There is this binary star system (maybe the other star is a black hole) with planets orbiting both. The worlds are populated by reincarnated beings – basically these beings (some are human) are able to be be recreated by gathering the biological radiation (like radio waves) that these beings have radiated out into space over the millenia.

    The whole plot is about these two computers from another dimension that are created in our dimension, and they take on the physical form of stars – the two suns in the story. The beings are constantly fighting against each other as two seperate factions, the one faction being “good” and following the white star (called Sol), and the “bad” beings following the dark star.

    In the end it turns out that the dark side is actually good and is fighting to save, not destroy, the light side – as Sol has unknowingly been infected with a virus.

    I may be wrong on a few facts but thats all I can remember, and I really enjoyed the book. Any ideas what the title may be?

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  27. Makers (Cory Doctorow) has the entertainment of Little Brother (btw Cory is currently working on Little Brother II) but written for a much more mature audience with a focus on trademark / patent / copyright law.

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  28. @ Travis McCrea:
    :) Yes I saw that you replied to me, I just was replying back. Certainly should move it up close to the top of that list. :)

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  29. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ StDoodle:

    I never actually read Foundation. It’s yet another one of these book series that slipped through the cracks.

    @ Dr. Azrael Tod:

    Holly crap, I totally forgot about Verne. He is like the forefather of science fiction. :)

    @ Dileep:

    LOL, there is biopunk now? I think the *punk genre subdivisions are getting out of control. I’m drawing the line at steam- and cyber- until further notice. I would classify Windup Girl as a post-apocalyptic SF.

    @ jambarama:

    Time machine! Another classic I forgot about.

    I loved The Road but I’m sort of on the fence with how “SF” it actually is. On one hand it does take place in some post-apocalyptic future, but on the other hand McCarthy is more interested in grim realism, human condition and making you depressed out of your mind. Also, my copy had “Oprah’s Book Club” badge on the cover, which I think automatically promotes it to the cool kids table of mainstream books rather than the geek domain of SF. :P

    @ Dave:

    I have no clue what book this is, but it sounds interesting. Perhaps someone else can identify it.

    @ Travis McCrea:

    I sort of lost track of Cory’s writing. I remember reading Down and Out, Eastern Standard, Someone Comes to Town and nothing since then. I have to pick up some of his newer stuff.

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  30. Ľubomír Brindza SLOVAKIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I’ve read Strugatski’s Roadside Picnic quite a while ago, and decided to pick up something else from them on my visit to the library. Picked up a novel whose name was translated as The Forest (“Les”), but can’t find anything like that on their wikipedia page. Which is just as well, because I couldn’t recommend it as it was really really painful to read.

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  31. Ľubomír Brindza SLOVAKIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    (I really need to think my comments through so I stop doubleposting)

    What I enjoyed on the other hand was the Conquerors series by Timothy Zahn (he’s probably more known for his SW expanded universe writing, which are awesome BTW), which reports on both sides of a conflict that arised from a first contact attempt (spoiler: the aliens are allergic to radio waves, to put it mildly). “The Conquerors” are the names the opposing sides are using for each other, since both feel they are the victims.

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