(May 29th, 2002, 1:30 pm)
What are your top 3-5 favorite Sci-Fi stories of all time? I guess I should say novels, rather... Maybe we can discuss short stories later.
Also, I'd like to (naturally) discuss the choices you've made, weigh their merits over books others have picked.
Some sample questions to answer:
Why are these books your favorite; I. E. what is the content that keeps drawing you back? How many times have you read them, and would you read them again? Is this author a favorite, or is this his/her one-hit-wonder with you?
Naturally, I don't want book reviews (though it might be a nice start at prepping for the first issue), just write what comes to mind about the books. If it's a sentance or two, or four paragraphs -or more, that's what I'm looking for.
Let's get it on!
(May 29th, 2002, 2:31 pm)
The ranking here is tenative... This is trying to divide a 100% between a bunch of books, so it really does not mean that #1 is better than #5.
1) Dune - Frank Herbert
2) Battlefield Earth - L. Ron Hubbard
3) Starship Troopers - Robert A. Heinlein
4) The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein
5) Armor - John Steakley / Final Blackout - L. Ron Hubbard
Excuse the cheap attempt to slip in 6 books... :) Starting at the top:
1) Dune - Frank Herbert Can anyone name another Sci-Fi book that comes even CLOSE to the scope of this story? Herbert's examination of the human psyche and frame is amazing, not to mention the superbly developed ecosystem of Arrakis. The mixing of Sci-Fi concepts with subjects traditionally devoted to fantasy is brilliant, and something I hope to achieve in my stories. Perhaps the most notworthy developments are the lack of thinking machines (A.I. computers, including the most basic of predictive analysis), which were destroyed for religious reasons; and the subsequent development of the two sides of the human psyche (logic and emotions) into the Bene Gesserit and Mentats. And the politics! Ohhh, the complex and siniously intertwined crosses and doublecrosses and conflicting agendas... Wow! Awesome. I've only read Dune twice, but I own a copy now and intend to read it again. On a side note, this was my sister's first "real" sci-fi read (aside from Star Wars fanfiction), and she loved it, though she was a bit overwhelmed by the political scope.
2) Battlefield Earth - L. Ron Hubbard I read this book for the first time when I was about 10. My dad bought it for me at a garage sale in mass-market paperback form. I must have read that edition twice, and the hardback edition from the library probably makes about four. I've always been a fan of "for-fun" Sci-Fi (Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, etc), which is what I call "Space Opera". However, Hubbard's massive tome is Space Opera with a undeniably addictive human element. Again, my love for this book is mostly because of its dosages of social interactivity (Terl's constant harping on "leverage"). Not to mention the way it captures the fun of cheap sci-fi in an elegant, "For Adults" package. It's simple themes of liberty and honor, the unending fight for right - for the simple reason that it's the right thing, of the big, overpowering evil just waiting over the horizon strikes a resounding chord in the hearts of humans everywhere. Perhaps it is Space Opera - but it's also undeniably well written. Top-notch fiction.
3) Starship Troopers - Robert Heinlein Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Both are superb classics, both, again, revolve around sociological developments. Starship Troopers is based during a wartime situation, yes, but it's not about war - rather, it's a commentary of the problems of a free populace. "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance," yet, how do you keep your rich and peace-loving citizenry aware of the intense danger they are in?
4) The Moon is a Harsh Mistress The classic tale of the revolutionary overthrow of tyrrany - transplanted to the moon, with all it's attendant problems and quirks. Even going so far as to develop a dialect for the "loonies" by mixing russian and english into a sort of pidgin... And Mycroft! Surely the sentient computer is one of the greatest achievement in Sci-Fi characters. I think I loved Mycroft more than the main character (Jack, was it?) I've only read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Starship Troopers once each - but I do plan on reading them again.
5) Armor - John Steakley If you've read this, you know why I like it. Based in a galaxy 10,000 years in the future, and revolving around a nearly invincible suit of armor, it is arguably one of the greatest classics of combat Sci-Fi ever written. Our Hero is Felix, a Scout-level combat infantryman, thrust into a war against seemingly infinite multitudes of hive-mind insects (dubbed "ants") on a planet that's equally - or moreso - hostile than the inhabitants. The water is acid, the land an ever-shifting terrain of desert sand, the ambient temperature freezing during the daytime... Dubbed "Banshee" by the troops, it is as close to Hell as one can imagine. I can't tell you much about the story, because it's so complex, and much about it's interpretation is left to your imagination, but I can tell you what I think is the core of what Steakly is trying to say: Armor can protect you from outside influences... But what about inside? As the old mass-market paperback says, "What price invulnerable Armor against Implacable foe?
5) Final Blackout - L. Ron Hubbard Again, another combat story. But written from the view of what might have happened if WW1 had never ended. Another excellent commentary on the differences between elected leadership and TRUE leadership, and what can happen when you have a leader who does what he does for the love of his men, and vice versa. Also a bitter look at modern political drives and goals. Raises the question, as "Laurence of Arabia" does: "What makes a hero?". I've read this twice or three times, and would like to eventually convert it to a screenplay.
I think that'll do for starters. :)
(May 29th, 2002, 8:45 pm)
Chung Kuo / David Wingrove
You think Dune has good political intrigue? Ain't got nothing on this :D
Incredibly intricate, multi-levelled and interleaved story, with whispers of something so much deeper. Still only read the first two of this series (of eight), but that's enough to know this is awesome.
All the Weyrs of Pern / Anne McCaffery
All the Pern books are wonderful, the detailed ecology and social framework built awesome. The characters are irresistable, and damnit, I want me adragon...or at least a fire lizard :P
All the Weyrs of Pern rounds of the tales impressively and touchingly. Fantastic ending to a superb series.
And yes, it is sci-fi :P
Otherland / Tad Williams
One of my favourite areas of philosophy is "what is real?" The Otherland series jumps headlong into this question, and boy does it make a splash. So many different threads woven together with superb skill, to create one hell of a picture.
Do not miss.
The Chysalids / John Wyndham
Perhaps better known for "Day of the Triffids," this was the first book of his I read, and to my mind, the best, though Chocky comes close. Not sure why I like this so much, really, but I do.
Excession / Iain M Banks
I have a fondness for the first book I read by an author, I think. Though others seem to prefer "A Player of Games," "Excession" is Banks' finest work to date.
No one else comes close to his mixture of subtle wit and dark imagination.
(May 30th, 2002, 2:44 pm)
Hmmm, that's actually a difficult question. I wouldn't say i have a sort of favourites list, so i'm just going to list the stuff that pops in my head right away. I would come up with more if i think for a while though.
- arthur c. clarcke: space oddisy (specially the first one).
This is from the period in which i used to read a whole lot of 50's scifi stuff. Well it's a classic offcourse, i don't think i have to introduce it. From all those classic scifi writers i enjoy the works of clarcke the most, followed shortly by asimov and vance.
- jeff noon: vurt and pollen.
Two books set in the same future/cyberpunk world, but whitout having a very cyberpunk or even scifi like theme. It are more like classic stories set in a grim future world. The stories are pretty cool, noon is an excellent writer, and most of all, he's original. I can definatly recommend these two!
- walter tevis: mockingbird.
Same genre as orwells 1984 or huxleys brave new world. Though i actually think this is better then both those books. This one isn't so cold and depressing (allthough the world it is set in, is). I has great emotion between the two main characters, which gives it something extra.
- michael marshall smith (i allways have to take a look at the book to remeber the name of the writer, he has one of those names that doesn't stick) : only forward.
I saw the cheap pocket version of this book in a bookstore, and though i never heared of the writer before, the short description seemed kind of cool (more importantly, the cover was cool too ;). The story impressed me greatly, sort of a mixture between cyberpunk (the world, some story elements) and fantasy. Very good story, with a surprising end.
(May 31st, 2002, 10:58 am)
gaah, you people always make me feel out-read.
ive hardly read much scifi, especially not modern sf novels. a few short stories, but not a single post-golden-age novel, not even Neuromancer.
so my fave novels (which are very few, because i have read very few) are Asimov's Foundation, Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, and... um... Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. no, i guess that doesnt count =)
what first impressed me about Foundation was the great scope of the premise. the idea of the inevitability and predictability of human mass behaviour - societies and civilizations - was a concept that really appealed to me. and of course, its coolness was further magnified by it being placed in a grand Galactic-Empire future. it wasnt really a novel, but a bunch of short stories set at different times in the evolution of the Foundation. and great, richly-developed stories they were, too.
i dont really remember much about Rendezvous with Rama. feels like ages ago that i read it. but i do remember that the whole thing was very well thought out, with surprising details every step of the way. one of the best ideas on alien spacecraft that i have ever come across.
but i really should go out and buy some books.
(December 25th, 2002, 7:25 am)
1. Dune -
Pretty much everything Semi said. Although I hadn't thought of the "human logic" part, but thats primarily because I don't really like to analyze things. I like a good story, and Dune gave me a good story.
2. Starship Troopers -
Not really sure why I like it... i read it after i saw the movie (which i thought was awesome), so maybe that has something to do with it? :) im not sure... i've always liked military stuff, so talk of "Mobile Infantry", boot camp and buggers gets me excited. Call me shallow, but it's what floats my boat.
3. Ender's Game -
Now, if there was ever a book i loved for the characters, this is it. I despised Peter for his cruelty but also admired him for his calculating brilliance, Valentine for her role in counterbalancing Peter, and Ender because of the exquisite portrait of his life Card wrote - I felt sorry for him for being a Third, felt kinf of an uneasy relief when he was selected to be one of those space cadets, and basically felt sorry for him through the whole book because everybody was making things hard for him.
theres more but i cant think of 'em
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