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02 June 2010

Science Fiction: what should I read next?

Conceptual art based on War of the Worlds by HG Wells
I have been meaning for a while to get back into science fiction and dystopian tales. I haven’t really read many in the last few years. I went off to university and enforced a total book ban for those years I was studying, and on vacations I would glut on my favourite novels. When I moved to Sydney in 2007, I was able to visit a bookstore in Sydney that specialises in Speculative Fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, urban fantasy, paranormal romance and relevant nonfiction). It meant that I concentrated in buying out my favourite authors (David Gemmell, Raymond E Fiest, Chares de Lint, Kelley Armstrong, Sherrilyn Kenyon etc) as well as exploring urban fantasy and paranormal romance in more detail. When you rely on libraries for your reading material, your reading is so much more diverse - both because their stock in speculative fiction is so limited, and because you aren't paying money to explore a new author with no personal recommendations for their novels. It means that I became so focused on urban fantasy, paranormal romance and epic fantasy, that I am out of touch with the other genres I used to love. I have no idea what has been published in the last ten years that I should read, and I know that I missed a lot of science fiction masters when I borrowed from local libraries.

Conceptual art based on Dune by Frank Herbert
When I say I am a second generation nerd, I mean it! My mum grew up watching Doctor Who, and saw Star Wars as a teen and in her early twenties. She saw Return of the Jedi when she was pregnant with me. I grew up watching Doctor Who every night at 6pm on ABC and we constantly rented the Star Wars VCRs throughout my childhood. I grew up loving ewoks and Yoda and loathing sith. I no longer know how many times I have seen each of the original Star Wars movies - it is over a hundred for each film. Of the new ones the only one I have seen more than once is Revenge of the Sith, and that is only three times. I guess you can say I am a product of my times. I grew up in the 80s and 90s watching science fiction and fantasy films, reading fantasy, mysteries, classics and science fiction. A lot of the science fiction shows I love are classics. Doctor Who, Star Wars, Blade Runner, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (I love vintage science fiction films) and a lot of the books I love are the same (Dune, War of the Worlds etc). And then of course there are the bad B and C grade films I love... *sigh* I always say I am more of a fantasy fan, but science fiction still holds sway in my heart! I mean, favourite TV shows are Firefly and Dark Angel! ;D My favourite science fiction novel is definitely Dune by Frank Herbert. I did read another three books in that series, but I think as a stand alone book it was brilliant with a message that I identify with. I finally bought my own copy earlier this year, as I was reading my mother's books.

The reason for my post is that I want to bone up on my science fiction and dystopian tales. But the thing is, I want to concentrate on books that are classics of the genre. By that I do not mean old classics, but books that you recommend to everyone because they are so fucking good you just couldn't put them down. Books that you reread over and over and you know will never become dusty and covered in cobwebs on your shelves.
So far on my TBR list:

  • Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • A Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

I will probably go back and read some of my favourites like Dune, The Host, War of The Worlds, Time Machine and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as well.

Can you recommend any others for me to read? What are your favourite novels or authors of science fiction and/or dystopian tales? What novels are you constantly returning to? What books are on your TBR list? I would love to hear what you think!


even pretty girls need to read said...

1. Dune is amazing. It is my brother's favorite book. He gave it to me every Christmas until I read it. Mind blowing.

2. If you haven't, read Stranger in a Strange Land. It is science fiction meets philosophy.

3. I also thoroughly enjoyed I Am Legend. Yes yes there is a movie, but where the movie ends is only 3/4 of the way through the book...

4. For fun, quick reads I suggest J V Jones and Garth Nix. I'm currently reading Nix's Sabriel series - which is for young adults, but still thoroughly enjoyable.

All for now - great blog!

DutchCreamPuff said...

Well I'm pretty sure you know I would have suggested 1984 and A Brave New World because they're my pretties.

I have a list of Dystopian novels, most of which I haven't read, if you ever want to check that one out. It's online so just let me know and I'll send you the link.

I agree with the comment above too about I Am Legend. Everyone needs to read that! Stupid movies... They don't even do it justice or the end properly and without that end there's no point to the story.

Other than that I don't read much sci fi except 40K novels or more horror based because I'm not a big sci fi reader.

Marg said...

The Host is my favourite sci-fi novel. Recently though there does seem to have been a lot of really good YA dystopian novels. Just this week I finished reading The Knife of Letting Go by Patrick Ness, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins amongst others.

Marg said...

By the way, back again to comment to let you know that I have recently started a directory for Australian book bloggers. If you are interested, you can find out further information about it here

BlickArt Media said...

There are many best-of lists to choose good science fiction books. But there is one post, where they are combined. Check this out:

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