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  #1  
Old 07-11-2017, 01:23 AM
trapezoidal jellyfish trapezoidal jellyfish is offline
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Help me build a classic science fiction reading list!

I am trying to put together a reading list of 15-20 classics of science fiction. This was inspired by a conversation with someone who mentioned a book that he claimed was a science fiction classic, which I had never heard of. I decided that if I'm going to consider myself a fan of science fiction, I should make sure I've read the books that are considered to be the most famous, influential, noteworthy, and/or genre-defining. The trouble is, the ones I can think of are mostly ones I've already read. I need help coming up with the rest of them! Please feel free to offer suggestions, or tell me that something I've listed here is actually pretty irrelevant to the genre.

So far I have:

Foundation trilogy
Brave New World
1984
Farenheit 451
The Call of Cthulhu
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Dune
Probably at least one book by Heinlein?
Something by Arthur C. Clarke?

Last edited by trapezoidal jellyfish; 07-11-2017 at 01:24 AM..
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  #2  
Old 07-11-2017, 01:40 AM
Marci Al Marci Al is offline
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Robot Series (Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, Robots of Dawn)
Andromeda Strain
The Invisible Man
War of the Worlds
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
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  #3  
Old 07-11-2017, 02:34 AM
wintertime wintertime is offline
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My essentials up to the mid 1970s (some books are not Science Fiction from a modern point of view but they are milestones in the development of the genre)


Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley (1818)


The War of the Worlds
by H.G. Wells (1898)


The Machine Stops
by E.M. Forster (1909)


A Princess of Mars
by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1917)


R.U.R.
by Carel Capek (1920)


Last and First Men
by Olaf Stapledon (1930)


When Worlds Collide
by Edwin Balmer & Philip Wylie (1933)


Odd John
by Olaf Stapledon (1935)


Star Maker
by Olaf Stapledon (1937)


Earth Abides
by George R. Stewart (1949)


The Martian Chronicles
by Ray Bradbury (1950)


Childhood's End
by Arthur C. Clarke (1953)


Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury (1953)


More than Human
by Theodore Sturgeon (1953)


The Demolished Man
by Alfred Bester (1953)


Mission of Gravity
by Hal Clement (1953)


A Case of Conscience
by James Blish (1958)


Alas, Babylon
by Pat Frank (1959)


Starship Troopers
by Robert Heinlein (1959)


A Canticle for Leibowitz
by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (1960)


Solaris
by Stanislaw Lem (1961)


Stranger in a Strange Land
by Robert A. Heinlein (1961)


The Drowned World
by J.G. Ballard (1962)


The Man in the High Castle
by Philip K. Dick (1962)


Cat's Cradle
by Kurt Vonnegut (1963)


Way Station
by Clifford D. Simak (1963)


Babel-17
by Samuel R. Delany (1966)


Make Room! Make Room!
by Harry Harrison (1966)


Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes (1966)


The Crystal World
by J. G. Ballard (1966)


The Moon is a harsh Mistress
by Robert A. Heinlein (1966)


Stand on Zanzibar
by John Brunner (1968)


The Left Hand of Darkness
by Ursula K. Le Guin (1969)


Ringworld
by Larry Niven (1970)


Rendesvous with Rama
by Arthur C. Clarke (1972)


Roadside Picnic
by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky (1972)


The Forever War
by Joe Haldeman (1974)


The Mote in God's Eye
by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle (1974)
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  #4  
Old 07-11-2017, 02:48 AM
GreenWyvern GreenWyvern is offline
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A few in no particular order:

Arthur C. Clarke - Rendezvous with Rama
Isaac Asimov - I, Robot
Robert Heinlein - Stranger in a Strange Land
John Wyndham - Day of the Triffids
Ursula le Guin - The Left Hand of Darkness
Philip K. Dick - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Walter M. Miller - A Canticle for Leibowitz
Frank Herbert - Dune
Ray Bradbury - The Martian Chronicles
H.G. Wells - The Time Machine
A.E van Vogt - Slan
Clifford D. Simak - City
Hal Clement - Mission of Gravity
Joe Haldeman - The Forever War
Cordwainer Smith - The Instrumentality Of Mankind
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Old 07-11-2017, 02:57 AM
GreenWyvern GreenWyvern is offline
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Originally Posted by trapezoidal jellyfish View Post
The Call of Cthulhu
Not science fiction but fantasy/horror.
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  #6  
Old 07-11-2017, 03:33 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
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My 20 Favorite Science Fiction Long Works (greater than 25,000 words)

1. Olaf Stapledon First and Last Men and Starmaker
2. Philip Jose Farmer The Riverworld Series (To Your Scattered Bodies Go, The Fabulous Riverboat, The Dark Design, The Magic Labyrinth, and Gods of Riverworld)
3. Frank Herbert Dune
4. Walter Miller A Canticle for Leibowitz
5. Alfred Bester The Stars My Destination
6. Ursula K. Le Guin The Left Hand of Darkness
7. Philip K. Dick The Man in the High Castle
8. Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth The Space Merchants
9. Theodore Sturgeon More than Human
10. Roger Zelazny Lord of Light
11. Arthur C. Clarke Against the Fall of Night
12. Stanislaw Lem Solaris
13. Ken Grimwood Replay
14. H. G. Wells The Time Machine
15. Joe Haldeman The Forever War
16. Clifford Simak City
17. Michael Frayn The Tin Men
18. Samuel R. Delany The Einstein Intersection
19. Isaac Asimov The End of Eternity
20. Robert Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land
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  #7  
Old 07-11-2017, 04:37 AM
Teuton Teuton is offline
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William Gibson, Neuromancer
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Old 07-11-2017, 07:21 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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I would favour The Dispossessed over seeming fan favourite The Left Hand Of Darkness for Le Guin (or why not both )
and add CJ Cherryh's Downbelow Station

Last edited by MrDibble; 07-11-2017 at 07:22 AM..
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  #9  
Old 07-11-2017, 07:25 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination
Edgar Pangborn, Davy
Frank Herbert, Dune (do not read any of the sequels)
Robert Heinlein, Double Star (considered by many to be his best)
Ursula K. Leguin, The Left Hand of Darkness
Samuel R. Delaney, Babel-17 (his most accessible major novel; Dhalgren is his masterpiece, but it's not to everyone's taste)
Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon
Norman Spinrad, Bug Jack Barron
Poul Anderson, Tau Zero
Larry Niven, Ringworld
Robert Silverberg, Dying Inside
William M. Miller, A Canticle for Lebowitz
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  #10  
Old 07-11-2017, 07:47 AM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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This may make a good guide.
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  #11  
Old 07-11-2017, 07:55 AM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Don't forget short stories, which in some ways are a more natural format for science fiction than the novel is. A good way to get a nice broad sampling is through collections of the Hugo winners.

And for the novels, you could do a lot worse than starting with Heinlein's juveniles. You'll want more than just Heinlein, of course, but they're a good start.
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  #12  
Old 07-11-2017, 08:18 AM
Eonwe Eonwe is offline
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All great suggestions here. I had the same thought as Chronos about short stories.

One of my favorite collections is the "Women of Wonder" series, which collected short stories by female authors. These two books have a lot of great (and some not-so-great) sci-fi from some authors you know and many you don't but should. Also, it broadens what is almost always a near-exclusively male-written list of important works.
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Old 07-11-2017, 08:58 AM
Randolph Randolph is offline
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Ender's Game.
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  #14  
Old 07-11-2017, 09:17 AM
Apocalypso Apocalypso is offline
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Most of my sci-fi books have already been listed by others in this thread, but I do want to say: Philip Dick's short story collections are pretty awesome and are highly recommended. The collections I have are by Citadel Press (If you buy collections from different publishers they might have the same stories).

Also highly recommending The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem. It's a collection of short stories along the lines of Greek Mythology, but told by robotic beings. It's interesting and hilarious.
Signal to Noise and other books by Eric S. Nylund
Version 43 by Philip Palmer
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
White Noise by Don Delillo
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  #15  
Old 07-11-2017, 09:36 AM
zimaane zimaane is offline
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A few that have not been mentioned:

Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man Ahead of its time and very well written
Arthur C Clarke A Fall of Moondust Very suspenseful - a challenge to not read in one sitting
Frederik Pohl Gateway Unusual narrative structure and psychologically intense. Avoid the sequels though
Robert Heinlein Red Planet The best of the "juveline" novels, imho
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  #16  
Old 07-11-2017, 09:43 AM
E-DUB E-DUB is offline
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I was going to mention "Demolished Man" but somebody beat me to it. For shorts you can't get better than this.

https://www.amazon.com/Science-Ficti.../dp/0765305372
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  #17  
Old 07-11-2017, 10:16 AM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Don't forget short stories, which in some ways are a more natural format for science fiction than the novel is.
And here is a great list if those, compiled by fellow readers of another site I spend too much time on.
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  #18  
Old 07-11-2017, 10:28 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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I'm researching robots, so I'll throw out some stories I think are especially good and/or important that haven't been mentioned.

E. T. A. Hoffmann, "The Sandman" (1817)
Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, L'Eve Future (1886)
William Wallace Cook, A Round Trip to the Year 2000, or A Flight Through Time (1903)
Eando Binder, Adam Link - Robot (collects stories from 1939-1942)
C. L. Moore, "No Woman Born" (1944)
Jack Williamson, The Humanoids (collects stories from 1947-1948)

A little tidbit. The first Adam Link story was called "I, Robot." It made a huge impression on the young Asimov. However, he never wrote a story with that title. It was imposed on his collection of robot stories by his publisher, over his objections. One of which was that it would diminish Binder. And it came to pass...
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  #19  
Old 07-11-2017, 10:59 AM
Shodan Shodan is offline
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Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison.

And you need something by E.E. Smith, either Skylark of Space, the first of the Skylark series or Galactic Patrol, which is from the Lensman series.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #20  
Old 07-11-2017, 11:02 AM
Maggie the Ocelot Maggie the Ocelot is offline
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Seconding the recommendations for the Women of Wonder series, and for short stories in general - some of the masters of the genre work(ed) almost exclusively in that format. Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, James Tiptree Jr (Alice Sheldon), to name three of the most prominent.
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  #21  
Old 07-11-2017, 11:14 AM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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On the other hand, every edition of Asimov's I, Robot contains a note to that effect, with the result that a lot of readers of Asimov get introduced to Binder. It's hard to say what the net effect is.

EDIT: That was in response to Exapno Mapcase.

Last edited by Chronos; 07-11-2017 at 11:15 AM..
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  #22  
Old 07-11-2017, 11:25 AM
chrisk chrisk is offline
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I'll add some links to the reading lists for the James Gunn Center's SF Institute programs, which alternate each summer between covering novels and shorter fiction.

Novel reading list

Short fiction reading list
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  #23  
Old 07-11-2017, 11:40 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trapezoidal jellyfish View Post
I am trying to put together a reading list of 15-20 classics of science fiction.
Ah yes, that's what makes it tough. As I predicted, you've been getting a lot of good suggestions, but way more than could fit on a list of 15-20 books.
Quote:
This was inspired by a conversation with someone who mentioned a book that he claimed was a science fiction classic, which I had never heard of.
I'm tempted to put together a list of classic science fiction that it's important to have heard of but not necessarily to have read. For example, Frankenstein is often acknowledged as the first real science fiction novel, and several of H. G. Wells's novels are early SF classics. Everyone who has even a little interest of science fiction should know about these books, but I'm not sure I'd put them on a short list of 15-20 most important to actually read.
Quote:
I decided that if I'm going to consider myself a fan of science fiction, I should make sure I've read the books that are considered to be the most famous, influential, noteworthy, and/or genre-defining. The trouble is, the ones I can think of are mostly ones I've already read. I need help coming up with the rest of them! Please feel free to offer suggestions, or tell me that something I've listed here is actually pretty irrelevant to the genre.
...
Brave New World
1984
Farenheit 451
These are classics, but they're more the kind of thing that people outside the genre think of as science fiction. In particular, Isaac Asimov has written a review about 1984 claiming that
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isaac Asmov
Many people think of 1984 as a science fiction novel, but almost the only item about 1984 that would lead one to suppose this is the fact that it is purportedly laid in the future. Not so! ... In short, if 1984 must be considered science fiction, then it is very bad science fiction.
Quote:
The Call of Cthulhu
Lovecraft is probably more crucial to the genre of horror than science fiction
Quote:
Probably at least one book by Heinlein?
Something by Arthur C. Clarke?
Definitely. My pick for one book by Heinlein (to actually read) is The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (Stranger in a Strange Land is arguably more important to know about), and for Clarke is Childhood's End.

You definitely need a Le Guin on your list—either The Left Hand of Darkness or The Dispossessed (which was my pick for All Time Best Hugo Award Winner).

And yes, you need a book of short stories. The one E-DUB linked to is the one I was going to recommend.
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  #24  
Old 07-11-2017, 11:53 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
On the other hand, every edition of Asimov's I, Robot contains a note to that effect, with the result that a lot of readers of Asimov get introduced to Binder. It's hard to say what the net effect is.

EDIT: That was in response to Exapno Mapcase.
Today, maybe. The first edition definitely did not. The editions for the next several decades didn't.

Adam Link - Robot wasn't collected until 1965, with new printings in 1968 and 1974. A larger collection didn't appear until 2009. Binder was in near total obscurity over all that time.

His name gets tossed around today because of Joe Orlando's adaption of three Adam Link stories in EC comic books. But those were issued just before the company folded its comics line and dropped everything but Mad, so I bet they are better know today than in the mid-50s.

The originals hold up better than the silly stories that make up Asimov's I, Robot. The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun were more adult, but I haven't reread them yet so I don't know how well they hold up.
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  #25  
Old 07-11-2017, 12:04 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
These are classics, but they're more the kind of thing that people outside the genre think of as science fiction. In particular, Isaac Asimov has written a review about 1984 claiming that ...
I'd disagree strongly with this. Yeah, a certain age group brought up under Campbell's influence always insisted that science fiction stories have to be about science. They also inisted that fantasy is a totally different field. Damon Knight, who found the Science Fiction Writers of America, was adamantly opposed to allowing fantasy writers in, no matter than most of the ones who did join had written some fantasy stories as well as sf.

Everybody else, especially the more literary side of the field, has insisted at the top of their lungs that books like these must be included in science fiction. Science fiction is about change and ideas and the effects of science and technology, not just spaceships, they insist. The field needs to be more inclusive in its scope, not less so.

Since all the Campbellians are dead, the organization is now named The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and Le Guin is St. Ursula in the literary world, I'd say that old view is not dominant in the field. I'm sure you'll find those who will argue for it. An amazing number of people in f&sf hate change. Especially when it requires changing their minds.
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  #26  
Old 07-11-2017, 12:09 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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I'd say it's more the reverse: "Literary types" outside of science fiction are likely to say things like "Brave New World can't be science fiction, because it's Great Literature". But I'm hard-pressed to come up with a definition of "science fiction" that would include Foundation but not Brave New World.
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  #27  
Old 07-11-2017, 12:23 PM
icantdraw icantdraw is offline
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Earth Abides - George R Stewart 1949

A great "almost everyone dies and how is society rebuilt" type story.
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  #28  
Old 07-11-2017, 12:26 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wintertime View Post
Last and First Men
by Olaf Stapledon (1930)

Odd John
by Olaf Stapledon (1935)

Star Maker
by Olaf Stapledon (1937)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
Olaf Stapledon First and Last Men and Starmaker
Yes...Olaf Stapledon...

I can't deny that he was a major figure in the development of science fiction. He inspired many other writers with his examples of building vast settings.

But as an actual writer...he's not that great.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 07-11-2017 at 12:27 PM..
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  #29  
Old 07-11-2017, 12:49 PM
wintertime wintertime is offline
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
(..) For example, Frankenstein is often acknowledged as the first real science fiction novel, and several of H. G. Wells's novels are early SF classics. Everyone who has even a little interest of science fiction should know about these books, but I'm not sure I'd put them on a short list of 15-20 most important to actually read.
Yet, most readers of Science Fiction who know about Frankenstein will likely give you a synopsis based upon the various movies, particularly the James Wahle classic with Boris Karloff, which is not primarily based upon the novel but the stage play by Peggy Webling (or, to be more precise, its adaptation by John L. Balderston).

It's not hard to see why so many have difficulty with the idea that Frankenstein is the first SF novel when its monster is associated so often with the irrational and even supernatural.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Yes...Olaf Stapledon...

(..)

But as an actual writer...he's not that great.
I won't argue with your assessment. But he has introduced so many fundamental ideas to the genre that I consider him a must-read for everyone interested in Science Fiction itself.

Last edited by wintertime; 07-11-2017 at 12:52 PM..
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  #30  
Old 07-11-2017, 01:16 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
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Exapno, I'm inclined to agree with you (Post #25), with the following caveats:

I think it may be useful to distinguish between Science Fiction proper, and Speculative Fiction (with the former being a subset of the latter).

I think it's possible for a book to be bad science fiction but good in other ways (or vice versa); and 1984 may be an example of this (I'm not willing to commit myself one way or the other, it having been so long since I've read it).

I definitely think there's a distinction between Science Fiction and Fantasy. The border between them is blurry, but there are plenty of works that are squarely within one territory or the other.

In an exercise like this, I don't think we should restrict ourselves to the narrower, more purist definitions of "science fiction," but I do think it's useful, or at least interesting, to note which books would or would not qualify under such a definition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
But I'm hard-pressed to come up with a definition of "science fiction" that would include Foundation but not Brave New World.
I agree that Brave New World is science fiction, but to play devil's advocate, how about that Foundation was published as the work of a well-known science fiction writer aimed at science fiction readers, while Brave New World was published as the work of a satirical literary writer aimed at a general readership.
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Old 07-11-2017, 01:41 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
I agree that Brave New World is science fiction, but to play devil's advocate, how about that Foundation was published as the work of a well-known science fiction writer aimed at science fiction readers, while Brave New World was published as the work of a satirical literary writer aimed at a general readership.
How is a book is marketed has been the de facto standard since the Golden Age of SF. Marketing is highly correlated with contents but not identical. Speculative fiction has been a term used more inclusively than science fiction since the 1950s, precisely because of this.

Anyone inside the field with any literary understanding has been fighting this standard, also since the 1950s. The entire generation of writers that includes Le Guin, Delany, Zelazny, and Ellison, just to name a few, fought hard for the expansion of the narrow limits of the field. They won.

Fantasy also won. Far more fantasy is sold than science fiction these days, especially since fantasy includes vampires and zombies. And therefore maybe horror. There's a sinkhole of definitional abandon. Lord of the Rings is pure fantasy untinged with science fiction, but it sits in the same aisle in most stores, book and movie. Superhero movies are slotted in with science fiction films and both are genre films along with fantasy. Dystopian fiction got lumped in decades ago and can be either pure genre or literary. Literary f&sf is often referred to as "slipstream" and is as common as dirt in modern fiction, sometimes with acknowledgement to the genre and sometimes with hands-off abhorrence. And before the Golden Age, which started in the 1930s, nobody really thought as science fiction as anything but a specialized form of romance fiction, which then had the definition of adventure. Wells and Verne wrote scientific romances, not science fiction.

Is there a good reason to remove all the works that aren't pure marketed science fiction from a list of classics? I can't think of one. Doing so leads to blinkered ignorance, to my view. Remember that Fahrenheit 451 - mentioned by the OP - was not published as science fiction in hardback, even though its roots lay in genre magazines. Bradbury himself argued about it both ways over the years. A lot of f&sf genre writers didn't consider him part of the field after that. He was never a member of SFWA. The book emerged into public prominence because it was reprinted in Playboy. The original Galaxy novella was instantly forgotten outside the field. What good do it possibly do to exclude it?

There's a bitter saying in the field that outsiders define works by declaring, "if it's good, then it can't be sf." Why perpetuate that attitude here?
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  #32  
Old 07-11-2017, 04:10 PM
WordMan WordMan is online now
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No Octavia Butler yet? Her Xenogenesis series and Kindred amongst others are truly great.
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  #33  
Old 07-11-2017, 05:49 PM
Icerigger Icerigger is offline
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Icerigger Alan Dean Foster
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  #34  
Old 07-11-2017, 06:08 PM
Blue Blistering Barnacle Blue Blistering Barnacle is offline
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison.

And you need something by E.E. Smith, either Skylark of Space, the first of the Skylark series or Galactic Patrol, which is from the Lensman series.

Regards,
Shodan
For EE Doc Smith I would have suggested "Spacehounds of the IPC". Has all the flavor of the Lensman series, but it's a single stand alone book, AFAIK.
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Old 07-11-2017, 06:09 PM
Blue Blistering Barnacle Blue Blistering Barnacle is offline
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Icerigger Alan Dean Foster
I loved this book- great yarn!
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  #36  
Old 07-11-2017, 07:11 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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I'm gonna put in a plug for an anthology of short stories: Nebula Award Stories Number Two.

(I don't know if the link will work properly; it goes to an Amazon.com search.)

This little collection has some of the best ever. Jack Vance's "The Last Castle," "Call Him Lord" by Gordon Dickson (someone else wrote a novel as a sequel!) "Light of Other Days" by Bob Shaw, "Among the Hairy Earthmen" by R.A. Lafferty... This is a treasure house, and I challenge anyone to a death-match with marshmallows and bananas who doesn't find at least one story in here to admire hugely.

Also, dirt cheap. Best investment you'll ever make (until you go back in time and buy Microsoft at its IPO.)
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  #37  
Old 07-11-2017, 07:43 PM
beowulff beowulff is online now
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Since all the obvious ones have been mentioned, here are some less well known suggestions:

Doorways in the Sand (Roger Zelazny).
Tunnel in the Sky (Robert Heinlein)
Deathworld (Harry Harrison)
The Gods Themselves (Asimov)
Jack of Eagles and Black Easter (James Blish)
Riddley Walker (Russell Hoban)
Gun, with Occasional Music (Jonathan Lethem)
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  #38  
Old 07-11-2017, 08:22 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
And you need something by E.E. Smith, either Skylark of Space, the first of the Skylark series or Galactic Patrol, which is from the Lensman series.
I agree there.

Failing that, read anything written by Sybly Whyte before 1980.
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  #39  
Old 07-11-2017, 08:24 PM
silenus silenus is online now
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Anybody who suggests Chip Delany is not your friend. Just sayin'.
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  #40  
Old 07-11-2017, 08:39 PM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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Keep in mind that a past classic may be a classic because it was first to introduce x and is important historically, but x is common as dirt now and the style and writing skills have been far surpassed by modern writers. (This may be enlightening as to new views on classics.)
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  #41  
Old 07-11-2017, 09:33 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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I'm gonna put in a plug for an anthology of short stories: Nebula Award Stories Number Two.
The mid-to-late sixties were to sf what they were to rock music. The brilliance was not merely insanely widespread but insanely prolific.

If you picked any of the first five Nebula anthologies out of a hat you'd say it was the best ever, until you read another one. They're like Arrow's paradox. 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 > 1.
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  #42  
Old 07-11-2017, 09:47 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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A couple of questions for the OP...

1. What type of science fiction do YOU think about when you say "science fiction"? Starships and interstellar empires? Cyberpunk/Tron? End of world scenarios?

2. Do you want your writing modern, or is it OK if it's rather stilted?

3. How cutting edge do you need your science? Is it going to drive you batty when a serious work from 1969 gets cosmology wrong?

4. What do you like in non-SF literature/stories?

This may help our answers be more pointed towards your likes.
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  #43  
Old 07-12-2017, 09:31 PM
trapezoidal jellyfish trapezoidal jellyfish is offline
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Wow, I'm away for a day, and now I have a reading list to last me a year! Some of the books people have listed are ones I've actually read, but didn't think of when I started composing my list. A bunch of them are ones I've never even heard of, which is great! I will definitely try to get my hands on some of the short story anthologies that have been mentioned, as well.

Thudlow Boink, I'm intrigued by your idea that there are some books for which it's enough to know of them, without necessarily having read them. There are definitely some books I don't really have an interest in reading.
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  #44  
Old 07-12-2017, 09:47 PM
trapezoidal jellyfish trapezoidal jellyfish is offline
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Originally Posted by JohnT View Post
A couple of questions for the OP...

1. What type of science fiction do YOU think about when you say "science fiction"? Starships and interstellar empires? Cyberpunk/Tron? End of world scenarios?

2. Do you want your writing modern, or is it OK if it's rather stilted?

3. How cutting edge do you need your science? Is it going to drive you batty when a serious work from 1969 gets cosmology wrong?

4. What do you like in non-SF literature/stories?

This may help our answers be more pointed towards your likes.
Good questions!

1. I think of spaceships, robots, aliens, and maybe a little time travel as well. I don't necessarily think that's a good definition of the genre, though. My impressions are colored only by the books I've read, not by all of the science fiction that exists.

2. How broadly are you defining "modern?" I'm particularly interested in material from the 1950s and 1960s. Definitely still willing to read things from earlier or later.

3. Accuracy of the science doesn't really matter to me, unless it's egregiously implausible.

4. What I like in non-SF literature is well-developed characters and good dialogue. What I love about science fiction, though, is the exploration of different ideas and possibilities. I'm can ignore some flat characters or stilted dialogue if the book has an interesting premise.
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  #45  
Old 07-12-2017, 10:45 PM
E-DUB E-DUB is offline
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If you're willing to go a little more contemporary, I'd say throw something by Robert J. Sawyer in there. I won't recommend anything specific here, just peruse his offerings and grab one with an appealing subject.

Also on the whole "what is or isn't SF" I had a conversation with a bookseller when Carl Sagan's Novel "Contact" came out:

Me: "What's it about?"
Bookseller: "This woman scientist tries to contact aliens."
M "So it's Science Fiction?"
B "No."
M: "Why not?"
B: "Because it's written by Carl Sagan and he's not a science fiction writer."
M "He's a scientist, right?"
B "Yes"
M "And it's fiction, right?
B. "But it's not science fiction."

Well, you get the idea. She finally defaulted to authority saying that it wasn't SF because the publisher didn't classify it as such.
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  #46  
Old 07-12-2017, 11:15 PM
MoodIndigo1 MoodIndigo1 is offline
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Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
And here is a great list if those, compiled by fellow readers of another site I spend too much time on.
That list is excellent, thanks, even though there are a number of stories on the list that are horror or weird rather than SF.
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  #47  
Old 07-13-2017, 12:24 AM
outlierrn outlierrn is online now
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I've read, and would recommend, plenty of the above, but some primarily for their historical value, since science and society have moved on. Recently, though, I reread A Canticle for Liebowitz and it's held it up remarkably well.
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  #48  
Old 07-13-2017, 05:36 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
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I can't find any evidence that Cosmos wasn't sold as science fiction. These are the closest things I can find to reviews of the book at the time. Was the book really not sold as science fiction when it came out?:

https://books.google.com/books?id=DL...ion%3F&f=false

http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/08/10/bsp/5803.html
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  #49  
Old 07-13-2017, 05:44 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
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trapezoidal jellyfish writes:

> This was inspired by a conversation with someone who mentioned a book that he
> claimed was a science fiction classic, which I had never heard of.

What was that book?

Incidentally, you cannot possibly put together a list of 15 to 20 science fiction books for which there will be any general agreement that they are the classics of the field. At best, you may be able to put together a list of about a hundred books which nearly everyone will say includes nearly all their choices for the classics. Even then, they will say, "Yeah, but you missed a book which I think is among the classics."
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  #50  
Old 07-13-2017, 08:26 AM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Quote:
Quoth Wendell:

I can't find any evidence that Cosmos wasn't sold as science fiction.
Was that a typo, Cosmos for Contact?
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