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Old 01-28-2005, 10:40 AM
G.B.H. Hornswoggler G.B.H. Hornswoggler is offline
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Suburbia, NJ
Posts: 932
Where's the love for Ralph 124C41+? What a shameful omission...

But, more seriously, I'd probably go with The Stars My Destination. It still feels amazingly modern, fifty years later, and it's a great showcase for all of the things SF can do well -- new societies, intruiging ideas, good characterization, literary pyrotechnics -- and wraps that all up in a compelling plot that perfectly fills what now looks like a quite short book.

Dune is an excellent novel, but I wouldn't recommend it for precisely the reasons some others have been reccommending it -- it doesn't need to be SF, and the SF furniture is mostly maguffins or silly. (For a book that supposedly launched a thousand ecologists, it's remarkably dumb on its "one climate per planet" thinking, which is straight out of Planet Stories.)

The Mote in God's Eye is also a good book, but I wonder if it would appeal to non-SF readers -- maybe it could be a gateway drug for readers of Patrick O'Brian, though. (It's also the second-best Heinlein novel not written by Heinlein, after Alexei Panshin's Rite of Passage.)
Not just a wiseacre, a highly-paid professional wiseacre.