I am really liking reading this sci/fi from off the beaten path. What sci/fi books have you liked that you don’t hear getting mentioned that often. Yes, Asimov, Heinlein, and Herbert were great, but I am looking for the stuff that was good but usually looked over, i.e. John Christopher’s Tripods, John Wyndham’s Triffids, etc.
I really liked The Man Who Never Missed by Steve Perry.
Most folks don’t remember the work of Cordwainer Smith, author of “Scanners Live in Vain!”. Great vintage sci-fi - he is highly respected. I strongly recommend finding a collection of his fiction…
More towards fantasy but still well worth the read:
William Hope Hodgeson[ul]The House on the Borderland
Good fantasy and horror woven into a bit of astronomy as well. One of his stories appeared in an Alfred Hitchcock compilation of, “Stories They Wouldn’t Let Me Do On Television.” Any of Hodgeson’s work is worth examining.[/ul]
Clark Ashton Smith[ul]The City of the Singing Flame
This Californian’s first novel is still a stand out classic. Admired by the grand daddy of horror himself, HP Lovecraft, Smith is second to none at weaving tales laced with horrific overtones.[/ul]
Edmund Hamilton[ul]Planets in Peril
This seminal science fiction writer was well ahead of his time and certainly writes an interesting tale. Definitely worth looking for. A founding father of the genre.[/ul]
Dammit, WordMan beat me to Smith! Hardly anybody remembers his stuff, but he’s one of the greats. “Scanners” is a good example of his early SF, and he got better from there. I think the main reason he didn’t have more influence is that no other writers were up to even a pale imitation.
In a different vein, check out Hal Clement. His human characters tend to be a little wooden, but the environments carry you along, and I really like the captain (Barlennan, IIRC) from Mission of Gravity and the sequel Star Light.
Dmitri Bilenkin had a bunch of his short stories collected as The Uncertainty Principle. Is Russian literature which is also the SF short too much to hope for? Not in this case. Some brilliant stuff.
Keith Laumer, of course. The “Retief” stories, & Dinosaur Beach.
Michael Bishop, though some of his best stuff isn’t science fiction, so much as just odd interesting stories.
Among my dad’s musty old SF collection, I found a book of short stories by A. E. Van Vogt. I was not really a fan at the time, but I read this book several times over. He’s not one that I hear mentioned often.
I recommend the Sime~Gen series by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah. Originally published in the 70s and 80s, it’s starting to enjoy a resurgence now that the authors have found a new publisher, and new books will be coming out in the next couple of years. A reprinted series, “The Unity Trilogy,” collects three of the best: “House of Zeor,” “Ambrov Keon,” and “Zelerod’s Doom.” The series is more fantasy sf than hard sf, though some of the later stories deal with space travel.
A fine book–a series of short stories, actually.
One of the kindest, most humane science-fiction series ever written.
Geez – have we reached the point where Hal Clement and Cordwainer Smith are actually considered “little known”? These guys are the giants of the genre!
I’d second both, nd recommend getting either The Best of Cordwainer Smith and The Rediscovery of Man (I guess they didn’t want to call it “The Second-Best of Cordwainer Smith”), which collects most of his short fiction, along with Norstilia, his major novel. They all form a continuos “future history”. All of this has also been published more recently by the New England Science Fiction Society, as well. Smith reminds me a lot of mystery writer Robert Hans Van Gulik – both were Western diplomats in pre-Communist China who wrote fiction in their spare time.
Hal Clement wrote a helluva lot of classic SF, and it’s unfortunately not in print anymore. Get [BMision of Gravity** (and its lesser-known sequel, Starlight), and Needle (with its little-known sequel, Through the Eye of a Needle.) I’d also recomend the anthologies The Best of Hal Clement and Natives of Space.
Clifford Simak’s Way Station.
It was the first thing I read by him, and it was brilliant. Unfortunately, most of the rest of his work didn’t stand up to the standard set here. Some did, but not most. IMHO.
Alfred Bester; “The Demolished Man”
How about John Brunner’s ‘The Sheep Look Up’ and ‘Stand on Zanzibar’? Brunner should be pretty well known, plus he’s fairly prolific. These two novels are my favorites by him.
I’ll second Van Vogt, especially the Weapon Shops books and The Voyage of the Space Beagle.
Zelazney for SF that slides over into fantasy. Lord of Light is one of my absolute favorites.
E. E. “Doc” Smith for space opera–he’s the best at it. Look for anything that says Lensman on it.
The Berserker series from Saberhagen is very good.
And if you’d like to try something more recent than Triffids, try Larry Niven, John Varley, David Brin…and if you want more suggestions, we’ve got 'em.
Some little known but good romps from the old days:
Eric Frank Russell – Sinister Barrier –Here’s a review
George O. Smith – Highways In Hiding – two competing bands of supermen, one biological and one mechanical in origin, secretly struggle for control of the world
James Blish – Jack of Eagles – Quantum physics helps an esper become a mega-super-esper
A. E. van Vogt – Voyage of the Space Beagle – See how many of his plots got copied by others.
Andre Norton – Sargasso of Space and The Last Planet (these are hard SF don’t be fooled by Norton’s turn to fantasy in later life)
If you want a good survey that’ll lead you to fun reads of obscure authors, try Brian Aldiss’ anthology “Billion Year Spree.” And most anthologies by Groff Conklin are pretty damn good.
I’ll strongly recommend Fredric Brown. (Yes, that’s the correct spelling of his first name.) I have three of his SF books:
Martians, Go Home - The Martians have invaded, and they’re obnoxious little green men. Possibly the funniest SF comedy novel I’ve ever read.
What Mad Universe - An outstanding alternate realities novel.
The Best of Fredric Brown - His excellent short stories.
He also wrote in other genres; I have a copy of his murder mystery novel Night of the Jabberwock.
I’ll agree with Fredri Brown. His short fiction – sf and fantasy – is excellent, but damned hard to come by – it too m a long time to find What Mad Universe. If you can, dig up The Light in the Sky are Stars – excellent, but unlke FB’ds other stuff.
If you read his myster fiction (whch is also great), don’t miss The Fabulous Clipjoint. We’ve discussed it before on these Boards, and it won him an Edgar.
Again, though, it’s sad if Fredric Brown is now considered “obscure”.
H. Beam Piper, many, many titles, but try Little Fuzzy(plus it’s two sequels), and Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, to get started. The latter title includes characters from his Paratime Police series. One of my top five favorite science-fiction short stories is Piper’s “He Walked Around the Horses” The signature that ends the story is one of the funniest, (or most ironic, take your pick), I ever read.
Beat me to H. Beam Piper, Baker. The Fuzzy books are great. Good examination of the intersection of corporate interest and native life/civilization in the first book, and a deeper look at the ways that an advanced civilization (human) coexists with a more primitive one in the latter books.
My favorite current author is Stephen Baxter. He writes good hard science, with an unusually long view. A lot of his books try to imagine what would happen to the descendents of the human race when the universe itself dies its heat death.