Suggest some awesome science fiction books

I’m about to go on a trip and I need a few new books. I want to start reading some science fiction and need suggestions.

First of all, I haven’t ever read any sci-fi books, so I’m interested in your thoughts about the best all-time, must-read sci-fi books that a “beginner” should read. Also, I’m especially interested in post-apocalyptic themes and/or stories that involve humans on earth in either current times or the near future… also stories dealing with interesting technological advances that take place in the near future, and how society deals with them.

I’m not really as interested in stories about alternate/fantasy worlds or aliens/outer space travel. Although if you know of a really good one, all suggestions are welcome.

And finally, if you just want to share your top 5 or 10 all-time favorite or must-read sci-fi books, regardless of theme, please do so!

Thanks in advance for your suggestions, I can’t wait!!

Dragon’s Egg by Robert Forward.


I predict a really long thread.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein is probably my favorite book that fits your description.

I see that you’re not really interested in fantasy worlds with aliens and outer space travel unless we know of a really good one. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams is a really good one.

“Liege Killer” by Christopher Hinz.

Post-apocalypse, not too far in the future (2199, I think). Good politics and action.


Rendevous with Rama by Arthhur C. Clarke

*The Man In The High Castle *or *Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep *by Philip K Dick.

Easy reads, great books.

Perhaps Huxley’s Brave New World.

Jeez, there are so many my head will explode.

A Canticle for Liebowitz*, by Walter M. Miller.

It LOOKS like it’s still in print.

*post-apocalyptic novel

Hunter’s Run by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. It’s a good jumping off place for someone new to SF. It’s not too alien, it has lots of action (along with some sex and violence), but it manages to be thoughtful too. What happens when humans get to other planets and we’re not top dog. There’s a cool twist too.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. A Jesuit expedition to another planet – mankind’s first alien contact.

Eifelheim by Michael Flynn. Scientists researching the disappearance of a Bavarian village in 1348 discover that it was visited by aliens. It sounds silly, but it’s not, not at all.

Footfall - Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress; Double Star; Farmer In The Sky; Friday - Robert Heinlein

Taking a slightly different approach, and guessing that some knowledgeable folk will probably suggest many solid (and well worth reading) classics, I thought I’d suggest a few more recent authors I’ve enjoyed recently.

English author Richard K Morgan is the first, particularly his dystopian near-future novels Market Forces and Black Man (published in the US as Thirteen). You may also enjoy his Takeshi Kovacs novels (named for the main character), Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, and Woken Furies, which although set further future are very human-based, (space and aliens are more minor themes), with a strong “noir” feeling.

Slightly further out, but again with very human themes, are some of Jack McDevitt’s novels, particularly his Alex Benedict books (A Talent for War, Polaris, and Seeker… so far). McDevitt’s themes in these (fairly far future) stories are around archaeology, so set far in the future and digging up the past (still our future). His other main series, (called the Academy Series or the Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins series) is more around xeno-archaeology, but shares some similar characteristics.

John Scalzi is third, his Old Man’s War being reminiscent of both Heinlein and Haldeman (though it definitely does involve space and aliens), and I was caught from the opening line: “I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.” The sequels were also enjoyable, and I’m currently enjoying his (unrelated) novel The Android’s Dream.

Last, though certainly not least, is another English author Neal Asher. His Polity universe novels, both the Ian Cormac and Spatterjay books, are set far, far future, and definitely involve space and aliens (although not intelligent aliens to a great degree), but are great reads nonetheless, and have strong themes around what it is to be human, particularly in a high tech environment where there are artificial intelligences, augmented humans, human/AI hybrids, ex-human consciousnesses in robotic bodies, etc.

A couple of dystopia novels I enjoyed:

Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut

and a YA novel that goes firmly under the heading of ‘great books I’ll never read again because they broke my heart’
Feed by M.T. Anderson

Try Red Thunder by John Varley. A lighthearted romp in the style of Heinlein’s early work. Four college dropouts and an alcoholic ex-NASA ex-pilot go to Mars.

I’ll second or third The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Double Star, by Robert Heinlein.

H. Beam Piper had a future history as extensive as Heinlein’s, and out of it I’d recommend, for an easy beginning, Little Fuzzy. It takes place on a colonized planet, and deals with what happens when it’s discovered that a sentient race already inhabits the place. If you can’t find a copy(it’s out of print) I have an extra and would be happy to send it to you free. I really like Piper, and this book is a good intro to his stuff.

I’ll fourth “Moon Is A Harsh Mistress”. GREAT book.

I really recommend Amnesia Moon. The setting is an apocalyptic near-future. And the novel really stuck with me even after finishing it. I remember people-watching at a restaurant and thinking ‘Oh that’s what he meant!’

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is the best SF novel I know of, but the real strength of the genre isn’t in the novel format, but the short story. I would recommend picking up a volume (any volume) of Hugo award winners. That way, you’re looking at the cream of the crop (the Hugos are in general much better than any of the other SF awards), and you have a broad sampling of different authors. If you like a particular story, you know to keep an eye out for that author in the future, and if you don’t like it, the next story is only a few pages away.

For my money, the best SF short story ever is “Inconstant Moon”, by Larry Niven. It won the Hugo in 1972 (and may be found in The Hugo Winners, Vol. III), and sounds like it’d be right up your alley.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. (There are a bunch of sequels that are hit-and-miss, but Ender’s Game is awesome)

Agree about short fiction. Pick up one of Gardner Dozois’ “Year’s best” anthologies. He picks great stories, not all of which will be to your taste, but almost all of which are very well written.

You and me, both, my friend. I like him so much I once formed a band called ‘The Beam Pipers’. You gotta admit it makes a good name.

Let me toss ‘Earth’ by David Brin into the mix. Not post-apocalyptic but a near future ‘let’s deal with technology’ story with all sorts of oddball twists and turns.

Wow, you guys are great! I’m printing out a list of the suggested books tomorrow and going to the book store. I will also make sure to report back to this thread after I’m done reading to give you my review. :smiley: