What every well-read Science-Fiction fan should read-maybe. (very long!)

Ahem. May I suggest, for the benefit of the (un)discerning reader, The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke (Victor Gollancz, 2000)? Man, I love omnibus editions… Failing that, The Other Side of the Sky is possibly the most generally representative, Tales from the White Hart most fun (and generally fannish)?

Sheckley collection, um, The People Trap?

OK, I won’t mention D**** P****** again, I won’t even own up to being an Interzone subscriber… oops.

Doyle’s Lost World was probably more influential, but I’d put Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth there, too. Would Crichton’s Jurassic Park be worthy?

And I still say A Clockwork Orange belongs.

Fenris, you’re always forgetting about me at first :-(, and that hurts because you’re one of my favorite posters to read, and you love sci fi. However, I’ll forgive you because you do eventually respond, and I know it’s difficult to keep track of who posted what to a particular thread. I don’t see how you do it. Where do you find the time?

Anyway, Elliott’s books can stand on their own. I’d say if you had to add one, add the first Jaran.

Regarding short stories, Butler’s Bloodchild is a great choice. Nancy Kress’ Beggar’s Dozen is great. Also James H. Schmitz has made a significant contribution to the genre. In fact he’s most noted for his short sci fi stories. There’s a collection of outstanding stories by him that was re-released in the 1980s, but I forget the title and editor of that edition. His Telzey Amberdon and Trigger Argee stories have recently been edited and re-released by Eric Flint. Oh and Joan D. Vinge’s Eyes of Amber is a collection of wonderful short stories/novellas. The title story won the Hugo.

Regarding other works by Butler, I’d have to resuggest Kindred because it is an excellent exploration of America’s slave past from a 20th century perspective and Parable of the Talents because it won the 2000 Nebula, and it is outstanding writing.

Regarding Dark Matter, it is very recent. It was published in 2000.

Sorry if all this information is making your list longer. :slight_smile:


If you’re going on influence to the genre, I’m not sure how you ended up with To Say Nothing of the Dog ahead of The Doomsday Book. I haven’t seen imitative work based on either. I have given The Doomsday Book to non-SF readers with good results. Some of Connie’s best work is short fiction - maybe Impossible Things would be the way to go. It’s certainly more representative of the breadth of her style, and it includes “Last of the Winnebagos.”

Beggars in Spain is OK as a stand-alone, but it definitely makes you want to read the rest of them. For a good stand-alone novel by Kress, I’d go with Oaths and Miracles, although it’s not as deep as Beggars.

Fenris: I should makle clear that I’m pushing Delaney only because of his historical impact and because he was very representative of the New Wave folks, not because I’m a big fan. 'cuz I’m not :smiley: . I think Babel-17 is a solid choice :slight_smile: .

The Essential Ellison covers 1949 through the mid-80’s in about 1000 pages, including a dozen ( maybe ) of his most famous sf ( and vaguely sf ) pieces ( i.e. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, The Whimper of Whipped Dogs, A Boy and His Dog, Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes, Jefty is Five, "Repent Harlequin!"Said the Ticktockman, Grail, Life Hutch, The Deathbird, etc. ). However it also covers a wide variety of non-fiction essays as well, in fact probably as much or more non-fiction than fiction, which makes it problematical. However I don’t really know any other collections that include all the classics “under one roof”, as it were. I think you’d have to get at least two or three of the smaller volumes. So I’m inclined to recommend it.

Good point about Atwood - She was kinda snotty :smiley: . And I’m not a huge fan of the book myself, as I only made it about halfway through ( liked the premise, though ). But I think her impact has been more than fleeting. Like ( the much superior ) Flowers for Algernon she seems to have impressed a large body of non-regular sf fans. And I know a few sf people that love it. So I dunno :wink: .

Oh and I’m not familiar with Pringle. Someone actually liked one of Foster’s hack novelizations? Yechh. I’ve actually read quite a bit of Foster ( pretty hard not to, really - He takes up a lot of shelf-space at the used bookstores :smiley: ). He can be fun, if a little lightweight. But every novelization of his ( or movie/TV tie-in ) I’ve got within sniffing distance has stank to high heaven.

I’ll think about Sturgeon. I know I’ve got an older collection somewhere.

  • Tamerlane

Happy to oblige, but first some thoughts about the later posting requesting a representative short story collection of Sturgeon. Here is the best listing of Sturgeon’s work I can find and damned if it’s easy to pick one - he simply wrote too many good ones over too many years. The one that comes the closest for me is the next to the last one “Selected Stories of Theodore Sturgeon” which includes the classic “It” plus the incredibly moving “Thunder and Roses”, the chilling “Bianca’s Hands”, not to mention “A Way of Thinking” whose reverse cause-and-effect thinking comes in handy in brainstorming sessions, and my all time favorite “Slow Sculpture.”

Of course, it leaves out “A Saucer of Lonliness” (somewhere Spider Robinson has commented on the powerful effects of that story), “Microcosmic God”, “If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister” (James Gunn said that it was Ted’s own favorite of all his works) and the landmark “Baby is Three”…so you see how difficult it is.

Now to the quibbles, in no particular order:

For Bujold, my favorite is “Borders of Infinity” even though it’s made up of linked stories rather than a novel, it seems to capture for me both the noblesse oblige built into the culture, and the coming of age theme.

Do we really need Vonnegut? Yes, I know he’s had more acceptance in popular culture than a lot of much better writers, but I found his work a read-it-once proposition, displaying a surface facility but without real depth.(Perhaps the flip side of that is depth without approachability - see Dhalgren.)

Glad to see **Vernor Vinge ** in there. I have “True Names” as part of a “Binary Star” paperback (shades of the old Ace doubles, though they didn’t print half of it upside down with its own cover).

Um, have to question the inclusion of “Hyperion,” which was a throw-it-across-the-room-damn-I-wasted-money-on-this experience for me. I really wanted to like it because we can’t have too many good new SF authors but I found it both pretentious and poorly written. Maybe it’s just me, though, because that doesn’t seem to be a popular view.

I heartily second bashere’s nomination of Shockwave Rider which is much more accessible than “Stand on Zanzibar”, IMO, and a lot of fun as well. (For an interesting comparison, read it next to Zelazny & Saberhagen’s “Coils”)

You haven’t read the Nicholas Van Rijn stories? Hoo hah, do you have some fun coming. He is a broadly drawn Falstaffian character who plays the loud buffoon, but is really a trader with shrewd insight. Much fun and some great “problem solving” stories. By the way, I would almost put in Operation Chaos just as a personal favorite, though I’d have to say that would be on the fantasy side. Tau Zero is just about as hard as hard SF gets, but I didn’t find the characterizations as well done as most of his work.

Got to crank up for work now - more to come


Yes, I forgot about those! I was just reading #3 in bed last night. I have the twelve from 1938 through 1950, and I thought that was all there were. I’ll have to start looking for the later ones. Yes, Bradbury is conspicuous in his absence. Heinlein was intended to be included but publishing rights were not obtainable.

Question, are you looking at authors that influenced the writing styles of other writers , or authors that influence the public to become interested **in ** the genre? Those are two different things, and while I don’t have any to add to the list if you’re looking for the former, if you’re also including the latter, I personally think it would be a shame to not include Edward Stratemeyer.

While he didn’t write every book personally, he is the person responsible for an entire genre of books that led young readers to become interested in …well…reading. The Hardy boys, Tom Swift, Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins all were series that he developed, and commissioned to be written. Because if the methods that he used to write so many books, it’s impossible to find the actual real authors of many of these books, the driving force behind them all was him. Still, if you’re looking for an author that influenced fiction (and with Tom Swift, science fiction) from the perspective of the audience and readers, I nominate him. Although most of the original stories were written for the teen-age audience, I know I was reading the Tom Swift books at 7 or so…and those books gave me a love of reading, especially science fiction.

For more information about him, check out this site:

I have to agree with almost everything you’ve already got.

But in the sake of completeness, I’d add Lawrence Watt-Evans’s Why I left Harry’s all-night Hamburger Joint. (It’s in a collection called Crosstime Traffic, I think.) He nails the whole time travel-alternate earth genre.

celestina: (see, I answered you first! :wink: ):
Maybe on Elliott. I’m seriously considering pulling the “self-indugent choices” ones out and sticking them on as an addendum. If so, it’ll go there. I’m not sure she’s “important” enough yet.

Schmitz, wonderful though he is, he just isn’t quite influential enough. (<sob>Neither’s Laumer. I really, REALLY wanted Laumer). When Flint did his reissue, the biggest flame-war I’ve ever seen erupted on rec.arts.sf.written over his edits (which, while mostly harmless, I still don’t agree with).

Maybe I’ll swap Eyes of Amber for Snow Queen. Whatdaya think? For Butler, I think one of her books is enough for the list (but if I add the “self-indulgent”/extra-credit section, I’ll toss a couple more of your Butler suggestions in, and I like the story collection idea.

Steve: Collected Stories of AC Clarke may be in. I’m having some minor second thoughts about ALL omnibus editions though. (I love 'em too, but if we’re honest, you don’t have to read ALL of an author’s short stories to be familiar with the author.)

People Trap is a good choice.

And, all kidding aside, Pringle has the one important mark of a good reviewer: he’s consistant.

don Jaimie: I’ll reconsider Clockwork Orange. I think you’re right about Verne over Doyle. And I hadn’t thought of Jurassic Park. I’ll probably include it.

ENugent: I ended up with Nothing of the Dog because I did about half the list from memory and I knew that Willis had to be included, and I loved Nothing. Nothing stands out in one way: It’s the first intentionally funny novel to win the Hugo. (the unfortunate The Wanderer by the usually magnificent Fritz Leiber with it’s “interracial weedbrothers” is the first unintentionally funny Hugo-winner). But your reasoning for Impossible Things is impeccable. I dunno.

Tamerlane: Babel 17 it is, then. Like I said to Steve above, I’m having some second thoughts about Omnibus editions. If I choose no, what about…ohhh…Deathbird Stories?

Hometownboy: There’s a wonderful series listed on that page of hardcovers reprinting ALL of Sturgeon’s short stories, in order, with historical notes. They’re up to Vol. 7. Beautiful packages and great stories!. That said, I’m not going to put a (10?) multi-volume set on the list, so I think that your Selected Stories is a great choice (Even if it leaves out “Microcosmic God” and one of my favorites, silly though it is: “Ether Breather”).

Borders is a great choice and I’ll put it in.

Vonnegut? <sigh> Yeah. I think we need one by him. He was too important for a while to ignore.

You have the Binary Stars edition of “True Names” (backed with “Nightflyers” by Martin)!!! Do you know how much that thing is wor…um…<nonchalantly> soooo, would you be interested in selling that paperback? :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: (Kidding aside, it’s probably worth about $60.00)

Hyperion is included because A) A lot of people loved it, B) It won the Hugo, C) the “Canterbury Tales” format was unusual and D) I loved the Scholar’s Tale. I hated the non-ending though, enough that I’ve never made it to the sequel.

Shockwave Rider is in, then.

With the Van Rijn stuff: I’ve got 'em all, but I’ve never gotten around to them somehow.

I’m leaning towards Brainwave as the Anderson pick though.


Did we reach any conclusions on Philip Dick? Surely we have to have something; after all, he’s one of the few who are recognised as “real” writers by people outside the genre… Someone went for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and someone else for Ubik, which I would agree is the better choice of the two… but what about Valis, which is about as quintessentially Dickian as you get? Or its sort-of sequel, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, which I like a lot, except I’m not 100% sure it’s actually, well, SF, sorta thing… See what I mean? He’s an author who provokes questions.

Nope, no conclusions reached. I don’t think The Man in the High Castle was all that “Dickian”, and <ashamed> [sub]that’s the only novel of his that I’ve read[/sub]. I’ve currently got Do Androids… sitting in his ‘slot’ on the list, but I’m happy to change it if there’s a consensus among Dick fans.

<ashamed> When I was younger, I used to snicker over Dick and Moorcock’s names. Aaaah, to be a pre-teen again.


SIXTY CLAMS! I hate to tell you that I paid 50 cents in a used book store in my small town, but that was long after it was out of print. I had ignored the Binary Stars until someone (Spider Robinson, I think) mentioned that this one was worth reading, and by golly it was, even if I already had the Martin yarn.

Hmmmm, Westerconis only a few weeks away, and I wangled a press pass AND a photographer’s pass, and there will be plenty of huckster’s tables…

I’m afraid I’m only marginally aware of book values; much more interested in story content. Oh, I was aware that my Vance “Dying Earth” was worth a bit, even in paperback, and somewhere Niven has talked about the original edition of “Ringworld,” in which he makes a big mistake in his physics is worth a few coins, but that’s about it.
That said, I’ll agree with “Brainwave” for Anderson, though I could just as happily go with any one of a half dozen others…

And based on your good taste, I’ll give “Hyperion” another try some time. Perhaps it was just my mood.

Fenris Yeah, I noticed the Dhalgren convresation about two seconds after I hit submit. I’ve still go the palm imprint on my forehead.

I don’t think Slow River won a Nebula, but it did win a Lambda. If Lethem is still too new, I’d say Griffin is, too.

About Atwood: I think you’re underestimating the impact she had. Heck, they teach Handmaid in colleges. And if you’re going to bar her for her anti-sf sentiments, you’re going to have to jettison Vonnegut, too.

I vote for DADES for the Dick* choice, and vote against any inclusion of Crichton. He doesn’t write sf, he writes anti-sf. All of books are, at their root, about the fear of science and technology, which I think is contrary to the spirit of the genre. Plus, the guy’s a talentless hack. Still, if you have to have him, I’d select Sphere over Jurassic Park.

I’d also pick Deathbird over The Essential Ellison. EE is a bit too encycolpediac. It’s almost a reference book. Besides, it’s too damn big to read comfortably.
*I used to frequent another board that had censoring software. Made talking about PKD very frustrating.

I can’t add to your list, but I would like to add an Amen right here to this sentence. I read a synopsis of the novel in Compressed Classics 3 and was sick to my stomach over the filler that has apparently been added to the story. The short story is one of the few cultural works that will get me every time.


Yeah, but I like it. On the other hand it’s the only of Clarke’s works, save The Sentenel that I’ve ever been able to finish. (2001, 2010, 3001, Rendezvous at Rama…ye GODS…Boooooring)

Well…honestly PM only went across (and off) the Kitchen table. Farnham’s Freehold, on the other hand, really DID fly all the way across the room. I just hated every single one of the characters.


Nope. But I’ll have to check it out. Much as I adore CE that sounds amusing. (Well, hey…I’ll probably like it more because of that…)

(I see we agree that ST should stay if only because FW gains something from contrasting the two.)

Atrael: Curse you. You’re forcing me to give up my beloved L. Frank Baum Book by being right. (The Master Key is loads of fun, but, let’s face it: it’s completely forgotten, even if it did preceed the Tom Swift books by about 10 years. Consider a Tom Swift book in.

Barbarian: Lawerence Watt-Evans is great (and I loved Crosstime Traffic (but Denner’s Wreck was even better), but I don’t think he’s influential enough yet. If I do that “extra” section, I’m putting a couple by him on.

Hometownboy: Regarding Hyperion: Just read “The Scholar’s Tale”, I wasn’t that overwhelmed by the rest of the book, but that section is magic.

Miller: Atwood was popular outside the genre, but her book is just another example of the “My political opponents are monsters: just watch what would happen if they were in charge!” genre. Let’s face it, she’s the anti-Pournelle :smiley:

Cricton: Jurassic Park sparked about a half-dozen knock-off books, but a friend just mentioned that the fossil DNA idea wasn’t original to him, so I’m suddenly far less impressed.

DADES is winning the PKD vote easily, and pending a convincing anti-DADES arguement, it’s on. (I don’t have much of an opinion, so…)

Regarding Omnibus editions, I’ve decided “No” on all of them, mainly because they do tend to be too encyclopediac.
I’ll probably post version 2.0 of the list later today for discussion.


Fenris: Well I just don’t know about Deathbird Stories. It’s a fine collection, but as I recall, it doesn’t include many of the older sf classics I would consider essential reading. Instead ( and I may be misremembering, my copy is buried somewhere ), I think it is heavier on the horror and fantasy side. I’m very fond of Stalking the Nightmare, but it suffers from the same problem. Probably the best coverage would be one of the older out-of-print collections. I believe there’s one called I Have No Mouth and I Mst Scream, and Other Stories that might be better ( I think it includes Life Hutch and "Repent Harlequin… ). But I’m not sure how consumer friendly you want to make this list :smiley: . Barring other suggestions maybe you could use Deathbird Stories* as a place-holder. And I feel pretty strongly that A Boy and His Dog should be included, somehow. I think it may have even been published as a stand-alone novella.

Speaking of stand-alone novellas, how about Jack Vance’s award-winning The Dragonmasters. I loved that story and it is probably more reflective of his talent than the planet of Adventure books. Also it continues to have some relevance vis-a-vis the current hubbub about genetic engineering :wink: .

On another front, I’ll make a tentative proposal of Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time. It was a Hugo winner in the late 50’s, I think. And Leiber should have a spot. Even though he’s better known as a fantasist, his sf was extremely influential.

An even more tentative proposal - Clifford Simak’s Waystation?

  • Tamerlane

A few more possibilities for your consideration:

Andre Norton who wrote lots of fantasies but had some great hard SF series as well. I devoured her work as a kid in the 60s (right after Heinlein) and still get a hoot out of “The Stars are Ours” and “Star Born” as well as the Ross Murdock series (“Time Traders”, “Galactic Derelict”, etc.), Hosteen Storm series (“Beast Master”, “Lord of Thunder”), the Janus series, the Solar Queen series and others. Much of her stuff tends to get dismissed as juveniles, but they are damn good juveniles well worth an adult read and that’s rare enough.

Gordon Dickson The Dorsai saga, not only was an event in itself, but may have been the inspiration for a host of stellar combat books from David Drake on

Marion Zimmer Bradley Yes, most of the Darkover stuff feels like fantasy, what with the feudal society setup and all that swordplay but the Comyn powers are based on “psi” and the tension between the Terran and Darkovan cultures is explored to the hilt. Ever since the Ace Double “Sword of Aldones” I’ve been hooked. (Come to think of it, it was another Ace Double “The Genetic General” that turned me on to Dickson)


Oh and one more - A.E. Van Vogt?

I have a sneaking affection for The War Against the Rull ( in fact that’s probably the only one I have much affection for ), but Slan, The Weapon Shops of Isher, or The World of Null-A, would all be better choices from a historical perspective.

  • Tamerlane