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sci fi and me

I was reading an author's blog, and he mentioned that Frederick Pohl ("one of sci fi's living legends") now has a blog... It's a sad statement about me, I think, that the reason I recognized his name as that of a sci-fi author, is that the EECS cluster at MIT had a workstation named after him back in the day.

As a sci-fi geek, I'm pretty mass-media bound. I think I'll resolve to read classic sci-fi novels that I haven't already read, one a month in 2009. Suggestions?

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( 79 comments — Leave a comment )
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readsalot
Jan. 21st, 2009 01:10 am (UTC)
Not novels, but a good way to read classic stories: The Hugo Winners, edited by Isaac Asimov, and The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, edited by Ben Bova. Both come in several volumes, and both have lots of good stuff. They're also a good way to sample a bunch of different writers from earlier periods.

In earlier years, most new stories were published in magazines; many novels were originally serialized in magazines before being published in stand-alone form, and others were expanded from shorter versions. For example, the Foundation trilogy is really a compilation of a bunch of related stories, and Dune was originally serialized in Analog. Ender's Game was originally a novelette, published in Analog (and I think that that version was better than the novel.)

A warning: I will note that Asimov's fiction writing style is not that great. My sister-in-law read the Foundation trilogy because my brother kind of forced it on her, and was convinced for years afterward that all SF writing must be bad.
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(no subject) - tirianmal - Jan. 21st, 2009 01:41 am (UTC) - Expand
Asimov's 'repeat key' - ext_33407 - Jan. 21st, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Asimov's 'repeat key' - tirianmal - Jan. 21st, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jbsegal - Feb. 8th, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crs - Feb. 8th, 2009 04:52 am (UTC) - Expand
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crs
Feb. 8th, 2009 04:46 am (UTC)
I seem to recall reading The Martian Chronicles long, long ago... and I don't remember anthing else about it.

Isn't "Electric Sheep" a short story?
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kvarko
Jan. 21st, 2009 01:49 am (UTC)
I've not read Arthur C. Clarke's _Rendezvous With Rama_, but it strikes me as one of those classics up there with the others people have mentioned.

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(no subject) - kvarko - Jan. 22nd, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crs - Feb. 8th, 2009 04:47 am (UTC) - Expand
jencallisto
Jan. 21st, 2009 02:04 am (UTC)
My votes, irrespective of others' suggestions (of which many are awesome) and without trying to predict what you've already read (and also with a possibly-wonky idea of "classic"):

George Orwell, 1984 (1949) (one of my favorite near-future dystopia novels; changed my life)

James Schmitz, The Witches of Karres (1949) (an early space opera and extremely fun romp)

Isaac Asimov, Foundation (1951) (I got stuck midway through book 2, but the first one is very interesting, and a true classic)

Walter Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959) (in my mind, the post-apocalypse novel; absolutely incredible)

Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time (1962) (*grin* Children's books, represent!)

Arthur C. Clarke, Rendezvous with Rama (1972) (one of the first adult hard sf novels I ever read, a classic of the hard-science space exploration genre)

Tanith Lee, Biting the Sun (1976-77) (gorgeous and unusual)

Joan D. Vinge, The Snow Queen (1980)

William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984) (oddly, I didn't even enjoy this book that much, but it was very useful to have read)

Margaret Atwood, A Handmaid's Tale (1985) (my other dystopian near-future SF novel)

Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game (1985) (I'd be surprised if you haven't read this one -- if you haven't, move it to the top of your list!)

Pat Cadigan, Mindplayers (1987) (seminal cyberpunk, transformative -- a key link between Gibson and Stephenson, I'd argue)

C.J. Cherryh, Cyteen (1988) (this short trilogy is incredible)

Connie Willis, Doomsday Book (1992) (A unique and moving novel about time travel and humanity and history)

Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash (1992) or The Diamond Age (1995) (I would consider these cyberpunk/post-cyberpunk classics, but ymmv)

I don't have specific novels to recommend, but you might consider Doris Lessing or Andre Norton if you wanted more classic-era female sf authors on the list.

There are also a few things I haven't actually personally read that I'm pretty sure should be on the list:

John Wyndham, Day of the Triffids (1951)
Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966)
Ursula K. LeGuin, Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
Larry Niven, Ringworld (1970) or The Mote in God's Eye (1974, with Jerry Pournelle)
Harlan Ellison, Deathbird Stories (1975) (well, this is actually a short story collection, and I've read bits of it, but still)

Edited at 2009-01-21 02:06 am (UTC)
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(no subject) - jencallisto - Jan. 21st, 2009 10:03 am (UTC) - Expand
crs
Feb. 8th, 2009 04:59 am (UTC)
I did love those L'Engle books as a kid. Tesseracts!

I've read several of these, 1984, Foundation, Wrinkle, Handmaid's Tale, Ender's Game (Yes, this was awesome!), Snow Crash, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (another that made me question the Heinlein cult), Ringworld and Mote in God's Eye both (both awesome).

Some of these already have gone on the list... and this recommendation informs the choice of which Cherryh goes on the list. And, I think, Doomsday Book, if only because Connie Willis has written a book called To Say Nothing of the Dog. :)

Pat Cadigan, you say. That joins John Brunner's "The Shockwave Rider" I think.
(no subject) - jencallisto - Feb. 10th, 2009 08:48 am (UTC) - Expand
abce
Jan. 21st, 2009 04:40 am (UTC)
Robert L. Forward. Dragon's Egg ("a textbook on neutron star physics disguised as a novel") and Camelot 30K. Truly amazing stuff.
crs
Feb. 8th, 2009 05:00 am (UTC)
Huh. Ok, you and gentlescholar agree on something, that has to be a good sign. Dragon's Egg goes on the list.
rifmeister
Jan. 21st, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC)
It's more classic fantasy than classic sci-fi, but if you haven't read Jack Vance's Tales of the Dying Earth, you totally have to.
crs
Feb. 8th, 2009 05:01 am (UTC)
Mmm, I do need to read those at some point. If only for their influence on D&D :)
(no subject) - rifmeister - Feb. 8th, 2009 05:41 am (UTC) - Expand
yakshaver
Feb. 8th, 2009 05:07 am (UTC)
Hey. I got a reply from you today to my comment, but you seem to have subsequently deleted your reply. I just want to point out that when I said Glory Road, that was a braino: I meant Starship Troopers. Unless you're a hardcore Heinlein fan or a sixteen-year-old boy (the latter was my excuse), you probably don't want to bother with Glory Road. Sorry for the confusion.
crs
Feb. 8th, 2009 05:15 am (UTC)
I've alread read, and enjoyed, Starship Troopers. :) Ok, readjusting the list...
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