In the first book, A Long Way to Small, Lonely Planet, a group of friends live and work on a space ship. The characters were instantly likeable – if you work in tech you’ve probably met a few of them. I nicknamed a few of them after people I know.
What scifi book would you recommend to a non-scifi reader? Catch: It has to be one I haven’t read. (For a book group.)
— Stormy (@storming) May 17, 2013
I asked on Twitter and Facebook and it started a lively debate. Add your thoughts below!
Here were the most recommended and discussed books:
- Ender’s Game is a classic that has probably been read by almost all scifi fans. Jan Nieuwenhuizen, Filip Hanik, Jon Lotz and Debbie Moynihan all recommended it. As Debbie pointed out, it will be a movie this year too and will likely be read by a much wider audience. The government is recruiting children to be part of their army. They are trained together and play mock battles. The main character, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, is a child genius who struggles growing up in a school for soldiers – growing up with a bunch of other kids can be lonely.
- Iain Bank’s books were highly recommend and they were by far the most discussed books. Debate was around which of the books was the best to start with: The Player of Games, Use of Weapons or Consider Phlebas. Sean Kerner, Emmanuele Bassi, Ross Burton, Luis Villa and Hubert Figuière all participated in the discussion. I think my book group should thank Havoc Pennington though. He said “as long as
storming knows it’s likely to be the most revolting thing anyone’s ever read” made me rethink Iain Bank as a book club recommendation. I did add his books to my own wishlist though.
- Old Man’s War by John Scalzi was recommended by Laura Dragan and Emmanuele Bassi. This military sci fi book is really about humanity. The 75 year old protagonist signs up for the military in exchange for a new, young and enhanced body. Scalzi is often compared to Heinlein – I love both their books.
- Neuromancer was recommended by Emiliano Figueroa and kbedell. I really like William Gibson but I find the way his players plug into and travel through cyberspace a bit confusing at times. (Although I totally want to try it!) I don’t think I’d recommend them to people who don’t read much scifi but maybe I’m underestimating their readability.
- Debbie Moynihan and Rikki Endsley recommended Ready Player One. I haven’t read it but it sounds like it’s about a future where most people spend their time escaping in virtual reality playing games – including a game that’s supposed to contain the winning lottery ticket. It’s extremely well rated on Amazon.
- Mary Beth recommended Wool Omnibus and full heartedly agree. I read the whole series in a row and was thinking the whole time it would be a great book for those not used to reading scifi to experience some of it. The Wool Omnibus. The first part of Wool is free for Kindle right now. (Be warned though, you will be hooked and have to buy the rest of them.)
- Ross Burton and Luis Villa both liked Ken MacLeod’s Fall Revolution series but warned it is not easy reading.
And here are all the other great recommendations, many classics with a few lesser know but (at least for the ones I’ve read) great books:
- Dune was recommended by Frederic Crozat.
- Suzy Millett Bullett recommended The Prisoner of Cell 25. (And I discovered I’d bought this book two months ago and haven’t read it yet. I bumped it up!)
- Debbie Moynihan recommended James Patterson’s The Angel Experiment as an easy read for those not used to sci fi. (And I didn’t realize it had turned into a series. Adding more to my wishlist.)
- Emiliano Figueroa recommended The Songs of Distant Earth.
- Mike Olson recommended short stories like Time Considered, Aye, and Gomorrah, and We in Some Power’s Employ.
- Rikki Endsley recommended The Handmaid’s Tale. I thought this one would be a great one for my book club. I even thought about pretending I hadn’t read it.
- Paul Christofanelli recommended Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter.
- Michael Schulz recommended the classic The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I think humorous science fiction can often be bizarre to non scifi readers.
- Brian King recommended A Scanner Darkly.
- Flowers for Algernon was suggested by Neil Levine. I agree it’s an awesome book. My book club has had a streak of lost their memory, lost who they are type books though. Plus I’ve read it.
- Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson was suggested by Perry Ismangil.
- I Am Legend was suggested by Neil Levine.
- Sean Kerner suggested Asimov’s Foundation. I’ve been thinking about rereading that series. As soon as I get through the rest of these great books that I haven’t read yet.
- Neil Levine suggested The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. It’s similar to Old Man’s War but instead of old people getting young bodies to fight aliens, young people go fight aliens and Earth ages without them.
- Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson was suggested by furicle. I remember really enjoying reading this series but I can’t say I remember many specifics at all.
- furicle also suggested Armor by John Steakley.
- andreasn1 sugggested The Other Side Of The Sky (And he’s talking about the one by Arthur C. Clarke not the The Other Side of the Sky: A Memoir by the woman from Kabul. I think.)
- as well as I, Robot. The book where Asimov’s 3 laws of robotics were developed. There was also a movie made with Will Smith.
- Emmanuele Bassi suggested Accelerando
- and Robopocalypse.
- Ross Burton suggested The Night Sessions.
- Luis Villa suggested Wiliam Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. I really enjoyed this one. It made me think of branding in a completely different light.
- Luis Villa also suggested John Varley’s Steel Beach.
- Federico Mena Quinte suggested a different John Varley book, The Persistence of Vision. (It looks like you may have to hit the library or the used bookstore to find this one.)
- as well as Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. (What an awesome name for a book!)
- Deb Nicholson suggested Eifelheim by Michael Flynn
- as well as Connie Willis’s books on time travel To Say Nothing of the Dog (funny, according to Deb) and Doomsday Book (darker).
What would you add to the list?
Which ones would be best for people not used to reading science fiction?
We are one step closer to living in a science fiction world. Coca-cola is supposedly coming out with a Sprite that chills itself when you open it. The ice is made out of the drink itself so that you don’t get a watered down drink.
Do you want to read a good science fiction book? Here’s my top list. In general, my top list is authors not particular books so I’ve listed at least one book from each of my favorite authors. Although I usually prefer science fiction, there’s a few good fantasy books here too.
- Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein
- Angel with the Sword by C.J. Cherryh
- The Reality Dysfunction Part I: Emergence by Peter F. Hamilton (It took me multiple tries to get into this book but once I got started I read all six books in a row, practically without putting them down!)
- Skyfall by Catherine Asaro
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Foundation by Isaac Asimov
- 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clark (I remember Mom said I wouldn’t like this one – I was 12 – but I was desperate for a good book in English. I loved it. I did not like the movie though.)
- Darkover: First Contact by Marion Zimmer Bradley
- So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane (I recommend this to all those Harry Potter fans out there!)
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine d’Engel
- The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson (review)
- Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujould (Some of the few books I can read over and over. This is the first in the series, but Miles who comes later is my favorite character.)
And this is by no means the end of the list of good science fiction! Enjoy!
Sunrise Alley by Catherine Asaro is a book about artificial intelligence and androids that develop self awareness. What defines who is human? The main character, Samantha, is an AI researcher who becomes involved in a cross country chase with a man most people think is an AI.
It’s not as good as Catherine Asaro’s other series, the Saga of the Skolian Empire series. The Skolian Empire books are a romantic space opera with lots of good science and great character development. They weren’t published in order (she wrote different books at different times) so I created a list of them in storyline order. The first one is Skyfall (Saga of the Skolian Empire) if you want to get going!