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.)
â€” 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 GameÂ is a classic that has probably been read by almost all scifi fans. Jan Nieuwenhuizen,Â Filip Hanik,Â Jon LotzÂ andÂ Debbie MoynihanÂ all recommended it.Â As Debbie pointed out, it will be a movie this year too and will likely be read by a much wider audience.Â Â 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:Â The Player of Games,Â Use of WeaponsÂ orÂ Consider Phlebas.Â Sean Kerner,Â Emmanuele Bassi,Â Ross Burton,Â Luis VillaÂ andÂ Hubert FiguiÃ¨reÂ all participated in the discussion. I think my book group should thankÂ Havoc PenningtonÂ though. He said Â “as long asÂ
stormingÂ 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 WarÂ by John Scalzi was recommended byÂ Laura DraganÂ andÂ 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.
- NeuromancerÂ was recommended byÂ Emiliano FigueroaÂ andÂ 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 MoynihanÂ andÂ Rikki EndsleyÂ recommendedÂ 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’sÂ extremelyÂ well rated on Amazon.
- Mary BethÂ recommended Wool OmnibusÂ 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.Â The Wool Omnibus. The first part of Â Wool is free for KindleÂ right now. (Be warned though, you will be hooked and have to buy the rest of them.)
- Ross BurtonÂ andÂ Luis VillaÂ both likedÂ Ken MacLeod’s Fall RevolutionÂ 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:
- DuneÂ was recommended byÂ Frederic Crozat.
- Suzy Millett BullettÂ recommendedÂ 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 MoynihanÂ recommended James Patterson’s The Angel ExperimentÂ 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 FigueroaÂ recommended The Songs of Distant Earth.
- Mike OlsonÂ recommended short stories like Time Considered,Â Aye, and Gomorrah, andÂ We in Some Power’s Employ.
- Rikki EndsleyÂ recommendedÂ 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 ChristofanelliÂ recommended Manifold: TimeÂ by Stephen Baxter.
- Michael SchulzÂ recommended the classic The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I thinkÂ humorousÂ science fiction can often be bizarre to non scifi readers.
- Brian KingÂ recommended A Scanner Darkly.
- Flowers for AlgernonÂ was suggested byÂ 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 MarsÂ by Kim Stanley Robinson was suggested byÂ Perry Ismangil.
- I Am LegendÂ was suggested byÂ Neil Levine.
- Sean KernerÂ 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 LevineÂ suggested The Forever WarÂ 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 SaloonÂ byÂ Spider Robinson was suggested byÂ furicle. I remember really enjoying reading this series but I can’t say I remember many specifics at all.
- furicleÂ also suggested ArmorÂ byÂ John Steakley.
- andreasn1Â sugggestedÂ The Other Side Of The SkyÂ (And he’s talking about the one by Arthur C. Clarke not theÂ The Other Side of the Sky: A MemoirÂ by the woman from Kabul. I think.)
- as well asÂ I, Robot. The book where Asimov’s 3 laws of robotics were developed. There was also a movie made with Will Smith.
- Emmanuele BassiÂ suggestedÂ Accelerando
- andÂ Robopocalypse.
- Ross BurtonÂ suggestedÂ The Night Sessions.
- Luis VillaÂ suggestedÂ Wiliam Gibson’sÂ Pattern Recognition. I really enjoyed this one. It made me think of branding in a completely different light.
- Luis VillaÂ also suggestedÂ John Varley’s Steel Beach.
- Federico Mena QuinteÂ suggested a differentÂ 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 NicholsonÂ suggestedÂ EifelheimÂ by Michael Flynn
- as well as Connie Willis’s books on time travel To Say Nothing of the DogÂ (funny, according to Deb)Â and Doomsday BookÂ (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?Â Here’s my top list.Â In general, my top list is authors not particular books so I’ve listed at least one book from each of my favorite authors.Â 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.Â I loved it.Â 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 BujouldÂ (Some of the few books I can read over and over.Â 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!Â 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!