Saturday, July 05, 2008

32 Sci-Fi Must Reads

How To Split An Atom brings us the 32 sci-fi books that you should read -- which, in itself, provides no surprises because every book here has been identified as a great work of literature at some point in the past fifty years. The only books I was not familiar with are Accelerando by Charles Stross, Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan, and The Giver by Lois Lowry. Those three should maybe have been the focus of their blog post, with a little more info on why they belong on a list with A Clockwork Orange and 1984. Linking to a relatively uninteresting list is mostly a reason for me to give you an uninteresting list of those books that I've read:

  1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by PK Dick
  2. War of the Worlds by HG Wells
  3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  4. Neuromancer by William Gibson
  5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  6. Brave New World by Adolus Huxley
  7. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  8. 1984 by George Orwell
  9. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  10. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Wow -- less than a third; I've intended to read Animal Farm (on a sci-fi list?), Foundation, and Stranger in a Strange Land, but some on their list I really don't have much interest in reading. I once started I, Robot, which I gave up on due to boringness (which doesn't give me much faith in Foundation). Dune, The Time Machine, and Atlas Shrugged are all so ubiquitous that I've heard about as much about them as I'll get actually reading them. As for the humor/satire books like Ender's Game, Ringworld, and H2G2, I find them mildly amusing but I'm not drawn to them. Snow Crash intrigues me, but I read Zodiac and The Diamond Age and while both have their points, I'm not impressed enough with Stephenson's writing ability to put up with another book. And three William Gibson books? He's good, but I wouldn't consider him the source of almost 10% of the best sci-fi ever. And a Michael Crichton book -- while he's more of the entertaining vein of sci-fi, I haven't heard much good about Timeline, definitely not enough good to warrant it being on a list of recommended reading alongside HG Wells or Heinlein.

But, then, what good recommendation list doesn't invite criticism? The blogger does do well with the classics, maybe not so with stuff since the 70s, but I might also be missing something by not having read them. It's not like I have the guts to put together my favorite books and call them the books that everyone must read.

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