Monday, July 23, 2007

Recommended Science Fiction

I was asked to recommend some great science fiction for a sidebar to an interview with me -- but the magazine never used the sidebar, so I thought I'd post my recommendations here:

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (Tor).

Wells created it all: time travel, space voyages, alien invasions, genetic engineering, antigravity, invisibility -- you can't write SF without riffing on good ole H.G. But he also knew that all those things were mere trappings; SF is really a medium for social commentary -- and he rips the British class system a new one here.

Gateway by Frederik Pohl (Del Rey).

The job of good science fiction is to combine the intimately human and the grandly cosmic, and no one has ever done it better than Pohl in this book. Robinette Broadhead recounts his ill-fated encounter with a black hole in sessions with a computerized shrink, in what I think is the finest novel the field has ever produced. (And for all those MFA-in-creative-writing types who think a book has to have a likable protagonist to be moving and engaging, here's the proof that you're wrong.)

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Vintage).

Sometimes when mainstream authors dabble in SF it goes spectacularly wrong, like Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake. Other times, it's a resounding success, such as this brilliant, heart-breaking story of a librarian unstuck in time, a tale that's both philosophically and scientifically literate.

Gravity Wells by James Alan Gardner (Eos).

SF has always shone at short lengths, and there simply is no better writer of short stories in or out of the field than James Alan Gardner of Kitchener, Ontario. This collection contains fourteen of his wry, knowing, mind-bending tales including the Aurora Award-winning "Muffin Explains Teleology to the World at Large" and the Hugo Award-nominated "Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Blood Stream."

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


At July 23, 2007 9:26 PM , Blogger Ran Perry said...

Hmmm... No PKD?


At July 23, 2007 9:29 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hey, I was only asked to recommend four books. You'll note there's no Heinlein, Clarke, or Asimov, either. But, yeah, Dick is great: THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE is genius.

At July 23, 2007 10:04 PM , Blogger TomR said...

Robert, thank you for adding to my "must-read" list. I really appreciate your giving your readers and fans other books and authors to help broaden our horizons (not to mention being pretty darn classy too!). Thanks for the blog.

At July 23, 2007 10:40 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Thank you, TomR. That's very kind of you.

At July 24, 2007 9:54 AM , Blogger Julia said...

It all starts with H.G. Wells!

At July 24, 2007 10:47 AM , Blogger fheywood said...

I'll second the Gardner collection - "Kent State Descending the Gravity Well" is one of the best short stories I've read over the last couple of years.

At July 24, 2007 1:15 PM , Anonymous Shoshana said...

Out in the holes where the Heechee hid
Out in the caves of the stars
Sliding the tunnels they slashed and they slid
Healing the Heechee hacked scars
We're coming through
Little lost Heechee we're looking for you

I memorized the whole thing in high school, but it hasn't proved very useful because in the twelve years since I read it, the book has yet to come up in conversation. Still, I *loved* the first three books in the Heechee saga when I was kid.

There are so many good books out there to read and to re-read; sometimes it's overwhelming, and I'm daunted by the lack of time. (And, yes Iknow about the Twilight Zone episode). Still, crowded as my bookshelves are and scarce as my free time is, I do love getting new reccomendations. I'll have to check out Gardner's short story collection...when I'm done with Harry Potter...when I'm done with The Time Traveller's Wife...when I'm done with Sirius :) Thanks!


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