Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Four “must-read” science-fiction books

by Rob - January 9th, 2012.
Filed under: Reviews.

Five years ago this month, TORO Magazine asked me to recommend four “must-read” science-fiction books. Half a decade later they’re still great reads:

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 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.”

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