Friday, March 10, 2006

Answering Your Question: Some SF/F Titles and Authors For You To Try

An anonymous emailer asked the same question Synner asked recently in a comment: What SF/F titles would I recommend?

Wow. I look out at the panorama, broad fields of books of such diversity, of such rich variety, that all tastes may be satiated by reaping here or there or yonder.

Before I can answer that properly, I should ask: What do you look for in stories? What do you read the most? Who are your favorite authors and why? Do you like literary styles or more approachable fiction? Do you like romance in your stories? Will you only read stories that won't challenge your Biblical faith or are you open to stories by atheists, agnostics, Taoists, radical feminists, and gays, who may posit worlds compatible with ideologies other than yours?

Not having these answers, I will give some suggestions with guidelines, and I will accept that if you have the means to email or comment via a blog, then you have the internet skills necessary to track down reviews at and through, and that you are able to find excerpts, read them, and come to conclusions about what YOU may enjoy reading in this field. I will point you in general directions, offer you a sampling of the best and the most popular, but, ultimately, only you, by browsing online or in a bookstore, will find the SF/F novels and authors that suit your reading tastebuds.

I will not give links for every item. It's too tedious. I'll leave the footwork--or fingerwork--to you.

So, off we go.

Here are some books that came to mind, some I read so long ago that all I remember is "Ooh, that was good," along with some general feelings, and not much else. But if I thought, "Ooooh, good," then that's enough to recommend it, I figure:

Scary stuff written well:
Fritz Leiber's Conjure Wife
Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Finely written and/or Intellectually stimulating:
Passage & also The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Blood Music by Greg Bear
Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe (and follow ups)
The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler(and The Parable of the Talents)
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin
The Demolished Man & The Stars My Destination
(the latter one is of my very faves) both by Alfred Bester
Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
The Foundation novels by Isaac Asimov (I read these over and over when I was younger)
Hothouse by Brian Aldiss
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by P. K. Dick
Neuromancer by Wm. Gibson
Ender's Game by O.Scott Card
The Space Merchants by Pohl and Kornbluth
Thorns and Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg
1984 by G. Orwell
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Zenna Henderson's books about The People

FUNNY writers!
R.A. Lafferty
Bob Sheckley
Douglas Adams
Terry Pratchett
Avram Davidson
Kurt Vonnegut
Esther Friesner

Imaginative use of language/trippy stuff
A Clockwork Orange
Slaughterhouse Five
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Fairy Tales for Grown Ups... with a lyrical touch
Spindle's End by Robin Mckinley
White As Snow by Tanith Lee
Red as Blood: Tales of the Sisters Grimmer by Tanith Lee
Deerskin by Robin McKinley
The Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling collections
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
WICKED and UGLY by Gregory Maguire

Dark Fantasies
The Elric novels by Moorcock
The Flat Earth series by Tanith Lee

Good Reads & Bestselling Fantasies
A Wizard of Earthsea
The Harry Potter books
The Series of Unfortunate Events books (Lemony Snickets)
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever
The Dragonriders of Pern books and the Dragondrum series by Anne McCaffrey
Mists of Avalon by M. Zimmer Bradley
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Bradbury
The Riddlemaster of Hed
trilogy by Patricia McKillip

If you want romance with your SF/F
DUNE (my fave SF novel)
Restoree by Anne McCAffrey
The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee
Cordelia's Honor (two novels in one set) by L. McMaster Bujold
Try some of the LUNA books
Catherine Asaro's sci-fi works

You want some spiritual or religious aspect in your SF/F
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller
Dune by Frank Herbert
A Case of Conscience by James Blish
The Parable novels of Octavia Butler
The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell
Ship of Fools by Richard Paul Russo
The Curse of Chalion by L. McMaster Bujold
Christ Clone Trilogy by James BeauSeigneur

WATCHMEN by A. Moore
SANDMAN by Neil Gaiman
SUPREME POWER by J. M. Straczynski

CBA (or Christian) SF/F Authors You May Want to Try
Karen Hancock (LIGHT OF EIDON and sequels)
Randall Ingermanson (Double Vision, Oxygen, Premonition, etc.)
Donita K. Paul (Dragonspell, Dragonquest, etc)
C.S. Lewis
G.K. Chesterton
Bryan Davis (Dragons in Our Midst)
Kathryn Mackel's OUTRIDERS
The Rats of Hamelin by Adam and Keith McCune
The Singer trilogy by Calvin Miller
The Colors trilogy by Ted Dekker (I call it that, cause it's BLACK, RED, WHITE)
Frank Peretti's MONSTER or THE OATH
Gideon's Dawn by Michael D. Warden
Giver of Roses by Kathleen Morgan
Bill Myers (Blood of Heaven; The Face of God; etc)
The Landon Snow books by R.K. Mortenson

And you may want to check out Christian Fandom's bibliography. Also, visit Ross Pavlac's Christian SF/Fantasy Recommended Reading list.

Authors of Wonderful Short Stories of Speculative Fiction
Ted Chiang (look for "Hell is the Absence of God" in his collection)
John Ford
Kelly Link
Tanith Lee (Tales of Dark And Light)
Harlan Ellison (Deathbird and Other Stories; Shatterday; Strange Wine; so many...)
Theodore Sturgeon (Oh, anything!)
James Tiptree, Jr. (Her Smoke Rose Up Forever)
Jane Yolen
Connie Willis (Firewatch; Impossible Things, both wonderful collections)
Orson Scott Card
George R.R. Martin
Just about anything edited by Datlow/Windling or Gardner Dozois or Bob Silverberg
And you may want to scan the 100 Best SF/F list compiled online from thousands of votes.

If you want to see what's nominated for a Nebula award, visit here. Some links (short stories, for instance), take you to where you can read the stories for free.

What's a nebula, you ask? It's the highest award given by the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America). Writers vote on the best in the genre. You'll find a list of past Nebula winners here.

The highest award from a fandom perspective is the Hugo. You can scan the Hugo award winners here.

I think that's a good list to get you initially oriented. Research before you buy. Read excerpts. Check reviews. Find styles and stories compatible with your own sensibilities. Or experiment wildly.

But never judge a genre by just a few books. Romance writers have decried that for decades. The same applies to SF/F.



Deb Kinnard said...

Mir, I'm amazed you didn't list the "People" stories by Zenna Henderson. Strong faith element (Christian), wonderful characters, riveting stories. They may well be out of print by now, but well worth a search on the 'Net or in your local used bookstore.

Titles: "The People - No Different Flesh"
"Holding Wonder"


Mike Duran said...

Mir, this is a very helpful list. Every year, with great enjoyment, I read The Year's Best Horror and Fantasy, compiled by Datlow and Link. I was weaned on the old stuff -- Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein. Been wanting to read something from Bill Myers. Which one book would you recommend? Thanks for the in-depth list.

Mirtika said...

Deb, I've had a couple of booksellers recommend the Zenna Henderson stories of The People, but I've never read them. But hey, I'm glad you gave them the thumbs up here in the comments. Someone may be guided by that. :D

Mikey, the two I listed are good. THE FACE OF GOD is my fave of his that I've read, but he's got several. Browse online. Pick what suits you best. :)

UKSteve said...

You probably thought it went without saying, but just in case it was an oversight: Douglas Adams should be in the list of funny sf writers.

Mirtika said...

OMIGOSH, you're right. I had him on a little note I jotted down to add to the list, and I forgot anyway.

He's more of using the SF/F world to have a grand old satirical time, but it's gotta be one of the funniest series (the HHG) ever written in this and any other universe.



Anonymous said...

You've got some of my all-time favorites here, Mir! Great list.

Not so sure about Douglas Adams, though. I adore Terry Pratchett. Whenever I want to laugh out loud, I re-read any of the Discworld books with Nanny Ogg.

Ginny S.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Ooh, ooh...the day of the Triffids...I remember that's an oldy goldy!...Never read the book though!

I thought about it from your last post about Scifi. I'd rather watch it as a movie or series, rather than read it!

Mirtika said...

Just saw your comment on the previous post, Bonnie-babe. Sorry I didn't catch it before. Okay, you get disoriented and find it hard to read? Did you try others? Same problem? How about Fantasy?

I like that moment of disorientation that tells me "We're not in Kansas, or even near Sol anymore, Toto." It's part of the fun of SF/F for me, catching the small clues that let me worldbuild in my head, step by step.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I scream like a banshee when I spend more than an hour trying to firue out what's going, love love scifi or fantasy...books...poke me in the eye with a sharp stick and I'd feel better than reading it! LOL!

Synner said...

Thanks for the list, Mir. I've jotted down some names and titles. Can't wait to dive in!

Camy Tang said...

That's a GREAT list, Mirster! Really great. And...I hope some of my own writer friends make that list someday soon!

Elliot said...

You've read a LOT.
A lot of the books you mention are favorites of mine... Some I haven't even heard of.