?

Log in

No account? Create an account
The Ex-Communicator

> Recent Entries
> Archive
> Friends
> Profile

August 14th, 2008


Previous Entry Share Flag Next Entry
02:05 pm - 20 essential SF
At Torque Control they are discussing lists of the 20 essential SF books of the past 20 years.

Below the cut is my list. Reading almost all of these I thought 'this is one of the most wonderful books I've ever read'. Not just of SF, not just of recent SF, but of anything.

I've limited myself to no more than one per author.

Snow Crash: Neal Stephenson
Light: M John Harrison
A Fire Upon the Deep: Vernor Vinge
Cloud Atlas: David Mitchell
Red Mars: Kim Stanley Robinson
Magic for Beginners: Kelly Link
Anvil of Stars: Greg Bear
China Mountain Zhang: Maureen McHugh
Four Ways to Forgiveness: Ursula Le Guin (not essential but I had to get her into this list)
Revelation Space: Alastair Reynolds
Black Man: Richard Morgan
Player of Games: Iain M Banks
The Separation: Christopher Priest
Four Hundred Billion Stars: Paul McCauley
Permutation City: Greg Egan
Timescape: Greg Benford
Air: Geoff Ryman
Salt: Adam Roberts
Body of Glass: Marge Piercy
The Parable of the Sower: Octavia Butler
Vurt: Jeff Noon

I am sure that River of Gods belongs on here, but I haven't read it, though I know I will soon. Only a quarter of these are by women.

I also really liked Mother London, by Michael Moorcock, which was published in 1988, but I'm not sure it's essential SF.

ETA: I've added Vurt by Jeff Noon, and deleted Timescape for being out of range

(21 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:grahamsleight
Date:August 14th, 2008 01:36 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Timescape is 1977 or something, isn't it? And is Magic for Beginners really sf?
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 14th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)
(Link)
oopsie, you are right. Not sure why I thought it was more recent? Probably when I read it.
[User Picture]
From:the_magician
Date:August 14th, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Argghhh! I obviously read too much "golden age" or "classic" SF and don't go out stay in enough ...

... from your *essential* list, I think I've read two (maybe three), and own maybe four more ...

... must either find time and friendly person to lend me books, or start doing the ebook-thing :-)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 14th, 2008 01:55 pm (UTC)
(Link)
But then some people just prefer classic books. It wasn't called a golden age for nothing.
[User Picture]
From:ozarque
Date:August 14th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Excellent list.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 14th, 2008 01:51 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I was going to put Native Tongue in there, because all of these books have ideas that come back to me again and again, but it fell just outside of the time range
[User Picture]
From:ozarque
Date:August 14th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It's a pleasure to know that you would have put NativeTongue into such august company; thank you. And thanks for the "Torque" link; that's a site I didn't know existed. My own browser won't let me see any of the pages there, but I'm going to go read them on my husband's fancy Mac.
[User Picture]
From:coalescent
Date:August 14th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hi -- what browser are you using? We'll make the site compatible if we can!
[User Picture]
From:ozarque
Date:August 14th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I appreciate your offer very much, and I thank you for it -- but I'm afraid there's no hope of making it compatible, because I'm still using Internet Explorer 5.0. I do know what a monumental undertaking it would be to make your site compatible with That Old Thing. But it turns out, serendipitously and mysteriously, that I can see quite a few of the pages with my even older (4.7) version of Netscape.

[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:August 14th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Salt annoyed me to the point where I'm wary to read anything else by Adam Roberts.

(I agree with a lot of your choices though)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 14th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
(Link)
He's a distinctive and somewhat claustrophobic writer I think, perhaps even oppressive, but I think he's important and distinctive
[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:August 14th, 2008 02:05 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I had no objection to claustrophobia or oppression. What I objected to was the rape scene. Not because it was a rape scene, per se, but because it seemed completely out of both character and what we'd been told of the "free" society up to that point, taking what had been a fascinating dichotomy and investigation of the differences between two societal approaches and fracturing it for (what seems to me to be) no good reason.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 14th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks for that reminder - I must re-read because I don't want to make a glib comment
[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:August 14th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'd appreciate it, actually - because if I've misread it then I'd appreciate it being pointed out to me. I thoroughly enjoyed the book up to that point, and if something can make that scene 'in character' then I'd be a lot happier.
From:egretplume
Date:August 14th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I've not read all of these, but I agree with quite a few of your choices and am now more inclined to read the others.
I just wanted to note for other Americans reading -- because I just went and looked it up for myself -- that Marge Piercy's Body of Glass was published in the US under the title "He, She and It." I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a new Piercy book for me to read!
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 14th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I wonder why the change (I mean difference - I know the US title must have come first)? I think 'Body of Glass' is a more inviting title. I don't remember the plot too well - woman has a relationship with an android? A vision of post-collapse society. Yet the ideas in it, such as this highly corporate-controlled world, come back to me.

Edited at 2008-08-14 03:21 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:matildabj
Date:August 14th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, that's He, She and It? I like Body of Glass so much better! And takes the total I've read to 4, which is pretty embarrassing considering I've got an MA in SF. Sigh.
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:August 14th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
(Link)
In that list, I've read "A Fire Upon the Deep" and "Permutation City", and I don't feel guilty at all. 8-P
I keep on meaning to read "Snow Crash" but I'm afraid I won't like it as much as "The Diamond Age" which I ended up reading instead.
[User Picture]
From:valderys
Date:August 14th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I've only read seven of these, although I've read other things by the same authors - I must try to read some of the authors I don't know. I must admit I read On by Adam Roberts and didn't get on with his style, so haven't read Salt, although I do own it. And I'm almost certain to get around to The Parable of the Sower since I've been slowly reading through a lot of her stuff this year, all the while marvelling that I'd never come across her before... She really hits my buttons in an... uncomfortable and yet strangely satisfying way. I wish she hadn't passed, I *really* want to have a good old-fashioned rant about stuff with her.
[User Picture]
From:coalescent
Date:August 14th, 2008 10:19 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I have to say that I think On is Roberts' worst book by some way; the only one I would describe as actively bad, I think. That said, I wouldn't describe Salt as his best, ether -- for me that's Gradisil, Swiftly, or possibly Splinter.
[User Picture]
From:vilakins
Date:August 14th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Thank you! I'm keeping both lists as I need some good recs.

> Go to Top
LiveJournal.com