Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I *Used* To Think I Was A Sci-Fi Nerd...

And then I saw this, and realized I am a mere piker...

10 Science Fiction Novels You Pretend to Have Read (And Why You Should Actually Read Them)
Science fiction and fantasy offer a rich legacy of great books — from Asimov to Pynchon, there are some fantastic, ambitious works of genre fiction out there. But they're also daunting. So a lot of us just muddle through and pretend to have read these classics — which isn't that hard, because they're everywhere, and we've heard people talk about them so many times. We SF fans are good at pretending. But these books are classics for a reason — and they're worth reading.
I've gone through the list, and I've read a whopping 2 of the 10 "must-read" books. Two. 20%. I am ashamed... Okay, not really. I've slogged through "Time Enough For Love" *AND* "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" by Heinlein. Twice. I've paid my grandiose sci-fi dues...

I'm surprised that either "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" or "Stranger in a Strange Land" didn't make the cut, honestly. Both are seminal Heinlein novels; "Mistress" for memes that continue to pop up even today (TANSTAAFL, for example) and "Stranger" because it's filled with amazing, outlandish characters - yet widely considered one of Heinlein's more marginal works, written after he'd made it big.

I would suggest "Terms of Enlistment," except that everyone's actually read that one...

That is all.

28 comments:

Bob said...

I've only read two, also. Dune and 1984.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read any of these.

I have read other works. Such as A Stitch in Time and Stranger in a Strange Land. Although, Lovecraft's Call of Chthulu did have me reading it with all the lights on and a baseball bat across my legs. Then there were the short stories like Unicorn Variations.

I really think you can't focus on 10 books that everyone should read. I tried reading Dune. It didn't work. I just couldn't slog through it.

Right now, I'm reading Directive 51 which is scaring the crap out of me because it is so feasable. (Especially with the current CIC.)

Joseph in IL

Dave H said...

I've read two also: Dune and Foundation.

Have you ever seen the "honest" book covers here?
MGK Versus His Adolescent Reading Habits

abnormalist said...

Down for two as well
Cryptonomicon and 1984

Formynder said...

Dune, Cryptonomicon, and 1984 here. I've never heard of most of those others, unless they were written by Asimov or Heinlein.

I'd say that list has an age bias to it, as I consider myself pretty well read in science fiction and fantasy. I've even read C.S. Lewis' science fiction trilogy.

And those titles looked like they were more in the speculative fiction realm than many of the more entertaining tales in Scifi/fantasy.

.45ACP+P said...

3, Dune, Foundation and 1984. Not having Heinlein on the list is an outrage. "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" would be my addition as well.

Some of these I never had heard of. Generally I expect to have had contact with a "Classic".

David said...

I've read four of these. Dune, Foundation, 1984, and Dahlgren. But I can't believe Dahlgren is on the list. That was a horrible book. After I finished it I just looked at it for a minute then threw it across the room.

Jeff the Baptist said...

Cryptonomicon, Dune, Foundation.

I've also read Brave New World which should probably be on any list that includes 1984 although I haven't actually read 1984.

Stretch said...

1984, Dune, Foundation and The Long Tomorrow.
I found The Long Tomorrow at library 'bout a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Ya, I was only 8 then and 9 when I read the book. You grow up quick when your 12 miles from ground zero (The Pentagon).
And my Liberal friends (yes, I've a few ... they're fun to watch) wonder why I don't worry that the oceans will rise 6" this century.

Old NFO said...

I read five... sigh Obviously I'm unlettered and all that...

Cargosquid said...

Dune, 1984, Dahlgren, and Foundation.

Dahlgren was weird. That's all that I can remember from it.

Anonymous said...

Sigh, yet another person's 'idea' of a must read list. It is solely that person's OPINION - I've read several of them - but how can one make a valid case for reading one of series (ie Dune or Foundation) and NOT read the remainder?
Now if that person had couched his list as a suggestion vice a must, his opinion would be OK.

BTW, I've been reading sci-fi since the mid '50s, isn't my opinion just as valid as his?

BenC said...

Only read two also Dune and Foundation but but frankly except for 1984 I have never even heard of the others

Ted said...

No Michael Crichton ??? Can't be much of a list then.

Anonymous said...

I read 3,Dune, 1984, and Foundation. Reread 2 in the last year.

I agree that a top10 list is an OPINION. My top10 must read won't match anyone elses.... so why should we consider these the ultimate top10 must read?????

But unlettered and a fan, not an author... Now a list of top 10 MOST FUN to read would be interesting...
Gfrey

Geodkyt said...

I've read (and own) five out of the six that I've even heard of. read Dune, Foundation, Cryptonomicon, Star Maker, and 1984. I've heard of Gravity's Rainbow.

At least one of the books on the list (that I hadnt heard of before) isn't even Science fiction - it's outright fantasy, and only ten years old.

But yeah, nothing by Heinlein? Nothing by Clarke? Haldeman, especially The Forever War? No Orson Scott Card, Verne, H.G. Wells, Pournelle, E.E. Smith, etc.? How about almost any one of Farmer's Riverworld series?

They don't list A Canticle for Leibowitz?!? (Probably THE definitive post-nuclear holocaust novel in Sci-fi! - Hell, my high school English teacher - who generally hated science fiction - assigned it as an exemplar of entertaining and enlightening "modern literature" at it's finest.)

Amiable Dorsai said...

Most of Heinlein doesn't belong on the simply list because people who say they have read it mostly actually have. Nearly everything before Time Enough For Love was good reading

I would make an exception for Starship Troopers only because a number of the people I've discussed it with do not actually appear to have read it.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Dune and Foundation.

But I did get to spend a Wonderful Spring Day with LEIGH BRACKETT and her Husband EDMOND HAMILTON at their summer home outside Youngstown. They lived in SoCal in the Winter. Ed was an Ohio Boy, while Leigh was a California Girl.

Ever seen a COMPLETE set of the Shadow in it's Original Pulp Form? I have. Ever seen a Framed Letter from JOHN WAYNE thanking Leigh for "Writing one of the Best Scripts he ever used!"? I have.

As for that List, I could come up with a better one. And so could most REAL Science Fiction Fans over the age of 30.

ProudHillbilly said...

I remember reading Dune, maybe the Foundation trilogy, maybe 1984, didn't like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I heard of Gravity's Rainbow but not read it. Used to read a lot of science fiction but it was a long, long time ago.

Anonymous made me smile about Lovecraft - I used to alternate him with Winnie the Pooh for psychological reasons.

Anonymous said...

Dune, Foundation, 1984. Heard of 5 of the others, picked up a few, read the back, and put them down again to go read Heinlein, Clark, Weber, and other people.

LittleRed1

Sigivald said...

I've read six (and have not read Terms of Enlistment); the first six.

I am also never reading Wallace, and io9 is the first place I've seen Inifinte Jest called SF.

(I've actually read Gravity's Rainbow twice. Which doesn't sound impressive until you've done it once.)

Dave H said...

Sigivald: I'm impressed because I haven't even read Gravity's Rainbow once. I started it, got about 30 pages in, and decided I had better things to do with my time.

Atom Smasher said...

I've read
o Dune - didn't like it
o Foundation trilogy - liked it
o 1984 - liked it
o First and Last Men - discovered it this summer, haven't read Starmaker yet
o Dhalgren - didn't understand it: I was too young, have no desire to retry it.

The rest I've mostly never heard of.

Ed said...

I am with Geodkyt. I read "A Canticle for Leibowitz" as a high school English assignment. Great book. Same with "1984". The rest? No.

Angus McThag said...

I liked Dune and Foundation. Read some of the sequels too.

Dahlgren sucked.

NotClauswitz said...

I don't have a shelf of Sci-Fi books anymore, I'm not much of a "keeper," but Gravity's Rainbow was "look-at-me-I'm-a-College-hipster!" sci-fi, kind of an extension (for me) of high-school's Stranger in a Strange Land's "Hey-it's-sexy-in-Mars-space!"
As for post apocalyptic, I can't believe they left-out "Canticle" either. Never read Susanna Clarke and Dune got boring but I forced myself to finish it...but "Dahlgren" was just totally Delaney on acid - and with that how could they leave out Philip Dick? - or even suggest that "1984" is just a shelf-poser and actually un-read when it's such a quick read and practical universal in the political spectrum? Cryptonomicon was a bit of word-salad, I read it late and hardly actually remember reading it...so maybe I actually didn't read it?

mikee said...

I once impressed a liberal arts major by knowing what the opening quote in Gravity's Rainbow meant.

I had read just that page, at that point. And I never told him that.

Yes, I did finish the book.

Anonymous said...

I've read three: Dune, Foundation, and 1984. I've started reading Gravity's Rainbow, Dahlgren, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and never bothered finishing them. Unless you call tossing a book across the room finishing it. A large part of this list is what I've always called "English dept science fiction", i.e., stuff written that has no science to go along with the fiction. Folks like me who have degrees in stuff like physics and have made their living being mathematical and logical look down on these books. Go figure.