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  • Definitive sci fi and fantasy book list
  • dufresneorama
    Free Member

    Big sci fi and fantasy fan here. Problem is, I’m not a big reader. Hoping to change that.

    What should I read? Where should I start?

    Flaperon
    Full Member

    Here are two:

    Altered Carbon (there are 3 in the series but only the first one is any good IMHO).
    Saturn Run.

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    What sort of sifi do you like? It’s a big genre with many different styles.

    A good place to start is the books of the film’s you like as you know roughly what to expect.

    ajantom
    Full Member

    Iain M Banks. All of them 😉

    Asimov – the robot stories are great + The Foundation series.

    Arthur C Clarke – Rendezvous with Rama + others.

    Robert A Heinlein – Stranger in a strange land + loads of others.

    Philip K Dick – Do androids dream of electric sheep + again many others.

    Frank Herbert – Dune.

    William Gibson – Neuromancer, count zero, Mona Lisa overdrive.

    Neal Stephenson – Snow Crash.

    Honestly the list is pretty much endless…I keep thinking of more!

    chrisdw
    Free Member

    Red Rising series by Pierce Brown

    Ernest Cline. Ready Player One and Armada are both good. Ready player two coming out in November.

    Wool by Hugh Howey was a good one. Slow start but very good. Also not really sci-fi now i think about it. But will leave it in.

    Cougar
    Full Member

    Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

    Steelfreak
    Free Member

    The Wheel of Time books should keep you going for a while… (You will probably need to get a bigger bookcase though.)

    hugo
    Free Member

    HHGTTG
    Dune
    Ready Player One
    Ender’s Game
    Brave New World
    The Martian
    Rendevous with Rama

    Edit, saw Wool posted above. Agree. Also The Hunger Games for a similar vibe.

    beanum
    Full Member

    I’m currently re-reading Julian May’s epic Metapsychic series: Pliocene saga and the Galactic Mileu trilogy. So good..

    Dan Simmons – Hyperion / Endymion
    Neal Stephenson – SevenEves
    Adrian Tchaikovsky – Children of Time

    kimbers
    Full Member

    Iain M Banks (the best)

    Alistair Reynolds, Revalation Space series (bit techy for some but I love them)

    James SA Corey: The Expanse, action packed, it’s a great TV show too

    Adrian Tchaikovsky , children of time/ruin – great & original

    Dan Symmonds, Hyperion cantos , & Illium & Olympos I love them, he likes to mix history in with his sci-fi

    Peter f Hamilton, Nights Dawn books, a bit pulpy but good space opera

    jodafett
    Full Member

    I’m currently re-reading all Terry Pratchetts book. All of which are brilliant.

    tekp2
    Free Member

    Anne Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice” trilogy is fantastic.

    montylikesbeer
    Full Member

    A Brave New World: Aldous Huxley

    High Rise: JG Ballard

    Both a bit dystopian but thought provoking

    13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    Stranger in a Strange Land – Ug, not for someone who says they aren’t a big reader, that one was a bit of a sprawler…

    Iain M Banks – Awesome stuff, but start with Consider Phlebas or Player of Games, slightly more conventional plot structures, easier to follow.

    How about the original Michael Crichton book that Jurassic Park was based on? I must have read it cover to cover half a dozen times until my dad hid it from me.

    Cougar
    Full Member

    I’m currently re-reading all Terry Pratchetts book. All of which are brilliant.

    Except the first couple are kind of a bit crap, relatively. Worth reading for the world-building but if you assume they’re representative of later books then you’ll never read past The Colour of Magic.

    Flaperon
    Full Member

    Forgot about Wool. 100% recommend. I just wish he’d included a floor-plan of the silos because I really struggled to get a sense of scale or layout from the description (a week to climb the stairs?).

    gobuchul
    Free Member

    The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.

    Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore.

    Have a look at the SF Masterworks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SF_Masterworks

    hols2
    Free Member

    Iain M Banks. All of them

    Who also publishes non-scifi as Iain Banks. The Wasp Factory was his first novel. Unforgettable.

    kimbers
    Full Member

    Yeah the Bridge is a non-M banks but kinda is sci-fi

    13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    Except the first couple are kind of a bit crap, relatively. Worth reading for the world-building but if you assume they’re representative of later books then you’ll never read past The Colour of Magic

    It’s a fair point, although I loved some of the landscapes he created, the Wyrmberg? Also felt the plots finished better, feel he struggled to tie up some of the later plots neatly.

    johnners
    Free Member

    Except the first couple are kind of a bit crap, relatively. Worth reading for the world-building but if you assume they’re representative of later books then you’ll never read past The Colour of Magic.

    That’s interesting to know. I tried the first couple a few years back and decided they really weren’t for me – I found them pretty tedious tbh. I might have another crack at them if the first couple are a bit below par.

    mickyfinn
    Full Member

    Michael Marshall Smith:
    Only Forwards
    Spares
    One of us

    RichPenny
    Free Member

    Lord of the Rings.

    donks
    Free Member

    Might get flamed for this but Battlefield Earth series I enjoyed (nearly 30 years ago to be fair) the film was a horror but thought the books were pretty good.

    eulach
    Full Member

    All of the above (Pratchet and Hyperion I haven’t read). Plus Neal Asher,
    Ken MacLeod – Fall Revolution Series, Charlie Stross (his earlier stuff is better).
    A Fire Upon the Deep – Vinge is a bit special. Don’t forget John Wyndham. Brian Aldiss can be a bit hit and miss but has some great ideas (the first 2 Helliconia books were fantastic but the conclusion was a bit lacking)

    fettlin
    Full Member

    Echo the comments regarding Pratchett, working my way through from the beginning. Just finishing off The Truth, he definitely gets into his stride after the first few.

    I’ve never done it but you could always try reading them by theme rather than chronologically, the Witches saga, the Watch/Vimes stories or the Death stories all and up on their own merit if you wanted to dip into it.

    onewheelgood
    Full Member

    Don’t think I’ve seen anything here I’d disagree with. But no one has mentioned Samuel R. Delaney – I love his stuff! Dhalgren is my favourite, but it’s probably a bit weird to start with.

    gruffj
    Free Member

    Sci fi:

    Iain M. Banks – all of them. He is peerless.

    Hyperion Cantos, Dan Simmons. Superb storytelling, especially the first book.

    Ursula Le Guin – all of them. Lathe of Heaven or Left Hand of Darkness are good places to start. She also has many wonderful short story collections.

    Gene Wolfe, Book of the New Sun. This can be a little difficult to read, but it will worm its way in to your every waking thought for months. Nicely straddles the sci-fi and fantasy genres.

    Hannu Rajaniemi, The Quantum Thief. Mad, difficult, and utterly compelling.

    Fantasy:

    N. K. Jemisin, Broken Earth series. I enjoyed these books a lot.

    Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings. A bit like eating take away pizza for breakfast. Big, massive books with compelling world building and characters.

    Terry Pratchett, all of them (eventually). I agree with a previous post that the first couple of books are a bit weaker. Perhaps start with Guards! Guards! or Equal Rites.

    wordnumb
    Free Member

    Robert Scheckley’s short stories are very enjoyable retro/americana sci-fi, good collection published by NYRB a few years back.

    IdleJon
    Full Member

    So what we’ve got here is not really a definitive list of must-reads, more what’s on the shelves of the SF&F section in your local Waterstones, with some film tie-ins for added fun. 😁

    Cougar
    Full Member

    That’s interesting to know. I tried the first couple a few years back and decided they really weren’t for me – I found them pretty tedious tbh. I might have another crack at them if the first couple are a bit below par.

    I did exactly the same. I read The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, then thought “I don’t understand what the fuss is about” and didn’t go back to them for years. I was persuaded later to go back to them by a mate who had the full collection (at the time) so could lend them to me. Equal Rites is better, and Mort is probably the one where he first looked at the end of his legs.

    I think there’s merit in starting at the beginning with the acceptance that they’re weaker titles. If you just want to jump in without committing to anything I’d probably start with Mort.

    I’ve never done it but you could always try reading them by theme rather than chronologically, the Witches saga, the Watch/Vimes stories or the Death stories all and up on their own merit if you wanted to dip into it.

    You could, and there exists reading orders online like flow charts. But I think you’re better off bouncing between themes for the variety, I think doing it that way might be a bit claustrophobic.

    In the earlier books Pterry spends a lot of time explaining the world; as you get later on tails off as it’s assumed you know and retelling the same thing over and over for a quarter of a book would be tedious. Like, just imagine if every Spider-Man reboot started with an origin story, that’d just be, er, oh.

    Plus one thing that does progress as you go through the books is time. Certainly in the later books, technology advances.

    If you’re going to read the series I’d do it in published order. If you just want one at random then either first-in-a-series or a standalone. Something like Unseen Academicals has little bearing or reliance on anything else, and he even manages to make a book about football interesting.

    zzjabzz
    Free Member

    The Planiverse

    eulach
    Full Member

    IdleJon, you are quite right. It is however, easy to get carried away when discussing such topics.

    Malvern Rider
    Free Member

    Sci-Fi/fantasy is such a broad church/galaxy, from 22 volume epics/borefests about the ‘Smordium of Ringpeace’ or ‘The Moons Of Xentium’ to space-horror, graphic-novels, to literary classics set in a mildly (or wildly) sciencey and/or fantasy world, to schlocky pulpy space blasters or slick futuristic cop/detective novels, etc, etc etc. Dunno about ‘definitive‘ (I’m wary of such words) but some classics that I’ve enjoyed the most would be:

    Mary Shelley – ‘ Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus ‘
    Ray Bradbury – ‘The October Country‘ (short stories)
    Ray Bradbury – ‘Fahrenheit 451’
    Kurt Vonnegut – ‘Breakfast of Champions’
    Mervyn Peake – ‘Gormenghast (series)
    Aldous Huxley – ‘Brave New World‘ & ‘Island‘

    funkmasterp
    Full Member

    I also recommend Adrian Tchaikovsky for a great present day writer. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all his sci-fi and fantasy novels.

    Children of Time, Children of Ruin, The Expert Systems Brother, Made Things and Dogs of War are the last few of his I read.

    C Robert Cargil – Sea of Rust

    Blake Crouch has written a couple of good sci-fi novels as has Luke Smitherd.

    The Expanse series

    I’ve read a lot of the classics like Asimov and Clarke. Some of them haven’t aged that well. The themes are brilliant, but the writing style dated. Definitely worth reading, but figured it was worth pointing out.

    Malvern Rider
    Free Member

    If you just want to jump in without committing to anything I’d probably start with Mort.

    +1. As fortune had it that’s exactly where I began. Loved it, and successive novels. Devoured in short order. Yet I find that I don’t enjoy the DW series so much in latter years (can’t get past first chapter), yet that happens with a lot of stuff. There’s a right time, and a right place and a right headspace. Book & reader is like a relationship. A two-way thing. A ‘perfect match/thrilling journey’ one day/year could be a star-crossed turn-off on another.

    funkmasterp
    Full Member

    I find that I don’t enjoy the DW series so much in my latter years

    I was a big fan in my early teens. Tried reading a few again recently and gave up. What you say regarding time and place makes perfect sense. In a similar vein, Jasper Fforde is really good if you’re in to quirky fantasy. His latest, the constant rabbit, shades of grey and the nursery crime novels being some of my favourites.

    slackboy
    Full Member

    Huge Pratchett fan, and agree with what’s been said about early books. He started off as a genre fantasy writer but quickly transcended that as he developed.

    I’d recommend Small Gods as a starting point. He’s well into his stride, it’s a standalone novel and is pretty funny. You also get a strong sense of his worldview

    Going back to sci-fi. I’ve recently enjoyed the old man’s war series by John Scalzi

    Ursula K le Guin is also excellent. Left hand of darkness one of the all time greats.

    Garry_Lager
    Full Member

    Don’t think I’ve seen anything here I’d disagree with. But no one has mentioned Samuel R. Delaney – I love his stuff! Dhalgren is my favourite, but it’s probably a bit weird to start with.

    Did you read Stars in my pocket like grains of sand @onewheelgood? Thought that was next level, think it was his last book that was (vaguely) mainstream SF.

    I’ve not read too much on the pure space SF side, either classic golden age stuff or more modern work. This is the type of novel that often drives SF films, so prob a good place to start to see if this is what you like. But good SF is always about the present, whatever the setting.

    On the fantasy side Joe Abercrombie’s new one is out next week – know he has plenty of admirers on here. A little hatred set things up v nicely – The trouble with peace is the new one.

    perchypanther
    Free Member

    I’d recommend Small Gods as a starting point. He’s well into his stride, it’s a standalone novel and is pretty funny. You also get a strong sense of his worldview

    +1 for this. It’s the first one I read and hooked me in for the rest of them.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Emberverse series by SM Stirling. It’s a post apocalyptic series about what happens to modern society when all high energy technology is suddenly taken away from them. No more electricity, internal combustion engines, gunpowder or explosives.

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 159 total)

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