What are the fundamental books a newcomer to science fiction should read in order to achieve a basic conversance with the genre? To keep this practicable for this notional novice, what ten books would suffice?
I am unqualified to answer this question. My list would necessarily displease everyone. Only an unjustifiably self-confident jackanapes, a grinning idiot embodying the Dunning-Kruger Effect would even attempt such a thing.
Right, I’m your man then.
With any luck on eBay I’ll be opening up a stretch of space on one my bookshelves. Fingers crossed.
“What have you been reading?” the imaginary voices in my head — those of the imagined readers of this web log — ask.
Well, I’ll tell you, phantoms and figments.
I may have mentioned that I have a substantial commute to work. Others might not consider forty minutes each way substantial, but I do. The point is that I spend a great deal of time each week in the car. Some might spend this time listening to the radio: music or new or talk. I listen to books.
‘Tis the month of Halloween, during which we make light of death, the supernatural, and terror. What fun.
For me, the quintessential Halloween book is Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October. (What, you haven’t read that yet? Go hence and remedy that deficiency post haste.) But is it quintessential by default? Are there other Halloween fantasy/science-fiction novels?
I’m re-reading books quite a bit currently, old favorites. I suppose that’s how you know they are old favorites; you revisit them more than once. Some books you decide to pick up again don’t gain status as favorites. Revisiting those only recalls your initial impression and you don’t read them again. That impression might not be negative, but it doesn’t incline you to a third go-round.
Sometimes a book does not live up to your memory of it, or to its reputation. Sometimes a book is, in as an objective fashion as you can manage, excellent but no thoroughly enjoyable.
I’ve, at last, worked my way through a couple of massive, minor classics: Little, Big (John Crowley); and Stand on Zanzibar (John Brunner.) “Worked my way through” suggests the process was a chore rather than entertainment. I don’t think that’s entirely accurate, though it might be fair to say that I appreciated both works more than actually enjoyed them.