Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Favorite Science Fiction/Fantasy book list

Recently I promised to list my favorite science fiction / fantasy books for a friend.
I thought I'd share my list of recommended books just in case anyone's looking for a good read. Of course there are are plenty of lists of "best sf books", this is just my personal list. But there are some obscure gems in here that you won't find on the most-popular lists...

First, somewhat recent science fiction: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson: Stephenson is really prolific and brilliant. Another great one by him is Diamond Age.

Classic Science fiction: Dune by Frank Herbert: from Amazon: "Dune is one of the most famous science fiction novels ever written, and deservedly so. The setting is elaborate and ornate, the plot labyrinthine, the adventures exciting"

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury: incredibly beautiful writing, fantastic surreal descriptions. Also: R is for Rocket.

More unique: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, by Douglas Adams: I think this is way better than the Hitchiker's guide. Funnier, and better plot - not so loose. There's a second Dirk Gently book too. Too bad we don't have more Adams books...

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut: Wow, just ask your dad. Kind of subversive adventure with lots of humor. Reminds me a bit of Douglas Adams. Also, my personal fave, The Sirens of Titan.

Even More unique: A Confederate General from Big Sur, by Richard Brautigan. This is pretty surreal, and funny too. Some pretty adult and not-politically-correct content tho. Hmmm.

In Watermelon Sugar, by Richard Brautigan. This is really surreal. A world where the sky is a different color every day, and is black and soundless on sundays. My kids like this one. It might be hard to find separately, but can be found in a library I suppose. Brautigan was the poet-in-residence of UC Berkeley.

Fantasy: A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K LeGuin: a really memorable book about a young wizard, considered a classic of the genre. There are several more in this series.

The Fionavar Tapestry, by Guy G Kay, three books: the Summer Tree, the Wandering Fire, and the Darkest Road. Wow, this is really good writing. Exciting, dramatic. Really good guys and really really bad guys. Compared to the Lord of the Rings a lot, it's also a quest. I think I need to re-read it again... And of course, the Lord of the Rings is a must-read...

And finally - something from a different genre - historical fiction ?! Master and Commander, by Patrick O'Brian: A fictional adventure based on the detailed logs required of Royal Navy captains during the Napoleonic wars. So the backdrops and much of the plot is totally accurate to the period, early 1800s, complete with naval battles. The real thing is much better than what an author can make up. Like going back in a time machine. This is the first of a series but stands well on its own. The movie of this name, with Russel Crowe, was based on book 6 of the series. Was nominated for 10 academy awards and won 2. Those ship captains left a rich trove of content - there are 20 novels, each pretty short and able to stand alone, but as a set they are great. My dad got me hooked on these and I actually read the whole series twice! Takes you all over the world of early 1800.

There you go! I love each of these, hope you do too.