Science Fiction Books

2 weeks ago Joy Jennings Comments Off on Science Fiction Books

Science fiction (now referred to as sf, and no longer sci-fi, which is trés passé) enthusiasts will quibble and mutter and debate on the absolute best science fiction books to read—if they were all asked for recommendations.  But they likely will also stop butting heads long enough to give nods to the finest writers of the science fiction books of the last 100 or so years.

While I am not an sf scholar, I do have preferences, those based on the best experiences with particular authors and particular science fiction works—that I leap to recommend to anyone who asks.   So if you were to ask me what science fiction books you should read before you die, I would whole-heartedly (even aggressively) insist on the following writers and or books, briefly discussed here in no particular order, save that I will use or hold the best (of the best) for first and last:

Nineteen Eighty-Four (best known as 1984); George Orwell: frightening future (that is here?) featuring Big Brother, surveillance, heavy-handed censorship (re-languaging, actually, for political purposes), utter removal of individuality, freedom, and privacy.  Terrifyingly real.

The Handmaid’s Tale; Margaret Atwood: dystopia, yanking women from their homes, stripping them of their identity, turning them into baby-makers and servants to the patriarchy.

Fahrenheit 451°; Ray Bradbury: book burning.  Period.

The Martian Chronicles; Ray Bradbury: Fascinating other-world exploration.

Slaughterhouse Five; Kurt Vonnegut: Experimenting on humans and the course of human nature—for a change?

The Sirens of Titan; Kurt Vonnegut: space travel with moguls and more, much more.

Woman on the Edge of Time; Marge Piercy: insanity, institutionalization, and “visions” of (or visits by, actually) future humans.

The Time Machine; H. G. Wells: the first time travel, in colorful exegesis; a classic, of course.

A Clockwork Orange; Anthony Burgess: futuristic crime, a new lexicon, and the answer to and consequences of that gang behavior.  Graphic.

Dune; Frank Herbert: bordering on fantasy, featuring the adventures of a messiah-sort.

Dahlgren; Samuel P. Delaney: also bordering on fantasy, featuring cool use of holograms as talismans before holograms were cool—or used much.

The Left Hand of Darkness; Ursula K. LeGuin: hermaphroditic culture met by earthling.

The Dispossessed; Ursula K. LeGuin: utopia, with epic twists.

The Unreasoning Mask; Philip Jose Farmer, journey into the cosmos toward God (who is a baby).

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer; Phillip K. Dick: intellectually demanding, inversions, tromp l’oeil for the mind.

Ubik; Phillip K. Dick: more dystopia, futuristic exploration of commerce and product.

And anything else by Phillip K. Dick, as well as most works by Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov, Thomas Disch, Poul Anderson, and Robert Heinlein—the royalty of the world of sf and science fiction books.