Some time ago, I ‘fessed up to not having read a bunch of books that I really should have by now. Several were key science-fiction novels: Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and 1984. I’m proud to announce that I just finished the first and have plans to read the next two soon.
In fact, I’ve gone one step further: I’ve decided to teach a class on the Science Fiction novel because it’s such a weak area for me. Of course, this decision means that I am now scrambling to put together a book list and syllabus for the fall. I won’t assign any of the big three I just listed only because I think most everyone else in the world has read them, but I’d like to invite my friends and future students to tell me what their ideal sci-fi reading list would include. Here’s my to-do list, roughly chronological, which should, you know, only take me seven years or so.
I need to narrow this list down to a manageable semester’s worth of reading. I’ve highlighted in green the ones I’m strongly considering, and most of the works have links to either a Wikipedia article or some other information. Please weigh in: what should I definitely include? What should I junk? What am I missing?
And coming soon . . . the horror reading list, for which I will also shamelessly ask your help.
Mary Shelley, The Last Man (1826)
Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1870), The Mysterious Island (1874)–one of these would seem a must, probably Leagues cuz I can’t resist a giant squid.
Samuel Butler, Erewhon (1872)
Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward (1888)
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World (1912)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (1915)
H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness (1932)
Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man (1951)
Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood’s End (1953)–I love the Overlords, but maybe I’m just weird.
Theodore Sturgeon, More than Human (1953)
James Blish, A Case of Conscience (1958): thanks to reader below!
Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers (1959)–I got bored
Madeline L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time (1962)–haven’t read since childhood, but remember loving it.
Frank Herbert, Dune (1965)
Anna Kavan, Ice (1967): thanks to Daniel for the suggestion!
Doris Lessing, Memoirs of a Survivor (1974): thanks to reader below.
Douglass Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
K. W. Jeter, Morlock Night (1979)–need something steampunk-y?
William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)–establishes cyberpunk, so a must?
P. D. James, The Children of Men (1992)
Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age (1995)
Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow (1996): thanks to Max for recommending.
Garth Nix, Shade’s Children (1997)
Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines (2001)
Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (2003)
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2005)
Scott Westerfeld, The Uglies (2005)–have all sorts of problems with this trilogy, which is why I sort of want to teach at least the first book?
After this point, I’m just stealing from recommended lists, mostly from io9.
Charles Stross, Glasshouse (2006)
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl (2009)
David Wong, John Dies at the End (2009)
Cherie Priest, Boneshaker (2009): thanks to Patti.
Ted Chiang, The Lifecycle of Software Objects (2010)
Mira Grant, Feed (2010)
Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe (2010)
John Scalzi, Redshirts (2012)
Madeline Ashby, Vn (2012)
Will McIntosh, Love Minus Eighty (2013)
Austin Grossman, You (2013)
Fitz-James O’Brien, “The Diamond Lens” (1858) and “The Wonder Smith” (1859)
Jack London, “The Unparalleled Invasion” (1910) and “The Red One” (1918)
John Campbell, “Twilight” (1934), “Who Goes There?” (1938)–it inspired The Thing; how can I resist?
Ray Bradbury, “Marionettes, Inc.” (1949), “The Zero Hour” (1951), selections from The Martian Chronicles (1950)–oh, and everything else as well.
Philip K. Dick, Paycheck” (1952), “The Adjustment Team” (1954), “The Minority Report” (1956), “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (1966),“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” (1968), A Scanner Darkly (1977)–how can I pick? All of ’em?
Robert Heinlein, “–All You Zombies–” (1959)
Daniel Keyes, “Flowers for Algernon” (1959)
Brian Aldiss, “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long” (1969)–inspiration for A.I.
Charles Stross, “Rogue Farm” (2003)
Graphic Novels, Manga, etc.
Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira (1982)
Alan Moore, Watchmen (1987),The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (1999)
Masamune Shirow, Ghost in the Shell (1989)
Vaughn, Brian K, Y: The Last Man (2002): thanks to Casey for recommendation.