Science Fiction: an introduction

From Bizarre Hatred of Random Celebrities at Worldcrossing:

Chris H: Earlier this month, when I was out west with the GF visiting her family in Berkeley, one of her nephews (about 16) was reading Heinlein's Starship Troopers, and apparently enjoying it. I made a little commentary on the controversies over that book, and told him that after he was done, he should read Haldeman's The Forever War, which is basically a deconstruction of Starship Troopers. He seemed interested, and asked me what other SF-type books I would recommend. can anyone suggest any(thing)? I'm probably not going to recommend anything to him that I haven't read, so I'm mainly asking you to prod my memory a little. Plus, of course, I'm always happy to get additions for my own reading list.

Jesus Christ--an introductory list, or a greatest of all time list? Introductory for now:

I'd say the works of Philip K. Dick--the period of Man in the High Castle and Martian Time-Slip is best; his later works (VALIS; Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said and A Scanner Darkly) are for more advanced readers.

Philip Farmer in 'adventure mode"--the World of Tiers series, the Riverworld series are easy to get into and great fun (not to mention hugely impressive and educational). His ultraviolent sex novels--Blown and A Feast Unknown--are strictly for adults. But his Tarzan Alive! (a mock biography) is a fascinating read, and so is his Doc Savage: An Apocalyptic Life. And his short stories are some of the weirdest I've ever read.

John Sladek--prefer him over Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut. Mechasm, The Muller Fokker Effect, and the Roderick books (Roderick and Roderick at Random).

H.G. Welles--of course. The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Island of Dr. Moreau (arguably his masterpiece).

Stanislaw Lem--Solaris, of course. Tarkovsky's film has its passing strangeness and beauty, but the novel is so much bigger than either film version. Forget the Soderbergh remake.

Miyazaki--he's not just an anime filmmaker; his Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is one of the finest examples of ecological science fiction ever written, as well as (in my opinion) an acute psychological portrait of a girl developing into a messiah figure, leading her people either to salvation or possible doom.

Thomas Disch--Camp Concentration and 334, tho the latter might be a bit too advanced.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein--but of course.

Alfred Bester--the two novels (The Demolished Man, Stars My Destination) and all the short stories. This man was never rejected by a publisher, by the way.

J.G. Ballard--Empire of the Sun and The Crystal World are great introductory reads. Then when he is (if ever) ready, he can take on High Rise, The Atrocity Exhibition, and Crash.

Frederick Pohl--his collaborations with C.M. Kornbluth (whose short stories are also worth reading) are great: The Space Merchants, Gladiator at Law. And Gateway is a great novel all by itself.

Alan Moore--V for Vendetta, Watchmen; when he's a little bigger Miracleman, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Then when he's bigger than that, From Hell...

A.E. Van Vogt--prefer his short stories, but Slan is pretty good...oh, and The Voyage of the Space Beagle, one episode of which was the basis for Alien...

And ditto on Walter Miller's A Canticle for Liebowitz. Throw in Michael Moorcock (The Jerry Cornelius novels, the short stories); Brian Aldiss; Gregory Benford (Timescape); Gene Wolfe (The Book of the New Sun is a tremendous piece of work); James Tiptree, Jr.; Jack Vance; Richard Matheson; Robert Bloch; Cordwainer Smith; Damon Knight.

What else? I'll probably be adding more to this list. Beyond all that, and beyond Wells (in my opinion) are late Dick, more violent Farmer, more experimental Ballard (he kind of leaves all these cyberpunks behind in the dust) and Olaf Stapledon. Him I'd save for last.

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