Here are a few books that I have enjoyed over the years:
1. Foundation – Isaac Asimov. The end of the Galactic Empire is predicted by a mathematician, who goes on to establish a Foundation to preserve knowledge through the ensuing dark ages. This is a classic novel that ages well considering it was written in the early 1950’s.
2. The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury. A collection of short stories. My favorites include “Dark They Were and Golden Eyed” and “The Vedlt”. Masterful writing.
3. The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester. I’ll confess that I read this because a character on Babylon 5 was named Alfred Bester. The novel blew my mind.
4. Snowcrash – Neal Stephenson. One of my favorite Cyberpunk novels. The near-future world with burbclaves and Mafia-controlled pizza joints is all to easy to see. Very funny and smart.
5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams. A must read to have any street-cred in Science Fiction circles. The Earth is blown up to make an intergalactic highway, but not before Arthur Dent, Earthling, and Ford Prefect hitchhike off of it. Strange adventures ensue.
6. Blackout/All Clear – Connie Willis. Two book series. I wouldn’t call this exactly alternate history, but more of science fiction set in history. Historians from the future can travel back in time to observe history first hand. What happens when they get trapped in London during the blitz?
7. Startide Rising/The Uplift War – David Brin. In this future, humans have “uplifted” dolphins and chimpanzees to sentience through genetic engineering. When they start travelling between the stars, they find that this path of uplift is the basis of a galactic society full of many different species. All this is the backdrop to what happens to the first dolphin-crewed starship that happens upon an ancient artifact.
1. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien. The classic adventure tale with hobbits, dwarves, elves and a dragon!
2. The Once and Future King – T. H. White. Arthurian legends novelised.
3. A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K LeGuin. A modern classic. Ged becomes an apprentice wizard, but must embark on a mission to find the darkness that he let loose in the world.
4. Tailchaser’s Song – Tad Williams. A fantasy story where all the characters are cats. A rich tale complete with cat mythology, and a hero on a quest.
5. Memory, Sorrow and Thorn – Tad Williams. A traditional fantasy trilogy where the unsuspecting hero must complete a quest to save the world from evil. However, the novels are character-driven, inventively written and have enough twists to keep the pages turning.
6. His Majesty’s Dragon – Naomi Novik. Alternate history where the Napoleonic wars are fought with dragons! Ok, I admit, alternate history is a favorite genre of mine and when you add dragons, it gets a double thumbs up.
7. Song of Fire and Ice (series) – George R. R. Martin. There actually isn’t much “magic” in this series, which is a refreshing change from many fantasy series. This is a gritty look at a feudal world, the political machinations of it, plus the threat of undead invaders and dragons. I wouldn’t let the kids read this, though. There’s a reason it is on HBO and not network television.
8. Wheel of Time (series) – Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson. Typical epic: young boy discovers he has strange powers – is he destined to save the world against evil? However, the character-rich storytelling expands the story until it fills 14+ books. I think the last book is due out next year. Sadly, the author, Robert Jordan, passed away before finishing it, but left extensive notes, so the story is being finished by Brandon Sanderson.