PDA

View Full Version : Classic Sci fi Novels


Chris
21-10-2005, 21:13:34
I was just re-reading an old favorite of mine, Heinlein's Starship troopers, and it got me thinking on the subject.

What are the three BEST Sci Fi novels ever written?

I have to admit I'm not up on the current stuff, but many classic stories are memorable.

My criteria is how often I desire read them again, as this is the true measure (for me) of greatness.

My three would be:

3)A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller

I always find this book facsinating, the story of a post nuclear war, where the knowledge of science is preserved by the Church, a link and homage to the middle ages.

The end of the story with history repeating itself is quite moving.

2) The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

So much of Sci-Fi TV pays homage to this book and its author, the B-5 character of Bester and the psi-cops are based on this story.

For those unfamilar with it, in the future Psi-Cops investigate murder, and its nearly immpossible to get away with killing people. Of course, there is always someone that will challenge this.

1) Dune by Frank Herbert

The first Dune novel remains to me the finest piece of fiction I have ever read. Herbert wove a complex plot with multiple characters in his future study of the Messiah complex and how humans can be controlled and manipulated through genectics and religion.

The sequels never had the same imapct as the original, in which Herbert created a rich and diverse universe for his story.

Sir Penguin
22-10-2005, 00:49:12
There aren't three best SF novels of all time.

SP

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-10-2005, 07:33:18
If "A Canticle for Leibowitz " qualifies for a sci-fi description, then "Riddley Walker" by Russell Hoban might too- though I'm not sure I'd consider primitive dystopia to be "science" at all.

If it does, that's my winner. Riddley is an unforgettable character.

Fergus & The Brazen Car
22-10-2005, 09:05:19
These lists always seem to me to depend very much on individual tastes in science fiction- many people love the nuts and bolts of hard s.f. with little character development, and an overt emphasis on explanations of the workings of technology, and little extrapolation of how that technology would necessarily have effected future society.

The prose is usually a wee bit clunky too...

However, I would maintain a place for the woman who truly kick started the genre- Mary Shelley, and her novel:

'Frankenstein, Or The Modern Prometheus'-

although of course people like Swift had taken a satirical look at scientific speculators and foreunners of IgNobel prize nominees in 'The Voyage To Laputa' from 'Gulliver's Travels' :

The Knowledge I had in Mathematicks gave me great Assistance in acquiring their Phraseology, which depended much upon that Science and Musick; and in the latter I was not unskilled. Their Ideas are perpetually conversant in Lines and Figures. If they would, for Example, praise the Beauty of a Woman, or any other Animal, they describe it by Rhombs, Circles, Parallelograms, Ellipses, and other Geometrical Terms; or by Words of Art drawn from Musick, needless here to repeat. I observed in the King's Kitchen all sorts of Mathematical and Musical Instruments, after the Figures of which they cut up the Joynts that were served to his Majesty's Table.

Their Houses are very ill built, the Walls bevil without one right Angle in any Apartment; and this Defect ariseth from the Contempt they bear to practical Geometry; which they despise as vulgar and mechanick, those Instructions they give being too refined for the Intellectuals of their Workmen; which occasions perpetual Mistakes. And although they are dextrous enough upon a Piece of Paper in the Management of the Rule, the Pencil, and the Divider, yet in the common Actions and Behaviour of Life, I have not seen a more clumsy, awkward, and unhandy People, nor so slow and perplexed in their Conceptions upon all other Subjects, except those of Mathematicks and Musick. They are very bad Reasoners, and vehemently given to Opposition, unless when they happen to be of the right Opinion, which is seldom their Case. Imagination, Fancy, and Invention, they are wholly Strangers to, nor have any Words in their Language by which those Ideas can be expressed; the whole Compass of their Thoughts and Mind, being shut up within the two forementioned Sciences.

Chris
22-10-2005, 13:06:41
Fergus, Swift to me was always interested in the human condition, the later part of Guliver, after he leaves the lillputians behind is far more interesting, the time among the wyoms (sure I spelled that wrong).

Of course lists are subjective, everything in life is.

I find that I enjoy character studies more then the hardware stories usually.

I also have a fondess for post apocolyptic stories Laz, and consider them a staple of Sci Fi, even if they are usually about the regression of humanity.

Some writers were visionary, like Jules Verne, his 20 thousand leagues story has many elements we today consider common, such as deep sea divinbg and nuclear subs.

Other writers seem caught in their times or personal experiences, such as Ray Bradbury and his Martian Cronicles, which has quient things like man bringing wood to the red planet to build, and Bradbury not forseeing the civil rights movement.

The Norks
22-10-2005, 13:17:32
Isn't 'I,Robot' the definitive? Or almost anything by Asimov?

Chris
22-10-2005, 16:05:56
I find Asimov rather dry reading.

Qaj the Fuzzy Love Worm
22-10-2005, 16:54:53
Battlefield Earth. And the movie was even better than the book!

Chris
22-10-2005, 16:58:19
:bash:

Lazarus and the Gimp
22-10-2005, 18:35:38
Originally posted by Fergus & The Brazen Car
These lists always seem to me to depend very much on individual tastes in science fiction- many people love the nuts and bolts of hard s.f. with little character development, and an overt emphasis on explanations of the workings of technology, and little extrapolation of how that technology would necessarily have effected future society.


That's what I like about Iain M Banks. He's far more interested in the societies than the technology, and in "Consider Phlebas" the character of Horza is a brilliant creation.

Ursula le Guin is another genius when it comes to characters and societies. "Hard" sci-fi does nothing for me.

JM^3
22-10-2005, 19:58:19
I dislike hard sci fi generally

JM

Fergus & The Brazen Car
24-10-2005, 08:56:13
Originally posted by Chris
Fergus, Swift to me was always interested in the human condition,


And I'm not sure how anything I wrote contradicted that, so...


Swift's satire depended on his observations of the 'human condition', but that did not preclude him from satirizing the scientific speculators and philosophers of his day, nor the fanciful get rich quick schemes- who and which were all part of the 'human condition' of the 18th Century United Kingdom.

I think the 'Voyage to Laputa' is as much a science fiction satire as any 20th Century example of the subset of the genre, for instance.

King_Ghidra
24-10-2005, 09:42:12
Dune is cool, just as a unique concept and fully realised world. Probably one of the most immersive and interesting sci fi concepts. But as a read it is middling and as a story it tails off badly.

Unofrtunately i'm not very well read on sci fi on the whole.

If it qualifies, Neuromancer does the business for me. Can't really fault it.

Nills Lagerbaak
24-10-2005, 10:19:35
Does a clockwork orange count? That's a classic. as is 1984.

Venom
24-10-2005, 12:16:53
I don't know much about good Sci-Fi books, but I do know I really didn't like Starship Troopers. As a matter of fact. I hated that mother fucker.

Chris
24-10-2005, 13:40:49
ST appeals to veterans V, elements of the story are quite familar, I's surprissed it was ever as popular as it was.

Venom
24-10-2005, 13:46:47
Senor Heinlein should have just written a political essay and not tried to stuff a novel full of long dissertations about society. And farm buying.

Sir Penguin
24-10-2005, 14:56:45
Swift wrote about bio-energy and knowledge engines, both of which are staples of science fiction. I count him as a precursor to science fiction, because when he was writing, those ideas were fantastical or spiritual, not scientific. It wasn't until the industrial revolution got going that people started to think that things like space flight and mechanical people and complex computing machines might actually be possible in the real world. And that's when they started seriously thinking about how the scientific concepts would effect the human condition.

SP

The Norks
24-10-2005, 18:33:40
I like Jeff Noon but I don't know whether he qualifies as sci fi. More like futuristic sci-pop drug addled rave.

Fergus & The Brazen Car
25-10-2005, 11:05:02
Originally posted by Sir Penguin
Swift wrote about bio-energy and knowledge engines, both of which are staples of science fiction. I count him as a precursor to science fiction, because when he was writing, those ideas were fantastical or spiritual, not scientific. SP


In fact, even scientists such as Newton were also devotees of astrology and alchemy- there had still to be a hard and fast division between the spiritual or metaphysical and the rigorously scientific.


Saying that Swift wrote about bio-engines and knowledge engines is anachronistic- he satirized contemporary pie-in-the-sky theoretical and speculative scientific schemes- hence the futility of the attempt to extarct sunbeams from cucumbers.

Qaj the Fuzzy Love Worm
25-10-2005, 15:51:36
Originally posted by The Norks
I like Jeff Noon but I don't know whether he qualifies as sci fi. More like futuristic sci-pop drug addled rave.

The local library classifies Vurt as sci-fi/fantasy (they don't separate the two). I'd lean more to the fantasy side than sci-fi for that one. It's totally mental, in any case.

The Norks
25-10-2005, 19:59:41
Originally posted by Fergus & The Brazen Car
In fact, even scientists such as Newton were also devotees of astrology and alchemy- there had still to be a hard and fast division between the spiritual or metaphysical and the rigorously scientific.


Saying that Swift wrote about bio-engines and knowledge engines is anachronistic- he satirized contemporary pie-in-the-sky theoretical and speculative scientific schemes- hence the futility of the attempt to extarct sunbeams from cucumbers.

yes, everyone knows sunbeams come from oranges!

Funko
26-10-2005, 10:53:32
My favourite is Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein I guess.

BigGameHunter
31-10-2005, 06:47:22
The Left Hand of Darkness by Le Guin
Most P.K. Dick novels, but especially The Man in the High Castle and the Valis books (now available under one cover).
Most Ray Bradbury, but I like his short stories best...not as thrilled with his novels.
Pohl's Heechee books are good, but the first is great.
Farmer's Riverworld series is fun, espedially for closte historians.
Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale should be required reading by everyone. Especially now.
Don't like Asimov, personally...think he's boring.
David Brin has done some really good stuff...the Startide Rising series is very good.
Hmmm....hard to remember without being near my books.
I'm with Laz though...."hard" sci fi does nothing for me...I'm too abstract a thinker...but I'm sure it's great for those who aren't.

TCO
07-03-2006, 01:42:43
ST is the most often purchased book at USMA bookstore. I like a lot of his other ones as well. But not Stranger or the other later sex-obsessed ones. I like all on Chris's list. Also most Asimov, Clarke, Clement, etc.

Lately, can't find much good stuff.

JM^3
07-03-2006, 05:01:39
I like Cherryh, Vinge, and Wolfe

Reynolds is decent also

JM

chagarra
07-03-2006, 11:40:01
There is so much good new sci fi around, that it's very hard to keep up with it, let alone go back in history.. Fictionwise send me their new lists every fortnight, and I can only skim the cream...

MoSe
07-03-2006, 11:43:03
TCO's T must stand for Time... :lol:

I stick with the masterpiece I got imprinted with:
'City' by Clifford D. Simak

Then for sure almost anyting by Sheckley, the one I preferred was "Scambio Mentale", the original english title should be "Mindswap" or something.

And Laz & BGH should also appreciate Sturgeon, although I can't recall whether he wrote novels too