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Thursday, July 19, 2012

A SF-nal Journey in Books 1987-2011 (by Liviu Suciu)

Inspired by the new book "Science Fiction the 101 Best Novels 1985-2010" by Damien Broderick and Paul di Filippo on which I commented extensively a couple of days ago, I decided to describe my journey into sf with a sample of the books that stayed with me until today. 

As usual only one mention per author, so below you will find 97 books/series by 101 authors that reflect the best of the best in my sf-nal reading experience across the years. Enjoy!


Mary Gentle, Ancient Light (1987)
Jack Vance, Araminta Station (1987)
Julian May, Intervention (1987)

David Zindell, Neverness  (1988)
Isaac Asimov, Prelude to Foundation (1988)
Harry Harrison, Return to Eden (1988)

Dan Simmons, Hyperion (1989)
Arthur Clarke and Gentry Lee, Rama II (1989)
David Gerrold, A Rage for Revenge (1989)
Sheri S Tepper, Grass (1989)
Greg Benford, Tides of Light (1989)

Iain M Banks, Use of Weapons (1990)
AA Attanasio, The Last Legends of Earth (1990)
David Brin, Earth (1990)
L.E Modesitt, The Ecologic Secession (1990)

George Turner, Brain Child (1991)
Lois Bujold, Barrayar (1991)
Stephen Donaldson, The Gap Series (1991-1996)

Walter Jon Williams, Aristoi (1992)   
Kate Elliott, Jaran (1992)
Charles Sheffield, Cold as Ice (1992) 

David Weber, On Basilisk Station (1993)
Daniel Keys Moran, The Last Dancer (1993)
Greg Bear, Moving Mars (1993)
Mary Rosenblum, Chimera (1993)
Gene Wolfe, Nightside the Long Sun (1993)
Nancy Kress, Beggars in Spain (1993)
Jack McDevitt, The Engines of God (1994)
C.J. Cherryh, Foreigner (1994) 
Robert Reed, Beyond the Veil of Stars (1994)
Harry Turtledove, In the Balance (1994)
S. Andrew Swann, Specters of the Dawn (1994)

William Barton, When Heaven Fell (1995)
Eleanor Arnason, Ring of Swords (1995)
Stephen Baxter, The Time Ships (1995)
Christopher Priest, The Prestige (1995)
Valerie Freireich, Becoming Human (1995)

Peter Hamilton, The Reality Dysfunction (1996)
Jane Emerson (Doris Egan), City of Diamond (1996) 
Richard Garfinkle, Celestial Matters (1996)
Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow/Children of God (1996/1998)
Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Steven Barnes, Beowulf's Children (1996)
Lisanne Norman, Fire Margins (1996)

Greg Egan, Diaspora (1997)
Sarah Zettel, Fool's War (1997)

John Barnes, Earth Made of Glass (1998)
Ian McLeod, The Summer Isles (1998)
Howard Hendrix, Standing Wave (1998)
Ken MacLeod, The Cassini Division (1998)

Jon Courtenay Grimwood, reMix (1999)
Sean Williams and Shane Dix, Evergence (1999-2001)
China MiƩville, Perdido Street Station (2000)
Eric Flint, 1632 (2000)
John Meaney, Paradox (2000)
Alastair Reynolds, Revelation Space (2000)

Tony Daniel, Metaplanetary (2001)
Eduard Prugovecki, Memoirs of the Future (2001)
Neal Asher, Gridlinked (2001)
Brian Stableford, The Cassandra Complex/Emortality (2001-6)
Richard Paul Russo, The Ship of Fools (2001) 
Donald Kingsbury, Psychohistorical Crisis (2001)

John C Wright, The Golden Age (2002) 
M John Harrison, Light (2002)
Richard Morgan, Altered Carbon (2002)

Adam Roberts, Stone (2003)
John Ringo, There Will be Dragons (2003)
Justina Robson, Natural History (2003) 
Chris Moriarty, Spin State (2003)

David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)
Gary Gibson, Angel Stations (2004)
Liz Williams, Banner of Souls (2004)
John Brosnan, Mothership (2004)
Ian McDonald, River of Gods (2004) 

Marc Von Schlegell, Venusia (2005) 
Jim Grimsley, The Ordinary (2005)
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2005)
Robert Charles Wilson, Spin (2005)

Peter Watts, Blindsight (2006)
Michael Flynn, Eifelheim (2006)  

Mark Van Name, One Jump Ahead (2007)
Rhys Hughes, The Crystal Cosmos (2007)
David Gunn, Death's Head (2007)
Marianne de Pierres, Dark Space (2007)

Gwyneth Jones, Spirit (2008)
Paul McAuley, The Quiet War (2008)
Christopher Evans, Omega (2008) 
Neal Stephenson, Anathem (2008) 

Brian D'Amato, In the Courts of the Sun (2009)
George Mann, The Osiris Ritual (2009)
Jaine Fenn, Consorts of Heaven (2009)
Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood (2009)

Jean Christophe Valtat, Aurorarama (2010) 
James Hogan, Migration (2010)
Ali Shaw, The Girl with the Glass Feet (2010)

James Corey, Leviathan Wakes (2011)
Jane Rogers, The Testament of Jessie Lamb (2011)
John Patrick Lowrie, Dancing with Eternity (2011)


Update: After the original post and going back through my memory I added 3 more books (Beowulf's Children, Becoming Human and Fire Margins) which I still remember vividly as huge highlights of my sf reading at the time.

Most if not all the books here are ones I've read more than once at least partially and of course sometimes like Use of Weapons, On Basilisk Station, Rama II, Brain Child, Araminta Station, 1632, The Reality Dysfunction, Neverness, The Last Dancer so many times to really make it hard to count.


A. Non said...

So, when you re-read Reality Dysfunction, do you re-read the rest of the Night's Dawn trilogy? I re-read the Commonwealth Saga last year and found I didn't like it as much the second time through, but have been kicking around the thought of re-reading Night's Dawn for a while now.

Thanks for this list, I see a large number of my favorite books on here - many of which don't tend to show up on other lists that I've perused - so I'll likely try to seek out the ones I've yet to read (of which there are many)!

A. Non said...


Liviu said...

When I read a book for the 3rd time or higher, I tend to stop longer at the passages I enjoyed and go faster or even skip the parts I enjoyed less as I tend to know the book well by that time; so in this specific case I always love reading The Reality Dysfunction end to end as it is still a huge favorite but from the 2nd and 3rd volume I read much less as a lot of the "chase" action is less interesting.

There are still favorite parts (generally the parts with Ione, Quinn, Ralph Hiltch's war, the little girl and her alien friends and a few others but the Al Capone part, Louise's part and a few others are mostly skip)

As for the list, as mentioned it is what stood out for me across the years, noting that for most authors (not all as for example I do not like Niven/Pournell that much but Beowulf's Children for some reason stayed with me), I read and loved most of their (sff) work as books tend to either talk or not with me, generally based on style, once I am interested in the content of course

A. Non said...

Yeah, that makes sense. I tend to do the same on some of the books I re-read, especially if I wasn't crazy about particular sections the first time around. It's odd to describe it as such, but Night's Dawn trilogy is one of the handful of series/books that I went through some period of mourning for after I had finished it. Even taking into account the relatively short period of time I spent reading the books, it was such a well-established universe that I felt a sense of loss when I no longer could spend any time exploring - hence the desire to re-read them. I still find myself, years after reading them, thinking about the places and characters, which is suppose is odd.

I completely understand the notion of a book talking to you or not - and really appreciated the ONI designation of your last post - as I tend to make fairly quick decisions about if I'm going to enjoy a book or not (about 100 pages). I have too many books waiting to be read to spend time slogging through a book that I'm just not in tune with.

Again, thanks for the list, I’m always looking for books that I’ve missed.

Liviu said...

In a way book reading became "Darwinian" so I try a lot of books and tend to sort them quickly into "maybe later or not for me" though of course the big asap's (now Empty Space) take precedence and I really enjoy the surprises that come out of nowhere and I cannot stop reading them on opening (this year Last will and Blood Song are such).

It also depends on mood and energy/time as I do not want to "read a book just to read it and get a red ball or up my statistics on Goodreads" unless the book is a quick and unimportant read I was interested in for some reason but was not captivated enough by.

So a few weeks ago I started on a reading of Michael Cisco's work - bought all the 4 novels i did not have - and finished precisely 1 out of 7 so far, but advanced in 2 more and I plan to read those 2 in the near future when my brain can process them - now the heavy reading is for work - but i do not want to rush them as there is no point.

On the other hand Empty Space while not particularly a "beach book" either is something that I expect to finish in a few days as the first few pages are what I expected and more...

A. Non said...

The only thing I’ve read by Cisco is The Narrator – and greatly enjoyed it, even though it took roughly four times as long to read as most any other book of similar length – and have The Great Lover sitting on one of my “to-read” shelves, next to Avjaz’s The Golden Age and Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia along with a few other works that I’m excited about but really need to find the right mood to process the density of ideas they explore. Especially the Negarestani.

I’m excited about Empty Space, but have no idea when I’ll be able to slot it into my reading schedule. I suppose being spoiled for choice is a minor complaint.

J.Curtis Mace said...

Very nice list. Some I definitely agree with, and some I've never read (some I've intended to read and now have to read).

Liviu said...

Thank you for the comments!


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