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Gradually, he introduces 19th century technology so the clever Morgan soon has an easy life. That does not stop him from making disparaging, tongue-in-cheek remarks about the inequalities and imperfections of life in Camelot Wells classic science fiction Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles Dealing With Dragons Searching for Dragons Calling on Dragons Talking to Dragons Book of Enchantments - short stories featuring Princess Cimarone Boxed set of Books Cimorene, princess of Linderwall, is a classic tomboy heroine with classic tomboy strengths--all of which are perceived by those around her as defects Pre-teen Readers These three series were written by three friends, members of the same Oxford writing group Would-be spellwright i.

For Nico, anything he touches is instantly misspelled, and when this happens with magical texts, the consequences can be deadly Chronicles of Narnia boxed set of 7 by C. Tolkein Hobbits are small, furry creatures who love nothing better than a leisurely life quite free from adventure. But in that first novel easier reading and the Lord of the Rings trilogy much more difficult reading , the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo and their elfish friends get swept up into mighty conflicts Douglas Adams Dent is grabbed from Earth moments before a cosmic construction team obliterates the planet to build a freeway.

You'll never read funnier science fiction; Adams is a master of intelligent satire, barbed wit, and comedic dialogue The Riders are an elite messenger corps using both horses and magic; the message is a terrible warning. Bad things from bad places are invading this fantasyland A significant portion of the humor of the strip is based on the characters being aware of the game rules which govern their lives By Michael Chabon Summerland A gifted child's review It really gets you to thinking: Even though our universe may be infinite, could it just be a tiny part of something big?

Along with their Great-Uncle Merry, they become embroiled in a web of intrigue that surrounds an Arthurian legend. Marc and George are the only Earth samples in the vast traveling zoo en route to an undisclosed alien marketplace Monica Furlong Wise Child - about a young girl's apprenticeship to a "good" witch, set in the British Isles soon after King Arthur's time Juniper - the prequel, but read it second Robert A. Heinlein see more titles in Young Adult Starman Jones - the stories Heinlein wrote for serialization in boy scout magazines, later published as books Have space suit - will travel - Teenager Kip Russell, infatuated with the idea of traveling to the Moon, enters a contest to win such an opportunity Glory road - Heinlein's one true fantasy novel, Glory Road is as much fun today as when he wrote it The Door into Summer - the quintessential time travel paradox story In modern-day London, Lucien Mulholland undergoes chemotherapy treatments, but when he falls asleep clutching a mysterious book his father has given him, he is transported, or "stravagated," to an enchanting 16th-century Venice-like city called Bellezza, in the country Talia.

Lucien can return only if he can get hold of the book again. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the "ultimate sacrifice" for a "noble destiny" They're pun for the whole family! Will mortality be defeated? Will good be victorious over Satan and evil? Interesting ethical ramifications Presents thoughtful questions and moral dilemmas The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - tale of revolution on the moon in , where "Loonies" are kept poor and oppressed by an Earth-based Authority that turns huge profits at their expense Tunnel in the sky - What was to have been a standard ten-day survival test had suddenly become an indefinite life-or-death nightmare.

Now they were stranded somewhere in the universe Orphans of the sky - a ship drifting through the currents of space as a microcosm of society, complete with class struggles, politics, and love and family Citizen of the Galaxy - In a distant galaxy, the atrocity of slavery was alive and well, and young Thorby was just another orphaned boy sold at auction. But his new owner is not what he appears to be As natural accidents occurred without cease, Alec knew Armageddon and the Day of Judgment were near Expanded Universe - an interesting alternate view of Heinlein's writing including many stories not featured in other anthologies, with some of his nonfiction opinions interspersed An imaginary world, full of humor, parody and fun!

One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human Followed by two more titles, Linger and Forever. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get back Isabel Culpeper. She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more. He doesn't just want her.

He needs her. The Scorpio Races or on Kindle - Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them--until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her. His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys.

Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. Kurt Vonnegut Sirens of Titan - The richest and most depraved man on Earth takes a wild space journey to distant worlds, learning about the purpose of human life along the way Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty Excellent stories for kids and adults alike -- you might even read them together! Internal Revenue Code. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. Contact us by e-mail at Hoagies' Gifted, Inc. Click for Privacy Policy.

Shop Amazon and support Hoagies' Page. Hot Topics! Reading List of The Wizard of Oz. Tik-Tok of Oz. The Marvelous Land of Oz. The Scarecrow of Oz. Ozma of Oz. Rinkitink in Oz. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. The Lost Princess of Oz. Road to Oz. The Tin Woodman of Oz. The Emerald City of Oz. The Magic of Oz. The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Glinda of Oz. Little Wizard Stories of Oz. The Royal Book of Oz. On the Dog. In the Deep. In the Bathroom. In Time. In the Kitchen. On Earth. In the Garden. With the Dinosaurs. Under Water. In the Ice Age. In the Whale. In the Garbage.

On the Reef. With the Bats. The Field Guide. The Ironwood Tree. The Seeing Stone. The Wrath of Mulgrath. Lucinda's Secret. Notebook for Fantastical Observations. The Nixie's Song. Among the Hidden. Among the Barons. Among the Impostors. Among the Brave. Among the Betrayed. Among the Enemy. The Akhenaten Adventure. The Blue Djinn Of Babylon. The Capture. The Journey. The Rescue. The Siege. The Shattering. The Burning. The Fairy's Mistake. Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep. The Princess Test. Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg.

The Princess Tales, Volume I. Cinderellis and the Glass Hill. The Princess Tales, Volume 2. For Biddle's Sake. The Wish. The Fairy's Return. Dave at Night. The Two Princesses of Bamarre. The Forests Of Silence. Dread Mountain. The Lake Of Tears. The Maze Of The Beast. City of the Rats. The Valley of the Lost. The Shifting Sands. Return to Del. Cavern Of Fear. The Shadowlands.

The Isle Of Illusion. Deltora Book Of Monsters. Dragon's Nest.


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Isle of the Dead. Sister Of The South. Rowan of Rin. Rowan and the Zebak. Rowan and the Travelers. Rowan and the Ice Creepers. This list presents my picks for the Top 25 Science Fiction Books.

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There will be some glaring omissions of some classics, but with these sort of lists you have to exclude more than you include especially if you want to include any recent science fiction. This list tries to balance "modern" science fiction with classic reads. Keep in mind that there will be a "Classics" list and a "Modern Classics" that will help fill out the "holes" that a list like this in-veritably ends up with. I posit there is a lot more you can do with science fiction to ask deep questions than one can do with fantasy, if only because science fiction tries to cloak itself in the appearance of reality or at least a possible reality.

I try my best to pick out books with great ideas that have influenced the genre, but I also select based on the strength of the story and characters. Alas, some compromises have to be made, especially in this genre. Modern science fiction puts a lot more emphasis on story and characterization, however.

I generally find science fiction written the past twenty years more entertaining from a story standpoint than some of the older classics due to the inclusion of things like a solid plot and strong characterization. But the older classics, light on story and plot that they might be, still deserve a place for the sheer influence they have had on the genre. True classics stand the test of time and the ideas presented still age well. Science Fiction has it a bit harder than other genres because the science in the books might end up wrong in light of recent discovery which then puts the book in an awkward place -- a classic for it's time but with faulty science.

These are my top 25 picks for the best science fiction books ever written. Some are well known, some are less so, but all are absolutely worth reading. It's always a tough choice making a Top 25 list as it excludes so many good books. Note, if you want to see our older best list with the older crowd list rankings for that, visit the Top 25 Alternative Best Science Fiction Books list and view the crowd list there -- we have several years of crowd ranking data for the best SF books there.

I mean, can anyone get too much of this? Epic vistas, noble heroes, the blackest of villains, the scariest of creatures! In this book, Frank Herbert just got everything right. Which is why, 50 years later, it still comes out top when you look for the best science fiction novel ever.

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The story begins with a drug, the "spice" melange, which is essential for the mental powers of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, and also for space travel. Whoever controls melange, therefore, has immense political power. The drug is found in only one place, the desert world Arrakis, but when the Emperor gives control of Arrakis to the Atreides family it is actually a trap, and when power-hungry Baron Harkonnen springs the trap only young Paul Atreides and his mother are able to escape into the desert.

Here they join with the native Fremen, desert-dwellers who have learned to live with very little water, and who have tamed the mighty sand worms. Here we discover that Paul is the end result of an immense genetic breeding programme controlled by the Bene Gesserit designed to produce someone with awesome mental powers.

As the messiah of the Fremen, Paul uses his mental powers to shape them into an incredible military force to challenge the Harkonnens and the Emperor. It's an action-packed adventure story that grabs you by the throat and keeps pushing you on from first page to last. Once you pick it up, it's really very hard to put the book down. But alongside the action there's a potent ecological message that just gets more relevant as time goes on. Frankly, this is the sort of book where you just want more. Which is actually part of the problem. Frank Herbert ended up writing five sequels to the original novel, and since his death his son, Brian Herbert, has collaborated with Kevin J.

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Anderson with a whole long list of sequels and prequels. As for the various volumes by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, they are only worth reading if you are so addicted to the Dune universe that you'll take any new fix. Forget the sequels, just re-read the original novel, it's worth it. Dune ranks 1 on our list Dune won the Hugo Award and also the inaugural Nebula Award.

It has been hailed as one of the monuments of modern science fiction, and Arthur C. Clarke said that he knew "nothing comparable to it except The Lord of the Rings. And, it's damn exciting read to boot. If that's not enough to qualify this book as one of the best, if not the best, I don't know what is. The Book of the New Sun. The first volume in this quartet starts amid dark, forbidding towers, where young Severian is apprenticed to a Guild of Torturers.

Sound like fantasy? Because those towers are actually long-abandoned rocket ships. The picture of a man in armour that we see inside one of the towers is actually a famous photograph of Buzz Aldrin taken on the moon. This, we realise, is the far future, a future where the world is starting to run down and the people await a saviour who will renew the sun.

When Severian is expelled from the guild for putting one prisoner out of her misery, we follow him into a society that is crowded and colourful and mysterious. Here there are aliens, though for a while we don't realise they are aliens because everyone is so used to them that they don't pay them any special attention. Here there are augmented people, and strange technological advances, but knowledge of these has long been lost. As we pick our way through the story we realise that there is a huge amount of stuff going on that we only glimpse out of the corner of the eye, and each time you re-read the work you notice something else so that the story becomes ever richer and more rewarding.

Our narrator, Severian, has a perfect memory, but don't let that fool you into thinking he's a reliable narrator; he leaves things out so that there are always surprises awaiting the reader. But there is so much going on in the story that you sometimes don't notice when he's left things out, because there are wars and betrayals and miracles and mysteries and people raised from the dead, and Severian's journey includes companions who may or may not be reliable, assassins attempting to kill him for reasons he doesn't understand, attacks by terrifying creatures, and the staggering revelation that he is actually the next autarch.

Gene Wolfe is the finest stylist writing in science fiction, it is always a pleasure to read his books. But The Book of the New Sun marks the high point of his career, a subtle and brilliantly readable blending of science fiction and fantasy, which is reflected in the fact that all four volumes won at least one major award. Campbell Memorial Award. It is hard to dispute the fact that Robert Heinlein is the most important figure in the history of American science fiction.

More than any other writer, his work embodied the hard sf aesthetic encouraged by John W. Campbell at Astounding. And for thirty years, from the s to the s, Heinlein was the dominant figure that every other science fiction writer looked up to. Year in, year out, he wrote novel after novel that became instant classics, so many, indeed, that it is hard to choose just one that represents his work at its very best.

But in the end the one that stands out for us is The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It's the story of a revolt by a lunar colony that is mostly made up of criminals and political exiles. The hero is Mannie, a computer technician who discovers that the Lunar Authority's master computer has achieved self-awareness, and through the computer he learns that if the colony doesn't stop exporting hydroponic wheat to Earth there will soon be starvation.

This is the background for a revolution, with the "Loonies" fighting for independence by dropping rocks on the Earth. Eventually, the colonists win, but the result isn't all that they had hoped for. The novel provides a platform for Heinlein to discuss themes familiar from a lot of his work, including non-traditional social and sexual organisation here, for instance, the idea of the line marriage, with new people joining the marriage at regular intervals so it is virtually unending , and libertarian politics.

In later books, this philosophizing would come to overwhelm the work, but here he has it perfectly balanced with a dramatic plot. Which is why this is probably the best of his books. Why It's On the List. A successful venture capitalist with billions in the bank, Mike Cohen has it all figured out. Brainocytes transform the human experience, making you smarter, faster, and more powerful. With enemies at every turn, Mike must use his newly enhanced capabilities to save his family, his friends, and ultimately, the world.

The Dispossessed has been acclaimed as a new approach to utopian literature, but we should pay attention to the subtitle that appears in most editions of the book: "An Ambiguous Utopia". Le Guin is never straightforward in her presentation of the various societies in her novels, there is always a subtlety, an ambiguity, which is what makes her undoubtedly one of the finest of all science fiction writers.

On the planet Urras, the societies reflect the time when Le Guin was writing the novel. There is one state, A-Io, that calls to mind the capitalist society of the United States, and another, Thu, that has something of the statist communism of the Soviet Union. In contrast, on the moon Anarres, there is a functioning anarchist society based on the teaching of Odo.

But we should not read Anarres as utopian, there are all sorts of restrictions on life there, as our protagonist, Shevek, discovers. He is a scientist working on a revolutionary new theory of time, and there are limitations on how far he can advance while on Anarres. So he travels to Urras in order to exchange ideas with the scientists there, only to discover that he faces different but equally frustrating restrictions there. In alternating chapters we follow Shevek on Anarres and on Urras, incidents in one often being reflected in a similar incident in the other, so that we are constantly able to compare and contrast the different societies.

And while the purity of the anarchist society is presented very positively, we also see ways in which the capitalist and communist societies of Urras have an advantage. Beautifully written, vividly realised, and packed with ideas that make us constantly reassess our views on the different political systems in the novel, this is a prime example of science fiction as the literature of ideas. Little wonder that it won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards.

As an alternative choice for this spot on the list we can present Le Guin's other work as an alternative read if you want another choice. Ursula Le Guin is, deservedly, one of the most highly acclaimed writers in science fiction. Set on a planet known as Winter, it describes a society in which people are gender neutral and only take on sexual characteristics once a month at a time known as kemmer. At this time an individual might take on the characteristics of either sex, so the novel works as a thought experiment about what it would be like to have no male and no female.

The result is one of the most challenging and the most inspiring books in science fiction. Hyperion Cantos. A fantastic Hugo-winning space opera that merges the narrative element of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales with a futuristic space opera set in the distant future. The whole series not just the first book is based on the assumption that man's conquering the stars is inevitable and the complexities and troubles this brings.

The sequence consists of two pairs of novels. The first pairing, Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, introduces a group of six travellers who set out on a pilgrimage to the Time Tombs on Hyperion, a pilgrimage that is a certain death sentence. For these pilgrims are seeking out the Shrike, a god like creature that legend says will kill all but one pilgrim, granting the one survivor a wish.

During the journey the travellers, like Chaucer's pilgrims before them, each tell a story, and through the stories we find out what drove them to this desperate journey. The second pair of novels, Endymion and The Rise of Endymion, is set nearly years later and concerns a soldier, Raul Endymion who is unfairly condemned to death and rescued to perform a serious of hazardous tasks. The most important of these is to protect Aenea, a time traveller from the past who represents a threat to the all-powerful Church.

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These are dark novels, exploring the suffering of the human soul -- both physical, emotional, and spiritual. Don't go reading this if you are looking for a light, happy go lucky read. Star Wars this is not, so don't think about this book if you want something happy. The entire sequence depicts one grand hall of suffering, from the decrepit, dying world that's on the verge of collapse, to the tortured pilgrims who've given up all hope and are gambling their lives on a pipe dream shot of hope, to the "messiah of hope" the pilgrims are seeking, which is in fact in itself a missionary of pain and suffering with less empathy than one of the Greek gods.

It's brilliant and I hazard to say the best damn space opera science fiction out there. The titles, and the appearance of a character called John Keat, show that this sequence is heavily influenced by the poetry of John Keats, and it is indeed a gloriously poetic work. But it is also filled with stark and striking science fictional imagery.

This is an ambitious, powerful and successful sequence that shows just how much science fiction can achieve when it sets its mind to it. Hyperion, even in , still stands as the gold standard of how to do complex space opera right. And not just space opera, but deep space opera that explores real human themes. Hyperion is a deeply human tale about flawed humans. But it's also a tale the covers the broad spectrum too -- romance, action, space battles, AI gone amok, time travel, and much more.

The first two books are best, but the sequel duology -- which covers events many many years after the fallout from the first two books -- also explores some interesting science fiction concepts too. Look, just read the damn books -- they are the best of the best.

The Sprawl. If you want to know the most influential science fiction novel of the last thirty-odd years, look no further than William Gibson's Neuromancer. The novel didn't invent cyberpunk; two films that came out a couple of years earlier, Tron and Blade Runner, had already introduced some of the themes of cyberpunk.

And the term itself was invented by Gardner Dozois talking about a novel by Bruce Bethke. Nevertheless, it's safe to say that without Neuromancer, there would have been no cyberpunk. Neuromancer wasn't the first science fiction novel set among the low life and street people of the near future, but Gibson inhabited the Sprawl with utter conviction, inventing a street slang that caught on in the real world. In this underground, Case is a washed-up hacker whose been treated with drugs to stop him accessing the Matrix ever again, while Molly is a street samurai who offers case a cure in exchange for his services.

Through a violent world of double-dealing corporations and government cover-ups, Case and Molly risk their lives in the bright and threatening landscape of cyberspace, following a trail that eventually leads them to Wintermute, a powerful AI at a time when machine intelligence is banned.

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A heady mixture of computer know-how and grimy film noir action, Neuromanceris like no novel before it, a totally original and absolutely gripping take on the near future. Neuromancer was the first novel ever to win the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Awards. It also set the tone for cyberpunk and made Gibson one of the most acclaimed of modern writers.

Neuromancer didn't just catch the zeitgeist, it created it, giving us terms like "cyberspace" and "ICE", and being instrumental in the way the World Wide Web developed. In a balkanised Los Angeles, where everything is privatised and the economy is breaking down, a new computer virus appears that affects the users as much as their computers.

A key part of this future is the Metaverse, Stephenson's futuristic version of the Internet where people "log on" via virtual goggles. Everything is conducted through the Metaverse, from business to dating. Stephenson not only presents us with a very realistic look at what could be, but there are some subtle social observations about the way things are different and the same.

Stephenson frames the modern social constructs intruding into this cyberworld; ones' social wealth is judged by the look of the avatar they use to interact with the Metaverse, with the wealthy being able to afford custom while the "poor" use off the shelf. This book has it all, from hacker heroes who wield Samurai sword destruction by night in the Metaverse and deliver pizza by day for the Mob, governments and police controlled by private corporations, and a conspiracy that might the world needs some saving from.

Joe Haldeman has said: "Our field has produced only a few works of actual genius, and this is one of them. This is an out and out brilliant novel that does things no science fiction novel had attempted before, and very few have attempted since. It took the sf field by storm, and it has had a greater effect on more writers than just about any other book.

The innocent man condemned to a lingering death is Gully Foyle, the sole survivor of an attack upon his ship, but when another ship passes by he is ignored. When he does manage to return to Earth he is anxious for revenge, and having unearthed a fortune he gets his chance. This is a much darker novel than most of the far future space operas being written at the time. It's a violent story and Gully Foyle is no hero. But the rich and poetic language, the word play and the sheer fun of Bester's writing, the vivid colourful future, the breathtaking escapades, all keep us glued to the story and cheering him on.

Thirty years before William Gibson wrote Neuromancer, Alfred Bester was inventing many of the tropes of cyberpunk. The result is an unputdownable novel that demands to be read over and over again. Samuel R. Delany claims that this is considered by many to be the greatest single sf novel, while Robert Silverberg insists it is on everybody's top ten list.

It's an unforgettable tale that just gets better every time you read it. And it's a gripping, very human, very disturbing tale about the extent men will go to for revenge, and the ultimate futility of the event. Read this one if you have not because you can't call yourself well read in the genre if you've missed it. And you might just be surprised how good the read is and how well aged it still is even in Philip K. Dick was one of the most idiosyncratic and successful writers in science fiction. Okay, he's probably better known these days for all the films that have been based on his work, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau and heaven knows how many others.

Certainly there have been many more films based on Dick's fiction than any other sf writer. But forget the films, even the great ones, like Blade Runner, can't begin to match the compelling weirdness of the novels. Dick used to explore the same ideas in novel after novel. Reality was undermined, usually as a result of drugs; there was a truth under the illusion of the world, but it wasn't always good to learn that truth; things we trust turn out to be unreliable. And yet, the novels were far from samey, indeed the narrow range of obsessions resulted in an incredibly wide range of fiction.

What's more, Dick wrote with a mordant wit that made his work consistently among the funniest of all science fiction. Because he was so prolific, and because he hit the target so frequently, it is very difficult to choose just one book as a representative of his work. In the end we chose The Man in the High Castle, which in some ways seems a very untypical book because there is none of the pyrotechnic weirdness that often turns up in his fiction.

Indeed, the novel seems like a fairly conventional alternate history in which the Axis Powers won the Second World War. As a result, in the s of the novel, America is divided in three; Germany rules the East Coast, Japan controls the West Coast, while a narrow independent buffer state exists between the two. But in the end it is far from conventional. The story is full of fakes and deceptions; several major characters are travelling under false identities, some of the characters are dealing in fake American "antiquities", and Mr Tagoma, the Japanese bureaucrat who becomes central to the plot, attacks a German agent with a fake Colt revolver.

All of this leads us to doubt and question what is going on; and then we come to The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, a novel written with the aid of the I Ching, which describes a world in which America did not lose the war; though the world described is not the same as the one we recognise. He followed this with two novels that both displayed an awareness of and interest in science fiction, so it was no surprise when he added the middle initial and produced a straightforward science fiction novel.

What was surprising was that it was a full-blooded space opera, full of battles and last minute escapes and epic explosions. What caught everybody's attention, however, was that the novel introduced a vast, interstellar, left-wing utopia, The Culture. The Culture was an immediate hit, and over the next 30 years he produced nine more novels and a bare handful of short stories about the Culture, which grew into one of the most popular and interesting of all science fiction series. Typically, he would look at this post-scarcity universe obliquely while concentrating on the edges, where the Culture rubbed up against other space-faring societies, and the Culture's most disreputable organisation, Special Circumstances, operated.

Occasionally we would be shown what it is like in a society without money, because everything is freely available, a society in which people could be whatever they wanted, changing sex freely and even, in one instance, taking on the appearance of a bush. It's a world of dangerous sports and comfortable living, but mostly we saw it only from the outside, through the eyes of those who did its dirty work.


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  • Zakalwe is a mercenary, a bloody and effective soldier, who has worked for Special Circumstances on a number of occasions before, but now is called on for one last mission. In the odd-numbered chapters we follow this final mission; but in the even-numbered chapters we go backwards in time through his earlier missions and back towards the secret of his childhood. The final revelation about Zakalwe's true identity is brutal and breathtaking. The unique structure of the novel is what makes this an especially powerful story.

    And it is told with a combination of cruel, unflinching violence and sparkling wit that is typical of Banks, and helps to explain his extraordinary popularity. The Culture is one of the great inventions of science fiction, a communistic utopia that actually works. It is also a universe absolutely stuffed with amazing inventions, including the ships that are characters in their own right and have typically witty names in Use of Weapons, for instance, we meet "Very Little Gravitas Indeed" and "Size Isn't Everything".

    All of the Culture novels are worth reading, and Use of Weapons is easily the most rewarding of them. Some will recommend Player of Games as the 'best' intro to Bank's Culture novels as it's an exciting, action packed read that takes place a very personal level between characters.

    Consider Phlebas is another good intro, and as Culture goes, is Bank's classic "Space Opera' entry into the series. Asimov was, with Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, one of that triumvirate of star science fiction writers who first came to prominence in the late s and continued to dominate the field for another 30 years. His magnum opus was this wide-ranging tale inspired by Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

    We begin with a great galactic empire that has spread peace and civilisation far and wide across space. But Hari Selden has developed the science of psychohistory which combines sociology, history and mathematics as a reliable way of foreseeing the future, and thanks to psychohistory Selden predicts that the empire is due to collapse into a dark age that will last thousand years. But if the light of civilisation can be preserved, there is a chance that this dark age will last only one thousand years, and so he establishes a Foundation at the extreme end of the galaxy from which a new empire might grow.

    For a while things go as Selden had foreseen: the Foundation becomes a haven of scientific progress, is challenged by the declining empire but emerges triumphant. But then something is thrown into the mix that Selden could not have anticipated: a mutant, the Mule, who emerges as an unpredictable power within the galaxy. And the Mule has heard rumours of a Second Foundation at the other end of the galaxy, and he's out to find it and destroy it. But what is this Second Foundation, and where is it hiding? Epic in scope, ambitious and readable, the Foundation Trilogy deservedly won the Hugo Award for the best ever series, the only time that award was ever presented.

    It is science fiction on a huge canvas, the very definition of sense of wonder. Foundation is one seminal ' Hard Science Fiction ' novels -- a form of science fiction that aims at making the science as realistic as possible. It's science fiction that puts a lot of emphasis on the 'science' part of the word, rather than relying on the sciencey magical hand waving of science fantasy to describe the science.

    In the course of all this belated expansion to the original conception, Asimov also managed to tie in his Robot stories to create, rather unconvincingly, a future history that united all of his major science fiction. Alternative Choice. The series introduced the Three Laws of Robotics, one of the best-known formulations in the whole of science fiction, which has had an influence on every single robot story written since, and which has also had an effect on the actual development of robotics. The early stories all challenged the three laws in some way, with either a robot apparently disobeying one of the laws or a human agency attempting to subvert them, but the laws themselves always won out in the end.

    As the series went on, the focus changed from the three laws to the question of the increasing humanity of the robots, so that one of the later stories, "The Bicentennial Man", which won the Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novelette, actually concerns a robot that becomes human. Space Odyssey.

    In the early s, Arthur C. Clarke was approached by the film maker, Stanley Kramer, to ask if he would be interested in writing a film. Clarke recalled a short story he had written some time earlier called "The Sentinel", in which a strange, alien object is uncovered beneath the surface of the moon, and thought this might make a good starting point for a film. And thus , A Space Odyssey, one of the best and most famous of all science fiction films, was born.

    The novel, which was written at the same time as the film, differs in occasional minor details from the film, but essentially the two tell the same story. The story is, surely, too well known to need repeating here. The black monolith whose appearance abruptly converts primitive man into a tool-using creature; the identical object unearthed on the moon that sends a signal towards Jupiter; the two spacemen contending with a computer gone rogue; the psychedelic journey through the star gate that ends in what appears to be a Belle Epoque palace, and the final mysterious appearance of the star child.

    As in so much of Clarke's fiction, it's about humankind coming to the brink of a new evolutionary leap. In a sense the story is cold and intellectual, Clarke never was a writer of strong emotions, but if you love science fiction that appeals to the mind then this is the story for you. He wrote three sequels to , Odyssey Two; , Odyssey Three and , The Final Odyssey; the first of these is good but the quality does fall off across the series.

    Both aesthetically and intellectually, , A Space Odyssey is one of the most influential films of all time, certainly it's effect upon all subsequent science fiction is incalculable. And let's not forget the movie by Stanely Kubrick was just as influential to film and general pop culture and generations of science fiction pop culture as the very book it was based on. Arthur C. Clarke has been voted one of the all-time best science fiction writers, and he left plenty of work that deserves that title. Aliens known as Overlords arrive suddenly over the earth and bring an end to war.

    For fifty years there is peace and prosperity, but it is finally revealed that the real purpose of the Overlords is to prepare humanity for the next step in their evolution, a merger with a cosmic mind. But one person leaves Diaspar and discovers another community, Lys, an oasis where people have rejected the technology of Diaspar. By bringing the two communities together, a new future in space is opened up. Campbell Memorial Awards, is a story of alien contact without the aliens. An asteroid is spotted heading towards Earth, but when it is investigated it proves to be an uninhabited spaceship.

    The story tells of the exploration of the craft, and the deductions that can be made about the aliens without the aliens ever appearing. The Forever War. The titles of these three novels Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars illustrate the way the planet is transformed over the course of this long work, from desert to the first stirrings of life to open water. It's a magnificent conception, carried out with great attention to scientific plausibility as well as psychological insight. The story begins with the arrival of the first hundred colonists, and from there chronicles their struggles to survive in an inhospitable environment, their arguments about the ethics of terraforming the planet and the best way of doing it, and their first tentative attempts to turn the world into a place where people can live openly.

    Meanwhile, as resources become limited on Earth, transnational corporations come to dominate the planet and while a brief Martian rebellion flares, it is soon put down. But as terraforming proceeds over the succeeding years, so discontent about the authoritarian control from Earth grows, and another rebellion starts to brew. Coincidentally, a catastrophic environmental collapse on Earth paves the way for Martian independence, but with the additional problem of refugees from Earth.

    With Mars now a planet where people can live openly on the surface, attention starts to turn towards populating the rest of the solar system. A fourth volume, The Martians, is a collection of stories and other related pieces that link to the trilogy. It's a glorious and fascinating vision of the different ways that humanity might find to live among our different planets.

    The new scientific knowledge about Mars that we began to acquire during the s, and the scientific literacy of the Mars Trilogy, also inspired a number of other books about Mars. Wells, Stanley Weinbaum and others. From the First World War onwards, as communist rule was established in Russia and fascism spread from Italy to Germany to Spain, writers started to explore the notion of dystopia. They were, invariably, states in which conformity was enforced, and in which individuality had no place.