Science fiction novels I should have read

Earlier in the week, I posted about my inability to keep up with all the science fiction I would like to read. Today, I list some science fiction novels that I feel I should have already read, but that, much to my shame, I have not. The books are listed alphabetically by author. The list is not comprehensive, but it is the best I could come up with in the short time span I gave myself.

  • The Boat of a Million Years by Poul Anderson
  • The Quantum Rose by Catherine Asaro
  • Blood Music by Greg Bear
  • No Enemy But Time by Michael Bishop
  • Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
  • Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh
  • Triton by Samuel R. Delany
  • Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said by Phillip K. Dick
  • On the Wings of Song by Thomas Disch
  • Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
  • Have Space Suit–Will Travel by Robert Heinlein
  • Time Enough for Love by Robert Heinlein
  • The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
  • Brasyl by Ian McDonald
  • Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
  • The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  • Man Plus by Frederik Pohl
  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
  • Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  • And Chaos Died by Joanna Russ
  • Thorns by Robert Silverberg
  • Tower of Glass by Robert Silverberg
  • Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg
  • Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  • The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
  • Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling
  • Singularity Sky by Charles Stross
  • Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick
  • The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
  • Palmimsest by Catherynne M. Valente
  • A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
  • The Siren’s of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm
  • This Immortal by Roger Zelazny

There is my list, such as it is. Look at it now, one might think that I haven’t read anything in the science fiction genre. Well, I’ve read a little anyway.

So, what books on this list are a must-read? What books should be added to this list? What books can be safely removed? And what books do you wish you have read that you haven’t yet had a chance to get around to?

17 thoughts on “Science fiction novels I should have read

  1. Lots of great books on that list – but to me, the one that really jumps out as a “must read” that should be next on your list is “The Mote in God’s Eye.”

  2. Larry, I think I have two versions of the book, paperback and Masterpieces of Science Fiction edition. I’ve opened it on occasion and browsed the begin but so far, it hasn’t pulled me in.

  3. What *should* you read on that list?

    I will leave it at five:

    Mote in God’s Eye
    Blood Music
    Hyperion
    Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said
    A Fire Upon the Deep

    Oh, by the way, Roger Zelazny wrote This Immortal, not Sturgeon. And that book would easily replace any of the other five in my list.

  4. Paul, ugh that is embarrassing. I must have been looking at Sturgeon’s name when I was typing that one up. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 😉

    I started reading A Fire Upon The Deep in the late 90s but never made it that far into the book for some reason.

  5. I can’t believe there is a Heinlein juvenile you haven’t read, and that you haven’t dropped everything and started reading it. I’d give anything to find one I hadn’t read yet. Seriously though, if you enjoyed his others you should go ahead and read that. It’s my favorite of the bunch.
    I don’t have any strong feelings about most of your list. Exceptions would be Blood Music (I still think it’s Bear’s best), Lathe of Heaven, and This Immortal.
    Have to disagree with the others regarding Mote. I’ve always loved Niven, but I didn’t enjoy Mote at all. Made myself finish it hoping it would come around, but it was one tedious page after another up to the very end.

  6. I’d definitely say _The Lathe of Heaven_ is a must-read. Le Guin said it was influenced by Philip K. Dick’s work. It’s great. Also track down the movie version produced by PBS in 1979, which is very well done. Le Guin had a hand in the production. (But steer clear of the 2002 movie.)

  7. Stand on Zanzibar, for sure. Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up is in the same dystopian vein, & almost as good.

    Hyperion

    Gravity’s Rainbow Possibly my favorite book.

    Mote in God’s Eye is another favorite, ‘though I can see why not every one would like it. The authors are a pair of fascists.

    I think those are the only ones on the list I’ve read, besides possibly some of the Heinleins, which certainly didn’t stick w/ me if I did read them (And if I did it was forty+ yrs. ago …) & The Boat of A Million Years. (Not entirely sure; if I did it was a while ago too.)

  8. Here’s your list, now stick to it, lol –

    Have Space Suit–Will Travel by Robert Heinlein
    Time Enough for Love by Robert Heinlein
    The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
    Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
    The Boat of a Million Years by Poul Anderson
    The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
    Man Plus by Frederik Pohl
    Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said by Phillip K. Dick
    Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg
    The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
    Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh
    Triton by Samuel R. Delany
    This Immortal by Roger Zelazny
    On the Wings of Song by Thomas Disch
    A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
    The Siren’s of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
    Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm
    Blood Music by Greg Bear
    No Enemy But Time by Michael Bishop
    Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
    Tower of Glass by Robert Silverberg
    Hyperion by Dan Simmons
    The Quantum Rose by Catherine Asaro
    Brasyl by Ian McDonald
    Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
    Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
    Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
    Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
    And Chaos Died by Joanna Russ
    Thorns by Robert Silverberg
    The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
    Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling
    Singularity Sky by Charles Stross
    Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick
    Palmimsest by Catherynne M. Valente

  9. Mike, I know, I know, and I am deeply shamed over the fact that I haven’t read Have Space Suit–Will Travel yet. Several people have mentioned Blood Music, Lathe of Heaven and This Immortal so I imagine those will move up on the list.

    Adam, I had no idea that The Lathe of Heaven was influenced by Dick. Makes me even more curious about it.

    I did start Stand on Zanzibar once–I was fascinated by the narrative structure. But I gave up on it for some reason. I’ll have to try that one again.

  10. I see no Octavia Butler on either list, so I’d definitely add her to your must-read list. I love her Xenogenesis Trilogy (I think it’s been recently reprinted as Lilith’s Brood), a trilogy consisting of three short novels: Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago.

    From your list, I’d highlight Perdido Street Station, Hyperion, The Sirens of Titan, and Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang.

  11. I cannot speak to the ones I have not read but “Lord Valentine’s Castle” should not be missed. “Stations Of The Tide” is fascinating and “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel” is significant.

  12. FYI – here is what I HAVEN’T read on your list:

    The Boat of a Million Years by Poul Anderson

    No Enemy But Time by Michael Bishop

    Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem

    Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

    And Chaos Died by Joanna Russ (next on my list)

    Thorns by Robert Silverberg

    Tower of Glass by Robert Silverberg

    Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg

    Palmimsest by Catherynne M. Valente

    FWIW

  13. Two more SF novels to add, if you desire something far, FAR outside the Campbellian tradition: Chip Delany’s “Dhalgren” and “The Female Man” by the late great Joanna Russ.

  14. Mark, what with her recent passing, there was a lot of talk about Russ (including an entire panel on her–that I missed) at Readercon this year. I have read THE FEMALE MAN but it was a long time ago and I don’t think I was mature enough to get it at the time. It is a definite reread for me at some point in the future.

    I’m still working my way through Chip’s THE JEWEL-HINGED JAW. Maybe after I make it through that and allow the wounds to heal, I’ll eventually get to DHALGREN.

Comments are closed.