Books I like
I like Science fiction. And on the whole, I'm not a big fan of
Fantasy. So it bugs me that Scifi and Fantasy are grouped together in
most bookstores. As for Scifi, it should be spelled with a capital Sci
and a lower-case fi, that is, I like HARD Science fiction (not entirely
without exceptions, of course).
I have not actually begun reading Scifi in alphabetical order by authors,
although my ABC of Scifi (Adams, Anderson,
Asimov, Banks, Baxter, Bear,
Bova, Clarke, Colfer, and even
Cixin, Carl and Andy) might suggest otherwise...
I do not like Star Trek.
Here's some stuff I have enjoyed:
- Douglas Adams
- All five parts of the HHGTG, and the sixth part by Colfer
(yes, I liked it too)
- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and The Long
Dark Teatime of the Soul
- Too bad The Salmon of Doubt was never completed
- Last Chance to See—Less well known, maybe, but a must
read, and, believe it or not, on a really serious subject!
- Kevin Anderson
- Assemblers of Infinity—you should read it.
(I seem to have lost my copy, but I need to re-read it, and maybe
try some more Anderson)
- Isaac Asimov
- The Foundation series
- Some Robot stories
- Iain M. Banks
- Consider Phlebas, the first book in his
Culture series: I don't quite know what to think of
it—the writing is vivid and powerful, but the plot somehow
is lacking. It just follows the main character from one swashbuckling
adventure to another, the concept of the Culture and its
war against the Idirans largely
irrelevant. I'll probably read another part of the series some time,
Banks seems to deserve a second chance.
- Player of Games, the second in the series: I'm glad I gave
Banks another chance, as this book was much more coherent. The
concept (huh, board games???) was imaginative, and Banks
makes it work beautifully, but Banks's style still somehow does not
really appeal to me. I'll probably read a third part of the series
some time nonetheless.
- Use of Weapons, the third part or the series, is probably
loaded with subtle between-the-lines references that I just totally
missed. Its structure was too complex, drifting back and forth
between the present and memories, and I just couldn't keep up. Sorry,
that's it for Banks in my bookshelf, at least for now.
- Stephen Baxter
- The Manifold series: Time (absolutely
brilliant!!), Space (excellent), Origin (somewhat
blah) and Phase Space (not bad).
- Vacuum Diagrams: A bit slow at first, but the latter
stories truly shine.
- Titan: Scary and depressing, but imaginative, realistic, and
overall totally fantastic!
- Voyage: A similar alternate future history as Titan,
but maybe more optimistic—also a fantastic read!
- Ultima: Totally weird in that Baxterish way. Loved it.
- Proxima: I read it after Ultima, but it worked regardless.
Less weird than Ultima, but very real and totally Baxter.
- The Long Earth and The Long War: I think Pratchett
influences the style a whole lot, but the combination works! A whole lot
easier reading than undiluted Baxter (which can be quite heavy at times,
demanding a long break before starting another Baxter novel). I already
went ahead and bought the other books in the series.
- The Long Mars, The Long Utopia and The Long Cosmos:
The other books in the series. Still a fantastic read, becoming increasingly
dark and brooding (more Baxterish?) towards the end. Highly recommended.
- The Massacre of Mankind: Baxter does justice to
H. G. Wells. Very good job, sir. Very, very
- Looking forward to reading a great many more...
- Greg Bear
- The Forge of God—This came with a bunch of Bova that I
bought from an online auction (and also fits into the ABC
category!). Fine reading, and quite weird... But
Bear doesn't seem to handle weird quite as well as Baxter, and like
The Three-Body Problem by Liu, the end feels somewhat...
- Ben Bova
- Decades ago I read part of the Exile series (in fact, Exiled
from Earth was the very first Scifi novel I ever read, as a school
assignment!), and enjoyed it
(if I recall correctly). I recently hunted it down as a compilation volume,
and enjoyed every bit of it. The ending, however, seemed a bit...
artificial (but I won't say whether it was a forced happy ending, or a
- The Grand Tour series: Mercury, Venus, Mars
and Return to Mars, Jupiter and Leviathans of Jupiter,
Saturn, Titan, The Aftermath etc...
I still have a few books
remaining. Only New Earth has been a bit of a letdown, in comparison
to the incredibly high standard he set with the earlier books. This
is an undertaking I would only have trusted to The Man (Clarke), but Bova
pulls it off admirably. A must read!
- Arthur C. Clarke
- I don't need to list His books. Get the lot.
- Yes, Childhood's End totally shines.
- Eoin Colfer—see Douglas Adams
- Stanislaw Lem
- Strange and entertaining. I've also read quite a few others, not
just the famous Solaris.
- Cixin Liu
- The Three-Body Problem—After a slow and awkward
beginning (I'm more a fan of future history than past), this book
held me in its grip very well. Highly strange all the way through
(even reminiscent of Adams's Dirk Gently novels at times),
but the final chapter made everything fall logically into
place—albeit in a fashion that felt like a hastily written
executive summary. Did Liu have a deadline to keep?
- Walter M. Miller, Jr.
- A Canticle for Leibowitz—Way cool! Way funny!
And very... real!
- Grant Naylor
- Red Dwarf was funny. Somewhat Douglasish, and quite
Adamsesque, but not a cheap rip-off in my opinion. Worth reading.
- Kim Stanley Robinson
- Red Mars—Brilliant!! A must read!!
- Green Mars, the next book in the series, started out fine but then
got so bogged down in planetary political
blah that I never finished it.
- Blue Mars remains to be opened up. Been that way for over a
decade (update: two decades). Robinson definitely had something with
Red Mars, but Green Mars just
put me off it altogether. :(
- Carl Sagan
- Contact—Excellent! Way better than the movie! And
I'm so happy I read it first, before I saw the movie.
- Andy Weir
- The Martian—Brilliant!! A must read!!
N.B. I read it before I saw the movie. You definitely
need to read the book, but don't expect anything extra from the
movie. Kind of like Contact in that sense.
- Artemis—This book is not nearly as highly regarded
as The Martian, and I do agree it's somehow a bit forced at
times. But that's just in comparison to The Martian, which was
exceptional. The concept of Artemis
is fresh and well utilized, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
- Hope to see him publish a big bunch more...
In addition, you definitely need to spend a few minutes of your life
reading these three short stories:
Now that you know what kind of Scifi I like, how about telling me what
I've been missing?
Antti J. Niskanen <email@example.com>