Okay, I’ve worked long days and late nights pretty much all week and I need to shove some of the law out of my head for the weekend. The kids have soccer Jamboree tomorrow, and that should help. But I’m thinking I’m going to set aside all the political books sitting by my bed, and grab a cheap science fiction. Haven’t read one in a while.
So, we’ve discussed the 10 best science fiction films. Well, my science fiction choices were dated even when I was a kid, because I pretty much read what my father had. Mostly Asimov, Clarke, Bradley – what is referred to as “hard science fiction.” My choices are probably thus skewed generationally, even before my own when Alan Dean Foster and Phillip K. Dick were popular. I don’t even know what’s out now.
1. Nightfall and other Stories by Isaac Asimov (Nightfall may be the best sci fi short story ever written, but some of the other stories play out in my mind to this day 30 years later)
2. The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula Leguin
3. Foundation (series), by Asimov (kind of lost its focus in the later books, but the concept of “psychohistory” may have been what drew me to socialism as a teenager)
4. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur Clarke
5. Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson (politically one of the most sophisticated science fiction stories I’ve read – also very interesting discussion of ecological ethics, even where life isn’t involved)
6. The Caves of Steele, Asimov
7. Dragon’s Egg, Robert Forward (concept somewhat borrowed from Mission of Gravity, by Hal Clement which deserves an honorable mention).
8. The Dispossessed, by Ursula Leguin
9. The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury (he turned 90 a few days ago)
10. Tau Zero, Poul Anderson
No, Heinlein didn’t make it onto my list, though Stranger in a Strange Land and a few others deserve honorable mentions. Nor Larry Niven, mostly because I never got around to reading much of his stuff.
Sagan’s Contact almost made it. As good as the movie is, the book, his only fiction, takes you places the movie just can’t go.
Okay, going from wired to tired – off to read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Maybe it’ll make it onto my list.
Addendum: By the way, are novels like 1984 and Brave New World science fiction? Why or why not? You don’t find them there in the bookstores. What about Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time?