Ten Favorite SF Novels

I was asked in an e-mail what my favorite science fiction novels were. It was a real trip down memory lane, since I haven’t read much if any SF in a while now (I don’t know if Cryptonomicon counts or not).

I got to thinking about it, and before I knew it, I had enough for a decent sized list. So here are my off-the-top-of-my-head choices for my ten favorite SF novels, alphabetically by book title and subject to change to allow for ones that I forgot:

1. The Andromeda Strain (Michael Crichton)
The novel that inspired me to want to write books.

2. Childhood’s End (Arthur C. Clarke)
I have always admired Clarke for his stunning ideas (his characterization always left a lot to be desired). This is his best novel.

3. The Diamond Age (Neil Stephenson)
Nanotechnology meets the cultural precepts of Victorian England. The book is hobbled because it comes off the rails at the end, and really needed another 50 pages to end properly, but up to that point it’s an impressive read.

4. Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
Another classic, this one with one of the greatest opening lines of any novel I’ve ever read.

5. Mother of Storms (John Barnes)
A brilliantly realized novel of global catastrophe (imagine a hurricane that scrubs all forms of life off of the Hawaiian islands) and the dark side of human survival. Graphic and disturbing in places (hey, it’s John’s divorce book – can you blame him?).

6. The Past Through Tomorrow (Robert Heinlein)
A collection of short stories and novels that formed Heinlein’s “Future History.” Ambitious, classic SF.

7. Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)
I think Vonnegut wanted this to be his “bitter old man writes anti-war screed” novel. That doesn’t matter to me – this book is a fascinating read that uses time travel to turn storytelling upside down. This book is why Vonnegut was an important writer at one time.

8/9. Starship Troopers (Heinlein) and The Forever War (Joe Haldeman)
Forget the movie of the former. These two books are now fused together in my mind because they both take the same concept – future fighting men wearing suits that give them extraordinary fighting abilities – and look at them from two different angles. Heinlein’s book is hawkish and jingoistic; Haldeman’s is an examination of war’s insanity. Both are excellent.

10. Startide Rising (David Brin)
My favorite SF novel. Great plot, great vision, great characters. A book that really stirs up my sense of wonder.

11. When Gravity Fails (George Alec Effinger)
Cyberpunk in a world dominated by Islam. You’ve never read anything like this before. Great stuff. George will be missed.

Okay, so it goes to eleven. Call me Nigel Tufnel.


On today’s writing front, I was so busy at work that I actually forgot to work on Deadline over lunch. I’ve been suddenly crushed by three of the other kind of deadlines all at once, so my lunch was kind of an eat-and-run kind of affair.

I think I could have written more tonight, but I simply ran out of steam. The last couple of weeks at work have been long and involved, ditto goings on at Church, ditto the weekend spent working on making a stall in the barn a more suitable chicken coop. That’s okay. I’ll still take these numbers.

Today’s Scorecard
And/News – Chapter Twenty
673 pages (+6)
148,180 words (+ 1258)

NP – iTSP (Evita OST, “Requiem for Evita”)


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