Apr 04 2012

Debate of the Day: What’s Your Favorite Sci-fi Book?

Published by at 1:00 pm under Debate

So I’ve got one of those new fancy Kindle Fires, and over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to scarf down a number of classic sci-fi books, so they might aid me in crafting my OWN sci-fi book which is nearing completion. I’ve gone through a lot of classics, but I figured I’d crowdsource suggestions that I absolutely must read.

So far in the past month or so, I’ve gone through

Ender’s Game

The Road

The Stand

Never Let Me Go

The  Hunger Games Trilogy

The Forever War

Neuromancer (well, almost)

It’s a mix of soft and hard sci-fi, but I found Neuromancer almost too tech-heavy to get through. Perhaps that makes me a sci-fi pansy, but so be it. Anyway, I’m looking for a few of YOUR favorites that I can download and read. Feel free to list some, and a sentence or two describing them would be helpful as well. I look forward to reading your suggestions!





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106 responses so far

  • Diablo

    “Scanner Darkly”

    I was something like 8 or 9 when I found it in my older brother’s room. Until that book, I pretty much hated reading as it just seemed boring. I obviously didn’t understand everything going on in it, but for the first time, I realized that books could be insanely weird and awesome. That began quite an obsession with PK Dick. He is still my favorite author. I’ve pretty much been an insanely avid reader since then.

    I would try to describe it, but I wouldn’t do it justice. The movie I think is a pretty darn faithful adaption considering just how Dick’s work has been shitted on my the movie industry.

  • David R

    Dune —
    This one’s in the company of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, in that it stands alone and defies easy description or comparison. It’s a book that you’ll need to work at, as it’s incredibly dense and labyrinthine in its plotting, but the payoff is extraordinary.

    A guy I know compared it to going on a great vacation. When you get there you’re tired and confused. As it goes on, you start to get the hang of it. As soon as you leave, you can’t wait to go back.

    The Invisible Man —
    Really, anything by H. G. Wells, because the guy was a legend. This one’s my favorite, though, because I find it the most entertaining and the most compelling from a character standpoint.

    Unwind —
    Technically YA, but Neal Shusterman is a terrifyingly good writer. Unwind is about a future wherein teenage kids can be cut up for spare parts. It’s awesome and a really fast read.

    Ender’s Shadow is fascinating. Same story as Ender’s Game, but from Bean’s perspective. An equally good book and a really interesting experiment in storytelling.

    Also, I only just started it but Foundation is considered required reading by a lot of sci-fi fans. Probably somebody else can jump in and sell you on it better than I can at this point.

  • Jim Lahey

    @David R

    I’ll jump in with Foundation. I have read most of the books in the series, and it is one of my favorite sci-fi sagas. The books are all borderline related as the series covers multiple generations and two separate colonies on opposite ends of the galaxy, but that creates a huge, epic story that I loved.

  • Phillip

    Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlien

    This is required reading for anyone that reads. Don’t care what the genre is, this is one that will stand atop others for the rest of literary history.

    I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

    While only a collection of short stories, this is what science fiction is supposed to be. Isaac Asimov will always be a great writer, but this will set it in stone.

    A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

    Don’t think that old pulp novels can’t fill the gap in science fiction. This is a “guy” story without a doubt. Not what I would call an epic, but still quite good and a quick read.

    If you like these, hit me up and I will gladly suggest more.

  • Jon

    I really enjoyed the Rama-series, by Clarke. Read some of his other books, including the great Odyssey-series. As Phillip ^^^ mentioned, I, Robot is a very, very strong candidate for best novel. But for me, it’s the four Rama books.

  • Thomas

    Hyperion.

  • harryseldon

    My favorite is probably Parafaith War by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Really, any of Modesitt’s SF work is awesome. I would also recommend Dune, the Foundation series (obviously) and Michael Creighton’s Jurassic Park, although his Andromeda Strain is pretty good, too.

  • Luke

    I’d chime in with David R and Jim Lahey… Foundation is essential, as is Dune. I’ve read all of Wells, and those are good (not my fav), though quicker reads. Along the same lines, I would recommend Ray Bradbury, particularly The Martian Chronicles; I picked that up when I was 11 and it really opened my mind up to the more satirical nature of Sci-Fi.
    I am currently finishing Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun and I think it should be a must read from the more recent (1980s) literature. Its from the dying earth genre, but you can definitely see shadows of the epic journey ala Dune or LotR. I’m sure some of the guys will have better opinions, having had more time to synthesize the books.
    If I had to pick 1, though, it would have to be Dune (only FH, not anyone else). Its epic in that it spans generations, but the story moves along with one particular family. I’ve read the first 3 books probably 3-4 times a piece and always find something I missed from prior readings.

  • Erin

    Have to go with Passage at Arms by Glen Cook (his Black Company fantasy series is one of my all time favorites, as well). Kind of like Das Boot in space. Very tense, very atmospheric short book.

  • Mark B.

    “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”

    It doesn’t get much better than that.

  • http://www.youtube.com/DirtyJerkins Dirty Jerkins

    Every book named here is decent, but ehhhh’…nothing special. Read “Altered Carbon.” And the 2 after that. Fantastic. Movie rights were bought years ago; I dunno’ why they’re sleeping on it.

  • David R

    Hyperion series, Dan simmons

  • B. Tipex

    I second (or third) Fondation by Asimov. The first three books are clearly extraordinary, and the two last one, thought writen a long time afterward, remain pretty nice too. It’s a classic of Space Opera.

    I’d advise you to take on the Culture Novels, by Ian Banks. A great look into what a post-scarcity society would look like and how it would interact with other cultures. Give it a go!

  • Dzuksi

    What Mark B. said.

  • lacy

    I am reading Ready Player One now and it’s pretty good.

  • Christopher

    Ringworld by Larry Niven:

    Its a bit of a hard science fiction novel. Its about a team of explorers that voyage to a artificial world that is created in the shape of a giant ring (I think Halo got their idea from this book). A very advanced race of aliens are migrating from the galaxy’s core and they put together a team of humans and aliens to survey the ring and figure out what resources are they and who created it.

    The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

    This is a not your typical science fiction novel, but a novel with an alternate history of the United States. The premis of the story is that instead of the Allies winning WW2 the Axies powers are the victors and they carve up North America into occupied zones. The story is set in 1960’s and involves the lives of several characters who live under the Fascist occupation or are a part of it.

  • Alan

    The Culture series – Banks

  • RekodeGallo

    I’ll cast my vote for Gordon R. Dickson
    The Childe Cycle is a series of 12 or so books, but the two I’d recommend out of it are:
    The Tactics of Mistake and Dorsai! Both are about military leaders cleverly outmaneuvering their opponents rather than causing a bloodbath. If you like those thats when I’d recommend the rest of the series

  • banko

    Probably not as Sci-Fi as the other entries on this list but I don’t care, this guy should be read by everybody. Gene Wolfe and his New Sun series.

  • Kyle

    If you haven’t already, then you should read The Maze Runner series by James Dashner. It’s about a boy who wakes up with no memory, in the middle of a maze along with other boys who had the same thing happen to them. They’ve been here longer though and as he joins them in their attempt to escape he discovers that they are being watched by someone. The series is chopped full of “I wonder what I would do in this situation” moments. Definitely a good read through all three books from start to finish.

  • cyranoone

    riverworld

  • HarshReality79

    Starship Troopers hands down. Ignore the abortion of a movie. It’s a quick read, but probably resonates more clearly with military people (Heinlein was in the Navy). If you come off thinking its a proponent for gestalt totalitarianism, read it again. You missed the point big time. Close runner up: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the Stainless Steel Rat series, and more recently Leviathan Wakes

  • Terence H

    I’ve really enjoyed all of Jack Mcdevitt’s books you should check him out

  • Javier

    The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke – every short story Clarke ever wrote, 100 + stories to keep you wanting more..

    I suggest picking up Harlan Ellison collections, Shatterday to name one….yeah, I’m a sucker for short stories, but they can be so fulfilling..

  • NY not NYC

    Heinlein was a fascist.

    Neil Stephenson is SF, his latest (Anathem) was awesome.

    The Einstein Intersection was awesome, when I read it back in the day.

    Also, people in the know call it SF, scifi is a TV channel.

  • David Forck

    I truely believe that you can’t have a good appreciation for Sci-Fi literature until you’ve read these:

    Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide- Douglas Adams
    Ender’s Game (you’ve got that one)
    I, Robot (you’ve also got that one)
    The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury
    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep- Phillip K. Dick (I’ve yet to read this myself)
    Foundation- Isaac Asimov
    The Human Edge- Gordon R. Dickson

  • http://distortedgamer.blogspot.com McCullster

    We all know that Paul is a huge Mass Effect fan, so why hasn’t anyone mentioned the Mass Effect novels (Revelation, Ascension, and Retribution) by Drew Karpyshyn (lead writer for the games)?

    I’m halfway through the third book now, and having played through ME3, the tie-ins, characters, and situations go hand in hand with the third games story. Shephards not a part of the books, but I do get to see the Illusive Man, see Kai Leng introduced, Cpt. Anderson, Kahlee Sanders, and few other bit characters. It’s just more Mass Effect. And that, I want more of.

    They did publish a fourth book called Deception by William C. Dietz, but the internet tore it apart with hundreds if not thousands of errors (both literary and canonical). If your a fan of the series, I highly suggest the books and the Dark Horse Comics (which I’m pretty sure they have an app for the Kindle Fire to read comicbooks).

  • Tom

    SNOW CRASH by Neal Stephenson – all you need to know about how awesome this book is is this passage:

    “”Until a man is 25, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial arts monastery in China and studied real hard for 10 years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.”

    And if you like Hunger Games you’d LOVE Battle Royale by Koushun Takami , pretty much a Japanese and crazier version of Hunger Games

  • Bas Houben

    Night’s Dawn Trilogy by Peter F Hamilton. It’s an awesome epic, hard sci-fi tale that will leave you unable to put down until you’ve read the last page.

  • Samantha Lee

    I don’t know if this counts as sci-fi, but Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is pretty effing awesome. Plus the movie is coming out this year, you can get a jump start on it!

  • Caio

    End of Eternity, by Asimov

    The best time traveling story I ever read.

  • JohnD

    All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
    its like Groundhogs Day meets Starship Troopers

    Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
    scientists studying an ocean on a distant planet when people from their memories start to physically manifest themselves

    Parallelities by Alan Dean Foster
    guy gets stuck phasing between different parallel realities and can’t control it.

  • http://www.seasonedgamers.com JapJay

    As Tom mentioned, Snow Crash is pretty amazing. The protagonist’s name is Hiro Protagonist, for f’s sake! It gets a bit dense with the Sumerian mythology and glossolalia but the world Stephenson creates is interesting and the characters, equally so.

  • http://retcon-punch.com Shelby

    I, too, vote Scanner Darkly, but really any Phillip K. Dick will do. I also just finished The Windup Girl, which I found to be FANTASTIC.

  • http://s14.zetaboards.com/applesaucerecords/index/ RadioSlayer

    Robert A. Heinlein:

    Stranger in a Strange Land

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
    -Luna is a penal colony but many who live there are not convicts, people who have served their full sentence or people who’s great grandparents came over as political prisoners. They supply a great deal of food to Terra and they demand to be free.

    The Sixth Column

    Farnham’s Freehold

    Tunnel in the Sky

    Philip K. Dick:
    Flow My Tears the Policeman Said

    Ubik

    Harlan Ellison:
    I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
    -This one can either be the short story or the collection of short stories. IMO the short story is the best part of the collection anyway. A group of humans is kept alive by an almighty computer. It’s like 30 pages max, so I won’t spoil anything.

    Douglas Adams:
    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    Restaurant at the End of the Universe
    Life, the Universe and Everything
    So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish
    Mostly Harmless
    -Those five books are the best trilogy you’ll ever read

    David Brin:
    The Postman
    -Much better than the Kevin Costner movie, I swear

  • evilash

    Off the top of my head…..

    I am Legend – Richard Matheson. None of the movies have done this justice, and George A. Romero based Night of the Living dead on this.

    Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham. Killer plants take over the world.

    Boneshaker – Cherie Priest. Steampunk & Zombies, need I say more? Just finished this myself.

  • http://rearadmir0l.blogspot.com/ rearadmir0l

    Armor. Hands down.
    “You are
    What you do
    When it counts”

    Forge of God is also the tits.

  • Octofish

    I would recommend Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. Although the films were both good (Andrei Tarkovsky’s version is better, and closer to the book).

    I’d also read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Set in a near future where reading and keeping books is illegal.

  • Vlad

    Azimov: Foundation series (required), I, Robot, Caves of Steel, The End of Eternity

    Frank Herbert: Dune (the original saga only) (required)

    Bradbury: Martian Chronicles

    Heinlein: Door Into Summer

    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light (amazing blend of sci-fi and fantasy)

    S. Lem: Solaris

  • Rob

    I don’t read a ton of sci-fi as I tend to prefer fantasy or horror novels and just have trouble finding sci-fi that holds my attention. However, I did love:

    Starship Troopers – R. Heinlein

    Armor – John Steakley

    The Mass Effect books, but have’t read the newest.

    Perdido Street Station and The Scar by China Mieville, although they are a sort of neo-sci fi.

  • Cody

    I’m trusting you read the uncut edition of the stand. If not, it is a far better book than the original with about 400-500 extra pages.

  • patrick

    The “Ramna” books. Can’t go wrong with Arthur C. Clark. Plus every few years I like to go back and reread The Martian Chronicles. Also I’m waiting for the final(?) Goddamned “Wheel of Time” book to be released. You thought waiting on the Game of Thrones books was frustrating…

  • feenicks007

    Infinity Hold and Enemy Mine by Barry Longyear.

    Enemy Mine was adapted into a movie in the 80’s with Louis Gosset Jr. and Dennis Quaid playing hostile enemies (1 alien) who crash land together and must work together to survive.

    Infinity Hold is a series of 3, about a group of criminals dropped onto a dessert planet who must band together and form basic laws to survive.

    Someone else already mentioned the Stainless steel rat series, which I have to second. Simple easy read, but fun.

  • Phillip

    How come no one is mentioning anything by Ben Bova? His work is probably the most realistic science fiction (because with a little bit of technological advancement, we could really do what he writes about). I would recommend Mars or Return to Mars (Mars’ sequel).

    Also, don’t forget Ann McCaffery. Crystal Singer is really good, though you should always read Dragonflight, Dragonquest and The White Dragon (in that order).

  • http://www.jeffbuschcreative.com jeff busch

    “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke – a must-read. Absolutely.

  • Bobby

    I hate picking one, but I might go with Martian Chronicles, although still love many of the others mentioned. Regarding the ones I didn’t know, I now have some books to add to my list of things to read.

  • Aloke

    A pretty interesting option is the Vampire Hunter D series by Hideyuki Kikuchi. It’s a mix of sci-fi, post apocalyptic world and vampires. I like to think of it as manga in prose. The world feels a bit like Fallout, high-tech and low tech interwined with a gothic tint thanks to the vampire theme. It’s a long series with differing levels of quality among the novels (the first one I read and that I recommend is “Tale of the Dead Town”), but there’s an underlaying plot through all novels and the protagonist is pretty interesting. It’s full of manga cliches, like the 17-year-old-fragile-looking-busty-and-snowy-white female lead and muscled meatballs, but it doesn’t spoil the fun I had reading the novels. If you wanna write something more action-oriented, this is a good call.

  • Harry Mandangus

    I know you said you don’t particularly enjoy hard SF but Philip K Dick is awesome. “Flow My Tears” and “VALIS” are both incredible. Both books have hard SF elements but are high on existentialism dealing with identity. I found “Flow My Tears” a little easier to get into but “VALIS” ends up having more of an impact on the reader in my opinion. He also has great short story collections out there. Some of his short stories have inspired some awesome movies like Total Recall (We Can Remember it for You Wholesale), The Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly to name a few. Some stories have inspired some not so good movies as well lol. Oh and Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Novel not short) is one of the best SF movies ever.

    Now for some easier reading: Kurt Vonnegut. This guy was a genius both with the topics he writes about AND how he conveys them to his reader. I don’t know if many people consider him SF because he’s known more for his satire and dark humor, but he uses a lot of SF elements to convey those themes.

    Notable titles:

    “Sirens of Titan” (this is probably one of his most SF novels)
    “Chrono-synclastic infundibulum”…that is all.

    “Slaughterhouse Five”
    In this one Vonnegut uses his experiences from WWII as the jumping off point for the story that is pretty much a fictionalized auto-biography in ways. Oh and there’s time travel.

    Honestly, any Dick or Vonnegut book is worth reading in my opinion.

  • Henry

    Hyperion’s ten times better than Ender’s Game.

  • Zak

    I would definitely recommend Neal Stephenson. Just amazing.

    I would also recommend Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. He was scientist who major in physics and then decided to start writing. So in addition to writing great stories there are always a bit of science behind it.

  • Sam

    Old man’s war

  • http://jasonbadower.blogspot.com Jason

    Pattern Recognition (William Gibson): Where language becomes literature – far better than the incomprehensible Neuromancer.

    And as has been said above, Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan.

    Enjoy!

  • Paul

    I second Zak above and highly recommend Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. The images he creates have just stuck with me whenever I’m reading other sci-fi. Plus I think it is some of the best hard sci-fi opera coming out right now. If you like it, definitely check out Chasm City as well.

  • Harry

    The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury.

    Awesome collection of short stories, even better if you know your history.

  • fred

    After feeding off your recommendations for TV shows, films and games I feel bad that I can only recommend Drew Karpyshyn’s Mass Effect novels.

    If you fancy a fantasy novel or two however I can list books that you couldn’t put down :P

  • Maria

    I highly recommend The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. In my opnion it is better than Fahrenheit 451.

    It is a series of short stories that are loosely connected with one another about humans settling on Mars after Earth has become destroyed.

    It’s been a while since I read it but I remember some of the short stories relating to the devastating effects of colonization and such. It had very memorable and haunting images.

  • Xin

    While I have to say I had a difficult time my first read through on Neuromancer, it has since become one of my favorites. If you can power through it once, it becomes particularly easy.

  • Bret

    I honestly can’t believe Peter Hamilton only got one mention here.

    He’s got three *amazing* trilogies.

    The Night’s Dawn (As mentioned above)

    The Commonwealth Saga

    The Void Trilogy.

    The Commonwealth and The Void Trilogy take place in the same universe, though a significant amount of time has passed.

    If I had to suggest one to start with, I’d say The Commonwealth Saga.

    I won’t go into any spoilers. Suffice to say, out of the countless hundreds and hundreds of sci-fi books I’ve read, Peter Hamilton stands out as one of the best writers I’ve encountered.

    Anyone that appreciates Sci-Fi owes it to themselves to read them sometime.

  • Jonathan

    The Passage is fairly new, but is one of most entertaining books I have read in years.

    http://www.amazon.com/Passage-Novel-Justin-Cronin/dp/0345504976/

  • niko

    hi i never comment here, but i always read the articles, but, really you forget hyperion book and really, no book of asimov /???? are you a communist? you really need to have a list with one asimov book, like the foundation saga…… is ok that the stand of stephen king is there is a great book, but the best sci fi book of stephen king is the dark tower, the dark tower series is sequel and prequel of the stand, Randall flagg is a important character in the dark towers series. conclution, no asimov is not scifi list. the end

  • Siaynoq

    I must also recommend Arthur C. Clarke. Particularly the books Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End.

    His sci-fi books are rather slow compared to others sci-fi stories, but the impact at the end has a longer lasting effect and the messages in these books are very profound and worth the read.

  • David

    I second Childhood’s End.

  • Charlie Ward

    The Rod Allbright series by Bruce Coville. It’s for kids, I should warn you, but only for smart ones. Coville never writes down, and as a direct result of this series I became infatuated with sci-fi.

    Also worth looking into are any all Star Trek books by Peter David and the Hitchhiker’s Guide series.

    None of these suggestions are straight or “hard” SF, of course, but you’ve had plenty of suggestions for that. I think some lighter ones are in order.

  • Alex

    Riverworld Series by Philip José Farmer

    It will forever be my favorite sci-fi series. The idea of a world where every single person on Earth or will be on Earth is resurrected and is immortal is just incredibly entertaining. The interactions between all the contrasting historical figures. The search for answers on why everyone is there. The knowledge that technically if the story was true, we too would all be in it somewhere. It connects you to the book because you constantly find yourself thinking, “wonder what I’m doing on Riverworld?” as you read. Such a good story!

  • YankeeGator91

    I would strongly recommend David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. It’s solid space opera told on a grand scale. Politics, space warfare, intrigue at a very intricate level with a strong female lead character. It’s a long series of books and still ongoing.

  • Afterverse

    Anything by Philip K. Dick.

    Pattern Recognition by William Gibson is more accessible than Neuromancer.

    Snow Crash & Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.

    Commonwealth Saga (Pandora’s Star / Judas Unchained) by Peter F. Hamilton – P.F.H. writes space operas and his fiction is the closest that all tv shows can compare to (Star trek / Firefly / Battlestar Galactica)

    Singularity Sky – Charles Stross

  • Brian

    Eon by Greg Bear

  • Adam

    Speaker for the Dead- arguably the best sequel for Ender’s Game. Xenocide and Children of the Mind are also great, but in their own unique ways. Speaker introduces you to an Ender that has been transformed by the games at the battle school and literally carries the weight of many worlds on his shoulders.

  • Adam

    And how could I forget Armor! John Steakley was pure genius in this book. Such a complicated character evolution in Felix and Jack Crow. Think Starship Troopers meets Halo meets a psychologist. This may be just rumor, but I heard that Halo consulted with Armor in writing Master Chief’s character.

    Never have I connected mentally and emotionally to a character than I had with Felix. It’s incredible and powerful book.

  • ganung

    Walker by Michael Langlois

    Cyberdrome by Joseph and David Rhea

    Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

  • http://drewsanity.tumblr.com Drew

    I’d have to say it comes down to Ender’s Game or Speaker for the Dead, but I may like Speaker because I liked Ender so much. And how is Never Let Me Go a scifi?

  • RoverGrover

    The Foundation series, or anything by Asimov really.

  • http://thesundaymail.wordpress.com Devin Durbin

    I suggest the Pendragon series by DJ Machale, in all honesty it is very sci-fi throughout a few of the books, considering that the existance of multiple realities is theoretically possible.

  • http://fatpie42.livejournal.com fatpie42

    @Drew
    Why is “Never Let Me Go” sci-fi? Isn’t it obvious? “Never Let Me Go” is a sci-fi because it involves an alternate history where mass-cloning takes place.

    Anyway, my choices for sci-fi novel are:

    Hitchhikers’ Guide To The Galaxy/Restaurant At The End Of The Universe by Douglas Adams
    Simply the best epic satirical sci-fi out there. :)

    Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
    The classic and best dystopian novel. My English teacher tried to claim that it was an unrealistic vision of the future, seemingly not noticing that much of it was based on what the author could already see happening in totalitarian regimes contemporary to writing it. (My teacher seemed to think Brave New World had done a better job at predicting the future. You know, the one where the population is produced on a production line, where everyone is conditioned towards their intended job at birth and over half the population have their intellect intentionally stunted as babies. Wow how realistic…)

    The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
    There’s so many brilliant ideas shoved into this novel that it strikes me as remarkable that it hasn’t been turned into an sci-fi action movie yet. In a future where pretty much everyone can teleport (a limited distance) the anti-hero Gully Foyle finds himself stranded in a damaged spaceship in the aftermath of a space battle. He sets himself on a quest for vengeance against the spaceship that abandoms him. Strange acetic cults, extreme environmental policies, teleportation-proof prisons and a radioactive hitman are just a few of the ideas explored in this classic sci-fi masterpiece.

    The Time Machine by HG Wells
    Both versions of the film seem to shy away from the central point of the story. A satirical message of class warfare seemingly far too strident for hollywood audiences. Who are the Morlocks? Only the book has the full answer.

  • James

    A lot of very good choices above. I would also recommend Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End by Clarke, the Ender books, certainly Foundation and Dune.

    Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle have collaborated on some excellent novels, the best of which is The Mote in God’s Eye, a novel about first contact with an alien race. I also recommend Lucifer’s Hammer, a story about a comet that strikes the Earth.

    If you can find it, I strongly recommend The Masters of Solitude by Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin. I doubt it will ever be available on Kindle, so you will have to look for it in a used bookstore.

    Last, I would recommend Earth Abides by George Stewart. It is an older work, the story of the few survivors of a global pandemic, and well worth reading.

  • zligo

    1984, and every book by Ray bradbury (Farenheit 451, the Mars chronicles) for me.

  • Ramon

    The books surrounding the Halo universe are my favorite Sci[fi books. Mainly because of the Master Chief and the origins of humanity and their link to the forerunners. My favorite book would be The Fall of Reach.

  • Incendium

    Lost fleet series.

  • tonid

    During the last 20 years the following series or single books have attracted most of my attention.

    Series:

    Number 1. Best by far — Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons. I’ve read it five times already, and I still believe this to be one of the most imaginative, colorful, varied, surprising, interesting and coherent series ever written.

    Number 2. I don’t think anyone mentioned Stephen Baxter and his excellent Xelee sequence: Timelike Infinity, Flux, Raft and Ring. It definitely is a must-read, especially if you do enjoy interesting play with physics (the world described in Flux is nothing you could have ever imagined!).

    Number 3. Known Space series by Larry Niven. It contains something like 10-20 books, can’t name them all, the best known would be Ringworld which was mentioned earlier, but I’d say Protector is the most surprising one (and well written, too). World of Ptavs is quite good as well. The series might not be as good as the previous two mentioned, but it’s a nice piece of space opera, and this is how I learned to love SF in general in the 80s!.

    In terms of books mentioned by others, I got very bored by Rama series by Clarke, the first part was okay, but the other books were simply getting worse. Foundation is so well known by everyone that it simply doesn’t even need to be mentioned. It’s good, but I never got into it as much as the series mentioned above. If you’ve read Ender’s Game, you absolutely MUST read Speaker for the Dead, as it’s in my opinion way better (best book of the entire series by far).

    In terms of single stories, someone mentioned Clarke’s Childhood’s End — definitely a must-read. Oh, and also do not skip Gateway by Frederik Pohl, it’s an awesome classic — part of the Heechee series, but the rest of the books is nowhere as good as this first one, and they don’t really form a coherent story, and therefore you can just read Gateway.

    Some other authors I can recommend are David Brin (Startide Rising and more), and Iain M. Banks (Consider Phlebas and more). Good books, good series, just not the top 3. I also found Vernor Vinge to be good (A Fire Upon the Deep, Deepness in the Sky).

    But to sum it all up, and as you might have seen from the comments above, Hyperion should be your number one goal.

  • Karley

    Right, not gonna bring up a bunch of stuff that has already been mentioned, with the exception of…Stranger in a Strange Land, if you only read one Heinlein make it that.

    Recent reads:

    Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge

    Big Brother and For The Win by Cory Doctorow http://craphound.com/
    available free at his site.

    and the Pretties series By Scott Westerfield (don’t be put off by the girlie covers it’s soft SF high on social commentary, especially the last book, which has a lot of threads in to what is going on right now in the world.)

  • Spotter-acus

    I’d say read the Mortal Engines series – in order of release.
    They’re all brilliantly written with great imagination and emotion put behind them.
    The first four are a definite, the latest three are still pretty good but not as good.
    Just… read the blurb for Mortal Engines (the first book) – that should get you interested far more than my reccomendations xD

  • Silenthobo

    Alot of the Star Wars books are pretty good, I tend to lean before order 66, with the clone wars and before that time frame. My favorites are Drew Karpyshyn’s Darth Bane series, along with Karen Traviss’s Republic Commando series.

  • Suzanne

    I would first finish up the Ender’s series.
    And then, I don’t know if this qualifies as sci fi (but I think it does), I recommend The Time Traveler’s Wife. The movie was a bit cheese-tastic but the book was a work of art, I thought.

  • Amit

    I can’t believe nobody has mentioned “Battlefield Earth”. Sure the movie was terrible but the book is pretty damn amazing.
    A must read for sure.

  • VileThings

    Even if you are not a Halo fan, the books make for a pretty good read, but only the first four (The Fall of Reach, The Flood, First Strike and Ghosts of Onyx). Anything after that is not worth the paper it’s printed on.

    I can also recommend a lot of books that are set in the Warhammer 40k universe. Especially those written by Dan Abnett (my favorite author): the Eisenhorn trilogy, Ravenor trilogy and Gaunt’s Ghosts.

  • Charles

    I’m sure many have been influenced by Sci-Fi, but my top book goes back to Jr. High for me, and I think the books that turned me to more than just watching Sci-Fi movies. Those are the books, “R is for Rocket” and “S is for Space” by Ray Bradbury.

  • gaylecool1

    Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke is my all time favorite. Followed closely by Dune.

  • Jamie Aitch

    Dune. The whole series. Yes, the astronomy is flawed (Herbert basically picked star names that sounded good), and I have to suspend reason at the idea of ancestral memories…but…the human stuff, and the depth of the story-telling is just amazing.

  • chris

    I love love love Jack McDevitt’s work. I started with Ancient Shores, and his next stand-alone Eternity Road. However, most of his newer works are The Academy series, which is sort of a space adventure series, and the Alex Benedict series, which is a little space detective-y.

    Vernor Vinge blew my mind with A Fire Upon the Deep and the rest of the Zones of Thought series. His work can be a little hard to follow, but not nearly on the level that Gibson is.

    I also recommend checking out http://www.goodreads.com to find more suggestions. They have very lively communities there who discuss all aspects of sci-fi. one such is called The Sword and the Laser.

    Happy reading!

  • Garrett

    - Starship Troopers
    – Enders Game Saga
    – Dune
    – Dragonriders of Pern series – Anne McCaffrey
    – Hunger Games
    – I am Legend
    – The Belgariad and The Malloreon – David Eddings
    – The Postman
    – The Gap Cycle – Steven Donaldson

    @NY – who cares if it’s (Troopers) fascist – that is part of the whole STORY, ding-dong. That is just like a christian boycotting Dune because the worship giant worms and are addicted to drugs (spice). Get your nose out of the Huffington Post and read without takings thinks so personally.

  • the_truant

    they’re all on here already, but my favorites:

    Dune

    Ender’s Game / Ender’s Shadow

    Foundation

    (yes, i’ve read and generally enjoyed the whole series for all the above)

    Childhood’s End

    next on my list: Neal Stephenson

  • Lars

    Stranger in a Strange Land
    Snow Crash
    Ender’s Game / Ender’s Shadow series
    and if you’re in to dystopia, the classics 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451

  • Piratey

    late to the party but i have to mirror the sentiments of others, Hyperion is the way to go. No one does a better job of Science Fiction than Dan Simmons(Though i had issues with the ‘Duex Ex Machina’ ending of the Illium series)

    Per all his Sci-Fi work, make sure you’re up to speed with your classic British literature.

  • Megatron

    I have to say I’m surprised no one has mentioned C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. I’m not huge into SF and not religious but this was a really thought-provoking book series, and a fairly easy and accessible read to boot.

  • http://www.torchship.at Aether McLoud

    Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM.

    Has exactly the right amount of humor, self-loathing, action, planning and plans gone horrible wrong, and is set in my favorite SciFi universe, Warhammer 40k.

  • ben

    Bio of a Space Tyrant
    any series from
    Jack L. Chalker
    Philip José Farmer

  • natssumme

    starship troopers

  • http://ekiriam.deviantart.com Ekiriam

    It’s a bit older than your examples, but seriously you should look up Norman Spinrad’s novels, I discovered it five years ago in my father’s collection and everytime I start one of his books, I just can’t get off. “Agent of chaos”, for an example is pretty amazing.

  • jamie

    The ring of five dragons series by eric van lustbader, or any of the takeshi kovacs series by Richard k Morgan.

  • Lemon

    When I bought my Kindle, the first thing I downloaded was “Earth Abides” by George R Stewert. One of the best post-apocolyptic stories out there.

  • http://noonecaresmatt.blogspot.com/ Matt Vidakovic

    Hyperion – Dan Simmons

    Without doubt the finest Sci-Fi/Space Opera of all time.

  • Jarrick

    Kensho by Dennis Schmidt

    &

    The Man Who Never Missed by Steve Perry

    Kensho is a great story about colonizing a perfect world and finding it infested with undetectable interdimensional parasites that feed on strong emotions. And how humans evolve through a new way. Mix of Zen and sci-fi that’s low key but fun.

    The Man Who Never Missed is about how one man changes the galaxy – starting with one planet he becomes an inspiration to all who fight against impossible odds. It’s an all-time favorite of mine.

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  • David Lewis

    I haven’t read a lot of sci-fi books but there is one collection that I haven’t been able to put down, The Avery Cates Series by Jeff Somers.

    Fantastic set of books, I haven’t read all 5 of them but the first two have been amazing.

    I’d highly recommend them to anyone.

  • http://N/A Justin

    For those of us coming in late to this discussion, any chance of you reposting all of the recommendations or at least editing the original post with the recommendations?

  • Jamie

    My cast goes for Philip Palmer’s book Red Claw. It’s not the most amazing sci fi book, but if you are looking for a pulpy sci fi action blaster with amazing ideas and very unique aliens look no further.

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