The Science Fiction Top 10
Over at the Science Fiction Writing Yahoo group, folks are posting their top ten favorite SF novels. This was a toughie; how could I leave out Vance (Demon Princes), and Varley, and Zelazny, oh my? But I have to start somewhere. I reserve the right to yank my choices when Pat J. inevitably comes along and sez, "But you forgot . . ." Silverberg's To Live Again, that'll be the first to go. Here's my (current, soon to change) top 10 list. NOVELS, mind you. We'll do short stories some other day (Varley's "Bagatelle" -- number one -- read it now!) Here we go, in no particular order: 1. Frederick Pohl's Gateway. Hop in an alien ship, pre-programmed to take you to your violent death, hideous lingering disease, or fantastic treasures. It's a crap shoot every time. Sure, the computer shrink gets on my nerves to this very day, but the harsh realities of Gateway itself more than makes up for Sigmund. 2. Joe Haldeman's The Forever War. This is one of my favorite anti-war novels. Maybe it isn't as famous or as funny as Catch-22, but I like it much better. Clean writing, great story, great message. 3. Jonathan Lethem's Gun, with Occasional Music. Metcalf is a futuristic gumshoe with an evolved kangaroo after him. This is THE best marriage of Raymond Chandler with science fiction, bar none. 4. Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. Computer nerd as Samurai hero; listen to Reason. Nuff said. 5. Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow. Smilla's only friend is a six-year-old boy who lives in her apartment complex. When he dies, she refuses to believe it's an accident. The ending makes it SF, but Smilla is as hardboiled as they come. Another superbly written novel. 6. Michael Swanwick's Stations of the Tide. How can a novel with lots of sex and allusions to Heart of Darkness not make my top ten list? Speaking of Heart of Darkness . . . 7. Alan Moore's Watchmen. I don't know what to say about Watchmen. If anyone out there hasn't read it, beg, borrow, or steal a copy. Better yet, buy it. 8. Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. The Axis has won World War II (wait a sec . . . is this fiction?), and America has been divided up between the Germans and the Japanese. Bob Hope is the only comedian whom the Nazis let live. This is Dick's masterpiece, in my opinion, although the Valis trilogy also has a warm place in my heart. 9. Robert Silverberg's To Live Again. The recorded knowledge and personalities of great men and women are available to the living, for a price. This is my favorite of Silverberg's body of work. I'm not sure how well it holds up over the years, but it stuck to my ribs for the last few decades -- more than I can say about a lot of books. 10. Arthur C. Clarke's Against the Fall of Night. In the far, far future of Earth, a kid goes on a journey of discovery, leaving behind everything familiar. One of the first SF paperbacks I bought with my own money loooong ago. I read it many times as a kid. I hesitate to read it as an adult, because I'm afraid the magic will go poof.
***Okay -- your turn! And if you're one of those Luuuuuurve™ junkies who has never read SF, make it your top 3 or 4 or whatever favorite SF movies. D.