Monday, August 24, 2015

Blogger Book Drive Week 4: Best Science Fiction Books

Original image courtesy Beniamin Pop/

Natalie Patalie, The Happy Arkansan, and Hodge Podge Moments are hosting a virtual book drive for First Book! First Book is a charity that aims to provide books to low income American children. There are loads of studies about the relationship among books in the home, early reading, and later academic (and overall) success. Obviously just the presence of a few books is just a part of the puzzle, but a part is better than nothing at all! You can donate, you can retweet/reblog my entry (or one of the above entries if you think mine is crap), or you can just pimp out this fundraiser link. You can also browse previous prompts (if you're the kind of person who has free time on a Monday): favorite book quotesfavorite childhood books, and favorite authors.

This week's prompt is Best ______ Books. I decided to go with science fiction—I am not heavily involved in the scene, but I like to think that my distance from the fandom-at-large means that I have discerning taste. (Read as: "I'm a total fucking snob.") I also did my best to shift my focus away from the heaviest of the heavy hitters of the genre and on to names that are maybe not as well-known (at least, not as well-known outside the fandom). In no particular order:

1. Interstellar Pig (William Sleator)

Remember when book covers looked like this?
Pepperidge Farm remembers. (Image courtesy Goodreads.)

William Sleator was the YA science fiction guy of my time, or at least in my middle school. Unfortunately, I think as he aged he became painfully less relevant (or tried harder to be hip). But his earlier stories are timeless, and Interstellar Pig might well be the best of them. House of Stairs won a bunch of awards, too, but I think Interstellar Pig is better.

2. Doomsday Book (Connie Willis)

Image courtesy Wikimedia
Is this one of the best time travel books I've ever read? Yes. Unequivocally. Imagine Michael Crichton's Timeline, and then imagine it was written by someone with more talent who had done more research. Imagine if she had also written about a theme park with cloned dinosaurs...!

Come at me, Crichton fan club.

3. Light (M. John Harrison)

Image courtesy Goodreads

This was a fantastic piece of hard SF that blew my mind in all kinds of ways. It probably holds up to re-reading, since years later I can't remember the details or plot twists well—only that the world building was amazing and that the story blew my mind in all kinds of ways. I don't mean that to imply that book is forgettable, either. I usually have a pretty good memory for stories (and, let's face it, a lot of stories follow predictable plot points and use familiar character tropes), which means that I don't often re-read things. For years. But there was so much going on Light that I could not keep track of it all. And it's the first in a trilogy?! I can't speak for the other two, but Light is really good.

4. Dying Inside (Robert Silverberg)

Image courtesy Wikimedia

What makes Dying Inside a remarkable book is the way it integrates science fiction into the story and makes the character (in this case, an aging telepath who is starting to lose his powers) the focus of the story instead of the whiz-bang wow technology/alien races/foreign cultures. Even though this one is considered Silverberg's masterpiece, and Silverberg is himself a pretty big name, I feel like I've never met anyone else who's read this. That is a tragedy.

I could go on, but this seemed like a good place to stop myself for now. What are your favorite science fiction books? Let me know in a Tweet or in the comments, and don't forget to chip in a couple bucks to the Blogger Book Drive!


  1. You are AMAZING~! Thanks for linking up again :D I'm kind of embarrassed because I haven't read a single one of these. I really need to step up my sci-fi game. I'll have to add some of these to my list. Except for Doomsday Book because I hate time travel, hahah.

    1. I've heard Passages is really good, too! I haven't read it yet, but I like to pimp out Connie Willis at any opportunity:

      If near-death experiences are more your thing than time travel.

    2. That one does sound more my type! Alright, you win. Adding it to my goodreads now, hahah.