BOOKS A-D

 

 

 

POUL ANDERSON

The High Crusade

An original and wonderful tale, full of life and humor.

The Avatar

A conceptually stunning tale

*** Orion Shall Rise

A wonderfully rich and complete tale! Excellently well done and very satisfying.

CATHERINE ASARO

(The Quantum Rose -- 2001 Nebula Award. The first half is a romance novel in a science-fiction setting.  The second half is a space opera.  I found the characters and plot to be unconvincing and the overlay of quantum physics gobbledygook quite odd considering Asaro's claimed impeccable credentials.  Not a favorite of mine. )

ISAAC ASIMOV

I, Robot

The Rest of the Robots

Okay, so I lied; there is something besides novels in this list. These are collections of short stories about robots. But they are wonderful in themselves and are very important conceptually in that all the rest of the science fiction writers have accepted Asimov's fundamental Laws of Robotics.

The Robots of Dawn

A more recent work of Asimov proved he hadn't lost the touch -- excellent, in spite of an annoying flaw right at the end. This is really the third, and best, free-standing novel about a future detective and his robot partner. Not really a type-A series, but close. (The others were "The Caves of Steel" and "The Naked Sun" -- both good, but not good enough for this list.)

The Foundation Trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation)

The original Foundation trilogy is excellent and historically important. It is partly a type-C series and partly type A. Asimov wrote a fourth Foundation story, Foundation's Edge (1983 Hugo Award), which I found to be marginal for this list. He has also written other prequels and sequels related to both the Foundaton series and the robot series.  I have not read them all; the ones I have read have been adequate, but not wonderful.)

 (The Gods Themselves -- 1973 Hugo Award and 1972 Nebula Award -- didn't think it was that good. After writing this and finding out it was a double Award winner and that is it included in various collections of classics, I re-read it. My opinion stands. Some good stuff, but some real flaws too. I really donít know why this is so highly regarded -- maybe I'm missing something.  Pity.)

GREG BEAR

(Darwin's Radio -- 2000 Nebula Award.  Not a favorite of mine.)

(Moving Mars -- 1994 Nebula Award.  Not yet read.)

 

GREGORY BENFORD

(Timescape -- 1980 Nebula Award.  Just barely doesn't make the list in my view. Good basic notion and wonderful reality to a lot of the people and scenes (Benford must be a physicist). But not enough additional novelty and very wordy and draggy. Simply not fun enough or stimulating enough to qualify as a favorite.)

ALFRED BESTER

(The Demolished Man --1953 Hugo Award Winner.  I have read it, but didn't think it that good.)

MICHAEL BISHOP

 

(No Enemy But Time --1982 Nebula Award

I find myself ambivalent about this one. Very well written and generally good at keeping your interest, it just didn't quite satisfy me when it was all over.)

 JAMES BLISH

Cities in Flight Series (Four novels: They Shall Have Stars; A Life for the Stars; Earthman, Come Home; and The Triumph of Time) (Type C Series)

A space epic worth reading.  I find its ideas and images stay with me.

VOR

In some ways not the best novel, but a really stunning idea underlies it.

(A Case of Conscience -- 1959 Hugo Award -- I read it; "Catholic" science fiction and not my cup of tea.  I am not motivated by a debate on whether aliens have souls.)

RAY BRADBURY

(One of the early science fiction writers, Bradbury is still active as of 2005.  He is a poet who writes in prose. His style evokes moods and is really quite different from anyone else's. Mostly he has written short stories -- read them.)

*** The Martian Chronicles

A series of short stories that make up a longer story. Some of the stories are simply wonderful. One of the very best. (The made-for-TV version is surprisingly good.)  I read these to my children.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Fantasy? Unique Ė an extreme mood piece. You will not forget it easily. (Was made into a movie with Gregory Peck, but I have not seen it.)

 DAVID BRIN

(Sundiver)

Startide Rising --1984 Hugo Award and 1984 Nebula Award
The Uplift War --1988 Hugo Award
 

(Brightness Reef)
(Infinity's Shore)
(Heaven's Reach
)

A double trilogy of uneven quality.  Basically, a Type A series trying to look like Type C.  The two Award winners are the best.  The whole thing, surprisingly, is a space opera -- I thought no one wrote those any more -- but the best parts are very good.

JOHN BRUNNER

Stand on Zanzibar --1969 Hugo Award

While the ending was somewhat of a let-down, I loved the book and its unique style.

LOIS MCMASTER BUJOLD

Bujold has won several awards for her novels.  I have only read two so far.  Guess I'll have to read more. She has written a whole series of books about a unique hero, Miles Vorkosigan.  The first four below are part of this series/world.  The last one is not related.

(Mirror Dance -- 1995 Hugo Award.  Military/political science fiction.  I wasn't crazy about it.)

 

(Falling Free -- 1988 Nebula Award.  Not read.)

 

(The Vor Game -- 1991 Hugo Award. A pretty good tale, but still military/political science fiction and not really what I like.)

 

(Barrayar -- 1992 Hugo Award. Not read.)

 

Paladin of Souls

2004 Hugo Award and 2004 Nebula Award.  Completely unrelated to the Vorkosigan sagas,  this is very well-written, sword-and-sorcery fantasy.  (Why it got awards as science fiction, I cannot figure out!)  But it is far better than most of that genre and is a good tale spun by an excellent writer.

OCTAVIA E. BUTLER

(Parable of the Talents -- 1999 Nebula Award.  Moody, dark without a lot of good conceptual material to justify the effort.  I didn't like it.)

ORSON SCOTT CARD

(Card is a prolific writer of relatively recent vintage.  It is hard to pick from his vast output, but I have listed a few that I liked best.  I have read quite a bit of his work.  He always writes well, but his concepts are highly variable.)

*** Ender's Game -- 1985 Nebula Award and 1986 Hugo Award

*** Speaker for the Dead -- 1986 Nebula and 1987 Hugo Award winner

These are two books in a real type C(!) series. These two are really different from each other and both are really wonderful!  Card has continued/expanded on these with several more related novels which, sadly, I have not yet read.  They are: Xenocide, Children of the Mind,  and a related series, Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, and Shadow of the Giant

Wyrms

Songmaster

MICHAEL CHABON

 

(The Yiddish Policeman's Union -- 2008 Hugo Award and 2007 Nebula Award.  Not yet read.

 

C. J. CHERRYH

Gate of Ivrel

Well of Shiuan

Fires of Azeroth

Exile's Gate

These are strange, gloomy, adventure stories -- a little on the fantasy side, sort of.  But their mood and story captured me and have stuck with me.  I even find myself re-reading parts.  They are a Type A set of fairly even quality.  Read the first one first.  After that, it doesn't matter.  They contain the sword, Changeling, which is the one I want if I ever get my choice...

(Downbelow Station -- 1982 Hugo Award.  I have read it, but not a favorite.)

 

(Cyteen -- 1989 Hugo Award. Not read.)

 ARTHUR C. CLARKE 

*** Childhood's End

Wonderful! I read and re-read this one. One of the very best.

2001

2010

This duo is worth while reading, but the movies are also very good. If you can find it, read "The Lost Worlds of 2001", also by Clarke, for a special insight into some of the problems of writing science fiction.

Rendezvous with Rama --1974 Hugo Award and 1973 Nebula Award

An excellent conception which has type-A sequels which are well-written but short on new concepts

(The Fountains of Paradise -- 1980 Hugo Award and 1979 Nebula Award -- I have read it; it's good, but not that good.)

SUSANNA CLARKE

(Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell -- 2005 Hugo Award and 2005 World Fantasy Award.  Fantasy, not science fiction, despite the Hugo Award.  Beautifully set and well written, unfortunately it was not well thought out overall and left me unsatisfied and wondering what all the fuss was about.  This lack of underlying structure and tying up of loose ends seems to be typical of much fantasy -- with a few notable exceptions.)

MARK CLIFTON AND FRANK RILEY

(They'd Rather Be Right -- 1955 Hugo Award -- not read. Very hard to find, but I finally located a used copy. Will read and report.)

SAMUEL R. DELANY

(I have trouble with his stuff. Maybe it's me, but I actively dislike some of it -- though not the two below.)

(Babel 17 -- 1966 Nebula Award -- I didn't think it was that good.)

(The Einstein Intersection - 1967 Nebula Award -- I didn't think it was that good)

PHILIP K. DICK

(I need to read more of his stuff. Of the few I have read, I include only the one below, but it gives a sample of what to expect.)

 

A Maze of Death

(The Man in the High Castle -- 1963 Hugo Award -- not read.)