BOOKS U-Z

 

 

 

JOHN VARLEY

The Persistance of Vision

Short stories of a unique and wonderful nature, plus a Nebula award-winning novella (the title story). Worth making an exception for! A second volume of short stories "Picnic on Nearside" has some of the same impact and a couple of dandy stories, but generally falls somewhat below the first one. His third volume, "Blue Champagne", is a bit further down yet, in spite of some awards.

A. E. VAN VOGT

*** The World of Null-A

I have a soft spot in my heart for this 1948 classic. It was the first real science fiction I read --and it is a conceptual dandy! Sophomoric writing, but a mind-bender and a fine example of the "onion" kind of story, starting from the inside and moving out through many layers.  (A type-A follow-on, The Pawns of Null-A is much weaker.)

The Book of Ptath

A heavy mix of fantasy and science fiction. But full of strong images and a good story. Sticks with you.

JOAN D. VINGE

The Snow Queen --1981 Hugo Award

A rich, satisfying novel. Reminds me in some ways of Dune. My only criticism is that I found the plot of the last third of the book too obvious.

World's End

Shares the same universe/society and some of the characters of "The Snow Queen", but is not really a sequel. With a different writing style, careful crafting, and a very non-obvious (but logical) ending, I liked it! Read it after "The Snow Queen".

VERNOR VINGE

A Fire Upon the Deep -- 1993 Hugo Award.

Yes, indeed! A conceptual monster in several ways.  A really good tale.

(A Deepness in the Sky -- 2000 Hugo Award.  A prequel to the blockbuster above.  Not yet read.)

(Rainbows End -- 2007 Hugo Award.  Not yet read.)

KURT VONNEGUT, JR

*** The Sirens of Titan

I have mixed feelings about some of his other stuff. But this is a dandy and contains one of my favorite mottos. (Okay, okay! It is: "Anybody who has traveled this far on a fool's errand has no choice but to uphold the honor of fools by completing the errand.")

KATE WILHELM

(Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang -- 1977 Hugo Award -- not read.)

JACK WILLIAMSON

The Humanoids

A piece of early, excellent science fiction (I read it serialized in a magazine). This one stuck with me long before I got further interested in reading more science fiction. There is a recent (!) sequel, which I have not yet read. In 2005, at age 92, Williamson is still writing and publishing!

CONNIE WILLIS

The Doomsday Book -- 1992 Nebula Award and 1993 Hugo Award.

Has some of the "romp" feeling of "To Say Nothing About the Dog" (see below), but it is froth on top of a fine story.  A few too many convenient coincidences at the end to make me really happy, but there is much to like in this tale of time travel to the 14th Century.  It will stick with you as it has with me.

(To Say Nothing About the Dog -- 1999 Hugo Award.  A kind of Victorian romp with quite a lot of deeper thinking.  Okay, but not wonderful -- close though.)

 

ROBERT CHARLES WILSON

 

Spin -- 2006 Hugo Award.  Not yet read.)

 

GENE WOLFE

(The Book of the New Sun, including The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator --1981 Nebula Award, The Sword of the Lictor, and The Citadel of the Autarch.  The idea and the first book are WONDERFUL! The second, prize winning, book is okay but a letdown after the first one (don't try reading it without reading the first one), and the final two are again okay but really end up without having fulfilled the initial promise or having lived up to what could have been done with the idea. He really didn't have his story well thought out, after all. Pity.)

JOHN WYNDHAM

The Day of the Triffids

An early (1951) classic, much imitated since.

ROGER ZELAZNY

This Immortal --1966 Hugo Award. Also called ...And Call Me Conrad

Two Hugo awards were given that year, the other going to "Dune". Not another "Dune", but nevertheless, very good and quite original.

(Lord of Light -- 1968 Hugo Award -- didn't think it was that good!)