SF reading list

Posted by – August 8, 2009

I’m getting together a list of important science fiction books I’m going to read in some sort of recommended reading order. Suggestions are very welcome. Entries with asterisks are ones I’ve already read. Numbers refer to position in the reading order. I’ll be updating this entry periodically.

A note about importance: I want to include only books that are both important and good. For example, I’d very much like to include John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes but it just isn’t important enough. Conversely, I may be taking out some books after I’ve read them and found out they’re no good.

A note about the definition of science fiction: I’m only including “obvious” sci-fi, meaning that some books which have become classics of general literature are excluded. Briefly, this means stuff like Fahreinheit 451, Slaughterhouse Five, Hitchhiker’s Guide, Nineteen Eighty-One and Brave New World.

Title Author Year
1 The Time Machine * H. G. Wells 1895
2 The Caves of Steel * Isaac Asimov 1954
3 The Naked Sun * Isaac Asimov 1957
4 The Robots of Dawn * Isaac Asimov 1983
5 Robots and Empire * Isaac Asimov 1985
6 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? * Philip K. Dick 1968
7 Stranger in a Strange Land * Robert A. Heinlein 1961
8 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress * Robert A. Heinlein 1966
9 Dune * Frank Herbert 1965
10 Solaris * Stanisław Lem 1961
11 2001: A Space Odyssey * Arthur C. Clarke 1968
12 The Gods Themselves * Isaac Asimov 1972
13 Ubik * Philip K. Dick 1969
14 Prelude to Foundation * Isaac Asimov 1988
15 Forward the Foundation * Isaac Asimov 1993
16 Foundation * Isaac Asimov 1951
17 Foundation and Empire * Isaac Asimov 1952
18 Second Foundation * Isaac Asimov 1953
19 The Mote In God’s Eye Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle 1974
20 Foundation’s Edge * Isaac Asimov 1982
21 Foundation and Earth * Isaac Asimov 1986
22 Neuromancer William Gibson 1984
23 Ender’s Game * Orson Scott Card 1985
24 Hyperion Dan Simmons 1989

Second string:

The Kraken Wakes * John Wyndham 1953 A compact, relatively minor but quite fascinating story
The Complete Robot * Isaac Asimov 1940-1976 Recommended as an introduction to Asimovian robots to those who want one, but the collection is rather uneven (especially the first half). There are gems too.

Under consideration (books which may belong on the list but I want to read / learn more about before including)

We Can Remember It for You Wholesale Philip K. Dick 1990
The Persistence of Vision John Varley 1978
Red Mars Kim Stanley Robinson 1992
Green Mars Kim Stanley Robinson 1993
Blue Mars Kim Stanley Robinson 1996
The Fall of Hyperion Dan Simmons 1990
Endymion Dan Simmons 1996
The Rise of Endymion Dan Simmons 1997
3 Comments on SF reading list

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  1. Veikko says:

    I would consider adding Hyperion by Dan Simmons to the list. Might be a bit too fresh to be “important”, but is good. Also: the list is actually “Asimov + something”. Which might be an accurate description of the state of sci-fi.


  2. sam says:

    Yeah, I figured the list was Asimov-heavy but didn’t want to start taking random books out of series (Robot, Foundation) before knowing which (if any) don’t belong. I already took one Asimov book out and may end up taking more.

    I added Hyperion, thanks for the tip. It’s apparently first in a series, so maybe some of those will merit inclusion when I get to them.


  3. sam says:

    Memo to self: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkady_and_Boris_Strugatsky

    Neal Stephenson – Snow Crash
    Ken MacLeod – Star Fraction
    Iain M Banks
    Alastair Reynolds
    Isaac Asimov – The End of Eternity