Wednesday, March 24, 2010

5 Science Fiction Novels That Changed My Life

Glory Road by Robert Heinlein is unforgettable.

I read Glory Road, Starship Troopers and The Puppet Masters at about the same time. There is a certain pomposity and chauvinism to Heinlein's writing, and he never got down with the drugs of the '60s the way Herbert did -- I always picture Heinlein dropping acid in a hot tub with a bevy of beauties -- but magic, heroes and exciting dangerous worlds, entered through secret portals, is the stuff great adventure stories are made of.

Count Zero by William Gibson is the second book of Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy.

Gibson's references in Count Zero are more physical and violent than his references in Neuromancer or Mona Lisa Overdrive -- Survival Research and Voodoo, for example -- and his cosmology is more complex. I missed Molly, though. When she came back in Mona Lisa Overdrive, she'd lost her edge. Neither Gibson nor anyone else has created a woman like the Molly of Neuromancer.

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? is the best of the five.

The Ridley Scott film, Blade Runner, based on the Dick novel, was a travesty, devoid of the deceptive innocence that characterized Dick's novel.

The Dosadi Experiment is Frank Herbert's most interesting work.

Compared to the free play of imagination in Herbert's lesser works like The Dosadi Experiment and Hellstrom's Hive, Herbert's Dune and its sequels read like encyclopedia articles.

The Mote In God's Eye, a collaboration by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, is another book I re-read every couple of years.

Niven and Pournelle can be as pompous as Heinlein, and, like Heinlein and Herbert, they carry the baggage of vestigial royalty and militarism into the future, but their Moties are fascinating. Moties are the most perfect aliens, the most intelligently crafted "opposite of us" in all of science fiction.

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