General Question

Christian95's avatar

What's the best sci-fi book you've ever read?

Asked by Christian95 (3258 points ) December 25th, 2009 from iPhone

I’m looking for something smart,mind-bendind and with some humor

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

83 Answers

rangerr's avatar

Have you met our lovely Matt Browne?

jrpowell's avatar

Ender’s Game is my favorite. The author is a dick in real life.

Jewel's avatar

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card.
No humor, but certainly engrossing and mind-bending.

Editing: I did not find it humorus. I did find it to have wit. Better @asmonet?

asmonet's avatar

Ender’s Game. Thirded.

@Jewel: I disagree, I thought the dialogue was witty, I smirked at some of their conversations. But no, it isn’t Hitchhiker’s that’s for sure.

Blondesjon's avatar

Stranger in a Strange Land

There are many that are better on all kinds of different levels but Stranger was the first one that ever felt relevant to me.

HumourMe's avatar

Wow three endorsements for Ender’s Game. That’s like the most endorsements for a sci-fi book ever…(slight sarcasm there) Might go check it out.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I liked Robert A. Heinlein’s: “Stranger in a Strange Land”, “Time Enough for Love”, and “The Cat Who Walked Through Walls.”
I was fond of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series (multiple titles)
I liked Ursula K. Leguin’s – “The Other Side of Midnight”

Darwin's avatar

Bradbury’s Illustrated Man was what originally turned me on to science fiction. I greatly enjoy Asimov’s Foundation books. I also like Harlen Ellison’s works, even though he, too, was a dick in real life (where does that leave Philip K. Dick?)

Allie's avatar

I love The Illustrated Man. After I read that I read Something Wicked This Way Comes and loved it also. Yeah, I like Ray Bradbury.

YARNLADY's avatar

Here’s another vote for Stranger in a Strange Land.

Sebulba's avatar

“Tweak Windows and make them better”

asmonet's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence: Foundation is sweet.

I love Ray Bradbury. :)
I also really liked The Positronic Man when I was younger, not a lot of humor there. And kinda embarrassed by this one…. Acorna, the Unicorn Girl. It’s a sci-fi / fantasy book – more sci-fi as the ‘unicorn girl’ is really an alien with a horn. And it’s got funny. I read those when I was 12 or so, in the thick of my sci-fi book phase… which hasn’t altogether disappeared.

scotsbloke's avatar

Do androids dream of electric sheep, By Phillip K Dick is a great book, It was the basis for Bladerunner but is quite far enough removed to be almost a different story.

Gosh theres so many good SciFi – I’d say, Read ‘em all!

ninjacolin's avatar

“His Dark Materials” is my favorite. :)

asmonet's avatar

@ninjacolin: That’s fantasy.

ninjacolin's avatar

you’re a fantasy

it’s both. :) and it will make you shat your pants.

ShiningToast's avatar

Dune by Frank Herbert. One of the best Sci-fi novels of all time, hands down. Completely enthralling from start to finish even though the sequels aren’t. If you want mind bending, here you go. Frank Herbert is an absolute genius, and he put an extraordinary amount of thought and work into the setting and backstory of his book.

If any of you Flutherites like Sci-fi and haven’t read at least the first Dune book, you really should pick it up.

Oh, and Ender’s Game is epic too :).

@Jewel and @asmonet The dialog is most definitely witty. Who could forget “I’m a fart in the air conditioning. I’m always here, but most of the time nobody knows it.” ?

asmonet's avatar

@ninjacolin: Haha, but seriously – where, exactly was the science fiction? I’ve read all three many times and I don’t recall any science fiction.

Pazza's avatar

The Bible.
sorry, couldn’t help it

asmonet's avatar

@Pazza: If the thread was about fantasy – your joke might have worked for some. It’s still in poor taste.

Apparently I’m the Genre Police.

Pazza's avatar

@asmonet
So your saying fantasy cannot encompass sci-fi?

talljasperman's avatar

Star Trek “I’m working on that”,by William Shatner with Chip Walter “A trek from science fiction to science fact.”

it has science and humor…the title was given by stephen hawkings when given a tour of the warp drive on a star trek TNG set

shrubbery's avatar

I don’t know if it’s the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read, especially since I haven’t even finished reading it, but if you want humour in your sci fi go for Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

If you’d be interested in books that possibly lean more towards fantasy than sci-fi, but still have both, I’d recommend any of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Smart writing encompassing politics, adventure, and everything in between, mind-bending philosophy and ethics, and very, very funny.

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

Stranger in a Strange Land .. Robert Heinlein
Anything by Vonnegut

mrentropy's avatar

Read some Robert Sheckley novels, like Dimension of Miracles or his collection of short stories. Sheckley was a pretty good satirist. His stories can be quite unusual and are usually humorous in nature.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’ll add vote #5 for my namesake. Heinlein wote a quasi-sequel 20 years later “Job: A Comedy of Justice”. Make sure you read the uncut version of “Stranger” issued shortly after his death.. John Varley’s “Wizard” trilogy is also superb. Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” is delightfully controversial. RAH’s “Friday” is also one of the finest in its field. He deals with bio-engineered humans the way Asimov dealt with robots, deeply thought provoking.

As Heinlein aged he got more pessimistic, his late works were some of the first “dystopia” themed books in that genre. Also, RAH and L.Ron Hubbard were once friends and became bitter enemies. A lot of his swipes at religion and its leaders probably stem from that. The shots he takes in “Stranger” are hilarious.

Zen_Again's avatar

I’m with all the Stranger in a Strange Land votes.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

The “Hitchiker” Series by Adams is hilarious, but really comedy rather than sci-fi.

CaptainHarley's avatar

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever. The books were in two trilogies and were the most amazing works of “fantasy, science-fiction” I have ever read, and trust me when I say I’ve read a LOT of science fiction. Right now, I’m on the first book in the “Void” trilogy, “The Dreaming Void,” by Peter F. Hamilton.

sdeutsch's avatar

Another vote for Ender’s Game – I’ve read it dozens of times, and even after all this time, once I start it, I just can’t put it down until I’m done. Excellent book!

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@johnpowell I agree about Orson Scott Card. After I read an interview with him, I was actually sorry that I enjoyed Ender’s Game so much. It’s a great book, but I don’t want to support the author.

scotsbloke's avatar

The Odyssey books by Arthur C Clark are pretty good, More like long short stories though but if you read them all one after eachother! 2001, 2010, 3001 – pretty entertaining.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Dr_Dredd… what was it about Orson Scott Card that so turned you off? I’ve never seen him.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

The “Lensman” series by “Doc” Smith and Burroughs Martian series are giants in the genre, if somewhat dated. Niven/Pournelle’s “The Mote in Gods Eye” and its sequels deal with the “first contact” issue from a unique and very human perspective.

XOIIO's avatar

Not a book, but the series The Foundation Chronicles By Isaac Asimov are the best books I have ever read! Simply amazing, the stories are very engaging and the descriptions make you feel like you are there. RedWall by Brian Jaques is good to.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Frank Herbert wrote a little-known book “The Santaroga Barrier” that is even better than “Dune”, IMHO.

filmfann's avatar

Day of the Triffids by Windham. Society crumbles in one day.

Rarebear's avatar

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@CaptainHarley I highly disagree with Card’s views on homosexuality. This is what he has to say on the subject: “Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.”

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Heinlein is definitely one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed all of his “Lazarus Long” books, especially “The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.”

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Along with the above books, I really enjoyed Valis by Philip K. Dick.

Darwin's avatar

I also loved The Ship Who Sang, which was Anne McCaffrey’s science fiction before the Pern fantasies, and almost everything by Robert Silverberg.

wildpotato's avatar

The craziest PKD is totally The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

One of my favorites not mentioned yet is the Gaia Trilogy by John Varley. Teriffic ideas about what aliens could be like; beautiful stories.

Also, Tad Williams’ Otherland series is marvellous. Be prepared for a long period of wonderfully confusing events that slowly begin to make sense. Very well-written books.

Another of my favorites is the Golden Queen series by Dave Wolverton, who has apparently since changed his name to David Farland. He has very cool stories about the spread of humanity through the galaxies, and what technology could become – the potential to reach immortality through cloning and memory-downloads is explored, among other themes.

Blondesjon's avatar

If you just want a straight forward, nuts and bolts, space opera, Stephen R. Donaldson’s Gap series is one of the best out there. Over the top characters within a restrained and thoughtful writing style make for a very entertaining read.

Qingu's avatar

Anathem by Neal Stephenson is completely awesome.

Rarebear's avatar

@Qingu I’m reading that now, actually.

wildpotato's avatar

Oh! How could I forget Stephenson? Check out Snow Crash and Diamond Age in addition to Anathem.

asmonet's avatar

@Pazza: Not at all, way to completely misread what I said.

@Jewel: All betters :)

Snarp's avatar

Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin.

But Stranger in a Strange Land might be a close second, off the top of my head.

ETpro's avatar

I’d have to say 1984 was the best. I totally enjoyed Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe and Stranger in a Strange Land, but didn’t bring as much away from them.

I’ll have to read Ender’s Game now. Looks like lots of Flutherers are raving about it.

filmfann's avatar

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin has been made into 2 acceptable TV movies, but was never better than the book.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

The only Heinlein work that was made into a decent film was “Destination Moon” (which he wrote the screenplay for) in 1950. The film version of “Starship Troopers” made me want to puke.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Dr_Dredd I read that interview with Card also. I have the same reaction you do. But we must remember that many authors and artists led rephrensible lives but created great work, e.g. E.A.Poe, Richard Wagner, Etc.

Rarebear's avatar

Here are some of my favorite modern (i.e. not dead and still writing) day science fiction novelists:
Eric Nylund
Peter Hamilton
Alastair Reynolds
Dan Simmons
Richard Morgan
Neal Stephenson
Neal Asher
John Scalzi
David Weber
Lyda Morehouse

…among others.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I know. But I try to buy used copies of Card’s work or borrow them from libraries. I still don’t want to give him royalties.

Rarebear's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I actually really liked Starship Troopers the movie. Yes, it was entirely different from the book, but I saw it as a satire of a fascist worldwide military state

Ria777's avatar

The Child Garden by Geoff Ryman satisfies all the OP’s requirements. if you can’t find it right, away, go use interlibrary loan. hey, the only other book I think of other than His Dark Materials with talking bears.

Ria777's avatar

@filmfann: hadn’t enjoy Le Guin’s novels, except for this one. (she writes exquisite short stories. just not a fan of her longer works.)

Grisaille's avatar

John Varley’s Gaean Trilogy, namely Demon.

No humor. However, if you want a well crafted universe, read them. Also, anything Dick.

sakura's avatar

Anything by Robert Rankin :) Especially The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocolypse and Toyminator Not particularly your average sci fi stuff but incredibly amusing!
Also try the Cornelius Murphy trilogy – The Book of Ultimate Truths

BhacSsylan's avatar

Yay! Some votes for LeGuin! I actually hadn’t expected that, I’m used to many people not knowing. I second The Left Hand Of Darkness, and The Dispossessed is pretty good if you’re into political philosophy. Also where the word ‘Ansible’ came from, which is used in Ender’s Game, among other places, which is interesting.

One of my favorite books ever, though, is Changing Planes, which is a collection of short stories by her, about several different humanoid worlds (a few of which were expanded into novels, like TLHOD). It’s absolutely breathtaking, in my opinion. Especially ‘The Seasons of the Ansarac’. Read that if you’re interested.

jerv's avatar

I would go with one of Neal Stepehenson’s older works; Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash, or Diamond Age.

@Qingu Personally, I was unimpressed by Anathem. However, it was mind-bending so maybe @Christian95 will like it better than I did.

Darwin's avatar

I also really liked Roger Zelazny’s stuff, especially his Amber series. And we met him at one of the Cons. He was a very nice guy and cheerfully posed for pictures for anyone who asked.

Seek's avatar

If you want something you can read in one day off: “Elric of Melnibon√©” by Michael Moorcock. yes, it’s actually Fantasy, but shut up, it’s a damned good story for 150 pages.

If you want something lovey-dovey: Star Trek: The Next Generation “Imzadi” and “Imzadi II” by Peter David. About the love-triangle between Cmdr. William Riker, Counselor Deanna Troi, and Lt. Cmdr. Worf.

If you want something kickass: Star Trek: “The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh” (parts I and II) – Exactly what it sounds like. Also “Genesis Wave” parts I, II, and III. Both very good serials.

If you want something a little bizarre: “Split Infinity” by Piers Anthony. Takes place in a world where the average person is naked all the time, and clothes are considered sexy (and only allowed to be worn by those with a permit). Has a Fantasy-genre cross-story.

If you want something out-of-this-world: “Dragon’s Egg” by Robert L. Forward. A space-exploration team on Earth discovers a planet evolving at a hyper-fast rate (a revolution of the planet takes place every few seconds, years go by in hours, etc.) and watches the inhabitants go from primitive life-forms to developing religion, politics, etc. Very fascinating. Ignore the early-1980s view on what 21st Century technology will look like.

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

And who could forget Piers Anthony?
If you have not yet read him, read Macroscope!

Rarebear's avatar

If you’re looking for good individual science fiction novels, you could always start at the Hugo and Nebula award winners. There are a lot of great sci fi books, of course, that don’t win the Hugo and Nebula, but those are always a good place to start.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr is right. The Eugenics Wars books really did kick ass.

Allie's avatar

Per suggestions I just bought “Stranger in a Strange Land” and “Ender’s Game.”

Grisaille's avatar

The Ender series is good. Nice choice.

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

@Allie You will love it when you begin to Grok things!
(Michael Valentine Smith)

ETpro's avatar

@Allie “Waiting is.”

asmonet's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr: I have a friend named Elric, after that book. True story, good mention. :)

Seek's avatar

@asmonet That is so cool…

asmonet's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr: His parents had a Star Trek wedding. If that explains anything for ya. :P

Seek's avatar

That’s awesome too! I had a Fantasy themed wedding myself. I’m a Trekkie, but myself and my husband are both AD&D players. ^_^

jerv's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I can see that. The only person I know who can speak Klingon fluently is also into Ren-faire. Their wedding was Ren-faire themed; period clothing, lots of flagons, swords, and marshmallow-crossbows around.

anguilla's avatar

“Replay” by Ken Grimwood, who died before writing anything else.

mattbrowne's avatar

Children of the Star by Sylvia Engdahl.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

I also enjoyed “Enchantress from the Stars,” by Engdahl. A nice twist on the fairy-tale motif.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Dr_Dredd – Yes, it’s great too, although I found the sequel called “The Far Side of Evil” a bit too dark. I also enjoyed “Journey Between Worlds”.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

“The Far Side of Evil” was definitely darker than I expected, but I found it interesting just the same. This was published in 1971, which means she was writing during the heart of the Vietnam war. I wonder if that subconsciously affected the tenor of her writing.

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