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In addition to those essays and articles shown above, scholarship on horror fiction is almost as old as horror fiction itself. In , the gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe published an essay distinguishing two elements of horror fiction, "terror" and "horror. Modern scholarship on horror fiction draws upon a range of sources. In their historical studies of the gothic novel, both Devandra Varma [38] and S. Varnado [39] make reference to the theologian Rudolf Otto , whose concept of the " numinous " was originally used to describe religious experience.

Achievements in horror fiction are recognized by numerous awards. The International Horror Guild Award was presented annually to works of horror and dark fantasy from to Other important awards for horror literature are included as subcategories within general awards for fantasy and science fiction in such awards as the Aurealis Award. Some writers of fiction normally classified as "horror" tend to dislike the term, considering it too lurid.

They instead use the terms dark fantasy or Gothic fantasy for supernatural horror, [44] or " psychological thriller " for non-supernatural horror. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about a genre of speculative fiction. For the film genre, see supernatural horror film.

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Alternate history. List of alternate history fiction Retrofuturism Sidewise Award Writers.


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Fantasy fiction. Science fiction. Horror fiction. Horror fiction portal. The Penguin Book of Horror Stories. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion. London: Methuen. To Sura". In Charles W.

The Best Horror Books of Will Keep You Up All Night

The Harvard Classics. New York: P. Oxford: Oxford University Press. McNally and Radu R. Florescu Pages 8—9. Engelhard and Company: Chicago. Jesu per Fridericum Gall. Mense Sepembri Die 8. London: Fourth Estate. Nightmare: The Birth of Horror. London: BBC Books. Encyclopedia of Pulp Fiction Writers. New York: Facts On File, Westport, CT: Greenwood, Westport: Greenwood, The A to Z of Horror Cinema.

The A to Z Guide Series. Retrieved 29 October Retrieved February 5, University of Missouri. Ellensburg Daily Record. Retrieved 12 September Stephen King, brand-name writer, master of the horror story and e-book pioneer, has received an unexpected literary honor: a National Book Award for lifetime achievement. Laity "Clive Barker" in Richard Bleiler, ed.

Laity, "Ramsey Campbell", in Richard Bleiler, ed. Human Communication Research. Retrieved 15 December Archived from the original on 28 February Retrieved 2 November Retrieved 3 May Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. University of Nebraska Press. Archived from the original PDF on 12 May Archived from the original on 25 October Dating Ghosts. Horror Writer's Association. Archived from the original on 10 March Retrieved 13 April Archived from the original on 21 June Retrieved 30 October Portal: Horror.

Speculative fiction. Artists list Authors Editors. Awards Definitions History Journalsm. Community Gathering list Organizations by nationality. Artists Authors. High fantasy Tolkienology History Sources. Comics Films list Magazines Television programs Video games. Gargoyle Vampires list Werewolves. Science fantasy Fantastique Magic realism Slipstream Techno-thriller.

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Categories : Horror fiction Horror genres Horror novels. Hidden categories: Webarchive template wayback links All articles with dead external links Articles with dead external links from March Articles with permanently dead external links Use dmy dates from October Articles needing additional references from August All articles needing additional references All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from February Commons category link is on Wikidata Articles with Curlie links.

Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. If you think that cyberpunk was invented in the s, then you really need to read this book. Combines both a vicious, futuristic war yarn and the bleeding edge of trippy, Burroughs-style SF. Abraham Lincoln is revived as an android as part of a crazy scheme to re-enact the US Civil War for entertainment only to be hijacked by big business and a darkly disturbed creator - All contribute to this tale in which the author explores his familiar themes of the nature of reality and what makes us truly human.

Fantastic series of books. It does what Asimov tried to do but never quite succeeded, despite his many achievements: it has artificial intelligences far more fascinating than the human and other naturally evolved characters, as well as being a space opera to end all space operas and a terrific entertainment. The humans end up being almost the rather indulged and very much patronised pets of the AIs. Speaking of pets, David Brin's Startide Rising deserves a mention. And, for the entire body of his work up to the moment, the great Greg Egan: no one makes you think about and doubt existence, including, first of all, that of your own self, like he does.

Better than the first volume, Hyperion, this book has a great, dramatic story, fine characters, plenty of time-twisting and some wonderful ideas about AIs, human evolution, religion and What It All Means. It's not gruesome and funny like Iain M Banks I would nominate all the Culture novels as second choice but it is epic, thought-provoking and a little bit scary the Shrike.

Few authors can tell a story from the view of a non human character as convincingly as C. Cherryh can. Her worlds are well developed and it is fun to read her books. Also recommended reading: her Foreigner books. Mr Banks' science fiction is always absolutely brilliant. The scope and size of the settings in which the plot is set is so much more than other writers. I enjoy them all, Surface Detail, being the latest developed The Culture concept further, full of dark humour and brain expanding vastness of it all.

Consider Phlebas is sf at it's best. Awesome in it's scope, speculative in it's ideas, plausible and at the same time beyond what we have thought before. Huge things in space, sentient machines, a fantastic society and a main character that is on the wrong side in a conflict makes great reading and hopefully some thinking from the reader. Absolutely terrifying, yet zany, satire of Soviet life. Written in this under-appreciated gem is the grand-daddy of all dystopia.

It looks at the mechanation and production line culture that was due to rise. Fordism and a Benefactor scream 'Brave New World' and '' in equally delightful prescient horrors. Space rather than science fiction, this is a penetrating look at humanity through an alien's eye.

Lessing is prescient about so much and pulls no punches in her analysis of the human condition. An endlessly fascinating, worlds-within-worlds exploration. Original, thought-provoking and well plotted, not ruined by exposition. It illustrates the utter futility of projects like SETI - even if we did receive a message from the stars, could we ever agree what it meant. And imagine the religious upheaval it would cause if there was any claim that there is no God.

I picked it up by accident from the library and just though, "oh well, I'll read it anyway? It's hero, takeshi kovacs is very much a person who just seems to caught up in incredibly volatile and deadly situations, and he comes through them purely cos he's prepared to do whatever is necessary to survive in an outrageously coldblooded manner while still retaining enough depth of character and humanity to be sympathetic. I've read everything that Morgan's written since - several times - and I can't recommend this book highly enough.

A book that feels just as relevant now than it did in the 70s. Great plot, satisfactory presentation of inner agonies of the individuals, solid characters, irony, suspense. A s masterpiece of black humor that, although dated in the way it tackles sexuality and the place of women in society, stands as a good reflection on utopia, pacifism and personal responsibility.

Once read, never forgotten. Dodge the Steamroller! Well written and plotted - lots of strands - androids, repressed memories, ambiguous aliens, action sequences with sudden unexpected abilities, with in depth character development, and open ended. Would make a great blockbuster film! Seventies utopian and dystopian ideas. Aged a bit, but deals with a lot of issues that never occurred to the boys. It's fun. The author has given himself permission to let his imagination wander. We all need to give ourselves permission to let our imagination wander. That's the nub of it. Suppose we do get off this rock and into inter-stellar space e.

What if we did find an inhabited world, because we were following the signals received by SETI, say. Would we even recognize the aliens as living creatures when we encountered them? The sheer amount of cock, even for the sci-fi genre, is spafftacular. I watched the film first, which didn't have nearly as much cock. By God, I love the cock in the book. First it's very funny, the author has a real eye for an unexpected gag. But it's also got a serious side.

It's a mix of science fiction and fantasy about a world that is like the real world except that all religions and superstations are true. Four people go on a quest to find the soul of a dead magician that has been trapped on a computer. The characters are warm and believable book is quite thought provoking.

It keeps you completely off balance the whole way through. Just when you think you know what is going on something shifts and you find out that nothing is what you thought it was. I like that especially as I realized at the end that one of the main themes is how apparently orderly systems arise out of chaotic situations. I always think it's the sign of a good book that however many times I read it I always find something new to think about and to laugh at.

Dark Science Fiction

Well, it's a trilogy not a single book and, next only to Olaf Stapledon's works, the most satisfying and simply enjoyable SF I have read. What I like about it is that it mixes science fiction with a good old-fashioned adventure story involving likable people. And it is brilliantly conceived and told. A voyage into the science fiction future does not always have to be scientific. Banks excels in his nonchalant creativity, placing his main character, who is world class at his own past time of playing games, into the hands of 'special circumstances' an organisation run by super minds to put right the wrongs of the universe As an avid reader of what is know as 'the Culture series' I recommend 'Player' as the entry book to Banks's universe, this book, if you like it, will lead to all the others, 5 or 6 at the last count.

All different, but fascinating, exciting, sexy and above all optimistic about very advanced humanoid civilization, although the culture is categorically not simply us in the future. This trilogy has been the most influential of all science fiction books. Although they are three books, I see them as one long book, broken into three parts because of the nature in which they were purported to be written by a single divine force working through human agents. So even the manner of the writing is surreal and cosmological. They are filled with dictates regarding proper conduct.

The stories document the twisted behaviors of leaders, wars of conquest, socio-political struggles, and moral themes. Among the chief features is the sado-masochistic relationship that the god in these books has with his people. I found the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter to be exemplary of the kind of brutal gamesmanship between the two parties. Additionally, divine imperatives include the extermination of entire peoples and failures to carry these out to their fullest extent results in punishments. Though often boring and filled with cryptic platitudes, these books are worth reading, if only to look into the psychological space that they have created in billions of fans all over the planet.

This, with its three sequels, is a magnificent work of linguistic and mythic imagination, deeply resonant and rewarding. A brilliant fusion of a noir detective story set in a detailed and believable future world, its pace is relentless and like all good books leaves the reader wishing for more pages to turn. Three interwoven novellas. An excellent introduction to the pleasures of reading Gene Wolfe, before tackling The Shadow of the Torturer.

Well worth seeking out, since other writers are to Wolfe as ketchup is to bordelaise. I love the idea of maths as a predictive tool. Also the twist where one character is not what they seem. An early post-apocalyptic novel and an excellent comment on how quickly society can collapse. This series has everything: time travel, magic, beings from folklore, such as elves, ogres, etc, modern technologies, future developments, politics, alien intelligent species, crime, punishment, ethics and morality, all set against a backdrop of reasoning about the nature of life, of religions, of the concept of god s , the infinite and the cosmos, seasoned with a delightful sense of irony and wit The Foundation series, most epsecially the first book in the series, has a beautiful vision of a galactic empire, doomed by probability to fail, and the preparations for what will replace it.

It's stuck with me for years, and I still lend my copy to friends on a regular basis. This book was simply written with a theological angle, however just read literally it was very resonating for three connected ways of seeing things that are indelible to my reading and appreciation of this story: 1. The translation of what the human says and how it is heard by the aliens. A human seeing the appearance of two different aliens, before realizing they are actually humans. Earth is a silent planet in a Universe full of communication.

There is another theory which states that this has already happened. It is quite simply the best book ever written. I grew up on this book, with my dad reading me excerpts for bedtime stories! Sit down with a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster and enjoy! For those not in the know, it's like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick. I read this when I was in my early 20's when it was instrumental in my becoming a life long Sci-Fi fan.

I re-read it in my 50's and enjoyed it just as much. I introduced it to the book club I belong to and they enjoyed it despite the fact that they would not normally read Science Fiction. Read this a few years ago now and the images it created while reading it have since stuck in my mind. Its a classic because it remains a terrifying novel to date. A book that simply defines everything that good sci-fi should be: thought-provoking, relevant whilst retaining a healthy dose of the unknown, perceptive in its understanding of trends in society at the time and in the future and, most importantly, pushing the limitations on human imagination.

Brave New World is, ahead of other classics such as , the one sci-fi novel that everyone can recognise in our own cultural infatuation with indulgence and social structure. It is an epic that joins the distant past to the near future. It is hopeful, as expressed in the "Star Child" I cannot even think about that image without getting major goosebumps yet it contains a warning to mankind about its own folly. It is at least somewhat prescient in how HAL is portrayed. And it is a great story as well as a great film. It is exciting and even breathtaking. Furthermore, the film made brilliant use of a classical score with Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra more goosebumps and Johann Strauss' The Blue Danube, both electrifying compositions.

The spellbinding quality of Wolfe's prose by itself qualifies this as an all-time SF great, as a book we can all point to when someone accuses SF of not being literature. But there's so much more happening here. Twin alien worlds, decadent, decaying French colonies, and an aboriginal, shapeshifting race that seems to have vanished like a dream. Three narrators, but somewhere in the twists and turns of their narratives, we lose them and find we're holding someone else's hand. I've read this book ten times now and I'm still finding new things to love about it.

I read this when I was a young angst ridden sixteen year old and fell in love with it. It's a great little story of going back in a time machine to the days of christ in search of a meaning to life Excellent riff on the alien invasion sub-genre with aliens we never actually meet. Add political and social satire and a mildly unreliable narrator and you've got it made. Foresaw the dangers of the polar cap melting as well! I love the multilayered approach and the phonetic spelling, and then the main protagonist is such a nice kid! One of the great space operas.

Some critics have said it's too complicated. The richest most complete creation in the whole genre. Comparisons with the contemporary Vietnam War aside, the book was quite simply un-put-down-able! A great story of grunt soldiers training and fighting aliens over a possible misunderstanding with the added concept that the great distances they need to travel to the war zone means the Earth they know goes through changes they could not have foreseen.

Classic ending. This is one of those novels that non sci-fi fans can read without having to think that they are reading a sci-fi story. In other words it is happy to be called 'speculative fiction'. It is funny, witty, insightful, harrowing and shocking and utterly gripping from the start to the finish. This book displays the broad spectrum of humanity from our best to just how low and evil we can stoop.

It moves through time from the past to an awesomely realised post apocalyptic future and back again showing a playful and excellent grasps of multiple literary styles along the way. This was the book I gave my girlfriend who is not a fan of sci-fi as the one example of this genre that she agreed she would read, mainly just to keep me quiet. She adored it. Well written, extremely good plotting and characterisation, and has elements which stay with you for years after reading it which is the whole point, isn't it?

A novel which focuses on how a military-run government would look. Also gives a good description of uber-cool space suits and fighting aliens. Really makes you think about how OUR world works by looking at another. Am almost completely realised universe, very smart and incisive. I found the contrast between the connections of the culture through neural laces and the inhabitants of Yoleus to be very thought provoking, as it brought up a host of questions about the causes and effects of instant information through the internet.

Also damned funny. I first read this book as a pre teen and found it an atypical examination of prejudice and the fear that inspires it. It is however, a very enjoyable, well written read. I have read it in every subsequent decade of my life and found no less enjoyable. I would recomend it for young and old alike. By far my favorite John Wyndham book. All books of the Robotic series together with the Foundation Series. Alternate history squared, Spinrad posits a world where Hitler went to the US in the late s and became a science fiction writer of the golden age.

A spoiler proof story and not actually a very good one, but the shock is realizing how close so much SF comes to it. Spinrad includes an academic article criticizing HItler on a literary basis to help you process the experience. It has everything, hard Sci-Fi ideas, fantasy politics, religion, philosophy, romance Sprawling SF on a vast scale, violent and hilarious in equal measure, Banks' Culture Novels are peerless, and this is one of his best.

Even non-sf fans like this. Heinlein probably created more libertarians with this book than Hyeck! The first of Smiths books and the first one I had read, picked up at random from a newsagents. From the first page you are hooked by the vivid imagery and shocking storyline. It was a lesson in how you can put wild imagination onto the page and let it run away with itself. Despite it's complex concepts the vivid imagery and flowing dialogue reall lets you enter the Culture world for the first time with a great understanidng for me the best Sci fi book ever written.

Best of the 'culture' novels. Games at multiple levels, very black and very entertaining. There was just something about this book and all the thought that author Clarke put into it that made it stand out for me.

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There was no wild imaginings just simple and logical prediction. The only thing that was a little hard to believe was the physical size of Rama. Given the cost and complexity of building the ISS, one has to wonder how long and how much it took to be built and sent on it's way. A super read though. Bill is a pal of mine for starters. He was working on this book years before I met him.

He let me read his rough draft when it was done and after that, I hope he will write more. I've downloaded his ebook and it's even better finished. He said that it's the kind of story he wantes to read about. He's shared it with some other people I work with and everybody loves it.

I think he had his brother make a video, but I'm not sure. He was talking about it. Bill can draw, too. I'm friends with him on facebook, and his characters are really cool so now you can actually see what his characters look like as he sees them. I would recommend this book even if Bill wasn't my friend, it's that good. I thought it was too obvious, but apparently not, based upon the comments below. Dune, along with Stranger in a Strange Land, catapulted sci fi out of the "golden age", and re-defined the genre.

These two books are to sci-fi what the Beatles were to rock. Everything after was different. This novel is set in a post environmental holocaust future with both a dystopia and a Utopia. It presents beautifully drawn characters in a technological wonderland with a hellishly corporate backdrop. The novel revolves around Shira and her quest to be reunited with her son - taken from her by the company she used to work for. In her quest she is joined by a wonderful cyborg named Yod and the novel tells of their relationship and brings into question what it is to be human.

The story is interspersed with the tale of the Golem in Prague which brings the questions around what is life into a longer history and gives it weight. As a science fiction novel it is so frighteningly possible - and in the not very distant future - but its real power is that we can already see how close we are to becoming a world in which corporations control private lives.

There's some really wonderful moments like when Shira and co hack into the company's computer system using their minds, but flying in the shapes of birds, and when Shira is trying to teach Yod to understand the beauty of roses. I don't want to give anything else away as there are also unseen twists.

Plus there are kittens! Too dense, too pretentious, no likable characters and then for the last quarter Suddenly transformed to profound, disturbing, beautiful and lyrical. As someone else on this thread says, "Quite unlike anything else i've read". Start with the creation of a mind then follow it on a post-human diaspora through the multiverse. Over 2 generations ahead of its time - Still a contemporary science fiction novel of the highest quality - the central tenet still stands the ravages of time as a truly inspiring and though provoking possibility.

An amazing gem. Not sure if it's SF, biography, satire, or a combination of all these and more, but it's a genius little book which I read over 20 years ago for the first time; I re-read it ocassionally, and it's still fresh to me. An amazing series detailing the interactions between a number of species includinfg humans on a grandiose scale. A must read for any true lover of SF. When the author tries to explain what a twelve dimensional planet might look like in an alternative universe it boggles my poor little four dimensional mind, but in that giddy, vertigionous way Stephen Hawking sometimes managed in a Brief History of Time.

Except theres no spaceships, aliens, virtual realities in Hawkings book, which makes this book quite a lot better. Diapsora is a novel of big ideas. From the birth of a gender neutral new mind in a virtual reality where most of humanity live in the near future AD to exploration of the galaxy and on to other universes of increasing multidimensional complexity to the ultimate fate of our species and others, all in a pursuit of a mystery - how does the universe hmm, multiverse really work?

How can we survive its indifferent violence? And where are the mysterious species who left microscopic clues behind in the structure of an alien planet warning of galaxy wide catastrophe? As the book progresses the relative importance of these questions and answers change. What happens when the answers are complete? Are they ever? It does take a while to get going particularly if you're not familiar with 'hard sci-fi' but there are no 'cheats' used in traditional sci fi. No transporters, FTL travel and the intelligent aliens are so utterly unlike the 'human' heroes they need several layers of 'relay-team' interpreters even to communicate.

I look forward to the day mind wipes become more widely available so I can read it again for the first time. Like the best science fiction, it portrayed a plausible world growing out of our present - and the central figure is a believable human being doing currently-unbelievable things who grows, over the course of the book.

And totally gratuitously, it led to a number of sequels as rich and believable, in their way, as the first in the series was itself. Larry Niven is mainly know for his Ringworld series books. Generally his books are set in "known space" - a universe not too distant in the future - or close parallels to this creation. In "World of Ptavvs", Larry brings an alien known in "known space" as being extinct for millions of years to the present day.

The alien a Slaver had been in stasis and is unintentionally released and then sets about trying to enslave the earth. Fortunately Larry Greenberg, who had been trying to reach the alien telepathically whilst in stasis, is here to save the day. Without giving too much away, humans are related to the Slaver race, meaning of course that the World of the Ptavvs is earth. Some Slavers that have lost all their family rather than committing suicide will decide to protect the whole Slaver species. If only Larry knew someone like that to protect earth from this Slaver What I like about the book is that the complete story spans from years into past and future.

Space Opera it is not as the books are far too easy to read a couple hours to read this book but none-the-less Larry Niven creates a rich and compelling universe. It is prescient in its understanding of memes, no one else has come close. Not neccesarily the best SF book ever-that would in my opinion be one of Iain M.

Banks's 'Culture' novels-but quite possibly the weirdest. If you thought the end of Herbert's Dune series was getting a bit strange, it has nothing on this-truly out there WTF! By the way, are we including the Gormenghast trilogy in this? It's a beautiful balance of drama, speculation, humor, and the PKD's own special brand of paranoia. Well written, wll thought out, great plot develpoment, and all around awesome!!!! This book so beautifully demonstrates the point that what falls between two opposing, hard-held points of view is truth.

Not science fiction by the contemporary definition. This novel deals with what has been coined "inner space" rather than the more outer-space oriented, Le Guinesque fantasies. JG Ballard was a prominent figure of the new wave of science fiction: a collective of novelists who emerged in the s and were mostly concerned with the birth of the space age and the atom bomb, for example. This was a time when events of the so-called real world began to seem stranger than fiction.

As a result, novelists of this era began to write about dystopian near-futures rather than settings vastly remote in time and distance. High Rise deals with the effects of the man-made, physical landscape, in this case an east London aparment block - on the physcology of the tenants. The rigidly defined social structure, too-easy access to amenities and desire of the tenants to resign from their lives as mindless functionaries, sets in motion a descent into a microcosmic catastrophe. Ballard's ruthless imagination is on show here in all its glory. This book changed my life. Strictly not Sci-Fi, but a theological meditation on perception, sanity and counterculture.

One of my favourite books, up there with Camus and Satre in my opinion. The protaginist is a man undergoing a nervous breakdown who interprets his psychosis as religious revelations. Astoundingly well-written, profound and funny. Refutes the view of science fiction as 'Cowboys and Indians in Space. The author is a bit of a nutter, but the Mission Earth books are an excellent read. And, the hero grows up a little. Eurasia including Britain has been conquered by Bolshevism.

All because Adolf Hitler emigrated to New York in to become a science-fiction writer. That's the framing story. LOTS tells of a mythologized Germany "Heldon" in a future post-nuclear world that rose up to defeat the evil mutant forces of Zind and their humanity-destroying rulers the Dominators.

The only reason it's not more popular is because it's too real in many respects. It lacks that warm and fuzzy Hollywood-like ending needed for today's pop culture. Still, it's a brilliant series of books. I recommend them all. Like all great science fiction Shikasta and its four companion volumes has a serious philosphical core; It is beautifully written, and is a cracking read.

It is plausible and utopic, offering a glimpse of a future of equality and sexual freedom with humankind and nature in balance, while pointing at the frailties of current reality and pertinently criticising organised religion, ideology, and colonialism. Lessing's imagination runs riot, and the fourth volume, although slim, has one of the finest takes on survival in a hostile environment I have ever read. One of the most compelling compendium of five book s. Fast paced, excellently written and many thought provoking ideas playing merry hell with history, time, space and logic.

Not to mention a great cliffhanger ending. This is not a book, it is a short story, a very short story, but it was the inspiration for Clarke And Kubrick's collaborative epic It sums up humanities constant desire to discover 'someone else, out there. We are so lonely, like a kid who has lost it's mom.

So much SF is devoted to our quest for contact, but the original short sums up the anticipation so well. This collection of short stories is full of wit humour and dystopian futures. Book bindings that rewrite books, aliens infiltrating society as four foot high VW mechanics and faulty time travellers taking part in their own autopsy and ticker tape parade.

This book is the most imaginative i have ever read and i'm overwhelmed by its brilliance whenever I read it. I have laughed, cried almost and felt almost every emotion in between and if one person reads it because of me i shall be happy. Most people read the dystopia - Brave New World, but Island was a utopian dream - one of the first books that really affected me. Also anything by John Wyndham - many of his books successfully made it to films, Day of the Triffids and Village of the Damned.

I also loved The Chrysalids - never understood why it didn't become a film. But the sci-fi crown must go to Peter F Hamilton - he has the ability to create entire universes and includes the entire shebang of sci-fi within each series - aliens, technologies, societies, superhuman abilities, etc. I'd just like to put in a moan about the way bookshops display Sci-Fi - they integrate it into Fantasy. I've nothing against fairies, elves and goblins, but this genre tends to look backwards to times when knights were armed and everyone else was nervous. Sci-fi generally looks forward to the future with technology or societies or takes alternative universes and extrapolates.

So why do bookshops display them together? Do they have no concept of either genre? Moan of the day over. Serves up visual imagery of technological advances that we have now attained or on the way to achieving. Corporate pervasiveness in holographic advertising projected anywhere, futuristic ways of engaging with celebrity idols, cosmetic surgery making people look like an amalgamation of famous stars, old technology lying around in scrap heaps in amongst hi-tech wonderment.

Its all happening. And who could forget the way Razor girl introduces herself to Case after hes just had in effect an organ transplant? Truly unbeatable. In mho, it marks the emergence of contemporary SF as Literature. And because Dan Simmons wrote such a beautiful novel back in , a generation of SF writers has emerged to compose a species of fiction unprecedented in the history of Literature, a species that thenceforth redefined the idea of the SF novel.

That may be overstating the case, but the purity and overpowering poetical sensibility of Simmon's writing cannot be disputed. And in no way to diminish the achievements of Gene Wolfe and Robert Silverberg - the grandfathers of literary SF - but I thihnk that Simmons was the first novelist to deliberately embrace the so-called literary canon and weave it into a profound and beautiful SF tapestry.

But it is not simply a story well told, it is SF. And that means it is about ideas. They are, in point of fact, novels that provoke wonder - which is exactly what science fiction has always been about. Unknown to him or us early on in the story is that he is in fact helping the military intercept missiles fired at earth from rebels on a moon base. Great little book!

Wry observations on the military and humanity from the returning soldiers isolated from society by the effects of relativity on time caused by near to light speed travel. A great ending. A pacy read, sexy and like all good SF wrong on lots of details but contains many truths about mankind. In a near-future world where technological progress has been frozen by the all powerful peace authority, renegade scientists discover the secret of the bobbles used to cloak weapons, bases and even cities and turn the technology to their own advantage to bring down the peace authority.

At the local library when I was 17, I discovered the Uplift Saga. Starting with book 2. Star Tide Rising. I loved its exploration of conciousness with the idea of spreading sapience to other animals on earth - dolphins and chimps. I found it very positive about humanity as alien hordes threatened to destroy human cultures or humanity itself. I've not read many sci fi where despite flaws you get drawn into such a pro humanity narrative. The setting was enjoyable, marooned on a water world with a crew of dolphins. I can easily imagine from his writings that such a place must exist. I would recommend the rest of saga but for me startide rising stood out.

It completely changed my view on life, the universe and everything - literally: the absurdity and hilarious nonsense of being alive. Just absolutely, unequivocally a masterpiece of joyful reading. As madly inventive as anything Dick wrote. From memory it has space travel, timeslips, psychics AND anti-psychics, half dead souls feeding off one another's life force in vats, inexplicable kinks in the nature of reality - but it's also tightly, economically constructed, which some of his books aren't. Plus it's hands down the scariest book I've ever read.

Because it is one of the best novels I've read in the past four years, and I don't just mean SF. It's based, when? It doesn't really matter it is so on the button that you just know that this is how things will be. Cyberpunks lost in the cities of the future with exactly the same angst and doubts that we here on earth suffer today. Gibson is at the height of the game in SF I simple can't think of anyone, with the exception of Michael Faber and his Under the Skin that comes anywhere near.

In a world heating up and regressing back to an ancient state, a man who lives in the lagoons above a flooded London struggles with the dying remains of old-world society and instead of heading north to safety decides to head south, towards the heat and towards the primal chaos the world is descending into. This is J. Ballard's second novel and possibly the clearest examples of his highly metaphorical science fiction novels.

In The Drowned World we start see the J. Ballard use his objective, unemotional style that is a characteristic of his early short stories in a novel. Sci fi at its worst is nothing more than cheap thrills - an update on the penny dreadful. At its best it offers nothing less than new stages on which to explore the nature of humanity. Le Guin's novel is at the best end of SF. It doesn't really matter that the setting is on some mythical planets; what is important is the people in the story, their struggles to make sense of life and society, their sufferings and their joys.

It is a deeply human book. Le Guin has a gift for looking beneath surface inessentials, even those connected with gender, and seeing through to the real. Finally, although this obviously won't appeal to all, it is the most faithful and gripping account of the process of scientific discovery I have ever read. A lovely, memorable book, not just a good SF book but a great novel as well. Frankenstein is the seminal novel that deals with the human condition versus the unknown.

Shelley takes us on a finely detailed journey among science and what can be created from it even from back in the recesses of the imagination. I first read Frankenstein when I was Shelley created a story where I hadn't felt such flow of sympathy between the creator and the monster. It compelled me to think of my own existence in an unsure world. What better way to start a SF journey such as with Frankenstein's monster's thirst for knowledge and acceptance in a society that only saw terror in the unknown. Russian precursor to Brave New World and , which are probably on everyone's list.

His Master's Voice is one of the purest, most philosophical and accomplished SF novels I've ever read. I'd recommend people read this because it's either, as Theodore Sturgeon said, "a literary landmark" or, as P K Dick claimed, "trash". Folk should read it and decide for themselves.

I'm with Sturgeon. A compelling, complex speculative fictional work. One of the best examples of its genre combining nuanced social commentary and interplay of dystopian and utopian imagination. Great ships, great robots and a knock-out plot from an author who takes general relativity seriously enough to work through its mind-scrambling implications. It proclaims the glories of science, technology and industry while at the same time reminding us of the poignancy of our own personal fragilities. That, I think, is the real experience of us all in the 21st Century, sci-fi aside.

This novel speaks with a poet's voice, as well. As relevant now as it was when written in the 's. The themes of genetic engineering and mutations in crops were way ahead of their time. A very British apocalypse, the first encounters of the man-eating plants are on Hampstead Heath. The rest of the book, often described as a 'cosy catastrophe', winds it's way through an eerily empty London and the English countryside.

The now common theme of a motley band of survivors combing vacated cities for food and water has been copied endlessley. Alex Garland admitted that the first 20mins of 28 Days Later was an 'exact replica' of the opening chapters of Day of the Triffids. Read it now if you haven't. Read it again if you have. Published in ; he was one of the founding fathers of Sci-Fi and helped lift the status of the genre from tacky cliche invasions, to a really rewarding choice of literature. Egan's book opens with an investigator looking into an odd abduction and takes us through a world where any ability TM can be uploaded into the narrator's head.

The investigation leads him to a bizarre experiment with quantum physics--and the discovery that loyalty, too, can be installed in the human brain. Egan plays with the idea of the quantum wave with deftness and assurance, and the way round the loyalty chip is a marvellous but logical twist in the tale.

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To continue along your lines, if all the fantasy books should burn in a cataclysm tomorrow, one which I would like to survive is "A wizard of Earthsea". A book which teaches you something about human nature is a wise book. Sparrowhawk, an indisputably intelligent young man falls victim to his own vanity, causing great tragedy to himself as well others, and then goes trough great difficulties to make amends.

Despite being a fantasy and the world is something you've never experienced before, nor will you experience it after , it is relevant, especially today, when a handful of young man and women admittedly less often have so much power bestowed upon them think Gates, the Google owners, then Zuckerberg. On the bookshelf of my mind, it sits together with Mann, Beckett, Dostojevski, and Shakespeare.

Unfortunately, today it is less know than many over-marketed, multi volume rainforest destroyers. This book kicks off one of the greatest SF story arcs of all time. Throw in the death of a beloved character in the Star wars Universe and the fultiliy of the events in the book What's different and great about The Sirens of Titan is that it's one of the few sci-fi novels to posit cock-up theory as the main driver for universal history, as it takes a sweeping, entertaining romp through the universe. As Dougas Adams observed, its seemingly casual throwaway style is in fact the result of very tight writing.

Oh, and it's very very funny. Technically SF as set in a postulated future as seen from , and very funny. It's a complex story with themes of religious fanaticism and patriarchy By the end there are, perhaps, as many questions raised as answered. But for me, it is the strength of the women. Their stories, lives and sacrifices. Thought provoking about how Society works and human foibles - incredibly prescient I fear as Climate Change begins.

But all the while, truly gripping as a straightforward adventure. I would recommend this book as it covers a one-year period in the time-frame of the planet Heliconia, a period of some several hundred Earth years, and presents a fine analogy of the rise and fall of a human civilisation that in the end cannot help, due to a major seasonal change, fall victim to the weather itself and the rulers of the planet become those whom the humans enslaved and trod upon during the hot portion of the year. All the while, the planet is being observed from space by scientists who must endure their own evolution.

I found the series to be well imagined and well written and have read it twice in the last 25 years, or so. John Windham was in the happy position of being able to write good prose whilst at the same time being a terrific ideas man. The story about a group of weird children born into a rural English village after some rum doings asks big questions about competition, survival and who really is in control.

It was made into a fairly solid horror film called Village of the Damned and the Hollywood remake wasn't too bad either. I know, it's not exactly SF but it's not even only an horror setting. There's the fear of unknown, the cosmic terror, the deep space and alien stars Gets right into the action without long-winded delving into the minutia of the fictional society's functioning; no moralizing on the superiority of the fictional society; doesn't rely on technology that wouldn't be available given current scientific understanding; fully-fleshed characters, especially female characters, the protagonist in particular; imaginative mirror society quirks.

A good antidote to the typical space warrior sub-teen crap We live in a time of possible nuclear war. Oil and other pollutants have caused irreversible damage to our ecosystem. This is great grown up and very prophetic sci-fi, written by a newly sober Walter Tevis The Hustler, Man who fell to Earth etc in the early 80s. Basically its the story of a bored and literally impotent millionaire as he stumbles through an energy starved future where the US can no longer afford to light its skycrapers and China is the number 1 economic power thanks to a strangely familiar form of capitalism, dressed in communist clothes.

It is so unbelieveably prophetic one of the key characters is a charming, well educated and articulate former Black president but the focus for Teavis is less on technology and more on political and economics, and people okay he still has something called the USSR bouncing around in the early s but he was an author, not Mystic Meg.

There's also some wonderful stuff when Tevis' protagonist takes a trip to a very alien world to cure his boredom and lose weight read the book and it will make sense and accidently cures his impotence yes really! Tevis also manages to create real characters you can believe in with real personal problems, and that's not something you always get done well anyway in sci-fi or speculative fiction.

I'd recommend it to buy but its long out of print. I bought my tatty 2nd hand copy from a New York state library, via the tinternet. Regards FF. Neither the radio or TV versions have done any justice at all to this great, great book. Not only is every bit as funny as you'd expect for Adams, it also has one of the most fabulously cryptic plots you could hope for. I first read it a couyple of times in my late teens and enjoyed it enormously but it was three years later before it's true brilliance dazzled me.

I sat in a university tutorial listening to the tale of Coleridge dreaming up Kubla Khan in a laudanum haze but being disturbed by the man from Porlock, before he could set it down. I gasped and embarrassed myself in front of my tutor as the penny dropped regarding one of the finer points of the plot of DG. I made my way home, ignored my course work and the godawful "two part prelude" I was supposed to be reading and launched into Dirk Gently once again.

Adams was not only one of the funniest writers about, he also managed to examine ideas and science with a skill and a level of understanding that is often not appreciated. I delight in this book still and reread it regularly. It is a masterpiece and I wish somebody would make a proper film of it and not bugger it up. The first Banks book I read, this is a stunning introduction to the universe of the Culture, his egalitarian, post-scarcity society.

The book follows the journey of Morat Jernau Gurgeh, a cynical, arrogant, and brilliant game player to an imperialistic civilisation rife with inequality, sexual slavery and the brutal application of power. It's filled with Banks trademark witty dialogue, discomfiting themes and vivid, brilliant imagination. A classic. I read it when I was a child.

Lovecraft's descriptions of a meteorite's odd substance that feed on live, disseminate and has an indefinable color triggered my imagination and populated some nightmares. It is a very imaginative, yet credible, tale of a lone human's impressions of two opposed alien civilizations. The portrayal of the human and non-human characters involved is extremely well done, and novel is thought-provoking throughout. Though the story is set in a post-apocalypse America, it breaks with the 'traditional' disaster scenarios usually portrayed.

Instead there is a beautiful child-like quality to it, enhanced by the sufi-like 'the end is the beginning' conclusion. I'd picked up Stephenson's "Baroque Cycle" trilogy before finding Cryptonomicon and was instantly swept away by the astonishing depth and breadth Stephenson achieved while still keeping me turning the pages as fast as I could. After finishing those first three books I felt completely bereft of Stephenson's world and went out to get Cryptonomicon as soon as possible.

Told in two time periods and with multiple protagonists not to mention graceful and fascinating infodumps on cryptology, mathematics, early computing, financial systems, corporate law Each characters is thoroughly drawn, each landscape evoked in vivid colour, and all the while it remains brilliant fun. This is a first rate example of the alternate history branch of science fiction. Brave New World is perhaps the most terrifying and relevant dystopian novel written. Social engineering and a mass produced society is counterpointed by the 'savages' outside, whilst stuck in the middle is John a reject from both societies.

Written fantastically, keeping the reader on the edge. Its suspense kept me going, amazing Sc-fi from the 60s. I choose this because it is a brilliantly non-sf, sf book. There are no guns, no super technologies, no obvious male heroes, no wars, etc. There is a spaceship but we never see it. All these cliches seem to be shunned as examples of very male-centric sf writing. The novel deals with themes of gender, sexuality, politics, religion and more. The inhabitants of the planet Gethen are entirely androgynous and visited by a male from the distant, more technically advanced planet Earth who tries to understand them.

The author seems to suggest that the duality inherent in the human race could be at he heart of negatives such as war Gethen has never known one as well as positives such as technological progress. I'll admit to not being a massiv fan of SF. This impressed because it is undoubtedly science fiction yet it drops nearly all of the conventions.

A ship setting off to visit an alien world, unseen by most humans. A narrator pondering his place withing his homeworld and his own society and speculating on the lives, motives and drives of the giant, unknowable, half unseen aliens he encounters, all explained in enthralling terms to an audience as unfamiliar with whaling as most modern readers are with the surface of Europa.

Blew me away when I first read it and still holds up when I re-read. A highlight from the pulp age, and pre-Hitchhiker sf humour. A Rat book was the first book I borrowed from the 'big' ie adult library and started a life-long love of sf. This trilogy is epic science-fiction at its best. Hamilton covers may characters and planets in a brilliant adventure through space, with the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance. As ever, Hamilton's books are sci-fi marvels, and I can safely say Night's Dawn is the best trilogy I have read, of any genre.

I was going to suggest Dan Simmons masterpiece Hyperion but the article states I don't have to be quite that strict in my definition of what constitutes 'sf'. So Robert Holdstock's Lavondyss it is. A brilliant haunting and deeply distubing take on rural myths, Jungian philosophy,complete with gorgeous prose that fits into some sort of celtic myth cycle. Never read anything quite like it.

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I don't normally read SF, but the combination of medieval Germany and first contact, interwoven with physics, religion, and the multiverse was too hard to resist. Eifelheim is a beautiful read, elegant and extremely moving. I've not read anything in the last five years that I've loved as much. Here's a book that's entirely SF but that actually improves if read as literature. It isn't just about content or form, but the sensibility, the connections it makes and the respect it has for the reader and our ability to work out the whole story from an incomplete account by a damaged but heroic first-person narrator.

It's about narrative, and it's a bildungsroman set in a world we can only know from that whole working-out-the-rules game and about a young man we can only know from knowing that world. It's very sixties: the author wrote the first draft, then learned how to do SF, then rewrote it in the late 70s once it was so out-of-synch with the times as to be entirely itself.

Imagine 'In Watermelon Sugar' written by an adult. Imagine the future bits of 'Cloud Atlas' by someone who knew what he was doing. Imagine 'The Road' made to seem almost beguiling until you figure out what is going to happen after the book ends. It's not about the obvious 'props' spaceships, robots, time-paradoxes , it's about making words work differently.

This is the form of writing that amplifies what the mainstream can do, and was almost the last time we were allowd to read books this without any stigma. Thanks a bunch, Mr Lucas. My family belong to a rather "literary" book club whose selection tended to consist of anything from the "top 20" in most high street bookshops. I suggested my sister set them Ender's Game to take them "out of the box" to try a different genre. The experiment was a success - and I was even asked to lend out the sequels So my recommendation is based on it being a good read and one that can represent the genre and be an introduction to "non-believers" :D.

A brilliant, mature, creative novel in verse. Amazing feat. It's a modern Diaspar, rich in detail and adventure but also, wonderfully, humour, which so much SF leaves out. The characters are unusually well drawn even for Banks and the narrative multi-layered and satisfying. A Hugo winning classic space opera, with varied and well thought out aliens and an interesting premise about how transcended cultures interact with more primitive ones.

Even though it was published 20 years ago it remains extremely fresh while some more modern books feel dated. This takes a well-worn piece of SF furniture and gives it an elegant, very English, reworking. It could look to the unwary like a straightforward teenage boy's account of coming-of-age and his relationship witha girl his parents thought was beneath their station but it's much more piquant and subtle than this.

The society described is treacherously similar to pre-War England specifically the West Country but the force of change isn't politics or war but astrophysics. Our narrator survives, but what it costs him to be able to tell us this is left unsaid. If the details that aren't like a mangled 'Five Go To Smuggler's Cove' are put together in the right way the reader can anticipate some of the ending but the curt last line confused inattentive reviewers.

Coney makes a lived-in world and its passing is made more painful than some real societies in less well-written autobiographies. I've noticed that a lot of people who loved this book thought they were the only one who'd ever read it, but I'll recommend it to strangers anyway. There was a belated sequel that spelled everything out for the less nimble reader but nobody likes that as much. While some people have said this book is NOT science fiction, i feel its a seminal group of short stories in the general direction of SF. Despite only being a short novel, It manages to deliver the most crushing sense of isolation you could possibly feel - the kind you must feel when you are the last man alive on earth, and everyone else wants to drain you dry.

The passages of Robert Neville sat drinking whisky alone in the dark listening to classical music - as the haunting vampires are particularly effective. A dark - almost black sense of humour and an incredible explanation for the usually unexplained scientific aspects of a vampiric post apocalyptic world, combined with my personal favourite ending twist to any book I've ever read.