It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

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Fifteen Books


Another meme doing the rounds of the blogosphere, Facebook and Live Journal, sent to me courtesy of Liam Proven…. Simply list fifteen books that have affected you most, will always stay with you, etc. Off the top of your head – well, in less than fifteen minutes. Here’s mine, in order of year of publication…

1 The Undercover Aliens, AE van Vogt (1950)
2 Starman Jones, Robert Heinlein (1953)
3 The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell (1957 – 1960)
4 the Dorsai trilogy, Gordon R Dickson (1959 – 1971)
5 Dune, Frank Herbert (1965)
6 Dhalgren, Samuel Delany (1975)
7 The Ophiuchi Hotline, John Varley (1977)
8 The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe (1979)
9 The Space Mavericks, Michael Kring (1980)
10 Where Time Winds Blow, Robert Holdstock (1982)
11 Kairos, Gwyneth Jones (1988)
12 Metrophage, Richard Kadrey (1988)
13 Iris, William Barton & Michael Capobianco (1990)
14 Take Back Plenty, Colin Greenland (1990)
15 Coelestis, Paul Park (1993)

Many of these books are my favourites, and I’ve read them several times. In fact, I reread a bunch of them a couple of years ago as a reading challenge – see here.

Others…. The Heinlein is the first true sf novel I recall reading – a friend lent it to me at school. So it’s effectively the book that turned me into a sf fan. And The Alexandria Quartet is the book that turned me into a fan of Durrell’s writing – for evidence of this see here and here.

Although I recently reread the Dorsai trilogy and was disappointed, I still remember loving it as a young teenager. Iris was the first book I read by Barton and Capobianco. I went on to read their solo novels, and Barton has remained a favourite sf writer ever since.

As for The Right Stuff… well, I’ve read it several times, the film adaptation remains a favourite film, and it eventually led to me starting up my Space Books blog.

The Space Mavericks is the novel which kicked off the whole Turkey Shoot thing. Turkey Shoot was a short-lived fanzine dedicated to sf “turkeys” – i.e., really bad sf novels – which I wrote and published back in the early 1990s. It was almost celebrated in its day. I can still remember some of The Space Mavericks‘s more memorable lines – “you can never mistake a museum building because of the way they build them” and “the green fur more than anything made it look like a Terran gorilla”.

6 thoughts on “Fifteen Books

  1. It is interesting that there are no books later than '93 in your list. Is that because the "classics" affected you more modern SF does or that you aren't affected by books as much now you are older?

  2. I didn't read the books in their year of publication – it would have been difficult for Dune and the ones earlier. The Durrell for example, I first read 7 years ago.There's also the fact that these are books which have stayed with me… which implies at least that I read them a while ago.

  3. I can't believe how many of those I HAVEN'T read. But I loved the Ophiuchi Hotline. I think I'll put that on my list.These are the ones that have stayed with you… would you still recommend them? I can think of a few books that have stayed with me I have no intention of ever reading again.

  4. Most of them I'd recommend. Heinlein perhaps wrote better novels than Starman Jones, and you should only read the Kring if you're a masochist.

  5. Wow – none of them are more than sixty years old!

  6. Pingback: Robert Holdstock 1948 – 2009 « It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

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