A conversation with Richard Palmer on Twitter this morning reminded me of my reading challenge a few years ago in which I reread a number of science fiction classics that I remembered fondly from my early teens. The challenge did not go well. I hated most of the books, could not understand why I’d ever liked them in the first place, and ended up purging my bookshelves of everything by Harry Harrison, EE ‘Doc’ Smith and Alan Dean Foster. So, of course, I thought it would be a good idea to have another go. As you do. But I’m not entirely sure which books to read and write about. As a result, I’ve decided to throw out a bunch of suggestions (of books that I actually own), and run a poll.
I’ve listed a bunch of titles below, and you get to select six for my challenge. I will read each book and then blog my thoughts on it during July, August and September. Asterisked titles will be rereads, though I likely last read them decades ago. Yes, all of the writers in the poll are male – but that’s deliberate. Twentieth-century sf by women writers I read for SF Mistressworks, and I generally to find it to be of middling to good quality. The titles I’ve put in the poll below are from middling to bad quality. At least, that’s what I’m expecting. Some may prove to be much better than I remembered them, though I’ll be surprised if they do.
Remember, a maximum of six votes only. If you have any suggestions for titles not on the poll, leave a comment and I may consider reading it as one of the six. But nothing published after 1975, please. I’ll close the poll at the end of the month, giving you just over a week to vote.
June 22, 2013 at 7:52 pm
I remember Silverberg’s “A Time of Changes” very fondly. As I recall it’s got a brilliant hook for its first two lines. (“My name is Kinnall Darivall and I mean to tell you all about myself. Obscene! Obscene!”)
I would not like to re-read any of the others, though.
June 22, 2013 at 10:52 pm
I selected four, which I read ages ago. Suggestions for the other two are Asimov, The End of Eternity, and Clarke, A Fall of Moondust.
June 22, 2013 at 11:46 pm
I would love to see your comments on the thoroughly awful and nonsensical World of Null-A. I myself am afraid to re-read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress because my teenage libertarian self loved it so much.
June 23, 2013 at 2:19 pm
I have a bit of a soft spot of Van Vogt’s fiction, although there’s a very stark line between sort-of-fun and risible tosh. Not sure which side of the line the Null-A books fall.
June 24, 2013 at 2:19 am
I was seriously disappointed that non-Aristotelian logic (the whole Null-A bit) never actually cropped up as a plot device. Surely if you’re going to name your book “The World of Null-A”, then the protagonist should at least use non-Aristotelian logic to solve a problem now and then.
June 23, 2013 at 2:11 pm
Oh if i could only force you to read E C Tubbs “Triplanetary”, just to see your teeth gnashing tweets
June 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm
Or even the one written by E.E. “Doc” Smith LOL
June 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm
I did reread Second Stage Lensman a few years ago. It did not go well. See here.
June 24, 2013 at 11:36 am
No love for Tubb, it appears. You’ll just have to do an entire read of that series again (separate).
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