It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

… it just has to sound plausible

10 books that stayed with me


Whenever a book-related meme pops up, I love to jump on board. And apparently there’s one currently doing the rounds: “List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be ‘right’ or ‘great’ works, just ones that have touched you”. I saw this on Liz Bourke’s blog here, and decided to have a go.

I’ve done something similar before, I think, but not for quite so many titles… Which made this one a bit harder than expected. But here they are, in the order in which the books occurred to me:

1 Ascent, Jed Mercurio (2007), a novel I hugely admire and which has inspired me in my own writing.
2 The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell (1957 – 1960), because on reading it I fell in love with Durrell’s prose and began collecting everything he had ever written.
3 The Undercover Aliens (AKA The House That Stood Still), AE van Vogt (1950), bonkers California noir meets pulp sf, and the only van Vogt novel I’d ever recommend to anyone.
4 Dune, Frank Herbert (1965), still the premier example of world-building in science fiction.
5 Dhalgren, Samuel R Delany (1974), the sf novel I’ve probably reread more times than any other.
6 Coelestis, Paul Park (1993), one of my top five favourite novels of all time.
7 Dan Dare: The Red Moon Mystery, Frank Hampson (1951 – 1952), the scene where Hank and Pierre first see through the clouds hiding the surface of the Red Moon haunted me for years as a kid.
8 Cotillion, Georgette Heyer (1953), the first of hers I read, and her novels are still my chief comfort reading.
9 The Barbie Murders, John Varley (1980), I fell in love with Varley’s Eight Worlds, and the title novelette still remains a favourite.
10 Guardian Angel, Sara Paretsky (1992), I’ve always preferred crime fiction written by women, and Paretsky is why – this was the first of hers I ever read.

Not such a great showing gender-wise – only two women out of ten. While there are certainly a great number of women writers I admire and whose novels and short stories I love, I spent my formative years reading mostly science fiction, and sadly it was chiefly science fiction by male writers. There were exceptions – in amongst all those books by Heinlein, van Vogt, Simak, EE ‘Doc’ Smith, Harrison, Herbert, Tubb, Vance, etc, I read and became a fan of Cherryh, Le Guin, Van Scyoc, Julian May… Later, I discovered Gwyneth Jones, Mary Gentle, Joanna Russ, Leigh Brackett… and now, of course, I think most of the twentieth-century science fiction I read is by women writers.


3 thoughts on “10 books that stayed with me

  1. Seems quite a odd article but and reminds me of the PC environment we live in I guess.
    I myself can say the same thing except its
    “I’ve always preferred ‘Science’ fiction written by men”
    Not sure if that would make me a sexist but I already know there a loads of people who would say it does.

    Course there is nothing more sexist and dishonest then the Romance Genre.
    Poor Fabio was to much of a dummy to know that he was just a Dumb piece of exploited meat(though since I am the honest sort I will admit I would Love to trade places with the guy)

    Life is Funny isn’t it.

    Happy Holidays!

  2. Like you I’ve found that Dune has stuck with me down the years, and is one of the few books I’ve re-read. And the art on those old Dan Dare strips is amazing – I love the atmosphere it evokes, both of the terribly British human explorers and the universe they’re heading out into.

    I’m currently reading Delany’s Einstein Intersection, so I’m curious, have you read this one of his works too? And if so how does Dhalgren compare with it?

    • I’ve read all of Delany’s sf novels. Dhalgren doesn’t really read like sf, more like a postmodern literary novel – but the poetic language is pretty much common to all his fiction. Of his heartland sf, I probably like ‘Empire’ best, a lyrical space opera with a Moebius Strip plot; but Nova and Babel-17 are probably his most popular ones.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.