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30 November, 2005

SF book meme

Via Tim, a simple premise: take the Guardian's list of the top 20 'geek' novels written in English since 1932, and indicate which you've read.

1. The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Yes, though I've always thought it extremely overrated, and I thought Adams ran out of worthwhile material after the first sequel. More recently, I've come to associate it with stereotypically smug middle class, middle English sensibilities.

2. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
Yes, and I found it suitably powerful.

3. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
I think I was a bit too young to appreciate this when I read it in my mid-teens. Must try it again.

4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip Dick
I read this quite recently (within the last five years, anyway), and was underimpressed, considering it turned into 'Blade Runner'.

5. Neuromancer – William Gibson
Yes. As Tim said, it features one of the best opening lines of any book (one of only 2-3 I've memorised), and is a really good novel. I've always found the Villa Straylight section less than compelling, though. Dunno why.

6. Dune – Frank Herbert
Yes. Excellent. For creating an entire world and coherent society, I rate Herbert at least as highly as Tolkien.
Has anyone else noticed that the first, third and fifth Dune novels are better (whatever that means) than the second, fourth and sixth?

7. I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
No. I did see the recent film, which was okay, considering I didn't expect much. I could appreciate a few thought-provoking concepts beneath the special effects, and if they were true to the book, it looks worth reading.

8. Foundation – Isaac Asimov
No. Never heard of it.

9. The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett
I've read all the Discworld books (and several of Pratchett's others), up to 'Going Postal', usually within a month of each paperback having been released i.e. I've liked them since the mid-Eighties, but not enough to rush out and buy in hardback.
Apart from 'Monstrous Regiment', 'The Colour Of Magic' and 'The Light Fantastic' are my least favourites. The coherence and characterisation of the setting and characters didn't seem to become properly established until later books (there's more about that here), so the first two seem a bit inconsistent and lightweight by comparison.

10. Microserfs – Douglas Coupland
Yes, and I reviewed it almost two years ago.

11. Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
Yes! One of my favourite books, not only because of the first couple of pages (see the fourth paragraph here).

12. Watchmen – Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
No, but I intend to.

13. Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
A little slow, but worth it. I'm afraid 'Quicksilver' failed to hold my attention to the same (limited) extent, and 'The Confusion' has been in my 'to read' pile since I bought it several months ago.

14. Consider Phlebas – Iain M Banks
Yes. Not my favourite Banks SF novel (that'd be 'Excession'), but still good.

15. Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein
I was going to say 'no', but the synopsis at Amazon seems familiar. I suspect I did read it in my teens, and have simply forgotten.

16. The Man in the High Castle – Philip K Dick
No. I don't recognise that title.

17. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Yes. Excellent, and reviewed here.

18. The Diamond Age – Neal Stephenson
Yes. Another of my favourite books. I'd love to see Stephenson continue this story (the narrative is certainly wide open for that), but I suspect his interests have moved on from the overtly cyberpunk genre.

19. The Illuminatus! Trilogy – Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
Yes. It contains a couple of interesting ideas, but they were conveyed better in the 'Principia Discordia', and I really didn't rate the writing style.

20. Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham
Never heard of it!

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