Friday, September 13, 2013

Rod's List: 10 Really Good Classic Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels

A conversation this afternoon led me to quickly compile this list.

You might find something here that you like or that might introduce you to a classic author with a wide catalog you might enjoy.  Your library will have most, if not all, of these books.

All of the books that landed on this list are classic Sci Fi or Fantasy (written in the 1960’s and 1970’s) and helped shape me as a reader when I stumbled over them in our small Catholic school library, which had a surprisingly complete collection of classic science fiction:

"The Dragon and the George"  Gordon R. Dickson (first in series)
This book is in Rod’s permanent collection, it is a classic fantasy about a knight and a dragon - told from the dragon’s point of view.

"Dorsai"  Gordon R. Dickson (first in a series)
I could not mention Gordon R. Dickson without mentioning Dorsai, the first book in the Childe Cycle.  Excellent story telling.

"Jack of Shadows" Roger Zelazny
Brilliant fantasy story with a great central character.  Zelazny is a prolific master.

"Hammers Slammers" David Drake
A classic of military Science Fiction, think Tom Clancy meets James Cameron, with tanks.

"Nine Princes in Amber" Roger Zalezny (first in a series)
This was among the first epic fantasy series I ever read, a multi-book collection.

"Arthur Rex" Thomas Berger (a retelling of the Arthurian cycle by the author of "Little Big Man".)
This is a gritty, funny, and irreverent take on King Arthur (I’ve read every book Thomas Berger has written).

"Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" Spider Robinson (first in series)
This is the one I spoke of.  In Robinson’s catalogue, he has, I think, 11 Callahan novels or collections.

"Deathbird Stories" Harlan Ellison (short story collection)
This collection is considered the seminal Ellison collection (though I personally prefer “The Beast That Shouted Love At The Heart of the World”, some of the stories from that collection landed in this one.

"Glory Road" Robert A. Heinlein
I’ve read everything Heinlein has every written, including his juveniles, his essays, and his short-story collections.  Glory Road is one of his fantasy novels that was hugely popular with my brothers and my friends growing up, mainly for the pure adventure of it.  I re-read it every now and then from pure enjoyment.

"The Forever War" Joe Haldeman
This is probably one of the most brilliant anti-war war novels ever written (along with its companion “The Forever Peace”).  This is a novel I revisit periodically as well.

And last, a personal favorite:

"Time Enough For Love" Robert A. Heinlein
Though at the time (the sixties and seventies) Heinlein’s quintessential novel “Stranger in a Strange Land” was far more popular, this novel had a far more profound impact on me and served to, in many ways, shape me as a young man and even later, as an adult.  Critics love it or hate it.  Some consider it Heinlein’s masterpiece and others consider it a rambling mess.

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