Many of you will have seen that “10 Books” meme that went around Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and we were asked it over on our facebook page. Turned out to be quite thought-provoking for both of us, so here it is, one list each. There’s surprisingly little overlap, so if we were forced to do a condensed one we could probably spend a whole episode arguing over it!
1) Dune (Frank Herbert). I know everyone says it but its fantastic and deep and complex and one of the first SF novels I read that really made want more than just escapist adventure with spaceships.
2) Use of Weapons (Iain Banks): Genre fiction is often criticised for a lack of “literary” merit and whilst mostly thats just snobbery, a lot of the literary tricks don’t get a lot of run out in SF novels. And then you have Banks, and this was the first Banks novel I read. Mind. Blown.
3) The Trillion Year Spree (Brian Aldis): this is a history of the SF genre, and its still pretty good. written in the late 80s its weak on recent developments like cyberpunk but really fired an interest in critical analysis of genre work.
4) 1984 (George Orwell): one of my favorite books ever.
5) American Tabloid (James Ellroy). Wait, this isn’t SF? shocking!
6) Slaughterhouse 5 (Kurt Vonnegut). No list is complete without Kurt Vonnegut
7) Flashman (George Macdonald Fraser): This series got me through the long summer of Chemotherapy, and is generally a high-watermark for historical fiction.
8) A Night to Remember (Walter Lord): a lot of reasons, mostly this was a gateway to popular history for me, as well being a great retelling on a narrow, focused historical event, in this case the Titanic Disaster.
9) Eon (Greg Bear): Maybe not that classic, probably not even Bear’s best book, but I’ve read it about 10 times. Great sprawling ideas heavy space opera.
10) Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell): really fell for this in a big way; hit a lot of buttons with a mix of pretentiousness and genre-savvy.
1) Watership Down (Richard Adams) – pure existential horror in an alien world. And a certain totem animal features.
2) The (complete) Once and Future King – the Matter of Britain done as a scream for decency & humanity – spiritually & politically speaks to my very soul.
3) The Knight of Swords (Michael Moorcock) – read aged maybe 12 or 11? Wait humans are the bad guys!?!
4) Holidays in Hell – (P J O’Rourke) – oh hang on I might be right wing
5) Empire of Black and Gold (Adrian Tchaikovsky) – my ‘green eggs and ham’ moment with sprawling fantasy book series (as an adult)
6) Mountains of Madness (H P Lovecraft) – when his narrator realises the elder things were men of science too feels HPL raises an eyebrow at his whole canon and knocked my socks off.
7) The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller) -my batman & the start of an abiding love of ragnarok & camelaan stories
8) The History of the Kings of Britain – a richer palette & greater breadth than Mallory – the bedrock of my personal mythology
9) The Eagle has Landed (Jack Higgins) – because its just flipping brilliant
10) Turn off your Mind : the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius – the occult mad men, count the cos