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August 12222
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  2. Feel every word with award-winning performances
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I normally read pretty fast, but I have to slow down to read an Iain M. Which is appropriate for The Algebraist because he created a whole species of creatures, The Dwellers, that are 'slow'. They live for aeons, on gas giants, and little things like having a conversation can go on for centuries for them.

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When I read this book I thought that was the most wonderful idea, that we can't communicate with some entities because we're simply on a different time scale. The fun of reading Iain M.


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Banks novels is that somehow he manages to think of these things, that once you've got your head round make perfect sense but you might never have thought of yourself. The Laws of Robotics have been one of the guiding ethical codes of my life - and should be for any good person, I believe. I was very surprised that not a single person mentioned Asimov as their favourite, despite him having such a wide repertoire. This is a strange little novelette in the middle of Dickson's epic "Dorsai" series.

It tells the tale of a pacifist Dorsai who like all Dorsai is in the military, but whose weapon is the bagpipes. Surrounded in a fortress by hordes of clansmen on a Spanish speaking planet, he uses music to insult and infuriate the hordes and sacrifice himself to win the battle.

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His honour and courage and the creativity of the cultural values described make this story one my favorites of all time. Ridley Scott is working up the film project now. Superb book, though if you have seen Starship Troopers the film it can spoil it a bit. Its scary, funny and unusually for PKD its got lots of heart. Gully Foyle is a refreshing bastard of a hero. He's agressive, selfish and mean and deserves everything he gets Very cool book goes a little freaky at the end. A beautifully simple idea a child with an invisible friend that as the book progresses becomes more intriguing and more dangerous at the same time.

Also - it's an easy read that can encourage youngsters to take up SF. Brilliant short story about the exploitation of a young gaming genius by the military, published originally in Unfortunately got expanded into a series of novels, but the original is a chillling political parable, which has gained resonance in the era of child soldiers and xbox. Not only does it have dinosaurs, humour, adventure and a loss of control of the environment in which the protagonists find themselves, but unlike the film version it examines the importance of chaos theory which is what makes it SF for me.

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A pretty obvious one - Childhood's End is one of Arthur C. Clarke's best and is a science fiction classic. Any fan of the genre reading this book will instantly notice countless ways in which it has influenced subsequent work. For anyone new to the genre, this book is a good starting point.

The story itself is short, enthralling, and easy to read. Even reluctant readers could finish it in a day or so. Murakami is our greatest living writer, and whilst most of his books have flights of fancy that could loosely align them with SF, this is his full-blown masterpiece. Discovered it when I was 11 or 12, in the adult section of the local public library.

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It opened me up to the world of "what if" that has remained to this day. I was hooked on Science Fiction since. Mike V. Smith is human, only he was born on Mars, and raised there. That has caused him to think a bit differently, and use more of his brain than the rest of us do.

When the full version of the book was finally released, I also bought a copy of it. Using it as a way to look at life, and how we can treat one another, as opposed to how we do responded to daily life, remains fascinating. It does not cease to teach. I have given copies of it away, as gifts, to whomever asks "Why do you like to read that junk, anyway?

Asimov's robot stories not only present a coherent, imaginative vision of the future, but also give us an insight into the ways in which he and others during his lifetime thought about and presented the future. Not only that, but he writes excellent prose and the stories he conceived are always clever and illuminate the human condition. I wish very much that he was alive today to see the innovations that are happening now.

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It's an SF story that's really all about humanity, including man's inhumanity to man. It's really the history of philosophy disguised as SF but don't let that put you off. Its depth and language. It rung a chord at the time, the messiah will be crucified nor what time what century and what period. Our political masters cannot handle popular uprising even if they are democratic institutions. The original world, within a world, within a world, later used frequently in the matrix inception and others. The thirteeth floor film adaptation doesn't do it justice.

I would recomend this book because it deals with exactly what science fiction means to discuss: the unknown. Lem's best novel is about epistemology, and the our absolute ignorance of what lies beyond the bounds of the earth, and how utterly unprepared we are to encounter it.

Very very difficult to describe - but it's simply brilliant. It's wildly imaginative, frightening - psychedelic, even. A great, simple story boy searches for lost sister set in a future Britain seemingly viewed through early 90s ecstasy-flavoured optimism. Gods and monsters, budhism v hinduism v christianity in a fight to the finish, the worst pun ever recorded, and a joy in humanity in all of its many aspects and attributes.

And yes, it's SF, not fantasy. I used to re-read this book every couple of years; it's long, confusing at times, but has a wonderful circular narrative that invites further exploration. It's also got a fabulous sense of place even though the city of Bellona is fictional. Like early McEwan stories, Delany brilliantly captures a sense of urban ennui and although there are elements of hard sci-fi in the book, they are kept in the background, so that the characters are allowed to come through - something quite rare is SF.

I also concur with the support for Tiger, Tiger: a thrilling ride.

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Find it pretty remarkable that such a list would completely omit any of Dick's work. Many of his books are of a high enough standard to be chosen, but 'Flow My Tears The Policeman Said' is one of his best. Not really SF, but a world where gods actually exist counts as imaginative fiction to me.

A haunting modern mythic saga. The first and best of the epic series which ultimately became too convuluted. Characters innocent and undeveloped, I wish I could read this for the first time again. The book that kicked off the 'Foundation' saga.


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  • The dead hand of Hari Seldon and his new science, the mathematics of psycho-history unfold against a backdrop of the whole galaxy. Asimov was just so full of ideas and happily his characters were full and real people I cared about - he was THE giant of Sci-Fi and 'Foundation' one of dozens I could have chosen. Morally ambiguous love-story combined with grounded, 'realistic' sci-fi - i cannot believe no has turned this into a film yet I read it as a child and it has never left me.

    I believe it leads a young mind to explore "the other" in a different way. Most science fiction, it has been said, is driven by violent conflict; Babel avoids that, having an idea - an untranslatable language - and unpacking it, unfolding out from there. It packs in interesting and human characters, stylish writing, fascinating concepts and ideas, a manic outpouring of intelligent thought, and a great plot, managing to, even now, 45 years after its original publication, be thought-provoking and boundary-pushing.

    Utterly gripping. I love the language and the way the book draws you into an "alien" perspective by the assumption that this perspective is "normal". Much like Jostein Gaarder's 'Sophie's World,' or indeed most of Stephenson's other writing, 'Anathem' is a lesson in science and philosophy wrapped in narrative. In this case, the narrative is sprawling, believable and dramatic, although the middle section feels like a lecture, the purpose of which only becomes apparent towards the end of this weighty novel.

    The world Stephenson creates is rich and believable, a parallel universe in which science and philosophy are restricted to an odd, codified monastic system - at least until a global crisis places the monks centre stage.