Monday, December 21, 2009

Out of this world

Yesterday officially marked the start of Sci-Fi Month*. After finishing the quiet, way-too-grounded-in-reality book I was currently reading, I remembered how a few weeks ago I posted about silly TV to book comparisons. While painstakingly researching my words (yes, I actually spent time writing that post), I found myself reading quite a few Wikipedia articles on sci-fi writers. It started with Isaac Asimov, moved onto Arthur C. Clarke, and then somehow (thanks, Wikipedia) ended up with me reading all about steampunk, the definition of a dystopian novel and all sorts of other random articles that I've since forgotten.

I did, however, feel a slight twinge of guilt and shame when, scrolling down the list of sci-fi books (yes, Wikipedia actually has one of those...), I'd read a tiny tiny portion. I've only read a few Asimov stories, no Clarke, no H. G. Wells, and hardly any of the major, famous hits. I suddenly felt uneducated, much in the same way that three-four years ago I felt the need to educate myself in the "upper literature" realm (the "classics" - Tolstoy, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Austen, Eliot [George], the Brontës, this list goes on and on...), I felt the need to educate myself in science-fiction - and fast.

The problem is, I'm not very good at defining things. So science fiction grew to include fantasy and dystopian literature, which is definitely 100% not the same thing, but somehow I couldn't bring myself to care. The month started comfortably with "The Children of Men" by P.D. James and is now continuing onwards to Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's "Good Omens", which is a long time coming (and probably on the opposite end of the "not real life" spectrum). I'll probably head off towards "Foundation" next or maybe something by Clarke (I have a book of his somewhere, but I can't remember which...). I've also snagged a couple of random sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian eBooks (free[dom!]) and can't wait to see just how amazing "A Honeymoon in Space" is (if it lives up to its title: yes!).

I've got a lot to get through. I unfortunately have a small list of titles I've picked out, though, and could use all the recommendations. While I'm always open to the more modern titles, I am trying to focus more on the holes (uh... giant pits...) in my "outta-this-world" knowledge. Even so, I've got an interesting month ahead of me. I better get cracking.

*The definitions of "sci-fi" and "month" are entirely subject to change. "Sci-fi" may mean anything that isn't true to the world as it currently is and "month" can mean anything between 3 days to a whole lunar cycle of 28 days.

I'd also like to wish all readers a happy solstice and happy [winter/summer-for-our-southern-hemisphere-friends holiday of choice].


  1. You are so right about the definition of scifi. And I hate that it is so conflated with fantasy (but don't ask me to tell you which is which!). And I agree, dystopian lit should be separate too! I suspect it's all a function of allocation of space in the big box bookstores....

  2. You remind me how diverse literature is, and how it is (for me, generally) to shrug off an entire genre when in fact I'm sure there is much to enjoy within and along its margins.

    Have you read The Sparrow? That's a book that defies definition and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. I'm not a big sci-fi reader, but Dune by Frank Herbert is one of my all-time favorites. For something decidedly lighter, try the first Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Happy reading!

  4. Happy holiday of your choice too! And a happy new year of reading and blogging!

    Thanks for following Rose City Reader!

  5. The Time Machine is the first ever sci-fi addition into my library....I liked it...though i would move back to my earlier literary choices...Recently i searched for 'Josy-A sci-fi', a romantic novel in the A1Books site listing, but then i was a bit reluctant to go with the choice as i still don feel ease putting money for a sci-fi book :(


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