Friday, November 16, 2012

Some Sci-Fi Recommendations

I spent last week at the minister's study group, Ohio River Group, that I attend each year (I've missed only once since joining in 2005).  This year's theme was "Space," and during our meeting a growing list of science fiction suggestions was posted by its members on the white board.  What follows here is that list, with my own personal notations when I have any.  For confidentiality's sake, I am not posting either who posted these works, nor some of their own comments about why that went up on our white board.

Robert Sawyer: Starplex, Calculating God, Factoring Humanity, and Flashforward
Of the things on this list that I haven't read, these will be first on my list.

Margaret Atwood: Oryx and Crake: A Novel, and The Year of the Flood
I've read some of Atwood's works (including The Handmaid's Tale, of course), and would consider myself a fan of hers.  I will be adding these two to my reading list, as I also heard a really interesting review of them on NPR some time back.

Ursula K. LeGuin: The Left Hand of Darkness and The Word for World is Forest
The Left Hand of Darkness is a classic, and deservedly so.  It's considered the first feminist sci-fi work.  It's notable for its construction of gender, in particular.

John Carey: Faber Book of Utopias

Arthur C. Clarke: The City & the StarsAgainst the Fall of Night,and The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke (especially “The Star”)
I've read some Arthur C. Clarke, notably Childhood's End, and he's well worth reading, although not a particular favorite of mine.

Michael Moorcock: Behold the Man

John Scalzi: Old Man's War, Zoe's Tale - and his blog, “Whatever

Elizabeth Moon: The Deed of Paksenarrion: A Novel and others

Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1), Speaker for the Dead (Ender, Book 2) (Ender Wiggin Saga), and the short story “Mortal Gods” found in Unaccompanied Sonata & Other Stories
I was once a big Orson Scott Card fan.  I've read more of his books than any other author in the genre.  However, I stopped reading him when I started getting fed up with the fact that they were always a boy or man with extraordinary power at the center of things, often saving the universe--a Christ figure, in other words.  I would still encourage people to read Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, because I think they are phenomenal books.  I just re-read Ender's Game, and I still love it.  But borrow them, buy them used, or get them from the library, as Orson Scott Card is also involved with NOM, and vocal and active against same-sex marriage. 

Octavia Butler: Parable of the Sower, and Parable of the Talents
If you only read one book on this list, make it be Parable of the Sower, in my opinion.  It's a wonderful sci-fi exploration of process theology.  It's dystopian, but hopeful at the same time.  It's really, really good.  So good I've quoted it in sermons which have nothing else to do with science fiction.

Roger Zelazny: The Amber Series, i.e. The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 (Chronicles of Amber) and Lord of Light

Harlan Ellison: Deathbird Stories
I once did a whole paper in college on Deathbird Stories, which is a collection that has a lot to say about God, or gods.  It wasn't a very good paper, though.  I could write a better one now.

Sarah Zettel: No specific work suggested
Zettel grew up Unitarian Universalist, says the UU World when reviewing A Sorcerer's Treason.

Mary Doria Russell: The Sparrow
I have never read a more  disturbing set of books than The Sparrow and Children of God.  That said, go read them.  They are phenomenal and profound.  They have much to say about manifest destiny and about theology.  Just be prepared for the nightmares. 

“Alien Planet” (YouTube)

Gary Shteyngart: Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel