SF Reading List For Non SF Readers

The idea is to assemble a list of books which one might recommend to someone who's not an SF reader, but is interested in reading some SF. The primary criteria are that the book should be easily available in paperback in the UK, that it should be accessible to someone who hasn't read SF before, and that it should be good.

Ideas so far:

AirGeoff Rymaneverybody everdirecteverybody loves Air, and agrees it's wonderful, beautifully written, sensitive, well-characterised, etc (except deviant refuseniks)
Cloud Atlas?David Mitchell?Tom Andersonindirectgenerally thought to be very good, and suckers the reader in by a gradual progression into SF
The Prestige?, The SeparationChristopher PriestTom Andersonindirectwriting as good as most mainstream stuff, not overtly SF (no rayguns), but with a thoroughly weird basis
Earth Abides?George R Stewart?Graham Sleight?
A Canticle For Leibowitz?Walter M Miller Jr?Graham Sleightdirectone of the classics, deals with big themes, pretty well-written
The SparrowMary Doria RussellGraham Sleight, Liz Batty?directsee under 'Air'
Fahrenheit Four Five OneRay Bradburylj:secritcrush, Zara Baxter?directbenefits from The Set Text Effect
The Diamond AgeNeal StephensonLiz Batty?direct
The Time Travellers Wife?Audrey Niffenegger?Liz Batty?indirectnot clearly SF, i believe
Flowers For Algernon?Daniel Keyes?lj:secritcrushdirect
Gun With Occasional Music?Jonathan Lethem?lj:secritcrush?
Slaughterhouse Five?Kurt Vonnegutlj:communicatorindirectnot clearly SF
Girl In Landscape?Jonathan Lethem?lj:ninebelow?
Player Of GamesIain M Bankslj:fba, lj:giantbedspringsdirectone of Banksy's most accessible novels about The Culture
The DispossessedUrsula K Le Guinlj:electricant, lj:ninebelowdirecta classic, and lj:electricant has had success with it in this context before
Nineteen Eighty FourGeorge Orwell?lj:communicatorindirectwhilst not undeniably SF, more or less has the SF mindset, benefits from The Set Text Effect
Brave New WorldAldous Huxley?Niall Harrisondirectdecent enough, has The Set Text Effect
China Mountain Zhang?Maureen Mc Hugh?Abigail Nussbaum??
Kiln People?David BrinAbigail Nussbaum?direct
Under The Skin?Michael Faber?Abigail Nussbaum?indirect
Lord Of Light?Roger Zelazny?lj:talvalindirect
The Handmaids TaleMargaret Atwoodlj:white_hartdirectThe Set Text Effect strikes again
Never Let Me Go?Kazuo Ishiguro?lj:veggiesuindirectLike Michael Marshall Smith but can't accept the fact? Then this book is for you! NB: widely panned
any SF Masterwork?various authorsNiall Harrisondirectwell, they're masterworks
Two Thousand And One?Arthur C Clarkelj:ajrdirect"a big-name, balls on the table, proper SF classic"
HyperionDan Simmonslj:ajrtraditional SF, with allusions of grandeur
The Left Hand Of DarknessUrsula K Le Guinlj:brixtonbrooddirectworked on their mother
To Say Nothing Of The Dog?Connie Willis?lj:brixtonbrooddirectworked on their mother; comedy
hardcore early worksPhilip K Dicklj:brixtonbrooddirect"perennially zeitgeisty and really short"

The books are classified by the strategy they take; following Sun Tzu?, i say 'direct' for books which are obviously and unapologetically SF, and try to win over the non-SF reader by sheer brilliance, and 'indirect' for books which look to some extent like non-SF, and thus defeat the reader by guile and stealth.

Fri, 05 Jan 2007 19:20:39 GMT Front Page Recent Changes Message Of The Day