The gang at have launched another one of those irresistible SF-themed memes, what they’re calling a ” 17-question science fiction book meme for a lazy Sunday”.  I wrestled over a few of my responses, struggling with the relative worthiness of some of the titles, and finally decided to solve the problem by adding four extra questions to the meme (17 to 20) to round it out to an even twenty.  Er, plus one.

What follows are my responses.  Answer as many of the following as you can, in the comments section of this blog and over here:  They’d love to read your feeback!

1. My favorite alien invasion book or series is…?


The Ophiuchi Hotline by John Varley

It’s not an alien invasion story in the traditional sense of the term but an alien invasion does precipitate the events leading up to another (indirect) alien invasion in this thoroughly engaging novel about cloning, restored memories, and a mysterious radio signal from distant space.

2. My favorite alternate history book or series is…?


Watchmen by Alan Moore.

To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of Alt. History scifi and yet, Alan Moore’s non-linear, iconoclastic take on the superhero genre stands out as one of my favorite works crossing several genres.

3. My favorite cyberpunk book or series is…?


Glasshouse by Charles Stross

Okay, it includes enough cyberpunk elements for me to make it my selection in this category.  A twisty, turny, scifi thriller with plenty of humor and suspense.

4. My favorite Dystopian book or series is…?


Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

Unrelentingly grim yet possessed of a spirit and hope embodied by its determined protagonist.  I’d recommend it over the similar-themed, better-known The Road.

5. My favorite Golden-Age sf book or series is…?


Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

When I was a kid, my mother encouraged me to read by buying me a bunch of classic SF – Asimov, Ellison, Niven – but my favorite was Arthur C. Clarke,  and Childhood’s End is my favorite Arthur C. Clarke book.  A race of mysterious extraterrestrials visit Earth.  They bring an end to war, poverty, disease, and help usher in a golden age of peace and prosperity.  But what future plans do these alien, dubbed The Overlords, have for humanity?

6. My favorite hard sf book or series is…?


House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

I could have just as easily placed this novel in the space opera category and Iain M. Banks’s Culture series here as the works of both authors share common elements: breathtaking narratives spanning the universe peopled with colorful characters, fantastic alien races,  and mind-bending technologies. Big, brilliant ideas.

7. My favorite military sf book or series is…?


Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.

Not only my favorite military SF book or one of my favorite SF books in general but one of my very favorite books.  Period.  Every person I’ve recommended this novel to has become a John Scalzi fan.

8. My favorite near-future book or series is…?


The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon.

Maybe a bit of a cheat in that it may not have enough scifi elements to please the average SF enthusiast, but it’s got enough – the near future setting and medical breakthroughs – for me to include this poignant, inspiring, beautifully written novel here.

9. My favorite post-apocalyptic book or series is…?


The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

A “far down the road” post-apocalyptic science fiction novel in the guise of a fantasy novel chock full of allegory, literary allusions, and elusive subtext.  A challenging read, but well worth the time and effort.

10. My favorite robot/android book or series is…?


In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker.

Not robot or androids per se but immortal cyborgs, employees of The Company, charged with the task of traveling back in time in order to locate and safeguard (read: hide) artifacts and valuable items for sale in the 24th century (when/where they will be discovered). Complications arise when our heroine, Mendoza, falls in love with a 16th century Englishman.  And mortal no less!

11. My favorite space opera book or series is…


Iain M Banks’ Culture series.

Grand, brilliant, staggeringly inventive and, yes, operatic, the Culture Series stands out as a marvelous literary accomplishment.

12. My favorite steampunk book or series is…?

1The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes

A washed-up illusionist and his imposing assistant battle to save London from dark forces in Jonathan Barnes’ witty, macabre, and all-out-bizarre novel.  There are surprises a plenty in a book in which no one can be trusted, least of all our narrator.

13. My favorite superhero book or series is…?

1The Superior Foes of Spiderman by Nick Spencer

Hmmm.  Though.  This changes week to week but, right now, coming off a highly entertaining first issue, this is the series I’m most excited about.

14. My favorite time travel book or series is…?


The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.

An exceptional treatment of time dilation makes this one the runaway winner in this category.

15. My favorite young adult sf book or series is…?


Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

A seminal work of science fiction whose appeal extends well beyond young adult readers, this coming-of-age tale is set at a Battle School where, amid the training, the games, and the youthful interrelations, not all is as it seems…

16. My favorite zombie book or series is…?


Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead.

Before The Walking Dead television series became a breakout hit, there was the comic book series – smarter, grimmer and far more character-driven than the show.

17. My favorite ship-based sf book or series is…?


The Dark Beyond the Stars by Frank M. Robinson

Having grown up on ship-based science fiction (and worked on a ship-based SF series for two years), I couldn’t help but include this category – and this delightfully engaging novel centered on a shocking shipboard mystery.

18. My favorite New Wave sf book or series is…?


Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch

If we’re going to have a Golden Age category, I only think it fair we include a New Wave category as well and, as much as I loved Flowers for Algernon, Camp Concentration gets the nod here.  His refusal to enlist in military service lands our protagonist, a poet and pacifist, in a prison whose inmates are subjected to bizarre, brain-altering experiments.

19. My favorite Future Tech sf book or series is…?


Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover

Science fiction AND fantasy.  Heroes Die offers the best of both worlds in a rip-roaring adventure that explores the effects of developed entertainment technology on eager consumers – and, in turn, the media conglomerates calling the shots.

20. My favorite Otherworldly sf book or series is…?


Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

By “otherworldly”, I mean a story that takes place on a planet other than Earth – like, for instance, the colony world setting of this novel that gets taken over by the power mad former crew of a spaceship who use technological and physical enhancements to transform themselves into gods.  Fans of Stargate, take note!

21. The 3 books at the top of my sf/f/h to-be-read pile are…?

Okay.  One of each…


The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

One of my favorite SF writers.  He’s not all that prolific but his work is consistently great.

1Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

If you like your fantasy dark, darkly humorous, and action-packed, then look no further than the works of Joe Abercrombie.

1A Terror by Jeffrey Ford.

A new release by one of the most wildly imaginative authors writing today.

Okay, those were my answers.  Let’s see yours!

19 thoughts on “July 21, 2013: A 17 (actually, 21) Question Science Fiction Book Meme!

  1. paper cuts from science fiction books hurt worse than any other genre

    …but they’re worth it!!!

  2. Lord of LIght, Ender’s Game and Old Man’s War are three of my all-time favorites. You did give a bit of a spoiler for Lord of Light, Joe. I read Gene Wolfe’s Books of the New Sun ages ago and found them strangely fascinating. And strange. But in a good way.

    I’ll think it over and give you my answers later this week. However, I don’t have quite so many sub-categories for books so my list will be shorter.

  3. My PRE-Tween years were immersed in Clarke and Verne – [the so NOT “Disney” version!!]…

  4. G’day

    I love to read Star Trek The Next Generation novels, cause I miss the series so very much.

    My secret indulgence is Jackie Collins. Yes I know NOT sci-fi, but I just love them. And yes, not so secret, as all my family know of my obsession.

  5. 1.My favorite alien invasion book or series is…?


    2.My favorite alternate history book or series is…?

    The Metatemporal Detective (Michael Moorcock).

    3.My favorite cyberpunk book or series is…?


    4.My favorite Dystopian book or series is…?

    Wolverine: Old Man Logan (Marvel – Mark Millar/Steve McNiven)

    5.My favorite Golden-Age sf book or series is…?


    6.My favorite hard sf book or series is…?


    7.My favorite military sf book or series is…?


    8.My favorite near-future book or series is…?


    9.My favorite post-apocalyptic book or series is…?


    10.My favorite robot/android book or series is…?


    11.My favorite space opera book or series is…?

    Earthblood (Keith Laumer)

    12.My favorite steampunk book or series is…?

    The Ghosts of Manhattan/Ghosts of War (George Mann)

    13.My favorite superhero book or series is…?

    Wraith (Marvel – Javier Grillo-Marxuach/Kyle Hotz)

    14.My favorite time travel book or series is…?

    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles (Michael Moorcock)

    15.My favorite young adult sf book or series is…?


    16.My favorite zombie book or series is…?


    17.The 3 books at the top of my sf to-be-read pile are…?

    Strange Attractions (Archaia – Charles Soule/Greg Scott)
    The Massive Vol 2 (Dark Horse – Brian Wood)
    Great Pacific Vol 2 (Image – Joe Harris/Martin Morazzo)

    Okay, now lemme ‘splain. Yes, I could have stuck Elric in there somewhere, but that would have just muddled things too much. Since most of the questions were about science fiction (and not fantasy, per se) I didn’t see why suddenly fantasy was included in the last question. It messed with my OCD something terrible! The whole thing is flawed! (Because I say so!) 😀

    Anyhoo…EarthbloodM is the only pure sci fi book (outside of comics) that I have read. While I love to watch sci fi, I am not a fan of reading it – I find it quite boring in print. Science fiction needs pictures!

    I would have loved to put Dark Matter in there somewhere, but didn’t know where it would fit in in the original 17 questions.

    Outside of comics, The Metatemporal Detective is probably the only alt. history book I’ve ever read. It’s a series of short stories, some a bit steam-punkish, that has a bit of fun at the expense of the likes of George Bush and Hitler. Quite fun!

    Besides the above, George Mann’s Ghosts of… books are just about the only steampunk books I’ve read.

    I could have filled the entire list up with comic books/graphic novels, but it would take me forever to remember all the books I’ve read and where they would fit into the list, and then most would probably have been something about Wolverine. Therefore, I only included two comics that really stood out – Old Man Logan and Wraith.

    As it is, I am reading a few sci fi-based graphic novels at the moment. A couple – The Massive and Great Pacific, are both environmentally-based and I am awaiting the release of the second trade in each, and Strange Attractions – which I have, but have yet to read – is a ‘science-fiction-infused story of control, determination, and the strength of the world’s greatest city’.

    Had they clearly included pure fantasy in the categories, or even had a multiverse category (which, imo, is different from time travel and alternative history), then Elric would have certainly made the list. And Elric SHOULD be on the list! Like I said, the thing is flawed!

    Of course, I did kinda-sorta sneak him in with The Metatemporal Detective…kinda-sorta. 😉


  6. I’ve only read one of them (Ender’s Game). I shared your list with my hubby and he says you’ve redeemed yourself. (I think hubby’s still smarting over one of Cookie’s movie reviews 😉 .) Hubby’s read three on your list and had been eyeing some of the others. So you may have pushed him towards a purchase.

    I would suggest “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and “Ender’s Shadow. Ender’s Shadow has a different feel than Ender’s Game, but I liked it better. From talking to others, if you liked Ender’s Game then Ender’s Shadow might not appeal.

    My hubby reads tons of sci-fi and he suggests The Foundation Series (Asimov), The Genesis Machine and The Gentle Giants (James P. Hogan). He reads those books over and over.

  7. Thanks for sharing Joe.

    Favorite golden age: The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein

    Alternate history (alternate world): Into The Storm begins the Destroyermen series by Taylor Anderson.

    A second for alternate history (alternate world) is L.E. Modesitt, Jr. Of Tangible Ghosts, Ghosts of the Revelator and Ghosts of the White Knights.
    Modesitt book plots are generally slow to evolve but well constructed.

    Ponytail is right. Joe has a good memory, I can’t recall most of the books I’ve read and I long ago ran out of room to keep a fraction of them.

  8. I’m not sure what categories my favorite sci-fi books would fall into, but I thought I’d list them here anyway:

    Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
    This along with Ender’s Shadow are “must read” sci-fi. Also, check out his Pathfinder series which I find very interesting.

    The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
    Ray Bradbury is probably the greatest writer alive today. His books read more like poetry than prose. This collection of sci-fi short stories are very accessible—they are more about people and situations than technobabble. My two favorite stories are No Particular Night or Morning and Kaleidoscope. I also like his books Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles.

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
    42. ‘nuf said.

    Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard
    Avoid the movie version of this… but the book is awesome. It’s over 1,000 pages, but it reads quickly and I couldn’t put it down.

    I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
    This is nothing like the movie. (I found the movie to be good but it doesn’t really relate to the book much at all.) It is a book of loosely related sci-fi short stories. These are stories to make you think logically. Also, check out his Foundation trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation).

    Orphans of the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein
    Joe, I still think you should research this for a possible series/movie. It’s so old you might pick it up for cheap.

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

    Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein
    This is kind of a mix of Stargate and The Hunger Games.

    Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

    Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
    This is a pretty good young-adult fiction series. It is a mix of sci-fi and fantasy.

    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
    The first and second book of this trilogy are pretty good. Third, meh.

  9. I don’t read all that much science fiction. Of what I have read, I would recommend:

    Into the Out Of by Alan Dean Foster
    All the books in the GONE series by Michael Grant
    The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffery
    John Carter of Mars (series) By Edgar Rice Burroughs

  10. Oh, yay, more books for me to add to my Amazon wishlist!

    Whenever lists like this happen, I realize how little (overall) sci-fi I’ve read. I could answer more fully a fantasy book meme, I think (I watch more sci-fi, read more fantasy). That said, I have a few favorites. I also approve of your choice of Watchmen for #2 (not something I would have thought of, but I do love that graphic novel). I read The Speed of Dark over Christmas, forgetting you’d been the one to recommend it before; I absolutely loved it. And Childhood’s End made me bawl by the end.

    4. Dystopian: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
    7. Military: Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold
    13. Superhero: Hellblazer
    14. Time travel: Timescape
    16. Zombies: World War Z (admittedly cliche and I don’t really read a lot of zombie stuff, but I love it for its “realism”, anything that discusses politics and world economies…I’m sold)

    And I’d pick Ender’s Game/the Ender series for 7, 11, and 15.

    To those I’d like to add:

    22. Best combination sci-fi/fantasy

    Incarnations of Immortality by Piers Anthony

    23. Best political sci-fi

    The Bean quartet by Orson Scott Card: Ender’s Shadow, Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow of the Giant

  11. Thanks for sharing your list with us. I have some of these thanks to you. Old Mans War, I reread it from time to time, has not gotten old, now I am searching thru my books( I have a lot) to see if I have some of the others or that I need to order them. The time travel ones interest me. and thanks to everyone for sharing, I have a larger library to go thru.

  12. 1.My favorite alien invasion book: I read a lot of classics so I’ll just stick with The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

    2.My favorite alternate history book: Not really my favorite but one of the only ones I’ve read that I remember: Pandemonium

    4.My favorite Dystopian book or series: Brave New World

    5.My favorite Golden-Age sf book or series: I think it’s technically after the golden age but I’d still go with Childhood’s End by Clarke

    6.My favorite hard sf book or series: A Fall of Moondust by Clarke

    8.My favorite near-future book or series: I, Robot

    9.My favorite post-apocalyptic book or series: Wasteland

    15.My favorite young adult sf book or series: Ender’s Game

    16.My favorite zombie book or series: Walking Dead

    17.The 3 books at the top of my sf to-be-read pile: I only have one currently and it’s World War Z because I’ve heard great things about the book. The rest of my to be read pile are fantasy books, classics, a horror/mystery book that came highly recommended and one bodice ripper that I figured might lighten things up after the horror/mystery.

  13. Because of your influence in BoTMC selections, some of my answers are similar to yours. A couple…I actually did on my own…lol in another life. Ender’s Game, the Hobbit, Heinlein – Asimov-Clarke books and a host of SF writers – some great, others not so much. I was immersed in SF for the longest time. Had the “misfortune” of working at the airport that had the typical snacks/book shop and I would be there weekly checking out the latest SF on the shelves.

    I drew blanks for some of the categories so I cheated to look at the website and our bloggers. Also, definition for a category…some left me even more blank. So, best guess at category…and no entry cause my mind is blank.

    3. Cyberpunk – Ready Player One. I have the Glass house, now I have to read it.
    4. Dystopian – Divergent – Veronica Roth
    7. Military – Old Man’s War
    8. Near future – Speed of Dark
    9. Post apocolytic – Dune – Frank Herbert
    10. Robot/Droid – In the Garden of Iden…all of the series
    11. Space opera – Dark Matter (Mallozzi)
    13 super hero – kinda fits –Glokta – Joe Abercrombie’s First law – all 3 books
    14 time travel – Doctor Who
    15 young adult – Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow
    18 – Your category – Future Tech – Heroes Die

    Gonna have to get Lord of Light, Red Country,
    I will pass on the horror….not my cuppa.

    Heinlein books – can fit more than 1 category

    Very much enjoyed…could not categorize.
    I remember the Future – Michael A Burstein
    The Traveler – John Twelve Hawks
    Chronicles of the Black Company
    Definitely not sf…perhaps “fiction/fantasy” David Baldacci books.

  14. I just started Scalzi’ s Old Man’s War. I needed another sci-fi fix after just finishing Bova’ s latest (New Earth). I am already hooked. My favorite invasion novel is Footfall by Niven, Pournelle, and Barnes I believe.

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