Sci-Fi Best List (with Bonus Silliness)


There’s nothing like a good science fiction book or movie to bring out the shamefully-uneducated, mostly irrelevant armchair scientist in me. Read a good one, or (less likely) watch a good one, and I can rave for hours about the theoretical (ie imaginary) physics of artificial gravity and the construction of completely unlikely but nevertheless enormously impressive concepts like Dyson spheres and the Ringworld. Fortunately for most of the rest of humanity, nobody I know in Real Life(TM) likes sci-fi as much as I do. To be honest, I think that’s because really terribly-written, incomprehensibly cerebral drivel like 2001: A Space Odyssey and most of the other science fiction from Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov (who wrote most of it at that time, along with Robert A. Heinlein, who gets a pass because I actually like a couple of his books) the late sixties and early seventies offerings really turned readers off to the genre. Most of the strictly-sci-fi novels from that time period (that I’ve read) seem have these huge, pages-long dumps of imaginary technical jargon that pull you completely out of a story that wasn’t all that engaging to begin with. It’s sort of like reading the Canterbury Tales or some of Shakespeare’s less literal stuff. Trying to figure out what the hell they’re talking about pulls you so thoroughly out of the story that you pretty much stop caring after awhile.

After the ranks of science fiction authors started accepting women, the odds improved dramatically of finding a story that was readable and entertaining. It seems like sci-fi started evolving from an exercise in technology and quantum physics ‘what-ifs’ to stories about people and situations that happen in fantastic locations, over epic distances and in brave new (or incredibly old) worlds.

So, in no particular order, here are my favorite science fiction genre books and/or series:

Ringworld, The Ringworld Engineers, The Ringworld Throne by Larry Niven

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (The book, not the movie. The book is better. For serious. Although I do also like the movie. So. Er.)

Total Recall by Piers Anthony (A novelization of the movie, which is in turn based on a short story by Phillip K. Dick, another phenomenal writer… Thanks, Wikipedia.)

To Sail Beyond the Sunset by Robert A. Heinlein (Not a big fan of the rest of the Lazarus Long books, but Maureen captures my imagination, and she has some very interesting philosophies.)

The Ship Who Sang, The Ship Who Searched by Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey (I love the ‘shellperson’ idea. I’d like to read the rest of these but haven’t been able to get a hold of them yet.)

The Bio of a Space Tyrant series by Piers Anthony: Refugee, Mercenary, Politician, Executive, Statesman. (I’d love to read the final one in the series, The Iron Maiden, but it is apparently extremely rare. I used to own this series, but the mold in my basement ate them when I wasn’t looking!)

Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey (The whole Crystal Singer series is kind of fun if you get invested in the first one, but the first is definitely the best. Ignore the fact that the economics don’t actually make any sense at all.) As an extension – Nimisha’s Ship is a fun stand-alone novel that is apparently in the same universe (Thanks, Wikipedia…) that doesn’t necessarily count as one of my favorites, but is one that I own and have read numerous times when I need something light and fun to take my mind somewhere else.

Selected novels from the Myth series by Robert Aspirin. Seriously, select a couple. Whichever. They’re fun to read in linear order, but each is fun as a stand-alone, too. They’re light and fun like the Xanth series (Piers Anthony) without taking the puns to quite such a nauseating extent.

A shorter list; my favorite science fiction on the screen:


The Matrix

The Fifth Element

Starship Troopers

Minority Report


The Butterfly Effect (not sure if this actually counts as sci-fi, but there you go.)

Children of Men and The Book of Eli (both technically post-apocalyptic, but most sci-fi seems to include some element of that)

Note: I actually set out to write a review of the movie Interstellar, and accidentally ended up showing entirely too much of my inner dork. I’ll do the Interstellar review later, maybe. Probably.

What are your favorite science fiction novels/movies/series? Why? Tell me in the comments!

Bonus Geekery:

[A note on the featured image: This is one of the science-fiction-themed Poser/PaintShop images that I did back in the early ‘aughts. I was looking for an actual creation date, but the properties only tell me the last time I restored it from a backup. hehe]

Oh, here’s a fun meme-y comparison, both also from my old original Poser artwork files….

What I imagine it looks like to “interface with the virtual world”:


What it actually looks like:


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