Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

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amyhg
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Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby amyhg » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:54 am

Hey, forumites!

I have a special gift for you from Tim Powers. During the workshop last week, I became painfully aware of my lack of familiarity with the sci-fi and fantasy heritage. Tim Powers throws out references like candy at a parade. He is so well read. I had to very honestly confess that I've read very little in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. I grew up on historical fiction and classic literature. Anyway, he decided that I need a book list (which I definitely do) of what he considers the most essential and FUN novels and short stories in the speculative arena. He shared it with me this week and gave me permission to share with everyone else. I thought the Forum would be the ideal place. I'm listing it under the Writing category because he encouraged me to read these stories so I understand what's been done and why it's been done and what's lasted the years the best.

So, here it is--Tim Power's "Power Reading List".

" Books are in italics, short stories in quotes. I’ve tried to keep this fairly short, but you could certainly get people to add to it.
To look up other works by SF/ Fantasy writers, go to http://www.isfdb.org/ (International Science Fiction Data Base) for complete listings of every writer, with complete information on where & when stories and novels have been published.
And to get books, of course go to abebooks.com, which has every book ever published for sale, generally cheap. (Though it’s fun to enter an author’s name and then click the “Start with the most expensive” button!)

Science Fiction

Isaac Asimov -- I, Robot
Ray Bradbury -- The Martian Chronicles
James Blish -- A Case of Conscience
Algis Budrys -- Rogue Moon
Arthur C. Clarke -- Childhood’s End, Rendezvous With Rama
Philip K. Dick -- The Man in the High Castle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ubik
Harlan Ellison -- “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes,” “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” “Shattered Like A Glass Goblin”
Samuel Delany -- The Einstein Intersection, Babel 17, Nova
William Gibson -- Neuromancer
Robert Heinlein -- Citizen of the Galaxy, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Double Star, Starman Jones, Between Planets, “By His Bootstraps,” “All You Zombies,” “The Year of the Jackpot” (People always talk about Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers, but I’ve never been crazy about either one.)
Frank Herbert -- Dune
John D. MacDonald -- The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything
Walter M. Miller -- A Canticle for Leibowitz
Larry Niven -- Ringworld, The Integral Trees
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle -- Footfall, Lucifer's Hammer
Frederik Pohl -- Gateway
Cordwainer Smith -- “The Dead Lady of Clown Town,” “The Game of Rat and Dragon,” “Alpha Ralpha Boulevard,” “The Ballad of Lost C’Mell”
George Stewart -- Earth Abides
Theodore Sturgeon -- More Than Human, The Dreaming Jewels, “It Wasn’t Syzygy,” “A Saucer of Loneliness,” “The Man Who Lost the Sea” “Slow Sculpture”
Jack Vance -- The Dying Earth
Kurt Vonnegut -- The Sirens of Titan, Cat’s Cradle, Player Piano
Stanley Weinbaum -- “A Martian Odyssey,” “The Lotus Eaters”
John Wyndham -- The Day of the Triffids
Roger Zelazny -- Lord of Light, “A Rose for Ecclesiastes,” “The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth”

Fantasy

Poul Anderson -- The Broken Sword
Leigh Brackett -- The Sword of Rhiannon
Ray Bradbury -- Something Wicked This Way Comes and the short stories in The October Country
Neil Gaiman -- American Gods, Coraline
William Hope Hodgson -- The House on the Borderland, The Boats of the Glen Carrig
Robert E. Howard -- The Hour of the Dragon (Conan the Conqueror)
M. R. James -- Best Ghost Stories of M. R. James
Stephen King -- The Shining
Fritz Leiber -- Our Lady of Darkness, The Big Time, Swords in the Mist, “A Bit of the Dark World,” “The Secret Songs,” “A Deskful of Girls”
C. S. Lewis -- Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength (a trilogy; I re-read the second one from time to time, and the third one a lot); and of course the Narnia books.
H. P. Lovecraft -- "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," "The Dunwich Horror" “The Strange High House in the Mist” (You always hear about “At the Mountains of Madness,” but I’ve never been bowled over by it.)
A. Merritt -- The Ship of Ishtar
Hope Mirrlees -- Lud-in-the-Mist
Clark Ashton Smith -- Zothique, Xiccarph (old Ballantine Books paperbacks; short story collections)
Bram Stoker -- Dracula
Peter Straub -- Ghost Story, Shadowland
J. R. R. Tolkien -- well, duh.

And --

Ben Bova, Robert Silverberg -- The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volumes I, II A, and II B; really one big anthology, and the best introduction to older (pre-1970, more or less) SF short stories and novellas"

End.
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Jason Parker
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby Jason Parker » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:47 pm

Rawk on.

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ThomasKCarpenter
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:29 pm

Except for a few stories, that's a good "History of SFF" but nothing that's currently being published. Certainly, if you're into the history of SFF, read those books (or just for enjoyment). But if you're working on being a professional writer in this day and age, read the stories that have been published in the last five years to get a taste for modern editors.
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby Dustin Adams » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:18 am

Very cool list!
I started out OK, but faded in the latter half of the (sci-fi) list.
I think I will go get Neuromancer. Seems time.

Interesting about The Shining. I wonder why. I've been discussing "character" again with a writer friend, and it seems that might fall under that category? Anyone have thoughts on that particular selection?
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby amoskalik » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:26 am

I am encouraged that I have read more than a few on this list already. Certainly a lot I haven't read, though, so thank you for posting. I just finished Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Awesome read and, aside from a few references here and there, it feels remarkably modern.

Why The Shining? That one seemed curious to me as well. I would have thought The Stand or The Dark Tower series for fantasy, but perhaps because this is a Power Reading list, he wanted to include one of King's shorter works? Certainly, it is an iconic book, but mainly because of the movie, I would think.
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby KD Julicher » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:34 am

This is a great list for enjoyment. It makes me cry because I like most of what's on it a lot better than most of what's being published today. My tastes are so dated.

I would add, anyone who is reading through this for a sort of history of the genre, put C.L Moore on your list. Her "Northwest Smith" stories are lovely. All her work is but it's hard to find due to literary estate issues. (Warning to us aspiring writers. Make sure your heirs are people who respect your work, understand publishing, and want to see it out there. Cl Moore and her first husband were early giants, and their legacy is almost entirely forgotten because their estates fell to her second husband, who wasn't a fan).

But you can find her "Shambleau" in a couple places and you should read it because it's lovely and haunting and fantastical.
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby Chris533 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:21 am

Thanks. That’s a great list. There are some on there I’m not familiar with but will check out in the future.

For me, I’d want to add David Brin to the science fiction books. The Postman is my favorite post-apocalyptic story and The Practice Effect is a very neat little book that shows how you can have a good short book based mostly on an interesting idea. All his “uplift” books are great stories about genetically modifying animals to be able to interact with humans. He was one of my favorites when I was a kid. According to Wikipedia he’s won multiple Hugos and Nebulas.

I’d also add Douglas Adams (for a great example of humor in science fiction).

And I think Asimov deserves a lot more of his work in there (personally I’d recommend reading all the robot and foundation books). I devoured Asimov when I was a kid – so I’m biased – but I do think he’s considered one of the greats so I’m not sure why only one of his books made the list, especially given how many Heinlein books are there. For a period of time, Asimov, Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke ruled the science fiction universe. People definitely disagree – but to me Asimov was the best, then Clarke, and then Heinlein was last (still great – I read LOTS of Heinlein and liked most of them – but he’s just not as great as Asimov). Often if you see lists like this – you’ll have either Heinlein or Asimov over represented as compared to the other. For my generation that was always a big debate. Obviously Powers prefers Heinlein.

For fantasy I thought Patrick Rothfuss’ books were awesome – although a bit annoying that he’s still not finished the third of the trilogy yet. But he was a WoTF winner so great to see him have so much success.
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby Chris533 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:23 am

ThomasKCarpenter wrote:Except for a few stories, that's a good "History of SFF" but nothing that's currently being published. Certainly, if you're into the history of SFF, read those books (or just for enjoyment). But if you're working on being a professional writer in this day and age, read the stories that have been published in the last five years to get a taste for modern editors.


That's a good point. Could you recommend some especially great science fiction books you've read from the last five years?
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Chris533
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby Chris533 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:26 am

Dustin Adams wrote:Very cool list!
I started out OK, but faded in the latter half of the (sci-fi) list.
I think I will go get Neuromancer. Seems time.

Interesting about The Shining. I wonder why. I've been discussing "character" again with a writer friend, and it seems that might fall under that category? Anyone have thoughts on that particular selection?


I think most of King's work could be considered SFF -- but I don't think they're marketed that way -- which makes sense -- and dollars -- lots and lots and lots of dollars. SFF is probably bigger than its ever been - a very big niche now - but still a niche.
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby morganb » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:24 am

For more "modern" works, I'd have to recommend:

Fantasy
Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series
Brandon Sanderson's "Mistborn" series
Dean Koontz's "Odd Thomas" series
Lauren Oliver's "Dilirium" series
Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One" (could be classified as scifi)

SciFi
Rick Yancey's "Fifth Wave" series
Justin Cronin's "Passage" trilogy (could be classified as fantasy, I suppose)
Kevin J Anderson's "Hellhole" series
James Dashner's "Mazerunner" series
Orson Scott Card's "Ender" series, especially the "Earth..." prequels (really surprised these didn't make the list)
Michael Grant's "BZRK"
John Scalzi's "Fuzzy Nation"

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Chris533
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby Chris533 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:53 am

morganb wrote:Orson Scott Card's "Ender" series, especially the "Earth..." prequels (really surprised these didn't make the list)

~Morgan


Yeah - good point! I think Enders Game is one of the top ten science fiction books ever written. (Although - I never read the rest - but I plan to someday)
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby kentagions » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:05 pm

Hi Amy,

I'd like to add a few names. The list is distinguished, but (My apologies to Mr. Power) light in a certain area. Those who like F&SF know them all.

Andre Norton, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Connie Willis, C.J. Cherryh, Jane Yolen.

All named Grand Master of science fiction by the SFWA.

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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby amoskalik » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:28 am

I'd also recommend going in the other direction and reading HG Wells (Time Machine, War of the Worlds) and Jules Verne (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth)
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:32 am

Chris533 wrote:
ThomasKCarpenter wrote:Except for a few stories, that's a good "History of SFF" but nothing that's currently being published. Certainly, if you're into the history of SFF, read those books (or just for enjoyment). But if you're working on being a professional writer in this day and age, read the stories that have been published in the last five years to get a taste for modern editors.


That's a good point. Could you recommend some especially great science fiction books you've read from the last five years?


I'm hesitant to give a list, because I think it's best to read heavily in the genre you want to write in. If you dream of writing space opera, then read the Expanse, or Jennifer Well's Fluency. If you want to write urban fantasy, then I would recommend the Incryptid series by Seanan McGuire. If you like space, but want to read books that have won awards, then Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a good read. You can learn about the best current fiction from sites like Tor.com, or io9, or the B&N website.

This is the same for short fiction. If you desire to sell to F&SF, then pick up a subscription and read everything. Same with Asimov's or Uncanny. Etc. Etc.
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby YM Pang » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:20 pm

It's a good list for a history of SF/F. But as some others have expressed, it's not necessarily representative if what's getting published today. I'd like to check out some of the fantasy books, though my own SF knowledge is so lacking that I should probably brush up on modern stuff first.

KD Julicher wrote:I would add, anyone who is reading through this for a sort of history of the genre, put C.L Moore on your list. Her "Northwest Smith" stories are lovely. All her work is but it's hard to find due to literary estate issues. (Warning to us aspiring writers. Make sure your heirs are people who respect your work, understand publishing, and want to see it out there. Cl Moore and her first husband were early giants, and their legacy is almost entirely forgotten because their estates fell to her second husband, who wasn't a fan).

Not entirely forgotten! I took a Science Fiction course for undergrad a couple of years back, and we read one of her short stories for the class!
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Re: Tim Power's "Power Reading List"

Postby amyhg » Sat Apr 21, 2018 7:37 pm

Thank you for the additional suggestions. I doubt Tim would mind expanding his book list. I wish I'd been well-read enough to swap opinions with him. I think his main intention was to give me a broad range of stories to show what's been done before. We talked about the importance of knowing what's established the genre so I don't write bad imitations of what's already been done. This list is definitely tailored to Tim's personal tastes; that's why it's his reading list. It was fun to listen to him and Dave discuss books because they'd often NOT read the same ones. They're not interested in reading every story that ever got a name for itself. They read what they want to read. So, I figure I'll do the same. Not only that, but I still love my historical fiction and classic literature, and I hope by throwing those into the mix with some of these, I'll be able to produce something pretty funky too. ;)

Read on, folks! And keep the suggestions coming.
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