Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Annalee Newitz's "The Twenty Science Fiction Novels that Will Change Your Life"

Annalee Newitz's "The Twenty Science Fiction Novels that Will Change Your Life" at io9.

Good list & even better summaries of the books. Only the post title is way too presumptuous: of the 20 that will change my life, 7 have been written since 2000, 5 during 1990s!!!

A few notes:

  1. Marge Piercy's "He, She, and It" (1991): "What would it feel like for a weapon to grow ethics?" That certainly is not a 90s original theme! I've seen it in at least one story of Eric Frank Russell - "A Great Deal of Power" (1953).
  2. Mary Doria Russell's "The Sparrow" (1996): First contact with aliens "terrifying in their difference from humans", turning a human visitor "an alien to himself". That again, is something much older. Earliest story I can recollect with this theme is C L Moore's "The Bright Illusion" (1934) (collected in "The Best of C L Moore").
  3. China Mieville's "Perdido Street Station" (2002): Summary actually makes me say - "skip it"!
  4. Cory Doctorow's "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" (2003): "usher in a new wave of postcyber writing about downloadable brains and uploadable desires". Well, I like Doctorow, but primarily because of the immediately usable ideas some of his stories have. "Downloadable brains" is a very old sf trope. Off hand, a story that immediately comes to mind is also a very famous one - Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe" (1957).
  5. William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition" (2003): I know Gibson has his admirers but, having read 2 of his stories (not including this one), I know he's not for me: maladjusted characters, ghetto settings, & way too much technobabble.
In case of first two stories - they may still be worth picking up & good; only not original in the way Annalee's list suggests. I haven't read either of these two novels.