I have a few books that I have been bouncing between, sometimes starting them and getting a few chapters in before I start another. Not a great habit, sure, but there are so many good books out there that I get really excited when I get a new one that I want to jump right in. If it isn’t immediately apparent from the list, I’m a bit of a science fiction junkie.
Part of the reason I’m keeping track of this list is to organize my thoughts, influences, and inspirations for a Stars Without Number game that I’m going to be running for some friends. In preparing for the game, I’m really leaning into one of the principles from Apocalypse World that requires the master of ceremonies to barf forth apocalyptica. The idea of “barfing forth apocalyptica” can be abstracted to immersing oneself in the imagery, themes, and general subject matter of a genre for inspiration in order to generate content that fits into that genre during play. To this end, I’ve been trying to read and watch a lot of different science fiction media to have a steady stream of sci-fi-adjacent ideas in my mind.
One other goal I’ve been pursuing is to read works by authors who are not white men. If I’m trying to envision and portray advanced societies in a far future setting, I think it makes sense to draw from diverse perspectives. And anyway, it’s a good policy to try and gain a more global perspective in these times of cultural and political animus. I think we can all benefit from trying to focus on aspects that we share rather than the things that set us apart.
So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the books that I plan on reading, or am currently in the process of reading:
Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov (1952)
A while back I had started re-reading the Foundation series and got one-third or so into this one before starting on something else. I picked this back up recently and seem to have overcome my initial boredom. I remember liking the development of The Mule to disrupt Seldon’s plan, so I think that contributed to my renewed interest.
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (2016)
This is such a fantastically different and fascinating book. I’ve started reading this several times but stopped because I felt that I wasn’t giving it the necessary attention to really appreciate the truly bizarre world Lee establishes in this novel. I heard about this through one of Adam Koebel’s streams (although I don’t remember which one).
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin (2015)
When you win the Hugo Award three years in a row for three novels in a series, that kind of speaks for itself, right? I’ve heard so many good things about the Broken Earth trilogy, I’m really excited to start this one.
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (2011)
I enjoyed The Expanse television series so much, I had to read the books. After all, how often do you hear of the movie or TV adaptation being better than the source material?
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds (2000)
I’ve heard from several people that I should read some of Reynolds’s work, and this one seems like a good place to start. One of my friends describes it as “gothic astrophysics,” so how can you not want to read that?
Hyperion by Dan Simmons (1989)
Apparently many people consider this to be a seminal work of space opera science fiction, so I would be a bit remiss if I didn’t read this at some point. I started reading it a bit ago, but haven’t had a chance to pick it back up yet. At first blush, the serial story-telling style reminds me of The Canterbury Tales, so I guess that’s something that sets it apart?
Dawn by Octavia Butler (1987)
Again, a classic science fiction work. I started reading this last year, but I had some trouble getting into it. I’ll start back on it soon.