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Here is a list of my top 20 favorite Sci-Fi books of ALL TIME (So far)

#20) Flatland: A romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott

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#19) Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem

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#18) Galactic Pot Healer by Phillip K. Dick

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#17) Neuromancer by William Gibson

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#16) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick

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#15) The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea

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#14)  Shards of Honor by Louis McMaster Bujold

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#13)  The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

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#12) Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

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#11)  The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

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#10)  The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson

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#9)  SlaughterHouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut 

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#8) Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

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#7) Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany

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#6) Ware Tetralogy by Rudy Rucker

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#5)  Red Mars (Mars Trilogy) by Kim Stanley Robinson

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#4) A Canticle For Liebowitz by Walter Miller

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#3) Dune (Series) by Frank Herbert

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#2)  Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

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#1)  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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Herbert George Wells, otherwise known as H.G., was a wonderfully prolific writer from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946) who is sometimes called “The Father of Science Fiction” and it is an apt title.

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His work and ideas are globally known, and people of every Nation and every Language know his works such as “The War of the Worlds“, “The Time Machine“, “The Invisible Man“, “The Island of Dr. Moreau“, “The Food of the Gods and How it Came to Earth” and “In the Days of the Comet“.

He was a good visionary of mankind’s future, having accurately predicted Atomic Weapons (in his book “The World Set Free”) and the Internet (in his collection of essays titled “World Brain” in which he tackles the notion of a permanent world encyclopedia) and mechanized warfare in many of his works such as “The War in the Air”, but he wasn’t a good visionary for just having predicted these things, but in the light he portrayed them and with the hopeful future and kinder wisdom that he expressed that we could develop to wield these massive powers without destroying ourselves.

He had a difficult childhood, having been placed in several unhappy apprenticeships all the while pursuing a life in Academia that he eventually attained and became a Biologist. He often expressed socialist sentiment, having been a member of the Fabian Society.

Even though his works are world-famous, taking a stroll through his lesser known work is very rewarding, I highly recommend his short story “The Country of the Blind”  in which an explorer tumbles into a hidden mountain village where a disease of the local environment robs newborns of sight. I also recommend “The Star” in which a star enters our solar system on a collision course, very interesting and reminiscent of the modern movie “Melancholia”, but one of my favorites of his short works is the story “The Land Ironclads” which can also be found in the audio-book collection The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories. His vision and excellent writing really shine through in that story.

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Kurt Vonnegut Jr. born November 11, 1922
Indianapolis, Indiana and died April 11, 2007 (aged 84), was one of the most brilliant Science Fiction authors in history.

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One of the most popular and successful of his works, Slaughterhouse-Five is widely considered one of the greatest American novels.

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Vonnegut’s work is so insightful, humanist, and thought-provoking that he is probably the most read Sci-Fi Author outside of the genre, in fact he blends science fiction themes into his stories so effortlessly that it disappears into the story, and it can often be easy to forget you are reading Sci-Fi.

In his book Slaughterhouse-Five, one of the central characters Billy Pilgrim has become un-stuck in time and experiences and re-experiences pivotal moments in his life and the life of others. He experiences moments in the firebombing of Dresden (a somewhat autobiographical account of Vonnegut’s own experience as a POW in the Battle of the Bulge) and finds a relatively peaceful existence as a Zoo Exhibit on the Planet Tralfamador, where he is mated with a Porn Star, an event that all the Tralfamadorians routinely tune in to watch with great scientific interest. The book has a powerful anti-war theme, as would be expected from a Freethinker and Humanist. The theme of Time Shifting here foreshadows Vonnegut’s future work, the very excellent Timequake,

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in which an unknown celestial event causes a ripple in space-time snapping everyone in the world (universe?) back in time ten years, but not their consciousness, so free will is temporarily revoked, and everyone must watch passively in horror as the universe replays itself, fully aware of the future they already knew, but trapped, unable to change the past, until they reach the moment of the original time-quake. The ten-year prison sentence affects people terribly, destroying their awareness of free-will to the point that when the universe snaps back into normal time it doesn’t make much difference, until the ever-present and un-affected character Kilgore Trout (who appears in many of Vonnegut’s novels and is an alternate persona of the author) re-awakens the world with his mantra “You were sick, but now you are well again. And there’s work to be done.”

A mantra that works well in life even if their hasn’t been a celestial event.

I don’t know a single person who regretted reading a Vonnegut novel, pick up and read either slaughterhouse-Five, Cat’s Cradle, or Timequake, I can promise you won’t regret it.

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Jules Gabriel Verne, needs no introduction. Every comprehensive list of Greatest Sci-Fi Authors necessarily includes Verne.

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His work was visionary, and many consider to be one of the foremost contenders for the title “Father of Science Fiction”.  He is one of the top 5 most translated authors of all time, and almost everyone in the world knows his stories such as “Journey to the Center of the Earth“, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea“, “From the Earth to the Moon“.  (All the previous links are to the FREE kindle editions)

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Harry Norman Turtledove, born June 14, 1949, is a brilliant writer, who has done work in the genres of historical fiction, alternate histories, and Sci-Fi.

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He is a Historian, and has a PhD in Byzantine history.  He has been dubbed “The Master of Alternate History”, and has strong elements of Military Sci-Fi as well in many of his novels.

I personally found his series “WoldWar | Colonization” to be entertaining and fascinating. It takes a special kind of genius to do an alternate history universe where an Alien Invasion happens in the middle of World War II.

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I highly recommend you pick up this series and read. If you are like me and are also a history buff, you would enjoy many of his other series, which include a series in which the Byzantine Empire rose to world dominance. Fascinating reading!!

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Neal Stephenson is an excellent Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk and Historical Fiction Author who has met with extraordinary success in the past few decades.

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His book Snowcrash was a game changer for the Sci-Fi world. He is widely regarded as being a major contributor to Cyberpunk, but not content with that fictional genre he continues to push the envelope into what could be considered “Steampunk” with his series “The Baroque Cycle” , although he travels so far back into history and the very origins of Science that it might be better termed “Horsepunk”.

His books are extremely entertaining, virtually all of them are a good read (You might want to skip his earliest works such as “The Big U” and “Zodiac”).

My favorite book of his that is in the Sci-Fi genre was “The Diamond Age”  or by it’s full title “The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer” which takes place in a future where humanity has mastered nano-technology, and much of the worlds goods are supplied by “Matter Compilers” very much like computer compilers. The book has several fascinating characters, such as a  very poor and disadvantaged young girl named Nell, who comes into possession of a book, which is actually one of the most advanced computers of its age, designed not only to educate a young person, but to transform them into a leader, which is an education that necessarily includes some very rebellious ideas.  It’s a very fascinating notion, and not only did I fall in love with the Princess Nell character, but really wanted to get my hands on that book.

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The book also includes a very fascinating character that Stephenson admits is based on the 18th century detective novel series hero  “Judge Dee“, which are quite good stories in their own right and the books have a fascinating origin.

This is one of my all time favorite books, and highly recommend you give it a read, after this alphabet series is finished I will be posting a list of my “Top 25 Favorite Sci-Fi Books of All Time” and this book is on that list.

I actually met Neal Stephenson at a book signing when I was and undergrad at Berkeley, at the time he had a pony tail and long leather trench-coat, and had never heard of him nor read his work, and he seemed pretty impressed with himself, I almost wanted to dismiss him out of hand for his obvious arrogance, however, I have to hand it to him, he is a very talented and imaginative writer and was quickly hooked on his work. I might not invite him to go fishing, but I always eagerly await his next book.

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Rudolf Von Bitter Rucker, is a Mathematician, a computer Scientist, and a Sci-Fi Visionary.

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One of my favorite works of his was his Ware Tetralogy (comprised of the very excellent Sci-Fi Books; Software, Wetware, Freeware, Realware)

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and for a while I was under the impression that those were the first books of his I had ever read, until I later realized that I had read one of his mathematical texts, the very interesting Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension from Dover

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while I was an undergrad Math Major at U.C. Berkeley.

Rudy writes about Sci-Fi in such an original and unique manner, the way that only a Mathematician and Computer Scientist could, his characters are extremely likable,  usually being very intelligent vagabonds, hipsters, hackers and surfers, sometimes even mathematicians, who often times find themselves in extra-dimensional circumstances.

Rucker is also the editor of the online Sci-Fi magazine FLURB, which I highly suggest you read.

In his book Software, he explores what happens when mankind has to share the playing field with AI’s that have free will, a race of Robots known as the “Boppers” that have colonized the Moon. In the books a virtually homeless man winds up becoming President of Earth, Florida has seceded from the union to become it’s own bad-land territory populated by the elderly, people try to steal your brain from out of your skull, and it just gets weirder and more entertaining from there on as the series goes on.

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One of my favorite books of his is Jim and the Flims, a kind of Sci-Fi re-telling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice  where the hero, Jim, must travel to alternate dimensions to regain his lost love, in the process he uncovers a huge inter-dimensional conspiracy to steal life-force and does his part to help over-throw the forces of darkness. Rucker is an excellent writer, and I would lay out good money in the bet that you can’t find quirkier or more lovable characters in any other Sci-Fi world, if I had to make a prediction, I think Rucker’s work is going to become the next big thing in Sci-Fi. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the Ware Tetralogy, and just enjoy the ride.

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