Reading has always been one of the great joys of my life. Even before kindergarten, my mother taught me to read, a time-consuming activity for which I thank her from the bottom of my heart. If you have children, teach them to read as soon as they show an interest -- no need to wait for the schools to do it! One of my best friends in my elementary school days, Stephen Bradley, was a few years older than me. He was also instrumental in encouraging me to improve my reading ability. (Stephen, are you out there somewhere? Drop me a line!)
While I was in elementary school, I read every science fiction and mythology book in the children's section of the public library in Warren, Michigan, and many of the fantasy novels and science non-fiction books, too. I got special permission from my parents to check out books from the adult section. That gave me access to Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings", which started me off on a fantasy jag that lasted many years. Over a decade later, this led me to get involved in the Dungeons & Dragons game, which in turn was the interest that let me meet people at the University of Connecticut who remain close friends to this day. Interesting to trace such threads through one's life.
There are a lot of science fiction and fantasy novels that I think are poorly written They often suffer from poor character development or a vapid writing style. In spite of this, many of them still make a good read by virtue of interesting plots or ideas.
Below you'll find a few of my favorite authors and books. Most of my favorite authors were chosen because I think that they stand out by combining good style and excellent character development with interesting storylines, intriguing ideas, or engaging investigations into life and society.
Roger Zelazny wrote many wonderful novels and short stories.
Creatures of Light and Darkness - This was the first book of his which I encountered. This is a wonderful experimental fantasy/science fiction novel based on Egyptian mythology. In a biography of Zelazny, I read that he intended this book to be an unpublished a stylistic experiment, but his publisher insisted that it be printed!
Lord of Light - This is a science fiction novel based on East Indian mythology, presumably a follow-on to the success of the background theme of Creatures of Light and Darkness, although otherwise unrelated to that novel. This one some prizes, I believe. A good read.
The Amber Series - A series of fantasy novels written over several decades. Although I don't consider them to be of the same literary stature as the above-mentioned books, they are very entertaining .
A Fire Upon The Deep - My very favorite science fiction novel! This book has a very complex plot that proceeds simultaneously on levels ranging from the adventures of a young boy stranded on a planet when his parents' ship crashes, to galactic-level conflict between disparate cultures. All the levels are intricately tied together, and the characters are wonderfully developed! Vinge uses a very unusual hypothesis about the large-scale physical structure of the galaxy as a background that makes it all believable.
Across Realtime - A collection of novellas around a common theme, investigating the consequences of an interesting fictional technological invention. The storiess settings start in the late 1990s and end many millions of years in the future.
Vance writes wonderful fantasy novels and short stories, sometimes in a science fiction milieu. He has an ability to develop mesmerizing alien cultures.
One of the most prodigious science fiction authors, and also a prolific popular science fact writer, Asimov helped to create the modern era of the science fiction genre. His books are a delight to read, typically light on "action", but with interesting characters and intellectual plots that develop through lots of dialog. Not to heavy, not too light -- just right for enjoyable reading.
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Last Updated December 24, 19999 by