Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Books Sci-Fi

Ask Slashdot: Good, Forgotten Fantasy & Science Fiction Novels? 1244

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-ender's-game-does-not-count dept.
jjp9999 writes "I've been looking for some good reading material, and have been delving into the realms of some great, but nearly forgotten authors — finding the likes of Lord Dunsany (The King of Elfland's Daughter) and E.R. Eddison (The Worm Ouroboros). I wanted to ask the community here: do you know of any other great fantasy or science fiction books that time has forgotten?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: Good, Forgotten Fantasy & Science Fiction Novels?

Comments Filter:
  • Smith & Farmer (Score:5, Informative)

    by dark grep (766587) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:13PM (#39269177)

    EE 'Doc' Smith, the Classic Lensman Series.

    I don't know if it fits the criteria of 'forgotten' but Philip Jose Farmer - River World, World of Tiers, and many other great novels - would have to be the amount the best SF of all time.

  • Re:Smith & Farmer (Score:3, Informative)

    by stevesliva (648202) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:18PM (#39269233) Journal
    Some of EE Doc Smith is at []. Fun stuff.
  • Michael Moorcock (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kargan (250092) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:18PM (#39269247) Homepage

    Especially the stories of Elric of Melnibone / Stormbringer series -- very good fantasy series.

  • Many Many options (Score:5, Informative)

    by scosco62 (864264) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:20PM (#39269259) Journal
    Black Easter by James Blish
    A Canticle for Liebowitz by Miller
    Non Robot/Foundation Asimov
    Dueling Machine Ben Bova
    Any of the earlier Pern books
    Friday by Heinlein - still one of my favorites
    Morgaine books by Cherryh
    John Campbell

    The collections put together in the 60's and 50's are outstanding - and you can usually pick them up for a quarter at a book store.
  • by khasim (1285) <> on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:21PM (#39269277)

    And most of his work is available via Gutenberg.

  • by FiloEleven (602040) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:21PM (#39269281)

    I'll second Gene Wolfe and expand the selection to include all three series: Book of the New Sun, Book of the Long Sun, and Book of the Short Sun. His writing is of a strange and rare quality, and while I don't always like it (some of his other novels and short stories leave me wondering what the hell happened and why I should care) it is always interesting. The Book of the New Sun in particular was reportedly highly acclaimed when it came out, but that faded quickly and in my opinion unjustly. I only discovered it through a friend's recommendation eight or nine years ago and it has swiftly risen to the top of my list. It is one of those rare books that really rewards conscious and repeated readings, as Wolfe leaves things unspoken for careful readers to puzzle out on their own. Even on a purely surface level it's an enjoyable read.

  • A few I cherish (Score:4, Informative)

    by tillerman35 (763054) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:29PM (#39269381)

    Mervyn Peake - Gormenghast (and sequels). HARD to get into, but rewarding if you understand that they are very experimental.

    F.M.Busby - The Demu Trilogy. Nothing ground-breaking, but it is well written escapist fiction.

    James Blish - Cities in Flight. Ditto the previous.

    John Crowley - Little, Big. Please please please DO read this. It is the single best book in the English language. Each chapter is like a gem. Another of his books "Engine Summer" is also jaw-droppingly lovely and has a "reveal" at the end that makes M.Night Shamylam seem like a moron. You WILL weep unashamedly. His later stuff is hard to digest, but worth the read if you stick with it.

    Lin Carter - The Martian books (The Valley Where Time Stood Still, The City Outside the World, Down to a Sunless Sea, and The Man Who Loved Mars). Thinking man's pulp fiction.

    James H. Schmitz - The Witches of Karres. So fun to read. It's a novelization of a series of short stories (or it reads that way, anyway) concerning a trio of underage witches and the space captain they "adopt" and whose life they make miserable but in a good way.

    Apologies for spelling/grammar/mispronunciation/

  • The Night Land (Score:5, Informative)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:29PM (#39269393)

    William Hope Hodgson's "The Night Land" deserves a read. Inspiration for Lovecraft, among others.

  • Tons! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:30PM (#39269413)

    Not sure these count as forgotten, but definitely worth reading:

    The Heechee saga [] by Frederick Pohl sci-fi

    The Parafaith War [] by LE Modesitt Jr.sci-fi

    Solaris [] by Stanislaw Lem sci-fi

    Hyperion [] by Dan Simmons sci-fi

    The Sirens of Titan [] by Kurt Vonnegut sci-fi

    Some newer works:

    The Night Angel Trilogy [] by Brent Weeks fantasy

    The Lies of Locke Lamora [] by Scott Lynch fantasy

    The Name of the Wind [] by Patrick Rothfuss fantasy

  • by Skidborg (1585365) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:31PM (#39269419)
    Taking a browse through Project Gutenberg's whole Science Fiction bookshelf would probably be worth your time. That's where I picked up some of my first science fiction novels, and I particularly enjoyed H. Beam Piper's Federation series.
  • Dune (Score:5, Informative)

    by MacColossus (932054) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:31PM (#39269429) Journal
    Frank Herbert's Dune is amazing. There is a reason there have been multiple attempts to make it into film. However none of them come close to the books.
  • Loads (Score:4, Informative)

    by vaccum pony (721932) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:34PM (#39269465)
    The Age of the Pussyfoot - Fred Pohl
    This book was waaaaay ahead of its time. A wonderful short novel from the 1960's that is still a great read. Pohl pretty consistently produces good books. 'Black Star Rising', 'The World at the End of Time', the Gateway series (although hardly obscure) and a whole lot of others.

    Riddley Walker - Russell Hoban
    A post-apocalyptic novel. Excellent. Would help to have some local knowledge of English culture.

    Dying Inside - Robert Silverberg
    This book does not get enough recognition.

    The Lilith's Brood series - Octavia Butler
    Three novels about the integration of the human race by aliens after a nuclear war. Marvelous.
  • sci fi masterworks (Score:5, Informative)

    by lkcl (517947) <> on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:41PM (#39269565) Homepage

    there's a re-publication of some of the most amazing sci-fi books, which to be honest take a little getting used to: the sci-fi masterworks series. "Lord of Light" by Roger Zelazny is a particularly beautiful tale. then there's Olaf Stapledon's "Last and First Men" which is just breathtaking in its scope and prescience: i found it particularly funny that the foreword by Stephen Baxter said "Stapledon got everything right except of course for the bits about the United States" when in fact he was right on the nose, having predicted the fall of the League of Nations, the rise of the United Nations, the detonation of the Atomic Bomb and more.

    then there's "The End of Eternity" by Isaac Asimov, which was the book written very early on that explains the background of the entire Asimov "Foundation" series. this book was noteworthy for its use of the word "Computer" as a title, like "Professor", to refer to one with the highly responsible task of "Performing Computations" - in this case, the job of working out the "minimum necessary change" to alter the future in order to keep it on track.

    i have a challenge for you, jjp9999. read *all* of asimov's books, including the ones written at the behest of the asimov estate, in a timespan where you will actually remember details from one book to the next. "robby the robot", which he wrote in conjunction with his wife. the early "robot" books which describe susan calvin's experiences - she screams "LIAR!!" at one robot, as it dies. remember to include the one written by greg bear, "forward the foundation" i think it is, as well as the "New Law" Robots, and pay attention also to Giskard's role. i think you will find the sheer scope of asimov's vision as he paints a picture which develops over - and beyond - the span of his life - to be absolutely stunning. but it does take patience: some of the isaac bailey series are quite methodical, being detective novels, and can be somewhat... well, tedious isn't the right word. you just have to be patient: it's worth it.

    then there's a couple of books which even i've forgotten the name of the authors. one of them very much reminds me of that new sci-fi series with the lead character from "The Librarian Series"... i remember the book because humanity was fighting against a much superior race of "invaders". when humanity "won", they left... but the parting words were something to the effect of "we are leaving because you are not worthy". and there was another - again, alien invaders, where the premise of the book was that just by learning the *language* of the invaders actually changed human DNA - or allowed it to change - to enhance and augment the person's intelligence... and physiology... into one of the aliens. both of these books were well written, and i've just spoiled the plot for anyone wishing to read either of them, but i would really appreciate someone letting me know who the authors are if they know either of these books, because i'd quite like to read them again.

  • Roger Zelazny (Score:3, Informative)

    by LittleBunny (1021415) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:44PM (#39269605)
    Anything by Roger Zelazny. His most extensive set of novellas were the Amber series-- five books, if I recall, eventually published in two volumes-- but he had a number of really lovely independent stories, including My Name is Legion, This Immortal, and Jack of Shadows. It's been a good twenty years since I went through my Zelazny phase, but few things would make me happier even now than discovering something else written by him.
  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:47PM (#39269645)

    pardon my ignorance, but did someone give eugenics a good name?

    I don't know.

    Do you approve of Planned Parenthood? Its founder was big on eugenics - that's why she founded PP.

    DO remember that eugenics wasn't invented in Nazi Germany - it came out of MA first, in the form of Alexander Graham Bell...

    Also remember that eugenics laws were passed in most States (30 or so) in the USA back in the day. And are still on the books, I'd bet, in at least half of them.

    Yes, the USA only sterilized about 15% of the number of "defectives" as Nazi Germany, but we led the way (the Germans took American eugenics laws as inspiration for their own laws requiring sterilization of defectives)....

  • by mykepredko (40154) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @08:51PM (#39269709) Homepage

    It's sad, but look for early works of any of these three as they're largely forgotten.

    Keep an eye out for:

    Asimov, "The Foundation Trilogy", "The Caves of Steel" and "The Naked Sun"

    Clarke, "Childhood's End", "Tales of the White Hart" (short stories), "A Fall of Moondust"

    Heinlein, "Have Spacesuit, will travel" (kids book, but still good), "Orphans of the sky", "The Puppet Masters", "Farmer in the Sky"

    Wow, getting nostalgic and thinking about re-reading many of these.


  • Seconded (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:03PM (#39269837)

    There's gold in them there hills.

    I'd run out of authors I knew much about, so I picked up Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War" and enjoyed it. Then I noticed the '1' on the spine and that it was part of a series. Kept me busy for ages...

    Of particular note (IMHO) was the Rediscovery of Man by Cordwainer Smith, though in this instance I'd recommend tracking down the complete works (under the same title) instead of the Sci Fi Masterworks version.

  • by PRMan (959735) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:05PM (#39269857)
    Perelandra is much better if you are going to read CS Lewis' space trilogy. You can skip the third one if you like, it's really tough to make it through.
  • Cordwainer Smith (Score:5, Informative)

    by Required Snark (1702878) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:12PM (#39269923)
    Smith wrote science fiction with the imagination of fantasy. His work was extremely innovative for it's time (the 60's), and is still "far out" today. He had a career in psychological warfare, and grew up in China before the Communist revolution. His book "Psychological Warfare" is a classic, and his godfather was Sun Yat Sen, the father or modern China.

    His output was very limited, and all set in a unified future history. It is available in two books; The Rediscovery of Man a collection of short stories, and Norstilla, a novel. His work is very unusual, so a short description does not do it justice. As Wikipedia says "Linebarger's stories are unusual, sometimes being written in narrative styles closer to traditional Chinese stories than to most English-language fiction." [].

    You can read some of his work on line. I suggest

    Scanners Live in Vain" []

    Game of Rat and Dragon []

  • Alfred Bester (Score:5, Informative)

    by blackdoor (301609) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:13PM (#39269939)

    The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:19PM (#39269997)

    the "Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" are fantastically complex works deeply influenced by Joseph Conrad (who Donaldson is a scholar of) and also by the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas.

    These books are Nondual Tolkien, and in a sense are also a deconstruction of Tolkien.

    These are difficult works, written in a high style with outsize and anachronistic vocabulary. But they are the only modern fantasy novels that are on the same high level as Tolkien or Mervyn Peake.

    The 'hero' of these High Fantasies is a diseased leper who is also a rapist. Read them and be amazed if you can get past the odd writing style.

  • by denzacar (181829) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:34PM (#39270139) Journal

    Six volumes of collected stories and poetry by Roger Zelazny. []
    You are bound to bump into something you haven't read before OR find a new facet to the things you've read already as each story is followed by a section explaining the references he used.
    As for actual "new" stuff by Zelazny, there's this. []
    And you may find this amusing as well. []

  • by thoth (7907) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:47PM (#39270275) Journal

    Seconded. I'm a huge Jack Vance fan, ever since coming across "Mazirian the Magician" in a short story anthology when I was in high school. (That story is one of the ones in The Dying Earth and I believe is now the preferred book title). Of course I tracked down The Dying Earth and read right through it and was soon hunting for Eyes of the Overworld.

    His earlier stuff is good too (Planet of Adventure series) but in the late 80's and early 90's he published Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden and its two sequels, Araminta Station and its two sequels, Cugel's Saga (continuing the story from Eyes of the Overworld)... great stuff and I just ate it up. Then I started looking in the past at his earlier works from the 60's and 70's.

    His characters are fascinating, all are generally quick-witted since they have to struggle against a hostile world out to trick/deceive them at every turn.

  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:56PM (#39270343) Homepage

    I highly recommend the Stainless Steel Rat series from Harry Harrison.

    I'm currently reading the third Deathworld book, which is good, but not quite as good at the Rat books.

    And I'd also recommend that you ask for the books people recommend at your library. Most of 'em have reserve funds to get books if they're not already in the system, which means that you can get your library to start filling out their SciFi section, so maybe other people will read them too.

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:24PM (#39270591) Homepage

    Do you approve of Planned Parenthood? Its founder was big on eugenics - that's why she founded PP.

    Depends on what you mean by "eugenics"-- the word has changed a little in connotation since the 1930s.

    Sanger was an advocate of parenthood by choice, and opposed to anybody who wanted to make decisions on childbearing for other people. So, if you think of eugenics as meaning forced sterilization and involuntary contraception, no, she was fiercely opposed to that.

    She did, however, believe that availability of contraception would mean that poor people would have fewer children, and that this would benefit both society and the gene pool (and, for that matter, benefit the poor people themselves, who would split their wealth a smaller number of ways). This was considered eugenics at the time.

  • Zelazny (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:37PM (#39270675) Homepage Journal

    Lord of Light

    the Amber books.

  • by mellon (7048) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:50PM (#39270789) Homepage

    Finder, Bone Dance and Falcon, by Emma Bull. Three completely different novels, all fantastic. She's still writing, but you asked for old stuff.

    M.A. Foster did a series about a transhuman species called the Ler that I found really haunting and freaky back in the day.

    The Witches of Karres, by James Schmitz (a couple of fairly decent sequels have been written, but the original is unmatched).

    The Last Planet, by Andre Norton.

    The Chronicles of the Deryni, by Katherine Kurtz.

    The Family Tree, by Sheri Tepper (this is one of her best books, so even if you've read others and didn't like them that much, I still recommend this one).

    The Musashi Flex series, by Steve Perry (and anything else by Steve Perry, for that matter).

    Scott Westerfeld's The Risen Empire, which it pains me to refer to as an oldie, which has one of the most insanely great and physically realistic space battle scenes _ever_.

    Silk Roads and Shadows, by Susan Schwartz (she gets the Buddhism mostly wrong, but it's still a great book).

    The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (who put a spaceport in Hamtramck and explained how to pronounce it) and The Demolished Man, also by Alfred Bester.

    All The Myriad Ways (the short story collection) by Larry Niven.

  • Re:A few more (Score:5, Informative)

    by MsGeek (162936) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @11:01PM (#39270889) Homepage Journal

    Must not forget, then, "Stand On Zanzibar" which posits what life would be like on a crowded, '60s-inflected world in 2010. Brunner did get one thing right: a worldwide, 24/7 news network called Engrelay Satelserv, English-language Relay Satellite Service. Say it with me in your best imitation of James Earl Jones: THIS IS CNN. From the perspective of two years after 2010 it reads more like a dip into an alternate Earth which zagged where ours zigged sometime in the '70s. Brunner was a genius.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @11:44PM (#39271211)

    and opposed to anybody who wanted to make decisions on childbearing for other people.

    "We who advocate Birth Control... lay all our emphasis upon stopping not only the reproduction of the unfit but upon stopping all reproduction when there is not economic means of providing proper care for those who are born in health. While I personally believe in the sterilization of the feeble-minded, the insane and syphilitic, I have not been able to discover that these measures are more than superficial deterrents when applied to the constantly growing stream of the unfit Eugenics without Birth Control seems to us a house builded upon the sands. It is at the mercy of the rising stream of the unfit"
      - Margaret Sanger, “Birth Control and Racial Betterment,” Feb 1919.

    "I believe that now, immediately, there should be national sterilization for certain dysgenic types of our population who are being encouraged to breed and would die out were the government not feeding them.”
      - Margaret Sanger, 1950

  • Re:Dune (Score:4, Informative)

    by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @10:20AM (#39274987) Journal
    OK, here's a link which tells you how to get it, at the risk it gets slashdotted: Dune, Spicediver fanedit v2 []. There is much else to like at the fanedit site.

If it has syntax, it isn't user friendly.