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

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

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  • by hguorbray ( 967940 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:12PM (#39269161)
    c j cherryh -Downbelow Series, Chanur's Pride, etc

    I liked the lensman series back in the day, but in retrospect they seem a little fascist

    I'm just sayin'
    • by FiloEleven ( 602040 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:21PM (#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.

    • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:27PM (#39269359)

      I liked the lensman series back in the day, but in retrospect they seem a little fascist

      They're not really fascist, but Smith was big on eugenics back before the Nazis gave eugenics a bad name. It shows....

      • pardon my ignorance, but did someone give eugenics a good name?
        • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:47PM (#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 Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @11:24PM (#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.

            • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @12:44AM (#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

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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 lep

  • Smith & Farmer (Score:5, Informative)

    by dark grep ( 766587 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:13PM (#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.

  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:16PM (#39269211) Homepage
    That Hideous Strength. It's obscure - obscure for a reason; it combines dystopian sci-fi with Christian allegory and British academic politics, so there's not a large natural audience. But it's culturally significant as one of George Orwell's inspirations for 1984 [lewisiana.nl], and Orwell himself thought reasonably well of it ("by the standards of books today", at least). It's also an interesting little moment before the atomic bomb but still within the realm of dystopian WWII-inspired science fiction.
    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      "That Hideous Strength" does have an angle that the more famous dystopian novels don't have. It looks at a totalitarian government from the moment of its deliberate formation rather than decades or longer into the future.

      While some aspects are wholly unrealistic (supernatural being systematically corrupting politicians and society), it is interesting to contrast the story with the formation of the modern European Union (as a British politician has done) especially such characteristics as technocracy, the
  • by dark grep ( 766587 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:17PM (#39269229)

    Well World series

    and many others http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_L._Chalker [wikipedia.org]

  • Barry Hughart (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mr.dreadful ( 758768 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:18PM (#39269243)
    He only published a few books, but "Bridge of Birds" (and its follow ups) is a wonderful mixture of Chinese folklore, Indiana Jones, and Sherlock Holmes.
  • Michael Moorcock (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kargan ( 250092 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:18PM (#39269247) Homepage

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

    • The Corum series was my favorite. Corum and Count Brass - that's two. Corum, Count Brass, and Dancers at the End of time. Ok, that's three. Corum, Count Brass, Dancers at the End of time, and Elric of course. Right, four; Corum, Count Brass, Dancers at the End of time, and Elric, oh and the Eternal Champion. So, amongst my favorites are, such series as.....

      ok, you get the picture.

  • Many Many options (Score:5, Informative)

    by scosco62 ( 864264 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:20PM (#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 Gryle ( 933382 )
      A Canticle for Liebowitz has been floating around high-school reading lists for a bit. Oddly enough I discovered both that one and Ender's Game through my high-school English class.
      • Re:Many Many options (Score:5, Interesting)

        by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:31PM (#39270109)
        Canticle is fucking amazing. It's been said that the Golden Age of science fiction is 14, and I found that to be true in a lot of ways. Some of the books I'd loved as a freshman in high school I find unreadable today; the writing seems poor, and the characterization weak. Canticle was the opposite- I never really appreciated it when I went through my high school phase, but after college I gave it a read and it seemed rich and nuanced. I know "nuanced" probably sounds odd in a book about post-apocalyptic wastelands, two-headed mutants, and spacefaring monks, but it is.
    • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:54PM (#39269761) Homepage Journal

      The Lankhmar series (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser) by Fritz Leiber

  • by aaandre ( 526056 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:20PM (#39269271)

    "An epic tale of freedom and slavery, love and war, and the potential futures of humankind tells of a twenty-first century California clan caught between two clashing worlds, one based on tolerance, the other on repression."

    The description does not do it justice... this is a post-apocalyptic fiction at its finest, addressing the dividing forces of our society and looking at the possibilities presented by our political structures, values, technologies and attitude towards nature and magic.

    It is awesome, intense, sexy and rewarding.

  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:21PM (#39269277)

    And most of his work is available via Gutenberg.

    • I'm very glad you mentioned H. Beam Piper. He was a favorite of my husband, who died last year. During the course of some remodeling, I ran into a treasure-trove of his science-fiction collection, mostly well worn paperbacks. He succeeded in interesting me in the Paratime book and stories, but I never read any of the other work. I intend to rectify that shortly, starting with Little Fuzzy.

  • Hellfire. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:21PM (#39269283)

    The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever.

    Not quite forgotten, but I keep running into people who haven't heard of the series. Great read, really; it's a strangely wonderful blend of Tolkienesque high fantasy and dark smarminess.

  • by anonymous_wombat ( 532191 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:26PM (#39269339)
    Way Station
    Time and Again
    Time is the Simplest Thing
  • by phrostie ( 121428 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:26PM (#39269347)

    Leo Frankowski

    Cross Time Engineer series is good.

  • Some classics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:28PM (#39269377) Homepage

    Some classics:

    • "Venus Equilateral" - the ultimate gadget geek novel. The protagonist is an electrical engineer who runs a space station. Everything runs on vacuum tubes, and there's a lot of detail about them.
    • "Edison's Conquest of Mars" - a terrible novel from the late 19th century. Introduced spaceships and disintegrators.
    • "Ralph 124C 41+" - Hugo Gernsback''s first novel. 1911.
    • Schmitz's Federation of the Hub series - back in print via Baen Books. The Nile Etland and Trigger Argee stories are the best reads.
    • Heinlein's short stories - "The Roads Must Roll", "Blowups Happen", "The Man who Sold the Moon", "We Also Walk Dogs".
  • A few I cherish (Score:4, Informative)

    by tillerman35 ( 763054 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:29PM (#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/

  • fantasy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by decora ( 1710862 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:29PM (#39269383) Journal

    Bulfinch's Mythology contains the roots of much of the modern 'fantasy' universes. But Bulfinch's is itself a collection of more ancient texts.

    In other words, why go back 50 years, when you could go back 1500?

  • The Night Land (Score:5, Informative)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:29PM (#39269393)

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

  • by drfreak ( 303147 ) <dtarsky@gmailTOKYO.com minus city> on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:30PM (#39269409)

    Most notably A Land out of Time and the epic Ringworld.

  • Tons! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:30PM (#39269413)

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

    The Heechee saga [wikipedia.org] by Frederick Pohl sci-fi

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

    Solaris [wikipedia.org] by Stanislaw Lem sci-fi

    Hyperion [wikipedia.org] by Dan Simmons sci-fi

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

    Some newer works:

    The Night Angel Trilogy [wikipedia.org] by Brent Weeks fantasy

    The Lies of Locke Lamora [wikipedia.org] by Scott Lynch fantasy

    The Name of the Wind [wikipedia.org] by Patrick Rothfuss fantasy

  • by porsche911 ( 64841 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:30PM (#39269417)

    All of the early Robert Heinlein are fun. Lots of great stuff out there.


    • by murdocj ( 543661 )

      If you like Heinlein, check out John Varley's most recent series (something like "Red Thunder", "Red Lightning", something something...) It's a trilogy that starts with ex-astronaut teaming up with some other folks including an oddball genius who has just invented a space drive in order to go to Mars. It's pure Heinlein, including the kind of creepy part in the last book where the young lady falls in love with the old guy.

  • by Skidborg ( 1585365 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:31PM (#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 @09:31PM (#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.
  • by belroth ( 103586 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:32PM (#39269441)
    Eric Frank Russell, Fredric Brown, Keith Laumer (Retief in particular), Jame Tiptree Jr, H. Beam Piper. Basically plunder all the free ebook sites for classic/pulp - there's a lot of good stuff there and I even quite like the not so good :-)
  • Loads (Score:4, Informative)

    by vaccum pony ( 721932 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:34PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:34PM (#39269467)

    I got into reading Vance's books when I was in high school. A few years ago a friend asked a similar question and i gave him one of Vance's short story anthologies. In 28 pages Vance had a more complete and engrossing story than some authors have in 200 pages.

    His stories range from straight out fantasy to classic science fiction, from short stories to multiple book sagas. Plenty of stuff to keep you going for the summer and probably the winter too.

    • by thoth ( 7907 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:47PM (#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.

  • One more (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AG the other ( 1169501 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:39PM (#39269535)

    Look at Gutenberg.org for Edgar Rice Burroughs. He wrote the Tarzan novels and also John Carter of Mars. Dated but fun to read.

  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:40PM (#39269547)

    The fantasy books by Virginia author James Branch Cabell were in vogue at one time but seem mostly forgotten now.

  • sci fi masterworks (Score:5, Informative)

    by lkcl ( 517947 ) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:41PM (#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.

  • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:41PM (#39269569)
    I finally got off my ass and registered for the World Science Fiction Convention last year and read the nominees for best novel so i could vote for the Hugo awards. In doing so i read two novels that i might never have picked up otherwise, and was tipped me off to a third one that was actually by one of my favorite authors under a pseudonym. (I presume i eventually would have stumbled across that one one way or another.)

    The realization that i hadn't heard of three of those books before and might never have read them caused me to go back and review the complete list of Hugo awards [wikipedia.org] and Nebula awards [wikipedia.org] for best novel.

    There are a lot of old favorites on there, but there are also a lot of other books that i know of but never gotten around to reading and a lot more that i've never even heard of, especially for the earlier years. Unless you're a lot more knowledgeable than me you've probably never heard of a lot of them either. All the books in those lists were considered one of the best books that year either by the fans or the writers, and a lot of them probably still hold up well today. I've now got a plan, or at least a desire, to try and start working through those older books a few at a time. (Though how i'm going to manage that when i can't even keep up with all the _new_ books coming out i don't know.)
  • Roger Zelazny (Score:3, Informative)

    by LittleBunny ( 1021415 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:44PM (#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.
  • A Few Titles (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Selanit ( 192811 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:44PM (#39269607)

    The Description of a New World, Called The Burning-World by Lady Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. Late 1500s. Very strange early SF, semi-autobiographical. Requires tolerance for Elizabethan English, though it's easier than Shakespeare since it's prose not poetry. Author also composed poems about pixies responsible for moving atoms around.

    The Three Impostor: and Other Stories, by Arthur Machen. Very Lovecraftian, except that it predates Lovecraft.

    Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling. Not read as much as his other stories these days; basically a tour of English/European history from a decidedly British perspective, courtesy of tour guide Puck.

    The Days of Chivalry,or, The Legend of Croque-Mitaine; original in French by Ernest Louis Victor Jules L'Epine; free (VERY free) translation by Thomas Hood the Younger, late 1890s. 177 illustrations by Gustave Doré. Originally a children's book, this heavily allegorical book follows the adventures of Mitaine, female squire to the legendary French knight Sir Roland. Would never hand this to a child now. Illustrations of impalements. Thoroughly racist, sexist, and every other kind of -ist you can think of. Shows illustration of Mohammed getting his teeth punched out by Roland (!!). Despite all that, fun in a horrifying kind of way. Reading this helped me understand how World War I came about. If this is the kind of thing they were raising their kids on, no wonder they killed millions of each other.

    A Gift Upon the Shore by M. K. Wren -- two women struggle to preserve knowledge in post-apocalyptic Oregon. SF only by membership in post-apocalyptic sub-genre, but beautifully written.

    Interesting question. Will keep eye on discussion. Note to self: must take refresher course on personal pronouns.

  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:44PM (#39269615) Homepage

    I'd love to find more of his stuff.

    Look for "The Weapon Shops of Isher".


    • Re:Van Vogt (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:28PM (#39270089) Homepage Journal

      Collecting A.E. Van Vogt has become something of a hobby to me. My wife is pretty good at digging out obscure stuff, so I have both "Weapon Shops of Isher" titles in one book. She also picked up "The Silkie" for me recently. I just checked and I have 10 Van Vogt books, and that doesn't count the above 2.

      Then there's EE Doc Smith Lensman and Skylark series, the 2 Subspace Explorer books, one Family deLambert.

      Some of the old stuff can be pretty poorly written, but there was an innocence and optimism about it that's missing these days.

  • by cthlptlk ( 210435 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:46PM (#39269633)

    Certainly not forgotten, but currently underrepresented in print and best-of lists.

    There have been some ginormous (non-Ellison) anthologies at my local library recently that look like they have been compiled by real scifi scholars. This one, for instance:

    http://www.amazon.com/Space-Opera-Renaissance-Kathryn-Cramer/dp/0765306182/ref=cm_lmf_img_13 [amazon.com]

  • by Giant Electronic Bra ( 1229876 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:48PM (#39269661)

    First and Last Men, and Starmaker. Olaf Stapleton is interesting.

    And then there is the weird stuff, I suggest William Hope Hodgeson. Boats of the Glenn Carrig is pretty strange. Nightland is a work of genius, but also pretty much unreadable. It is probably worth reading the early Nightland part of it just for the atmosphere though. The House of Silence is CREEPY.

  • by dr_leviathan ( 653441 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:48PM (#39269669)

    "Lud-in-the-Mist" by Hope Mirlees is a fantasy novel written in the 1920's that fell out of circulation but has been reprinted, so I guess it has been "rediscovered" and is not necessarily obscure these days.

  • by dark grep ( 766587 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:50PM (#39269687)

    hmmm, was this topic started by Amazon? They can only do well from this in any event. Who else has already added items to their cart based on recommendations here? I am up to six so far.

  • Stanislaw Lem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hguorbray ( 967940 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:50PM (#39269689)
    tales of Pirx the Pilot among many others -Solaris (esp the movies) is not a good representation of the poetry and honesty of his work

    -I'm just sayin'
  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:51PM (#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.


  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:57PM (#39269781) Homepage

    I really enjoyed a really strange novel called I, Zombie by "Curt Selby". According to this link, this was actually a pen name for Doris Piserchia.

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1257369.I_Zombie [goodreads.com]

    I think you will enjoy it more if you don't read any spoilers. I'll just say it's told first-person by a narrator with a truly strange point of view, and some truly strange things happen.

    This isn't even forgotten, because I don't think it was ever well-known. But I enjoyed the heck out of it, and perhaps you will too.


  • by flogger ( 524072 ) <non@nonegiven> on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @09:58PM (#39269801) Journal
    Kind of obscure as in you won;t find them on any top 25 best sellers but quite well written and worth the effort. Actually there is no effort as these stories are like smoking grass: Easily inhaled, held onto, feels exhilarating, and afterward you feel as if you've experienced something.

    John Varley
    Titan, Demon, Wizard - Three great futuristic tales of a large, sentient, organic space station out in our solar system. Probably my favorite blend of Sci-fi and fantasy in one setting.
    The Ophiuchi Hotline - What if the internet was really a signal from another galaxy? One of the best of the "eight worlds" novels. (Just an opinion)
    "The Pusher" - Short story published in Blue Campaign and other places. This is a story that makes you feel dirty but so worth the read.

    Roger Zelazny
    Chronicles of Amber - Great stuff. Alternate worlds controlled by an elite bloodline. Fun family politics. 5 books each of which are short and can be read in a single setting.

    John Steakly
    Armor - This is an exciting read and will wear you out and make you feel the physical exhaustion of the characters. As Steakly said this book is the action in starship troopers. Orson Scott Card mentions it in his introduction in one of his books. I forget which one. If you do read this. Don;t stop after part one. You'll want to: Don't.
    Vampire$ - This is what a vampire novel should be. People working for the Vatican to slay vampires for fun and profit. The book rocks, but Damn, the John Carpenter movie version in the 80's sucks ass. Don;t ever watch it.


    Steven Brust
    Jhereg - This and all of the 11(?) other books follow an human assassin, Vlad Taltos, that kills "elves." It involves the fantasy elements of gods, sorcery, witchcraft, elves, etc in a world as dark and gritty as you want and as rich as Tolkein. Why these books haven;t "hit the big time," I have no clue.
  • Wasp by Eric Frank Russell is about a human dropped onto an enemy alien’s planet to cause as much confusion and destruction as possible to destabilize the occupying force in advance of a human assault. It’s a great ‘war novel’ about, essentially, spy stuff and what would now likely be called terrorism. Eric Frank Russell is generally ignored now, in fact, and does not deserve to be.

  • Cordwainer Smith (Score:5, Informative)

    by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:12PM (#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." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordwainer_Smith [wikipedia.org].

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

    Scanners Live in Vain" http://www.baenebooks.com/chapters/1416521461/1416521461___5.htm [baenebooks.com]

    Game of Rat and Dragon http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/29614 [gutenberg.org]

  • David R. Palmer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:13PM (#39269935) Journal

    Read Emergence, if you can find a copy. A genius eleven year old girl and her pet macaw travel a post-apocalyptic America. The writing style is hard to get used to -- a lot like Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" -- but after a few pages your brain starts filling in the missing words. (The in-story explanation is that it's her personal diary written in Pitman shorthand.)

    Unfortunately, the sequel "Tracking" is only available as a bootleg right now, (check torrents). It was serialized in a now-unavailable sequence of Analog magazines. If you can find "Tracking", it's also worth reading.

    Palmer seems to have done a lot of research for the books. He makes some mistakes regarding firearms that grated on me, but the rest seemed correct.

  • Alfred Bester (Score:5, Informative)

    by blackdoor ( 301609 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:13PM (#39269939)

    The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man

  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:18PM (#39269991) Homepage

    Randall Garrett is now best remembered for his Lord Darcy stories (which are great; if you haven't read them, check them out). But one of the best things he ever wrote was a novel called Unwise Child.

    There are action scenes, there are geeky science-fiction ideas, there is a bit of sleuthing. The main character is "Mike the Angel", a genius who designs spaceship engines and likes to build gadgets. There's a robot named "Snookums" who... knows too much about hydrogen. There is an overall logic to the plot that isn't obvious as you are reading but makes sense when you reach the end. There is a love interest, a lady scientist who is every bit as brilliant as Mike but in a completely different field. And there is a bunch of lovely writing and snappy dialog, as smart people banter with each other. I think I have re-read this novel over a dozen times, and I'm not done with it yet.

    And lucky you, it is one of the works that is actually in the public domain. (It was written when the author had to renew a copyright after a fixed term to keep the copyright, and Garrett never renewed it.) So go and grab your copy here:

    http://www.feedbooks.com/book/1957/unwise-child [feedbooks.com]

    You might also find a paperback edition published under the name Starship Death. Since the book was public domain, there was nothing stopping anyone from publishing it under a different title, and someone did.

    P.S. If you haven't read the Lord Darcy stories, you can get them in ebook form (any format you like, and with no DRM) from Baen. The stories are collected in a single omnibus volume simply called Lord Darcy and it includes every story Garrett wrote. They are detective stories, set in an alternate-history Earth where magic was developed instead of the science we have; much of Europe and all of North and South America are united into the "Anglo-French Empire" and the rival superpower, the Polish Empire, is often causing trouble. The best stories work both as detective stories and as a glimpse into another world. You can read the first two stories as a preview; if your tastes are anything like mine, you will want to buy the book after you read these.

    http://www.baen.com/chapters/W200207/0743435486.htm [baen.com]


  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:20PM (#39270013)

    Great writers, wrote the best Star Trek episodes and Ellison also did some Outer Limits episodes. Demon with a Glass Hand maybe the best made for TV SciFi episode ever.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:21PM (#39270023)

    Ralph 124c41 arguably the first modern sci fi novel.

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:35PM (#39270149) Homepage

    If you don't mind some communism apology in some stories, Soviet SF has some great works, although finding English translations might be hard.

    See the works of the Strugatsky brothers, in particular.

  • by cc_pirate ( 82470 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:35PM (#39270153)

    One of the best series I have ever read and I've been reading SciFi for 35 years.

    Intervention (sometimes two books as Surveillance & MetaConcert)

    Jack the Bodiless
    Diamond Mask

    The Many Colored Land
    The Golden Torc
    The Nonborn King
    The Adversary

    • by TheLink ( 130905 )

      Came here to post about it. Great series. Hard to describe in a sentence.

      I started with the "Saga of the Exiles" ( The Many Colored Land, The Golden Torc, The Nonborn King, The Adversary) which were written earlier and seem rather well researched and planned. There's even a separate reference book for them called the Pliocene Companion: http://www.amazon.com/Pliocene-Companion-Julian-May/dp/0345322908 [amazon.com]

      The Galactic Milieu (Intervention, Jack the Bodiless, Diamond Mask, Magnificat) books do not give me the sam

  • by paul.schulz ( 75696 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:38PM (#39270177) Homepage

    Read this a long time ago and just recently figured out what the title was.. not sure where you would find it though. Full of Unix puns.

  • by The_Rook ( 136658 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:41PM (#39270199)

    i liked child of fortune and little heroes. star trek fans ought to note that he also wrote the episode 'wolf in the fold'.

    spinrad's novels are generally set in decadent societies and feature lots of drug use.

  • I would highly recommend Julian May's Intervention, Saga of Pliocene Exile, and Galactic Milieu from the 80s-90s. These interrelated series stretch from the far past to our space-faring future and combine science fiction, technology, and fantasy into one grand vision. Intervention is my favorite and works very well as a stand alone novel... Ah, Oncle Rogi...

    My other recommendation would be Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis (aka Lilith's Brood) from the late 80s, a series of novels with an interesting take on the future of humanity and what it means to be human. A bit less Sci-Fi, but also highly recommended, is her powerful Parable series from the 90s (Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents). In it she explores issues of race, freedom, religion, violence, and more through extrapolating a dark but all too possible vision of the future based on current trends in American society.

  • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:56PM (#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 Scarred Intellect ( 1648867 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @11:10PM (#39270459) Homepage Journal
    The Black Company by Glen Cook.
  • by jbeaupre ( 752124 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @11:25PM (#39270599)

    Dig up some old short story anthologies. Lots of gems not seen elsewhere. Even if you end up reading a mediocre story, there's always a great one a few dozen pages later. Authors you'll never hear of. Some who only wrote a couple stories.

    Several stories still stick with me decades later. Wish I could find those books again.

  • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @11:31PM (#39270641)

    In the U.S., John Wyndham is rarely mentioned these days, yet each book that I've read has been a monument. The Midwich Cuckoos. The Day of the Triffids.

    If you're looking for gentle and humorous adventure, try the three books in Alexei Panshin's Thurb pentology.

  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @11:50PM (#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.

  • by jjp9999 ( 2180664 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @11:53PM (#39270829) Homepage
    I've been going back and reading all the early books by Lord Dunsany. I really recommend "A Dreamer's Tales" and "Tales of Wonder." They're both collections of short stories, but well worth reading. His prose if really unique and colorful, and the themes go down roads I don't think I've ready any or author delving into. I recently finished "The King of Elfland's Daughter" and I'm in the process of reading "The Charwoman's Shadow," which are full novels and well worth reading.
  • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @12:40AM (#39271183)
    Sheckley [wikipedia.org] is one of my favourite sci-fi authors. "The Status Civilization" is a classic, but I'd recommend pretty much all the stories written in the 50s/60s. He's also written franchise novels in the late 90s, but I haven't read them, and I doubt that the sorts of story constraints involved would make for memorable sci-fi.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor