More Introductory Novels (Not Just Science Fiction)

Well, aside from Dune by Frank Herbert, there are, of course, many other great introductory novels to Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction in general.

Novels from my own experience include Count Zero by William Gibson, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Ringworld by Larry Niven, Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny and The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.

Some friends have recommended Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and 1984 by George Orwell.

For fantasy, there's of course, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany, Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny, Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolf, Elric by Michael Moorcock, Ill-met in Lankhmar by Fritz Lieber.

Introductory Science Fiction novels

My friend Dean asked me what I though about some introductory Science Fiction novels, and I was somewhat caught off-guard. I have never thought about the concept of "introductory science fiction".

I think part of that is the fact that part of my experience with Science Fiction is that most of the science in science fiction was part of my difficulty with it. When he asked the question, my thoughts immediately flew to difficulty in terms of science comprehension.

Looking back on the novels I've read and enjoyed or read and did NOT enjoy, I realized that some of the level of difficulty falls under how mature the themes are, or how complex the discourse is in relating the story. It forces me to actually revisit the stories the novels related in my mind and determine how they would measure up with that type of critical. Not an easy task given the weight of yeas and initial impressions of an untrained but exuberant reading eye.

The litcrit sessions have really helped me find words to express my views, especially when my views are at time at odds with or slightly askew from the general direction of critique.

Ha! I just realized that some trolls might mistinterpret my last statement. Don't want to give the impression that the litcritters are of a herd mentality and that I'm the maverick of the group. One of the joys of the group is that the times that everyone is in agreement over a story cements in my mind that a story is really good, or really bad, because no one - and I mean NO ONE - in the group is afraid to speak their mind, even if they disagree with the emerging consensus.

Oh, getting back to my original topic - the first novel that popped into my mind was: Dune by Frank Herbert.

To Venture Into Reality

One of the insights I had regarding a hobby of mine was that the exploration of imagined worlds with a critical mind often opened my eyes to the wonders and horrors of "the real world."

Since one of the things I like to strive for in my writing is verisimilitude, it's depressing how much time I spending researching on the net (and wondering about the veracity of my sources) before writing my story and then realizing that despite my fascination with my researched material, most of it ain't makin' it into the story.

I suppose, however, that it helps that my own mind doesn't complain too much about various questions (what do you feed your mutated tamaraw? what are the underlying principles of reality that can be represented by waveforms? are there special spiritual dangers that ordained female exorcists would face?) by knowing enough that I can extrapolate somewhat.

One other thing that happens is being caught by these same stray questions when driving, crossing the street, or reading an article in a magazine. You being searching for the stories hidden in the tentative swerve of a Revo, the embarrassed smile of a toothless man offering you a handbill, and the frozen half-grimace of the latest ingenue to grace the magazine covers.