Thursday, February 24, 2011


So SFSignal asked me: What books/stories do you feel are just as good now as they were when you first read them?

My answer below; answers from other people here.

Any book worth its salt should be able to withstand a second reading, but there are some that excite and move me at every reencounter. Here are a few:

Concrete Island by J.G. Ballard. A man finds himself stranded on a traffic island after a car crash. At first he can’t escape. And then he doesn’t want to. A powerful, deceptively simple updating of the Robinson Crusoe story.

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany. A man comes to a wounded American city, leaves as a hero-poet. After the fall of New Orleans, it’s more relevant than ever.

Libra by Don DeLillo. Oswald as tragic hero.

Neuromancer by William Gibson.  Still fresh and startlingly original, despite a thousand imitators.

The Inheritors by William Golding. Neanderthals encounter modern humans, with fatal results. All of Golding is worth reading and rereading, but this is my favourite.

Climbers by M. John Harrison. A beautifully written, intricately structured memoir/novel about memory, obsession, and the unrelenting reality of the world.

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin. Diagrammatic, yes, but the sections set on Anarres are truly powerful and moving, and it’s one of the few SF novels to attempt to portray a genuinely original society from the inside.

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy. America primeval.

Picnic on Paradise by Joanna Russ. Alyx, a barbarian kidnapped by the future, leads a gang of squabbling tourists across an alien wilderness. Alyx is the template for every wisecracking kickass heroine in cyberpunk, the new space opera and much else, but she’s the original and best, tough and funny and tender and wise.

Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich, Rabbit at Rest by John Updike. The detailed life and times of Updike’s American Everyman are, like America itself, inexhaustible.

The Once and Future King
by T.H. White. A marvellously eccentric fantasy about King Arthur, the Round Table, and the Matter of Britain that begins as a juvenile comedy and ends in tragedy and renewal. The death of Beaumont gets me every time. And no one does infodumps like White, who seems to know everything about Medieval Britain, which he remakes into a world that never was but should have been.

Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack. The fall of America, as told to her diary by a young girl. The best, and chronologically the first, of Womack’s Ambient sequence.

So, which books do you recommend?


Anonymous Sergey said...

"Pasquale's Angel" Paul McAuley
"Nova" Samuel Delany
"The Autumn of the Middle Ages" Johan Huyzinga (it's scientific book)
"Martian Chronicles" Ray Bradbury
"Khazarian Lexicon" Milorad Pavich
"The Island of the Day Before" Umberto Eco
short stories by Sheckley and Simak
"The Good Soldier Sweik" by Jaroslav Hasek
Stories and plays by Gogol (sorry, it's nearly impossible to translate them correctly and give lively, nearly phisical impressions from his texts)
"12 Chairs" and "Golden Calf" by Ilf and Petrov

February 24, 2011 8:19 pm  
Blogger Michael said...

Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
Dune, Frank Herbert
Count Zero, William Gibson
The Crow Road, Iain Banks
Any and all of the Flashman books, George MacDonald Fraser
Any of the Matt Scudder books, Lawrence Block
And Chandler. Any Chandler.

February 25, 2011 12:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strugatsky, Arkady and Boris - "Roadside Picnic"
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny - Yes!

February 25, 2011 10:44 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Declare, Tim Powers
The Horse's Mouth, Joyce Cary
Was, Geoff Ryman
A Passage to India, E.M. Foster
Ladies with Bright Eyes, Ford Maddox Ford
The House of Niccolò novels by Dorothy Dunnett

February 26, 2011 11:28 pm  
Anonymous Sergey said...

Yeah, I could agree - Zelazny
"Lord of Light", "Creatures of Light and Darkness", "9 princes in Amber".
I could add two books which I'm re-reading many times.
"History" by Herodotus. Though it was the first scientific work on history (and well-written) probably it was also the first magic realism/fantasy novel in European tradition.
"Geography" by Strabo.
The book is immence and its nearly impossible to read from the start to an end. It's picture of the world in times of Jesus Christ and even in that times the world was immence. Strabo's depictions of life in different cities and countries reminding of dreamquest landscapes by Lovecraft.
I opening "Georraphy" on different pages, starting to read and always founding something new and interesting.

February 27, 2011 11:21 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What,no Gene Wolfe? Got to have the Book of the New Sun on your list mi amigos.

February 27, 2011 11:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oddly, I'm reading Updike's Rabbit series right now.

I love them so much I'm - I kid you not - reading every page twice before moving on.

Suppose that counts as re reading.

March 02, 2011 7:34 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts