Dr. F’s List of Must-Read (or Watch) Science/Speculative Fiction

So, welcome to my very first blog post, ever.

I’m an assistant professor (developmental and behavioral genetics), and a voracious consumer of science fiction and other speculative fiction, both in book and televised form. I started this blog when a friend said, “You should publish this list, as in post to a blog or some such.” And because I have SO much extra time, I went, “‘kay”.

Below you can find the list in question. It’s the “good stuff”. Your mileage may vary, of course.

The name of the blog is a reference to one of the books on the list below – A Wrinkle In Time. Growing up, I wanted to be Meg Murray’s mom, and I’ve gotten pretty damned close. I don’t have a lab in my garage, yet, but I am storing lab supplies there. It’s just a short step to making dinner for my kids in the lab on the bunsen burner.

Future posts will be intermittent and varied in content. What I’m reading, watching, how I like it…posts about my kids and my lab (all identities of lablings cloaked for their protection)…let’s see how it goes.

The List:

Sheri S. Tepper: start with The Gate To Women’s Country or Grass

Madelaine L’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind In The Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Connie Willis: pretty much anything, but I particularly love To Say Nothing of The Dog, Doomsday Book, and Bellwether.

Nancy Kress: Beggars In Spain; also the short story collection Beaker’s Dozen

Anne McCaffrey: The Dragonriders of Pern trilogy, starting with Dragonflight

Kage Baker’s Company series: It begins with In The Garden of Iden, but I usually recommend that people start with the second one, Sky Coyote. The protagonist of Iden is…well, you need another novel to warm up to her, as she’s not likable in Iden. If you like Coyote, backtrack and read Iden before reading the rest of the series.

Octavia E. Butler: be warned, because, as my husband says, she’s like hard liquor. She’s grim, and was REALLY good at writing things that are worse than dying. That said, she was one of the best ever, if you can take it. I’d start with Kindred or the Xenogenesis series, and really only touch the Patternmaster stuff after getting your feet wet. Oh, and her vampire story (Fledgling, her last novel) is pretty good. A bit sunnier, oddly, than a lot of her other work.

Okay…in case you think I only read girls, the rest of the “must-reads”:

Orson Scott Card: Ender’s Game (absolutely required reading) and Speaker for the Dead. The rest of that series gets rather weird with the Mormon cosmology, so I’d stop there.

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: first, the novel they wrote together, Good Omens. Then, for Pratchett, any of the Discworld novels, and for Gaiman, American Gods.

Philip Pullman: The Golden Compass. The theme of this is really adult, for a young adult novel – the film did NOT do it justice.

Everything by Christopher Moore, but especially Lamb and, if it’s Christmas, The Stupidest Angel.

Cory Doctorow, Little Brother.

Oh, and lately I’m reading Mira Grant‘s Newsflesh Trilogy. Excellent post-postapocalyptic zombie novels, with a political conspiracy theme. If you’ve ever thought, “Why would the zombies win?” or “Why isn’t anyone immune?” these may be the novels for you.

Finally, a short word on television, expanded from what I told K:

Joss Whedon. Period, full stop. Everything he’s ever put on television (including Roseanne), plus Serenity and The Avengers.

Doctor Who, both the modern reboot and the 20-plus years of original series.

Sherlock Holmes (the new BBC production)

The Walking Dead (gruesome, really really gruesome)


The Big Bang Theory

Gilmore Girls, and, with the “it’s really new” proviso, Bunheads.

Anything touched by Aaron Sorkin. This includes The West Wing, but also Sports Night, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and, I’m guessing, The Newsroom.

Star Trek in all its incarnations (except, perhaps, “Enterprise“) goes without saying, right?



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3 responses to “Dr. F’s List of Must-Read (or Watch) Science/Speculative Fiction

  1. I LOVE The List… I would add a couple more… Ursula LeGuinn’s Earthsea series (the classic trilogy plus the new afterward novels), all Barbara Hamby, Katherine Kurtz’ Deryni Rising Trilogy (and all her stuff is good) but this trilogy deals with the marginalization of a people deemed not human… very applicable today. Hmmm, what else? I love Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover novels, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time Series (if it ever gets finished, posthumous sucks), Larry Niven, Andre Norton… aw… I should probably do a list, too.

    Keep ’em coming… and in my book “Spells of a Mortal’s Weaving”, I named the main character Meg… in honor of L’Engle’s heroine.

  2. Karen James

    Hurrah! So glad you did this. It just wasnt right to have this list all to myself.

  3. I just read a totally awesome SciFi-ish book “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. If you have geeky tendencies and grew up in the 80’s (even if you didn’t) this book was soooo much fun to read. Also anything I’ve read by Neal Stephenson has been great.

    I got turned off from Orson Scott Card when I learned he’s a big anti-gay activist and vehement opponent of gay marriage.

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