20210120-Book Nook sci fi
Support local! The Back Alley Book Nook in Athabasca, Alberta, is just one store across Canada with a solid sci-fi shelf that includes some of the listed titles. (Nathan Loitz)

Your words: Readers’ top science fiction suggestions

SkyNews readers answer the call to share their favourite science fiction titles.

If you’re like many SkyNews fans, as COVID-19 lockdowns continue across most of Canada, you’re probably looking for something good to read.

In my January/February 2021 column, I asked readers to send in the titles of their favourite science fiction books and series to share with those looking to expand their repertoires this winter. Here’s what they suggested.

David Falkayn series (Poul Anderson)
I, Robot (Isaac Asimov)
Foundation Series (Isaac Asimov)
Oryx and Crake (Margaret Attwood)
The Stars My Destination (Alfred Bester)
Monkey Planet (Pierre Boule — the film version is Planet of the Apes)
The Grand Tour (Ben Bova)
Rissa Kerguelen series (F. M. Busby)
Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
Downbelow Station (C. J. Cherryh)
Merchanter’s Luck (C. J. Cherryh)
Remembrance of Earth’s Past (Liu Cixin)
Childhood’s End (Arthur C. Clarke)
A Space Odyssey (Arthur C. Clarke)
Diadem series (Jo Clayton)
In the Company of Others (Julie E. Czerneda)
Expendable (James Alan Gardner)
The Left Hand of Darkness (Ursula K. Le Guin)
The Forever War (Joe Haldeman)
The Last Canadian (William C. Heine)
The Dune trilogy (Frank Herbert)
The Black Cloud (Fred Hoyle)
Valor’s Choice (Tanya Huff)
Warchild (Karin Lowachee)
The Speed of Dark (Elizabeth Moon)
The Heechee Saga (Frederik Pohl)
The Long Earth (Terry Pratchett)
The Mars trilogy (Kim Stanley Robinson)
Aurora (Kim Stanley Robinson)
Golden Fleece and Starplex (Robert J. Sawyer)
Lockstep (Karl Schroeder)
Seveneves (Neal Stephenson)
This Insubstantial Pageant (Kate Story)
Cat series: Prion, Catspaw, Dreamfall (Joan D. Vinge)
Blindsight (Peter Watts, available for free on the author’s website)
Bios and Spin (Robert Charles Wilson)
A Scientific Romance (Ronald Wright)
Darkover series (Marion Zimmer Bradley)

Here’s some commentary about the books from the readers who suggested them.

One of the best sci-fi series is the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. There are three books: Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars. All with wonderful characters and an epic storyline about the colonization and terraforming of Mars.

— Andrea Girones

For Canadian content, there is Tanya Huff’s Valor series, set in a far future environment of many civilizations, conflict and politics told from the point of view of one central character. Valor’s Choice is the first, a story of a diplomatic mission sideswiped by local politics and a bit of sabotage into a major battle that can’t be won by military action alone. The later books go in their own direction, drawing on the same cast of characters.

— Laura Lee Life

“Foundation Series” by Isaac Asimov. Originally the Foundation Trilogy, it eventually expanded to seven books, and referenced other works by the author.

— Ian McKenzie

I have so many I can’t even begin. The first one that launched to mind was Terry Pratchett ‘s The Long Earth. Stunning! I actually listened to the audio book, my preferred way of acquiring knowledge. I’m looking forward to your list!

— Kelly Ann Mulholland

You asked in a recent editorial for some favourite SF stories. I read a lot of SF, primarily when I was younger. Of course, there are the classics which many people will mention:

Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood’s End
Isaac Asimov, Foundation trilogy

More recent “classics” would be:

Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game
Kim Stanley Robinson, the Mars trilogy
Frank Herbert, the Dune trilogy

Some lesser knowns I’d like to mention are:

Pierre Boule, Monkey Planet (film version: Planet of the Apes)
Joe Haldeman, The Forever War
Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination

— Rick Scholes

I, too, am a big Miles Vorkosigan series fan! Actually, I sighed when I saw you mention all those old, tired titles like the Foundation series and Dune. Where were Aurora, Seveneves, and Remembrance of Earth’s Past (the Three-Body Problem trilogy)? The latter was a bit of a slog at first, but WOW — the concepts were amazing!

I also highly recommend the Heechee Saga (starting with Gateway) by Frederik Pohl, Ben Bova’s Solar System books, and my guilty pleasure are all the Jack Chalker novels, which all feature body modification or switched identities.

Also — I REALLY enjoyed A Scientific Romance by Ronald Wright, and I remember rather liking Margaret Attwood’s Oryx and Crake.

— Chris Vaughan

I also added one more book to the list, for anyone who’s lucky enough to find it — The Last Canadian, written by former London Free Press editor-in-chief William C. Heine.

Thank you to the SkyNews readers who provided suggestions: Eric Choi, Andrea Girones, Laura Lee Life, Ian McKenzie, Kelly Ann Mulholland, Walt Sepic, Rick Scholes, Sheila Soulier and Chris Vaughan.