Recently, it has been brought to my attention that, despite my intense love for heavy metal, Joss Whedon, comics and science, I’m woefully ignorant when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy books. A cursory Google search reveals several dozen subgenres of sci-fi and fantasy exists accompanied by the inevitable fierce debates about the delineation between them. As with any system of classification, there is always the risk of oversimplifying or pigeon-holing something that might be better off without any clearly defined boundaries, but hey, a girl’s got to start somewhere.
To begin my journey, I’ll need some help. To start, I’ve picked up David Seed’s Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction. I’ve asked some friends for some recommendations which they have kindly and enthusiastically given. I’ve got about a half dozen “best of” lists but I would like more. If you were going to outline a course, introducing someone, say a novice like myself, to the realm of science fiction and fantasy books, which ones would you choose? What are the definitive books that define the genre or any one of the subgenres?
So, even though my dad more or less raised me on a steady diet of Tolkien, Star Trek and Led Zeppelin’s IV, it would seem I have a lot to learn about the genre. According to H. Bruce Franklin’s essay, Science Fiction: The Early History, the first recorded use of the term “science fiction” was in 1851:
“Science-Fiction, in which the revealed truths of Science may be given, interwoven with a pleasing story which may itself be poetical and true.” -William Wilson’s A Little Earnest Book upon a Great Old Subject
Franklin goes on to explain that regular old fiction is a reflection of what is or what has been, whereas fantasy is the impossible and science fiction is a reflection of what is possible. I’m not sure I entirely agree with him but I like where he’s going.
Heather Tripp still loves Led Zeppelin and Star Trek. A native Floridian, she dreams that one day someone in Cleveland will open a decent Cuban restaurant so she can eat there every day.