10 Books Every New Sci-Fi Reader Should Read

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I was asked the other day by a reader where someone should start with sci-fi. There’s a lot of good books out there, but these are 10 which can give you a nice smattering of what sci-fi is. I didn’t include fantasy, but there’s a couple of books which skirt the line of fantasy from a sci-fi perspective. They’re mostly classics, they;’re not necessarily my top 10 favorite books, but each and every one of these is worth the read and especially for newer readers will paint a nice picture.

They’re not in a particular order, so I hope you enjoy.

Robert Heinlein – The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress 

An easy classic. Heinlein has to be on the list and this is his best book by far. Moon is rebelling against the Earth, doesn’t want to be governed from a far, and wants a more open society with libertarian leanings cuz they’ve learned from past mistakes.

Anne McCaffrey – Dragonflight 

The Dragonriders of Pern is very interesting. It’s fantasy on the surface but it has underpinnings of sci-fi as people on dragonback fight off spores that fall from the sky called “thread.” Very interesting stuff and the series as a whole is a wonderful world.

Lois McMaster Bujold – The Warrior’s Apprentice

This entire series is gold. Here, Miles Vorkosigan starts as a failed military cadet due to physical flaws as it looks like it’s going into a military sci-fi series, but each book is so different, has cool sci-fi concepts. Miles ends up being like a scrawny James Bond with the intellect of Sherlock Holmes as he progresses through the series. I can’t pick one in the series really that’s better than the series as a whole, but this is a good one because its’ the first Miles character adventure.

Edgar Rice Burroughs – A Princess Of Mars

The John Carter series really defines manly adventure. He goes from situation to situation in a cool world that’s out of control cool.

Frank Herbert – Dune

Dune is really the epic fantasy in space. It’s your Game of Thrones but better as you delve into the world of Arakis and the geopolitics of the entire universe here. It’s so big it’s impossible to really describe in a couple of sentences, but it’s one of the best books ever written.

Ensign Flandry – Poul Anderson

I wasn’t sure which book of Poul’s to put on here because there’s so many excellent concepts, but from a fun perspective, starting with Flandry won’t steer you wrong. Earth’s empire is in decay, and it’s being accelerated by an enemy called the Mersians who are just picking at the outer fringes. Flandry needs to put a stop to a plot of theirs to take over a world wtih intelligent life.

Spider Robinson – Stardance 

This is an underrated classic I can’t believe doesn’t get more attention. A dance troupe is formed who wants to perform zero-G dance and start a new art form, aliens take notice. The character depth and the attention to detail on how dance in space would actually work makes this novel one of the best out there.

Douglas Adams – Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

One you probably heard of. Zany sci-fi concepts to make you LOL all the way through. This is humor all the way as Earth has been declared a demolition zone for galactic imminent domain.

Jack Vance – The Dying Earth

Technically a series of short stories, this book really has a crazy beautiful world. The sun’s exhausted, everything’s falling apart, just the attention to the setting across these stories is incredible.

Ray Bradbury – The Martian Chronicles

This is another fix up of short stories which flow together that show man’s colonization of Mars. It’s got a nice mix of action/adventure with the “science problem” style fiction so it’s enjoyable on a lot of levels and because it’s a bunch of shorts, you get a nice smattering of different stories.

And if you already like sci-fi, this list, or just want to try out something new, you can get my book Make Science Fiction Fun Again. I wrote a book of short stories that are all over the map in sci-fi, so there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy, but with a focus on FUN and WONDER like the old books listed above. Grab it on Amazon.


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10 thoughts on “10 Books Every New Sci-Fi Reader Should Read

  1. Honestly, Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny should be on that list as well. As there are a couple there I have read, I’d probably pull one of those two.

    If you haven’t read it, Lord of Light is about a far flung future where humans have colonized another world. The original leaders of the colonists had psychic powers (which were aided by machinery) and one the world had been tamed, they decided they liked being powerful and declared themselves gods and ruled harshly, keeping everyone else living in a non-technological world.

    Sam, also one of the original leaders goes against this, and starts a personal war that lasts hundreds of years against them. They keep winning, he keeps losing, they keep killing him.

    But he keeps coming back and trying again. And again. And again. It’s really a classic story.

  2. You’ve been in my facebook friends recommended list for a while now so I clicked on it to see wtf was up…cool beans man. Anyway, really just wanted to tell you that if you already didn’t know, your name breaks down into de la arroz and reminds me of de la arrow…which with enough imagination, could be a comic. I’m sending a request to add you as a friend if you will have me and have space on your list. Chao.

  3. Oh and one more comment, actually a question….did I see you on Jimmy Kimmel or am I just thinking that you look a lot like cousin Sal or whatever his name is?


  4. So I guess keeping the number of women authors down to a traditional 1/5th is why you left out Ursula Le Guin’s and Connie Willis’s classic works, eh?

    • Connie Willis? Who the hell is Connie Willis? She’s by no means a ‘classic’ or even ‘famous’ scifi writer. She’s not even close to the others on the list.

      I can understand leaving out Ursula, while she has written a lot of great books, she’s not for everyone her appeal is a bit more narrow. I’m rather surprised that you didn’t protest that Andre Norton wasn’t in the list.

  5. List is fine – but … seriously: I read _and liked_ all of the Pern books and stories by Anne McCaffrey but they are IN NO WAY sci-fi. Not even as “skirt the line of fantasy from a sci-fi perspective”.

    I would have added something from Niven – any of his collections of short stories – and Vernor Vinge. But that’s just me. Like I said, your list of Science Fiction AND FANTASY is fine.

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