Science Fiction Friday – Know Your SF

By Richard C.

Set aside those simple lists online for the best SF and Fantasy. Useful, yes. Context, no. Much in these genres stem from common themes and traditions, which is great. But many defy and transcend those patterns, which is often even better. So what’s to help us zoom out on our usual reading threads and find some stories we’d love, if we only knew where to look? Definitely check out SPL staff picks for SF and Fantasy, but also give these a try:

Click here to view Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels, 1985-2010 in the SPL catalog

Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels, 1985-2010
You can love SF, have dozens of favorite authors/titles, and then still be overwhelmed with excitement finding new names and new corners to explore. This handy book helps you do just that. Entries are pleasantly short, but long enough to put authors and works into accessible context. I came across C.J. Cherryh, Peter Watts, and Nancy Kress – all familiar names, sure, but seeing how they fit into my tastes, now I know they’re worth my precious reading time. Check out the foreward by David Pringle author of a similar/older book that treats 1949-1984.

Click here to view Science Fiction Illustrated Encyclopedia in the SPL catalogScience Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia
Words are okay, but images can be better. I’m always trying to expand my knowledge and appreciation for our genres, and great for me were the pictures collected in this encyclopedia. One section covers the influential magazines that nurtured and flat-out made possible the SF genre as we know it: Amazing Stories, Galaxy, Analog, and many many more. Another section puts the publication in the context of historical events. How did urbanization, mass transportation, and nuclear bombs influence SF? Finally, for the Fantasy inclined, a very simlar and excellent book is The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy: The Definitive Illustrated Guide.

Some other great books to zoom you out include:

And finally, websites to help you branch out and fill in your SF and Fantasy experience abound. Some good ones are Fantasy Cafe,  Sci Fi Chick, io9, and Tor, but my latest personal favorite is a blog called Islam and Science Fiction. It’s easy to think SF for some is SF for all. Think again. Need convincing? Check out this entry called “Ethiopian Amharic Sci-Fi from 1945.”

This entry was posted in BOOKS, Nonfiction, Science Fiction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Science Fiction Friday – Know Your SF

  1. What a great link! I just picked up a Chinese award winning sci-fi book called the Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. I love seeing sci-fi from different culture’s perspectives. Great blog and great link! Thanks for sharing!


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