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Books That Changed Science Fiction

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I’m not much for best-of lists. But Lifehacker’s recent list of sci-fi caught my eye. The theme - books that changed sci-fi - is interesting in itself. Every entry also comes with a short description, including comments from reviewers or other writers. Like Ray Bradbury’s comment on Jules Verne:

"We are all, in one way, children of Jules Verne. His name never stops. At aerospace or NASA gatherings, Verne is the verb that moves us to space."

I miss a book or two on the list but otherwise it's quite comprehensible. Any particular titles you would add?

https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2018/11/17-science-fiction-books-that-forever-changed-the-genre/

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In terms of influence on SF roleplaying, Foundation rules supreme through its influence on Traveller, the seminal SF roleplaying game. The Imperium is very much modelled on the Empire in Foundation, and there are hints at psychohistorical interventions in the development of its history. It was also heavily influenced by the Dominic Flandry novels by Poul Anderson. Of course Heinlein, Niven and others get nods too but I think Asimov and Anderson were most influential.

Next is probably Gibson’s Neuromancer, which inspired the Cyberpunk, Shadowrun and many near future RPGs.

Then there’s Warhammer 40K with its undeniable influences from Dune. It’s like Dune seen through a medieval Catholic prism, projected into a multi thousand year long version of the 30 years war in space.

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1 hour ago, simonh said:

Then there’s Warhammer 40K with its undeniable influences from Dune. It’s like Dune seen through a medieval Catholic prism...

A-hem.  I'd reckon it's a distinctly Anglican lens focusing the Catholic prism that's refracting the Islamic/Buddhist source material.  It's definitely an act of cruel parody.

I was going to suggest The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but I see it's already on the list.  I'm not aware of it's influence on the development of any particular game titles (Paranoia, maybe?), but it certainly had a profound influence on my Traveller campaigns.  Little did I know the early cross-over influence it provided from Doctor Who.

How 'bout Stanislaw Lem?  The Cyberiad?  Short stories, and probably more influential in the background of later, more famous western authors.

!i!

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10 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

A-hem.  I'd reckon it's a distinctly Anglican lens focusing the Catholic prism that's refracting the Islamic/Buddhist source material.  It's definitely an act of cruel parody.

I was going to suggest The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but I see it's already on the list.  I'm not aware of it's influence on the development of any particular game titles (Paranoia, maybe?), but it certainly had a profound influence on my Traveller campaigns.  Little did I know the early cross-over influence it provided from Doctor Who.

How 'bout Stanislaw Lem?  The Cyberiad?  Short stories, and probably more influential in the background of later, more famous western authors.

Oh definitely deep into cruel parody territory, you're quite right to set me straight there.

I did veer off the specified brief. Lem certainly deserves a mention. I noticed that the original list only granted one book per author, but I think that underestimates the impact several authors have had so I've tried to rectify that a bit.

Solaris (Stanislaw Lem) - Cyberiad is a solid choice, but I'd lean this way in terms of influence.

The Time Machine (H G Wells) - How this doesn't get on a list of most influential SF is beyond me, but I suppose if you were to pick only one book for Wells it would have to be WOTW.

Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) - No story regarding artificial life, or even artificial intelligence can escape the influence of this classic.

I Robot (Isaac Asimov) - Two seminal books about artificial life / AI? Just the way it is I'm afraid.

 

Edited by simonh
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4 hours ago, simonh said:

Solaris (Stanislaw Lem) - Cyberiad is a solid choice, but I'd lean this way in terms of influence.

G'ah!  Talk about blind spots -- how did I look past Solaris for a book of short stories?  And if we're talking about "seminal works" that set the tone for a whole genre, Frankenstein and The Time Traveler both definitely belong on the list.

!i!

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Science fiction is a broad field and this list seems more "hard science" but some argument could be made to include ERB:  A Princess of Mars/Gods of Mars/Warlord of Mars.  I am having trouble remembering authors but "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", "Make Room, Make Room" and "Flowers for Algernon" are stories that were good and turned into some fine movies.  

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