Science Fiction, Spaceships, Alternative Worlds, Aliens, Conspiracy, Cyberpunk, Supernatural, Futures, Alternative history, ‘Weird’, Horror…




BANKS, Iain M.   

Use of Weapons (Culture series)  1990

Brilliant style, mood, climax: stinging best of an excellent series


CARD, Orson Scott   

Ender’s Game (Book 1 of the Ender saga)      1985

Classic, clever taut plot, powerful convincing brutal narrative





ADAMS, Douglas 

The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (A Trilogy in Four Parts) 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984     Humour/SF

A must read/listen to


Life, The Universe and Everything (The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 3)    1982

Clever, funny, original, post-modern themes


Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency 1987    Humour/SF

P.G. Wodehouse meets Dr. Who: a complete pleasure


ANDERSON, Poul     

My Object All Sublime     1961    Short Story/SF

In ‘The Giant Book of Science Fiction Stories’

Killer twist


CLARKE, Arthur C.   

Childhood's End        1953



LEWIS, C.S.   

Voyage to Venus (or Perelandra)      1943

Christian insights in imagined dialogue with contemporary unfallen Eve





ASIMOV, Isaac    

Second Foundation   1964

Dramatically the best of the series


BANKS, Iain (Iain M. for SF) 

The Algebraist            2004

      Banks is very good


DOZOIS, Gardner (Ed.)   

The Year's Best Science Fiction, Ninth Annual Collection 1991    SF/Short Stories

Best of 1991. Consistently good


HARRISON, Harry     

A Stainless Steel Rat is Born      1985

Excellent prequel to the consistent humorous series


LE GUIN, Ursula K.   

Semley's Necklace (in ‘The Wind’s Twelve Quarters’)     1964    Short Story/Fantasy/SF

Wonderful evocation of a fantasy legend somehow effectively incorporating SF elements


The Left Hand of Darkness    1969

Manages a rare gravity and dignity


ROBINSON, Kim Stanley      

Red Mars 1992

Impressive epic of colonisation of Mars – depth in characters, setting and plot



Gray Lensman           1951    SF

Politically/socially juvenile, but fantastic scope and originality





ADAMS, Douglas 

The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul      1988

Somewhat surreal second ‘Dirk Gently’ novel


Mostly Harmless  1992    Humour/SF

Enjoyable hotchpotch of action, humour, SF satire and post-modern philosophy


ASIMOV, Isaac    

Foundation     (Book 1 of the Foundation trilogy) 1951    

A decent idea competently realised, if a bit repetitive


BANKS, Iain M.

The Player of Games (Culture series)      1989

Typically sophisticated and striking ‘Culture’ novel


Feersum Endjinn (Culture series-ish) 1994

Potentially great book (ride, ideas, characters) reduced to very good by plot


BEAR, Greg   

Blood Music   1985

Genetic thriller apocalypse odyssey



The Day it Rained Forever    1959

Richer moods than the usual SF single idea short stories


CARD, Orson Scott   

The Speaker for the Dead      (Book 2 of the Ender saga)      1986

Flawed overpopulated sequel, but some great lines given to the Speaker


Seventh Son (The Tales of Alvin Maker 1)     1987

Messianic child magic in US pioneering alternative history


Prentice Alvin (The Tales of Alvin Maker 3)    1989

Magical/messianic Alvin moves into manhood. Series back on track


The Memory of Earth (Volume 1 of Homecoming)    1992    SF

Intriguing deep future saturated in Old Testament flavour, characters and dilemmas



Gate of Ivrel (Book 1 of The Chronicles of Morgaine) 1976

1st of the dark, compelling, morally tortured ‘Morgaine’ series


Well of Ishiuan (Book 2 of The Chronicles of Morgaine)        1978

2nd of the dark, compelling, morally tortured ‘Morgaine’ series


Fires of Azeroth (Book 3 of The Chronicles of Morgaine) 1979

3rd of the dark, compelling, morally tortured ‘Morgaine’ series


Cukoo’s Egg  1985

Unusually tight (for Cherryh) story of a human raised in a demanding alien discipline


DOYLE, Arthur Conan          

The Lost World    1912

The unforgettable Professor Challenger finds living dinosaurs!


The Poison Belt   1913

Classic SF model – a short story based around a daunting ‘what if’


FFORDE, Jasper

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next, Book 1)  2001    SF/Humour/Crime

As good as, worse and better than Adams or Pratchett


The Big Over Easy     2005    SF/Humour/Crime

Another enjoyable excursion


GIBSON, William 

Neuromancer  1984

Groundbreaking cyberpunk, wild ride, ultimately shallow characters


HARRISON, Harry     

The Stainless Steel Rat   1961

Classic likeable master-thief in comic but workable SF environment 


The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge 1970

Enjoyable James Bond/Pimpernel farce in space ships


The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World     1972

Enjoyable James Bond/Pimpernel farce in space ships


Stainless Steel Visions   1994

Ranging between action, humour, comment – pretty consistent


Galactic Dreams 1994

Ranging between action, humour, comment – pretty consistent



Dune   1965

Original. Grand



Wool   2013    SF/Action

Unapologetically formulaic, but cohesive and engaging


HUXLEY, Aldous 

Brave New World       1932

Disturbingly relevant extrapolation to a dystopic ultimately permissive society 


KRESS, Nancy    

Crossfire   2003    SF

Old school SF without the wafer thin characters


LEWIS, C.S.   

Out of the Silent Planet   1938

Characters personify philosophical viewpoints in a classically Wellsian setting


That Hideous Strength    1945

Lewis incorporates his love of Christianity, renaissance angelic conceits and Merlin in SF conspiracy novel



The Lurker at the Threshold 1968    Short Stories/Horror/SF

Original. Not ‘boo!’ horror, but creeping suspicion that there’s something much bigger than humanity out there


MARTIN, George R. R.

Tuf Voyaging 1978-1985 SF/Short Stories

Some flaws, but one good thriller and a couple of fascinating themes


MAY, Julian

The Many Coloured Land (Book 1 of the Saga of the Exiles)      1981

Wonderfully original and potent opener to ultimately disappointing series


McINTYRE, Vonda N.

The Moon and the Sun    1997    Historical Fiction/SF

Cleverly evoked ‘What If’ SF/French court romance hybrid. Condescending historical revisionism



Eyewall     1991    SF/Short Story

(in The Giant Book of Fantastic SF; Ed. Gardner Dozios)

Able development of a scientific idea into a story


SIMMONS, Dan         

Hyperion   1989

Space Opera Canterbury Tales


Ilium    2003    SF

Starts pretentious, but becomes potent, epic and thrilling


STURGEON, Theodore

The Dreaming Jewels            1950    SF/Novella

Mixed treasure: sometimes soars, but climax descends into cliché


VINGE, Vernor     

A Fire Upon the Deep      1992

Very impressive ideas. Much of the ‘ride’ a bit dark/frustrating



The First Men in the Moon    1901

Ripping yarn, good characters, robust alien culture, integrated thought-provoking issues


WILLIAMS, Walter Jon    

Prayers on the Wind 1991

(in The Giant Book of Fantastic SF; Ed. Gardner Dozios)

Capable dramatic yarn in a largely Hindu syncretic future


WILLIS, Connie

Doomsday Book 1992    SF / Historical Fiction

Two concurrent storylines: one mired in triviality and stereotype; the other powerful and affecting


To Say Nothing of the Dog    1997    SF / Humour

Light comic SF. Usable Wodehouse characters and settings around passable Dr Who premise



The Day of the Triffids    1951    SF

Nothing like the monster/horror ride I was expecting: intelligent, thought-provoking post-apocalyptic issues


Consider Her Ways and Other Stories   1956    SF (Weird)/Short Stories

Able ‘weird’ tales around slips in time or parallel universe


ZELAZNY, Roger       

A Night in the Lonesome October    1993    Fantasy/SF/Juvenile (and adult)

Charming, able – ‘light’ horror?




ALDISS, Brian     

Helliconia Spring (Part 1 of the Helliconia trilogy)     1983

Two sentient pre-industrial species wax and wane with eon long seasons


Helliconia Summer (Part 2 of the Helliconia trilogy)   1985

Two sentient pre-industrial species wax and wane with eon long seasons


Helliconia Winter (Part 3 of the Helliconia trilogy) 1989

Conclusion to epic series: odd slide into technologically advanced human interference



The Gnole 1991

Inconsistent Pastoral/Supernatural/Conspiracy fantasy


ASIMOV, Isaac    

The Early Asimov, Volume 2 1940s

Definitive magazine SF, individual stories around a novel idea


I, Robot     1950

Average characters and dialogue flesh out novel dilemmas from the ‘three laws’ of his anthropomorphic robots


Foundation and Empire  1962

More episodes in the galactic history of peoples guided by a statistical seer


AUEL, Jean M.    

The Clan of the Cave Bear    1980

Epic around a Homo sapiens heroine raised by Neanderthals


BANKS, Iain M.

Consider Phlebas (Culture series)     1987

Great start, impressive mythos, laboured & silly final third


Inversions (Culture series)     1998

Clever structure but less compelling than usual


BEAR, Greg

War Dogs       2014

Dispatches style ground-view narration of Space Marine on old-school SF Mars battlefield only about a century ahead


CARD, Orson Scott   

Red Prophet (The Tales of Alvin Maker 2)      1988

Fairly surreal US magical alternative history


The Folk of the Fringe     1990

Post nuclear WWIII US Mormons survive like early settlers


Pathfinder (Book 1)    2005   

Promising opening premise and characters, but descends into silliness and transcriptions of discussions of draft ideas



Hunter of Worlds  1976

Moral dilemmas involving aliens and action


The Faded Sun: Shon’jir 1978

Human interaction with the last of a proud, ruthless species


The Pride of Chanur   1981

A spaceship captain discovers a new species during an uneasy peace


Serpent’s Reach   1981

A surviving noble seeks revenge through alliance with an intelligent ant-like race


CLARKE, Arthur C.   

2001 A Space Odyssey    1968

An interesting foil to the movie (it’s based on the screenplay)


Imperial Earth 1977

I don’t recall much but I must have liked it enough to keep it


DICK, Phillip K.   

The Simulacra      1964

This guy had six impossible ideas before breakfast...,


DOYLE, Arthur Conan          

When the World Screamed          1928

Professor Challenger in an oddly Gaia setting


The Disintegration Machine        1929

Striking spin on how far scientists are responsible for the application of their research


FFORDE, Jasper

Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next, Book 2)          2006    SF/Humour

Funny, original, but poor plot and villains


GREENBERG, Martin H. (Ed.)    

The Giant Book of Science Fiction Stories  1986    SF/Short Stories

101 1950s-70s magazine SF stories



The Evolutionary Void     2010     SF

Some great ideas better as short story 'what ifs'; juvenile dialogue and perspective 


HARRISON, Harry and HOLM, John

King and Emperor (The Hammer and the Cross – Book 3)   1996

Alternative history set in 800s, plays with anachronistic technology and grail theories


LEE, Tanith    

The Silver Metal Lover    1982

Teen romance in a Blade Runner-ish setting


LE GUIN, Ursula K.

April in Paris (in ‘The Wind’s Twelve Quarters’)   1962    Short Story/SF

Competent early Le Guin magazine time travel ‘what if’; understandably (and unusually) twee


NAYLOR, Doug   

Last Human (Red Dwarf series)    1995    Humour/SF

OK if you’re in the right (undemanding) mood


NIVEN, Larry  

The Flight of the Horse   1974    SF/Fantasy/Short Stories

Pretty average pulp apart from the enjoyable ‘Glass Dagger’


RODDA, Emily          

Finders Keepers   1990    Juvenile/SF

OK theme, ideas, execution


TILLEY, Patrick         

Cloud Warrior (The Amtrak Wars: Book 1)          1983    SF

      Boy’s own conflict between post apocalyptic pioneering/marine US, Amerindian and samurai Japan style cultures


First Family (The Amtrak Wars: Book 2)  1985    SF

      Boy’s own conflict between post apocalyptic pioneering/marine US, Amerindian and samurai Japan style cultures


Iron Master (The Amtrak Wars: Book 3)   1987    SF

      Boy’s own conflict between post apocalyptic pioneering/marine US, Amerindian and samurai Japan style cultures


VANCE, Jack 

The Dying Earth   1950    SF/Fantasy

      Future magic more than spaceships


The Star King (Demon Princes, Book 1)   1964    SF

      Too long ago, can’t remember


Araminta Station (The Cadwal Chronicles, Book 1)   1988    SF

      Nice mythos, original (if arrogant) characters, some punch



Murder on the Thirty-first Floor  Crime / SF - Dystopia 

Unengagingly dry narration of bland urban dystopia within standard crime framework


WEBER, David    

On Basilisk Station    1993    SF (Military)

Right wing colonial future war story



Damnation Alley  1967    SF

Post nuclear WWIII US action movie road trip. Usable mood/action, romanticised bikie hero, ending inconsistent with imagined world


ZINDELL, David        

The Broken God (Book 1 of A Requiem for Homo Sapiens)  1993   

Impressively original and grand ideas but ultimately absurd hubris





ANDERSON, Poul     

Ensign Flandry     1966    SF

OK SF action, but a bit childish with a dodgy political subtext



Quicker than the Eye       1996    SF/Short Stories

Sentimental, indulgent, average


FFORDE, Jasper

The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next, Book 3)  2003    SF/Humour

Has Thursday Next jumped the shark?


KING, Steven       

The Gunslinger    1982/2003(Revised)           SF/Fantasy

Impressive façade


LAWHEAD, Stephen

Dream Thief   1983

Heavily influenced by Lewis’ Christian fiction and Asimov’s settings and cardboard characters


NATION, Terry & HOYLE, Trevor     

Blake’s 7   1977

Awful cashing-in novelisation of TV show (at times bad enough to be good)


POHL, Frederik    

Outnumbering the Dead  1990

Relatively shallow future utopia




VANCE, Jack 

Ports of Call   1998    SF

Pretentious expression, light comic prurience and violence


WOLFE, Gene     

Soldier of the Mist     1986

Unusual, based around several interesting ideas but rarely gripping




ASIMOV, Isaac    

Foundation and Earth     1986

Overlong self-indulgent immature money-spinner



Blind Faith      2007    SF/Novel

1984 template to hypocritically vilify facebook and religion 



Dune Messiah      1969

Disappointing sequel. Supposedly wise characters uninspiring. Random action, rambling dialogue.



Frankenstein 1816    SF

Great concept, tedious, shallow execution


SIMMONS, Dan         

Phases of Gravity      1989

Promising much, ultimately delivering pap





and Baxter, Stephen

The Long Earth    2012   

Very little Pratchett here. Moderately workable idea of parallel earths, but ill-disciplined pace – long, uninspired tangents





BOVA, Ben    

Moonwar   1998

Immature sloppy gratuitous SF thriller



Rusalka     1989

Frustratingly boring (and finally just boring) novel of indecision


Tripoint     1994

Melodramatic bilge, characters we’re supposed to respect are pathetic


RANKIN, Robert        

Armageddon the Musical      1991    Humour/SF

Poor, seedy, charmless Pratchett copy





Space Marine       1993    SF (Military)

Ultra SF violence with a veneer of philosophy





ELWOOD, Roger 

Angelwalk       1988

Clumsy ignorant self-satisfied middle-American nominal bigotry