Noah Smith's SF book recommendations

tachyon

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We've done the list thing a bunch of times on this forum. I haven't been terribly impressed by the lists generated by popularity metrics, (as represented by the goodreads "most popular" lists.) Other lists we've discussed have been chosen by committee (Amazon's top 100) or dedicated book reviewers or enthusiastic bloggers.

They purport to be "Best Of" or "Must Read" and typically contain a few of the usual classics and a lot of very popular stuff you'd be hard pressed to avoid if you keep up with the genre at all.

Here's a list, published today, by a public figure in US political and economics commentary, Noah Smith. It's a list of favorites, not a "Best Of", and I have to say it's my favorite of such lists to date. Probably not to everyone's taste but it aligns very well with mine.


There isn't a lot going on in the comment section of the blog post above, but there's some good discussion in the twitter thread where he announced the post:


The major point I draw from the discussion is that it's a list of his top recommendations, not meant to be comprehensive ("No Gene Wolfe?" "I haven't read Wolfe."; "No Dune?" "It's just not one of my top faves")

By my count there are 50 items listed (some books, some series) in 2 groups. The first 30 include a brief description and the following 20 do not.

I've read 13 of the first group, 6 of the second for a total of 19. I'm counting a series in this if I've finished even one book (I haven't read all 800 or whatever Vorkosigan books!)

I wholeheartedly agree with his recommendation for all 19, which comes as both a surprise to me, and as an indication that the rest of the recommendations are probably good! Of the other 31, there are many authors I have read and like, the inclusion of their unread books on this list bumps these up on my TBR pile.

I was surprised to find several books I'd never heard of by authors who I otherwise know and have read. (Sterling, Vance). And pleased to find books and authors I'd never heard of and will be very happy to investigate.

It's a good list!
 

AE35Unit

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Interesting. I thought Hyperion was fantasy!
And of the two PKD books there I'd swap out with Flow My Tears the Policeman Said. The only PKD book I've enjoyed so far.
1984, read that last year, didn't enjoy it once it got to the denouement, such as it was.
 

hitmouse

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Never heard of him, but he picks the Cadwal Chronicles in his afterlist, out of all the better known Jack Vance. Good man.
 

tachyon

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Never heard of him, but he picks the Cadwal Chronicles in his afterlist, out of all the better known Jack Vance. Good man.

Yes! These are the Vance books I was previously unacquainted with. I'm eager to investigate.

Has anyone tried Metaplanetary by Tony Daniel?

This is one of the authors I'd never heard of before. As he mentions in the blurb, it's the most obscure item in the list. I'll be looking it up eventually and would also be curious if anyone here has read this.
 

hitmouse

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Yes! These are the Vance books I was previously unacquainted with. I'm eager to investigate.



This is one of the authors I'd never heard of before. As he mentions in the blurb, it's the most obscure item in the list. I'll be looking it up eventually and would also be curious if anyone here has read this.
I am a big Vance fan. Araminta Station, the first of the Cadwal books, is probably my favourite Vance, and one if my favourite sf novels.
 

hitmouse

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Picked up Metaplanetary for £2.99 on Kindle. The first chapter is promising. Lots of big ideas, the future of the universe being discussed in an intergalactic diner, and a cleric named Cardinal Filmbuff.
 
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