22.7.17

10 Books to survive this strange reality (Part 1)

Special guest appearance by HolyCrap's monster!

In an attempt to escape from a world that gets weirder by the day, I've been reading science fiction.

So far I'm halfway through a 10-title SciFi reading list. There's a trashy quality to SciFi (starting with the covers of these supermarket editions!), partly because it's been a very white-male genre concerned about survival and dominance, or at least of the titles I've read so far...but thanks to a friend CT who has introduced Chinese Sci-Fi, I've just added 2 to the remaining to-read list.  

So not surprisingly, 2 of the more interesting titles I've gotten through are not by white-male writers. Le Guin's (white female) 70s novel gets quite didactic about capitalist-socialist ideologies, but it is also feminist and a great defender of the arts, as she is of the theoretical sciences. Delany's (black male) novel in the trip 60s has the usual environmental disaster/terrorist troubles boiling, but he has cast a female poet-linguist with an Asian name saving the world through language. 

What makes Sci-Fi interesting is also how much their dys/utopian visions are grounded in the times they are written in, and like all good fiction, the ideals and evils behind God-like aliens, androids, "cat-people", greedy corporations, foolish academics/bureaucrats, and oppressed inter-stellar settlers persist today. 

Of course, all this means that SciFi is often no escape from today's world at all! But the stories help frame our realities, and sometimes, they point to some new perspectives, even hope. 

So friends, I welcome more recommendations. And when I am done  reading all the titles (Part 2 of this post?), this self-style literature module on SciFi will be up for adoption!

1. Cat Country (1932), Lao She...yes, he of the TeaHouse fame.
2. Childhood's End (1953), Arthur C Clarke
3. Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), Robert Heinlein
4. Dune (1965), Frank Herbert
5. Babel 17 (1966) and Empire Star (1966), Samuel Delany
6. Do androids dream of electric sheep (1968), Philip K. Dick
7. The Gods Themselves (1972), Isaac Asimov
8. The Dispossessed (1974), Ursula Le Guin
9. Neuromancer (1984), William Gibson
10. The Three-Body Problem (2008), Liu Cixin

Bonus give-aways:
*American Gods (2001), Neil Gaiman
**Six lEasy Pieces: Essentials of Physics (1963), Richard P. Feynman

*OK, this one is not sci-fi, but it won the Hugo and Nebula awards. I realise I am so not a fan of Neil Gaiman so this is a bonus in my eventual give-away pack. 
**If you are, like me, a complete idiot in physics, then the physics mambo-jambo in some of the Sci-fi will more than bewilder you. Reading these 6 lectures won't make any of that stuff less fantastical, but it will equip you for basic party conversation with 10 year-olds on atoms, molecules and space travel.

No comments:

copyright ampulets 2005-2016