Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Top 20 Geek Novels and Ilium

This morning, The Blotter had a link to the top 20 geek novels according to a poll at The Guardian. This is them (listed below). I haven't read the bolded novels, though I did try to read the "Illuminatus!" books at one point and failed, on the very first one, before I got to page 50. Pooteewheet loved them before we met, and although I found it within me to listen to Amy Grant for her sake, I couldn't manage this particular series. It helps that there are two dystopias in the top three on the list, and possibly five dystopias in the top six, depending on how strict your dystopic definition is (mine is strict), because that guarantees them a spot on my must-read list. Smartie, over at Power Liberal, talks about how happy he is that "Ender's Game" isn't on the list (a novel I didn't mind when I read it, but I hated absolutely everything related to it/that followed; so in the end, I ended up disliking it as well), and notes that he'd add Dan Simmons' "Hyperion", an extremely good book/series. I'd suggest to Smartie, that if he hasn't read Ilium, also by Dan Simmons, the first part of a duology (with "Olympos", the second part, which I haven't read yet - although my paperback of "Ilium" is even signed, which I didn't know when I bought it over at Uncle Hugo's), he should find himself a copy. I just finished it a few days ago and it is a great book. The storytelling is superb. The characterization, that leaves a little to be desired, but the inventiveness and comingling of Roman/Greek mythology with Shakespearian narrative, human and post-human storyline, half a dozen planets, and with autonomous extraplanar AI...just fascinating, albeit a bit dizzying. It reminded me in no small part of Heinlein's Number of the Beast. It could have been a bit shorter and still been as captivating (a nice way of saying he had lots of good ideas and coasted the last 100-200 pages instead of adding a lot that was new), but I enjoyed it front to back. As a side note, while reading "Ilium", I had this very strange feeling that the author's politics were perhaps a bit right of mine ("Hyperion" has its Catholic moments, to put it mildly) and poking around on the internet reveals that others have felt the same. I'll be interested to see if Mr. Mustard or Klund have that opinion. However, it's science fiction, and not racist/supremacist science fiction (which exists), so I feel fine giving him some leeway, politically speaking...because it's science fiction. Not all futures are Star Trek utopic happy (refer back to my statement about dystopias), and even if you're trying to make a point about current politics, the fact is it's still speculative. G.W. is certainly no Achilles - and I'm exaggerating there, by the way, that's not a parallel you get from the book.

1. The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams 85% (102)
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four -- George Orwell 79% (92)
3. Brave New World -- Aldous Huxley 69% (77)
4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? -- Philip Dick 64% (67)
5. Neuromancer -- William Gibson 59% (66)
6. Dune -- Frank Herbert 53% (54)
7. I, Robot -- Isaac Asimov 52% (54)
8. Foundation -- Isaac Asimov 47% (47)
9. The Colour of Magic -- Terry Pratchett 46% (46)
10. Microserfs -- Douglas Coupland 43% (44)
11. Snow Crash -- Neal Stephenson 37% (37)
12. Watchmen -- Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons 38% (37)
13. Cryptonomicon -- Neal Stephenson 36% (36)
14. Consider Phlebas -- Iain M Banks 34% (35)
15. Stranger in a Strange Land -- Robert Heinlein 33% (33)
16. The Man in the High Castle -- Philip K Dick 34% (32)
17. American Gods -- Neil Gaiman 31% (29)
18. The Diamond Age -- Neal Stephenson 27% (27)
19. The Illuminatus! Trilogy -- Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson 23% (21)
20. Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham 21% (19)

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