Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Introducing to the Genre

Scott Shaffer at SF Signal in a recent post raised the following question: what SF would you recommend to a non-reader? I have to say that I have read only 2 out of the 5 books listed and the two that I've read, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, are indeed good recommendations to non-genre readers. I've seen a number of people who don't usually read sci-fi or fantasy pick those up and enjoy them.

One book I've recommended with success is Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny. It was one of the books that introduced me to fantasy many years ago, it blends science fiction and fantasy nicely, it's quite short and the plot is fun.

A book I recommend to open-minded female acquaintances is Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey. It contains some fairly explicit adult content, but at the same time has the epic fantasy structure representative of many epic novels and some really good characters. I find it tends to appeal more to women though.

J.K. Rowling doesn't need me to sing her praises for Harry Potter books. But whenever I meet someone who still thinks these books are for children only, I try my best to persuade them to try the books out.

In heroic fantasy genre, Legend by David Gemmell is a great starter book. I consider Druss to be one of Gemmell's strongest characters and it's very difficult not to admire the main character by the end of the novel.

These are the books I recommend to friends who haven't read fantasy before. I specifically don't recommend Tolkien's Lord of the Rings despite it being one of the most popular fantasy classics because I find it's rather hard to get into at first.

What fantasy novels would you recommend to those new to the genre?


  1. The Dragonriders of Pern are a great start--I remember reading them in school one year, and wound up liking Menolly very much

  2. It's been so long since I've read that book I only remember the basic premise. But I do remember liking it as a teenager. I haven't seen a whole lot of MacCaffrey on the shelves lately, but according to wikipedia there are quite a few new books in the same universe as Pern and she's still publishing new books!

  3. I don't know about fantasy, but for scifi I would definitely recommend Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan (and the rest of the series, if they like it). Super interesting world with great characters, and really captivating and engaging writing.