In honor of something or other, The Guardian recently posted a wicked list of science fiction recommendations from some of the genre’s best writers.

The list is pretty great. Each author recommends a book with a pretty healthy blurb, and as long as the world doesn’t end on Saturday (a thoroughly vetted theory currently wreaking havoc on the world view of the ninth-graders I work with here in Philadelphia) I suggest snagging a few of these for some summer reading. If, however, the world does end on Saturday, you might be better of buying a bow and arrow and burying it in or your back yard. (Tho gathering the following recommendations in a heap and setting them on fire for warmth if also a good first step. If you are in need of instruction, please refer to Margaret Atwood’s recommendation – Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 – which provides the reader with several strategies to accomplish just this.)

The list includes suggestions from some real giants – China Miéville, Ursula K Le Guin, William Gibson, Margaret Atwood, and Michael Moorcock, to name a few – as well as several lesser known and up and coming authors. Her are a few selections that caught my eye:

China Miéville on HG Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau:
This short, merciless novel of a vivisectionist’s efforts to remake beasts as humans is a shattering text. A peerless piece of science fictional horror, saturated with wrongness all the more powerful for its cold prose, it doesn’t evoke so much as demand visceral, social, philosophical dread.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood on John M Harrison’s Light:
Light is the kind of novel other writers read and think: “Why don’t I just give up and go home?” That was certainly my first reaction on reading its mix of coldly perfect prose and attractively twisted insanity. It’s also the only book to bring me unpleasantly close to sympathising [sic! j/k] with a serial killer. But this is M John Harrison: so antihero Michael Kearney is a mathematically brilliant, dice-throwing, reality-changing hyper-intelligent serial killer haunted by a horse-skulled personal demon.

And Christopher Priest on the plot of JG Ballard’s The Voices of Time:
An imminent global disaster is seen from the viewpoint of a group of sleep-addicted scientists, slowly going mad in a desert installation surrounded by salt lakes, where genetic experiments have bred mutant animals to resist the radiated atmosphere. Meanwhile, a countdown to the end of the universe has begun, a suicidal madman engraves a mandala on the floor of an emptied swimming pool, a sleep-deprived astronomer cruises the dunes in a white Packard saloon, a raven-haired temptress named Coma plays the men off against each other. Somehow it all seems to make crazy and brilliant sense. I have read the story a dozen times, never actually understood it, but also have never failed to draw inspiration and encouragement from Ballard’s pellucid writing and the amazing and surreal images.

It’s a big list and well worth a read before your next trip to a bookstore.

IN OTHER BREAKING NERDY NEWS: Slashfilm reports that production on the film adaptation of William Gibson’s Neuromancer has finally entered pre-production. Tho this current attempt to bring Gibson’s cyberpunk masterpiece to the screen, helmed by Splice director Vincenzo Natali, seems to have gathered some steam steam, but don’t hold your breath. That said, a press release states that effects work has begun – no doubt rendering the celestial doobies smoked by the Rastafarian space-tug captains – so maybe this one will pant out before the Singularity (but probably not before the world ends on Saturday).


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