| Home Page | Download Database | Information for Genealogists | Some Danish History |
| Dictionary | My Ancestors | Photo Album | Ancestral Arms | Extracted Records, Articles, etc. | Guestbook |

My other Hobby: SF/F

Besides genealogy, my other hobby - of even longer standing, over 30 years - is an interest in Science Fiction (not Sci-Fi!) and Fantasy. In my (not so?) humble opinion, Sci-Fi is what idiotic, untalented hacks (mainly in Hollywood) looking to make easy money lob out at a gullible public; it is used in a pejorative sense by people outside the genre. I am fine with either Speculative Fiction or Fantastic Fiction as umbrella terms for both Science Fiction and Fantasy, as the main thrust of a SF novel may not necessarily be the scientific angle - be it the hard sciences (astronomy, cosmology, biology, physics) or the soft sciences (anthropology, linguistics, psychology, sociology) - but rather speculation on what the effects our uses of these sciences have on us as individuals. As a reader, novels that are limited to characterization and style alone (the current definition of Literary Fiction, a genre replete with tropes and strictures of its own) don't hold my interest. (And arguably Literary Fiction and Contemporary Realism are no less genres than SF/F.) That said, as a label Speculative Fiction is a redundant term; all fiction must speculate about something or another, or it isn't fiction. I believe that the best novels are those which balance creativity, imagination, fine writing and character development to tell a story which engages and transports the reader to another world while at the same time illuminating the human condition. For me, the trappings of Speculative/Fantastic Fiction can achieve this better than any other literary genre.

In general find myself echoing Jeanette Winterson's comment: "People say to me, 'so is The Stone Gods science fiction?' Well, it is fiction, and it has science in it, and it is set (mostly) in the future, but the labels are meaningless. I can't see the point of labelling a book like a pre-packed supermarket meal. There are books worth reading and books not worth reading. That's all." Of coarse, this could arguably be the case of a "mainstream" author who has appropriated the trappings of the genre and yet refuses to be considered to have written a sci-fi novel. Not to mention Margaret Atwood's bloviating about SF being about "talking squids in outer space" - even after having written 2 (now 4) SF novels herself.

I will end this screed with two quotes: The first from noted SF/F author Gene Wolfe: "What we normally consider the mainstream — so called realistic fiction — is a small literary genre, fairly recent in origin, which is likely to be relatively short lived. It's a matter of whether you're content to focus on everyday events or whether you want to try to encompass the entire universe. If you go back to the literature written in ancient Greece or Rome, or during the Middle Ages and much of the Renaissance, you'll see writers trying to write not just about everything that exists but about everything that could exist." And the second from Catherynne M. Valente: "Realism is a restrictive genre with strict rules and conventions - it's fantasy that's free."

I have read upwards of a thousand SF/F novels. As is the case with other genres (and for that matter, the world in general), ninety percent of what is produced by SF/F authors range from at best mediocre hackwork, to just out and out garbage. The following is a list of recommended books (hey, if The Guardian and The New Yorker can do it - not to mention every other blogger - then so can I!) that provided shear wondrous entertainment; books that pleased, excited, thrilled, challenged or shook me enough that to this very day I have not forgotten them. Excellent resources for Speculative Fiction books can be found at Fantastic Fiction Bibliographies , and SFE - The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. A source for hard to find used books is AbeBooks. Also, links to free Science Fiction & Fantasy stories can be found at Free Speculative Fiction Online.

Recommended SF/F Reading List

Brian Aldiss: The Long Afternoon of Earth (1961) [aka Hothouse]

Poul Anderson: Tau Zero (1970)

Lucius Apuleius: The Golden Ass (circa 160) [aka Metamorphosis]

Eleanor Arnason: A Woman of the Iron People (omnibus, 1991), Ring of Swords (1993), Tomb of the Fathers (2010), Hwarhath Stories: Transgressive Tales by Aliens (collection, 2016)

Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)

Paolo Bacigalupi: Pump Six and Other Stories (collection, 2008), The Windup Girl (2009)

J. G. Ballard: Vermillion Sands (collection, 1971)

Iain Banks: Walking on Glass (1985), The Bridge (1986), The Player of Games (1988), Use of Weapons (1990), Feersum Endjinn (1994)

Jeffrey E. Barlough: The House in the High Wood (2001), Strange Cargo (2004)

Greg Bear: The Wind from a Burning Woman (collection, 1983), Queen of Angels (1990)

Chris Beckett: The Holy Machine (2004), Marcher (2008)

Alfred Bester: The Demolished Man (1951), The Stars My Destination (1956) [aka Tiger! Tiger!]

K. J. Bishop: The Etched City (2004)

James Blish: Cities in Flight (omnibus, 1970)

Richard Bowes: Warchild (1986), Goblin Market (1988), From the Files of the Time Rangers (2005)

Leigh Brackett: Sea-Kings of Mars: and Otherworldly Stories (collection, 2005)

Ray Bradbury: The Martian Chronicles (collection, 1950)

John Brunner: Stand on Zanzibar (1968)

Emma Bull: War for the Oaks (1987), Bone Dance (1991)

C. J. Cherryh: The Pride of Chanur (1981)

Ted Chiang: Stories of Your Life: And Others (collection, 2002)

Robert Chilson: As the Curtain Falls (1974)

Arthur C. Clarke: Childhood's End (1953), Earthlight (1955)

Dana Copithorne: The Steam Magnate (2006)

John Crowley: The Deep (1975), Engine Summer (1979)

Gordon W. Dahlquist: The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters (2006), The Dark Volume (2008), Chemickal Marriage (2012)

Tony Daniel: Metaplanetary (2001), Superluminal (2004)

Arsen Darnay: The Karma Affair (1979)

Samuel R. Delany: The Jewels of Aptor (1962), Babel-17 (1966), Aye, and Gomorrah: and Other Stories (collection, 1967), Nova (1968), Driftglass: Ten Tales of Speculative Fiction (collection, 1971), Tales of Nevèrÿon (collection, 1975), Triton (1976), Neveryóna (1983), Stars in My Pocket like Grains of Sand (1984), Bridge of Lost Desire (1987) [aka Return to Nevèrÿon]

Bradley Denton: Wrack and Roll (1986), Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede (1991)

Philip K. Dick: The Man in the High Castle (1962), Ubik (1969)

Thomas M. Disch: 334 (1972), On Wings of Song (1979)

Candas Jane Dorsey: Black Wine (1997)

George Alec Effinger: When Gravity Fails (1986), A Fire in the Sun (1989), The Exile Kiss (1991)

Andreas Eschbach: The Carpet Makers (2005) [aka Die Haarteppichknüpfer (1995)]

Philip J. Farmer: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971)

Timothy Findley: Not Wanted on the Voyage (1985)

M. A. Foster: The Warriors of Dawn (1975), The Gameplayers of Zan (1977), The Day of the Klesh (1979), Waves (1980), The Morphodite (1981), Transformer (1983), Preserver (1985)

Valerie J. Freireich: Testament (1994), Becoming Human (1995)

Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere (1996)

Richard Garfinkle: Celestial Matters (1997), All of an Instant (2000), Wayland's Principia (2009)

Randall Garrett: Too Many Magicians (1966), Murder and Magic (1979), Lord Darcy Investigates (1981)

Jane Gaskell: Strange Evil (1957), The Serpent (1963), Atlan (1965), The City (1966)

Mary Gentle: Rats and Gargoyles (1990)

Mark Geston: Lords of the Starship (1967), Out of the Mouth of the Dragon (1969)

William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984)

Felix Gilman: Thunderer (2007), Gears of the City (2008), The Half-Made World (2010), The Rise of Ransom City (2012), The Revolutions: A Novel (2014)

Lisa Goldstein: A Mask for the General (1987)

Richard Grant: Saraband of Lost Time (1985), Rumors of Spring (1986), Views from the Oldest House (1989), Through the Heart (1991)

Jon Courtenay Grimwood: Pashazade (2001), Effendi (2002), Felaheen (2003)

Joe Haldeman: The Forever War (1974)

Elizabeth Hand: Winterlong (1990), Aestival Tide (1992)

Charles Harness: Flight into Yesterday (1953) [aka The Paradox Men], The Rose (collection, 1966), The Ring of Ritornel (1968), Wolfhead (1978), Firebird (1980), Redworld (1986)

M. John Harrison: The Pastel City (1971)

Robert Heinlein: The Puppet Masters (1951), Assignment in Eternity (collection, 1953), The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (collection, 1959), The Fantasies of Robert Heinlein (collection, 1986)

Frank Herbert: Dune (1965), Dune Messiah (1969), Children of Dune (1976), Heretics of Dune (1984), Chapterhouse Dune (1987)

P. C. Hodgell: God Stalk (1982), Dark of the Moon (1985), Seeker’s Mask (1994), To Ride a Rathorn (2006), Bound in Blood (2010)

Cecelia Holland: Floating Worlds (1975)

Gerard Daniel Houarner: Black Orchids from Aum (collection, 2001)

Matthew Hughes: Majestrum (2007), The Spiral Labyrinth (2008), Hespira (2009)

Alexander C. Irvine: A Scattering of Jades (2002)

Alexander Jablokov: Carve the Sky (1991), A Deeper Sea (1992), The Breath of Suspension (collection, 1994), Deepdrive (1998), Brain Thief (2010)

Jan Lars Jensen: Shiva 3000 (2001)

K. W. Jeter: The Glass Hammer (1985), Infernal Devices (1987), Farewell Horizontal (1989)

Gwyneth A. Jones: White Queen (1991), North Wind (1994), Phoenix Cafe (1997), The Buonarotti Quartet (collection, 2009)

C. M. Kornbluth: The Space Merchants [with Frederik Pohl] (1952)

Nicole Korner-Stace: Desideria (2008)

Tanith Lee: Don’t Bite the Sun (1976), The Storm Lord (1976), Drinking Sapphire Wine (1977), Night’s Master (1978), Death’s Master (1978), Sabella (1980), Day by Night (1980), Delusion’s Master (1981), Anackire (1983), Delirium’s Mistress (1986), Night’s Sorceries (collection, 1987), The White Serpant (1988), Dark Dance (1992), Personal Darkness (1993), Darkness, I (1994), The Secret Books of Paradys (omnibus, 2006)

Ursula K. Le Guin: A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), Left Hand of Darkness (1969), The Tombs of Atuan (1971), The Farthest Shore (1972), The Dispossessed (1974), Orsinian Tales (collection, 1975), The Winds Twelve Quarters (collection, 1975), Tehanu (1990), Four Ways to Forgiveness (collection, 1995), The Other Wind (2001), The Birthday of the World: and Other Stories (collection, 2002)

Fritz Leiber: The Big Time (1957), The Change War (collection, 1978)

Jonathan Lethem: Gun, with Occasional Music (1994)

Elizabeth Lynn: A Different Light (1978)

Ian McDonald: Desolation Road (1988), Empire Dreams (collection, 1988), King of Morning, Queen of Day (collection, 1991), Ares Express (2001)

Maureen McHugh: China Mountain Zhang (1992)

Patricia A. McKillip: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (1974), The Riddle-Master of Hed (1976), Heir of Sea and Fire (1977), Harpist in the Wind (1979), Ombria in Shadow (2002)

Ian R. MacLeod: Breathmoss and Other Exhalations (collection, 2004)

Ken MacLeod: The Cassini Division (1998)

Lisa Mason: Summer of Love (1994), The Golden Nineties (1995), Imperium without End (1998), Pangaea (1999), Imperium Afire (1999)

China Miéville: Perdido Street Station (2000), The Scar (2001)

Stephen Mitchell [as translator]: Gilgamesh: A New English Version (2006)

Naomi Mitchison: Travel Light (1952), Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962)

Walter M. Miller, Jr.: A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959)

Michael Moorcock: Gloriana, or the Unfulfilled Queen (1978)

C. L. Moore: Judgement Night (collection, 1952), Shambleau (collection, 1953)

Howard L. Myers: Cloud Chamber (1977)

Garth Nix: Sabriel (1995), Lirael (2001), Abhorsen (2003)

Rebecca Ore: Becoming Alien (1988), Being Alien (1989), Human to Human (1990), Alien Bootlegger: and Other Stories (collection, 1993), Slow Funeral (1994), Gaia’s Toys (1995), Time’s Child (2007), Centuries Ago and Very Fast (2009), Time and Robbery (2012)

George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Edgar Pangborn: A Mirror for Observers (1954)

Alexei Panshin: Rite of Passage (1968)

Paul Park: Soldiers of Paradise (1987), Sugar Rain (1989), The Cult of Loving Kindness (1991)

Mervyn Peake: Titus Groan (1946)

Holly Phillips: The Burning Girl (2007), The Engine's Child (2008)

Doris Piserchia: Star Rider (1974), A Billion Days of Earth (1976), Spaceling (1979)

Frederik Pohl: The Space Merchants [with C. M. Kornbluth] (1952), Gateway (1977)

Rachel Pollack: Golden Vanity (1980)

Tim Powers: The Anubis Gates (1983)

Philip Pullman: The Golden Compass (1995), The Subtle Knife (1997), The Amber Spyglass (1999)

Adam Roberts: Yellow Blue Tibia (2009)

Keith Roberts: Pavane (1968)

Michaela Roessner: Walkabout Woman (1988)

Joanna Russ: Picnic on Paradise (1968), The Female Man (1975), The Two of Them (1978), Extra(Ordinary) People (collection, 1984)

Geoff Ryman: The Warrior Who Carried Life (1980), The Unconquered Country (1986), The Child Garden (1989), Air (2004)

Sarban [John William Wall]: The Sound of His Horn (1952)

James H. Schmitz: The Agent of Vega (collection, 1960), A Tale of Two Clocks (1962), The Universe Against Her (1964), A Nice Day for Screaming (collection, 1965), The Witches of Karres (1966), The Lion Game (1973), The Telzey Toy (collection, 1973)

Ekaterina Sedia: The Alchemy of Stone (2008)

Ali Shaw: The Girl with Glass Feet (2009)

Clifford D. Simak: Way Station (1963)

Dan Simmons: Hyperion (1989), The Fall of Hyperion (1990)

Cordwainer Smith: Norstrilia (1975), The Best of Cordwainer Smith (collection, 1975), The Instrumentality of Mankind (collection, 1979), The Rediscovery of Man (collection, 1988)

Bruce Sterling: Involution Ocean (1977), Schismatrix (1985), Crystal Express (collection, 1989)

Sean Stewart: Resurrection Man (1995), The Night Watch (1997), Mockingbird (1998), Galveston (2000), Perfect Circle (2004)

James Stoddard: The High House (1998), The False House (1999)

Tricia Sullivan: Someone to Watch Over Me (1997)

Michael Swanwick: Vacuum Flowers (1987), Stations of the Tide (1991)

Lavie Tidhar: Central Station (2016)

James Tiptree, Jr.: Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home (collection, 1973), Warm Worlds and Otherwise (collection, 1975)

Jeffrey Thomas: Punktown (collection, 2000), Monstrocity (2003), Everybody Scream! (2004), Deadstock (2007), Health Agent (2008)

Jack Vance: The Dying Earth (1950), The Eyes of the Overworld (1966)

Catherynne M. Valente: The Labyrinth (2004), Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams (2005), The Grass-Cutting Sword (2006), In the Night Garden (2006), In the Cities of Coin and Spice (2007), The Habitation of the Blessed (2010), The Folded World (2011), Radiance (2015)

Jean-Christophe Valtat: Aurorarama (2010)

Jeff VanderMeer: Veniss Underground (2003), Secret Life (collection, 2006), Shriek: An Afterword (2006), Finch (2009)

John Varley: The Ophiuchi Hotline (1977), The Barbie Murders: and Other Stories (collection, 1980 )[aka Picnic on Nearside], Blue Champagne (collection, 1986)

Gore Vidal: A Search for the King (1950), Two Sisters (1970), Creation (1981), Duluth (1983), Live from Golgotha (1992)

Joan D. Vinge: The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978), The Snowqueen (1980)

Vernor Vinge: A Fire Upon the Deep (1991)

H. G. Wells: The Sleeper Awakes (1899)

Liz Williams: Banner of Souls (2004), Snake Agent (2005), The Demon and the City (2006), Precious Dragon (2007), Shadow Pavilion (2009)

Walter Jon Williams: The Crown Jewels (1987), House of Shards (1988), Rock of Ages (1995), Metropolitan (1995), City on Fire (1996)

Gene Wolfe: The Shadow of the Torturer (1980), The Claw of the Conciliator (1980), The Sword of the Lictor (1981), The Citadel of the Autarch (1982), Soldier of the Mist (1986)

Roger Zelazny: This Immortal (1966), Lord of Light (1967), Creatures of Light and Darkness (1969)

As A Reward For Those Who Have Made It This Far:

My Most Overrated SF/F List

Margaret Atwood: Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009)

Iain Banks: Consider Phlebas (1987)

Greg Bear: Moving Mars (1993)

James Blish: A Case of Conscience (1959)

David Brin: Startide Rising (1983), The Uplift War (1987), Kiln People (2002)

Lois McMaster Bujold: The Warrior's Apprentice (1986), The Vor Game (1990)

Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game (1985)

John Crowley: Little, Big (1981)

Michael Flynn: Eifelheim (2006)

Max Frei: The Stranger (2009)

William Gibson: Pattern Recognition (2002)

Robert Heinlein: Starship Troopers (1959), Stranger in a Strange Land )1961), The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966), Time Enough for Love (1973)

Robin Hobb: Assassin's Apprentice (1995)

Kazuo Ishiguro: Never let Me Go (2005)

Guy Gavriel Kay: The Summer Tree (1984)

Nancy Kress: Beggars in Spain (1991)

C. S. Lewis: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)

Yann Martel: The Life of Pi (2001)

George R. R. Martin: A Game of Thrones (1996)

Ian McDonald: River of Gods (2004)

China Miéville: The Iron Council (2004)

David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (2004)

James Morrow: Towing Jehovah (1993)

Paul Park: A Princess of Roumania (2006)

Anne Rice: Interview with the Vampire (1976)

Kim Stanley Robinson: Red Mars (1993), Green Mars (1994), Blue Mars (1997), The Years of Rice and Salt (2003)

Justina Robson: Natural History (2003)

Robert J. Sawyer: Hominids (2002), WWW: Wake (2009)

Dan Simmons: Endymion (1995), The Rise of Endymion (1997)

Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash (1992)

Charles Stross: Singularity Sky (2003)

J. R. R. Tolkien: Lord of the Rings (1954-55)

John Varley: Titan (1979), Wizard (1979), Demon (1984), Steel Beach (1992), The Golden Globe (1998)

Vernor Vinge: Rainbows End (2006)

Connie Willis: Doomsday Book (1992), Bellwether (1996)

NerdTests.com says I'm an Uber Cool Light-Weight Nerd. Click below to take the Nerd Test!

Contact me at: Norman Lee Madsen, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

| Home Page | Download Database | Information for Genealogists | Some Danish History |
| Dictionary | My Ancestors | Photo Album | Ancestral Arms | Extracted Records, Articles, etc. | Guestbook |