Nasa / Space

Is there any all-ages 'gateway' science-fiction out there?


Member JoetheJet asked this question in the discussion thread of one of my Geek Trivia columns:

"I think my 14 year old son would like these (science fiction) types of books, but I don't think he's ever read one. Do you have a recommendation of the 'best' one to start with?"

Since we were talking about Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein in the article, I suggested Foundation, Rendezvous with Rama, and Stranger in a Strange Land, respectively. I was politely chided for suggesting Stranger to a 14-year-old, because there is a certain amount of "free love" content in it (though nothing I would consider gratuitous, especially by current standards). Then again, I'm not the parent of a 14-year-old boy, so I'm by no means qualified to judge.

This got me thinking about a similar issue that my Jedi Master, science fiction author John Scalzi, brought up almost a year ago: There's plenty of "starter" fantasy out there with mass-market appeal and all-ages reach, but there's precious little starter sci-fi. You're almost obligated to go all the way back to the Heinlein juveniles--Rocket Ship Galileo being seminal--to get a kid started on science fiction, and you almost always end up pointing an adult initiate at one of the Big Three authors I mentioned above--who haven't written major original work in decades (what with two of them being off the mortal coil). And no, Variable Star doesn't count. To quote Master Scalzi:

"The best SF book of 2005, in my opinion, is Charlie Stross' Accelerando -- more mind-busting ideas there per square inch than any other book this year, and on the off chance Old Man's War gets nominated for any awards this year, I shall be pleased to have my book lose to Charlie's. That being said, and as I've said before, Accelerando is for the faithful, not the uninitiated -- and if you look at the significant SF books of the last several years, there aren't very many you could give to the uninitiated reader; they all pretty much implicitly or explicitly assume you've been keeping up with the genre, because the writers themselves have. ... This means SF is always inventing new vocabularies of expression, which is good, but it also means the latest, hottest vocabularies are not ones that, say, my voraciously-reading but resolutely middle-of-the-road mother-in-law has any hope of understanding. It's math to her. Which is bad."

So, back to the top of this issue, how would you answer JoetheJet's question? Is there any way to get a bright, interested 14-year-old boy started with science fiction without going all the way back to the post-World War II Golden Age juveniles? Is there a way to get an adult started on sci-fi lit without tossing a 30-year-old Asimov, Niven, or Heinlein his or her way? Scalzi's readership says there is, with Neal Stephenson's name coming up in the adult initiate category quite often. I'd love to hear what the Geekenders think. I'll save my responses for last.

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Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

65 comments
Kansan52
Kansan52

If humor and light would help, try any of the Yard Dog Press Bubba books. A virus has killed everyone except Yuppies and Bubbas. The Yumbies (zombie Yuppies) try to get the Bubbas who are immune because they put BBQ sauce on everything. The do have a Children's YA section that includes Stories That Won't Make Your Parents Hurl. Well written and fun! (And no, I don't work for them. Just have a lot of their books.)

cary.ellis
cary.ellis

I have been reading SF and Fantasy books since I was a teenager. Now that my youngest son is nearly through HS, I still read them. Now when I am finished with a good read, I pass it along to him. He read this earlier this year, and although he is a few years older than 14, one of his favorite books ever is "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" as mentioned by previous posters. He also really liked (and some of my favorits books too) the "Rendevous with Rama" books. We have read all of them. But the one that got me started when I was about 14 was "Splinter of the Mind's Eye" by Alan Dean Foster. The book has familiar characters, an engaging story and no overly "adult" themes. Right after this I launched into "Dune" and have been SF reading ever since. One of my favorites is really a crossover between SF and Fantasy -- Stephen King's Gunslinger series. But it really does deal with some adult topics. However, I did let my kids read them when they were in HS, and they really liked the series - in fact is the only series my older son has ever finished. I think for a young reader, Philip Dick is too hard to undersand, with his use of older-style language. In fact, most "classics" are difficult for younger readers to get through because the style of speaking/writing has changed in the past 30 years. I also would recommend staying away from Piers Anthony (excellent authoer, but probably too much for a "gateway"), and Nivens Ringworld books (also little much for a "gateway" book). And, unless they are already a Star Trek/Star Wars fan, they probably simply won't want to read related books. As far as fantasy - which has really fueled my love of reading, for a 14 year old, I would recommend anything by Terry Brooks (which I still read), Tolkien, McCaffrey, the Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, anything by Richard Adams, and The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.

Sanders400
Sanders400

I think you may be correct that 'Stranger' is a bit advanced for a 14 year old. I would suggest 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' and/or 'The Door Into Summer' first. Then just about any Asimov, Simek, even some Spider Robinson could be fun for a teenager... Fantasy (sort of) I would definitely suggest Zelazny's Amber.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

[i]Tunnel in the Sky[/i] hooked me early. It was a good read second time around last year. etu

Witchfinder
Witchfinder

I'd probably suggest "Ender's Game." For a slightly more mature 14-year-old, how about the "Eisenhorn" trilogy? It's also worth looking at the classics, like H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.

derwil
derwil

I find the SciFi of the 1950's and 60's would be a good introduction to the genre. I still watch them even now.

jc@dshs
jc@dshs

I know it's going back to the old masters (and I don't see anything wrong with that, they were MASTERS of their craft after all) but as a teenager I always found Clifford Simak very easy to read and, if I remeber correctly, there was little or no gratuitous sex or violence in sight. Even now, as a mid-forty year old I still go back and read his works with a fond remembering.

halecki
halecki

I recently read Red Thunder by John Varley. It could be called "Rocket Galileo - the rewrite". The reading was easy, the story line very Heinlein-esque. A good read over all.

Kiltie
Kiltie

Would be a good start for a 14 year old. Such as E.E. 'Doc' Smith, Space Rangers, while bland to us adults, is great stuff for a kid. Once he gets used to the concepts, I would agree with just about everyones suggestions here. Douglas Adams for humour, 2001 for breaking ground. The list can be endless. Also note that the definition between SF and Fantasy is blurred, so I would also recommend Piers Anthonys Xanth series, while not SF, is hugely entertaining, and would be a good stepping stone into both genres. However some of his stuff can be OTT for a kid, the BIO of a Space Tyrant series for example, I would not recommend. In the middle comes his Cluster/Thousandstar group. Indeed, once he finds a good author, that he likes, why not read everything that author has written? Sort of thing I tend to do :D

Ian Lewis
Ian Lewis

I've read an awful lot of sci-fi and looking back I reckon that starting with John Wyndham is worth a shot. Most of the stories have a fifties Britain setting but the style is clear and readable. The Chrysalids is about a group of children and so has a good resonance for a teenager. Chocky is also about a child who finds a friend, from another world. The Midwich Cuckoos, more children but rather scary ones at that. Can't ignore The Kraken Wakes or Day of the Triffids either for a more grown up thread. I'd avoid suggesting Heinlein, his writing is appealing to some but doesn't stand up to analysis. Once you get to reactionary and elitist you're finished. Douglas Adams' books are great. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has plenty of Sci Fi going on and lots of laughs. My view on Science Fiction is that some of it is really 'social fiction' where the author is commenting, possibly subversively, on their own time. Projecting into the future is an excellent dramatic device. Philip K. Dick wrote 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' which is quite accessible to a teenager, I think. Arthur C Clarke wrote plenty for young people. I've just done a search on Amazon in the Teens section for Science fiction and high on the list are collections and anthologies which are brilliant for introductions to lots of authors. Happy hunting...

longwayoff
longwayoff

Ok so Norton's Star Traders series is 30 years old, it's still a dandy. Bujold's Warrior's Apprentice - the kid's 17 Cherryh's series with Precursor, Invader etc - alien minds Ringo's March Upcountry etc - curing the brat All good for the young person

blakeb
blakeb

This is the book that got me hooked on SciFi - albeit 30 years ago... Darn, I'm old.

valeron
valeron

Any good sci-fi to start with? Is there any good Sci-fi these days?? I was introduced to Sci-fi by the Grand Master, Isaac Asimov. In my opinion, he is the easiest of the author's to begin with, and the fact that his stories go back decades is mostly irrelevant. His stories still grab attention today. Space Opera, Sci-fantasy, and the convoluted plots of most modern Sci-fi are just too heady for me to consider them as suitable for most initiates into the genre. There are still collections of Asimov's short stories available which will grab the attention and serve as an appetiser for more fullfilling material as the reader matures.

mark.fretwell
mark.fretwell

asimov, heinlein & niven were pretty much my staple diet too - of course that was 20 years ago! there was also E E 'doc' Smith's Lensman series - classic 'boys own' space opera - or harry harrison's Stainless Steel Rat series for something with a bit more humour then there's Douglas Adams of course, for many people the only 'si-fi' book they've ever read or for something with a bit more literary sophistication try john wyndham's books which are all teenager friendly I would think (I think we read the chrysalids in English lessons at around that age!) to a large extent it depends what he already likes, if he's not much of a reader to begin with then starting him with something short and humourous is probably best. If he already reads a lot then pick a genre he likes and use that to ease him over, for example if he likes 'war' stories then pournelle's Falkenberg books or dickson's Dorsai series should provide a way in, if he likes fantasy then try Anne McCaffrey's Pern books (hey, they've got dragons in it!) which get more science-y as you work through the series Sure, none of this stuff is really up-to-the-minute but does that matter? Once he gets over the idea that it's ok to like si-fi he's got plenty to choose from these days and can work up to the newer stuff soon enough....

Soulman918
Soulman918

Personally, I started with the classics... Star Wars and Star Trek. One summer while in High School I discovered a decology called "Invasion Earth". I was hooked! It is not so sci-fi that it will lose an Adult and just enough to get a young reader into it. I found the series to be very amusing as well. The whole premise of the series is that a race of aliens has a schedule to take over the universe planet by planet. The Earth is part of that schedule but factions want to keep Earth a secret to strip it of resources for themselves. L Ron Hubbards other Sci-fi book was very well done as well (Battlefield Earth). Other then those, I really enjoyed Piers Anthony's "Bio of a Space Tyrant" (Five books in the series).

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

For an already accomplished reader, almost any of the titles/authors already mentioned would be good starters, although I'd stick with John Carter of Mars, Bradbury or Silverberg for preteens. For an occasional reader, I'd suggest they start with either Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker series or H. Beam Piper's Fuzzy series - [i]Little Fuzzy[/i], [i]Fuzzy Sapiens[/i], and [i]Fuzzies and Other People[/i]. The Fuzzy series is both fun and easy to read. The books have a good sense of humor and present simple explanations of future technology without requiring that you have an engineering degree to understand it. Throw in Space Marines and a mystery or two and you've got books almost any teenager with an imagination will enjoy.

dpal
dpal

Try this one I encourage you. It is about kids and a really good read for anyone who is an adult or child. characters are good story is good and it is just a piece of all around quality science fiction. My teen read it and read the sequel too.

rmorain
rmorain

My son is 17 now & has been reading this series for several years now. The only downside is that the only place I can find them is on Amazon.com. My son is not a real big reader but he really likes these books.

SQL_Joe
SQL_Joe

I think the Honor Harrington series by David Webber would be a very good introduction for a 14 year old. Its not the best out there, but its not very complex and what 14 year old doesn't like space battles? My own introduction was Heinlein "Have Space Suit Will Travel". Niven's "Mote in God's Eye" might be a good start also. Also, the "Ensign Flandry" series is a great one for a teenager. George

twhipkey
twhipkey

Jules Verne I got hooked on reading sci-fi at age 12 or 13 by reading Verne. I think it was the only sci-fi in the school library.

drace
drace

Most of what was termed fiction back in the days when rockets had fins and landed pointy bit up and space suits had clear balloons for helmets has happened in one way or another. The only thing missing are the LGM (Little green men). It looks like WE are the LGM.. As a starter book I would recommend an anthology of science fiction and there are a few of these. The stories will be varied and thats what hooked me, the sheer variety. Something will fire his imagination. Now where did I leave my light saber...

BFilmFan
BFilmFan

I will recommend the following, even if they all are not typical science fiction: Lovecraft Good stories, scary monsters, absolutely nothing sexual. Edgar Allen Poe Old school, but good reading. Madeleine L'Engle The Time Quartet starring the Murry and O'Keefe families. A Wrinkle in Time A Wind in the Door Many Waters A Swiftly Tilting Planet Diane Suan An excellent series on young wizards dealing with very seriosu issues, such as the heat death of the universe and how that all started... So You Want To Be a Wizard Deep Wizadry High Wizadry A Wizard Abroad The Wizard's Dilemma A Wizard Alone Wizard's Holiday Wizards at War J.K. Rowling The Harry Potter series is very interesting. J. R. R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings might be a bit dense for some, but should be read to understand the roots of fantasy. T H White King Arthur's story The Once and Future King

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Anne McCaffery - Pegasus Series, Tower and Hive Series, Brain and Brawn series - Ship that Sings, City that Fought, etc. heinlein - Methusalah's Children, Time Enough for Love, Friday. Almost any Niven Dream Park, Descent of Anansi Almost anything from Asimov, try the Space Ranger series first for the younger ones. For the real young Janet and Isaac Asimov's Norby the Mixed up Robot series - look under Janet Asimov in the children's section. If into combat David Weber Honor Harrington - try On Basilisk Station and Worlds of Honor http://www.baen.com/ they even allow you to try some electronic versions free at http://www.baen.com/library/defaultTitles.htm Hope that helps a bit.

neilb
neilb

wouldn't be my recommendations. What you need for "entry level" for kids or adults is not anything that is a series. You want one good "gripping" book to get him or her started - much as happened with me years ago with "Mission of Gravity" by Hal Clement. I'll have a think. Some classics come to mind: Niven - with or without Pournelle - for Lucifer's Hammer, Oath of Fealty, Mote in God's Eye(obviously), Ringworld (doubly so). Lucifer's Hammer for could happen tomorrow, Oath of Fealty for could happen soon and the others for some good aliens. Dune. Probably not "gateway" but if they can't get into this then they're a lost cause. I would suggest "Moon is a Harsh Mistress" for Heinlein, "Childhoods End" for Clarke and just about any of Asimov. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Better by far than the film. And, something fewer years old than most above but I would say is a good yarn is British Author Peter F Hamilton for Mindstar Rising. Nice believeable technology and a good thriller plot. Does help, though, if you've been to Rutland. :) Neil :D

gsquared
gsquared

There are shelves full of Star Wars and Star Trek books that are mostly light reading (I see them mainly as the Sci Fi equivalent of trashy romances). They might be a good intro. It's kind of hard to find members of western civilization who haven't at least heard of Star Wars, so it has the "not too horribly unfamiliar" thing going for it. As for getting new people into Sci Fi, I always start new people on Niven. If they aren't into the hard sciences, then Lucifer's Hammer or Protector will usually give them a feel for good Sci Fi writing. If they are into the hard sciences, then Ringworld or Neutron Star. If they like mysteries, the Gil the ARM stories are a great place to start. If they like military fiction, then I might have them hit Pournell first. If they like horror, then Legacy of Heorot is a great starter. For some, I'd suggest the Honor Harrington stories, if they like the naval flavor, but it's not as good as Niven (in my not so humble opinion). Good, but not as good. For a teen, the Beowulf Schafer stories (I think I just misspelled his name) are great starting points. For a younger child, it's gotta be Heinlein or Asimov. I, Robot, Starship Gallileo, that kind of thing.

Bill Ward
Bill Ward

Darn it Jay, Niven was going to be my new suggestion as a Gateway SF (with apologies to Fred Pohl, of course!) for a young or new SF reader. Ringworld might be a little much, though. However, you got me thinking, and there ARE more recent "Pulp" SF stories out there that would do VERY well. In particular (to go Geeky) some of the Battletech Pulp serial fiction is especially strong. I'd recommend some of the early Battletech stuff, such as the Grey Death Legion series or the Heirs of Kerensky series. However, that's an area where it's assumed you like Mecha, and the books tend to have Combat action. While easy reads, and entertaining, they are aimed at Battletech fans in particular. Better than that (and more accessable) would be some of the Star Trek pulps. No 14 year old who has even a mild interest in SF would be totally unfamiliar with Star Trek in one or another of it's incarnations, so the milieu and even some of the "Hard" tech would be familiar and accessable. Best of all... there is NO kid (and I mean ZERO) in the US who isn't at least passingly familiar with another great modern Pulp SF franchise. It has the disadvantage of being Fantasy set in a psuedo Science Fiction cloak, and it's "Space Opera" at both it's best and worst, but one or another of the better Star Wars novels is probably the quickest route... just find THE BEST one. From there, it's only a few short hops before the kid will be reading Neuromancer.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I read a couple of years ago the original ending had Poddy dying in the explosion. The final chapter was first person from her brother's point of view. The editors had Heinlein rewrite it and lighten it up.

DelbertPGH
DelbertPGH

Nobody wrote with the flair, comfort, and grace of Simak. The guy just had style that was so easy to like, as well as a good imagination.

steve
steve

I have fond memories of reading and endlessly re-reading Doc Smith books at fourteen. Lensman, Skylark and Vortex series. They led me on to Asimov and the rest was history. I recall also some young SF from Andre Norton that I found quite compelling at that time.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...he's going to be the Guest of Honor at the local sci-fi con I help staff (half of the convention committee plays in my RPG campaign). The sad part is, I'm actually more excited about our second author guest, Allen Steele. His "Coyote" series is a personal favorite. I guess that shows *my* age. If anybody wants in on the fun, here's the Web site. http://www.conglomeration.org

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Lots. so much if you start now you'll never run out. There's a good deal of crap as well. I wouldn't recommend much of what I enjoy now a as starter for kids, but I'm not one.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

now that is a good book. The Kraken Wakes is another good one. AE Van Vogt's Null-A series ! Still readable as well. 'Doc' smith is a bit dated now, both socially and as science. I remember it very fondly from when tv's still had valves in though and relativity still wasn't in the public eye.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Awful, absolutely awful. Pseudo science, limp characters, no insight, nothing new, just an all around bad start. If you want Piers Anthony, then Battle Circle is the only thing he's ever wrote worth reading.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The First Men in the Moon, The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Island of Dr Moreau. All classics, although possibly too much for a younger reader.

Bill Ward
Bill Ward

I'm not sure I'd consider ANY of these other than A Wrinkle in Time and it's sequels to be SF; great, great reading (and worthy of being read by an SF fan) but not SF. Even A Wrinkle in Time may not be "SF" enough... though I LOVE the explanation for Tunnelling, Hypercubes, and Tesseracts.

SlappyMcnasty
SlappyMcnasty

This is where I cut my teeth, but I was probably closer to 11-12 range. Nice series to get to know the characters.

merrid
merrid

No-one has mentioned L E Modesitt Jr - The Parafaith War might be a good place to start. Also David Brin's Uplift series should appeal to teenagers and above. I grew up on Andre Norton, John Wyndham and Robert Heinlein's teen novels, but we're talking about more recent stuff.

DelbertPGH
DelbertPGH

Ray Bradbury's odd stories had a lot of the supernatural, and some science fiction themes. Mostly they were about real American characters scratching out unremarkable lives in real American 1930s settings, until something very odd intervened. Great writing. Isaac Asimov was superb. I don't know if he did anything bad. I, Robot and the Foundation Trilogy were fabulous when I was a boy, and were great later when I re-read them. Like all great fantasy, it just makes you want to experience more and live longer in that world. You're sad when you've finished, because there's no more. With Heinlein and Haldeman, the earlier stuff was best. Heinlein was great up through Glory Road and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and then he put out Stranger in a Strange Land, and for the next ten years just got deeper into a weird libertarian/sexual freedom doctrine. It's tedious reading, when you're looking for plot and keep finding moral (or immoral) lessons forced at you. Haldeman wrote with a lot of Heinlein's verve, but with special authenticity that sprung from his combat experience in Vietnam. Once he got past that, his material became duller. He was great through the first Worlds novel. Still okay thereafter, but not as riveting.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Webber, Moon, Mccaffery are all very good. I like the Pern series and the Honor Harrington series quite well. Check out Baen books, they even has some for free http://www.baen.com/ Good old StoriesOnLine has a lot of SF on it, but you best do the checking and downloading yourself as many are erotica as well, and a lot are not. A visit to any decent book store will show you shelves of suitable stuff.

shermp
shermp

Enders Game is a great book for an adolescent and a fine introduction to science fiction.

K7AAY
K7AAY

Jerry Pournelle, Michael Flynn and John Varley are producing books which could serve well as entry novels; not lightweight, but also without sexual content which might aggro parents. THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE and FOOTFALL are excellent, as are RED THUNDER and RED LIGHTNING.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

of science fiction, very good for young readers, especially if they're into the combat type sci-fi. Any of the short stories anthologies by the greats are good to - Asimov, Heinlein, Niven, etc.

pennatomcat
pennatomcat

to see if I've outgrown their works, but Heinlein and Norton got me started. I discovered them in my high school library.

GSG
GSG

I was precocious and started with Dune by Frank Herbert when I was 11. Not a good choice for most since it was big, and confusing. However, I did better once I started with short stories. We had a quarter long class at one high school I went to called "Science Fiction". We had to read Sci Fi, and write Sci Fi for a 1/4 English Credit. That class did more for my love for Sci Fi and Fantasy than anything. I mean really, how cool is an assignment to write a 10 page story explaining why purple cows fly?

Dave Simpson
Dave Simpson

Bradbury has a wide range of short stories and novels some hard sf and some not so. He was my introduction to sf in the early 70's and remains my favorite.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

When I was in middle school, I wanted to grow up to be Peter David (this probably dates both myself and Mr. David in ways neither of us is comfortable). He wrote my favorite Star trek books (Vendetta, Imzadi) and some great comics to book (Hulk, X-Factor). Come to think of it, I think I STILL want to be Peter David. :)

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

David Weber's Honorverse. Him and John Ringo's King Roger series You can't go wrong with Anne McCaffrey's Dragon series especially The White Dragon I find them juvenile but David Eddings will keep you going for a while. Some of CJ Cherryh's merchanter stuff, Finity's End, Tripoint and maybe Downbelow Station would be good as well. They all feature adolescents as the heros.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Simak's stuff is so smooth and mellow, it's like sitting on the back porch of your cabin, looking over a valley full of fall color, sipping bourbon.

BFilmFan
BFilmFan

Ditto and I have to admit that I don't really care much for either of them.

BFilmFan
BFilmFan

Now you have to admit that series was a lot better than the Xanth series, which I gave up about 27 books ago...

BFilmFan
BFilmFan

Personally, I see science fiction as a sub-set of fantasy, so those books may be too outside the normally accepted range to be considered. Thinking some more on this subject while slurping coffee, I came up with these tiles: Roger Zelany's Princes of Amber (series) and Lord of Light are excellent books that offer interesting and complicated characters in a fantasy setting, but aren't typical fantasy. I recall that the first place I ever remember reading about body-swapping was in Lord of Light. Phillip K. Dick's Man in the High Castle postulates a 1962 in which America lost World War II and won a Hugo to boot!

Spelurker
Spelurker

While I'd put them mostly in the fantasy category, Diane Duane's (last name is misspelled in the post) 'Young Wizards' books have enough SciFi in them for a fourteen year old. The third book in the series, "High Wizardry", is squarely in the ScFi corner. Excellent books for the 11 - 15 year old range.

techmail
techmail

The Martian Chronicles (collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury) was my adolescent intro to sci-fi. I highly recommend it because of the self-contained (but connected) nature of the individual stories. John Carter of Mars (series by E. R. Burroughs) is also good but a very different writing style. Lets do keep the two separate... John

lordofkaos
lordofkaos

I am guessing that the intent is true sci-fi as opposed to fantasy, so will stay away from fantasy authors. Slightly aged, but a great introduction for me was the Tripod Series by John Christopher. Great for adolescents because it is adolescents that save the world, much like Harry Potter and the like. Another good one would be Ender's Game. Again, a book that appeals to what we were when we were adolescents, outsiders, usually a bit more reflective, if not more intelligent than our peers, and runts either physically, socially or both. Neal Stephenson, as mentioned in the article is great. Snowcrash is about perfect and Diamond Age is a great secondary book into sci-fi. David Brinn's Startide Rising is a good book for teens as well in my experience. (Though I did not care for how the series ended and hated some of his other work The Postman for example). Hitchhiker's Guide... I am not sure that we can't assume that non-sci-fi readers are necessarily unable to understand the concepts. While Johnny Mnemonic may not have been a great way to bring Gibson to the mainstream, I am sure that most 14yo boys how have seen the matrix could handle Neuromancer, etc. and could certainly handle Virtual Light, All Tomorrow's Parties, and Idoru.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

'Time Enough For Love', 'Friday', 'Number of the Beast', 'Sail Beyond the Sunset'; crap, crap, crap, crap. They read like his only interest was in replowing the same ground he broke in 'Stranger', but only selected rows (women willingly boff total strangers, and everyone is polite when we're all experts with firearms).

DelbertPGH
DelbertPGH

He loved the Orson Scott Card books around that character, and the beagle was the smallest of his litter, so he called him Ender. I'd never heard of Ender before. It's surprised me since then how, when we introduce that dog to people of all ages, so many will ask, "Like in Ender's Game?"

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

What about Titan, Wizard and Demon. Given that main character was a bisexual 'mixed race' female and didn't mind bonking the centaur like titanides, I can see some aggro :D The Niven & Pournelle choices would be good though. Add in Dream Park, which would be a good starter for kids. It's a murder mystery set in a high tech fantasy game park where the detective has to enter the game as a contestant to find the baddie. Trying to find politically correct sci-fi, you almost have to go for 'kids' books, or most old stuff when social mores were old fashioned. Tarzan was sci-fi, in the books when ever he used to run into native, he smashed their heads in, you can see problems here on the ethnic front. Sci fi isn't just rocket ships visiting Mars, it's social changes and political ones. One of the first sci-fi short stories I read was one about scientists creating a super computer. They asked it if there was a god and it replied there is now. Some school boards and parents wouldn't countenance that. No sex or violence required.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

for a new reader might be [i]Whipping Star[/i], [i]The God Makers[/i], or [i]Destination: Void[/i]. I found it so hard to wade through [i]Dune[/i] that I never went back. Edit: Spulling...FF 1.5 still on the LT.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

was my start at the local library, never stopped since. Then EE 'Doc' Smith's Lensman Galactic Patrol, a proper story that.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I enjoy Xanth. I find the books interesting and have a great time with the word play. If you can't take the punishment, it's best you stay away.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

He sort of put me off with some of his stuff, so I didn't bother buying any more of his stuff. In fact I've only got the Battle Circle Anthology on my book shelves now.

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