Science fiction is pretty universally considered a vital element to the geek life. Proud parents strive to find the perfect beginner sci-fi with which to introduce children to the wild realms that become possible when we allow science and imagination to procreate. I recommend heading to the used bookstore and stocking your teen's bookshelves with stories based on Dungeons & Dragons. I know it's more fantasy than sci-fi, but it's still a good introduction to the realm of geekdom and often leads to more serious science-fiction reading. Heck, as an adolescent girl, I was obsessed with the Ravenloft series; I dreamt of being taken away by the mists.
As a grown geek who sadly hasn't seen her d20 in years, I get my science-fiction fix through bedtime reading. To that end, I offer up this list of literature that is vital for every geek to read in order to pass into full-grown geekdom. I realize this list is far from complete, but I can really only speak for texts that I've read. To that end, I give a nod to Robert Heinlein. I'll start reading him when my home-geek shares his Heinlein collection. In the meantime here are my recommendations:
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Consider who the real monsters are.
- The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. I love this as a geek and as a writer. The ability to terrify people like that is immense power.
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I think soma stands for television.
- The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. I found this to be a great gateway text for adolescents during my teaching years.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. You have to read the entire series in order for it to count toward your geek diploma.
- If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell. Not particularly well written, but, you know. Hail to the king, baby.
- The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft. I've been to towns like that. The Call of Cthulhu is also a must-read.
I'm sure I've left a number of good ones out. As I am still working on my geek diploma, I hope you will share your suggestions in the comments.
- Geeks and IT pros are not always one in the same: 10 books every IT pro should read.
- Jay Garmon likely doesn't agree with me either: The perfect sci-fi library.
- James Gunn stocks the shelves: A Basic Science Fiction Library.
- How to introduce non-geeks to science fiction: Outreach in Action: Gateway Science Fiction.
- Wally Bahny considers sci-fi social commentary and vehicle for change: Science-fiction's subversive side.
- Jay Garmon offers his take on what geeks who like Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein are reading: Who are today's Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein?
- Edmond Woychowsky reveals the ultimate geek book: Atlas Shrugged, the book all geeks should read.
- Jay Garmon shares his sci-fi reading preferences: The ultimate science fiction book meme.
- Edmond Woychowsky is a geek rebel: I read banned books.
What geek lit should I check out?
I'm looking for something good to read, and my library card has sadly gone unused for a while. I especially enjoy stories with rich underlying social commentary; that is fairly standard in sci-fi, but not all social commentary is well thought out and well presented. What is my geek library collection lacking? Please educate me, my geek masters.Where the geeky things are Need a break from the daily grind? Then sign up for TechRepublic's Geekend newsletter, delivered each Friday. You'll receive off-topic chatter about all things geeky, including science fiction, movies, gaming, books, space, gadgets, and more. Automatically subscribe today!
Nicole Bremer Nash is Director of Content and Social Media for HuTerra, where she uses SEO and social media to promote charitable organizations in their community-building and fundraising efforts. She enjoys volunteering, arts and crafts, and conducting science experiments at home. Nicole has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Transylvania University, and has experience in copywriting for education, print, business, and the web. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter via @HuTerra.