On these pages you will find the best in
speculative fiction books, with brief reviews. The
reviews are all positive: if I don't like it, I
don't promote it. I have also included pages with
research resources, which others with like
interests may explore.
As a convenience to visitors, links are included
for all books to Amazon.com, and you may add
directly to your shopping cart from here.
Contemporary Classics Non-genre Medieval Resources Movies
Timeless speculative fiction. Lyrical, thought
provoking, books that every well-read fan should
read at least twice.
The Haunting of Hill House
A spare, chilling story. Written in the
days before publishers demanded 300 page
minimums, Jackson makes every word count as
she carries you deep into the mind of an
emotionally broken woman--or else a
vulnerable woman slipping into possession.
The Lord of the Rings
The great epic. With every reading new
layers open up. A tale of profound faith,
so complex that many of its virtues are not
seen on first or second or even third
readings. Tolkien set out to create a
mythology of England, equal in majesty and
scope to the great Icelandic sagas. It
appears to me he succeeded.
by & about Tolkien.
Not a novel, but the mythic origins of
Middle Earth. This was Tolkien's
masterwork, which he began decades before
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and
continued to refine until his death.
by & about Tolkien.
The Left Hand of Darkness
Easily her best work. One of the most
compelling takes on gender issues,
provoking and thoughtful for men and women
both. Everyone is a potential mother. There
is no fundamental dualism in the world.
There is no question of dominance of one
group over another in sexuality. This is
the world in which a lone Earth man works
to welcome the people of Gethen into the
interstellar community, becomes a pawn, a
prisoner, and falls in love--and then
there's the arctic trek.
LeGuin's Always Coming Home
A very different future, Le Guin creates a
people with a different "cultural
metaphor," in which the divine is
understood not as king or even benevolent
father but as a dance. While the book
contains an extended narrative of one
disaffected daughter's coming into
adulthood, it is more a full study of the
People of the Valley of the Na, including
"historical documents" ("The War with the
Pig People"), stories written by the
People, explanations of grammar and syntax,
and even recipes (the fried eggplant is
Some call this work a neo-pagan eutopia,
yet I, who am not neo-pagan and was bored
to tears by The Mists of Avalon,
found myself longing for the Na.
The Quest of the Riddlemaster
One of the few other high fantasies that
approaches the Grand Master in terms of
depth and majesty. Where it may fall short
(as everyone must in such a comparisom) it
compensates by being eminently more
James Tiptree Jr.'s Her Smoke Rose Up
A breathless anthology about men, women,
and humanity. Includes many of her best
stories: "The Women Men Don't See," "Your
Faces, O My Sisters, Your Faces Filled of
Light," "The Green Hills of Earth," and
"The Screwfly Solution."
Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse
Vonnegut tells you upfront what the story
is about, and yet still people argue about
it endlessly. It is about his experience
surviving the fire-bombing of Dresden as a
POW during WWII. Despite all the sarcasm,
time-travelling, and alien investigation of
humanity, this remains loud in my mind: it
is about a man seeking to come to terms
with a humanitarian horror greater, in
terms of lost life, than the bombing of
This is also one of very few books I have
read that uses well the
emotionally-disconnected, sarcastic voice
that is so popular today. I would say it is
because that is the only voice he could use
to talk about things this real.
Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451--the
temperature at which books burn:
More prophetic than 1984, Bradbury
creates a world in which the media have
numbed people into insensitivity. Written
in the 1950's, he foresaw a world that
looks strikingly like our own collection of
MTV and televisions in subway stations. All
that America lacks to make this dystopia
real is the book burners--"a very small
step." This delivered with Bradbury's
incomparable poetic skill.