Wow. 2015 is here already. The year of chronicling my journey through science fiction sort of fizzled out as other projects came up and I took a break from the genre. But, I’m throwing myself back in and hope to stick with it through the year. Last year I posted my favorite examples of the genre across several mediums. So, to start off the new year, I thought i would post the most updated (and expanded) version of this list. Anything on this list was read, seen or played before the end of 2014.
Top 5 Books
1) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Previously #1)
This book remains my number one favorite science fiction book because it’s just the most fun I’ve had reading a book in recent memory. It’s packed with references to 80s movies and games, geek culture, and the most iconic science fiction pieces to date. As I mentioned last year, the underdog story of an orphan toppling a maniacal corporation resonates with me. It’s almost like Cline set out to write a book perfectly tailored to me. I found a few technical problems with the writing, but by the end of the book I didn’t care. I love every second of this book, and I hope you’ve checked it out.
2) I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (Previously unlisted)
As much of a cliche as it is, this book blew my mind. This was not entirely due to the subject matter, though that is very good, but because I had seen the Will Smith film adaptation so many times I was expecting something action packed and kind of dumb. That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised to find out this book is essentially a set of eight increasingly complicated logic puzzles with little or no action involved. It’s not a book for everyone, but I loved trying to solve those puzzles alongside the characters and usually being wrong alongside the characters. As the source of the legendary Three Laws of Robotics, this book is required reading for scifi fans.
3) Dune by Frank Herbert (Previously #2)
Dune is one of the most epic science fiction tales ever told. Few would disagree. Reading this book is essentially what kicked off my science fiction re-education. It’s a book full of atmosphere that sucks you in, even when the story is unfolding at a snail’s pace. I was so impressed by the level of craft Herbert showed in building his universe. It helped me realize that building a new world is more than just making up names, but understanding all of the economic and religious systems at play. It’s a brilliant book.
4) The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton (Previously unlisted)
My first experience with a Michael Crichton book left me feeling uneasy. This is the fictional account of an extraterrestrial microorganism and a team of scientists trying to prevent it from killing everyone on the planet. I stress fictional only because at first, I thought this might have been based on true events. Crichton managed to blur the line between fiction and reality for me and that’s what makes this book so successful. It was written when Crichton was a med student at Harvard, so a lot of what is written is backed up by facts. The ending didn’t pay off exactly, but it doesn’t detract from the work as a whole.
5) Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (Previously unlisted)
This book doesn’t come across as science fiction right away. It’s about dragons and the people who ride them around PERN defending it from the Threads. The second layer of the story is where the science fiction comes in. These Threads are actually extraterrestrial invaders that kill any organic matter that they come into contact with. The dragons travel through space and time to defend their planet. This book isn’t perfect, but it’s a great blending of genres and a lot of fun to read.
Top 3 Movies
This list is actually unchanged. Quick recap:
1) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Permanent fixture. My favorite movie of all time.
Preview of TV section
3) Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Terminator terrified me as a child and at this point in life, it’s beginning to terrify me again for different reasons.
Top 3 TV Shows
1) Firefly (Previously #1)
Also known as the greatest show of all time, Firefly was taken from us too soon. Only airing 11 of its 14 episodes and having its episodes aired out of order, the show never got a fair go. The dialogue is sharp, the adventures are thrilling, and the casting is perfect. Malcolm Reynolds, played by the great Nathan Fillion, is probably my favorite television character of all time.
2) Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Previously #2)
Taking place between the incredible T2 and the pretty bad T3, this show follows an older John Connor as he trains to lead the future human resistance. Nothing anyone does can thwart the dark future of Skynet and the terminators. That doesn’t stop anyone from trying. So once again, John is sent a protector from the future to fight the assassin from the future. The difference is, the protector is played perfectly by Summer Glau. She somehow brings a human element to the machine, something that seems unnecessary but is actually really important to the show. I love the Terminator universe and this show adds to it in smart but fun ways.
3) Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Previously unlisted)
This show is a perfect example of the journey being greater than the destination. This show takes place between the second and third film of the prequel trilogy. We know where it starts and we know exactly where it ends, but it’s still an incredible and emotional ride to get there. I’ve never cared about the clone army, but this show gives them unique personalities and a reason to care about their inevitable fates. Like the above entry, this show adds to the universe in important and essential ways.
Top 3 Comics
1) Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (Previously #1)
I would never miss the opportunity to talk about this series. This is my favorite comic of all time. The book takes the idea of the last man on Earth surrounded by women would be a good thing and completely flips it. Yorick Brown may have survived the plague that killed anything with a Y chromosome, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world won’t try to kill him. It’s fun, heartbreaking, exciting, and thought-provoking but, most essentially, it’s a meditation on love and loss. Issue #59 broke me. It’s the biggest impact any artform has ever had on me.
2) Saga by Brian K Vaughan (Previously unlisted)
If you read comics, you’ve heard of Saga. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ have crafted one of the most successful creator-owned comics of all time with Saga. It takes the idea of Romeo and Juliet and thrusts it into an all-new, incredible universe. Staples’ work on the book is a shining example of what can be done in the medium of comics. With every story arc, I’m left thinking ‘how can they top that?’ Consistently, the creative team shows me that I haven’t seen anything yet.
3) Copperhead by Jay Faerber (Previously unlisted)
Copperhead starts with a bang. The new Image series debuted last year with an incredible first issue, introducing readers to the frontier town of Copperhead and the badass new sheriff Clara Bronson. I love Clara. She’s one of my favorite new comic characters. We’re still learning about her past, but we know that she’s left something precious behind her, along with something dark that surfaces during some her violent moments. This book reminds me of Firefly, but it’s far more interested in doing its own thing and carving out a piece of the sci-fi/western genre for itself.
So those are my current favorites. I purposefully left video games off the list this year to keep this thing from getting too long. As with last year’s list, this is bound to change as I continue to ‘discover’ more works of science fiction. Currently, I’m reading The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury and Neuromancer by William Gibson, two fantastic books that might make the list next year. If you vehemently disagree with my list and want to tell me, or if you just want to chat and tell me some of your favorites, feel free to tweet me @left4turtle.