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My two favorites are Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. LeGuin. They are more on the "soft" sci-fi side, dealing with personal and social issues but in futuristic settings. Here's a list of my top 5!

Philip K. Dick:

  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  • Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
  • Ubik

Ursula K. LeGuin:

  • The Left Hand of Darkness
  • The Dispossessed

Also, Neuromancer by William Gibson is brilliant, and clearly what the Matrix trilogy was influenced by.

 
 

Here are some that have enjoyed for their cyberpunk themes (AI, AR, VR). Some also have interesting socioeconomic and global finance angles. Most of them are recently published, and it has been fun to get an updated perspective on the genre. Tech moves fast, and ideas about where it's going change with it.

 

Has anyone read Isaac Asimov's, Foundation Trilogy/Series? These are great!

The galaxy is running down and a galactic dark ages of 30,000 yrs looks imminent! BUT there is a secret group of 'Psychohistorians' that claim that they can shape future events. Psychohistory gives such a detailed understanding of the human psychology and history that the fate of the galaxy AND the coming dark age can be shortened or lengthened by what happens NEXT...

One part I remember was the book discussed the galactic corridor travel routes that were discovered over the millennia which made space travel and trade possible... cool stuff.

 

I love Asimovs fundation, but my favorite book from him is called "The Gods themselves". Even if it didnt have the best writing by todays standards (others told me this, didnt notice it), the idea was super cool:)

 

@Matei I'm not familiar with "The Gods Themselves" what is the main idea that was super cool?

 

'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradbury.

In the future, books are outlawed. "Firemen" may come to your home, BUT only to burn the books, if you are a reader, i.e. heretic. Instead there is a group of people that care so much about books they commit them to memory. There are a pair of twins who recite 'Pride and Prejudice.' One calls himself Pride and the other Prejudice.

 
 

Must-reads in my opinion:

  • The Dune series
  • Asimov's foundation and robots series. Haven't read the galactic empire, but I'm sure it's great too.
  • Ready player one (perfect for the current state of AR/VR)
  • The magicians trilogy is wonderful as well, but that's more fantasy than sci-fi. Still, super recommended!
 

'Slaughterhouse-Five' by Kurt Vonnegut, Easily Top 10

Billy Pilgrim lives thru the nightmare of WWII in a prison camp. Fortunately for him, the race from the planet Tralfamadore give him a pretty nice life in a dome on their moon in their Zoo.

 

Stanisław Lem's Cyberiad is an easy rec if you like Pratchett and Adams, although I am informed by at least one Pole that there's no substitute for reading it in the original (the English translation is well-esteemed by those of us unfortunates who can't read Polish, at least). Mortal Engines continues in the same vein.

Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics perhaps stretch the definition of SF a bit but ditto.

Octavia Butler wrote a ton of great stuff; I'd probably start with Lilith's Brood or some of her short stories.

Others have recommended Le Guin and The Left Hand of Darkness is indeed excellent but based on your tastes I'd suggest going with the Earthsea books or the short story collection The Wind's Twelve Quarters first. Bradbury too, although maybe The Martian Chronicles over Fahrenheit 451.

JG Ballard might be a little bleaker than you're looking for but Vermilion Sands is probably worth a shot.

Ted Chiang's Story of Your Life and Others is one of the best collections of shorts I've read, full stop. The title piece was the basis for the movie Arrival a couple years ago.

 

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Leguin
The broken earth series by N. K. Jemisin

 

Not exactly a 'classic' by most standards, but I'm rather fond of David Brin's Uplift universe.

Humanity (literally) accidentally stumbles into a huge civilization spanning multiple galaxies and immediately makes waves because they appear to have evolved sapience unaided (which is essentially unheard of in this universe) and by virtue of what they've already done prior to this they inherently have higher status than many races that have been around in this civilization for millions of years. On top of that, many of the most powerful races quite simply don't get along at all (there's one big religion that almost everyone follows which relates to the origins of this civilization, but it's fragmented to a degree that makes modern Christianity look monolithic in comparison). Most of the stories focus on events surrounding a major discovery by a Terran survey ship that completely upends a number of established aspects of the 'world order' (more so than the appearance of Humanity did).

It's significantly more serious than Pratchett or Adams, but still very good.

 

Here are some absolute classics that you can't go wrong with:

  • Ubik (K. Dick)
  • The Forever War (Haldeman)
  • The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man (Bradbury)
  • Hyperion (Simmons)
  • High Rise (Ballard)
  • Solaris (Lem)

Have fun!

 

I didn't know Solaris was a book. I have the seen the old (mid-70s) Russian movie, which is very cool. I'll look for the book.

 
 

Some Cyberpunk classics:

  • Mirror Shades (an anthology edited by Bruce Sterling)
  • The Sprawl Trilogy by William Gibson (Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive)
  • The Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling (get the Schismatrix Plus edition that contains additional short stories that predated the novel)
  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
 

Iain M. Banks is a must-read, IMHO.
His novels about advanced space-civilization "The Culture" are incredibly well-written, exciting, full of interesting ideas (on both technological, social and political levels) and quite varied between them. Some are very funny, while others are psychological nightmares. I love Adams, Clarke, Gibson, etc; and Banks is right up there with them, as I see it.

 

Awesome discussion. I would recommend:

  • Dune series
  • Randevouz with Rama
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
 

Asimov for sure, Bradbury for some darker Sci-Fi, and a book that nobody pointed out, but is a must: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. Sadly, he died young. There is a (crappy af) movie about the book. It's a comedy btw :D

Every book of him is hilarious, at least to me. Give it a try!

 

One I picked up randomly in a charity shop and ending up loving was The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.

 

It's not exactly a classic, but right now I'm finding Dune to be pretty great. There's also Neuromancer if you want a gritty cyberpunk sort of thing.

 

I second Neuromancer, and really the whole trilogy:

Neuromancer
Count Zero
Mona Lisa Overdrive

Known as the Sprawl Trilogy, by William Gibson.

 
 

I have a large framed print of that cover image on my wall above my PC.

 

Alan Dean Foster has some fun, light sci-fi if you are looking for something along the Prachett and Adams lines.

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