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Golden Age science fiction novel recommendations?

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Showing 1-25 of 26 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 6, 2012 11:04:42 AM PST
A. Tsurukame says:
I read lots of short stories from this period; it's what got me started into liking science fiction when I was a kid, but when it comes to novels, I've only read Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Harry Harrison, Richard Matheson and some others from this period, 1930 to 1950s. I tend to read more modern novels (1970s and on).

Anyone recommend any good novels from this period?

I love A.E. Van Vogt, so i picked up his "Slan" and "World of Null-A" novels.

Also like Clifford D. Simak, Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner & C.L Moore writing team), Fredric Brown, Theodore Sturgeon, C. M. Kornbluth, William Tenn and many others but never read any novels by them.

At the time, in the 1970s and 80s when I was a little kid, so many of these novels were out of print so I had no access, so I just kept reading the short stories that were often reprinted.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 6, 2012 12:27:18 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 6, 2012 12:27:42 PM PST
Tom Rogers says:
Well, it was the Golden Age of short stories and novellas as well. On the bright side, prepare to get stonked with recommendations, there's a fair amount of expertise on the era in this forum.

I'll kick it off with a pretty cool (and very influential and forward looking) book that's normally overlooked:

Lomokome Papers (Pocket #75226)

Posted on Feb 6, 2012 1:17:58 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 6, 2012 1:24:48 PM PST
me FPA says:
I think The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is on (or at least near) the cusp, both time-wise (written in 1927, first published in the forties) and length (I can't tell the word-count but it appears to be right on the border between novella- and novel-length, which is around 40,000 words for science fiction according to a Nebula definition). It's one of my favorite books; I consider it a science fiction/horror blend.

I think A World is Born by Leigh Brackett is one of the best sci-fi stories I've ever read, but it appears to be novelette length. Yet, for me, it read like a longer story. Some of her other stories are longer and seem to be novel-length, but I haven't gotten to them yet. I'll probably read Black Amazon of Mars next.

Earth Abides is a novel I've heard about but haven't read. Same thing with The Stars My Destination. I'll get to the Stars one at some point....

Posted on Feb 6, 2012 1:40:05 PM PST
A. Tsurukame says:
Thanks for the replies.

@Tom Rogers: Nice. I wasn't aware that Herman Wouk wrote any science fiction. Your timing is interesting as I saw just very recently saw some episodes of "War and Remembrance", the TV mini-series that I missed when it originally aired in the 80s. It was interesting enough that I bought up the prequel book, "Winds of Change." I just placed an order for the Wouk suggestion.

@ me FPA: Ah. H.P Lovecraft. I admit I loved the movies and roleplaying games on the Cthulhu mythos but never got around to reading his stuff. I've always wanted to read him. I picked that up along with your Leigh Brackett suggestion. She is another favorite writer of mine. Kindle editions of both books were a pleasant surprise. I also put "Earth Abides" and Alfred Bester on my TBR list (they've been sitting on my shelf unread for many years).

I'd take good novella suggestions as well, if novel-length is rather hard to find. I'm sure there are plenty of novellas that I need to read.

Posted on Feb 6, 2012 2:04:45 PM PST
K. Harris says:
There is a new author that has a Heinlein style, Nathan Lowell. His "solar clipper trader tales", the First one "Quarter Share", are some of the best S/F that I have read. It is just living and working between the stars .

Posted on Feb 6, 2012 2:25:10 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 6, 2012 2:38:46 PM PST
me FPA says:
I think you're in for some treats there--I hope you find at least one you like!

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward--I first read it in public during lunch breaks at work, and even under bright lights, it totally weirded me out. What the protagonist experiences in the book--just incredible....

A World Is Born--that would be so awesome to see on screen! I won't spoil which phenomenal parts I think would be phenomenal on the silver screen. But Brackett was a screenwriter too, and the visuals in her prose writing seem a testament to her screenwriting. I keep thinking of that Born story a lot, I keep measuring other sci-fi stories against it.

I like some pulp writings too. Those seem to be considered a separate era from the Golden Age, but Gertrude Barrows Bennett's works are enjoyable--Lovecraft was influenced by her. A few novels of hers are on Kindle now too and they're inexpensive; they might be worthwhile for you to check out.

Good reading to you!

Posted on Feb 6, 2012 7:51:01 PM PST
Check out the works of Jack Williamson and Fritz Leiber jr. They were masters. I have most of their stuff. The Humanoids, Darker Than You Think, Destiny Times Three, Gather,Darkness! Superb.

Posted on Feb 6, 2012 8:06:52 PM PST
Alfred Bester's "The Stars, My Destination," Frederic Pohl and C.M.Kornbluth's "The Space Merchants," Ted Sturgeon's "More than Human," and Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End," are essential reading from the 50's, even more relevant now than when published. They are also a pleasure to read. The first is a mind-blowing adventure; the second, a scathing satire, the third, a psychologically penetrating and ethically challenging speculation, the fourth, a grand-scale depiction of a best-case scenario for the inevitable extinction of humanity.

Posted on Feb 7, 2012 12:26:43 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 7, 2012 12:28:02 PM PST
Tom Rogers says:
these are worth a look:

To the Stars

Mission of Gravity (SF Collector's Edition) (Gollancz Sf Collector Editions)

Limbo (America Reads: Rediscovered Fiction and Nonfiction from Key Periods in American History)

Donovan's Brain/Hauser's Memory/2 Complete Novels in 1: & Hauser's Memory

The Invention of Morel (New York Review Books Classics)

Dark Universe [Paperback] by Galouye, Daniel F.

btw what Clarke have you read?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2012 4:02:55 PM PST
K. Rowley says:
When Worlds Collide & After Worlds Collide - by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer..

Foundation series - Isaac Asimov..

Isaac Asimov Presents the Golden Years of Science Fiction (Second Series)

Posted on Feb 7, 2012 4:19:49 PM PST
Tom Rogers says:
I forgot:

The Day of the Triffids (20th Century Rediscoveries)

a fine apocalyptic yarn

Posted on Feb 7, 2012 6:24:45 PM PST
K. J. Hart says:
Try Divide and Rule and Lest Darkness Fall, both by L. Sprague de Camp.
Also, Gather, Darkness! by Fritz Leiber.

Posted on Feb 9, 2012 10:20:29 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 10, 2012 6:53:01 AM PST
A. Tsurukame says:
Nice suggestions. Replies to each of you follows:

@K. Harris: Thanks. I love Heinlein, so I'll check that book out.

@me FPA: Love anecdotes like that, about the experience of reading a book. If Lovecraft weirded you out during broad daylight, I gotta check that book out. Speaking of Leigh Brackett, I mainly read her short stories in my various copies of Issac Asimov edited science-fiction anthologies, and I pulled them out again last night. Asimov in his introductions to her stories, mentions some of her notable novels, like "Shadow Over Mars", "People of the Talisman", and "Sword of Rhiannon" and in particular, he recommends, The Long Tomorrow which fortunately is both in paperback and Kindle format. I just picked that up.

Also it's also funny to read Asimov's past encounters with Leigh herself as apparently he, a younger Asimov, ran into her at a science fiction convention many eons ago, was so delighted to see her that he enthusiastically hugged her, lifting her up off her feet and twirled her around and in the process threw her back out, so she had to hobble somewhat for the rest of the convention. He wrote about this in his introduction to her story, "Halfing," in Isaac Asimov Presents Great SF Stories (1943).

@Gilbert J. Avila: Thanks. I've read Williamson short stories, and some of Leiber's novels, but those are books new to me. I'll track them down.

@Dmitry Portnoy: Thanks for the suggestion, in particular "Space Merchants" as that's a book I've wanted to read for quite awhile (love Pohl and especially Kornbluth). I own but haven't read yet the Bester and Sturgeon book you mentioned. I'll have to get to it. Clarke's "Childhood End", I've re-read that many times. Great book. My dad used to write, via email, to Clarke himself before he passed away! He was on the Arthur C. Clark mailing list back in the 90s and Clarke would sometimes respond to from his home in Sri Lanka. I thought that was so mind-boggingly cool at the time (Internet was still so new to the public).

@Tom Rogers: Those are great suggestions. I haven't heard of any of those, and thanks for linking them, too. As far as Clarke, (see my note above to Dmitry), in addition to that book, I recall reading the first two (maybe three) of the 2001: a Space Odyssey series and the first Rendezvous with Rama book. That's about it.

@K. Rowley: Thanks for that. I haven't read anything by Wylie/Balmer. As far as Asimov, I've read a lot of his stuff and in fact the anthology book you mention is the reason why I got into science fiction when I was small child. That reprint version is newer than my copies as I was buying the original mass paperback versions of his Golden Age short story anthologies at the time. See my reply above to "me FPA" above about how I learned about Leigh Brackett. My uncle, when I was eight, gave me a copy of the 1941 collection of stories and I was hooked, waiting every year for a new version to come out. In addition to reading the short stories, I loved reading Asimov's anecdotes about the writers as he often knew them personally. So sad that Asimov passed away, perhaps too early, as he was a big influence to me. It came out years later via his 2nd wife, Janet, in a letter to Locus Magazine (it's online, too), that the real reason for his passing was his contraction of A.I.D.S. from a blood transfusion with A.I.D.S.-tainted blood during his heart surgery, something which his doctors persuaded a reluctant Asimov to keep secret.

@K. J. Hart: Sadly I've only read few things from L. Sprague de Camp, some of his short stories which I liked. I remember seeing the bookstores shelves littered with his numerous novels (I went to the bookstore almost every week as a kid) but never read any. I'll try out your suggestions along with the Leiber book.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2012 10:48:08 AM PST
Growing up in the fifties I absorbed science fiction then and though I know read many genres I still read many science fiction novels from all eras. But for classics, my all time favorite author for stylistic prose and characters is JACK VANCE. I think I have read everything he has ever written and own almost everything as well. My single all time favorite book that I re-read often is ALFRED BESTER'S "THE STARS MY DESTINATION". The novel that most changed the way how I judged and thought about things from the day I finished it onward was ROBERT HEINLEIN'S "STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND". And, of course, my favorite space empire trilogy, the father of them all, ISAAC ASIMOV'S FOUNDATION TRILOGY. It is difficult to pick out just a few of the hundreds of books that I love but these will always be on the top of my virtual bookshelf for classic science fiction.

Posted on Feb 10, 2012 10:59:59 PM PST
James says:
Starship Troopers- (the book, not the movie).


Citizen of the Galaxy

These three are a GREAT start.

Posted on Jul 24, 2012 11:18:39 AM PDT
W.T. says:
The City At World's End

Chronicles of the Lensmen, Volume 1 and Volume 2 (Triplanetary, First Lensman, Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, Second Stage Lensman, Children of the Lens)

Three From The Legion

Annals of the Time Patrol

The Long Tomorrow

The City & the Stars

ANY of the Nelson Doubleday "Best of" books from the eventies, which were reprinted in paperback by Ballantine books:

Best of Isaac Asimov
The Best of Leigh Brackett
The Best of Lester Del ReyThe Best of Frederick Pohl
The Best of L. Sprague de Camp
The Best of Edmond Hamilton
Best of John W. Campbell
The Best of Cordwainer Smith
The Best of C. M. Kornbluth
The best of Fritz Lieber

and several others that I'm sure I'm forgetting about.

Also, there's the awesome Haffner reprint volumes. They're pricey, but extremely well done. I love their archival collections all the "Captain Future" pulp stories!

Posted on Jul 24, 2012 12:45:19 PM PDT
J. Beaver says:
Only titles that haven't already been mentioned...

Arthur C. Clarke's:
Prelude to Space
A Fall of Moondust

Short stories:
Expedition to Earth
The Nine Billion Names of God
Tales from the White Hart

Interplanetary Flight - sort of "Rocket Science for Dummies", with minimal mathematics. Worth the read.

The Gods Themselves

The Demolished Man

Posted on Jul 26, 2012 11:12:30 AM PDT
E.E. "Doc" Smith was another great writer back in the 50s. You can try his Skylark or Lensman series (some are in the public domain and free here on Amazon, and on Project Gutenberg to download in various formats)

The Skylark of Space
Skylark Three

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 26, 2012 1:23:10 PM PDT
jimsam says:
E.E. SMITH, THE SKYLARK OF VALERON, written in the late 1940"s has a episode where one main characters (Seaton) is training the mechanical-electrical brain he built to think for him and to complete its own training because it is faster than the human brain and can do more things simultaneously. As far as I know the binary computer in 1940's was used on the Manhattan Project.
Also from the late 1940's;
PATTERN FOR CONQUEST, Introduces the transporter used on STAR TREK.
VENUS EQUILATERAL, Again introduces the transporter and the matter trans-muter.
FREDERICK POHL, Just about any novel with his name on it. He collaborated many authors as well as writing his own novels.

Posted on Jul 26, 2012 8:51:01 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 26, 2012 8:57:00 PM PDT
J. Schwarz says:
Then you must go to the top writers. Clark, Hogan, Bear, Benford, Reynolds, Sheffield, Carver, Brin, Hamilton and the new ones Asher and Meiville. And how about the old Mcdevitt books. Stay away from his new ones.

Posted on Jul 26, 2012 9:22:34 PM PDT
Definitely add Larry Niven to your list. His tales of Known Space, leading to the Ringworld books, are pulpy, well dosed with action, and full of hard science presented in a wonderfully readable and gripping manner. Gordon R. Dickson also has some wonderful titles in both Sci Fi and Fantasy.

Posted on Jul 27, 2012 6:59:04 AM PDT
J. Schwarz says:
James Hogan's Inherit the Stars was made into a single book called the Giants trilogy, and since then he added some more volumes. Definitely worth reading although dated but quite good. He also wrote other SF again quite good.

Posted on Jul 28, 2012 12:31:16 PM PDT
I am fortunate to own several excellent volumes of collected sci fi stories, one of them is

Posted on Jul 28, 2012 4:46:28 PM PDT
Where's Poul Anderson and Gordon R Dickson?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 28, 2012 9:45:47 PM PDT
Or Philip K. Dick, for that matter?
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Discussion in:  Science Fiction forum
Participants:  20
Total posts:  26
Initial post:  Feb 6, 2012
Latest post:  Jul 29, 2012

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