The best science fiction novels written in that old school style

Michael Max Darrow Author Of The Federation Trilogy
By Michael Max Darrow

The Books I Picked & Why

Dune

By Frank Herbert

Book cover of Dune

Why this book?

Dune is world building science fiction in its most raw form. I tend to gravitate towards character building per se. This was not the case with Dune. I picked up this book back in the ’70s at a time when I was all alone, away from home, and looking for a good sci-fi novel to wrap myself up in for a while. Wow! Dune is world building done right. Yet, in the midst of all these worlds at war with each other, their different languages and cultures, you get introduced to this young man, the underdog of the story. You can’t help but root for him as the story of a harsh planet and the rest of the universe against him unfolds. I still have my 1965 first edition!


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A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Book cover of A Princess of Mars

Why this book?

Edgar Rice Burroughs was one of the old masters of science fiction. I started reading his books at a young age. I would go back and forth from fantasy to sci-fi. This book, later made into a movie, follows yet another underdog hero mysteriously sent to Mars during the American Civil War to find himself in the middle of another kind of battle, this time with superhuman strength and the ability to leap great distances due to the light gravity of Mars. This book is character building at its best by one of the grandfathers of science fiction. 


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Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber

By Roger Zelazny

Book cover of Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber

Why this book?

I tend to read by authors more than by genre. In the late 70s I picked up a tattered thin paperback with a fantastic cover by Zalazny and decided to give it a try. Little did I know there were several more books in this series written between 1970 and 1991. I couldn’t put it down! Yes, there is Corwin, another tortured hero who often fails, but the worlds he is drawn into are fascinating. This book, and you can get the complete series called the Great Book of Amber, is a combination of sci-fi and fantasy. For me, a lover of both, it was perfect!


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The Stars My Destination

By Alfred Bester

Book cover of The Stars My Destination

Why this book?

The Stars My Destination is, in my humble opinion, the absolute best stand-alone science fiction novel. Originally published as Tiger! Tiger! in 1956, this book – I don’t know why it has never been made into a movie?  is about the brute of a simple spaceman, Gully Foyle, who is completely transformed by the end of the book. You will follow Foyle and his lust for revenge from nobody to cunning calculating anti-hero wanted by everyone who is anyone, until his end revenge. Alfred Bester was another grandfather of sci-fi who writes in a traveling style catered to the common reader and because of this, I read every book he ever wrote. But I reread this book every few years.


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The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One 1929-1964: The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of All Time Chosen by the Members of the Science Fiction

By Robert Silverberg

Book cover of The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One 1929-1964: The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of All Time Chosen by the Members of the Science Fiction

Why this book?

If you are a science fiction fan like me, you cannot forget about the short stories by all the greats that started it all, spawned larger works: Books and movies. Two things drew me to this book and the later volumes. First, it had all my favorite authors in it. Second, they were fairly short reads and you could finish one at a time, in one sitting. All the grandaddies are in here: Alfred Bester, Roger Zalazny, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and a dozen others! These are fantastic old stories of new worlds, ray guns, steampunk, and weird aliens. You cannot call yourself a true sci-fi fan till you read these.


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