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July 15, 2015

My current display up at the Saddlebrook branch of OPL is “Extraordinary Lives, Extraordinary Journeys” and is in line with the Escape the Ordinary Summer Ready Program theme. In it I have uplifting travel and “year in the life” type books, but compiling my choices for the display and needing a new book of my own to read got me thinking.

There is a lot of classic science fiction that I have never read.

Sure, I have a working knowledge of Verne, Asimov, and Heinlein. I’ve read some of the Hitchhiker series, but not all of them. But I should. I really, really should. I should really just buckle-down and actually read Dune. Not because it will earn me some ephemeral geek-cred points, but because I think I would enjoy it. And even if I don’t, I know it will help me better understand modern science fiction.

I read 1984 during Banned Books Week last year. I’d never read it before – my school’s AP curriculum had us read weird stuff, like Brave New World instead of Animal Farm, and Julius Caesar and Macbeth instead of Romeo and Juliet.  But when I finally read 1984, I was struck by how many subtle references to it I had missed in modern pop culture – specifically, the “there are four lights” scene from ST:TNG. How many more references am I only half-getting, or not getting at all?

This, plus the desire for blog-fodder has me wanting to attempt to read 100 Classic Science Fiction novels, as compiled and ranked by James W. Harris using crowd-sourcing. He has an interesting essay on his methodology too.

I sorted Harris’s list by year, and the earliest work of classic science fiction is Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. This is an excellent one to start with – I have a working knowledge of Gulliver, seen a number of film adaptations of the story, and even studied a section of it in college, but I have never actually read it.


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