William Gibson’s Reading List

Even though I think William Gibson’s writing has declined over the years (I had no idea what he tried to do with Spook Country) the fact that he wrote the Neuromancer-Trilogy and some other pretty neat short stories in his early days gives him some authority in these matters, I guess. New York Magazine posted a list of recommended Sci-Fi novels straight from the horse’s mouth:

Tiger! Tiger! (1956)
By Alfred Bester
It’s also known as The Stars My Destination. My favorite literary expression of mid-century Manhattan, and I doubt I’d have written without having read it.

Dhalgren (1975)
By Samuel R. Delany
It won’t work unless you can allow it to become your head for a few weeks; it helps if you’re rather young. Closest thing I know to a great “sixties” novel.

Arslan (1976) ✔ ★☆☆☆☆
By M. J. Engh
A very different sort of alien invasion: America as Earth. One of the best works of science fiction you probably haven’t heard of.

The Crystal World (1966)
By J. G. Ballard
It’s hard to pick just one Ballard, but you could certainly start with this.

The Forever War (1974) ✔ ★★★★★
By Joe Haldeman
The most adult and intelligent novel of military science fiction.

Pavane (1968)
By Keith Roberts
The Roman Catholic Church still rules England in 1968, Protestantism having been destroyed in the wake of the 1588 assassination of Queen Elizabeth.

Random Acts of Senseless Violence (1993)
By Jack Womack
A heart-rending and perpetually more likely near-future Manhattan.

Great Work of Time (1991)
By John Crowley
Vast and all-encompassing, it’s a novel magically disguised as a novella.

Holy Fire (1996) ✔ ★★☆☆☆
By Bruce Sterling
A glacially logical yet emotionally intelligent extrapolation of age-extension technology. Also brilliant on bohemias.

334 (1972)
By Thomas M. Disch
Everyday life in Manhattan, 2025, at 334 East 11th Street, a vast housing project. I think of it whenever anyone seriously suggests my work is dystopian.

(via New York Magazine)

I have not read any of these books, so I guess my nerd credentials aren’t worth shit. So I will just kinda start working my way through this list and post my opinion as I see fit.


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