Lesser Known Scifi Gems

Science fiction can, at times, seem very insular. Sometimes there seems to be a select list of things to read, depending on your particular subgenre tastes, or even just to make sure you’ve read the “Best.” There’s particular authors you’re supposed to have read, and even these days, there’s a few big name authors that everyone reads and the rest fall by the wayside.

It’s probably this way in every genre, but for some reason, I notice it more with scifi. This may just be me, but I find it easier to find a new random fantasy or mystery book just by browsing the shelves. That doesn’t work so well with scifi. It seems like it’s all big names, and the lesser names are hard to find. I can’t even think of the last time I picked up a science fiction novel off the shelf that wasn’t an Atwood or a C. Clarke or a Scalzi. (Well, Hunger Games, but that rather proves my point rather than diminishes it.)

Recently, a friend loaned me a book I’d never heard of by an author I’d never heard of, and I rather enjoyed it. It had good voice, was scarily plausible, and was a nice mix of philosophy and action. But it got me to thinking – a lot of my science fiction reading does tend to be what people tell me to read – classics, like Asimov or Bradbury, or larger, popular series like Bujold or Scalzi, or even whatever is currently “in,” like the current glut of YA dystopias.

So is the problem science fiction – or my science fiction reading habits? Do I just not know where to look for lesser-known treasures?

What are your thoughts, Squiders? Any recommendations for lesser-known gems that I should try?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. I think this is one of those cases where the internet is awesome. Bookstores tend to mostly stock the big names, but with Amazon you can find the titles from the back of the catalog.

    As far as suggestions, what type of sci-fi do you like?

    Reply

    • I’m pretty open in my scifi likes. Hard science fiction, alternative universe/realities (one of my favs), most punks, near-future, space opera…really, my biggest dislike are books that are telling a perfectly lovely story, but then at the end they figure they’ve got to try to be relevant somehow and become a confusing mess of the author trying too hard.

      I know that doesn’t narrow it down at all in terms of recommendations. >_>

      Reply

      • Lately I’ve been trying to check out more sci-fi novels written by women. There are a surprising number of them, and they tend to get overlooked. Sherri Tepper is one, but you might not like her because she tries to hit you over the head with eco-feminist morals.

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