A while back some friends and I started watching “2001: A Space Odyssey” as a bit of late night background movie. The last time I experienced 2001 was enjoyable, even though I had no idea what happened at the end. Yes, it was really cool and artsy, which appealed to my subversive side, but beyond that, I was clueless.
This time around, I once again got sucked in and even though we didn’t finish it, I wanted to know what happened. A quick look on wikipedia made me realize a father of sci-fi, Arthur C. Clark, had written the screenplay and the book. There are criticisms that mention the book ruins the mystery of the movie. Naturally, it seemed like a good way to get the inside scoop, so I bought the book on my kindle app and dove in.
Despite having an appreciation for the geekier side of life, the sci-fi literature has never been a part of that experience. There isn’t a good reason for avoiding sci-fi books other than it didn’t seem very interesting to me. With 2001, that has all changed dramatically and now I can’t stop.
My path has been to visit the greats before descending into more specific and lesser known authors. Here is a list:
- “The Sentinal” - Arthur C. Clark: A collection of short stories, including The Sentinal which inspired 2001.
- “Childhood’s End” - Arthur C. Clark: Aliens visit earth, providing a catalyst for the next phase of evolution.
- “Rendezvous with Rama” - Arthur C. Clark: A really slow space thriller exploring a seemingly dead space ship.
- “Starship Troopers” - Robert Heinlein: A political discussion of the true cost for citizenship.
- “Ender’s Game” - Orson Scott Card: There are two stories here. The first is Ender and going through battle school. The second, and probably more important for the rest of the series, is that of his siblings. Check it out!
- “Neuromancer” - William Gibson: A tougher read due to the creation of some native slang, but good nonetheless. This obviously spawned The Matrix movies.
- “Old Man’s War” - John Scalzi: Get drafted into the unknown space army when you’re 75 years old? Loved it.
- “The Ghost Brigade” - John Scalzi: The continuation of Old Man’s War. Again, loved it.
- “The Last Colony” - John Scalzi: The last formal novel in the Old Man’s War. Once again, really great stuff.
- “Speaker for the Dead” - Orson Scott Card: Revisiting the Ender Quintet. This book was awesome! This is where the side story of Ender’s Game comes the front and center.
I’m reading “Xenocide” by Orson Scott Card now, the third book in the Ender Quintet. Once again, it develops the storyline of “Speaker for the Dead”. I can’t seem to put these books down.
Besides the entertainment factor, reading sci-fi has helped me become more excited about technology. Before I had read these books, news about NASA and space stations seemed like a waste of money. Privacy and publishing everything we do had started to feel like a weight pulling down my desire to be online. Seeing the potential of fanciful technology and excitement of exploring space has helped me rediscover how technology can be cool. Seeing as I’ve been somewhat burned out this past year, these stories have been a great tool in reigniting my interests in programming.