Hey Geeky

The Guardian has come up with the Top 20 geek novels. Morrow Planet has memed it up. Bold the ones you’ve read.

My answers behind the cut.

1. The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — Douglas Adams
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four — George Orwell   
3. Brave New World — Aldous Huxley         
4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? — Philip Dick
5. Neuromancer — William Gibson                

6. Dune — Frank Herbert
7. I, Robot — Isaac Asimov                           
8. Foundation — Isaac Asimov                     
9. The Colour of Magic — Terry Pratchett
10. Microserfs — Douglas Coupland            
11. Snow Crash — Neal Stephenson            
12. Watchmen — Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons   
13. Cryptonomicon — Neal Stephenson         

14. Consider Phlebas — Iain M Banks
15. Stranger in a Strange Land — Robert Heinlein   
16. The Man in the High Castle — Philip K Dick   
17. American Gods — Neil Gaiman               
18. The Diamond Age — Neal Stephenson    

19. The Illuminatus! Trilogy — Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
20. Trouble with Lichen – John Wyndham

I know, I know. The PKD is a huge blindspot.

(And, um, notice that there are NO women on this list? Women write geeky books too.)

10 thoughts on “Hey Geeky”

  1. I can forgive the PKD (and anyway, Valis and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer are both better books, anyway), but not the Banks.
    Go read Iain Banks. He’s awesome.
    I would also chastise you for not having read the Illuminatus books, but I think you are now too old to read them for the first time and enjoy them. You really have to be at that “drugs and discussing ‘heavy ideas’ ” stage when you first read it. (You are missing _a_ton_ of inside jokes in popular culture from having not read it/them, though.)

  2. I forgive ye, Gwenda. But you really should read “Man in the High Castle” at least. And I’m with you on the lack of women. I would have thrown in Ellen Ullman’s “The Bug.” But that’s just me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Yeah, I read the Illuminatus books — the first one, anyway — too late. If I’d read it at fifteen, they might have worked better.
    I don’t know about the pop culture thing. As it is, when someone says FNORD or invokes Eris Goddess of Discord, for me it’s just a flag for the annoying kind of geekery.
    But anyway — Gwenda, I think you’re clearly obligated to propose (or start collecting) a top 20 list of geeky books by women.

  4. I’ve read all of these except Microserfs. I think this list skews toward the kind of readers who discovered their sf long before they discovered girls.
    See adorable amazon review of Trouble With Lichen: “Wyndham is one of my favorite authors especially since he seems to have a basic respect for the female species. I read this book to my mother & she liked it too!”

  5. I’ve read fifteen of ’em. The ones I’ve missed are:
    The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
    Microserfs by Douglas Coupland
    Consider Phlebas by Iain M Banks
    The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
    Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham
    Of those, the Banks is the only I definitely plan to read sometime soon, and of the remaining four, I actively plan to not read the Coupland and the Illuminatus thing. I don’t have any feel for Wyndham at all.
    And yeah, this is definitely an internet poll (one, clearly, that Card and Gaiman hadn’t heard about and so send their teenaged legions to jump up and down on the voting buttons). White guys all the way down.
    I, Robot is a collection and Dune and Foundation aren’t novels either, in the technical sense, though I’ll give Dune a pass on that one. But yeah, yeah, it is what it is–clearly not a list based on literary quality, whatever that is.
    Off to look at the Geek Girl Canon Challenge.

  6. Wyndham is very dated but I’m awfully fond of him and own everything he wrote. He’s got a gift for imaginative, engaging storytelling, and while a lot of his plots are the kind of stuff you see all over the place in sf, he got there first.

  7. Yes, I love Wyndham! This one’s great, but I think “The Day of the Triffids” is my favorite (but “The Midwich Cuckoos” is also a contender). I’ve read almost all of the books on the list; I don’t know that there really can be a female-author equivalent. Yes, I’d definitely put Justina Robson and Gwyneth Jones and Octavia Butler on a list of “super-cool-and-as-good-as-or-better-than-the-classic-stuff” list (and let’s have writers like Robin McCaffrey and Kelly Link as well, no?); but that’s not the same as what this list is. Personally, I will reveal my true girl geekness and name Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Kate Wilhelm; none of these have the geek-cool intellectual chic of many of the books on that earlier list, but that’s what I was reading in the 80s alongside this other stuff. And then we can have the other newer and rather classier ones as counterparts to Gaiman, Stephenson, Banks et al. (who are all by the way particular favorite writers of mine).

  8. I think in 10 years if they redo this list, “Memoirs of a Virus Programmer” will be on it. It’s a great corporate slam, particularly on the “bathroom culture” of the Fortune 500 companies.

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