Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Authors and Books That Shaped My Style

We all enjoy reading different genres. Some of us like to mix it up and read all across the board, but there's always the one that reaches the innermost corners of your heart and mind. Mine is science fiction. I love the question "What if?" and sci fi has the freedom to really explore the possibilities. There is the hard science (physics and other sciences that rely on the scientific method) and soft science (social sciences), and what I like to call light science (real science that all of us can understand). I love them all depending on my mood--and how much sleep I've had.

Here are some of the books that really shaped who I am inside, how I see the world, and the slant my writing often takes. They are sort of in order of discovery to the best of my knowledge and memory. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, these are the books I would give a 5 to on my book review scale. All for different reasons in the details, but mostly because of how deeply they affected me. Some of them are from my youth so keep that in mind.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
This is the earliest sci fi book I remember ever reading. As a teen it captured my imagination and started a love affair with Mars. Its several short stories covering the history of Mars and man's interactions with it. You just don't get any better than this. With this one book, I learned that anything is possible in our imaginations. Anything. And you can make it feel real if you become a great writer.

Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence
Nuclear holocaust. What if you survived? What would the new world look like after the dust settles? Told in three parts (if I remember correctly), it chronicles the lives of ones man's offspring. One line survived outside, the other stored safely under ground until it was deemed safe to return to the surface. What happens when they meet again?

This was the first book by Lawrence that I read and after this I read everything by her I could get my hands on--Calling B for Butterfly, Andra, Star Lord, and the next one.

Moonwind by Louise Lawrence
Possibly my favorite ever by her. This story is about Bethkahn, an astral being, trapped on the surface of the moon for thousands of years. Her crew left her to repair the ship while they went to explore Earth. Unfortunately, they landed on Atlantis. At a very bad time of history. They were stranded and in order to return to the moon they needed to join with the primitive humans and teach them, help them reach for the stars. But they forgot who they were over time. And Bethkahn slept. And waited. And finally someone reached the moon. But they weren't what she expected. Their spirits were trapped inside the flesh, having forgotten what it felt like to be free.

And that's just the back story that's strung through out the book. Fascinating and it isn't even the story!

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
What Sci fi fanatic hasn't read this? Or all the books that followed in the series, or the Shadow series? Excellent all around. Card is one of the people I could read forever, and thank goodness he's written a ton of stuff.

Card taught me to think outside the box. LOL, or inside the box if you've read Children of the Mind.

Memory by Linda Nagatta
This book still haunts me! What if everyone on the planet lived their lives over and over? What if when you were born again you had a way to access all the information and memories you learned in the previous lives? What if you only had one true mate that you could ever be with without dying? What if they weren't born until you were in your 60's? What if you learned that your world was really a vacation spot for the gods and your body just a vehicle for them? I can't really ask more of the what ifs without giving away spoilers. But this is a MUST read.

Nightfall by Issac Asimov and Robert Silverberg
This is another book that is simply brilliant in every possible way. A world with six suns. At least one is always in the sky and it is never dark. A world that has never seen the moon alone in the black expanse of space, or stars. What would happen if once every 2000 years the universe aligned and night fell over the earth?

Chilling, fascinating, haunting. Totally believable science and religious fanaticism. The end of the world could be our doing simply because of our stupidity or unwillingness to believe the facts.

Destiny's Road by Larry Niven
This is the story of one man's journey from the end of Destiny's Road all the way to the beginning and back again. Many stages of life, each one bringing him to a chilling knowledge of how his world works and finally acceptance of it.

An epic tale inside one cover. Amazing work.

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
If Ender's Game was my first, this is Card's work that haunts me. My favorite of all time by him.

A young boy sees a beautiful maiden deep in the forest, but runs away. Years later he returns to see if he only imagined it. She's there, guarded by a giant bear in a deep pit surrounding her. But our hero is brave, cunning, and has the stamina to outrun the beast. What do you do when you reach a sleeping beauty? You kiss her of course. Unfortunately, the princess barely tolerates her savior in the beginning.

This is a beautiful love story hidden inside a great Russian fairy tale that moves from modern day to 1000 years in the past and back again. Ok, I enjoyed the love story part, but that's actually a very small part of the whole picture. There is evil and chases and deceptions. Secrets that threaten to undo every small act of kindness and goodness. How can two people separated by a thousand years of culture ever learn to trust and love each other anyway?

Ringworld by Larry Niven
There are four books in this series and a prequel. All worth the read. Where do I start? Imagine a giant ring in space large enough to surround a star. Large enough that the rim is the perfect distance away from the star to sustain life. A ring large enough that its terraformed land masses and oceans could contain hundreds of earths.

Who could build such a thing? Why? How would you maintain it? And what would happen if the system started to break down?

This is another--It doesn't get better than this!

There are many other titles and authors fluttering in my mind begging for me to present to you, but I think this is already a bit long. When you get a chance, check out some of these and let me know what you think.


  1. I'll have to keep these books in mind. My husband loves sci-fi and wants me to keep an eye out for books for him after he finishes reading all of the Star Wars books. :)

  2. Everyone keeps saying my book is similar in style to Ender's Game. I've read Card's books, but not that one. Guess I need to!

  3. Would you believe I have read none of the books in this post? Hard sci fi is not my thing, but I love the sound of Children of the Dust.

    Great blog topic too, by the way. :-)


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