Where do I start reading science fiction?

A weighty cannon. (Yes, I know it’s spelled differently…)

Science fiction has a history stretching back at least as far as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and arguably much further. Thousands upon thousands of books and stories. As a new reader, where does one start?

Well, the best and shortest answer I can give you is, anywhere you damn well please.

Yes, there’s a weighty ‘canon’ of classic science fiction stories, but you shouldn’t feel intimidated by it. Many of science fiction’s classic texts still hold up. They’re considered classics for a reason. But they often reflect the concerns and literary styles of their time. Discovering and reading them will enrich your appreciation of the genre as a whole, but don’t feel you have to start with them.

Instead, pick a book that appeals to you. If you enjoy it, check out similar books by other authors. They might eventually lead you back to the classics, or not. It doesn’t matter; you’re reading for your own pleasure and there won’t be a test. Let your taste and enjoyment guide you, and you’ll find you’ve embarked on a lifelong journey of discovery and delight.

EDIT: Those of you looking for a place to start can find some suggestions on my earlier blog post: 40 Recommended SF&F Books

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Author: Gareth L Powell


3 thoughts on “Where do I start reading science fiction?”

  1. I was hoping for a least a few pointers to start me off 🙂 If you were founding a year-long course on science fiction what would your reading list for your students look like?

  2. So many possibilities! Ringworld, or Way Station, or Old Man’s War, or the Laundry Files, or Asimov’s Foundation books, or Childhood’s End, and I am not sure where to stop.
    The problem is that I can see almost anybody reading one of these and thinking that because it wasn’t the best choice for them, maybe all SF is bad. So I suppose it depends on what kinds of things they like to read.

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