Written by Eric Vogel
This book is where a 25-year love of science fiction all started. I had seen the movie with my cousin, who was reading the book at the time, and afterwards he talked me into reading it. All due respect to Mr. Spielberg, but the original Crichton just can’t be touched. It was the kind of subtle science fiction that made it easy to suspend belief and question the kind of wonders the future could hold while at the same time extolling the dangers of innovation without ethics. It’s possible that I might like Sphere or Congo more, but this book started it all for me, and for that I am truly grateful.
A timeless dystopian novella by Ray Bradbury, I read this once every five years or so. I feel like a healthy dose of thinly-veiled social commentary on the importance of free thinking is a must. Not to mention, every time I read that opening line, I get shivers.
The first of several cheats on my list. I highly recommend all iterations of this science fiction. The novel, the David Lynch movie, and lastly, the SyFy mini-series, both Dune and then Children of Dune (starring a very young James McAvoy). I loved Dune when I first read it for a book report in high school. It combined the good kind of world building (or universe building in this case) that Tolkien does, without making it sound like you’re reading a history textbook (like Tolkien very often does.) THIS was the Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones was Game of Thrones, so if you like that, you should definitely try the original.
Another cheat, both the book, which I read second (as silly as that is,) and the original Rankin/Bass animated movie (not the 3-part monstrosity of a moneygrab. For shame, Peter Jackson.) This was one of a few VHS tapes my mother would rent for me when I was home from elementary school with one of my 300 bouts of bronchitis. Couldn’t get enough of that movie, and I still, to this day, remember the tunes and the words to all of the songs featured in it. They might even be the best part of it, and there’s a ton to like about it. Knowing the movie also made it even more exciting when I finally picked up the book much later. Truly just a wonderful adventure story by Tolkien with little to none of the rambling histories that crept into his other work.
Stranger in a Strange Land
I almost picked Starship Troopers, because I thought I could squeeze in another two for one, but when it comes to Heinlein, there’s really no competition. I can still remember reading the introduction at a Barnes & Noble. I was hooked immediately. What would a human who was raised by aliens think of humanity? To grok questions like this and oh-so-many more, I highly recommend this book.
I am, unapologetically, a Christopher Nolan fanboy. I love, literally, everything he’s done, even Dark Knight Rises. I don’t even care that his Batman movies set DC back a decade behind Marvel. While Memento might be my favorite, I’m not sure if that qualifies as Sci-fi, so I picked Inception. Interstellar was good, but Inception is just amazing. Every time I watch it I notice something different or I come out of it with a different question or something else I want to talk about, and for me, that is the hallmark of any great movie.
That’s right, I’m taking Rogue One, and I’ll get into why as soon as I qualify this selection with the fact that of COURSE I would take the entire franchise, even the stupid prequels because I love Star Wars so much that as I write this I’m looked down upon by a Lego Falcon, a Lego Slave 1, and a Darth Vader reading light. Why Rogue One? Because it makes me so unbearably excited for what is to come. I admire that they’re pushing female protagonists. I absolutely love the way they delved into the gray areas of what has (even through Force Awakens,) been a very black-and-white space. I admire that they did this project with little-to-no hope of sequel, which in today’s movie industry is no small thing. The only thing I hate about this movie is the way I tear up LITERALLY every time I hear the words, “I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.” Which reminds me, I continue to be amazed that they were able to make a movie in the Star Wars universe that didn’t feature the Force as a driving… well, force. There was a lot riding on this movie. Disney went out and did it until they got it right. It’s not every day that a bellwether of science fiction does that many different/new things and still knocks it out of the park. I could literally ramble on about the movie like this forever, so that’s why I chose Rogue One.