Matt Hawkins 7 of the Best

Matt Hawkins’ 7 of the Best

Written by Matt Hawkins

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
The Jesus allegory running throughout this book made it fascinating to the younger me. I was once a religious kid obsessed with science. The adult atheist me is obsessed with both science and religion. I reread this last year and was amazed at how much I enjoyed it thirty years later.

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Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov
I read these as a teenager also and the multi-generational, thousand year plan that was the basis of the overall storyline blew my mind. It had a profound effect on the Aphrodite IX, IXth Generation, Cyber Force storylines I did. This one has it all; politics, betrayal, sex, war, religion…

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Watership Down by Richard Adams
This is the first thick book I remember reading as a kid. The anthropomorphic rabbits were the first I’d seen that weren’t in the basic Disney mold. This book scared the shit out of me as a kid. I had weird dreams of the General fighting the dog. Fiver’s prophecies of blood, the rabbits having their own culture, poetry and hierarchy…all blew me away.

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ALIEN
My sister read this book and then convinced me I wanted to see the movie. She and I both hounded my dad until he took the eight year old me to see it. This movie scared the shit out of me. I slept on the floor in my parents room for about a week. Months later I was still scared these aliens would land near me and start wreaking havoc. The confined, dark and minimalist version of a horror sci-f thriller is still unrivaled. I still don’t like watching this movie, but I think it’s fantastic. I never read the book.

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Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
You can read this book in an hour but it’s powerful. How much does modern sci-fi owe Arthur C. Clarke? So much…the idea of a round ship hovering over cities? Came from here. That the Overlords were here to help us but they looked like earth mythology of demons? Amazing and mind-blowing to the 12 year old me that read this for the first time. I love how science fiction tackles social issues head on, unlike a lot of other media that dance around it.

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Elric by Michael Moorcock
I see all them here. I also read these books as a kid. Clearly my childhood reading has mapped out my life. I almost put Conan, but realized I’ve always had a stronger interest in Elric. Conan always seems so unbeatable. Elric always seems so fragile. That he’s an albino and has a sword that essentially controls him and he has to feed….wow. My sister gave me the first book when I was 9 or 10 I remember reading it at Vandenberg AFB which would have placed me around that age.  It was this book that inspired my interest in D&D.

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The Players Handbook by Gary Gygax
I found the PHB at the PBX on base in Vandenberg. A PBX is kind of a convenience story with groceries, books and a little bit of everything. I used to ride my bike to it and wonder around after school. Growing up on bases you lead a somewhat sheltered life I rarely left the base. So seeing uniformed men and women with guns and weapons of war were pretty central to my growing up. Anyway, I was walking through the PBX and saw a copy of the Players Handbook for sale and I bought it. I went home, read it cover to cover and wanted to find a game but could not find anyone that played it. We moved to Whiteman AFB in Missouri and it was the first time we lived off base. I road my bike to school and there was a comic book/gaming store that was on my route so I went there often. Found people who played and ran and played games from about age 9-15. I preferred DM’ing to playing and I credit that period of my life of world building as why I can write today.

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