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Retro Reads #1 – Great Sci-Fi From the Golden Years

June 18, 2012

I thought I would take a moment to list some of the speculative fiction from the golden years, books that have remained classics throughout the years.  It’s not hard to find good science fiction, but there are certain works that we should read or re-read to remind ourselves of the stories that sparked our own desire to write about an imagined future that holds a place in our hearts.  This will be an ongoing series of posts that will spotlight books that influenced the development of thought during my formative years.  There is nothing magical about this list, it is nothing more than a compilation of my own personal tastes.  I hope you find something that piques your interest.  Let’s kick this off with a little Robert A. Heinlein.

Here are a few of his more popular books:

Tunnel in the Sky – My personal favorite

From the author of STARSHIP TROOPERS comes TUNNEL IN THE SKY, the story of a group of students who are dropped on a foreign planet in order to test their survival skills. When the rescue ship doesn’t arrive, they must create a new society and learn to adapt to their new life in the wild… but are their greatest troubles from beasts or their fellow-man.

Have Spacesuit Will Travel

Kip Russell wants nothing more than to go to the moon. But after entering a contest to help realize his dream, he is thrust into a space adventure he could never have imagined–with the most unlikely of friends and enemies. A favorite among Heinlein readers.

Starship Troopers – Do not pre-judge this story based on the movies, please!

In one of Robert Heinlein’s most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the Universe–and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against mankind’s most frightening enemy.

Orphans of the Sky

Hugh Hoyland must convince a starship civilization that can’t remember or conceive of life outside the ship they inhabit that a universe does exist. With the help of the outcast mutants from the upper decks of the ship, Hugh sets out to expose the truth and thus change their civilization forever.

The Red Planet

Jim Marlow and his strange-looking Martian friend Willis were allowed to travel only so far. But one day Willis unwittingly tuned into a treacherous plot that threatened all the colonists on Mars, and it set Jim off on a terrifying adventure that could save–or destroy–them all!

Stranger in a Strange Land – The quintessential Heinlein – Do you grok?

Here at last is the complete, uncut version of Heinlein’s all-time masterpiece, the brilliant novel that grew from a cult favorite to a bestseller to a classic in a few short years. It is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, the man from Mars who taught humankind grokking and water-sharing. And love.
This is not, by any means, a definitive list, but it represents a nice cross-section of Heinlein’s work.  Many more titles are available for e-reader, and there are lots of books written about Heinlein that would allow a scholarly examination of the author.  The next Retro Reads post will pick up with a look at the works of Isaac Asimov.
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