Ask Adam Anything: Top 5 Sci-Fi Books

Adam answers this question from fan Cody Limber: “I’ve read and loved nearly everything you’ve mentioned on the Still Untitled podcast, but I need recommendations for sci-fi books. What are your top 5 favorite sci-fi books?” Side note: Adam could not stop at just five!

  1. Neuromancer Trilogy, by William Gibson:​
  2. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson:​
  3. Dune, by Frank Herbert:
  4. 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami:​
  5. Girl in Landscape, by Jonathan Lethem:​
  6. Shikasta: Re, Colonised Planet 5, by Doris Lessing:​
  7. The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin:​

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Comments (27)

27 thoughts on “Ask Adam Anything: Top 5 Sci-Fi Books

  1. Wow……I have some reading to do. I haven’t heard of a lot of these. Thank you Adam. Also I had never heard of a “Quintology” Makes sense. Just not a word i ever used.

  2. One of my favorites has always been Julian May’s “Saga of Pliocene Exile” and The “Galactic Milieu Series”.That in itself is eight volumes to imerse youself in, it evens has a “Pliocene Companion”.

    As Adam mentioned William Gibsons Neuromancer .

    While it is not a novel the “Ghost in the Shell” is a nice romp for a wet evening.

    Looking only at its litary merits I found The Ender series by orson scott card very enjoyable.

  3. The Expanse saga. It feels so real and human that I can’t stop recommending it. I went looking for aliens, but I stayed for the Earth-Mars diplomacy.

    If you watch the TV show, there’s a super cameo from a super cool guy!

  4. Hard to top Neuromancer

    I deeply enjoyed the Three Body Problem trilogy, though I feel it peaks in the second book.

    I have recently finished reading the Jean le Flambeur trilogy by Hannu Rajaniemi (The Quantum Thief, The Fractal Prince, and The Causal Angel), and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s a deeply complex story set in an extremely advanced universe, which deals with some very human concepts in really interesting ways. I don’t maintain an exact list, but it’s hard to imagine these not being in my top 5 sci-fi series.

    Obligatory mention of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

  5. I hope that you will revisit Gibson, if you haven’t already, for his last book, “The Peripheral”. He says himself that it’s really his first foray into hard sci-fi – if you can believe it! After reading it, give it a bit and then read it again. So much more surfaces on the second – and even the third read. He’s about to release the next volume in this trilogy – “Agency”.

    I would also recommend a read of his, until recently unproduced, screenplay for Alien 3. It is about to be released as a 5 comic series. The screenplay is brilliant!

    And our old friend Douglas with “Dirk Gently”, but I think you’ve read those.

    There are so many more…

  6. Exactly!!! The alien stuff was just a spark of interest for me, a sexy topic. But the people and the life captured me!

    Expecially loved the 5th in that way.

  7. On Basilisk Station, David Weber’s Honor Harrington is the Horatio Hornblower of Sci-Fi. Find it for free in Free Library.

  8. You already mentioned Neal Stephenson – fully agree with you, and would also highly recommend all his other books. In terms of “mindblowing ideas density”, they’re hard to beat 🙂 Just prepare for the percent counter on your kindle to tick over veeery, veeery slowly… (or prepare for heavy lifting if you buy paper copies…) Although not technically Sci-Fi, I also really enjoyed his historical fiction books (Baroque Cycle, Cryptonomicon) – spent hours on Wikipedia afterwards reading up on the real figures and events, and his background research is astounding.

    Charlie Stross I would also highly recommend. He also has a lot of mind-bending ideas in his sci-fi books, and they go a lot deeper than one expects initially. I haven’t read “1Q84”, but your brief description of it would also perfectly describe the “Merchant Princes” series by Charlie (highly recommended! you might classify it as fantasy at first glance, but wait there’s more…). I really enjoyed “Singularity Sky”, but that might be just me. “Halting State”, near-future police procedural, is eerily accurate in its predictions, and quite chilling at times. “Glasshouse” is also very good. “Accelerando” is a crazy ride, and this one you can find for free on his website. Anyway, I will read all the scifi he writes… and if that’s not your thing, he also has Lovecraftian spy stories (Laundry series) that you might enjoy.

    Vernor Vinge’s “A fire upon the deep” is very interesting for its weird universe, and descriptions of what life is like for strange alien beings (multi-bodied creatures, sentient trees on wheels, …)

  9. Anything by Greg Egan is worth reading. Quarantine, Permutation City, and Distress are his more popular works. Dichronauts is one of the weirdest but coolest thought experiment rides I’ve ever been on.

    As Schill mentioned anything from Stross is wonderful, Doctrow as well. Also the post human series by David Simpson is very enjoyable.

  10. Red Rising by Pierce Brown is a trilogy I highly recommended. Very “Hunger Games” like, but has much deeper plot, and world.

  11. thanks ADAM – i now have 6 more books to add to the list of books I will get to soon ( do not ask for a definition of SOON) those of us with 9 – 5 jobs have a lot less reading time than others .

  12. I have a lot of trouble recommending Dune anymore…largely because the sequels get so massively just weird. Snow Crash is a better book then Seveneves because he wrote that last section on Seveneves…which works so poorly it almost ruins one of the best reads every. I think I get what he was trying to do….but too much of it doesn’t work well.

  13. Loved the list – If great space opera is your thing there is no getting around Peter F. Hamilton’s The Night’s Dawn Trilogy

  14. Another great collection that I read long before I finally read Dune is Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun. The individual books are The Shadow of the Torturer (1980), The Claw of the Conciliator (1981), The Sword of the Lictor (1982), and The Citadel of the Autarch (1983). Can’t recommend this enough to TESTED friends. Cheers…

  15. Hi Adam, which model are you most proud of being involved with? Which film prop do you wish you had made? Which prop do you wish you had a chance to ‘do over’ either one of yours or someone elses and which film prop do you most covert to collect?? Thank you for your time Darren

  16. Hi Adam, as someone with a notoriously busy schedule, you always manage to appear upbeat and energetic. So what’s your secret? How do you keep your energy levels up? Thanks for your time good sir.

  17. Thanks Adam for the list. Read a few of those, will add the rest. Been needing suggestions for more sci-fi! I’d like to add the Gaea Trilogy by John Varley: Titan, Wizard, Demon.

  18. I’m such a casual Tested viewer, even though I’m a Premium member I hardly ever remember to watch the Premium stuff, so I am late to this and have catching up to do!

    Some great books mentioned and I will add a few to my to read list. Here’s a few I usually include in my top five:

    Quarantine by Greg Egan

    Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith

    Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

    Ubik by Philip K. Dick

    And although it’s not really SF, Pattern Recognition by William Gibson.

  19. I’m surprised no one has mentioned Isaac Asimov… His Foundation books are amazing. I’d like to see Hari Seldon’s early life as a TV Series..

    Also, if you haven’t read it, The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem is a fun ride. Especially the chapter about the Electronic Bard. A translators nightmare!

  20. I would strongly endorse Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy, available in collected form as “Lilith’s Brood”.

  21. Very surprised Iain Banks gets no mention in the video or the comments?

    If you want a great girls-own-adventure story I loved Revenger, a young woman’s slow transformation through experience, by Alastair Reynolds.

  22. OMG yes. I love where he has taken Honor over the years. Had a pleasant discussion with David Weber about ‘prolong’ and what it might do to the workforce. Love those books.

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