2012 – The Year of Classic Sci-fi

I have a long commute to work. During my drive time I listen to audiobooks. I listen to many different things – comedy, fantasy (a lot of fantasy), science fiction, non-fiction, lectures – a varied mixture of genres. This past year I tried something different, I decided to catch up on all the classic sci-fi books I had heard of but never read. Here is the list and what I gained from each title and how it inspired me.

  1. Ender’s Game – This was a big one on my list and it did not disappoint. It’s difficult to glean much game design inspiration from a book that’t about a kid caught in a game that is being manipulated to be as difficult as possible to impossible. We game designers are supposed to be making winnable games for players! However, there is a lesson here, if someone always believes that someone will help them, they will be less likely to stand on their own. Perhaps game can stand to be a little more stingy with help bubbles and such.
  2. Speaker for the Dead
  3. Stranger in a Strange Land – seems like an attempt to start a cult.
  4. Neuromancer – Interesting read of the ‘birth’ of cyberpunk.
  5. The Forever War
  6. Foundation
  7. Foundation and Empire
  8. A Canticle for Lebowitz
  9. Cat’s Cradle
  10. Slaughterhouse Five – Hands down, one of the best books I have ever read.
  11. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – Unbelievably disappointing. What a jumbled mess of a book with MASSIVE plot holes. Movie much better than the book. Who knew?
  12. Fahrenheit 451
  13. The Mote in God’s Eye
  14. The Difference Engine
  15. Brave New World
  16. I, Robot
  17. Starship Troopers – It’s amazing to me how many of these classic, famous sci-fi books are barely sci-fi. You could easily replace ‘bugs’ with any enemy on Earth and have a mundane boot camp & war story. That being said, this book was an well-told tale of a man’s time in boot camp and first contact with the enemy.
  18. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Heinlein has some weird about about society. A place where somehow the constant threat of death for the smallest infraction from a mob creates some sort of psudo-utopia? Lots of fun ballistics though!
  19. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
  20. Gateway – Wow, just wow. This book’s plot is a perfect template for an MMO. An high risk/reward MMO full of permadeath 🙂
  21. Hyperion
  22. Fall of Hyperion

I can’t go into too much detail about all these books. I have been trying to wrap up this blog entry for 2 months! There were many inspirations and insights in this books. While I did get a bit sick of “space travel is boring” theme, which many of the books touched on, this was a great year of reading.

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