Paul Reiche and Fred Ford's Science Fiction Reading List

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Matt Barton's picture

In my Matt Chat interviews with Fred Ford and Paul Reiche, the duo proposed updating their 1991 list of science fiction novels and stories for aspiring game designers. They've also added a few fantasy authors to "keep us guessing!" How many of these fine authors have you read?

Neal Asher
Stephen Baxter
Greg Bear
David Brin
Stephen Hunt
Greg Keyes
Jay Lake
George R. R. Martin (especially the stories of Haviland Tuf)
Sean McMullen
China Miéville
Daniel Keys Moran (he just published a new Trent novel - buy it!)
James Morrow
Larry Niven
Tim Powers
Cherie Priest
Phillip Pullman
Alastair Reynolds
Brandon Sanderson
Dan Simmons
Sheri Tepper
Jack Vance
Vernor Vinge
John C. Wright

And to prove that part of my brain is still part 'teen reader', I'd add:
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Stephanie Meyer - Twilight Series
John Christopher - Tripod Trilogy


- Paul and Fred


Joined: 09/05/2010
I meant that writing, as a

I meant that writing, as a creative process, involves a much smaller budget than a game or a movie, or even recording an album. I think that freedom keeps the medium from becoming stagnant and well... boring. There's always going to be interesting fiction books. I think the only way to bring the great game and movie ideas back is to reduce the cost in making them, so that greed is a much smaller factor. This is why the most interesting movies are independently made--somebody actually cares. Now the video game industry seems to be dabbling there as well, except that production value makes a larger difference in games.

I agree that the publishing world seems pretty foul though. Publishers look to hype names and not stories and treat these authors similar to how the music industry treats pop stars. I don't care how good some sections of The Wheel of Time could be, the man tried to make so much money he passed away before he could finish telling the story.

Joined: 01/21/2009
Im suprised at the hate for

Im suprised at the hate for Wot.. before the first book ever came out he said it would be 6 books, which was expanded to 12 after the 2nd book (its 14), and when he was diagnosed with a life ending illness and gave roughly 4 years to live he felt like expanding the last book (12, which turned into 12,13,and 14) as it would be the last thing he ever wrote. Of the 4 years, he lived only 2 (much shorter then planned), so he while he never "wrote" the final books he did dictate the story line so they could be completed. Keep in mind the LOTR books where expanded from a short childrens book (so it tripled in size, WOT only doubled) how many of you knew that fact?.

You may be right about trying to make money, I would suspect we all would want to make sure our family was taken care of when we passed. But I suspect he really just wanted to write the last thing he ever would in a grand fashion. I do think his family is now selling the crap out of... I may be biased as I talked ot him once (and have the first book of WOT a Hard Copy, signed).. he was actually quite nice.

I must admit the last two books published where a bit long, but they where co authored.. not 100% his work. Personally i think the first book is by far the worst of the 13 i have read, long, boring and feels very generic.
He released several E-books for free (through TOR), doesnt seem like a money grab to me? Unless you mean writing alot about a world you created as running into the ground.

Yes Im a fanboy of the books.. maybe i see them a bit to lovelingly..... I do have my gripes.. he has so dang many charactes all running all over thats its almost impossilbe to rember all the names and to compound it, several are almost forgoten for whole books...

It cant be too run into the ground its the 6th best selling Fantasy book series ever.. sadly Harry Potter is #1 and if you consider adult Fanatsy its the Biggest selling series by a modern author. I was bit suprised the NARNIA books where 2nd, a retelling of the bible. eh... guess everything is better if its got talking beavers (and no thats not some rude joke) :)
No harm, no foul having your own opinion.. I would like to see another 10 books.. But i was fan from the CONAN days..

Joined: 09/05/2010
I read Eye of the World and

I read Eye of the World and thought it was alright. I wasn't too into his style of writing. I was also aware of the sheer size of the series when I was reading it and decided (in my mind at least) that the pace was primarily motivated by maximizing the amount of books in the series. I'm all for enjoying a good story though!

As for Harry Potter there's quite a bit of filler in it as well, but I did make it through the first 6 books. Book 7 lost my interest when it became afraid to kill characters off. And holy smokes did I get sick of that stupid wizard school after a while. It wasn't until the last two books that Harry finally started doing cool adult stuff outside of that nursery.

Nous's picture
Joined: 04/07/2007
How To Write A Generic SF Novel

This made me smile:

Your hero must be likeable and sympathetic at all times. Like James Bond in the Roger Moore era, he’s quick with a quip, and is unruffled by any situation. No amount of exposure to suffering or slaughter should alter your hero in any significant way, although he is allowed to shed the odd manly tear or to express cold steely determination to do something about the death of a loved one. This makes him even more sympathetic. But all trauma is temporary; showing genuine emotion is difficult, and can hold up the plot. A secret past is always good -- you don’t have to deal with the parents. No bad deed goes unpunished; no good deed goes unrewarded; anyone who disagrees with your hero must suffer for it. Everyone’s behaviour has a rational explanation -- Freud is useful in this respect. No one refuses to get with the plot. Everyone acts their part, and is in character all the time. All problems are solvable. Traditionally, SF heroes solved problems by application of intelligence and scientific knowledge. These days, you can substitute lasers or AK-47s for scientific knowledge. Or swords. The equivalent of the internet or mobile phones are used only when the hero needs to find something out. Usually someone else does the actual typing. Don’t include any science that might frighten the readers. Anything found in SF written before the 1980s is usually okay. Nanotechnology is basically magic. So is genetic engineering. Also quantum mechanics. Virtual reality is more or less the same as a video game. Planets can be treated as a single country, with uniform climate and culture, and no more than three unique features that distinguish them from Earth. Always include some non-Americans for local colour; like the Irish steerage passengers in Titanic (the movie), they're cheerful, deferential, and possess a quaint and lively culture. Also include either a kickass woman who can do the unacceptable things that would make your hero unlikeable, or a wise old soothsaying woman who speaks in parables and knows things that can’t be found on the internet. See also: sidekick comedy robot. Infodumps can put off readers. Have your characters tell each other about their situation instead. Bars are good places to do this. Bars are also great places to meet people. Unlike airport bars, spaceport bars are packed with colourful characters who all know each other. Aliens can usually be found in the corners of spaceport bars, or in a mysterious rundown quarter of the city attached to the spaceport. They’re basically cats. Or turtles. Or some other pet animal. They often lack a sense of humour, which puts them at a disadvantage when dealing with humans. Interstellar merchants can be found in another corner of the bar, trading in spices, exotic liquors, and rare elements. No matter how technologically advanced your future society might be, its sociology and economics are basically those of the seventeenth century. Also its battle tactics. All spaceships are big. Very big. Except the one owned by the kickass woman. And they never run out of fuel, power, breathable air, potable water, food, or reaction mass. Despite possession of gigantic highly-advanced starships, wars are usually won by your hero and a few good marines. Death is optional. At the end, everything is as it was before, except your hero is richer, more powerful, and married to the right woman, who is never the kickass woman.

There’s your story.
Goodnight, children.

Nous's picture
Joined: 04/07/2007
When Science Fiction meets Adventure Gaming

slenkar (not verified)

I was surprised not to see Frank Herbert there

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