Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Appendix N for Sci Fi (Circa 1980s)

D&D had it's Appendix N--it's suggested reading for further inspiration--which was loaded with Sword & Sorcery classics from the pulp era and beyond. Grognardia has done a wonderful job of highlighting those books. I wondered if TSR's Star Frontiers had an equivalent a while back while I was flipping through the manuals I'd bought off eBay. Low and behold--it did! Though it wasn't an official appendix, it was listed under the title "READING FOR FUN AND IDEAS". The list is filled with great stuff, but its also dated.

Following are the titles listed on the back cover of the Expanded Game Rules, from the first printing of July 1982:

  • Asimov, Isaac—Extraterrestrial Civilizations
  • Bylinsky, Gene—Life in Darwin's Universe
  • Dole, Robert—Habitable Planets for Man
  • Feinberg, Gerald and Robert Shapiro—Life Beyond Earth: An Intelligent Earthling's Guide to Life in the Universe
  • Anthony, Piers—Macroscope
  • Anderson, Poul—Ensign Flandry series
  • Asimov, Isaac—Foundation trilogy: I, Robot; The Gods Themselves
  • Aspirin, Robert—The Cold-Cash War
  • Bester, Alfred—The Stars, My Destination
  • Blish, James—Cities in Flight
  • Bradbury, Ray—The Martian Chronicles
  • Brown, Frederick—What Mad Universe
  • Brunner, John—Stand on Zanzibar
  • Budrys, Algis—Rogue Moon
  • Chandler, Bertram A.—Commodore Grimes series
  • Clarke, Arthur C.—Rendezvous with Rama; The Fountains of Paradise
  • Clement, Hal—Mission of Gravity; Close to Critical; The Nitrogen Fix
  • de Camp, L. Sprague—Krishna series
  • Dick, Philip K.—Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  • Dickson, Gordon R.—Dorsai series
  • Drake, David—Hammer's Slammers
  • Farmer, Philip Jose—Riverworld series
  • Garrett, Randall—Starship Death
  • Goulart, Ron—many short novels
  • Haldeman, Joe—The Forever War
  • Hansen, Karl—War Games
  • Harrison, Harry—Bill, The Galactic Hero; The Stainless Steel Rat; Deathworld series
  • Heinlein, Robert—Starship Troopers; The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
  • Herbert, Frank—Dune series
  • Laumer, Keith—A Plague of Demons; Retief series; Bolo series
  • LeGuin, Ursula—The Left Hand of Darkness
  • Lem, Stanislaw—Solaris; The Cyberiad
  • Longyear, Barry—Circus World
  • Niven, Larry—Ringworld; Ringworld Engineers; Tales of Known Space
  • Niven, Larry and Jerry Pournelle—The Mote in God's Eye
  • Norton, Andre—Star Rangers
  • Pohl, Frederick—Gateway
  • Pournelle, Jerry—The Mercenary
  • Russel, Eric Frank—The Great Explosion
  • Saberhagen, Fred—Berserker series
  • Silverberg, Robert—The Man in the Maze
  • Simak, Clifford D.—City
  • Smith, E. E.—Triplanetary; Space Patrol; others in the Lensmen series
  • Stapleton, Olaf—Last and First Men
  • Vance, Jack—Big Planet; The Grey Prince; Tschai, Planet of Adventure series; Demon Princes series
  • Van Vogt, A. E.—The Weapons Shops of Isher; The Silkie; Voyage of the Space Beagle
  • Varley, John—The Persistence of Vision
  • Zelazny, Roger—Lord of Light
I can't say I've read even a fraction of these and I'm trying to track down several more for my collection. There's even more not on the list that I do own, that I'd probably consider "reference" when I think of sci-fi in general. So gentle reader, what's on your list of go-to science fiction? Anything new? How about long forgotten? Or off the beaten path?

Leave a few of your own in the comments. (Movies, comics, whatever--it's all acceptable!)


  1. It's a weird list; most of those titles have little if anything to do with Star Frontiers' default UPF setting. More of my thoughts on it here: http://gnombient.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/star-frontiers-recommended-fiction-list/

    A few selections I've found to be particularly inspirational in my own SF gaming/imaginings:

    Leigh Brackett - various "Solar System" tales
    Alex Raymond - Flash Gordon (comics)
    E.C. Tubb - Dumarest of Terra series
    Jack Vance - The Demon Princes series

  2. It depends on the sort of sci-fi I'm going to do. For a sort of retro-sci-fi:

    Leigh Brackett - solar system short-stories and novellas
    CL Moore - Northwest Smith stoires.
    SM Sterlings - The Sky People, Hall of the Crimson King

    for space opera:
    Scott Westerfield - The Risen Empire, The Killing of Worlds
    Cordwainer Smith - The Instrumentality of Man stories
    Greg Egan - Diaspora

    near future:
    Bruce Sterling - various short-stories
    William Gibson - the Sprawl trilogy, and Burning Chrome
    Greg Egan - Quarantine
    Alan Dean Foster - The Mocking Program
    George Alec Effinger - When Gravity Fails

  3. I don't know. Star Frontiers as a system may not seem to lend itself easily to some of these series but the feel is there in many cases.

    My old Star Frontiers campaigns were definitely influenced by A. E. Van Vogt, E.E. Smith, Andre Norton and Keith Laumer.

  4. Very glad to see Olaf Stapledon on there-Last and First Men is so underrated-still!-that it hurts. There's bizarre far-flung imagination in bulk in there.

  5. Good stuff guys--thanks for adding to the mix. There's so much out there now that it's tough to comb through. And there's plenty of NEW lit that's just too great to pass up!