And, yes, I'm well aware that I'm the only person in the world who prefers the sci-fi channel's rebranding and that, technically, it does only refer to said channel, but SyFy is so much cooler than SciFi and easier to type, so... grin and bear it folks. Just like the fact that this is, techinically, 12 books.
26. The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams:
It's safe to say that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of the funniest science fiction novels ever written. Adams spoofs many core science fiction tropes: space travel, aliens, interstellar war--stripping away all sense of wonder and repainting them as commonplace, even silly.
This omnibus edition begins with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which Arthur Dent is introduced to the galaxy at large when he is rescued by an alien friend seconds before Earth's destruction. Then in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Arthur and his new friends travel to the end of time and discover the true reason for Earth's existence. In Life, the Universe, and Everything, the gang goes on a mission to save the entire universe. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish recounts how Arthur finds true love and "God's Final Message to His Creation." Finally, Mostly Harmless is the story of Arthur's continuing search for home, in which he instead encounters his estranged daughter, who is on her own quest.
Why you should read it: Because it is the funniest thing ever. Because it shows just how screwed up the world is. Because there's the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. Because it's referenced in SGA's "Quarantine." Because it is so quotably quotable that I occasionally find myself saying lines from it - and referencing it my own work - without realizing it. Because I've listened to the books on audiotape more times than I can count while trying to fall asleep over the past few years, can quote it almost line for line, and still love it. Because I'm listing the omnibus as a single book because the whole series is just that good.
"One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It's a nice day, or You're very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you alright? At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behaviour. If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one. If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working. After a while he abandoned this one as well as being obstructively cynical."
"The major problem — one of the major problems, for there are several — one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarize: it is a well known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem."
27. The Foundation Triology by Issac Asmiov:
A THOUSAND-YEAR EPIC, A GALACTIC STRUGGLE, A MONUMENTAL WORK IN THE ANNALS OF SCIENCE FICTION FOUNDATION begins a new chapter in the story of man's future. As the Old Empire crumbles into barbarism throughout the million worlds of the galaxy, Hari Seldon and his band of psychologists must create a new entity, the Foundation-dedicated to art, science, and technology-as the beginning of a new empire. FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE describes the mighty struggle for power amid the chaos of the stars in which man stands at the threshold of a new enlightened life which could easily be destroyed by the old forces of barbarism. SECOND FOUNDATION follows the Seldon Plan after the First Empire's defeat and describes its greatest threat-a dangerous mutant strain gone wild, which produces a mind capable of bending men's wills, directing their thoughts, reshaping their desires, and destroying the universe.
Why you should read it: At the complete opposite end of the spectrum from The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy (and lampooned therein), Foundation and the next two novels in this wholy amazing series, are, well, epically amazing. Emphisis on the epic. This is old-school, classic SyFy (who people will throw stones at me for not using the proper "science fiction" over). This is to die for. Completely unpredicatble, utterly logical, and a mecca for hard-core SyFy fans everywhere.
"Violence … is the last refuge of the incompetent."
"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right."
28. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A Heinlein:
It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of the former Lunar penal colony against the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth. It is the tale of the disparate people--a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic--who become the rebel movement's leaders. And it is the story of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to this inner circle, and who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution's ultimate success.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one of the high points of modern science fiction, a novel bursting with politics, humanity, passion, innovative technical speculation, and a firm belief in the pursuit of human freedom.
Why you should read it: If the above didn't convince you, IDK what will. But everyone should read Heinlein, because he truely is as amazing as he's made out to be, and for those of you, like me, who find the strange sexual practices and stranger poltics of his other novels somewhat unsettling, this is the least, er, kinky, of all of them. Which makes for a somewhat better read, in my opinion.
"What I fear most are affirmative actions of sober and well-intentioned men, granting to government powers to do something that appears to need doing."
"Excuse me, I did not mean to criticize your planet."
29. 2001 and 2010 by Arthur C Clarke:
When an enigmatic monolith is found buried on the moon, scientists are amazed to discover that it's at least 3 million years old. Even more amazing, after it's unearthed the artifact releases a powerful signal aimed at Saturn. What sort of alarm has been triggered? To find out, a manned spacecraft, the Discovery, is sent to investigate. Its crew is highly trained--the best--and they are assisted by a self-aware computer, the ultra-capable HAL 9000. But HAL's programming has been patterned after the human mind a little too well. He is capable of guilt, neurosis, even murder, and he controls every single one of Discovery's components. The crew must overthrow this digital psychotic if they hope to make their rendezvous with the entities that are responsible not just for the monolith, but maybe even for human civilization.
2001: A Space Odyssey shocked, amazed, and delighted millions in the late 1960s. An instant book and movie classic, its fame has grown over the years. Yet along with the almost universal acclaim, a host of questions has grown more insistent through the years, for example: who or what transformed Dave Bowman into the Star-Child? What alien purpose lay behind the monoliths on the Moon and out in space? What could drive HAL to kill the crew? Now all those questions and many more have been answered, in this stunning sequel to the international bestseller. Cosmic in sweep, eloquent in its depiction of Man's place in the Universe, and filled with the romance of space, this novel is a monumental achievement and a must-read for Arthur C. Clarke fans old and new.
Why you should read it: Because, as brilliant a movie as 2001 is, the book is better. Now, this is a four book series, but, for the life of you, don't read the last two. They will only invariably upset and annoy you. So just read 2001 and 2010. Because they are far more intimate, far more detailed, and far more thought-provoking than either of their movies. This isn't to say that the movies aren't fantastic, and that they wouldn't make a top-125 rec of movies to see at least once in your life, but the books are still better.
"The truth, as always, will be far stranger.”
“It must be wonderful to be seventeen, and to know everything.”
30. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card:
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.
Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.
Why you should read it: Say what you will about Orson Scott Card and the later works in this series, this book is wonderful. It's one of those which makes you think without realizing you're thinking, and... well, it's powerful. Go on and read the whole seires if you want (they all deserve to be read, but I'm really only a fan of Ender's Game and Shadow of the Giant, as in the sense I've reread the first a dozen times and reread the powerful, moving, and tear-jerking last two pages of the latter almost as many.) Read it and deside for yourself.
"The enemy's gate is down."
"Everyone thinks Hitler got to power because of his armies, because they were willing to kill, and that's partly true, because in the real world power is always build on the threat of death and dishonor. But mostly he got to power on words, on the right words at the right time.”
“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them.... I destroy them.”