Paired Readings: Descriptions
- The Princess
Bride, William Goldman
Illusions, Richard Bach
- "Life is not fair..." says Goldman in his wonderful story,
"...but it doesn't matter, so enjoy yourself anyway," replies
Bach in one of the few New Age books I can stand.
- The Gypsy,
Steven Brust and Megan Lindholm
Someplace to Be Flying, Charles de
- Similar but different, these two urban fantasies concerning
animal people are sides of the same coin. I'm not sure how much of
the difference is due to writing style and how much to the variance
in source legends (Central European for Brust/Lindholm and Native
American for de Lint), but the books share the same basic plot and
premise and nothing else.
- Fail-Safe, Eugene Burdick
Dr. Strangelove, Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love
the Bomb, Peter Green
- Last year, when I saw "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon", it struck
me that they were sort of the '90s version of "Failsafe" and "Dr.
Strangelove", which were books before they were movies.
TEOTWAWKI [ed. note: the end of the world as we know it]
stories — then semi-accidental nuclear war, now
comets/asteroids hitting the Earth. In each pair, one tragedy, the
[See also a pair on the
- Sin of Origin, John
A Case of Conscience, James Blish (See also Hyperion
- Both explore the theological implications of aliens whose
biological nature is very different from humans'.
2419 A.D., Philip Francis Nowlan
City of Illusions, Ursula K. Le
- A man who is unfamiliar with his surroundings awakens in a
heavily forested, largely uninhabited North America that is under
the control of vaguely Asiatic alien oppressors who live in a
fortified city in the Rocky Mountains.
- Slan, A. E. Van
The Stars My Destination, Alfred
- Rags-to-riches-and-power stories about supermen.
- The Galaxy
Primes, E. E. "Doc" Smith
The Number of the Beast, Robert A.
- Four strong-willed, super-competent people, two men and two
women, travel through space in a teleporting supership, outsmarting
whomever they meet.
- Ringworld and Ringworld
Engineers, Larry Niven
Strata, Terry Pratchett
- Explorations of artificially constructed worlds which are not
planets. (Pratchett's book was a satire of and an homage to
Niven's). [ed. note: see L-Space for
- Darker Than You
Think, Jack Williamson
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
- Classic re-workings of traditional monsters (werewolves and
vampires) from a science-fictional point of view.
Egg, Robert Forward
Flux, Stephen Baxter
- Two very different speculations about life on a neutron
Backward, Edward Bellamy
The Shape of Things to Come, H. G.
- Early, heavy-handed, message-laden future histories describing
how wonderful the world will be after vaguely
totalitarian-socialist philosophies are universally adopted.
- The Lensman
Series, E. E. "Doc" Smith
Agent of Vega, James H. Schmitz
- Super-agent travels around the galaxy, righting wrongs and
thwarting evil through infiltration and subterfuge.
The Golden Key, Melanie Rawn, Kate Elliot, Jennifer
- "Fantastical" societies as they progress into modernity, as
magic and monarchy work into science and democracy.
- Freedom and
Necessity, Steven Brust and Emma Bull
World Without End and Sea Without a
Shore (the Moontide and Magic Rise duology), Sean
- Visions of the occult and mysticism in worlds of industry and
science, Ages of Reason.
- Dinotopia: The
World Beneath, James Gurney
Voyage of the Basset, James C. Christensen, Renwick
St. James, Alan Dean Foster
- Men of science voyage to fantastical realms.
- Eva, Peter
"Rachel in Love", Pat Murphy
- They're both about consciousness transplants from a girl to a
chimp, and explore what it means to be a person, a chimp, or a
person in a chimp.
- Engine Summer, John
The Fortunate Fall, Raphael Carter (See also
more books than it's
convenient to list here)
- Both express the notion of a "soul" in a beautiful and
unconventional fashion—not as some spiritual invariant, but
as something that is earned by living.
Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
Watership Down, Richard Adams (See
- Abstract forces of nature in The Last Unicorn and
in the tales of El-ahrairah in Watership Down are both
represented as animal presences. It feels less than mythological,
perhaps because the worlds in these stories are a closer metaphor
for our own than heaven.
- The Dragon and the
Unicorn, A. A. Attanasio
All at One Point, Italo Calvino
- Mrs. PhiN(k)o is God, a mother presence in timeless coexistence
at a single point before the Big Bang. Creation was spawned so that
She could be imagined.
- The Foundation
Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Birthright: the Book of Man, Mike
- Birthright is very clearly a response to the
- The Gap Series, Stephen R.
The Ring, Daniel Keys Moran
- Science-fictional takes on Wagner's Ring cycle.
- A Deepness in
the Sky, Vernor Vinge
Cities in Flight series, James
- Effectively they're both about ships that people live on for
their whole lives, trading with planets. It's just that Blish's
series was written in the 50s. Read them at the same time and get
- The Sarantine
Mosaic, Guy Gavriel Kay
Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay (See also "Erase/Record/Play"
- The central theme of each is the nature of legacy.
On to the SPOILERS