Although I'm not certain, I believe it all started with Yevgeny Zamyatin's WE. I had to write a report on it in high school, and it really sparked my imagination for all things forward thinking. In it, the protagonist takes a journey from conforming citizen of the republic, to free thinking individual, despite the fact that he doesn't fully understand his new self. There were many lessons in it, but the one I appreciated most was to not let society tell you who you are. Only you can define that for yourself. Don't be just a number, D-503!
One of the next highlights that sticks out in my memory is Dreaming Metal, by Melissa Scott. It absolutely captured my imagination with it's thoughtful insights into how a society might deal with the personal rights of an emerging artificial intelligence, as well as it's detailed description of that society. I love in-depth details because they help me paint a virtual world in my mind's eye. And, I really enjoy "seeing" the plot unfold inside the world I've created. Call me weird, but it's why I mostly prefer books to tv or movies, although I do watch a fair bit of both.
Next up on my tour of scifi is Alfred Bester, although I have so many favorites of his it's hard to point to just one. I started with Psychoshop, and then read Virtual Unrealities (a series of short stories.) I absolutely loved them both. Even though Bester's work is half a century old, I found it to be so brilliantly funny and bold, it reads much better than a lot of more recent work (IMHO.) I fly through his books, and am dying to get my hands on older printing of any of them! Hahaha! I should also mention that Bester's The Demolished Man won the very first Hugo award for exceptional science fiction in 1953. No other way to say it, this man's work is classic!
Another great one is Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. It's a chilling portrait of what Huxely though the future might be, and it's a little scary how close to home this dystopia strikes now. People on drugs to keep them happy, caste-like class systems and a society totally devoted to their own distraction, Huxley says it all -
Remember, brute force is not the only method an oligarchy can use to influence, manage, and finally control our hard-won freedoms and liberties; it can be done with over-indulgence and the deliberate fertilization and promulgation of apathy through self-absorption, as well.I can't finish this post without mentioning a few others I really enjoy (in no particular order) -
- Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
- Ubik - Philip Dick
- Slan - A.E. Van Vogt
- Spin State & Spin Control - Chris Moriarty
- More than Human - Theodore Sturgeon