Blue Memies

22 09 2010

I had to wait a long time to write this, or else I would have just repeated what I read on my brother’s blog. Here are 15 books that will always stick with me, compiled in 15 minutes or less. In alphabetical order by title, so I don’t have to rank them. No graphic novels, that would be a whole other list.

Neil Gaiman, American Gods. The perfect expression of Gaiman’s recurring themes of magic, mystery, and mythological crossover.

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World. Assigned in school. I found it far more frightening than 1984.

William Gibson, Count Zero. Gibson’s more recent books are higher quality, but his original cyberpunk trilogy had a bigger impact. Count Zero was always my favorite. The way Gibson slowly, inevitably weaves together three widely divergent plotlines is spellbinding.

Ian MacDonald, Desolation Road. It’s hard to pick a single MacDonald book. They are all audacious and enthralling. But Desolation Road has Mars, time travel, little green men, and a one-man refugee camp that grows to a turbulent metropolis. Plus its the first one I read.

Michael Moorcock, the Elric series. I’m cheating here, not picking a single book. If I had to I would choose Sailor on the Seas of Fate, but in my mind they all exist as a unit. Reading these in high school, listening to Pink Floyd, I was happily unaware of the author’s deliberate pulpiness.

Stephen R. Donaldson, the Gap series. Cheating again. This series ruined a large part of the sci fi marketplace for me. It’s so harrowing, once I finished it I couldn’t abide a whole class of authors who just make things too easy for their characters.

Johnathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels. A very early fantasy and satire, two of my favorite things.

Dan Simmons, Hardcase. The first of a noir trilogy by a sci fi author. Since reading Simmons’ Joe Kurtz novels I’ve looked up some more traditional noir authors, but I still think Simmons does it better than any of them.

William Shakespeare, King Lear. Assigned in high school, soon after our unit on existentialism. Because of the prevalence of “no” and “nothing” I saw this as Shakespeare’s existential play. Nonsense, I know, but I can’t let go of it. Plus, there’s the Fool.

Gene Wolf, the Long Sun series. More cheating, although there is really no alternative to treating the series as a whole. I’ve only recently discovered Gene Wolf, and I still don’t quite know how to deal with him. His stories don’t work like you expect a story to. The Long Sun series casually drops amazing surprises right up to the very end.

Raymond E. Feist, Magician. Another standard-setting work of epic fantasy, even without the two sequels.

Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman. Another high school assignment. The committed rejection of social norms got under my skin.

China Mieville, The Scar. My favorite book by one of my favorite authors. Staggeringly imaginative from beginning to end, and a ripping yarn to boot.

Albert Camus, The Stranger. From aforementioned unit on existentialism. As a teenager I identified with the narrator’s floaty disconnectedness. Not to a degree that I could ever shoot someone, but still. A philosophy of randomness and absurdity appealed to me immensely. The idea that life on Earth is all we have is not frightening at all–on the contrary, I find it uplifting. Maybe I missed the point of the existentialists.

Sherri S. Tepper, the True Game series. Of her several books I read in college, these were my favorite. Sort of applies superhero tropes to fantasy lit.

And now, just to lend some semblance of sense to the post title, here’s the same deal with 15 movies:

Barton Fink

The Big Lebowski

Brazil

Clockwork Orange

The Dark Knight

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Heat

Lord of the Rings trilogy (cheating!)

The Matrix

The Neverending Story

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Run Lola Run

Star Wars

Time Bandits

Yellow Submarine

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