If someone had never read a single novel by Robert Heinlein or Terry Pratchett which of their works would you recommend?
No, I have never read anything by either author, and no, I never did get all the way through "Atlas Shrugged."
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Question for my readers
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Heinlein: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress
I would start with "The Past Through Tomorrow", it is a collection of short stories written like it is the far future looking back to the age of exploration.
"The Cool Green Hills of Earth" is one of my personal favorite short stories in any genre.
There are good novels, but these stories will introduce you to the author and his style as well any any of them.
Read Starship Troopers. While you are at it, go to your Netflix account and tell it to add "The Colour of Magic" to your instant queue. Watch that. If you don't laugh yourself silly, get help.
After watching that, try "Hogfather." It has the single greatest "moral" of any story ever. You'll recognize it when you hear it.
Don't have Netflix, or an instant streaming video box like a Roku? Get one. You will not regret it. They didn't put Blockbuster into bankruptcy by being a bad product.
While you are at it, put "Flame and Citron" on your instant queue as well. It's not Heinlein or Pratchett, but it's something every gunny should watch.
The first Heinlein I read was the moon is a harsh mistress. I liked it a lot. still haven't gotten around to reading any Pratchett.
For a first time reader, I would recommend either Starship Troopers, or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. My own first Heinlein novel was Red Planet. I think I have read all of them at this point.
Another vote for Harsh Mistress.
I have to go with A Moon is a Harsh Mistress also. Absolutely loved that.
Stranger in a Strange Land should get a vote, too.
And for a fun/odd romp: The Number of the Beast.
Starship Troopers or Moon is a Harsh Mistress for Heinlein. I think my first of his books was Starman Jones. Not hugely fond of Stranger in a Strange Land.
Pratchett is hard to go wrong with. Any of the Watch books will work. I think the first one is Guards Guards.
The first Discworld book is "Colour of Magic." Seriously though, watch the movie. It's a two part British miniseries, and is about 3 hours long.
Starship Troopers. Pratchett is a bit more difficult, his early stuff isn't as good as his later stuff, but his later stuff is easier to understand if you've already got a foundation. Going Postal might be a good choice, The Night Watch is my favorite.
Ahh, Heinlein... There really is no bad place to start, except Number of the Beast. If you read that without any of his other books, a great deal of it will not make a whole lot of sense.
That said, here are my suggestions, in order of preference: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Job A Comedy of Justice, Friday, Glory Road, Time Enough For Love (because there will be no greater literary badass than Lazarus Long), and Starship Troopers. After that, you should be poised to go head-first into his multiverse :).
I'll second most of the suggestions here and add a couple of my own.
IMHO "The Past Through Tomorrow" is my choice for best place to start. It's one I'll reread every couple years.
Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a great one to read over Independence Day Weekend.
Glory road is good but ends very abruptly (he's very proud he never missed a deadline. GR shows how he made that come true.)
Have SpaceSuit Will Travel was my first and still a fav.
You really can't go wrong with any of his early works, but he got pretty weird in his later days.
Citizen of the Galaxy,
the list goes on...
I haven't read them either- also taking note of suggestions.
Have Spacesuit, Will Travel was my first "grown up" fiction book (no pictures) -- my older sister and I had just spent a few weeks in Minnesota with my mother's family, while our parents stayed home, and when I got back, my dad had left it my pillow for me to read. (A few years earlier, I tried to read Methusaleh's Children, but got bored early on -- no context.)
While Starship Troopers is my absolute favorite Heinlein (and, by the time I made Corporal, I had read it so often, I found I wasn't even turning the pages sometimes. . . I literally have "read out" a half dozen copies over the years), I always have a soft spot for Spacesuit. . . and consider it an excellent choice for a new Heinlein reader. The celebration of individual competance and honor is still there (think Humanity's trial, and Cliff's closing remarks there) -- but without the setting that causes many people to reflexively (if absurdly) proclaim Starship Troopers as militaristic, or celbrating a fascistic hyper-patriotism.
Unfortunately, I had been reading Spacesuit. . . to TEO (The Evil One; eight years, but thankfully I caught her sleeping around a few weeks before the wedding, and not a few weeks after) because she said she enjoyed listening to me read it to her while she laid with her head in my lap -- when we split, I was about half way through, and left her my late father's copy (the one from that Minnesota trip) becuase I was so stupid and thought taking it before the end would hurt her feelings. It took almost ten years before I could go get another copy. . .
Another really good choice (IMNSHO) is Citizen of the Galaxy -- my second Heinlein (and I am on my third copy).
I don;t know why I referred to Kip as "Cliff" -- I mean his legal name is "Clifford", but that's not wht he goes by throughout the book. . .
"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". While I love Starship Troopers, Red Planet, Between Planets, etc, they were written for the juvenile market and I think for an adult Moon is a better introduction, without requiring any background from the Future History timeline.
All of the suggestions so far are really good. I can't remember if Glory Road, Starship Trooper, or Tunnel in the Sky was my First. I've been through most of his works. I really like Time Enough for Love.
The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is my favorite. But I've always thought A Door Into Summer could be made into a decent movie.
Heinlein is tough. I agree with everyone here, there's really no BAD place to start with Heinlein, except I'd avoid starting with ones he wrote after his stroke. They're a little bit "out there"...
Back in my 'ute, the first Heinlein I ever read was Star Beast, one of his "juveniles". It holds up today - good place to start, in my opinion. Glory Road happened at a time in my life when I needed it. Stranger in a Strange Land, eh, I'm not enough of a hippie to truly love that one. Friday was OK. Time Enough For Love is kinda slow, but the Notebooks of Lazarus Long make it worthwhile.
Cheers, Medium Sized Jake
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