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Published 5 years ago by Tawsix with 10 Comments

What are some really good obscure science fiction books you'd recommend?

  • A couple of my favorites are Desolation Road by Ian McDonald and (I'm not sure how obscure this one is but I've never heard anyone else talk about it) The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen (yes, the same one who wrote the Hatchet books!)

    I'm looking for some new books for this summer and welcome anything from novellas to series and thought the Snapzu community was a good place to start asking.


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  • BlueOracle

    Honestly, I don't usually have a very clear concept of how obscure a book is, but you could try:
    - "Roadside Picnic" by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
    - “The Space Merchants” by Frederik Pohl
    - "Parable of the Sower" by Octavia Butler
    - “Ubik” by Philip K Dick
    - “Children of the Dust” by Louise Lawrence (YA)
    - “Z for Zachariah” by Robert C. O'Brien (YA)

    This list is just off the top of my head. All of these are dystopian, and books you said you liked appear to be dystopian as well, so maybe you’d like these. I'd say “The Space Merchants” is the most lighthearted of the bunch, and some of them are very dark, especially "Parable of the Sower". I know P. K. Dick is well known, but he wrote so much that you might find something by him that is relatively obscure, if that's what you’re going for. I like “Ubik” very much, and it's probably not as well known as some of his work, like “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” and anything else that’s been made into a movie. There is a movie adaptation of “Z for Zachariah” coming out soon, but it appears to be only loosely based on the book.

    You could also try a science fiction anthology if you’re not sure what you like and want some variety. There are lots of short story collections out there. You might try one of these for example.

    • frohawk


      Speaking of Octavia Butler, I read Kindred and I absolutely must recommend it!

      Fair warning , it heavily deals with the topic of race, not in a way that I find preachy, but some may not be too comfortable with all the punches she doesn't pull.

      Butler's work is a dark and occasionally very tough read, I find. She has this way with narration that doesn't gild anything, but states it so frankly that you are compelled to take it as fact and just immerse yourself in the work.

      • BlueOracle

        You know, I haven't read "Kindred" even though it's probably her best known work. I should go get it from the library. I read the Parable books and "Fledgling" and liked those. I thought "Fledgling" was a wonderfully original take on vampires. You're right about her books being dark. Some of "Parable of the Talents" was hard to take. Butler is great though, no doubt about that. :)

    • Tawsix

      Wow, I really appreciate this post. This is going to keep me occupied for a while it seems. Thank you so much!

      • BlueOracle

        You're welcome! Michel Gondry kept toying with us all about an "Ubik" movie, and I'm sure it would have been fantastic, but now you have no choice but to read the book. Luckily, it's a very good book. One last word of advice; don't watch "Stalker" thinking that it will be like "Roadside Picnic". It is based on the book, but it's nothing like it. I wouldn't even consider the movie to be sci-fi at all, not that it isn't an intriguing movie if you like great cinematography and philosophy. :)

    • bogdan

      Thanks so much for this list. I've only read Ubik, and if the others are the same, I'm definitely interested in all of them.

      • BlueOracle

        They're all a bit different, really, but give them a try! If you liked "Ubik" then I'm guessing that you'd like "Roadside Picnic" the most out of this list. I loved both, and they have a similar tone.

  • scheissemineli

    Don't know how obscure some will find these, but don't think they're that well know and I've thoroughly enjoyed them.
    Revelation Space Series by Alastair Reynolds
    The Overlords of War by Gérard Klein

    • Tawsix

      Really, I only asked for obscure titles to avoid "Starship Troop" and "Dune." If I haven't heard of them, it's a good suggestion, and I haven't heard of these. Thanks for the recommendations!

  • neptuneanblues

    The Rediscovery of Man by Cordwainer Smith is a huge favorite of mine that doesn't get talked about much. Some of his short stories are readily available online... you could google "The Dead Lady of Clown Town" or "Scanners Live in Vain" if you'd like to read something of his before committing to buy a really long book.

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