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Lacking both character (aside from the self-effacing ghost who narrates) and incident (unless you count descriptions of the evolution and slow collapse of entire species and civilisations), Star Maker is a Dantean tour of the possibilities of cosmic creation, culminating with an extended encounter and biography of the Creator itself -- the titular Star Maker.One of the most visionary, ambitious and influential explorations of the universe ever committed to paper, Stapledon's novel elevates SF to the level of a sacred text. The story is rich and satisfying in every detail, the characters are unforgettable, and the language is so good that you want to read every sentence twice.Best of all, apart from the handful of short stories set in the same fictional universe, Sterling never felt the need to cash in on the critical success of Schismatrix with sequels; the end result is a novel that still reads as fresh and powerful to this day, more than a quarter of a century after its initial publication.While not as evidently prescient as Huxley or Orwell, Zamyatin explores a potential extrapolation of the Soviet ideal.In Dicks books this manifests itself firstly in paranoia and then to transcendence.I recognise this as something very human and very real, the cracks in our reality are always there and beckoning us to investigate; it’s why we know the earth to be spherical and not flat.While its plot can be considered a simple adventure or mystery, Banks' real strength is in realising a genuinely alien futuristic society which at the same time uses elements of the contemporary world, at times exaggerated, in unfamiliar or extreme ways.
I was 14 when I first read Neuromancer, one of the first generation to grow up hooked in to the computer-generated realities that Gibson so presciently explores.With Dick the journey to transcendence or new forms of understanding can be a very stressful one for his protagonists.While some might consider this novel a pulp horror twist on Lord of the Flies, it is given a new dimension if read with knowledge of Japanese contemporary history and perceptions of young people.I always keep an extra copy in the house, because when it gets borrowed, it tends never to come back (but that's OK).Hard to adequately describe the majesty of this book. I'd use the phrases 'mind blowing' or 'mind expanding' if they weren't such cliches. It gives a glimpse into one of our many possible futures and problems we may face in the future.