New Scientist's favourite sci-fi book
By Alison George (Image: Pan Books) I should have known better. No sooner had I sent an email asking everyone at New Scientist to vote for their best and worst sci-fi films and books than my inbox was deluged with responses. This is how they voted in the book category. Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. “Hitchhiker’s Guide is the out-and-out best sci-fi book by several dead whales and one bowl of petunias. Anyone who disagrees with me is clearly a crass Golgafrinchan who should be forced to listen to Vogon poetry for as long as it takes,” wrote one of our editors. Frank Herbert’s Dune and Iain M Banks‘ Use of Weapons were both popular. Banks would have won outright had his vote not been split over several books, including Feersum Endjinn, Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games. There was no clear winner, but the nominees for this uncoveted position included L Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics and Arthur C Clarke’s 3001 – the latter “for comprehensively bollocksing up one of the classics of the genre. It had none of the meaning and richness of the earlier books and none of the scope,” wrote one editor. Most recommendable to your mother: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. “It doesn’t quite ‘feel’ like science fiction – it’s more of a love story,” wrote one journalist. Another commented: “I bought it for my Mum, who would never normally read sci-fi, and she liked it, too.” Stanislaw Lem’s Imaginary Magnitude – a book consisting of introductions to books which don’t (yet) exist. “I’ve just been banging my head against his ‘introduction to a review of the history of the study of literature generated by artificial intelligences’,” writes one of our journalists. “Deeep.” Answer by Fredric Brown. “Only a page long but sends chills down your spine when you get to the last line. I first read it when I was about 15 and have never forgotten it,” commented one editor. Knock by Fredric Brown, summed up by its final two sentences: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…” What’s your all-time favourite sci-fi film and book?