9 essential geek books you must read right now.


Mod Squad
Staff member
You know that Ender's Game is also a YA novel, right?

I don't believe it is. The author wasn't specifically intending to write for younger readers, for one thing. It has won awards for being a YA novel, I know, but I think it is more a novel that many feel happens to be appropriate for YA readers.

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What makes them "essential geek books"?

Earthsea? It's considered a fantasy masterpiece, and it represents a different part of the genre than Tolkien. Also, it's written by a lady.

Delany... well, he's a personal favorite of mine. Delany is one of SF's best prose stylists, up there w/Vance (hmmm, another glaring omission). He's a great example of New Wave science fiction, in all it's ambition and willingness to move in new directions. Nova prefigures both cyberpunk and all the smart new space opera that would come 20-25 years later, and Dhalgren in sci-fi's Ulysses (or maybe Finnegan's Wake. Also, he's a gay black man.

The Parable of the Sower is wonderful, and it's social science fiction, which is underrepresented in the list, despite being a prevalent mode in SF writing. And Octavia Butler rocks, not only a SF Grandmaster, but a MacArthur grant recipient. As much as I liked Snow Crash, to include that and nothing from Bulter sells geekdom way short...

Also, she was a gay black lady.

(note I'm not indulging in affirmative action for sci-fi... I picked these books and authors because I think they're seminal... however they also demonstrate the much more universal allure of geek-lit, for both writers and readers, which isn't relfected in that list)
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A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursala K. Le Guin.
Nova by Samuel R. Delany (or, if you're feeling like a challenge, Dhalgren)
The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.

One of my kids had to read Nova for one of their High School clubs, Academic Decathalon I believe.

I hadn't read it so I picked it up and read it at that point. Surprisingly good.


5 of 9 for me. I've got both Snow Crash and Neuromancer, but never got around to reading them. I didn't have the cash when I saw Watchman in the store, and never heard of the Visual Display book before.

I really don't think non gamers would enjoy reading about the creation of NPCs, how outdoor movement works, and Gamma World to AD&D conversions to just name a few topics in the book. I'm not sure what in the book would be interesting for none gamers to read.
Makes me want to buy a dozen copies, give them to random non-gamers to read and then tell me what they think... about the game, about Gygax, about geekdom in general... If I really had the cash to spend on such things at the moment I'd do it in a heartbeat. Maybe in a few months.


First Post
Hm. 8 out of 9. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information is the only one I haven't read.
Ditto and ditto! :D

I didn't recognize the title at first but it's actually a book I've had on my list for quite a while.

Btw, I just started reading Dante's Inferno - is that also a part of Geek culture?


Stalked by a giant hedgehog
8 of 9

Oddly, the one I'm missing is Watchmen.

I highly recommend both of the more obscure books on the list (GED and Visual Display of Quantitative Information) but they do have a more limited audience than the other seven.


5 of 9.

I'm missing "Godel, Escher, Bach (even though I own it)", LotR, "Visual Display of Quantitative Information," and "Neuromancer."

I would add H.P. Lovecraft to the list before anyone else that anyone else has mentioned, but that's a personal preference. I'd also add (this would be well past 9 books) Asimov, Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, and Tad Williams, for the "Memory, Sorrow, Thorn" trilogy.

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