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SF Book Circle Suggestions

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Patrick Swenson
Posted on Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - 07:22 pm:   

Some of you know I teach high school English, and that I got to pilot a Science Fiction Lit class a few years ago. (It's going strong now, several sections each year.)

I have kids form Book Circles--they get four or five in a group and pick a book to read. They keep logs and then a different leader runs the group through discussion each week. Initially I had enough money to buy six copies of six books, and the list is below.

My question is: What SF would YOU recommend for high school readers (seniors)? I'd like to add copies of several other books, and keep building the book circle choices. Consider that my class gets a variety of students, from lower, basic kids all the way up to Advanced Placement kids. My initial selection of books was made so that I might match books with the student levels. But there are more books geared toward young adult that would be worthwhile. I've got ideas, but wanted to hear the thoughts of others. Here's what I have copies of now:

ENDER'S GAME
2001
GATEWAY
THE LATHE OF HEAVEN
DUNE
NEUROMANCER
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - 08:20 pm:   

Patrick---

Does it have to be a novel? My first thought was to give them THE SF HALL OF FAME, vol. 1.
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Marie Brennan
Posted on Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - 08:37 pm:   

Rendevous with Rama
Snow Crash

I'm more of a fantasy person, so I'm just listing off SF novels I've liked. :-) The Diamond Age is probably better-constructed than Snow Crash, from a technical standpoint, but I've always preferred the psychotic energy of the latter.
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Jim Van Pelt
Posted on Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - 08:59 pm:   

THE LATHE OF HEAVEN is a great choice.

I had a kid put me exactly between a rock and a hard place the other day. They were choosing novels for their independent reading, and this boy brought over STARSHIP TROOPERS and THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. He said, "Which is the better book, Mr. Van Pelt."

Sheesh! They're only the two most influential books from my youth.

For a book circle, you could consider these:

THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS
EARTH ABIDES
NEW SKIES (anthology)
RINGWORLD
OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET
THE POSTMAN

and then, if you want to retire early, give them any of the later Gor books *g*.
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Marie Brennan
Posted on Friday, December 16, 2005 - 01:56 pm:   

Okay, fair enough, Snow Crash is probably pushing it for high school students. Also, I can totally see it not being everyone's cup of tea, especially once you get to the bit in the middle where plot slams to a halt for several chapters while Hiro talks to the Librarian. If you don't find cracked-out speculation on viruses, neurolinguistics, and Sumerian mythology to your taste, then that part will probably boot you right out of the book.
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Robert Boyer
Posted on Thursday, December 22, 2005 - 09:59 pm:   

What about CJ Cherryh? Maybe THE PRIDE OF CHANUR? Her Hugo-winning book DOWNBELOW STATION is good, but a big, chunky read.
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Nancy Jane Moore
Posted on Wednesday, December 28, 2005 - 04:03 pm:   

I'd second PRIDE OF CHANUR. I love the Chanur books.

And now for something completely different: How about Joanna Russ's THE FEMALE MAN? I mention it because a young male friend of mine read it when he was 17 and it moved him greatly. He may be an unusual case, but he's more or less contemporary with your students (he's just out of college now).



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Patrick Swenson
Posted on Tuesday, February 07, 2006 - 02:52 pm:   

Jim, you've done one book with your class by Sleator, haven't you? How do the kids do with that?

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