Even if those people you still have to get holiday gifts for aren’t great speculative fiction fans, I think these personal picks of mine will please just about any intelligent person with an active imagination. Some aren’t even technically speculative fiction, or purely speculative fiction, but rather a “slipstream” mix of speculative fiction and mainstream which should appeal to all. And all qualify for free shipping on Amazon if your book order totals $25 or more.
- ALL THE NAMES BY JOSÉ SARAMAGO. I don’t think anyone else would classify this as even slipstream, let alone speculative fiction, but I argue any book where a character lies in bed and talks to the ceiling…and the ceiling talks back…qualifies! While certainly not for the hardcore fan of military sci fi (no photon torpedoes), I believe most will be charmed by the gentle whimsy of this tale of a lonely and lowly clerk by an author who won the Nobel Prize for literature.
- ENDER’S GAME BY ORSON SCOTT CARD. This one’s definitely speculative fiction, in fact sci fi. Many, including the author, seem to prefer the next book in the series, Speaker for the Dead. While I agree that Speaker for the Dead is an excellent book, I fear it sometimes eclipses Ender’s Game, a fate Ender’s Game does not deserve! Personally I prefer the greater power of story and plotting I found in Ender’s Game. This is a book that I believe both teens and adults can appreciate, and I don’t think one has to have read any of the previous books in the series before reading Ender’s Game (though I did, and they were good, too). Ender’s Game won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards.
- 2312 BY KIM STANLEY ROBINSON. This is an amazing feat of science fiction writing, which opens with a sequence set on a colonized Mercury that is sheer perfection. Among its many achievements is the author’s way of segregating longer scientific explanations into separate sections that are really enjoyable and interesting…but also very easy to skip if one just wants to keep going with the story. 2312 won a very well-deserved Nebula Award.
- ROCOCO BY SUE HOLLISTER BARR. What? You doubt my objectivity? It is sci fi, set in a future I think you’ll find amusing if your sense of humor, like mine, is a bit on the dark side.
- TWISTED BY SUE HOLLISTER BARR. This one’s horror, and it could be argued I went overboard by making it really sick horror. But many have enjoyed this tale of 60s hippies attempting to escape a fate they can’t outrun since it was first (conventionally) published. And I believe my new author’s edition, published in 2015, is even better.