summer reading: old-school sci-fi masters

Summer’s here, and now’s a perfect time to do some reading, whether you’re a student on break from school, a parent trying to find stuff for said students to do, or you’re just looking for something to take to the beach.  Hence, this new series with my literary recommendations.

Perhaps you’re a young adult (or an adult who’s still young) and you’re a casual fan of science fiction.  You like Star Wars, Star Trek, and/or Doctor Who,  but you haven’t read a lot of sci-fi books.  In which case, I have two titans of the genre who should be at the top of your reading list.

Ray Bradbury


Who He Is: Mostly known for his sci-fi short stories, Ray Bradbury also dabbled in fantasy and horror, writing hundreds of works over 70+ years.

Why He’s Awesome:  Nobody writes likes Bradbury: his prose has a poetry to it that I can’t describe–you just have to read some of his stuff to experience it.  And you can do that by checking out one of my favorites of his, The Halloween Tree.

Recommended For:  People who are scared away from sci-fi by thinking it’s all nuts-and-bolts, super-techie stuff that you have to have advanced degrees in engineering or astronomy to understand.  Bradbury is all about the big ideas and the honest moments, not the details fiddly .

Notable Works: There are too many to mention them all, but some of my favorites are:

  • The Martian Chronicles
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • “A Sound of Thunder”
  • “The Fog Horn”
  • “The Small Assassin”
  • “The Veldt”
  • “There Will Come Soft Rains”

H.P. Lovecraft


Who He Is: I’m not gonna lie–H.P. Lovecraft was a strange dude whose writings (mostly short stories) were little-appreciated during his life.  However, his influence on horror and sci-fi has been tremendous.

Why He’s Awesome: Just as Bradbury has an unmistakable writing “voice,” so too with Lovecraft, though some folks might find it a bit too much.  What Lovecraft did best, though, was 1) creating (with some help from his friends) the “Cthulhu Mythos,” a set of stories based around evil, godlike beings from beyond time and space; and 2) the creeping, inexorable sense of dread and doom that pervades his works.

Recommended For: People who want to be scared on a big-time scale, with full-body shivers.  Tired of vampires and zombies and killer clowns?  How about a nice story about horrible fish-men who mate with humans and worship a vile ocean deity?

Notable Works: Again, there are too many to mention them all, but some of my favorites are:

  • “The Call of Cthulhu”
  • “The Dunwich Horror”
  • “Pickman’s Model”
  • “At the Mountains of Madness”
  • “The Whisperer in the Darkness”

Come back next week for more summer sf/f reading recommendations!

Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy.  His latest work-in-progress is In Lonely Lands, a modern-fantasy/horror novel, to be published in early 2017.

Kenton is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.  He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. 

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