Just before Christmas my better half told me that she had never managed to read a science fiction novel all the way though. She had tried but she'd found the books that had been recommended to her were just not her cup of tea. I did some digging and found out that the books that had been suggested to her in her formative years were the ones I read as kid: Heinlein, Herbert, Asimov, Clarke, Le Guin, Lem, PKD etc. She had zero patience for fantasy of any kind but enjoyed some of the ideas of some of the science fiction novels; however she hadn't been sufficiently engaged by the writing or the characters. This is the problem with science fiction: it is (or was) a genre of ideas and the characters and the words were often mere vectors for communicating these ideas. But science fiction has changed since the golden age and now good science fiction writers have to be good writers too. The plots are more engaging, the characters more fully developed and now there are plenty of female leads and female writers.
..."Ok if you've never read sci-fi why not try this one, " I said giving her Wool by Hugh Howey. "Why do they always do the cleaning?" she asked half an hour later. "You'll have to find out for yourself, " I said. She read Wool over the next few days. Like me she thought that maybe the last 100 pages could have been tightened but she really liked it. It was her first science fiction novel and now she had a taste for the genre. A taste that I knew had to be treated like a rare orchid. "What's next?" she asked. I thought about The Wind Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi which I had loved but knew that that would kill the orchid stone dead. So next I gave her The Martian by Andy Weir. Despite not being a math or engineering geek like me she loved that one too. "One more, " she said so now I've kicked it up a notch and she's reading China Mieville's The City And The City. If she likes that I may have her try Perdido Street Station or her first Philip K Dick but that might be a step too far...It's early days yet but through careful curating I may have brought another convert over to the dark side. Maybe she'll even go see Star Wars VII with me now...
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