Your favourite classic sci-fi books

A big inspiration for No Man’s Sky is our love of classic science-fiction, those stories that take you out into the stars, into imagination and wonder…

So we’ve been putting together our own reading list of No Man’s Sky’s sci-fi inspirations that we will be sharing real soon, but last Friday we thought we’d also ask you for your favourites on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. We got such an amazing response that we decided to put together a post detailing some the most-mentioned titles.

Dune book cover

The most popular was easily Dune, Frank Herbert’s epic. You might have noticed a little tribute in our first trailer… (By the way, watch the documentary Jodorowskys Dune!)

Ryan Harwood Although written decades ago, it is still as relevant and grandiose as it was upon its release. A massive, minutely complex universe populated by interwoven factions is at first hinted at, then slowly revealed. The technologies, environments and concepts are so thoroughly thought through that they have a hyper reality to them that there is hardly a flaw to be found, even after all this time. The themes of capitalism, greed, religion, fanaticism and manipulation have aged incredibly well and likely possess more resonance now, thanks to the history that has happened since the book’s release.

Keith Neilson The original DUNE series by Frank Herbert, the scope and depth remain unmatched (the preq. and spinoffs don’t count.)

Close behind it was the Ender’s Game series, especially the first book and Speaker for the Dead.

Jading Moutons mostly for its realistic portrayal of a galactic conflict (including very alien aliens) as well as Earth politics. Character development, doubt and morality also play importantly into it, which I like.

VonGood The focus on Ender and his hardship was something interesting. Being invaded by aliens has always been scary.

Really close behind that was Arthur C Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama, about a group of humans going out to investigate the appearance in the solar system of a vast alien spaceship. Total classic.

llehsadam It’s just so unique how the ship just ignores humans, as if we were uninteresting. Spooky.

Mars Dionne That it, in a single moment, completely shatters man’s exceptionalism is just the start of my love for this book. It’s the purity of exploration and discovery that book truly embodies that really gets me hooked.

Timothy Snyder I deeply enjoyed the Rama book series by Arthur C. Clarke, which started with Rendezvous with Rama and became a most amazing journey of curiosity, discovery, survival, and learning the meaning of life. There are ancient spaceships full of amazing, mysterious technology, other forms of life and a glimpse into their society, as well as a sense of never quite knowing what may happen.

Clarke was pretty much the most popular author that people identified, with titles including Songs of Distant Earth, 2001: A Space Odyssey (“The book that got me into sci-fi!“), The Sentinel (which inspired 2001) Childhood’s End (Timbre Wolf: “It’s an amazing parallel to our lives that simultaneous makes you analyze our past and our future”) and The City and the Stars.

Isaac Asimov was just behind Clarke in terms of mentions, but there’s a whole of of love for his Foundation series, which is about an entire civilisation of galactic scale. The Last Question is a big fave, too.

Chris Garratty Definitely Foundation Trilogy. A tale of galactic proportions. Weirdly, No Man’s Sky was what made me want to read them again.

Rob Scott Awesome far future elements, but everyone still smokes and read newspapers, because in the age the first books were written (early 40s), not smoking or reading newspapers was just incomprehensible.

Mathias Adrian Wagner Kristiansen The Last Question by Asimov. Without knowing why or how the final few words moved me to tears. Book wise I’m jumping on the Foundation band wagon, they’re just so epic.

Another big hitter is Iain M Banks’ HUGE Culture series, with mentions of Use of Weapons, Surface Details, Consider Phlebas, Player of Games and Excession.

Tim Waskett Excession by Iain M Banks, without a doubt. Culture ships are just so crazy and this is book has loads of them, all backstabbing

Kris Blacow Excession by the late, great Iain M Banks: there is nothing more epic than the Culture’s Minds (Which are supremely intelligent and powerful entities) grappling with a… thing, and I say thing because it’s not really established what it is exactly from another universe, and trying to deal with it.

PixelKarnage Because: XL Scale Worldbuilding + attention to detail + still the most diverse story’s + limitless (+ and so on)

Then there’s Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons, a super weird series about a pilgrimage, looking at it from the perspective of a set of different travellers.

Aaron Ward I’m a huge fan of the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons. It’s a deep story line with so many deep themes and beautiful imagery.

blastintospace Far future society at scale + frightening unknown in the character of the Shrike

And finally, for the biggest hitters, there’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

PinataRaider I’m really late here but, Hitchhikers Guide, the whole series. It’s such a good blend of sci-fi and comedy and, and holy shit the writing is perfect… Thank you Douglas Adams.

Then we get to some smaller gems, which we’re rather unscientifically cherry-picking below.

Stanisław Lem’s Solaris, which is also two really good films, the long Russian one and the Clooney one:

Tren Lau The best sci-fi novel ever written is Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. No questions asked. The sci-fi genre is over, everybody go home. (If you haven’t read it as a game developer making aliens, you NEED to, like RIGHT NOW. Holy shit it’s so good.)

William Gibson’s Neuromancer, the cyberpunk progenitor:

Matt Burt Can’t think of a more relevant science fiction book in our world.

Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

Brian Ashford Lots to say about war humanity and society and just a damn good story.

Alistair Reynolds’ Revelation Space trilogy:

Chris Payne for the FTL chase sequence amongst many other cool ideas.

Commonwealth Saga by Peter F Hamiliton

Justinn Everitt fantastic depth to the series

There are so many more! We’ve failed to note Philip K Dick, Larry Niven, Ray Bradbury, Frederick Pohl… But plenty of people did :) Take a look at the full Facebook thread here, and replies to our tweets here and here.

We’ll follow up with our own list soon!