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Writers and scientists name science fiction books that should be called classics

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Monday, November 1, 2010; 5:12 PM

From "The War of the Worlds" to "1984," some science fiction goes down in history. What about the brilliant books that got away? New Scientist magazine asked scientists and writers to nominate lost sci-fi classics.

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'FLOATING WORLDS' (BY CECELIA HOLLAND)

Nominated by Kim Stanley Robinson, science-fiction writer: " 'Floating Worlds' was published to acclaim in 1976, but has not been remembered as much as it should be. But Holland's immense power as a novelist, and her new take on old science fiction themes, turn everything to gold."

Outline: A story about Earth and other colonies in the solar system, some hundreds of years from now, when humans have begun to evolve into separate species and Earth is a mess. "Floating Worlds" is the only science-fiction book by historical novelist Cecelia Holland.

'THE CYBERIAD' (BY STANISLAW LEM)

Nominated by Sean Carroll, cosmologist: " 'The Cyberiad' is actually very appreciated among experts, but not well known in the wider world. It's a wide-ranging exploration of robotics, technology, computation and social structures. Very mind-expanding, with a fantastic sense of humor."

Outline: Trurl and Klapaucius are constructor robots who try to out-invent each other. They travel to the far corners of the cosmos to take on freelance problem-solving jobs, with dire consequences for their employers.

"The Cyberiad," published in 1967, is by Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, best known for his novel "Solaris."

'Random Acts of Senseless Violence' (BY JACK WOMACK)

Nominated by William Gibson, cyberpunk sci-fi novelist: "It's a book you really have to read to see why."


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