Ernest Cline’s debut novel Ready Player One is a story drunk on science fiction, loaded with references and homages to legendary SF books, TV shows, and movies. His follow-up, Armada, is no different—a tale of video gamers tasked with using their skills to save the world from aliens, it wears its influences on its sleeve, especially Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, another book about a boy who doesn’t realize that computer simulations are training him to alter the destiny of his species.
It’s no surprise, then, to learn that the author counts Card’s award-winning novel among his favorite science fiction books of all time. On the eve of Armada‘s release, we asked Cline to share with us the SF he loves. Here are 10 of his favorites.
Contact, by Carl Sagan
The only science fiction novel ever written by the late, great Dr. Sagan. It was later adapted by Robert Zemeckis into one of the smartest sci-fi films ever made, but the novel is even better. One of my favorite tales of first contact.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
A sentient computer and the technician who works on him get caught up in a lunar revolution. One of my favorite Heinlein stories, along with Starman Jones, Citizen of the Galaxy, and Have Spacesuit Will Travel.
Altered Carbon, by Richard K. Morgan
A riveting detective story set in a bleak, high-tech future where death has nearly been rendered obsolete. Morgan’s prose is immaculate, and the two sequels are just as fantastic.
Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
This was the first book I ever read in one sitting, and I’ve read it several dozen times since. It only gets better with age. Expanded from a short story that was originally published in August 1977, it’s one of the first works of fiction to incorporate the idea of video games being used as training simulators—after they’d only been in existence for a few years.
Replay, by Ken Grimwood
In 1986 (seven years before the release of the film Groundhog Day), Grimwood published this sweet, heartbreaking novel about a man who dies of a heart attack and then wakes up in his college dorm room 25 years earlier. He discovers that he has the chance to live his life over again. And again. And again.
Planet of Adventure, by Jack Vance
Earthman Adam Reith finds himself marooned on the strange planet Tschai, which is crawling with alien races, dastardly villains, and non-stop adventure. Nobody could write an adventure story like Jack Vance.
Tuf Voyaging, by George R.R. Martin
A collection of short stories published in Analog magazine as a continuing saga, Tuf Voyaging proves that GRRM was a master of science fiction before he became one of the world’s undisputed lords of fantasy.
The Martian, by Andy Weir
A “MacGuyver trapped on Mars” tale that feels as real and harrowing as the true story of Apollo 13. Read it soon—the guy who directed Blade Runner is adapting it into a film.
What do you think of Ernie’s list?