Dr Plokta's Guide to Science Fiction

There have been a number of suggestions that, as an SF fanzine, Plokta ought perhaps to mention SF from time to time. We're normally too busy maintaining our position at the cutting edge of fanzine technology to actually read any of the stuff ourselves, but Steve has recently acquired a scanner with an automatic book-feeder and artificial-intelligence based pattern-recognition software. We shovelled all of our libraries through it, and asked for a list of the hundred and twenty SF books that you have to read to understand modern SF, the common themes running through them and a cross-reference of themes with books. There is a key to the symbols at the end. Broadly speaking, one symbol = used; two symbols = overused; three symbols = abused.

While the results are perhaps not always in agreement with more traditional critical thinking, we are nevertheless pleased to present them below for the first time. You will doubtless be interested to hear that the major theme of SF over the past hundred years has been Sand. We've informed the SF Foundation, and they're holding the front page of the next issue of Foundation until we can conduct further research into this startling result.

Aldiss, Brian W Hothouse Zap!Zap!Zap!NukeNuke Anderson, Poul Tau Zero NukeNukeNukeAlpha
Anthony, Piers Macroscope NukeNukeNuke Asimov, Isaac Foundation f NukeBananaBananaBanana
Asimov, Isaac I, Robot RobotRobotRobot Ballard, J. G. Any book containing a drained swimming pool Diving-BoardDiving-BoardDiving-BoardZap!Zap!Gasmask
Banks, Iain M. One of the Culture novels BombBombRobotSymbolTrefoilTrefoilSkull & CrossbonesTennis Barnes, John Mother of Storms Zap!Zap!Zap!Sheep
Baxter, Stephen The Time Ships HourglassHourglassHourglassSteam Train Bear, Greg Eon InfinityInfinity
Benford, Greg Timescape HourglassZap! Bester, Alfred The Demolished Man @@WavesWavesWaves
Bester, Alfred Tiger! Tiger! @Miaow Blish, James A Case of Conscience CrossCrossCrossBoom!
Blish, James Earthman Come Home :-):-)NukeNukeNuke Blish, James Spock Must Die! MediaMediaMediaSnipSnip
Bradbury, Ray Fahrenheit 451 BananaBanana Bradbury, Ray The Martian Chronicles SandSandSand
Bradley, Marion Zimmer One of the Darkover series SheepBannerBannerBannerWavesWavesNukeNuke Brin, David Startide Rising CatPrawnPrawnPrawnBoom!
Brunner, John Stand on Zanzibar GasmaskGasmaskComputer Brunner, John The Shockwave Rider ComputerComputerComputer
Bujold, Lois McMaster Any book featuring Miles Vorkosigan Boom!SheepPhonePhonePhone Burroughs, Edgar Rice A Princess of Mars SandSandSheep
Card, Orson Scott Ender's Game Boom!Boom!Tennis!Tennis!Tennis! Chalker, Jack L. Midnight at the Well of Souls Tennis!SheepSheepSymbolSymbol
Cherryh, C. J. Downbelow Station BunnyBoom!Boom! Cherryh, C. J. The Pride of Chanur CatCatCat
Clarke, Sir Arthur C. 2001: A Space Odyssey MediaMediaMediaComputerComputerComputerSand Clarke, Sir Arthur C. Childhood's End CrossSnip!
Clarke, Sir Arthur C. The City and the Stars SandMindsMinds Clement, Hal Mission of Gravity Zap!BugsBugsBugsGravityGravityGravity
Crichton, Michael The Andromeda Strain MediaMediaSandBiohazardBiohazardBiohazard Crowley, John Engine Summer CatCatMindsMinds
Delany, Samuel R. Babel-17 MindsMindsBoom!Trefoil Delany, Samuel R. Dhalgren GasmaskGasmaskGasmaskSheepSheep
Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep MediaRobotRobot Dick, Philip K. The Man in the High Castle NaziNaziParallelParallelParallel
Dickson, Gordon R. The Tactics of Mistake Boom!Boom! Disch, Thomas M. Camp Concentration UpUpUpBiohazardBiohazardBiohazard
Effinger, George Alec When Gravity Fails Gravity:-):-)CyberpunkCyberpunkSandSandCross Egan, Greg Permutation City InfinityInfinityComputerComputerComputerNukeNuke
Ellison, Harlan Dangerous Visions SheepSheep Farmer, Philip Jos* To Your Scattered Bodies Go Yin-YangYin-YangYin-YangPrawn:-)
Forward, Robert Dragon's Egg GravityGravityGravityDragon Gibson, William Neuromancer CyberpunkCyberpunkCyberpunkComputerTrefoilBug
Goonan, Kathleen Ann Queen City Jazz BugBugGasmaskGasmask Greenland, Colin Take Back Plenty Skull & CrossbonesSandNukeComputerComputer
Haldeman, Joe The Forever War Boom!Boom!:-)Sheep Harrison, Harry Bill the Galactic Hero Boom!Boom!
Harrison, Harry The Stainless Steel Rat Boom!Boom!Nuke Harrison, M. John In Viriconium GasmaskGasmask
Heinlein, Robert A. Space Family Stone SandCatCatPhonePhone Heinlein, Robert A. Starship Troopers Boom!Boom!Boom!BugsBugsBugs
Heinlein, Robert A. Stranger in a Strange Land SandCrossCrossSheepSheepMindsSkull & CrossbonesSkull & Crossbones:-) Heinlein, Robert A. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress BombBombBombComputerComputer
Henderson, Zenna The People: No Different Flesh WavesWavesWavesBunnyBunnyBunny Herbert, Frank Dune SandSandSandCrossCrossCross:-):-):-)
Huxley, Aldous Brave New World :-):-)BookBookAlphaAlphaAlpha Keyes, Daniel Flowers for Algernon <UpUpUp
Kress, Nancy Beggars in Spam UpUpUp@ Lafferty, R. A. Nine Hundred Grandmothers Sheep
Le Guin, Ursula K. The Dispossessed BombBombBombSand Le Guin, Ursula K. The Left Hand of Darkness SheepSheepZap!Zap!
Leiber, Fritz The Big Time BugsParallelHourglassHourglass Lem, Stanislaw The Cyberiad RobotRobot
Lewis, C. S. Out of the Silent Planet SandSandCrossCrossCross MacLeod, Ken The Star Fraction BombBombComputerComputer
May, Julian The Many-Coloured Land HourglassHourglassSheepWavesWavesSnip!Snip!BannerBannerBanner McCaffrey, Anne Dragonflight DragonDragonDragonBunnyBunnyBunnySheepNukeNukeNukeBannerBannerSandSymbolSymbolWaves
McDonald, Ian Desolation Road SandSandSandHourglass Miller, Walter M. A Canticle for Leibowitz SandCrossCrossCrossBananaBananaBanana
Moorcock, Michael One of the Jerry Cornelius series :-):-):-)Sheep Moore, Ward Bring the Jubilee ParallelParallelParallelHourglassGasmaskGasmask
Niven, Larry Ringworld MiaowSheepSheep:-)NukeNuke (an extra Nuke for the 1st edition) Orwell, George Nineteen Eighty-Four BookBookGasmask
Panshin, Alexei Rite of Passage SheepPhonePhonePhone Piercy, Marge Woman on the Edge of Time VenusVenusParallel
Piper, H. Beam Little Fuzzy <BunnyBunnyBunnyPrawn Pohl, Frederik Gateway Computer
Pohl, Frederik & Kornbluth, C. M. The Space Merchants :-) Powers, Tim The Anubis Gates HourglassHourglassSteam Train
Priest, Christopher Inverted World InfinityInfinity Roberts, Keith Pavane ParallelParallelParallelCrossCross
Robinson, Kim Stanley Red Mars SandSandSandBombBomb Robinson, Spider Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon ComputerBugs
Rucker, Rudy White Light InfinityInfinityInfinity:-):-)BugsBugsBanana Russ, Joanna The Female Man VenusVenusVenus
Russell, Eric Frank Next of Kin Boom! Saberhagen, Fred Berserker Boom!Boom!Boom!ComputerComputer
Shaw, Bob Other Days, Other Eyes NukeNuke Silverberg, Robert Dying Inside WavesWavesWaves
Silverberg, Robert Lord Valentine's Castle GravityBanner Simak, Clifford City RobotRobotBunnyBugsBugs
Simmons, Dan Hyperion CrossCrossSandBoom!Boom!ComputerComputerCyberpunk Smith, Cordwainer The Best of Cordwainer Smith MiaowMiaowAlphaDragon
Smith, E. E. 'Doc' Galactic Patrol Boom!Boom!Boom!:-):-)NukeNukeNukeMinds Spinrad, Norman Bug Jack Barron Biohazard:-):-)BugsBugs
Stapledon, Olaf Last and First Men BiohazardBoom!UpUp Stephenson, Neal Snow Crash J :-)ComputerComputerComputerPhone
Sterling, Bruce Schismatrix Plus :-)UpUp Stewart, George R. Earth Abides BiohazardBiohazardBiohazardGasmask
Sturgeon, Theodore More Than Human WavesWavesUpUp Tepper, Sheri Raising the Stones WavesVenusCross
Tiptree Jr, James One short story collection VenusVenusDiving-BoardBugsSheep Turtledove, Harry The Guns of the South ParallelParallelHourglassNaziNazi
van Vogt, A. E. Slan WavesWavesWavesUp van Vogt, A. E. The World of Null-A UpUpComputer
Varley, John In The Hall of the Martian Kings SandSand Verne, Jules 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea PrawnPrawnSteam Train
Vinge, Vernor A Fire Upon the Deep ComputerComputerBoom!Boom! Vonnegut, Kurt Slaughterhouse 5 Boom!NaziNaziHourglassHourglass
Weinbaum, Stanley G. A Martian Odyssey BunnySandSandSand Wells, H. G. The Time Machine SandHourglassHourglassHourglassSteam TrainPrawn
Wells, H. G. The War of the Worlds SandBoom!Boom!BiohazardSteam Train White, James One of the Sector General series BiohazardBiohazardBiohazardBugs
Williamson, Jack Seetee Ship NukeNuke Willis, Connie Doomsday Book HourglassHourglassHourglassBiohazardBiohazardBiohazardBannerBanner
Wilson, Robert Anton & Shea, Robert The Eye in the Pyramid :-):-)SheepSheepComputer Wolfe, Gene The Shadow of the Torturer Skull & CrossbonesHourglassGasmaskBanner
Wyndham, John The Day of the Triffids Media Zelazny, Roger Lord of Light CrossCrossCrossYin-YangYin-YangYin-YangMinds
Zelazny, Roger This Immortal CrossCrossAlpha

Key to Themes

Parallel Alternative Histories Nuke Dodgy Science Book Literature Prawn Seafood
Zap! Bad Weather Dragon Dragons Venus Loony Feminism Steam Train Steampunk
Bugs Bugs Diving-Board Drained Swimming Pools Media Media Tie-In Symbol Stupid Names
Miaow Cats :-) Drugs Banner Mediaeval Theme-Park Trefoil Superfluous Technology
Computer Computers Tennis Games Nazi Nazis Waves Telepathy
Cyberpunk Cyberpunk Alpha Greek Letters Snip! Pointy Ears Hourglass Time Travel
Gravity Deviant Gravity Up Heightened Intelligence Yin-Yang Reincarnation Bunny Twee
Sheep Deviant Sex Infinity Infinity Cross Religion Gasmask Urban Decay
Biohazard Diseases Bomb Libertarianism Robot Robots
Minds Disembodied Minds Banana Librarianship Sand Sand

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