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From the moment that I learned to read, I have loved to immerse myself in Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Westerns, Technology Thrillers and Military fiction. One of my first series of books that I remember was the The Tripod Trilogy and Prequel by John Christopher. One of my Elementary School teachers read it to us. I remember becoming so frustrated with how slow my teacher was reading the story (about 30 minutes a day if I remember correctly); I wanted to find out what happened next! How did it end?! After that I was hooked on Sci-Fi.

Congratulations on the new library, because it isn't just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you - and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.

~ Isaac Asimov

After that, I read everything that I could get my hands on. The school and base libraries became portals to incredible worlds - massive universes and fantastic ideas. I became a voracious reader; if the book had anything to do with spaceships, horses & six-shooters, dragons, lasers, swords or aliens; then I read it.

In fact, I read so much that my grades began to suffer. I remember one of my freshman teachers telling my parents (loosely quoted), "The last thing that would ever tell anyone is to stop reading, but Robert needs to read his textbook too." My parents quickly found out that they fastest way to get my attention was to remove my reading privileges. They didn't take away my driver's license; they took away my library card. Too bad for them I had very amiable working relationships with all of the librarians... As my insatiable appetite for books grew, I began to openly read in my classes at school and would easily finish a book a day. But I learned to keep my grades up and my ears open to what the teachers were lecturing on - in the first few weeks of any new class, the teacher would constantly tell me to, "Put that book away!" and question me what was just covered in class. After a while they just quit and let me be.

My grades were not stellar, but they were good enough for everyone to stop bothering me. I actually read every Sci-Fi and Fantasy book in my high school library. I even began reading books from other, less interesting genres; like history, non-fiction, drama, etc. By my junior and senior years in high school, all of the teachers knew who I was and all, except for one, had given up on 'fixing' my behavior of reading in their classes. The one, un-trainable teacher told me every day (I had her for two years, AP History and AP English) to put my book away, from the first day to the last day of my senior year.

As I look back now, I realize that did a great disservice to my teachers. They all knew what I could do; they just wanted me to pay attention and do better. How damaging to the class as a whole was it that I repeatedly and knowingly defied them in front of every other student? They were all good teachers and I should have at least given them enough respect to pay attention.

Calvin & Hobbes 06 July 1995

Books

While I am by no means a self-proclaimed literary critic, I have read a lot of books and the ones that stick out or make me stop and think are noteworthy. I rarely re-read books, but listed below are the ones that repeatedly bring me back to their pages. Here are some of the greatest books and authors that I have encountered in my history of reading so far:

Ender's Game Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.
This is the Greatest Sci-Fi book of all time. Period. Read it. What else can I say? I didn't like the second (Speaker for the Dead) and third (Xenocide) books in the series. It is almost as if the style of his writing completely changed. Many years later, he returned to the writing style of his first Ender book and added a new series to the Ender universe; the first book in the new series, Ender's Shadow, parallels the story in Ender's Game, but this time from the perspective of Bean, a friend of Ender's.
Homeland The Dark Elf Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore.
My favorite fantasy series. Here is the quintessential example of "Living in the world, not of the world." The series is fun to read and I even got Alyssa to read them - she said it surprised her how much she liked the books. Several series follow this one; the Icewind Dale series being the next chronologically. Although all of the books are fast paced and are enjoyable to read, Salvatore interspaces the Dark Elf Trilogy with musings on morality and the meaning of friendship, existence and the struggle between good and evil.

  • The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist.
    From the opening pages, Feist had me hooked - the characters are vivid and I got attached to them as the story progresses. It is fantasy, but not the tired, old re-hashing of the same plot with the standard concept of magic thrown in.
  • The Keltiad by Patricia Kennealy.
    Where Celtic lore, Arthurian legends and science fiction/science fantasy are melted into a fascinatingly woven tale. Kennealy's writing style is a pleasure to plunge into - I find that I rarely came up for air...
  • The DragonLance Chronicles by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman.
    High Fantasy. A group of adventurers, evil bad guys; but not everyone are what they seem. Intricate plots that draw you in and characters you love to detest and root for at the same time. The authors created a world that so complete, the books are hard to put down for a return to reality.
  • The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan.
    Plot twists that surprise me and always hook me into the story, subplots that span whole books (there are currently 11 in the series with a 12th being written), characters that jump to life out of the pages. The books are, in a word, captivating. I have no idea how Jordan kept it all straight. I eagerly await the last and final book - how does it all end?!
  • Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein.
    One of my favorites as a teenager and as an adult. The interesting thing is that every time I read it, I understand the ideas in the book a little different. I am in awe of Heinlein and his books. They are simple and fun to read, but present complicated critiques and philosophies about many profound and multifaceted issues concerning humanity and our future .
  • Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein.
    Another fantastic military Sci-Fi book from a master author. If you saw the movie, I am so very, very sorry. I don't know what movie producers and script-writers were thinking - it was horrible. They destroyed a fantastically written book with mindless drivel; please don't judge the book by the movie. Here are some facts that should tell you just how innovative and significant this book is:
    "Almost half a century after its publication, Starship Troopers is on the reading lists of the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Navy. It is the only science fiction novel on the reading list at three of the four United States military academies." [ref] (italics added).
  • The Xanth Series by Piers Anthony.
    I can not begin to describe just how fun this series is. Read the first book and you will constantly return to the series for more. An interesting characteristic of the Xanth books, usually the main character in one book is not the main character in subsequent books. Many times the new main characters are minor characters from other books or simply new ones altogether.
  • Silver Tower by Dale Brown.
    This book succinctly illustrates just how important a major, permanent space station and space superiority is! Besides The Hunt for Red October, which I love, but is on so many reading lists that to include it here would be simply repetitive; this is the techno-fiction/thriller to end all techno-fiction/thrillers. Set in the very near future, the science-fiction part is so close to science-reality that demand an answer to the question, "It could happen. We have the technology now. Why are we not using it?!"
  • The Magic Kingdom of Landover Series by Terry Brooks.
    Another fun series - even my Mom, who doesn't usually like fantasy loved this series. The characters are entertaining and the books are a pleasure to read. I don't know what else to say or how to describe why the series is so enjoyable. Try the first book and you will be hooked too.
  • Sten by Chris Bunch & Alan Cole.
    A fast-paced, engrossing sci-fi adventure novel that reminds us that heroes aren't always saints. The characters are a little simple, but fun and believable.
  • The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn.
    What happened to Han, Leia, Luke, the remnants of the Empire and everybody else after the movies? Set five years after them, this Star Wars series is hands down the best continuation to the saga ever. An epic story line and the grand finally is pure poetry. Sci-Fi, mystery, character development, action, love, adventure, questions, answers - these books have it all. If you liked the original movies, you won't be disappointed in this series.
  • All of the Star Trek Series books.
    Especially:
  • Flint by Louis L'amour.
    My favorite western ever. Character and plot development are both simply phenomenal. The action sequences are descriptive without being wordy - I feel like I am right there, watching it all play out. A masterpiece from a master storyteller.



Short Stories, Etc.

Here is a collection of some great Short Stories...




Books, Full Text