Star Frontiers recommended fiction list!
I was sitting down with my new used copy of the Alpha Dawn Expanded Rules, and I noticed something on the back inside cover I never paid attention to as a kid: the recommended reading list. Since I’ve made my way through Appendix N, it’s nice that now I have a new reading list to wade through!
Here’s the fiction list; titles (and series/parts of series) I’ve already read are marked with an asterisk:
Anthony, Piers — Macroscope
Anderson, Poul — Ensign Flandry series*
Asimov, Isaac — Foundation trilogy*; I, Robot; The Gods Themselves
Asprin, Robert — The Cold-Cash War
Bester, Alfred — The Stars My Destination*
Blish, James — Cities in Flight
Bradbury, Ray — The Martian Chronicles*
Brown, Frederick — What Mad Universe
Brunner, John — Stand on Zanzibar
Budrys, Algis — Rogue Moon
Chandler, Bertram A. — Commodore Grimes series
Clarke, Arthur C. — Rendezvous With Rama*; The Fountains of Paradise
Clement, Hal — Mission of Gravity; Close to Critical; The Nitrogen Fix
de Camp, L. Sprague — Krishna series*
Dick, Philip K. — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Dickson, Gordon R. — Dorsai series
Drake, David — Hammer’s Slammers
Farmer, Philip Jose — Riverworld series*
Garrett, Randall — Starship Death
Goulart, Ron — many short novels
Haldeman, Joe — The Forever War*
Hansen, Karl — War Games
Harrison, Harry — Bill, the Galactic Hero*; The Stainless Steel Rat*; Deathworld series*
Herbert, Frank — Dune series*
Laumer, Keith — A Plague of Demons; Retief series*; Bolo series
LeGuin, Ursula K. — The Left Hand of Darkness
Lem, Stanislaw — Solaris; The Cyberiad
Longyear, Barry — Circus World
Niven, Larry — Ringworld*; Ringworld Engineers; Tales of Known Space
Niven, Larry and Jerry Pournelle — The Mote in God’s Eye
Norton, Andre — Star Rangers
Pohl, Frederick — Gateway*
Pournelle, Jerry — The Mercenary
Russel, Eric Frank — The Great Explosion
Saberhagen, Fred — Berserker series
Silverberg, Robert — The Man in the Maze*
Smith, E.E. — Triplanetary; Space Patrol; others in the Lensman series
Stapleton, Olaf — Last and First Men
Vance, Jack — Big Planet*; The Gray Prince*; Tschai, Planet of Adventure series*; Demon Princes series*
Van Vogt, A.E. — The Weapon Shops of Isher; The Silkie; Voyage of the Space Beagle
Varley, John — The Persistence of Vision
Zelazny, Roger — Lord of Light*
It’s an interesting list that, as one might expect, shares quite a few literary inspirations with Traveller. There are a few Trav influences that surprisingly aren’t on the Star Frontiers list (Tubb’s Dumarest series and Norton’s Solar Queen series immediately come to mind), and there are some on the SF list that seem… odd. Riverworld is inspiration for Star Frontiers? Who would have thought? Lord of Light? Really? Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I know Blade Runner and Star Frontiers came out the same year, but still… Those are all good SF books by great authors, but I just don’t see those titles’ connection to Star Frontiers’ space opera setting. Some other questions: Why are the Dune books the only Herbert listings? Star Rangers the only Norton? Ensign Flandry the only Anderson? I’m sure the game writers weren’t shooting for comprehensiveness here, but their list seems awfully half-baked.
Unlike Appendix N, which was a laundry list of all the F&SF that influenced the Gygaxian vision and development of (A)D&D, the Star Frontiers list seems to have been populated in a very different way. I can almost picture the Star Frontiers production team sitting down for a meeting, and everyone being asked to provide a list of their top 5 science fiction books. Those lists were merged into the Star Frontiers “master list” and sent along the pipeline, without the benefit of an editor checking those favorites for relevance to the setting… Seriously though, I would be curious to learn why some of those titles were included as recommended reading and how their list came to be.
Well, despite some questionable choices there’s certainly some good stuff there, and it certainly doesn’t detract from the fine game of Star Frontiers as a whole. I’m looking forward to checking out some of these authors I’ve never read, and tracing the lines of influence.