Like many authors of genre fiction, George R.R. Martin famously advises wannabe writers to read as much as possible in ALL genres, not just SFF. We think that’s just fine, because as many have pointed out before (including this very blog), fans of science fiction and fantasy are often extremely well read in other genres, too. Because Tor.com explores the universe and related subjects, we are always dedicated to highlighting all sorts of writing. From Jo Walton’s rereads of the wonderful Patrick O’Brian novels, to Sarah Monette’s musing on Ellery Queen, to the recent addition of Ryan Britt’s Genre in the Mainstream series, it’s pretty clear we love various genres.
Today we asked our ever-vigilant Facebook and Twitter followers to tell us which non-SFF books they love. We also threw a little bit of a curve ball with this one by qualifying the question to include books that “sort of feel like SFF.” This might have been a tricky one, but you rose to the challenge!
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
We love books that love books and it doesn’t get more bookish than a novel about a mysterious book and the cast of nefarious characters that surround it. Part Gothic, part old-fashion mystery, this novel accomplishes what we love about the best stories: it’s a crackerjack of a book, yet deeply literary.
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The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Loosely based on an actual historical figure, this tale of buried treasure, betrayal and secret identities, seems stuck in the shadow of Dumas’s other masterpiece; The Three Musketeers. No fair! We definitely think this one deserves a second or third read.
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Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
This one is a no-brainer. While not marketed as SFF, the protagonist of this series; Claire Beauchamp Randall, becomes an unwitting time traveler in the very first book. Coming from WWII all the way to the 1700s of Scotland definitely has some SFF cred with us. Also, before paranormal romance became huge, Gabaldon was there first.
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
We’ve certainly made the argument here before that certain elements of crime fiction have science fictional aspects. Cop shows that feature forensic “science” being used in a fictional way spring to mind. And the girl herself, Lisbeth Salander certainly possesses some larger than life skills. Espionage and hacking plots are not necessarily science fiction, but we think they grew up in the same house.
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Moby Dick by Herman Melville
From Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck to Khan’s climatic death scene, the sheer amounts of references Moby Dick has in various popular forms of science fiction alone should be enough to explain why SFF fans love this classic novel. But really, we think it might have something to do with the fact that’s it’s basically about a giant monster.
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Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
Taking place in what can only be described as an alternate reality version of New York City, this novel has enough magical realism and fantasy to make any reader of genre fiction happy. And it’s an extremely touching read.
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Microserfs by Douglas Coupland
Referencing the various happenings of the technology industry BEFORE the dotcom boom, this novel is told exclusively via diary entries on a 1990’s era-laptop. Emoticons were new back then, meaning if a time traveler from the 1960’s were to pick up this book, it would probably seem like science fiction.
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Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
Morrissey famously crooned that Wilde was on his side in the Smith’s song “Cemetery Gates” and we couldn’t agree more. If you could insert your soul into your own self-portrait, would you? It’s like this was the original Twilight Zone premise. Why was Oscar Wilde so damn good?
One final note for now: as many of our readers are aware: everyone at Tor.com LOVES Sherlock Holmes. Except for that one guy. He knows who he is.
Thanks so much to ALL our Facebook and Twitter people for your responses!
Stubby the Rocket is the voice and mascot of Tor.com. Everything kind of looks like SFF to it.