An interesting link came across my desk yesterday, which was basically the 50 science fiction books you must read – before you die, because that’s the current catchphrase.

Published by Forbidden Planet and tweeted by sci-fi author Gareth Powell I was surprised by a few of their choices, but then sat back with a sigh of relief as yes, it appears I have read most of them! Well, 80-90%.

I basically grew up chowing down on anything I could get my hands on, science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, horror — it all went into the processor and had a huge influence on what I write now.

It’s not for everyone, but I’ve always enjoyed a story that took me somewhere way beyond the realms of reality, I can’t exactly say why.

There are some missing authors, as there invariably are — there’s no Harlan Ellison, for instance. Or Ben Bova. Or Roger Zelazny. But hey, I these lists never match up with everyone’s favourites.

Of the ones included, there are few women — I know, it’s a shock, right? — but Ursula Le Guin is in with two superb novels, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. Neuromancer by William Gibson - this is the cover of the copy I owned first!And my all time favourite CyberPunk novel, Neuromancer, by William Gibson (he invented the term ‘cyberspace’) is near the top of the list.

I think science fiction’s proven to be very important even if not everyone reads it. It’s always been a platform to talk about subjects which prove difficult to address, like sexuality or war or man’s inhumanity to man. I’ve always found the most compelling things I’ve read deal with relationships and how people get on – or not.

It has been a pleasure to see things 20 years ago would have been consigned to the Sci-fi bin (and the sole perogative of geeks) becoming mainstream. Remakes of Battlestar Galactica and V come to mind most recently, but things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Walking Dead or Warehouse 13 wouldn’t have been made when I was a kid, seen as ‘too out there’.

Richard Matheson's I Am Legend - vampire story that's not about vampiresSo, go check out the link and see if anything appeals. It’s not just for geeks, you know.

And if you want to read one of the great vampire novels, go read Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (S.F. Masterworks). He wrote it back in the fifties and I think it’s standing the test of time pretty well — and it’s nothing like the Will Smith movie that came out a few years ago…