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14th-Sep-2010 06:40 pm
It was hard to narrow my favorites to 15, but here are those that made the cut.  They are listed in no particular order.

1.  Trinity by Leon Uris
2.  Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
3.  A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
4.  World War:  In The Balance by Harry Turtledove
5.  In the Presence of Mine Enemies by Harry Turtledove
6.  Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling
7.  The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
8.  Dune by Frank Herbert
9.  Patriot Games by Tom Clancy
10.  Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
11.  The Green Flag by Robert Kee
12.  Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
13.  Exodus by Leon Uris
14.  Rebels: The Irish Rising of 1916 by Peter De Rosa
15.  Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews-- A History by James Carroll
15th-Sep-2010 04:17 pm (UTC)
It's great to see Dune on your list. Have you read any of the sequel novels, and what specifically draws you to Herbert's writing?

Alternatively, if you don't feel like answering that question, I've heard great things about In the Presence of Mine Enemies but haven't had the opportunity to read it yet. How did you feel about Turtledove's decision to humanize the Nazis?
15th-Sep-2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
I have read the first three books in the Dune series, but have the whole set- a total of 18 books. The first six done by Frank Herbert and the remaining done by his son and another writer.

Frank Herbert is a master story teller and his characters are believable and true. I love science fiction, but my major beef with some sci-fi writers is how shallow the worlds they create are. This is not the case with Herbert. Not only do you get the story of the characters, but you get the story of the universe these characters are set in. With that rich, in-depth description of a their world(s), not only can you relate to the characters, you can draw clear parallels between concepts, politics, etc. present in the Dune world, to our own here in this one. Herbert does this in such a fashion that you aren't hit over the head with it, you draw those parallels subtly, you find yourself immersed in the world of Dune and then when you put the book down, walk away and return to everyday life, you find yourself being struck with thoughts like 'oh, that is just like in Dune'.

I enjoy books that make me think like that, which is what I find at the heart of what I consider to be true science fiction. Fantastical worlds, advanced technology that provide an avenue of escape, but keep you grounded with concepts, philosophy and struggles that you experience here in this world.

As for In the Presence of Mine Enemies, I have no problem with how Turtledove humanizes the Nazis (a facet of his work, where all his characters, even the ones who are the bad guys, are humanized, be they human or alien, a facet I enjoy). I think it is an important thing to do- the Nazis were human, no matter how evil they were, they were human. If we lose sight of that fact, we are in danger of providing an environment where a Nazi-like group could rise again. It is right to vilify and denounce them, but we have to keep in mind they were just like us- that potential to be that evil is within us all whether we like it or not.

Besides, if we don't treat them as human, we are no better than the Nazis who viewed their enemies as less than human. And we see what happens when we lose the ability to see another group of people as human- it becomes very easy to attempt to eradicate them.

That humanization was a very important part of the book, but another part of the book that was equally important was the fact that despite the fact the Nazis won, despite the slaughter, there were Jews who remained, who survived and although they had to blend in and keep who they were and their customs hidden, they kept them. They held onto their faith, their history, their culture and passed it along.

Edited at 2010-09-15 11:43 pm (UTC)
16th-Sep-2010 09:52 pm (UTC) - Yes
I don't know anyone who would dare declare Herbert a shallow writer. Its his attention to seemingly insignificant detail that has helped him prevail as an author. So I completely agree with you about the subtle parallels that can be taken from his work.

These great answers (combined with the peek I sneaked of your Goodreads) make me think you'd have a lot of fun in this community.
17th-Sep-2010 03:05 am (UTC) - Re: Yes
Thanks, I look forward to it :)