My question for you today is:
If a friend came to you who had never read a comic book/fantasy novel/science fiction novel before (your choice) asking for your advice on what to read, what one book would you give them to introduce them to the genre?
You only have to do one of the three (though you can do more if you like), but I’m going to take a crack at them all.
In science fiction, I always recommend they start with “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. It’s well written, with intriguing characters you really come to care about, and it’s nothing so crazy far-out that it would scare them off.
If they’re a religious person, I recommend “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell. It posits that First Contact with an alien planet was made by a group of Jesuit priests. Only one returns, and the novel is about figuring out what happened. It’s great science fiction, raises some excellent moral and spiritual questions, and is accessible to anyone even if they know nothing about sci-fi.
On the comics front, I’d probably go with the Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli Daredevil collection “Born Again“. (For a non-religious person, that’s two religious books. Hmmm.) I think it’s grounded enough in reality for anyone familiar with pop culture to be comfortable with, but with enough super-hero elements to be a decent introduction to the modern incarnation of the genre. Plus it’s a gorgeously illustrated and written book.
Finally, on the fantasy front I think you probably can’t go wrong with “The Sorcerer’s Stone“, the first Harry Potter book by J. K. Rowling. It has all the juicy fantasy tropes presented in a friendly way. If they were a darker sort of person, I’d go with Steven Brust’s “The Book of Jhereg“. Because it’s written in first person, I think it’s easy to get into the character’s head, and I love the way that Brust makes the magical world very commonplace in the mind of the main character. After all, for him it’s just normal; it’s only magic to us. Or, if they’re a more literary sort of person, I’d give them Brust’s “The Phoenix Guards“, set in the same universe but with different characters, told in the style of Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers”. It’s just a rollicking good read all the way around.
Most of those (and more) can be found on my Amazon Listmania list of sci-fi/fantasy books that I love.
Now, your turn!