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View Full Version : Could you recommend scifi for a 13 year old?


kdbeaar
10-12-2010, 06:06 PM
I think my son would love good scifi (not fantasy), but my favorites are kind of dated...Bradbury, Clarke, Heinlein, etc.

Since I'm not current on great scifi writers, I was wondering if anyone here could recommend some writers and/or books he would enjoy. He's quite an advanced reader, prefers non-fiction, actually, and loves Halo. Anything fast moving and preferably war-based (*sigh*) he'd probably enjoy.

Thanks for your help!

Dolohov
10-12-2010, 06:36 PM
Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. When I was his age, it was revolutionary to me.

Maryn
10-12-2010, 06:48 PM
I second "Ender's Game."

When our son was 12 and 13, he very much liked Timothy Zahn's books in the Star Wars novel series (which is by multiple authors): "Heir to the Empire"; "Dark Force Rising"; "The Last Command."

He also liked the dated classics pretty well, especially Asimov's "Fantastic Voyage" and "I, Robot," and Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and its sequels.

Maryn, remembering her boy with his nose in books

KyraDune
10-12-2010, 07:22 PM
I'll send up a third for Ender's Game. I'm not a big SciFi fan, but I really enjoyed this book.

waylander
10-12-2010, 10:21 PM
Dune

badducky
10-12-2010, 10:26 PM
Good sci-fi is generally pretty close to fantasy, at that age.

"Pretty Monsters" by Kelly Link has both sci-fi and fantasy, and some horror.

When I was 13, I was all up on reading the Dragonriders of Pern series.

CaroGirl
10-12-2010, 10:33 PM
The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub.

For dystopian sci-fi, try everything by Lois Lowry: specifically, The Giver and Gathering Blue.

Also, A Wrinkle in Time is fantastic (literally and figuratively :)).

Mr Flibble
10-12-2010, 11:00 PM
I asked my son (12) what he'd recommend. Although he's more into fantasy, her reckons Mortal Engines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_Engines) is pretty good - so good he wants the sequel which is fairly unusual for him.

He also fell over his sister today because he was walking and reading this (http://www.amazon.com/Out-This-World-Science-Fiction/dp/075346246X)at the same time. :D

Phaeal
10-12-2010, 11:27 PM
Bradbury dated? Oh my. When I was thirteen, I was devouring H. G. Wells and H. P. Lovecraft. And Heinlein should be right up his alley. Dune, too, if he can handle the politics (including the sexual variety) and the semi-pseudo-mystical aspects. And Princess Irulan's chapter headers. ;)

kdbeaar
10-13-2010, 12:25 AM
Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

I totally forgot about Enders Game...and I loved it. He's read all the Mortal Engines books, so you guys are really on the right path.

I thought about 2001, but was afraid it might be too slow? You know how kids are nowadays, they want immediate action. And I adore Heinlein, I might give him Job A Comedy of Justice to start with, or maybe the Cat Who Walks Through Walls, although I don't remember that too clearly.

Amadan
10-13-2010, 12:46 AM
I think early Heinlein is great for YAs. Heinlein's later stuff... well, the less said about that, the better.

I'm surprised no one has recommended Hunger Games yet.

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is great.

Paulo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker (a YA dystopian sci-fi novel) is supposed to be quite good. I've read Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, which was excellent, but not appropriate for every 13-year-old (there are a couple of rape scenes and a whole lot of racial politics)

Pthom
10-13-2010, 12:49 AM
Cory Doctorow: Little Brother (http://craphound.com/littlebrother/download/)

Ambri
10-13-2010, 12:51 AM
In addition to all the previous suggestions (which I second), there's an old space opera series by Margaret Weis (of Weis and Hickman fame). I think the first one is called the Lost Prince or something similar. Very Star Wars-esque, but pretty good plotting and characterization.

Jess Haines
10-13-2010, 01:25 AM
Throwing my hat in the ring for Ender's Game, too!

Also, there are usually good stories in the Writers of the Future volumes. They're not big on sex/violence/profanity, so that should be a good bet for a teen. Lots of variety, too.

waylander
10-13-2010, 02:46 AM
The collected short stories of Isaac Asimov. I remember reading a collection called 'Nightfall' around that age.
Heinlein - The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
The Lensman Series by E.E 'Doc' Smith

Mr Flibble
10-13-2010, 03:18 AM
I thought about 2001, but was afraid it might be too slow? You know how kids are nowadays, they want immediate action.

It's weird - I thought my son would be all about that - he is in other areas such as games - but he loves slower stuff too. His fave book ever by far is the Hobbit, and that's not exactly wall to wall robots and explosions :D

dclary
10-13-2010, 03:50 AM
KD... Why does it matter if it's dated? Heinlein and Asimov were dated when I read them at 12-13, but I still loved them. Growing up and learning how science had improved only gave me more appreciation for these authors... because despite being wrong about much of their science, these authors were *right* very often too.

Asimov's David Starr series, Heinlein's Farmer in the Sky and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel are great reading at that age. And if he likes military stuff, he'll transition easily from the YA Heinlein into Starship Troopers, and you can tell him that that's the original Halo: Old School ODST, if you will.

Andre Norton's Space Ka'at series is good, but maybe for slightly younger readers (10-12, maybe?).

And I loved the abridged/illustrated editions of the old classics at that age: HG Wells, Jules Verne... their stuff was penned with ink directly sucked from boys' imaginations, and transcend age or time.

Izz
10-13-2010, 04:15 AM
I think my son would love good scifi (not fantasy), but my favorites are kind of dated...Bradbury, Clarke, Heinlein, etc. Classic SF is classic SF. Doesn't matter how old it is :). I'd recommend some of Clarke's short story collections. They're what hooked me on SF. Just grabbed me by the collar and wouldn't let go.

ETA: The City and the Stars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_City_and_the_Stars) was the novel that officially got me addicted.

benbradley
10-13-2010, 04:17 AM
Good sci-fi is generally pretty close to fantasy, at that age.
I'd think it varies with the person. I definitely like SF a lot more than Fantasy, and always have as long as I can remember. When I was 10 or 12 I thoroughly enjoyed "Star Surgeon" and (mumbly) decades later I still enjoyed reading the other books/short story collections/whatever-they-are from James White's "Sector General" story series. They're all about solving problems, mostly of (very!) alien medical patients, but also of the practical and logistical problems of dealing with interstellar hospital patients and visitors who need different atmospheres, gravities, etc. The series is of course a bit dated, but I feel it's "True SF." That and some other things, such as a few Heinlein juveniles, probably had something to do with me going to engineering school.

For what it's worth, I read The Hobbit around the same age and did not enjoy it. Decades ago I read several Piers Anthony books hoping he would have written something else as good as "Macroscope," but no, he found a somewhat different genre that sells better...
Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

I totally forgot about Enders Game...and I loved it. He's read all the Mortal Engines books, so you guys are really on the right path.
I read Ender's Game and ... well, while enjoyable, I don't think it's the greatest thing of the decade as it seems so many others do. I consider it a bit more Space Fantasy than "true" SF, not that there's anything wrong with that ...
I thought about 2001, but was afraid it might be too slow? You know how kids are nowadays, they want immediate action. And I adore Heinlein, I might give him Job A Comedy of Justice to start with, or maybe the Cat Who Walks Through Walls, although I don't remember that too clearly.
I think early Heinlein is great for YAs. Heinlein's later stuff... well, the less said about that, the better.

I echo that - give him Heinlein's Juveniles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinlein_juveniles) while he's at the perfect age to best enjoy them! If he likes those, he'll surely find his way to the rest of Heinlein's works.
It's weird - I thought my son would be all about that - he is in other areas such as games - but he loves slower stuff too. His fave book ever by far is the Hobbit, and that's not exactly wall to wall robots and explosions :D
Okay, dunno if he'll enjoy my suggestions or not... maybe he'll like all those Piers Anthony books I didn't like...

Mr Flibble
10-13-2010, 04:54 AM
Okay, dunno if he'll enjoy my suggestions or not... maybe he'll like all those Piers Anthony books I didn't like...

He likes lots of different stuff - I'll let him know. And there goes the visa card again....:D He's quite the critical reader already though. He was on a panel for a YA ( or was it MG?) book award and they had to articulate what they did and did not like and...it kinda rubbed off. There's several books I bought he wanted he didn't make it through. But the classic SF (and fantasy) - loves it.

geardrops
10-13-2010, 05:12 AM
I enjoyed The Lab by Jack Heath (pending watching people get How Computers Work wrong isn't like nails on a chalkboard to him -- the second book made me hate existing for those pages).

blacbird
10-13-2010, 06:21 AM
I was right around 13 when I first encountered H.G. Wells. I started with The Time Machine and after that, had to read everything of his I could get my hands on. Within weeks I had read The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The First Men in the Moon, The Food of the Gods, The Island of Dr. Moreau and probably twenty or twenty-five short stories. He's still good.

kdbeaar
10-13-2010, 07:20 AM
I was right around 13 when I first encountered H.G. Wells. I started with The Time Machine and after that, had to read everything of his I could get my hands on. Within weeks I had read The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The First Men in the Moon, The Food of the Gods, The Island of Dr. Moreau and probably twenty or twenty-five short stories. He's still good.

Yes, he read some of those in abridged kid's versions several years ago and enjoyed them very much.

He also read a collection of Ray Bradbury's dinosaur stories which he really liked; I was surprised because I thought it was a bit dated for him. So that whole 'dated' thing may just be in my mind.

This is a great reading list you folks are helping me build!

Smish
10-13-2010, 07:23 AM
The Uglies series, by Scott Westerfeld.

Fulk
10-13-2010, 08:15 AM
I second "Ender's Game."

When our son was 12 and 13, he very much liked Timothy Zahn's books in the Star Wars novel series (which is by multiple authors): "Heir to the Empire"; "Dark Force Rising"; "The Last Command."

He also liked the dated classics pretty well, especially Asimov's "Fantastic Voyage" and "I, Robot," and Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and its sequels.

Maryn, remembering her boy with his nose in books

If he's into Star Wars, I'll throw in my hat for Timothy Zahn's Star Wars novels as well. I remember eating those up as a youngin', but I was (and still am) a very avid Star Wars fan.

Bradbury is timeless, and while they aren't space exploration and wars with aliens, I read Orwell and Huxley around that time.

There are Halo novels out there, too, since you mentioned that series, though I'm not sure of the quality of the adaptations. I'm pretty sure there are novelizations/spin-offs of the sci-fi game Mass Effect as well.

LOG
10-13-2010, 08:39 AM
The question is: Could I NOT recommend sci-fi to a 13 year old?

Izz
10-13-2010, 08:43 AM
The question is: Could I NOT recommend sci-fi to a 13 year old?Yes. If you were a hateful, heartless human being. Which i'm sure you're not.

Varthikes
10-14-2010, 03:09 AM
Timothy Zahn's Dragonback series is really good.

Also Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series.

SirOtter
10-14-2010, 03:32 AM
Anyone who describes classic literature (or film, or music, or whatever) as dated, regardless of genre, ought to have their library card shredded and their hand slapped good and hard. Classics are classics because they are timeless; the style may be of its time, but the substance is eternal.

That said, I recommend Allen Steele's Coyote series. Or his Near Space series. Keep in mind, though, that by 13 I'd already discovered Harlan Ellison. He may be more advanced than you think.

Polenth
10-14-2010, 05:10 AM
He also read a collection of Ray Bradbury's dinosaur stories which he really liked; I was surprised because I thought it was a bit dated for him. So that whole 'dated' thing may just be in my mind.

If he likes dinosaurs, you could try Anne McCaffrey's dinosaur planet books. 'Dinosaur Planet' and 'Dinosaur Planet Survivors' are the main ones.

RainyDayNinja
10-14-2010, 09:48 AM
I'd also suggest Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series. If you can get in the right mindset to appreciate the prose, it's really quite exciting. And I think kids these days need more heroes like John Carter that they can look up to, rather than simply relate to.

Amadan
10-14-2010, 10:43 AM
I'd also suggest Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series. If you can get in the right mindset to appreciate the prose, it's really quite exciting. And I think kids these days need more heroes like John Carter that they can look up to, rather than simply relate to.

Oh, yes! I ate those up when I was that age.

_Sian_
10-14-2010, 11:59 AM
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld was brilliant - a re-imagining of WW1 if the allies were using modified animals as their weapon/machines ( a huge modified whale was used like a blimp, if I remember) and the and the Central powers using steampunk like machines - giant metal waters and all sorts of cool things. All sorts of adventure and amazing things going on. The protagontists (there was a boy and a girl) were about 13/14 if I remember correctly.

It was wonderful, and had some really cool pictures too. I highly recommend it.

Rebekkamaria
10-14-2010, 01:04 PM
When I was his age I loved The Tripods by John Christopher (Samuel Youd).

kurzon
10-15-2010, 10:25 AM
I second "Leviathan" - lot of fun.

Also in the more classic line:

"Trillions" by Nicholas Fisk, if you can get it.
"A Tale of Time City" by Diana Wynne Jones.
"Death World" by Harry Harrison.
"The Duelling Machine" by Ben Bova.
"Catseye" and "Sargasso of Space" by Andre Norton.

That covers a fairly wide range of sf.

bladestalker
10-17-2010, 09:21 AM
The Kris Longknife series by Mike Shepherd or Vatta's War by Elizabeth Moon are excellent choices.

Brutal Mustang
10-17-2010, 09:44 AM
Black Hole Sun (http://www.amazon.com/Black-Hole-David-Macinnis-Gill/dp/0061673048). I read that this past month. It's great. I think he'll like it. Lots of shooting, fighting, wise-cracks, and honor.

thefreshchuff
10-17-2010, 10:45 AM
I just finished the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. The first book is The Knife of Never Letting Go. It's YA (the back says 14+), main character's a boy, and it's very, very good. Lots of action, explosions, suspense, and it raises a lot of thinky-thoughts about war and gender issues. He might like it!

Flint
10-17-2010, 04:24 PM
Battle Royale
City of Ember

bethany
10-17-2010, 05:10 PM
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (12 kids fight to the death on reality TV in a dystopian future) there's a reason these are the most popular books out there right now.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Little Brother by Corey Doctorow (already recommended, but very good)

Ender's Game is among my favorite books ever so you can't go wrong with that (see how many times it's been recommended?)

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodrick Philbrick- one of my favorite books or all time

Oh, and I LOVE the Chaos Walking Trilogy, which is mentioned above.

Scott Westerfield is great for Science Fiction, I personally love his Leviathan and Behemoth as intros to Steam Punk

I teach a Spec Fiction elective at my high school. Here's a link to the book list http://blogs.bullittschools.org/bethanyfaith/welcome/ which includes some trailers, some summaries for books, page lengths, etc. Do realize that the class has older students (hence the inclusion of books like The Road and The Shining) and girls (hence Shiver and Hush Hush)

Siren of Triton
10-18-2010, 02:03 AM
-Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
-The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
-A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle
-Any of Margaret Peterson Haddix's sci-fi books, especially the dystopian Shadow Children series (first one is Among the Hidden) and Turnabout
-The Uglies series (Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras) by Scott Westerfield
-Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
-If he's a precocious type, try Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and The Sirens of Titan. I wouldn't recommend those to just any 13-year-old, but I read them about that age and loved them.