How do I find a book/novel without the title or author?
You could try: http://forums.abebooks.com/abesleuthcom or http://www.whatsthatbook.com/
Which Heinlein book should I read first as someone who has read very little science fiction?
The Heinlein book that I started on (granted I was in High School at the time) was Tunnel in the Sky. It’s a great read and does a good job introducing a reader to Robert Heinlein’s brand of Science Fiction which was very human-centric.After that I dove into Job: A Comedy of JusticePersonally, these two books got me hooked on Heinlein’s whimsical, yet hard-nosed American individualism and skepticism for all things sacred. I’ll warn you however, even today this author from the early half of the last century can shock some poor souls with his take on many things, but especially human morality.Moon is a Harsh Mistress is also another good bet, but remember that the ‘voice’ he uses in that novel is unique to that novel alone.Footnotes Tunnel in the Sky Job The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Which is/are the good sci-fi novels that must be read?
I’m going to recommend some of the very basic stuff that’s pretty old:It would be good to acquaint yourself with H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, to start with. They kind of got the ball rolling: 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (Verne) and The First Men In The Moon or The Time Machine by Wells. These authors are referenced implicitly and explicitly by many later writers and critics.Then (to me) arguably the most important Sci-fi writer of the 20th century is Robert Heinlein. Though his most well-known book is probably Stranger in a Strange Land, that’s not as characteristic of his writing as The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and Citizen of the Galaxy. His short stories include two works dealing with time travel paradox issues: By His Bootstraps and the amazing All You Zombies. Also using time travel as a plot point is The Door Into Summer - if you read that, see if you can count how many current appliances and inventions are described in that book. And don’t ignore the so-called “juvenile” novels like Space Cadet or Farmer in the Sky - they are as good and as inventive as the rest.Isaac Asimov is another writer that had a huge influence; he originated the Three Laws of Robotics in I, Robot and wrote a Future History, the Foundation Trilogy. I’m not as fond of his writing as I am of Heinlein’s but it’s basic stuff.Finally, Philip K. Dick, the author of The Man in the High Castle, wrote a scad of novels and short stories which have been mined to good effect by Hollywood TV. He was totally different from the above writers; his books throw out ideas like sparklers. Probably the most famous is Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, the basis for the Blade Runner movie; I think a lot of people that read that are surprised at how different it is from the movie. But you can probably find 10 movies based directly on his books, and another 20 that, in some way, use his ideas to the point where stories and movies are described as “phildickian”.Hope that helps.
Can you recommend a Sci-Fi/Fantasy book?
Black Company by Glen Cook Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb Any Discworld by Terry Pratchett
What are some good reads for a well-read second grader that is reading at an eighth grade level (fiction and non-fiction)?
Whatever they want. Turn the kid loose in the YA section of the local library, and see if you can get borrowing privileges at the local junior high library, if you haven’t already.I don’t think it’s a problem for a kid like that to read books “too young” for them or “too old” for them, though they should understand that if a book for older readers is too hard or doesn’t make sense, they might do better with it later. I read at least parts of The Tempest when I was that age, and though I didn’t understand it, it didn’t do me any harm. In fact, I’d try to have some Shakespeare and a poetry anthology or two in the house.I took a look at a couple of eight-grade reading lists, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a consensus on what level is appropriate—one had The Hobbit, and one had The Lord of the Rings! (Both recommended.) But with that caveat in mind, here are some classics:Richard Adams, Watership DownLloyd Alexander, Chronicles of PrydainIsaac Asimov, “Lucky Starr” series, collections of science essays such as View from a Height and The Left Hand of the Electron (with a warning that some things may be out of date)Agatha Christie, just about anythingRoald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryArthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesHeinlein, “juveniles” (don’t bother with Rocket Ship Galileo)Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book, maybe Stalky & Co. and Puck of Pook’s Hill.Keith Laumer, “Retief” books published before 1980Madeline L’Engle, A Wrinkle in TimeC. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia (the Christianity didn’t do me any harm)Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The YearlingJonathan Swift, Gulliver’s TravelsMark Twain, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry FinnT. H. White, The Sword in the StoneField guides to everything.
What are the best examples of science fiction for an aspiring writer to use as inspiration?
I remember the novel that turned me on to science fiction. I was in high school and took an alternative literature course in addition to the standard English. Our teacher gave us reading lists to choose from. We didn't all have to read the same book at the same time, but did have to present the book and write a review of it. I chose a book entitled "A Canticle For Leibowitz" by Walter Miller. I think I chose it for the title, it had a kind of Gothic Catholic/Jewish sound to it that intrigued me. I was very deep into sacred music at the time and knew the canticle style and place in worship.I had read a few others (Day of the Triffids, The Body Snatchers) before that but didn't find them very interesting or particularly well written. 'A Canticle' was different.Since reading it, now over 35 years ago, I keep going back to the genre. I have read hard science fiction, soft science fiction, fantasy with a science fiction spin, space opera and much more. I am a fan of near future sci-fi for sure. Post-apocalyptic sci-fi, like 'Canticle' is a staple and still extremely popular as evidenced by the success of the Hunger Games trilogy."City" by Clifford Simak is another book that opened my mind to the power of narrative. So much of what he predicted has become common place today.I agree with Mr. Reinemann as to the must read list. I have read them all. I would add "The Speed of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon as a great introduction to near future sci-fi with a thought provoking message.Good luck in your writing!