Best Classic and Modern SciFi For Young People


At some point my kid’s going to start reading actual books. He’s 2 now, and he can read a couple of words and basic sentences (still working on reading “This is my fighting shirt.”). But if he’s any kind of reader like I was, I devoured books like a fat kid does cake.

The problem, however, is that most modern “youth” SciFi is hot garbage. And where it is not, it’s bleak, miserable, and lacking any sense of hope or optimism. It’s as if a perfect storm of the Hunger Games along with ham-fisted identity politics just sucked the life out of the genre, so all we have left now really are classics. Don’t get me wrong, SciFi has only ever been a means of examining contemporary issues through a different lens, and has never been free from political considerations (I mean, for fucksake… DUNE). But grim reality doesn’t need to be beaten over the head of kids before they’re ready to deal with it.

A perfect example of what I’m looking for:

Heinlein, of course has a ton of these kinds of books, all targeted at kids (boys, to be honest, but still), and infused with positive lessons about self-reliance, determination, competence, and character. Another great example (probably the best one):


If you have any you’d like to recommend, please add them here. I’m trying to build a list of required reading for the kid. Also, if you recommend Ringworld I will replace all your posts with PG images of Furries yiffing. “Rishathra”, wtf.

No Starship Troopers?

It’s on the edge of adulthood as far as his other stuff goes, a little heavier than I’m looking for. A kid isn’t going to resonate with a lot of the concepts it goes into.

Giant robots and duty. it’s perfect.

Strata and Dark Side of the Sun by Terry Pratchett are great, optimistic sci fi written in his inimitable style

Arthur C Clark has some excellent collections of short stories

9 year olds won’t give a shit about duty, they want to zip around the galaxy with a furry critter in a space suit having adventures.

Starship troopers

Harry Harrison. The stainless steel rat.

And uses the power of judo which is nice.

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The Foundation and Empire series is a can’t miss winner.

Youngsters can understand it and it gives them an early primitive understanding of government, how people easily move from anarchy to liberal democratic republics and fear mongering police states.

It is man vs man vs nature and boils down to a well explained model of our foils and the fundamental forces and weaknesses of man’s attempt to self govern absolutely in an uncertain universe.

It explores everything from government to economics to the scientific method to atheism to evolution to rugged individualism to industrialism to entropy to endless cycles of political revolution in the continual rebirth of civilization under technological advancement.

Isaac Asimov was a such a tremendous genius.

The only shortcoming is that he was such a fan of hard science that some of his beliefs and subsequent assumptions about cosmology were very wrong he tried to correct them as he went along in the series until his accidental HIV infection during routine surgery, secret illness and demise from AIDS.

It’s not as guts and glory as Heinlein but it captured my imagination.

I can also recommend Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series, especially the first book in the series “On a Pale Horse”.

It was meant as mainstream popular science fiction in it’s day but honestly, Piers Anthony is better read by young adults. I read it when I was 12 and I loved it.

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Uh… where do I sign up? I want to do all that shit too.

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On a Pale Horse” is such pop fiction bubble gum I’m honestly a bit surprised it was never made into a cartoon or a PG rated movie. It’s better than anything George Lucas ever wrote by himself, that’s for sure.

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Isac Asimov is hard to read as well.

Peirs Anthony I think did the total recall book. Which was pretty cool.

But weirdly he wrote the movie adaptation rather than wrote the book then they made the movie.

The original book was a Philip k dick. Which is an author I found hard to read as a kid as well.

According to who and at what stage in their development?

I read the entire series up to that point on a summer break in about the 6th grade and don’t you know I’m dumb as a stump?

According to me when I read it. But if you look at the books I am recommending I mostly went for basic space opera. Not hard science fiction.

Did you have cable TV as a kid?

I did not. I got one broadcast network channel sometimes.

If you’re bored enough, you’ll read old news papers and 30 year old encyclopedias.

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I probably read more fantasy back in the day. The Magician series by Raymond e feist. Sword of shanara the other peirs Anthony series with the puns. (Xanith) As well as the tolkeins and such. Simon r Green the hawk and something series.

I read at of the ec tubb child of earth or whatever it was called. Hitch-hikers of course. There was a comedy si fi series I recall I liked but can’t remember the name.

(Another Harry Harrison. Bill the galactic hero)

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I positively hated Xanth and most humorist novels as a young adult. Hitchhikers bored me to tears until I was old enough to appreciate ennui. Not that it wasn’t funny but if lacked the hard bitten edge that space apocalypses, space shoot outs and the Grim Reaper having scythe fights at the gates of Hell carried.

I think the Shanara chronicles were torturous in comparison to the intrigue of the Foundation series. Just dull and kind of ehhh flat. I don’t know how anybody liked those. It was a shameless hackjob of the LotR’s without any of the good qualities or interesting events. And that’s including the Two Towers where basically nothing happened for 350 pages. What’s worse than nothing? Scions of Shanara.

Elric of Melniborne’ was 10 times more interesting. He a sword that stole souls. Now that was badass.

I also read a lot of Phillip Marlow books. Our tastes might not have been quite the same.

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I couldn’t handle the two towers.

+1 for hitchhikers

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