Complaint Department

I09 posted an article on the 'best Sf novel' to entice a non-SF reader to take up the genre.

And I'm going to complain about the whole damned list.
This being the Internet, I'm allowed to do this.*

First, personal disclosure: I've read SF since I was 8 years old. It was the second week of August, and I picked up a copy of Space Angel by John Maddox Roberts, probably because of the awesome cover that the Del Rey edition had.There was something about the brown shade of the flat spaceship that caught my attention, and it was written in simple enough terms that I did not have to struggle.
At that moment, my total SF experience had been watching  The Search for Spock at a local drive-in.
I probably thought spaceships were real. But it was a good start,and I followed that with  Little Fuzzy by H.Beam Piper, who set the hook deep. Since than, I've read literally thousands of SF novels, the majority of them crap. (Guns of Terra 10. Hyperion. CenterForce. Gunner Kade. Clone. Syzygy... ad infinitum, ad nauseum...)   It has made me the cretin I am today.**

Seriously, I09, you're going to suggest The Handmaid's Tale? Why not  The Jesus Incident, if you want to terrify a new reader with dystopia and nightmare? The Handmaid's Tale is a great book. But it is describing a hideous world. How are you going to hook someone with that?

The Left hand Of Darkness? Not one person in four is clever enough to understand that masterpiece. To everyone else its a boring political complicated with sleds and unusual personal problems. Not to mention it'll disturb anyone with latent homophobia or sexual anxieties.
Cloud Atlas?  Please tell me you didn't understand the question.
Pattern Recognition? Great novel. Not great SF.
American Gods? Well, it is Gaimen's best. But its not SF.
 Interesting to note that Childhood's End came up twice. Its a book that continues to generate strong reactions, especially in people who you would not think had a Satan hangup, but its not a beginner's book.

Why did it take the comment section to point out  Stranger in a Strange Land ? 
 Its story about morality police, sexual repression and the role of religion is still germane today.
...But Heinlein, like Kipling, has a muddy reputation with academics and intellectuals. Purposeful exclusion?

Why not Eye of Cat , or Webs of Everywhere, or The Martian Chronicles?

 Editors take note: most people read for pleasure. They are only going to read a genre if it provides this pleasure. When a person is starting out, it is best to start with enjoyable reads.
Do you think that trying to entice them with a bleak society of ritualized rape and murder (Handmaid's Tale), child soldiers being tricked into genocide(Ender's Game), aliens in the devil's form stealing humanity's children and future (Childhood's End), or the end of the world (Spin), is going to get them to pick up another SF novel?

If the only SF movie I had ever watched was Children of Men  would I be anxious to watch The Iron Giant?

SF is difficult to describe, hard to pin down, and tends to be idiosyncratically defined. But certain themes are expected by the naive reader: spaceships, the future, adventure... give them Whipping Star, give them This Immortal,  give them Dragonriders of Pern, give them The Pastel City or Star Rider;  but give them something which opens a window to the bright worlds of infinite possibilities, not the grim and constrained avenues of nightmare and decay.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is a powerful trilogy***, but I'm not going to give it to a beginning fantasy reader. Nor are they going to get Game of Thrones. Start with  Tea with the Black Dragon,  and work your way up to the bleak avenues of the desperate and the dead.

Let them enjoy the sunshine before they face the Overlords, the Commanders of the Faithful, or for that matter, the Eich.

*If you check any forum, you'll see that opinionated whining is quite common.
** Nothing else to blame.
***Yes, I know there is two series, I'm talking about the first.

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