Help me get lost in more books!
April 24, 2009 8:49 PM   Subscribe

What books or series spur their own mythology or philosophy? I love getting lost in the world of a book or movie. Past books and series such as "Harry Potter," "The Da Vinci Code," "Lost," "The Matrix" movies, "Buffy" and "Star Wars" come with their own universe - people analyze them, look for mythological/philosophical undertones, solve puzzles and come up with their own theories.

What others (books especially) might I like? I've read "Lord of the Rings" and the Narnia books; I'm not a Trekkie, either. His Dark Materials and Dune failed to capture my fancy.
posted by adverb to Society & Culture (69 answers total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:54 PM on April 24, 2009

Not science fiction, but immersive: the Aubrey-Maturin books.
posted by Methylviolet at 8:58 PM on April 24, 2009 [4 favorites]

Larry Niven's "Known Space" series. Ringworld and Neutron Star are probably the best. Avoid anything after The Ringworld Engineers.
posted by equalpants at 8:58 PM on April 24, 2009

posted by puckish at 9:02 PM on April 24, 2009

The X-Files. Twin Peaks, maybe.
posted by lakeroon at 9:03 PM on April 24, 2009

I'm not sure how well it wears after the age of 16 or so, what with all the vintage 60s/70s Absurdism... but if you want depth and elaboration, you might want to check out the Illuminatus! Trilogy.
posted by darth_tedious at 9:03 PM on April 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and the Lives of the Mayfair Witches.
posted by millipede at 9:04 PM on April 24, 2009

The X-Files. Possibly Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. An author I've worked with belongs to two Sherlock Holmes societies which have elaborate rules and activities, so I think it's another possibility.
posted by orange swan at 9:07 PM on April 24, 2009

I guess I might be a little confused--doesn't all fiction create its own universe? And English-major types (and wiseacre scientists, too, as in all those 'The Physics of Star Wars' books) will analyze and come up with theories about anything--that's what they do.

Are you interested specifically in things that inspire a lot of research and study and litcrit and fanfic? Or are you just looking for book recommendations, maybe with a focus on syfy/fantasy and/or series? If so, it might be easier for people to give good advice if you narrow things down a little more--millions of people like Harry Potter and Star Wars--or tell us what you didn't like about Dune and His Dark Materials.
posted by box at 9:07 PM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Anything with fifteen sequels, which means almost every sci-fi or fantasy "series" or tv show.

As for actual quality ones... in sci-fi, Clarke's Rama books, Niven's Ringworld(s), Asimov's Foundation and Robot series, and Card's Enders books are definitely up there, as are almost all of William Gibson's books, which overlap and interrelate in delicate ways sometimes. And while the quality is choppy and a bit repetitive, all of Heinlein is set in the same (multi-timeline, overlapping) universe complete with competing bibles and concordances.

In fantasy I'd say LeGuin's Earthsea stuff, McCaffrey's Dragonriders books, or Lee's very underrated Flat Earth books, which ring as real poetry for me in a way nothing other than Tolkien does. (Very loaded with clues that don't matter until 300 pages (or three books) later, and all sorts of careful ambiguity and ripple-effects.)
posted by rokusan at 9:13 PM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. There's even some mega condordinances that go along with it. The settings and sometimes characters also show up in his other books, so it can get fairly in depth if you feel like it.
posted by jmd82 at 9:15 PM on April 24, 2009 [5 favorites]

Hmmm, Nick Bantock's Griffin and Sabine books maybe?
posted by gudrun at 9:16 PM on April 24, 2009

The works of Philip K. Dick, shorts and novels.

Also, the Harry Potter series has a quite sophisticated alchemy subtext lost on most readers. There's a great thread on the Harry Potter Lexicon lead by a French woman with her PhD in historical scientific thought that outlines the coded text.
posted by effluvia at 9:20 PM on April 24, 2009

Zelazny's Amber series might fill the bill. That world sucked me in but good.
posted by mrt at 9:21 PM on April 24, 2009 [6 favorites]

Neal Stephenson's Anathem fits the bill, I think. Just one book, but it's hefty.
posted by amtho at 9:21 PM on April 24, 2009

Ahhh, another change to recommend Little, Big.

Not so much because it has a large following, or canonical universe... just because it has a strong interior logic and mythology.
posted by Rinku at 9:22 PM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series have spawned multiple fan sites, computer and board games, and an alternative universe based on L-Space a quantum theory of how books in Libraries distort space and time. There are 37 books in the series and counting ... The series covers a diverse set of genres, all based in a flat world that rotates on the back of four elephants, supported on the back of a giant turtle swimming through space.
posted by Susurration at 9:23 PM on April 24, 2009 [6 favorites]

effluvia - can you provide a direct link to the thread? That sounds interesting, but I have no idea how to find it.
posted by amtho at 9:25 PM on April 24, 2009

posted by Science! at 9:27 PM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series. He has recently started another continuation of the series.
posted by doh ray mii at 9:32 PM on April 24, 2009

box, I'm looking for books that seem to have gained their own cult-like following: Fans who want to somehow keep the series/book alive. Although I'm not a fan of fanfic (oops, sorry), its mere presence is proof that there is a rabid following. And even though all fiction is its own world, it's the sci-fi/fantasy stuff that seems to be what I'm looking for: Sci-fi and fantasy that inspires English majors and others to pontificate and theorize.

Rather than raise the ire of Dune/HDM fans, it's easier to tell what I love about Harry Potter/Star Wars/Matrix stuff - hidden meanings and clues that are answered eventually (but not without a lot of theories and second-guessing); the answer to one puzzle reveals three others; and material that keeps you up late digesting what you just read/watched. "Lost" does this perfectly: You want to read all the books the characters are reading to see if there's a piece of the puzzle; certain codes and symbols on the show send people running to research their relevance.

Thanks for X Files - I watched it some but have always wanted to watch them all! And thanks for all the recommendations so far. Lots of things to check out...
posted by adverb at 9:37 PM on April 24, 2009

To hear the people in my parents' generation tell it, the universes of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings were actually in competition with each other, so they must qualify.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:43 PM on April 24, 2009

The Sherlock Holmes stories. People definitely do want to keep that milieu alive.
posted by jet_silver at 9:44 PM on April 24, 2009

...oh, a-and the Culture series of Iain M. Banks.
posted by jet_silver at 9:46 PM on April 24, 2009

This may be going at your question all wrong, but Neil Gaiman's American Gods takes various world mythologies and casts them in a uniquely modern, uniquely American setting and situation. I thought it was brilliant. (Wish the rest of what I've read of what he's written lived up to it.)
posted by Sublimity at 9:53 PM on April 24, 2009

Blade Runner.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:53 PM on April 24, 2009

I suppose Alan Moore & Dave Gibson's Watchmen might fit your criteria.
posted by DavidNYC at 9:56 PM on April 24, 2009

"people analyze them, look for mythological/philosophical undertones, solve puzzles and come up with their own theories."

Such as the epic Wheel of Time, with fan-sites recording over 1400 different theories? There's plenty of clues, hints, puzzles, and revelations to be had. The books are very long, though, and dense in the world-building (much to the frustration of people who want a quick story), but it is very rich and incorporates a lot of different ideas.
posted by ADoubtfulTrout at 9:59 PM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

H.P. Lovecraft's stories are going stronger than ever.
posted by hermitosis at 10:05 PM on April 24, 2009

Single books, but Cloud Atlas and House of Leaves might be up your alley.

And, this being AskMe, I'm sure a dozen people have said this already, but you might like Neal Stephenson, especially the Baroque Cycle.
posted by box at 10:16 PM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you liked Lord of the Rings, why not check out Tolkien's Unfinished Tales and The Silmarillion. They'll give you a much deeper sense of Tolkien's universe. And, of course, The Hobbit, but you've probably read that.

Asimov also created a consistent universe that spans many of his novels, e.g., the Foundation series.

And an nth for Lovecraft. Good times.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:22 PM on April 24, 2009

New Doctor Who.
posted by Nickel at 10:24 PM on April 24, 2009

Firefly has a pretty in-depth world with interesting spinoffs and supplementary material and a HUGE fan community. Dollhouse, another series by Joss Whedon (Firefly/Buffy/Angel) is airing now on Fridays and I've found it to be quite intriguing and it sparks a lot of fun discussion and debate about free will and sexuality.

Are you into anime/manga/JRPGs? If that's up your alley, there are quite a few nifty ones-- Neon Genesis Evangelion is one with a TON of philosophical/mythological undertones, but it's not for everyone. (I had a fun time watching that with a friend with more knowledge of Freud and I had more knowledge of Sarte and we kept bouncing stuff off each other.)
posted by NoraReed at 10:28 PM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett.

Cult following: Check!
Unique Mythology: Check!
Hidden Meanings and Clues: Check!
Puzzles to Solve: Check!
A lot to chew on and digest: Check!

Also, Good Omens is funny as hell. It's a laugh out loud sort of book, and those are hard to come by.

Also read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. There's a British mini series, too. Actually I think the mini series was written first.

If you're okay with comics, give his Sandman series a shot.

You didn't mention Battlestar Galactic or Firefly. If you love Buffy, and think you'll totally dig Battlestar. And Firefly is more than worth the relatively brief time it takes to watch.

If you're not watching The United States of Tara, you should be. The first season just ended.

I know I've got more. I'll keep thinking about it.
posted by dchrssyr at 10:31 PM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series for sure. It has a lot of what you mentioned; hints about old legends and magic that make you want to keep reading. Very well written.
posted by meta87 at 10:40 PM on April 24, 2009 [4 favorites]

amtho, I think this is the Harry Potter alchemy thread. Here is an article that discusses it.
posted by Nickel at 10:43 PM on April 24, 2009

I'm not sure how well it wears after the age of 16 or so, what with all the vintage 60s/70s Absurdism... but if you want depth and elaboration, you might want to check out the Illuminatus! Trilogy.

It holds up pretty well, actually. I reread it every once in a while, and it definitely reveals new things to me even a decade after I first read it. But, if your brain has calcified already, it's trivially easy to write it off as bullshit and idle humor while totally missing the deep philosophy in the story. Illuminatus! literally and drastically changed my life (although the sequel, Schroedinger's Cat was even more impactful).

Robert Anton Wilson has a cult following like you wouldn't believe. But, the following isn't really analyzing the internal universe of his stories. The cult is mostly people whose ideas and attitudes have been deeply influenced by what he taught (through his stories). And we certainly argue about the nature of reality with one another, mentioning him frequently. But, I don't think I've ever heard anybody argue about the technical limitations of the Leif Ericson's sonar system.

I love the man. But, if you're the sort of person who believes that we can ever arrive at objective truth, you're just going to write him off as an acid mystic.
posted by Netzapper at 10:48 PM on April 24, 2009

Seconding the Thomas Covenant trilogies and Iain M Banks Culture novels.

And throwing in Julian May's Saga of the Pliocene Excile series.

I'm not a big sci-fi fan--but I'm passionate about these.
posted by NailsTheCat at 10:51 PM on April 24, 2009

The DC universe, and the Marvel universe.

Stan Lee was inspiring that kind of immersion in his readers when George Lucas was in high school.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:53 PM on April 24, 2009

I like Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series. There's a lot of stuff I had to go through and read from the perspective of the universe before I could see the mini twists and whatnot.
posted by Verdandi at 11:02 PM on April 24, 2009

2nding Battlestar Galactica (new version). It absolutely fits all your criteria and it has already ended, so the whole mythology is pretty much developed as much as it can be, for better or for worse.
posted by theDrizzle at 11:48 PM on April 24, 2009

Out of all the comic books, I'd say the one franchise that most seems to fit your criteria is Batman. Along with the regular comics, he seems to have the most widely acclaimed graphic novel collections (The Dark Knight Returns, Year One, and The Killing Joke, among others), two separate successful movie series (until Schumacher got into the mix anyway), and my favorite of all, the animated series from the late '90s.

Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman are considered "The Big Three" of superheroes, and they're all guilty of overexposure to some extent in all forms of media, but Batman strikes me as having the highest batting average. It's highly debatable, but Batman feels like the only one to truly transcend comics into something beyond.

And seconding Watchmen. The entire story never extended beyond one collection of 12 issues, but there's so much "in-universe" supplemental material within (like excerpts from a character's autobiography, newspaper articles, essays), that it sort of transcends comics as well. They go to great lengths to imply that these characters are living breathing people, and not just drawings.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:01 AM on April 25, 2009

For sci-fi, I really enjoyed Dan Simmon's Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion.
posted by sundri at 2:07 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Doctor Who. As well as the main series, you have spin-off TV shows like Torchwood and the Sarah-Jane Adventures, plus Doctor Who novels, audio stories, magazines... not to mention old Doctor Who.
posted by afx237vi at 4:11 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Does Highlander qualify?
posted by jozxyqk at 4:51 AM on April 25, 2009

Seconding a Song of Ice and Fire... Very well written, great characters that evolve and an interesting world.

In my opinion the wheel of time books are painfully overwrought. If you don't mind an author beating what was a horse and is now dust clearly for profit I suppose they are mildly entertaining.

The main storylines in Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms are good if a bit juvenile..

Thirding BSG.

Robin Hobb wrote 3 trilogies that are inter-related and create a fantastic world with complex, real characters. They are The Farseer Trilogy, The Tawny Man Trilogy (see below in this link.. ), and the Liveship Traders trilogy.
posted by zennoshinjou at 4:59 AM on April 25, 2009

Nthing the Aubrey-Maturin books. I didn't have a TV for about a year, and the 20 of these books more than kept me going during this time.
posted by singingfish at 5:56 AM on April 25, 2009

All of my recommendations were already mentioned, but I love them so much I'm adding them to the list again:

The Dark Tower, by Stephen King
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
Firefly (and Serenity)
the X-files
posted by firei at 5:58 AM on April 25, 2009

2nding Battlestar Galactica (new version). It absolutely fits all your criteria and it has already ended, so the whole mythology is pretty much developed as much as it can be, for better or for worse.

But with "Caprica", the TV series that is a prequel to BSG, the mythology is developing from the back end, as it were. (The pilot episode is available now on DVD, the series will start in 2010.) It takes place about 60 years before BSG and it's really fascinating to see how society changed and developed and turned and how the different planets in their solar system regard each other and stuff.
posted by Lucinda at 6:15 AM on April 25, 2009

Most of my suggestions were already mentioned, but I'll add the Terminator universe: The 1st & 2nd movies, and the TV series (Seasons 1 & 2 are complete and out / coming out on DVD & Blu-Ray). Skip the 3rd movie, 4th isn't out yet, and not not sure how it fits in. The TV series is excellent at drawing on the mythology set in the first two movies, down to the scars on Sarah Connor's body.
posted by GJSchaller at 6:29 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series is a great example.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:36 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Gormenghast Trilogy, by Mervyn Peake - the setting itself (Castle Gormenghast) is a huge emphasis throughout the series
posted by susanvance at 7:13 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised no one's named these books yet, but they're "soft" scifi/fanasy, so maybe they're not robust enough for the metafilter crowd: Anne McCaffrey's Pern series (the early ones, especially the first two trilogies, are quite good--avoid anything recent or written by her son). There was an incredibly active Pern fandom for at least twenty years, though I'm not sure how existent it is these days. You might also try the first two trilogies of Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series. There were some interesting mysteries underpinning those, revealed very slowly. Fun stuff, but the newer books seem to be rehashings of the earlier ones.

I'd also give Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld books a shot. In a way, the premise and the slow reveal feel just like Lost.

And, finally, I know you said that you're not a Trekkie, but you might give a few episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine a try, as it's very, very different from every other Star Trek, and features the type of continuity you seem to be craving.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:24 AM on April 25, 2009

Oops! Sorry. rokusan did mention Pern.

Oh, and another one to add, since I just read it and it's incredible: Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis/Lilith's Brood series. Terribly engrossing universe there, which starts out quite mysterious and implied in the first book.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:28 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can say unequivocally that the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon will suck you in. I lost a good two weeks of my life reading those books - I could not put them down, they were so good. I don't know if they meet your requirement of a mythology, though. But, for sheer 'getting lost in a good book quality' they are 5 stars.
posted by Leezie at 8:22 AM on April 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

It's not a book, but how about Babylon 5? The special effects probably don't hold up to current TV, but the world is very immersive, and the plot arc is very very well done, and by "well done" I mean "the best-plotted TV show I've ever seen." There are a lot of little details here and there, and the mysterious plot threads are done perfectly, because, to hear the creator tell it, it's a five-year novel for TV. (Sure, Season 5 got a bit derailed, but let's not talk about that.) So he knew what he was doing and was able to set up a lot of things. And there was a lot of fan discussion, theories, paying attention to everything everyone ever said that sounded vaguely prophetic. A lot of times you know exactly how it's going to end, but the fun is in seeing how it gets there.

It's got a lot of awesome "what's going on here?"... with later payoff. As an example, the season one episode "Babylon Squared" features a time-travel plot with a lot of things that don't quite make sense at the time, for the viewer or the characters, which is then resolved in "War Without End," in season three. And everything you didn't understand two seasons ago in that episode suddenly makes perfect sense.
posted by sineala at 8:44 AM on April 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

Have you read any of the John Twelve Hawks series? It's sorta dystopian urban fantasy. (I've only read the first one, but enjoyed it.) His fans are very much obsessed with the books' "living off the grid" theme, and they're even more obsessed with JTH himself, because he's either one of the greatest livng men of mystery or the screenwriter of Karate Kid 2.
posted by cowboy_sally at 12:47 PM on April 25, 2009

I could counterargue TheSecretDecoderRing's assertion that Batman is the "best" of the Big Three superheroes and point out that his first four to five decades of comics have aged poorly, whereas almost the entire run of Spider-Man's forty-year franchise is pretty darn awesome. Admittedly he's having a poor time of it right now, but I can't find a Batman fan who's impressed with the goings-on right now, either. (I will agree that I've never understood why there hasn't been a "literary" Spider-Man story, but J. Michael Straczynski did his best. Meanwhile, TSDR, you do Superman a disservice if you've never read Alan Moore's "Whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow?")

The thing is, though, that these "versus" comparisons are silly because it's a matter of taste. I like Batman and Superman, but I love Spider-Man best, so of course I'll find ways to argue that he's the best. Not to mention, if we're going to argue immersive literary merit, they all lose to James Robinson's Starman, which never sucked.

Really, what's best about American superhero universes is that they're huge and there really is something for everyone - absurdist humor (Next Wave Agents of H.A.T.E.!) in the same continuity as gritty hard crime (The Punisher) in the same continuity as kid's action-adventure (Runaways) in the same continuity as multi-protagonist punch-em-ups (The Avengers ... all of them). And if you're in the mood for it, there are alternate universes! (Spider-Girl - that's Pete and MJ's daughter, not Peter as a woman. Although that has happened to his clone, once.)

Basically, if you think you might like to try out Marvel or DC (or Image or Dark Horse) comics, adverb, MefiMail me, and I'd be happy to help.
posted by bettafish at 1:49 PM on April 25, 2009

Just chiming in to 2nd Zelazny's Amber series. Sucked me in but good, too. And how.
Also 3rding or 4thing Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus Trilogy. It can be a perception-altering read but even if not, it is tons o' stimulating fun, with a cult following and its own, er, philosophy. Bonus: it can open a whole new non-fictional world of the psychospiritual literati: Tim Leary, Alan Watts (Wilson introduced Watts to Watts' third (?) wife Jano), John Lilly, Trungpa, Ginsberg, Richard Alpert (Baba Ram Dass), Stanislav Grof, Crowley, Regardie, Eco, etc etc etc. The trilogy is riddled with fantastic departure points.
posted by Jezebella at 4:07 PM on April 25, 2009

Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy is awesome in a Potter-esque way.

Nthing the three Robin Hobb trilogies mentioned upthread as well.

Stephen Donaldson's Gap Cycle is one of my favorites as well; it's pretty epic and angst-ridden and Wagnerian.
posted by elizardbits at 4:16 PM on April 25, 2009

As I remember, all of Michael Moorcock's books slot into a giant interconnected multiverse, including sword and sorcery (Elric), experimental science-fiction (the Jerry Cornelius books), comic fantasy (the Dancers at the End of Time), pseudo-Victorian fantasy (Gloriana), proto-Steam Punk (the Oswald Bastable books), comic spy fiction (The Russian Intelligence) and psychedelic rock lyrics (stints with Hawkwind). Among other things. Recurring themes: the Eternal Champion; London (especially West London), time travel.

My very favourite would be The Dancers at the End of Time, if only for the scene with time travellers, Frank Harris, HG Wells and sex-crazed pirate aliens in the Cafe Royal, Piccadilly.
posted by Grangousier at 6:15 PM on April 25, 2009

Lewis Caroll's Alice Books -- full of puzzles, interpreted and re-interpreted by tons of fans and lit-crit people.

Works of Nabokov. Huge fan base, full of anagrams, etc.

Old British TV show, "The Prisoner." Cult show, full of puzzles.

Shakespeare's plays. Infinitely dense. Unique worlds. Huge followings.
posted by grumblebee at 9:37 PM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

One of my most serendipitous experiences was reading The Illuminauts! Trilogy and Focualt's Pendulum back-to-back. They each address conspiracy theories uniquely - one from a fantastical perspective, the other from a manufactured perspective. Disclaimer: both of these are heftier to absorb than your Harry Potters or Da Vinci Codes.
posted by quadog at 11:55 PM on April 25, 2009

I don't think anyone has mentioned this yet....
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
    • The first in a fairly recent fantasy series. The story revolves around the main character, a roguish sort, telling the story of his life, from his birth, up to the present day. There are a lot of places in the story where the book hints at the breadth and scope of the world and then moves on, promising an even bigger reveal to come. Definitely a book to get lost in, one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read

posted by pwicks at 12:48 AM on April 26, 2009

One of my most serendipitous experiences was reading The Illuminauts! Trilogy and Focualt's Pendulum back-to-back. They each address conspiracy theories uniquely - one from a fantastical perspective, the other from a manufactured perspective. Disclaimer: both of these are heftier to absorb than your Harry Potters or Da Vinci Codes.

No, comrade. In Sophist Reality, Illuminatus! absorb you.

The add-on book Masks of the Illuminati (by RAW without Shea (hah!)) addresses conspiracy from, by the end, a terrifyingly pragmatic perspective. There're apparently a couple other in-universe books as well... some historical something and some 5-book series that he only got through 3 of--I haven't read all that. All revolving around the machinations of folks of varying degrees of (un)enlightenment.
posted by Netzapper at 1:29 AM on April 26, 2009

I want to add to Susurration - for each Discworld novel, you can find at the very least a couple of page-worth of notes in L-space, mentioned upthread, listing all of the popular culture, classical culture and Discworld's own mythology references. With 30+ books, it is one of the richest [and funniest] universes in modern fantasy.
posted by ye#ara at 4:11 PM on April 26, 2009

Way late to the party and not extremely well read by Ishmael seems to fit the bill. Checkout the wikipedia entry and the authors page.
posted by syntheticfaith at 7:42 AM on April 27, 2009

The Invisibles. Hands down. Followed by Watchmen. Graphic novels are awesome for what I think you're looking for, and a small-but-growing portion of them can give you a bit of room to think and reason about the messages they put across. For a quick one, WE3.

Eye of the World, suggested above, was the biggest waste of time I can think of. The guy sucks as a writer, plagiarized huge chunks of Lord of the Rings and Dune glued together, and died before he finished it.
posted by talldean at 9:09 PM on April 27, 2009

Oh shit. I also forgot Robert Heinlein. All of his books tie together slightly, and some of the later ones (The Cat Who Walks Through Walls) ties together 100ish stories he previously wrote and published, if you follow along well.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, and Stranger in a Strange Land are the three books to start with.
posted by talldean at 9:11 PM on April 27, 2009

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