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Shock: Bibliography

Started by Joshua A.C. Newman, November 15, 2005, 02:41:11 PM

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Joshua A.C. Newman

Here's the current Shock: bibliiography. I've only read so much stuff, and this is what's leapt to mind.

If you have something you want to be in this bibliography, please add it in this thread! But, absolutely, totally talk about the author or book. Don't just say a name and bolt.

QuoteScience Fiction

Asimov: Caves of Steel, Foundation, Robot Dreams
Bradbury: Martian Chronicles, Dinosaur Tales
Clarke: Childhood's End, 2001, 2010
Card: Ender's Game
Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? [pick a book of short stories]
Heinlein: Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land
Kim Stanley Robinson: Red, Green, Blue Mars
Bruce Sterling: Distraction, Holy Fire
H.G. Wells: War of the Worlds, The Time Machine
Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
George Orwell: 1984
H.G. Wells: War of the Worlds
Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea


Ghost in the Shell
Invisibles, The
Powers (!)


Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Battlestar Galactica
Earth II
Babylon 5
Star Trek, TOS
Twilight Zone, The
Blade Runner
Until The End Of The World
Logan's Run
Planet of the Apes
Soylent Green
Silent Running


Future Shock
Donna Harraway

Role-Playing Games

Thematic ancestors of Shock:

Nine Worlds

Mechanical ancestors of Shock:

Prime Time Adventures
Dogs in the Vineyard
The Shadow of Yesterday
With Great Power...
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.


Alright, well let me propose Cordwainer Smith.  That was the pen name that Paul Linebarger used for his science fiction, which is absolutley freaky stuff written in an strange an epic style.  I've read that his narrative style was influenced by Chinese story forms.  Anyway.

His stuff is very concerned with the social impact of technology, especially at the level of individual people.  His setting which appears in many of his stories is the "Instrumentality Of Mankind", a far future period when humanity is breaking out of a long period of stagnacy brought on by subsurvience to technology and trying to rediscover what it means to be human.  Stuff I've read that made me sit up and go "wow" include:

Norstrilia (his only novel, which has some weird parallels to Dune)
The Ballad of Lost C'Mell
The Game of Rat and Dragon
Scanners Live in Vain
The Dead Lady of Clown Town


I thought Cordwainer Smith was one of Ellison's pen names?

Speaking of which, Ellison's short story "The Deathbird" is really good, though I'm not sure it's "social SF".  I'm ambivalent*  most of his other stuff.

One social SF thing--kind of an experimental novel-- is Rudy Rucker's "Saucer Wisdom."  I think I'm like the only person in North America who read it, but wow, it was so goofy and strange.  The foreword by Sterling is terrific.

Herbert's "Dune" seems to be social SF, though I found it terribly written.

* = completely unimpressed with


Ben Lehman

Dude, wherefore art thou Neuromancer?  Burned!

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley is definitely worth reading.  It isn't well-written by 20th century standards, being a Victorian romance and all, but it is deeply and truly a Shock: sort of book.  Also, it is arguably the first science fiction story, and certainly the first socially oriented science fiction story, so there's the whole primacy thing going for it.


Joshua A.C. Newman

Ben, I just can't stand Gibson. I'll take Sterling any day of the week.

Frankenstein: not there by accident. Also, not there because I read it when I was a teenager and don't remember it clearly. I understand it's easier to read than Dracula, though. Also, I dunno about it being the first science fiction story; The Golem is pretty much the same story.

Rudy Rucker! Hardware should definitely be in there. As for his wonkier stuff, that's for Xenon: Mind-Blowing Science Fiction. That's not gonna be playable for a good, long while, though. Don't hold your breath, but those stories aren't being neglected.

James, the thing about Dune's writing, and Herbert's writing in general, is that he uses mental technologies. Physical technologies exist in his stories, but only barely. They have no descriptions. Furthermore, he often takes a black box approach to mental technologies the way space opera uses black boxes for things like The Interstellar Drive, fulled by Fuel. I find it irritating as Shock: material most of the time, but definitely possible Xenon: material.

Rafial, which of those books do you recommend I read? I have only so much time in my life, and I'm gettiing a lot of recommendations.
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.


Harlan Ellison used/uses the penname Cordwainer Bird for projects from which he wishes to dissassociate himself.  Most notably the TV show Starlost.

As to Cordwainer Smith, Norstralia is the only full book, Ballad of Lost C'Mell is a novella and the other two are short stories.  If you want a quick intro, I'd suggest Ballad of Lost C'Mell, just because I love it so much, and Scanners Live in Vain, which I think is right up the ally that Shock wants to travel.  Taking a quick search on Amazon, it looks like you can get a collection of all his short stuff as a single book: "The Rediscovery of Man".  Well worth your time.

Oh, and if you haven't read any Nancy Kress, you definitely ought to read Beggers in Spain.  The two sequels are good, but they just involve further turnings of the screw that the initial book sets.


John Wyndham!
Esp. Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Awakes and The Midwich Cuckoos. Three awesome books with some very interesting almost philosophical subject matter: what kind of society to rebuild after an alien invasion? How to survive an attack of hive-mind alien children? Etc.
And great female characters, too!
Go read.
Peter Dyring-Olsen


Nah, my dislike of Herbert's writing style has nothing to do with his choice of technology, or his descriptors.  Herbert had some wonderful images, but watching him use them is like watching someone tapdance in cement shoes.  Like I said, it's a purely personal assement.


Damn, see I loved Herbert personally.

I found that, while sometimes a lot to get through, he created fully realized backgrounds.

His world cultures were complete, his ecologies, governments, propaganda and truths are ALL realised.

From the Saurdakur homeworld to the Atreides homeworld... to Dune itself... there is a world history. And everything fits.


Hei Joshua,

have you checked out Ian M. Banks (Not Ian Banks which is the name he uses when writing plain old, beautiful, fiction).

If anything he deserves a place on your list.

back again

Joshua A.C. Newman

the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.


Iain M Banks has a series of novels describing ... well, not quite a post-singularity human civilization, but very far future.  Thinking about it in terms of Shock, the primary shocks would be 'Machine Intelligence' and 'Extreme genetic modification'.  The issues vary by the novel - 'Use of Weapons' is about responsibility, manipulation, and atonement (and reaches the conclusion that atonement is impossible'), 'Excession' is about conspiracies, and 'Look to Windward' is about dealing with loss.

Although, I don't think a comprehensive bibliography is even possible - there is a lot of good SF out there.  Personally, I think you should add C.J. Cherryh (40000 in Gehenna (Cloning/ Alien intelligence)(Family)) and Larry Niven. 

It might be more useful to provide a list of well known SF, along with the Shocks/Issues that are present in the story.


Joshua A.C. Newman

The point of the bibliography is to talk about books that have directly influenced the game. Even if a book is very good, I won't put it in the bibliography until I've read it and figured out that it's a useful source for players. It's certainly not a comprehensive list of science fiction books and stories; just ones tha a) I've read, b) like, and c) t I feel are representative of social SF. It's the same when people ask me my opinions about RPGs: I'm not gonna cut up someone else's game (unless pressed on the issue, I guess), and I'm not gonna suggest something I don't know well.

I'm reading the enjoyable Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin, but I don't know if I'll even be able to finish it before Shock:s done.

... but one of the really neat things about this forum is that the community here can suggest books for other readers. You sure don't need my approval on a piece of literature to get something from it, and such suggestions are apropos. I just doubt I'll be able to read and digest many more before the game's done.

There are future SF offerings from the glyphpress, though, and no doubt future editions of Shock: so the bibliography will both grow and diversify over time. This thread alone, though, consists of some 6300 pages I haven't read (assuming an average book length of 300 pages). I'm lucky if I get to read 100 before Shock: hits shelves. So keep posting on these threads for each other and I'll look back here whenever I need a new book to read.

Incidentally, Rucker's work is a big inspiration for an upcoming project. He only barely cares about society (though Hardware addresses a bunch of social issues), and frickin' names characters after himself, so it's obviously not a society-level thing he's talking about; he's about exploring mind-bending math and theory. It's a fun branch of SF that I want to address soon, but it's not Shock: by a long stretch.

So if you've got something to offer, I probably haven't read it. So tell me why! Tell me what the Shocks and Issues are!
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.


Quote from: Ben Lehman on November 16, 2005, 09:42:48 AM
Dude, wherefore art thou Neuromancer?  Burned!

I must agree with Ben about choosing Neuromancer, although naturally it's your choice of flavour :). I couldn't imagine the Cyberpunk genre without Neuromancer, though.
Remko van der Pluijm

Working on:
1. Soviet Soviet Politics, my November Ronnie
2. Sorcerer based on Mars Volta's concept album 'Deloused in the Comatorium'

Joshua A.C. Newman

Quote from: Remko on January 18, 2006, 09:35:09 AMI must agree with Ben about choosing Neuromancer, although naturally it's your choice of flavour :). I couldn't imagine the Cyberpunk genre without Neuromancer, though.

Remko, see the above post: the bibliography is books that I've a) read, b) like and c) are relevant. Neuromancer fails the test on only b), but that's enough to put it out of the list. I just don't think Gibson writes good characters, and that means that I find myself alienated from his protagonists, which means I don't care about their alienation from their society. Which, in turn, threatens its validity for c) because Shock: uses the Protags as a window for the society you create. If you don't care about them, not only are they hard to play, but they don't perform their function in the story.

The fact that others see it as relevant, though, that's great. Definitely post stuff here, and say why you think it's relevant and why it's good. I'll only list a book that meets all my criteria, but I think it's great that players know, like, and see the relevance in stuff stuff I don't. Share it! Discuss it! I love learning about new stuff, and I'm willing to be convinced about things I've already rejected.
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.