Alexander Kosoris was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He lived on residence in Toronto, Ontario while attending the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto between 2006 and 2010. While there, he discovered his love of writing, spending much of his free time writing short stories, one of which he expanded to arrive at his first novel, Lucifer. After graduating, Alexander has moved back to Thunder Bay, where he now lives, working as a pharmacist. Whenever he gets a moment of leisure, Alexander enjoys listening to and playing music, as well as riding his bicycle.
As a writer, I acknowledge the importance that reading brings to the craft, so I spend as much time with books as I am able. Not necessarily intentionally, I often find myself reading classics. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy more contemporary novels; however, I do find great value in reading older works that influenced countless readers and writers. There tends to be a reason classics are named as such: The stories are often well-constructed, thoughtful, and meaningful, with memorable characters who stand the test of time.
Here’s a list of some of the best of the best that no fan of science fiction or fantasy should miss. In no particular order:
Possessing a rich world and lore, The Hobbit predated the “standard fantasy setting,” and also caused such a thing to exist. It has a legitimacy in prose that can be hard to find in more contemporary fantasies, by many authors attempting to emulate Tolkien’s superb linguistic abilities.
After the discovery of a mysterious monolith on the moon, a manned spacecraft is sent to Saturn’s moon, Iapetus, to investigate a similar structure. Things go awry when the ship’s artificial intelligence, HAL 9000, malfunctions and puts the astronauts in grave danger.
Clarke truly had an astounding intellect, which he showcases very clearly in this famous novel. Not only was this a visionary look at space travel – at a time when it was in the public consciousness, just before Man set foot on the moon – but 2001 contains some interesting insights on evolution, both how we evolved and the possibilities of our future, as well as consciousness, encompassing Mankind, the infamous HAL, and extraterrestrials.
In Fahrenheit 451, rather than putting out fires, firemen start them, burning books, which are illegal to possess. The protagonist is one such fireman who burns books, as well as their owners, without question. But, the suicide of a woman makes him believe there could be value in books. Stealing and hiding some, he finds himself fighting for his life when other firemen discover his secret.
Bradbury shows us the extreme depths society can reach with severe censorship, even when done with the “best” of intentions. Very grim on the surface, Fahrenheit 451 is also a celebration of the wonders – and horrors – that come with human thought.
Much like in Fahrenheit 451, 1984 concerns a man working from the inside of a well-oiled, oppressive government machine. While books aren’t illegal, the protagonist works to alter past newspaper articles to match the government’s agenda. Things go “well,” until he tries to learn about the true past.
Where both Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 can be described as somewhat prescient, Orwell’s novel takes things a step further, to be downright chilling. Orwell’s fears and warnings are clearly on display: ubiquitous government surveillance, public manipulation through the media, and crimes against citizens rationalized as being for the greater good.
Based on the true story of Vonnegut surviving the firebombing of Dresden, Slaughterhouse-Five involves a man jumping through time in short bursts, experiencing horrors of the Second World War alongside a quiet life, as well as being abducted by aliens and put on display in a zoo.
Slaughterhouse-Five is Vonnegut’s best, in my humble opinion – though you can really never go wrong with a Vonnegut novel. As humorous as it is sad, Slaughterhouse-Five is a thoughtful look at death, fate, and our ability to cope with extreme tragedy, and it is entirely unlike anything I have ever read before or afterwards.