OUSFG's Desert Planet Books

Mission brief

Every year our space exploration vessel Serenity sets off on a journey through the stars. And every year it inevitably crash-lands on a desert planet in the Alpha Carinae system. We originally blamed this on the engineering crew, but at this point we're convinced that the ship is just cursed.

Anyway, since we all know we'll end up stranded on that miserable desolate planet again, we've decided to pack accordingly — provisions, tents, appropriate clothing, medicine, etc. The only thing left to decide on is which books to take with us. The planet already hosts a small collection left by previous missions, and we have enough storage space for ten more books.

Here are the books* we picked at the OUSFG discussion meeting of 11th October 2017.

* loosely defined as we also accept some series of books

Top Ten

which you might notice is 11 books. Since we failed to cut it down to 10 books, we then discussed which of our number should be ejected from the escape capsule. That discussion led to a planned trilogy about our adventures on the desert planet (Tentacular Vikings meeting).

The Nominees


2016

Here are the books from the Desert Planet Books discussion of 12th October 2016.

Top Ten

  1. Stories of Your Life and Others, T Chiang
  2. A Fire Upon the Deep + A Deepness in the Sky, V Vinge
  3. Worm, wildbow
  4. Uprooted, N Novik
  5. Good Omens, T Pratchett + N Gaiman
  6. A Canticle for Leibowitz, W M Miller Jr
  7. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, O S Card
  8. Silmarilion, J R R Tolkien
  9. The Three-Body Problem, L Cixin, transl. by K Liu
  10. Saga, B K Vaughan
  11. Tomorrow and Tomorrow, C Sheffield
  12. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, S Grahame-Smith
  13. The Ophiuchi Hotline, J Varley
  14. Discworld: Death, T Pratchett
stretching the definition of "10" beyond most mathematicians' limits.

The Nominees

  1. Ciaphas Cain, S Mitchell
  2. Monstress, M M Liu
  3. Embassytown, C Mieville
  4. The City and The City, C Mieville
  5. The Boat of a Million Years, P Anderson
  6. Bartimaeus Series, J Stroud
  7. The Anubis Gates, T Powers
  8. Eisenhorn (Warhammer 40k), D Abnett
  9. The Years of Rice and Salt, K S Robinson
  10. Unsounded, A Cope
  11. Discworld: The Watch, T Pratchett
  12. Discworld: Moist von Lipwig, T Pratchett

2015

Here are the books from the Desert Planet Books discussion of 14th October 2015.

Top Ten

  1. The Wee Free Men (+ the rest of the Tiffany Aching series) by Sir Terry Pratchett
  2. Red Shirts by John Scalzi
  3. A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
  4. The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
  5. Lock in by John Scalzi
  6. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  7. Glasshouse by Charlie Stross
  8. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russel
  9. The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard
  10. The Martian by Andy Weir

The Nominees


2014

Here are the books from the Desert Planet Books discussion on 15th October 2014. This year we made a point of choosing relatively new books that aren't all that well-known.

Top Ten

  1. Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
  2. Calculating God, Robert J Sawyer
  3. The City and the City, China Mieville
  4. A Madness of Angels, Kate Griffin
  5. The Martian, Andy Weir
  6. Gemsigns, Stephanie Saulter
  7. The Cry of the Icemark, Stewart Hill
  8. The Inheritance Trilogy, N K Jemisin
  9. The Melancholy of Mechagirl, Catherynne Valente
  10. Spirits Abroad, Zen Cho
  11. Welcome to Nightvale (commonplacebooks.com)

The Nominees

These two came up a lot but we didn't want to include them in the actual voting because they've been on the list before.


2013

Here are the books from a previous Desert Planet Books discussion on 16th October 2013. We tried to account for the likelihood that the wreckage of earlier suttlepods would still be around, so we needn't include our choices from previous years.

Top Ten

  1. The City and The City – China Mieville
  2. The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell
  3. Wise Man's Fear – Patrick Rothfuss
  4. Gentleman Bastard series – Scott Lynch
  5. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
  6. The First Born of the Dead – WJ Dickson (aka Whitney Dickson)
  7. Vorkosigan Saga – Lois McMaster Bujold
  8. Stories of Your Life and Others – Ted Chiang
  9. Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula Le Guin
  10. Existence – David Brin

The Nominees


2012

Here are the books from a previous Desert Planet Books discussion on 10th October 2012.

Top Ten

  1. Baslag – China Miéville
  2. Hainish cycle – Ursula Le Guin
  3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (first n books, for a given value of n) – Douglas Adams
  4. Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  5. Laundry series – Charles Stross
  6. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality – Eliezer Yudkowsky
  7. A Song of Ice and Fire – George R R Martin
  8. Sandman – Neil Gaiman and various artists
  9. Howl's Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
  10. Isaac Asimov's short stories

Special mention, taking Desmond's place in the escape capsule: Shatnerquake – Jeff Burk

The Nominees


2011

Here are the books from a previous Desert Planet Books discussion on 12th October 2011.

Top Ten

  1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (The first x books, for a given value of x) (D. Adams)
  2. Good Omens (N. Gaiman/T. Pratchett)
  3. His Dark Materials (P. Pullman)
  4. Song Of Ice And Fire (G. Martin)
  5. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (R. Heinlein)
  6. Foundation (I. Asimov)
  7. Fahrenheit 451 (R. Bradbury)
  8. Perdido St Station (C. Miéville)
  9. Lord Of The Rings (J. Tolkein)
  10. Saga Of The Eternal Champion (M. Moorcock)

The Nominees


2010

Here are the books from a previous Desert Planet Books discussion on 13th October 2010.

Top Ten

  1. Good Omens (Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman)
  2. Sandman (Neil Gaiman)
  3. Mortal Engines Quadrillogy (Philip Reeve)
  4. Artemis Fowl (Eoin Colfer)
  5. The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)
  6. The Foundation Trillogy (Issac Asimov)
  7. The Bas-Lag Series (China Mieville)
  8. The Commonwealth Saga (Peter F. Hamilton)
  9. His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman)
  10. Dune (Frank Herbert)

The Nominees

Lyndsey and others enthused about Ted Chiang's short stories available online, in particular Seventy Two Letters and others.


2008

Here are the books from a previous Desert Planet Books discussion on 15th October 2008.

Top Ten

The Nominees


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Lists compiled by Lyuba Bozhilova (2017&2016&2014), Rory Evans (2015), Thea Hutchison and Miriam Backens (2013), Jonathan Hall (2012), Peter Gerrard (2011), Douglas Hall (2010), and Oliver St John (2008)