Trouble rather the tiger in his lair than the sage among his books. For to you kingdoms and their armies are things mighty and enduring, but to him they are but toys of the moment, to be overturned with the flick of a finger.

— Gordon Dickson, Tactics of Mistake, 1970

Recommended reading and viewing

These books, stories, movies, TV shows, and comics are listed for diverse reasons. Some of the listings are acknowledgements: these are the sources from which I got the ideas out of which I made Flat Black. Others are sort of negative sources—they explain what features of Flat Black are there to prevent (for example Footfall and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress discuss the military/terrorist potential of a position in orbit). Some of the works listed discuss the uses of science-fiction technology available in Flat Black (for instance The Tower of Glass discusses android slavery, and some of the Gil Hamilton stories suggest sinister uses of transplant technology). Some are in because they contain good ideas for societies for Flat Black colonies, or good ideas for adventures. Some are there simply because of their mood of grimness and cynicism. I tried to avoid listing things just because I like them, and I tried to make myself include things I find appalling but which lent ideas or bits of atmosphere. I didn’t quite succeed on either count.

Of course, in thirty-five years of reading science fiction, I doubtless picked up from forgotten places ideas I now think are my own. Their sources are not in the list which follows. I can only apologise.

Books & Stories

Isaac Asimov
Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun
John Barnes
A Million Open Doors, Earth Made of Glass, The Merchant of Souls
Lloyd Biggle, Jnr
Arthur C. Clark
Imperial Earth, Rendezvous with Rama
Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness, The Secret Agent
Phillip K. Dick
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Gordon Dickson
Dorsai, ‘Soldier, Ask Not…’
Tom Godwin
The Cold Equations
Joe Haldeman
All My Sins Remembered, Forever War, Worlds, Worlds Apart
Robert Heinlein
Beyond This Horizon, Citizen of the Galaxy, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Space Cadet, Starship Troopers
Aldous Huxley
Brave New World
Ursula K. Le Guin
The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, Rocannon’s World, The Word for World is Forest
National Geographic Society
Larry Niven
The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton
Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
Footfall, The Mote in God’s Eye, Oath of Fealty
George Orwell
H. Beam Piper
Space Viking, Minister of Disturbance
Jerry Pournelle
The Mercenary, Prince David’s Spaceship, West of Honour
Robert Silverberg
The Tower of Glass
Cordwainer Smith
Elizabeth Marshal Thomas
The Animal Wife
Jack Vance
The Anome, Araminta Station, The Augmented Agent, Blue Planet, The Book of Dreams, The City of the Chasch, The Château d’If, The Dirdir, The Dragon Masters, Ecce and Old Earth, Emphyrio, The Face, The Gray Prince, The Killing Machine, The Languages of Pao, The Last Castle, To Live Forever, Marune, The Moon-Moth, The Palace of Love, The Pnume, Port of Call, Lurulu, Servants of the Wankh, The Star King, Throy, Trullion, Whyst
John Wyndham (John Beynon)
Trouble with Lichen, Survival

TV Shows

  • Bird of Prey
  • Edge of Darkness


  • Alien
  • Aliens (not the director’s cut)
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Bladerunner (director’s cut)
  • Gattacca
  • Moon
  • Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan
  • Soylent Green
  • 1984 (the 1984 British version)

Copyright © 2013 by Brett Evill