I thought it might be interesting to start a list of memorable first lines in science fiction and, yes, fantasy novels. By “memorable”, I mean memorable to me. And having the first line of a work stuck in your brain doesn’t automatically make the novel good. Conversely and obviously, not having a memorable first line doesn’t make a novel bad.
- “Tonight we’re going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man.” The guy who said that was a sergeant who didn’t look five years older than me. So, if he’d ever killed a man, silently or otherwise, he’d done it as an infant. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman.
- It was in that year when the fashion in cruelty demanded not only the crucifixion of peasant children, but a similar fate for their household animals, that I first met Lucifer and was transported into Hell; for the Prince of Darkness wished to strike a bargain with me. The War Hound and the World’s Pain, Michael Moorcock.
- In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien.
- This was a Golden Age, a time of high adventure, rich living, and hard dying … but nobody thought so. This was a future of fortune and theft, pillage and rapine, culture and vice … but nobody admitted it. This was an age of extremes, a fascinating century of freaks … but nobody loved it. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester.
- The sky above the port was the color of a television, tuned to a dead channel. Neuromancer, William Gibson.
- They set a slamhound on Turner’s trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair. Count Zero, William Gibson.
Various speculative fiction authors chime in with their favorites at I09.