Some accomplish greatness with an exquisite description and delivery of emotion that cradles the entire novel:
"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."
- Neuromancer, by William Gibson.
Some catch your attention with juxtaposition of matter-of-fact statement with a shocking visual or a striking absurdity:
"It was the day my grandmother exploded."
- The Crow Road, by Iain Banks.
"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."
- I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
Or retrospective that kindles an eagerness to learn how things ended up as stated:
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
- One Hundred Years of Solitude,
by Gabriel García Márquez
The unusual or out-of-place captures the mind with a dissonance that it must mend by reading further:
"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
- 1984, by George Orwell
"It was a pleasure to burn."
- Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
As there are countless ways to tell a great story, there are countless ways to write a powerful opening. These are only a handful of the sands from that shore.
Here, I offer up some beginnings I'd like to see, and one day might write stories to finish them off: