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Thread: Science fiction

  1. #1
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    Science fiction

    I've been getting into SF over the last several years.
    My favourite writer beyond a doubt is Philip K Dick: I've read over 20 of his books, and aim to eventually read everything he published.
    Other writers I like: Octavia E. Butler (Lilith's Brood/Xenogenesis is amazing), Margaret Atwood, John Wyndham, Doris Lessing. Of the newer breed I like Ian McDonald, Maurice Dantec, Paolo Bacigalupi.
    Recently been getting into China Mieville.
    What do you read/recommend?

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    My gf's favourite author is also PKD (she wants to know what your favourite so far is). She also raves about Cities in Flight by James Blish, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, and the various stories of Cordwainer Smith. I say read The Chronicles of Morgaine by C.J. Cherryh, Saga of the Exiles by Julian May and Dancers at the End of Time by Michael Moorcock (those have more fantastic elements along with the SF, whereas my gf's recommendations are more hard-sf).

    Oh, and Dune. You have read Dune, right?

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    a rather obscure (these days) and perhaps dated entry, but i quite enjoyed the day of the triffids by john wyndham... i love me some post-apocalyptic sci-fi, in any medium.

    speaking of which, major ballard fan, probably my favorite author in the style. there's nothing so hyper-futuristic in his novels, but just enough to be based in both reality and the sci-fi realm.

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    Thanks for the recommendations. I have yet to read Dune.
    My favourite PKDs include: Now Wait for Last Year, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Galactic Pot Healer, Confessions of a Crap Artist, Valis, Our Friends from Frolix 8, and Solar Lottery.

    I recently read The Day of the Triffids and really liked it. The TV series scared the shit out of me as a child.

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    Oh, thanks for the recommendations from me, too. I have been drowning myself in old classics and nonfiction for several years. I definitely must have some post-apocalyptic stories to read, now. Sci Fi is a beautiful genre I'd kinda let slip from my mind.

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    some favorite dystopian/apocalyptic stuff, both sci-fi and some horror crossover, too:

    in the penal colony- franz kafka (short story)
    vermillion sands/the drowned world- jg ballard
    children of men- pd james
    the chrysalids/day of the triffids- john wyndham
    i am legend- richard matheson (fuck you, will smith)
    the lathe of heaven- ursula k le guin
    logan's run- william f. nolan (movie is also great, as i've mentioned elsewhere)

    from the pulpier/pop-culture zone:
    world war z
    - max brooks
    the hunger games etc.
    the long walk/running man- stephen king/richard bachman

    and while we're talking dystopian sci-fi... prudent to mention 1984, brave new world, & a clockwork orange, obvious introductory classics.

    i hear good things about a canticle for leibowitz... gotta give that a spin. also, this isn't dystopian/end of the world oriented, but the missus is practically begging me to read ender's game, which i've heard mixed results on and couldn't get into the first time i tried... considered a classic, if but over-explored series though, so i'll reserve judgement until i give it another spin.
    Last edited by frankie teardrop; 12-12-2011 at 03:02 PM.

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    As a kid I loved the "Tripods" trilogy by John Christopher: The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and Pool of Fire.

    Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End" is fantastic. PKD is a genius.

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    has anyone read "Ready Player One" yet? It's been getting a lot of good press.

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    I love A Canticle for Leibowitz: it's amazing, a real mind-bender. Neomedievalist SF/postapocalypse/dystopia is one of my favourite sub-genres, including The Handmaid's Tale, Russel Hoban's Riddley Walker, Will Self's The Book of Dave, Brian Aldiss' Greybeard, and at a stretch, McCarthy's The Road.

    I didn't like the Children of Men book, I found the film a lot better. But I liked Aldiss' Greybeard: he was there first (1964) with the no kids being born idea.

    I currently have lined up to read: Daniel Wilson's Robopocalypse, Ian McDonald's Brasyl, Rob Ziegler's Seed (eco-SF), China Mieville's Embassytown, and want to check out Kameron Hurley's God's War. So much SF, so little time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aggroculture View Post
    I didn't like the Children of Men book, I found the film a lot better. But I liked Aldiss' Greybeard: he was there first (1964) with the no kids being born idea.
    on further reflection, i agree to an extent. i enjoyed the book, but the film expanded on the premise with something a bit more raw and visceral, and i felt more connected to the story. a rare occurrence. will definitley check out aldiss!

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    I'm reading Ready Player One, and while the general concept is fun, the guy's writing style is driving me nuts. His intentions
    are transparently presented in such a way that borders on irritating, and his characters are one dimensional and defined only by their geekiness. If only the prose and delivery weren't so childish, this could be a great book. Constantly name dropping 80s nerd cultural references doesn't stand in for poor exposition though, and after a while it just gets obnoxious.

    Maybe it gets better, and maybe I should just give the guy a break since this is his first book.


    Actually, this book gets really fun once it picks up momentum.
    Last edited by Jinsai; 01-08-2012 at 02:27 PM. Reason: changed my mind

  12. #12
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    Big SF reader. I write reviews of books I'm reading when done at <http://jmtd.net/book_review>. I also read a lot of short fiction and particularly enjoy the British SF magazine "Interzone".


    Quote Originally Posted by Jinsai View Post
    has anyone read "Ready Player One" yet? It's been getting a lot of good press.
    Yes. It's a fun ride, but it's really fan-servicey, nothing new or long-lasting. A popcorn novel.

    Quote Originally Posted by frankieteardrop View Post
    on further reflection, i agree to an extent. i enjoyed the book, but the film expanded on the premise with something a bit more raw and visceral, and i felt more connected to the story. a rare occurrence. will definitley check out aldiss!
    In the book, the setting was really secondary: it was a story about a man's relationship to his cousin. In the movie, it was much more about the setting and consequences. I enjoyed both, but I think they're very separate works (much like PKD movies, I guess James is lucky to get royalties on something which takes so little from her work!). I prefer the film which is landmark for dystopian cinema, imho.
    Last edited by jmtd; 01-18-2012 at 06:29 AM.

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    I really like James Tiptree Jr.'s short stories, the pseudonym of Alice B. Sheldon, a former CIA operative who kept her gender a secret for quite a while as her stories were being published in the 70's. The first I read of hers was "The Screwfly Solution" and then "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" and "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain". She was pretty damn awesome.
    Last edited by anita; 02-04-2012 at 01:25 AM.

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    i like me some sci-fi, too

    ballard, of course - especially high rise. freaks me out how thin the line is... kingdom come touches upon similar themes, i'd say.
    canticle for leibowitz is a great book and a must-read. after you've read ballards' portraits of apocalypse, it's always nice to read some post-apolacyptic stuff - both as cheerful, hehe

    as far as PKD is concerned, my fav has always been the man in the high castle. that was my first book by him and as later found out- dealing with themes that preocuppied him his whole life - like: what is reality and what is real, so it was a pretty good starting point

    a writer i'd like to recommend is a polish one - stanislaw lem http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanis%C5%82aw_Lem - the one who wrote solaris (the clooney movie is a mere shadow of the depth of the book). he's not only a great writer but also a respected philosopher.
    and a nice trvia connecting him and PKD: Lem singled out only one American SF writer for praise, Philip K. Dick—see the 1986 English-language anthology of his critical essays, Microworlds. Dick, however, considered Lem to be a composite committee operating on orders of the Communist party to gain control over public opinion, and wrote a letter to the FBI to that effect.[
    lol

    also, there's one great story by ray bradbury that blew my mind when i first read it: night meeting

    oh, and i'd almost forget: the illuminatus! trilogy - damn right!

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    Jeff Noon FTW.



    That book and its sequel blew my damn mind.

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    I enjoyed pollen but the talking dog put me off a bit

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    Quote Originally Posted by aggroculture View Post
    Thanks for the recommendations. I have yet to read Dune.
    A little late to the party, but I also highly recommend the Dune series, at least the six parts written by Frank Herbert himself (haven't read those written by his son). Especially the first three that happen within the space of two generations are a great read. The next three jump forward thousands of years and sort of change style and become a bit more tedious and not as enthralling to me (but still a good read, even fascinating at times).

    The way that Frank Herbert intertwines political intrigue, ecology and terraforming concepts, philosophical debate about the religious, social and political aspects of humanity and how these can be groomed in the space of centuries and millenia, and the physical/spiritual potential that can be unlocked in humans through various means, is simply masterful. And all this while describing a complex interplanetary society in a way that feels very realistic. He's written the kind of books you can read and re-read many times, each time appreciating different things or discovering new layers of meaning. Damn, simply describing it makes me want to go back to them again!
    Last edited by Alexandros; 02-16-2012 at 05:07 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by october_midnight View Post
    Jeff Noon FTW.



    That book and its sequel blew my damn mind.
    Picked up vurt at barter books (the "keep calm..." folks) last weekend, after you reminded me of it. Thanks! I'd read pollen only, years ago.

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    Just finished Greg Bear's "Hull Zero Three" which I really enjoyed. It's a survival-horror themed story about a damaged generation starship.

    Does anyone here use goodreads?

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    I just heard about a forthcoming book called 'Year Zero': Not related to NIN, but about the music industry. The amazon blurb compares it to Hitch Hiker's:
    http://www.amazon.com/Year-Zero-Nove.../dp/0345534417

    The author did a TED talk about dubious music industry numerical argument-making:
    http://boingboing.net/2012/03/15/cop...est-ted-t.html

  21. #21
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    Just read Ender's Game. Curious about the rest of the series.
    Last edited by aggroculture; 03-28-2012 at 08:32 AM.

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    Not because I want to deter anyone from turning this thread into the great set recs and discussion it can and should be, but for some additional pointers I strongly recommend the Sci-fi/fantasy thread at Somethingawful, here: http://forums.somethingawful.com/sho...readid=3345499

    They also have one specifically for space opera novels: http://forums.somethingawful.com/sho...readid=3149277

    That said, I feel pretty comfortable recommending Alastair Reynolds. I've read House of Suns and loved it, and I hear Redemption Ark and Pushing Ice are both great, great books in the space opera mold.

    From Wikipedia, "Setting":
    The main story arc is set roughly 6 million years from now. By this point, humanity has spread throughout the Milky Way galaxy, which appears devoid of any other sentient life. The galaxy is dominated by civilisations of humans and various posthumans of widely varying levels of development. A civilisation of robots, known as the Machine People, has also evolved and coexists peacefully with humanity. Technologies that are available include anti-gravity, inertial dampening, force fields, and stasis fields. Also of note is the "Absence"- the mysterious disappearance of the Andromeda Galaxy.
    Large-scale human civilisations almost invariably seem to fall within a few millennia (referred to as "turnover"), the limits of sub-lightspeed travel making it too difficult to hold interstellar empires together. Consequently, the most powerful entities in the galaxy are the "Lines"- organisations made of "shatterlings". The Lines do not inhabit planets, but instead travel through space, holding reunions after they've performed a "circuit" of the galaxy; something that takes about 200,000 years.
    House of Suns concerns the Gentian Line, also known as the House of Flowers; 999 clones (or "shatterlings"), male and female, of Abigail Gentian, with Abigail being the 1,000th shatterling (exactly which of the 1,000 shatterlings is the original Abigail Gentian is unknown). The clones and Abigail travel the Milky Way Galaxy helping young civilizations, collecting knowledge and experiencing what the universe has to offer.
    I don't really care to get into explaining plot detail, but one of the things that first endeared me to this is the sense of scale. Humanity hasn't acquired any form of faster-than-light travel, so while with time (lots of time) they can accelerate to speeds at a percentage approaching that of light, they're always essentially "slow-boating" around the galaxy, one of the reasons it was necessary for the shatterlings to be so long-lived. Reynolds does a great job conveying just how much nothing must be traversed to get around, how immense the distances between objects. And many of those objects are just huge, such as structures that are essentially Dyson spheres.

    In some sections the pacing and characterization are a little rough, but despite this it's an awesome (in the original sense) read.

    Also, if you haven't read Dune do so. The imagination and concept behind this book is incredible, and its praise is mostly well-deserved. The only thing is Herbert's prose sometimes falls short of the quality of his ideas.

    However—and I know opinions are mixed on this—you'll be just fine if you read only Dune itself and ignore all the sequels.
    Last edited by Corvus T. Cosmonaut; 03-24-2012 at 04:08 AM.

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    I love J.G Ballard the most at the moment...The way he combines Science Fiction/Dystopia/Psychiatry.... the setting he creates produces characters in his stories whom are very fucked up yet fascinating and funny.

    J.G Ballard himself had severe Post traumatic Stress his whole life after witnessing everyone around him die during World War 2 as a child. And had trained to be a Psychiatrist in his twenties so here was a man who had a complex knowledge into the depths of darkness and insanity the human psyche can create....
    Most of his charachters are relativly normal people they just have an utterly insane side to them.

    His material is never classic science fiction.... I guess his earlier material from the 1950's is leans more towards the Science Fiction genre...but like Philip K Dick he is appalled and terrified*at the thought of being controlled by 'something'.....

    Where as Philip K Dick seemed like he actuallyhad a mental illness i found it interesting JG Ballard in real life was an extremely normal Suburbanite with a wife and children living in a really conservative English Town who just unleashed this mind bending, Psychological Bombsite of a mind which created titles and works like Crash and Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagen and funneled it into his writing.....
    Last edited by Highly Psychological; 03-25-2012 at 10:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corvus T. Cosmonaut View Post
    Not because I want to deter anyone from turning this thread into the great set recs and discussion it can and should be, but for some additional pointers I strongly recommend the Sci-fi/fantasy thread at Somethingawful, here: http://forums.somethingawful.com/sho...readid=3345499
    Thanks for the tip!

    That said, I feel pretty comfortable recommending Alastair Reynolds. I've read House of Suns and loved it, and I hear Redemption Ark and Pushing Ice are both great, great books in the space opera mold.
    Loved Revelation Space. It features a scientist/archaelogist exploring a mystery for most of the book which is a narrative device I really enjoy (it turns out). I didn't like the sequels as much, which were different, but I think on reflection they were better than I gave them credit for at the time and I plan to re-read that series at some point. (I particularly disliked Absolution Gap). I can't recall Redemption Ark that clearly (didn't leave much of an impression). Chasm City left the most impact. The Prefect rather sits outside the others and is a great stand-alone tale, as are Diamond Dogs and Turquoise Days.

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    I have read many books by Eric Flint like The Baltic war, Galileo affair, Cannon law etc.
    Absolution gap, After doomsday, a case of conscience and the year of quiet sun are good too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aggroculture View Post
    Just read Ender's Game. Curious about the rest of the series.
    Speaker for the Dead is an amazing book, one of the great follow-ups in sci-fi history. Unfortunately, Orson Scott Card didn't know when to stop, and (while still enjoyable) it goes a bit downhill from Xenocide on. But I highly recommend the Speaker book!

    One of my favorite hard-sci-fi novels is Blood Music by Greg Bear. It's about nanotechnology, and it's absolutely brilliant. It came out in the mid 80's, around the time cyberpunk was getting its footing, but I have to say that it aged much better.

    More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon is a must read as well.

    Also, I highly recommend short story anthologies from the 50's. I think there's a series edited by Asimov, dedicating a collection to each year, and those golden age short stories are some of the best the genre has ever produced. You could do worse that to start with this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_A...ries_15_(1953)

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    Blood music great.

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    There's a pretty interesting essay on the current state of science fiction, written by sf author Charles Stross: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog...-what-is-.html

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    In the near future I plan to read me some:

    John Scalzi (Old Man's War)
    Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash)
    Robert Charles Wilson (The Chronoliths or Julian Comstock)
    John Varley (Titan or Steel Beach)
    Larry Nivel/Jeff Pournelle (The Mote in God's Eye)
    Kim Stanley Robinson
    Ray Bradbury (I guess it's about time)

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    Just finished "A Fire Upon the Deep" by Vernor Vinge and it is the best SF novel I've read in years. The "zones" concept he uses is like a space/time inversion of the singularity concept he also pioneered, and having it as a space concept rather than time gives him a great playground for the story. Massive scale, lots of Internet-future stuff in there. Thoroughly recommended. IF you can find "The Cookie Monster" by him (a short story) that is also excellent.

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