Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 84 (8936 total)
123 online now:
Faith, GDR, Thugpreacha (AdminPhat) (3 members, 120 visitors)
Chatting now:  Chat room empty
Newest Member: martygraham
Post Volume: Total: 861,917 Year: 16,953/19,786 Month: 1,078/2,598 Week: 1/323 Day: 1/51 Hour: 1/4


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Author Topic:   Scifi recommendations
caffeine
Member
Posts: 1699
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 1 of 27 (861752)
08-26-2019 12:53 PM


This is not so much a book review, as a plea for help.

I like science fiction. Or, I should say, I like the idea of science fiction. In practice I find most of it deeply disappointing.

I know the old adage that 95% of everything is shit, and that sci-fi is no different from anything else in this respect. But I'm often surprised by how terrible some of the 'great classics' turn out to be.

I'm currently reading The Mote in God's Eye, which I've been led to believe is one of the all time greats. I haven't finished (no spoilers please!), so maybe it improves, but I'll have to be honest that my initial impressions are that it's really shit.

Cardboard characters, a setting that shattered my suspension of disbelief right from the beginning, tedious writing style. The idea that engrossing fiction should show, not tell, is not a new one, and yet it seems never to have occurred to Niven and Pournelle. Much of it reads less like a novel and more like a sourcebook for an rpg.

The discovery that scientists of the far future have a 20th century journalist's understanding of evolution is not unexpected, but doesn't improve my view of the book.

So, having said all that, can anyone recommend me good scifi? There must be more of it out there. I promise not to complain if I hate your recommendations. Not much, anyway.


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by Tangle, posted 08-26-2019 1:04 PM caffeine has responded
 Message 3 by PaulK, posted 08-26-2019 1:12 PM caffeine has responded
 Message 5 by Diomedes, posted 08-26-2019 1:19 PM caffeine has not yet responded
 Message 6 by Chiroptera, posted 08-26-2019 1:33 PM caffeine has not yet responded
 Message 20 by dwise1, posted 08-26-2019 5:14 PM caffeine has not yet responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 7068
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 2 of 27 (861753)
08-26-2019 1:04 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by caffeine
08-26-2019 12:53 PM


The Iain M Banks series of Culture books is probably as good as SF gets. Also the Wasp Factory. He's a 'proper' novelist writing non-SF as Iain Banks.

Classics like Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5 and Breakfast of Champions too.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London.I am Finland. Soy Barcelona

"Life, don't talk to me about life" - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by caffeine, posted 08-26-2019 12:53 PM caffeine has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by ringo, posted 08-26-2019 1:15 PM Tangle has responded
 Message 8 by caffeine, posted 08-26-2019 2:38 PM Tangle has not yet responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 15395
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 3 of 27 (861754)
08-26-2019 1:12 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by caffeine
08-26-2019 12:53 PM


The Mote in God’s Eye is hardly recent.

I don’t know your tastes, but if “modern”:Space Opera is your thing you could try the late Ian M Banks Culture series (start with The Player of Games, even though Consider Phlebas was published first and is chronologically first).

Alistair Reynolds’s Revelation Space is worth a look.

So is Anne Leckie’s Imperial Raadch series, starting with Ancilliary Justice

If you want something (much) more down to Earth, the alternate history space program in Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars might appeal. (It won the Hugo for best novel this year - presented by Jeanette Epps - very appropriate).

If you are prepared to put up with fantastic elements in your SF, then N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy or Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series might be worth trying (for the latter read The Battle of Candle Arc first - as a taster and because it introduces some of the weirder stuff}


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by caffeine, posted 08-26-2019 12:53 PM caffeine has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by caffeine, posted 08-26-2019 2:43 PM PaulK has responded

    
ringo
Member
Posts: 17300
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 2.5


(1)
Message 4 of 27 (861756)
08-26-2019 1:15 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Tangle
08-26-2019 1:04 PM


Classics like Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5 and Breakfast of Champions too.

I rather liked Vonnegut too. But my favorite science fiction author is Kilgore Trout. His ideas are put out there but don't get beaten to death like a lot of pulp sci-fi.

"Come all of you cowboys and don't ever run
As long as there's bullets in both of your guns"
-- Woody Guthrie

This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by Tangle, posted 08-26-2019 1:04 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Tangle, posted 08-26-2019 2:13 PM ringo has acknowledged this reply

  
Diomedes
Member
Posts: 902
From: Central Florida, USA
Joined: 09-13-2013
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 5 of 27 (861757)
08-26-2019 1:19 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by caffeine
08-26-2019 12:53 PM


One book series I can recommend is The Expanse books that are also the reference material for The Expanse TV show.

The first book in the series is Leviathan Wakes and there are a total of eight books currently in the series. The ninth book, which will be the last, is due out next year.

The books themselves are a combination of sci fi battles, political intrigue and science that is more grounded in modern physics. Which adds to some interesting plot devices and story lines. Additionally, if one likes the type of sci fi you normally find with Arthur C Clarke, these books are akin to that type of storytelling.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by caffeine, posted 08-26-2019 12:53 PM caffeine has not yet responded

  
Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6800
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


Message 6 of 27 (861758)
08-26-2019 1:33 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by caffeine
08-26-2019 12:53 PM


Probably the best sf book I've read in the last year is Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie. The protagonist is an Al which used to run a interplanetary warship but is now confined to a single human body. Something happened and now the protagonist is seeking revenge, but the protagonist-narrator takes the entire length of the book to little by little give out the details, and the mystery of what was actually going on was riveting to me. The novel is the beginning of a trilogy.

Another interesting aspect is that the language used by the narrator doesn't have gendered pronouns; the English uses she/her to refer to all the characters. Only occasionally does something biological get mentioned to give away a character's sex.

So far, I've liked everything I've read by Vernor Vinge.


It says something about the qualities of our current president that the best argument anyone has made in his defense is that he didn't know what he was talking about. -- Paul Krugman

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by caffeine, posted 08-26-2019 12:53 PM caffeine has not yet responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 7068
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 7 of 27 (861760)
08-26-2019 2:13 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by ringo
08-26-2019 1:15 PM


ringo writes:

His ideas are put out there but don't get beaten to death like a lot of pulp sci-fi.

And so it goes.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London.I am Finland. Soy Barcelona

"Life, don't talk to me about life" - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by ringo, posted 08-26-2019 1:15 PM ringo has acknowledged this reply

  
caffeine
Member
Posts: 1699
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 8 of 27 (861761)
08-26-2019 2:38 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Tangle
08-26-2019 1:04 PM


The Iain M Banks series of Culture books is probably as good as SF gets. Also the Wasp Factory. He's a 'proper' novelist writing non-SF as Iain Banks.

Classics like Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5 and Breakfast of Champions too.

I've read a lot of Iain Banks, but oddly none of the books where he has a middle initial. I did enjoy some of his books, so will certainly give them a try.

Slaughterhouse 5 is great, but I'm not really sure I'd consider it scifi. Kind of hard to classify.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by Tangle, posted 08-26-2019 1:04 PM Tangle has not yet responded

  
caffeine
Member
Posts: 1699
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 9 of 27 (861762)
08-26-2019 2:43 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by PaulK
08-26-2019 1:12 PM


The Mote in God’s Eye is hardly recent.

The great classics rarely are, by definition. Publication date is not a concern.

Recommendations noted. Ancillary Justice and the Culture novels got multiple votes, so I might opt for them.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by PaulK, posted 08-26-2019 1:12 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by PaulK, posted 08-26-2019 3:05 PM caffeine has responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 15395
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 10 of 27 (861763)
08-26-2019 3:05 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by caffeine
08-26-2019 2:43 PM


quote:
The great classics rarely are, by definition. Publication date is not a concern.

I don’t think that The Mote in God’s Eye is a “great classic” in that sense. It was a work of its time and - in SF - a major work in its time. But things change.

For real classics I’d go to Stapledon for First and Last Men or Wells for War of the Worlds and The Time Machine.
Or some of Ursula le Guin’s SF - The Dispossesed is considered a classic.

For influential works I’d go for E. E. Smith’s pulpy Lensman series (skip Triplanetary for sure and probably First Lensman too). Maybe the original Foundation trilogy, too (although I haven’t reread it at all recently and I was greatly disappointed by a reread of Asimov’s robot stories).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by caffeine, posted 08-26-2019 2:43 PM caffeine has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by caffeine, posted 08-26-2019 4:05 PM PaulK has responded

    
Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 2316
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 7.9


Message 11 of 27 (861765)
08-26-2019 3:26 PM


I liked Frank Herbert's books, and in recent years his son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have written a series that back stories to the Dune books that I enjoyed.

I also like Neal Stephenson's books, especially Seveneves.

I thought 11-22-63 by Stephen King was quite good.


What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

One important characteristic of a theory is that is has survived repeated attempts to falsify it. Contrary to your understanding, all available evidence confirms it. --Subbie

If evolution is shown to be false, it will be at the hands of things that are true, not made up. --percy

The reason that we have the scientific method is because common sense isn't reliable. -- Taq


Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by caffeine, posted 08-26-2019 4:06 PM Tanypteryx has responded
 Message 14 by PaulK, posted 08-26-2019 4:10 PM Tanypteryx has responded

    
caffeine
Member
Posts: 1699
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 12 of 27 (861766)
08-26-2019 4:05 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by PaulK
08-26-2019 3:05 PM


For influential works I’d go for E. E. Smith’s pulpy Lensman series (skip Triplanetary for sure and probably First Lensman too). Maybe the original Foundation trilogy, too (although I haven’t reread it at all recently and I was greatly disappointed by a reread of Asimov’s robot stories).

The Foundation books were another in the line of supposed classics that disappointed me greatly, and I've never read I, Robot as a result. They struck me as Asimov more describing a concept than writing a novel.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by PaulK, posted 08-26-2019 3:05 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by PaulK, posted 08-26-2019 4:13 PM caffeine has not yet responded

  
caffeine
Member
Posts: 1699
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 13 of 27 (861767)
08-26-2019 4:06 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Tanypteryx
08-26-2019 3:26 PM


I liked Frank Herbert's books, and in recent years his son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have written a series that back stories to the Dune books that I enjoyed.

I remember really enjoying Dune - are the sequels worth delving into?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Tanypteryx, posted 08-26-2019 3:26 PM Tanypteryx has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by PaulK, posted 08-26-2019 4:18 PM caffeine has not yet responded
 Message 17 by Tanypteryx, posted 08-26-2019 4:41 PM caffeine has not yet responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 15395
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 14 of 27 (861768)
08-26-2019 4:10 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Tanypteryx
08-26-2019 3:26 PM


quote:
...in recent years his son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have written a series that back stories to the Dune books that I enjoyed.

I have...heard of those.

quote:
I also like Neal Stephenson's books, especially Seveneves

I think that Anathem is pretty good. The Rise And Fall of D.O.D.O. is fun.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Tanypteryx, posted 08-26-2019 3:26 PM Tanypteryx has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by Tanypteryx, posted 08-26-2019 4:48 PM PaulK has not yet responded

    
PaulK
Member
Posts: 15395
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 15 of 27 (861769)
08-26-2019 4:13 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by caffeine
08-26-2019 4:05 PM


There’s a reason I pointed to them as influential, rather than good.

But Donald Kingsbury wrote a rather good unauthorised sequel Psychohistorical Crisis with numerous changes of names.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by caffeine, posted 08-26-2019 4:05 PM caffeine has not yet responded

    
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2018 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.0 Beta
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2019