great SF books

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schiksalgemeinschaft
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great SF books

Post by schiksalgemeinschaft »

hnismokehash wrote:
jenn devious wrote:Image

i consider myself a pretty hardcore SF nerd so i dont know how this has remained under my radar till now but i am SUPER excited to start it, sounds awesome

as great as the book of the new sun is, i enjoyed the book of the long sun a bit more. (although i've read the entire urth cycle a number of times so i keep switching between those two and the book of the short sun). regardless, great book.
could you guys say some words to convince me to read this? why is it 'the best novel of the century' as that cover says?

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Re: Currently Reading

Post by jenn devious »

well it says its the "best SF novel" not best novel...

anyways its a fantasy epic in the vein of LOTR and although i usually stick to cyberpunk kind of SF, i tore through this pretty fast. its got a lot of the same kind of LOTR christian allegory and even though its set in the future, its got a middle earth kind of vibe most of the time. its great, so far at least as this is only the first half of a 4 part series, but i wouldnt call it the best SF novel of the last century. a few that equal if not exceed it off the top of my head: Hyperion, The Mote in God's Eye, Neuromancer. Too much amazing SF out there for a statement that bold!

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Re: Currently Reading

Post by Tanner »

jenn devious wrote:well it says its the "best SF novel" not best novel...

anyways its a fantasy epic in the vein of LOTR and although i usually stick to cyberpunk kind of SF, i tore through this pretty fast. its got a lot of the same kind of LOTR christian allegory and even though its set in the future, its got a middle earth kind of vibe most of the time. its great, so far at least as this is only the first half of a 4 part series, but i wouldnt call it the best SF novel of the last century. a few that equal if not exceed it off the top of my head: Hyperion, The Mote in God's Eye, Neuromancer. Too much amazing SF out there for a statement that bold!
I didn't get much of a LOTR/middle earth vibe from it at all. Wolfe's writing is very different from Tolkien's, in fact i would say Tolkien has very little to no influence on his writing from what I've encountered, stylistically or thematically. I didn't catch the christian allegory either, but I've only read Shadow and Claw and not the last two of the series(which reminds me that I should finish the thing).

What I thought was interesting about Shadow and Claw was the unreliable narrator, Severian. The narration jumps, presumably important things are left out, and the protagonist is not particulary heroic, chaste or ethical. In this way Wolfe seems to be simply incorporating a more modern stylistic approach to genre fiction, but it's done so subtly and more importantly successfully. It's not a kiddie gauntlet and wizard book, but more fully fleshed out and modern. I don't write "genre fiction" pejoratively, either. I dig a lot of sci-fi, fantasy and horror, and don't really enjoy the dichtomy between the more "literary" works and sci-fi, horror, etc. They serve different functions, and we all know the genre blurring that comes from writers like Pynchon, Barth, etc. . Anyway, back to the subject; probably the most important thing is that the story itself is an interesting one, told well with great style. Severian is one of the most interesting and complex characters I've read in sci-fi. His motives seem more realistic and human and his plight as this recovering torturer (itself dealt with an odd sense of humanity) is pretty fascinating. The world he inhabits strikes me as much of Dicken's London on planet Z than anything else. Check out amazon for more of a synopsis. I don't know-- will it make folks who don't like or respect sci fi or fantasy change their perspectives? Probably not. But who cares anyway?

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Re: Currently Reading

Post by Tanner »

And I don't mean to belittle Jenn's reaction to it, either. Of course, it's just my opinion, blah blah blah.

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Re: Currently Reading

Post by faster »

jenn devious wrote:Hyperion, The Mote in God's Eye, Neuromancer.
Um, Dune? (I'd say Gravity's Rainbow, myself, but admit that's a border case at best).
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Re: Currently Reading

Post by jon abbey »

it's been decades since I've read any of these, but I'd second The Mote In God's Eye (although maybe Lucifer's Hammer is even better?), vote against Neuromancer and Dune, and add Childhood's End, The Foundation Trilogy, Time Enough For Love, and throw in some Bradbury, Dick and Lem. here's a list to work from:

http://home.austarnet.com.au/petersykes ... rank1.html

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Re: Currently Reading

Post by faster »

Asimov's wooden writing has always kept me from enjoying his ideas. I haven't read any of the Dune books in a long time, but several of them are awesome (God Emperor was probably my favorite after the first).
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Re: Currently Reading

Post by walto »

I was taken with both Asimov and Niven when I was young. P.K. Dick and Keith Laumer too. More recently, I was knocked out by Feed. Never read Dune for some reason. Read some Bradbury with my older daughter recently and don't think it holds up too well. I read the big Heinlein books, but I can't remember them at all.
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Re: Currently Reading

Post by jon abbey »

almost all of these guys are pretty lousy writers when it comes down to it, that's how I think of William Gibson (good ideas, shitty prose) but it's probably just because I've read his stuff more recently.

I never got into the Dune series much, dunno why.

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Re: Currently Reading

Post by faster »

Herbert could write. Dick's maybe the Asimov I can handle--his ideas are interesting enough to me that I don't mind the writing. Heinlein always grossed me out. He reads like a Bircher with a mid-life crisis and polyamory fantasies.
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Re: Currently Reading

Post by Charon »

faster wrote:I haven't read any of the Dune books in a long time, but several of them are awesome (God Emperor was probably my favorite after the first).
yes, yes, yes! Seconding the Dune recommendation, especially God Emperor, which was always my favourite (although you have to read them all, otherwise you'd be missing a lot).

Anyone else read Stephen Donaldson's Gap Cycle? I enjoyed them a lot back when I read them, although it's been a while.
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Re: great SF books

Post by Gaendaal »

Some more contemporary sci-fi authors I enjoy (and who can write...):

Iain Banks - Pretty much any of the Culture books but start with Consider Phlebas.
China Mieville - Perdido Street Station or The Scar, both are great steampunk-taken-to-the-next-level.
Alastair Reynolds - A much darker Iain Banks, making vast space operas that take the issues around relativistic travel as a plot point.

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Re: great SF books

Post by Moon »

Gaendaal wrote: China Mieville - Perdido Street Station or The Scar, both are great steampunk-taken-to-the-next-level.
I've heard them described as weird fiction, too. I think that fits well, at least with his short stories. You forgot Iron Council, the last in the series.

Such an interesting guy; writes geeky fiction, looks like a biker, publishes books on international law and Marxism and has stood for the socialist alliance in the house of commons.

He has a new book out, 'Kraken', that I'm looking forward to reading when I can get my hands on it. Anyone read?

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Re: great SF books

Post by billygomberg »

Gaendaal wrote: Iain Banks - Pretty much any of the Culture books but start with Consider Phlebas.
also

The Algebraist

not part of the culture series but damn brilliant cover -> cover. and hilarious. and things explode on the regular.

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Re: great SF books

Post by schiksalgemeinschaft »

Gaendaal wrote:Some more contemporary sci-fi authors I enjoy (and who can write...):

Iain M. Banks - Pretty much any of the Culture books but start with Consider Phlebas.
As I already said in the reading thread, me too is totally overwhelmed by Iain M. Banks, but I disagree on that Consider Phlebas recommendation as a starting place. It's good for sure, but the storytelling in that book is slow, especially in the middle section, so I wouldn't point it out as a starter.

I'd recommend Player Of Games to start with, or maybe even the shorter novel 'State Of The Art', wherein the Culture observes our own planet for some time. From then on best chronologically, as they've been published I guess. I've nearly finished Excession, it's the best one yet.

Good thing I have a long vacation ahead in 1.5 weeks, lots of recommendations I want to check out.

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Re: great SF books

Post by Gaendaal »

Moon wrote:
Gaendaal wrote: China Mieville - Perdido Street Station or The Scar, both are great steampunk-taken-to-the-next-level.
I've heard them described as weird fiction, too. I think that fits well, at least with his short stories. You forgot Iron Council, the last in the series.
I wasn't as sold on Iron Council so couldn't bring myself to recommend them, although the increased presence of trans-dimensional spider-jesters is always a bonus. I've heard the New Weird/Wyrd tag, too, but it strikes me in the same vein as 'hypnagogic' so just tend to use fantastic sci-fi or something equally vague.

My wife worked for the Edinburgh Book Festival and met him briefly. Really nice guy, apparently, even if most of the staff were expecting a woman... :lol:
schiksalgemeinschaft wrote:As I already said in the reading thread, me too is totally overwhelmed by Iain M. Banks, but I disagree on that Consider Phlebas recommendation as a starting place. It's good for sure, but the storytelling in that book is slow, especially in the middle section, so I wouldn't point it out as a starter.

I'd recommend Player Of Games to start with, or maybe even the shorter novel 'State Of The Art', wherein the Culture observes our own planet for some time. From then on best chronologically, as they've been published I guess. I've nearly finished Excession, it's the best one yet.
I started with Consider Phlebas and it's the fact that they've got better as they've gone on which makes me recommend starting there.

Player Of Games would be a good start, though, definitely.

Also, Iain is a staggeringly affable chap. I get to go to a lot of readings he does, as he only lives a few miles out of Edinburgh. And thanks for correcting my lack of M in his nom de sci-fi. It stands for Menzies, according to my signed copies... :P

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Re: great SF books

Post by billygomberg »

I think both Phlebas and Player Of Games would serve as good intros to Banks SF style and the Culture series as a whole. The later Culture books definitely rely on the reader's familiarity with the structures and systems that Banks has imagined.

I've enjoyed a great many of his books, very smart, imaginative, often very funny, and great pacing. and lots of things explode. Except in his book about whisky, where lots of whisky is consumed.

but, I have to write it again. The Algebraist. one of the most amazing and hilarious SF books I've ever read. "party suppositories"

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Re: great SF books

Post by Gaendaal »

billygomberg wrote:The Algebraist. one of the most amazing and hilarious SF books I've ever read. "party suppositories"
It is very good. One of the things, possibly the main thing, that I love about Banks' sc-fi is that it never loses its wry sense of humour. A lot of sci-fi collapses under its own ponderous seriousness and just becomes very, very dull. Not so with Banks.

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Re: great SF books

Post by mudd »

sameul r. delany is probably my favorite SF writer, though i can't say i've had much investment in the genre in a while.

m

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Re: great SF books

Post by Dohol »

Great science fiction novels?



Ursula K LeGuin: The Dispossessed, Left Hand of Darkness, The Hainish Novels..
Samuel Delaney: Nova..almost everything else by him as well (except Dahlgren..the Mt Everest of Sci Fi novels..I mean..all that effort for what? To be breathless on top of a giant choss heap?)
Almost all Ian Banks, Alastair Reynolds, China Mieville..
J.G Ballard's dystopias and apocalypses..
Phillip Jose Farmer (forgive him his stylistic transgressions..)
Robert Charles Wilson: Spin
John Scalzi and Neal Asher's stuff for shear fun...

I mean the list can go on and on, but..

Asimov..Unreadable. I mean all that energy and intelligence, but out hundreds of books only a couple are worth the time to read..

Larry Niven. I devoured his books when I was twelve, but now I can't get over his Orange County fascist tendencies..(and also precocious twelve year old boys and arrested twelve year old boys seem to be his target audience..)

Dick.. His astonishing imagination was coupled with mediocre writing.. A lot of his books are just..well..bad. (Valis and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch are exceptions..they're great books.)

Heinlein... In my youth I probably read more Heinlein than anyone else, and I can still pull out and read most of his young adult novels with some pleasure, but, well, he makes Ayn Rand seem like a communist in comparison...and his heroes are entirely too perfect...they're flawless. Where's the tension in that? Almost all his last books are so irredeemably awful that he gives L Ron Hubbard a run for his money in the bad science fiction derby...

Dune's sequels..The first book was alright, but the rest should have left up to our imaginations..
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