Science Fiction

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lowflyingpenguin

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Amenhotep04":9zgvaxmx said:
I've begun reading science fiction recently. Been wanting to read at least 100 books. So far I've read 'Fahrenheit 451', 'Stranger in a Strange Land', '1984'. Just started 'Foundation'. On the shelf I have 'Slaughterhouse Five', 'Enders Game', 'Wrinkle in Time', 'Blindness', 'The Time Traveler's Wife', and a list of stuff from H.G. Wells.

What good science fiction do you recommend?

:farao:
my short list-

Larry Niven (Ringworld series), Philip K Dick (anything), William Gibson ( my favorite some purists may not see him as SF, the father of cyberpunk and inventor of the term cyberspace), Harry Harrison , Frank Herbert (Dune series)
 

whiskeywillow

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I see my favorites have already been mentioned: I love Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asmiov and Philip K. Dick. Another of my favorites is Ray Bradbury, although my favorite book of his, From the Dust Returned, really borders more towards fantasy/horror.

Someone who I haven't seen mentioned here is John Scalzi, so I'll fix that. He has a whole series of militaristic science fiction beginning with a fantastic novel called Old Man's War. I highly recommend it. I haven't finished the series yet, I'm only about halfway through, but so far he hasn't disappointed me!
 

Harlock999

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whiskeywillow":1gs8r769 said:
I see my favorites have already been mentioned: I love Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asmiov and Philip K. Dick. Another of my favorites is Ray Bradbury, although my favorite book of his, From the Dust Returned, really borders more towards fantasy/horror.

Someone who I haven't seen mentioned here is John Scalzi, so I'll fix that. He has a whole series of militaristic science fiction beginning with a fantastic novel called Old Man's War. I highly recommend it. I haven't finished the series yet, I'm only about halfway through, but so far he hasn't disappointed me!
Nice to see someone appreciate the old school sci fi!
 

thefoolish

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Ah, scifi, how I love thee.

So, "Dune" is a must. There's a reason it is called the Science Fiction masterpiece.

Gene Wolfe is an amazing writer who is far too under-appreciated. Seriously. Find this guy's stuff and thank me later.

 

Obelus

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I second the Gene Wolfe recommendation. I read his New Sun, Long Sun, Short Sun cycles every year. They're like nothing else. Plus he helped invent the technology that made Pringles possible.

For really tech and math savvy SF, the best thing I've read lately is Leonid Korogodski's Pink Noise: A Posthuman Tale. You can read Cory Doctorow's review here.
 

pasq0321

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I like a lot of the books mentioned here. I will comment on a few-

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time- Great series that would have benefited from an editor that had some balls. Jordan is a good writer but in the later books, the pace slows considerably.

Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series- Great books, at least the first six. I like the last couple but quality wise, they aren't at the same level.

Frank Herbert's Dune- First book is aces. It is a great book. The next one is good, the third one is okay and then I stopped reading because things got really strange.

One series that I enjoyed that I haven't seen mentioned is Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept Series. The first three are really good sci/fi fantasy.
 

Bahnzo

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I've read just about everything recommended here. My hand-down favorite author is Larry Niven however. I've read just about everything by this master and am catching up on his recent work which is a sort of Ringworld prequel. Good stuff. I know he's considered "hard" sci-fi, but I don't think that applies as much as it does to some of the newer authors I've read recently.

Asimov I don't like for some reason, but Arthur C. Clarke very much so. Read his "Rama" series if you haven't.

A good page to give you ideas for books is the list of Hugo Award winners.

Finally: Give a book called "Doomsday Book" by Connie Willis a read. One of my favorite books (although I haven't liked anything else she wrote). It's kind of an historical science fiction and very well done at that.
 

Bahnzo

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Obelus":7ahipz4n said:
In full agreement about Doomsday-- thought it was a really good, escapist read. So I bought a few of her other works. Big mistake. It's rare that I don't finish a book that I've started... but hers I dropped out of boredom.
I finished "To Say Nothing of the Dog" but haven't bothered with anything else. Too bad, and hard to think that someone who has written such a good book as Doomsday had nothing else worthwhile. A one hit wonder I guess.

Anyone else care to recommend other "unknown" books? Reading this thread is good for someone who is new to the genre and hasn't read much sci-fi, but pretty much everything mentioned here is a well known classic to those of us that have delved deep into it.
 

NicholasDestray

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Bahnzo":nv3lqzyj said:
Anyone else care to recommend other "unknown" books? Reading this thread is good for someone who is new to the genre and hasn't read much sci-fi, but pretty much everything mentioned here is a well known classic to those of us that have delved deep into it.
It's been a few months, but I'll take you up on that. Actually, I'm hoping these aren't too "unknown," because they're all very good authors. I've divided them by decade, to show how "recent" their books are, though some of them, like Vernor and Banks, were writing their series in the decades prior to what I have listed.

So who and what to recommend? I'd say the best recommendations fall into one of two categories: first, the book you read if you think you're going to follow an author; or second, the book you read if you know you won't have time to follow the author, so you want the very best he or she has to offer which still makes enough sense to puzzle out as a standalone.

2000-
Alastair Reynolds
First Book to Read: Revelation Space (2000)
Only Book to Read: The Prefect (2007)

1990-
Vernor Vinge, one of the founding fathers of transhumanist science fiction
First Book to Read: A Fire Upon the Deep (1992)
Only Book to Read: A Deepness in the Sky (1999) - this is my favorite science fiction novel

Catherine Asaro
First Book to Read: Primary Inversion (1995)
Only Book to Read: The Radiant Seas (1999)

Kim Stanley Robinson, his books can be frustrating: filled with good ideas that stagger along jerkily on the backs of uninteresting characters. If you want science fiction that's very much about Science with a capital S, he's your man. If you want fast-paced action and engaging characters, you might want to think twice.
First Book to Read: Red Mars (1993)
Only Book to Read: The Years of Rice and Salt (2002) - the narrative is tied together with some metaphysical elements, i.e. a Buddhist reincarnation cycle; otherwise, it's a solid science fiction novel of the alternate history sort

1980-
Dan Simmons
First Book to Read: Hyperion (1989)
Only Book to Read: Hyperion

David Brin
First Book to Read: Sundiver (1980)
Only Book to Read: The Uplift War (1987)


Additionally, here are some authors that have already been mentioned in the thread, but I couldn't pass up:
2000-
Iain M. Banks - his books vary widely in style, and he writes non-sf fiction under the name Iain Banks
First Book to Read: Look to Windward (2000) - It's neither the first, nor the earliest, but I think of this as the novel that really captures the essence of his Culture Series
Only Book to Read: The Algebraist (2004) - Banks writes other science fiction that doesn't involve The Culture, but I think this is his only space opera that's set in a universe devoid of The Culture

1980-
Lois McMaster Bujold
First Book to Read - Shards of Honor (1986)
Only Book to Read - Barrayar (1991) - This is really tough, because neither of my recommendations involve the character Miles Vorkosigan, whom she's best known for. Therefore:
Only Miles Vorkosigan Book to Read - The Vor Game (1990)


There is also, of course, a good deal of excellent fantasy to be recommended too. I know a number of them have already been mentioned here, but I'm wondering if maybe that should be its own thread.


Finally, if the reader is interested and wants to go deeper into science fiction, here are my two recommendations for how to find books you might like:

1. Try books that the authors you really like would care to recommend.
I'm not talking about back cover blurbs. First, make a list of your favorite science fiction (or whatever genre) authors. Then, do some research to find out who they like to read. Try those books.

2. Check out some of the prominent science fiction awards.
The two I follow are the Hugo Awards and the Nebula Awards. The Hugos are decided by science fiction fans. The Nebulas are decided by science fiction authors. There are excellent books that never even get nominated for either one...books with small publishing runs, or ones which were disqualified by a delayed publishing release between the UK and US, for example. If a book is a Hugo nominee, a lot of science fiction fans liked it. If a book is a Nebula nominee, a lot of science fiction writers liked it. You could argue that a book which wins both, like Startide Rising by David Brin, is pure gold, but I usually find my own favorites in the nominees lists from year to year.
 
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