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Science-fiction book recommendations?

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21 Mar 2010 21:34 - 09 Feb 2018 23:15 #58071 by Josh Look
Ender's Game may be my all-time favorite book. Currently, I'm on the third book in Issac Asimov's Foundation trilogy, and the whole series has been very, very good so far.

It's another older book, but if you can find it, I highly recommend The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.
Last edit: 09 Feb 2018 23:15 by Josh Look.

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21 Mar 2010 22:17 #58072 by Ancient_of_MuMu
Browncoat wrote:

Ender's Game may be my all-time favorite book. Currently, I'm on the third book in Issac Asimov's Foundation trilogy, and the whole series has been very, very good so far.

Be vary wary about going beyond the original trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation). I bought the first 6 he wrote from a second hand book store and the original series of 3 would be in my top 3 novels of all time. The problem is that Asimov wrote this great series of short stories and then years later revisited them and headed into bizarre territory and Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth are an attempt to tie the series to his other work, and after being rather disappointed with them didn't read Prelude to Foundation (and after a friend told me a couple of plot points in that am glad I didn't). I sold those 3 back to the same book store, and have reread the original series a couple of times since with no inclination at all to reread the others.

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21 Mar 2010 22:44 #58073 by iguanaDitty
Not Sure wrote:

Another great SF book is Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon the Deep". (there's also a sequel I've never read.)

Ooh, yeah, seconded. A Fire upon the Deep totally blew my mind. The sequel is "A Deepness in the Sky" I think, not quite as intense as the first but a similarly well-built and well-shown world.
I also second Iain M Banks. God I loved Player of Games.

PK Dick is terribly absent so far. Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) is much better than any version of the movie and is probably my favorite. Some of his stuff (Valis) is more...challenging...than the rest but it's all good. And utterly unique. In fact I need to read A Scanner Darkly.

More lists:
Rendezvous with Rama by Clarke and somebody (Gentry?). Fun exploration of a giant alien artifact.
More than Human by Theodore Sturgeon. The next evolution of humans will be?
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Holy shit is this intense. One of the most devastating and brilliant books I've ever read.
Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem. A detective novel where almost every character is an evolved animal of some sort.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Starship Troopers by Heinlein. Classics. Moon is his best and a great yarn. Starship is a great polemic.

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21 Mar 2010 22:51 #58074 by Ancient_of_MuMu
iguanaDitty wrote:

Rendezvous with Rama by Clarke and somebody (Gentry?). Fun exploration of a giant alien artifact.

Don't go beyond the original book though. I read the next ones just after he had been accused of paedophilia and there are some rather creepy aspects of the books in that regard.

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21 Mar 2010 23:15 #58075 by Not Sure
iguanaDitty wrote:

PK Dick is terribly absent so far. Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) is much better than any version of the movie and is probably my favorite. Some of his stuff (Valis) is more...challenging...than the rest but it's all good. And utterly unique. In fact I need to read A Scanner Darkly.


That's a profoundly depressing book. So is VALIS, in it's own way. A lot of PK Dick is pretty challenging stuff, and a good part of the challenge is trying to figure out whether it doesn't make sense because you're not getting it, or if it doesn't make sense because he was fucking crazy and writing under a deadline. I'd add "Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" and "Ubik" to the critical PKD reading list as well.

Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem. A detective novel where almost every character is an evolved animal of some sort.

Lethem is a literary badass who happens to slum it in SF once in a while. I highly recommend all of his books, but most are outside of the SF area. "Gun.." is like a PK Dick novel written in a Raymond Chandler style. Great book.

Another classic that came to mind while I was thinking about SF is Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War". It deals with the timescale of fighting a war across interstellar space, but at a very personal level for the participants.

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22 Mar 2010 07:25 #58083 by Rliyen
Ancient_of_MuMu wrote:

Browncoat wrote:

Ender's Game may be my all-time favorite book. Currently, I'm on the third book in Issac Asimov's Foundation trilogy, and the whole series has been very, very good so far.

Be vary wary about going beyond the original trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation). I bought the first 6 he wrote from a second hand book store and the original series of 3 would be in my top 3 novels of all time. The problem is that Asimov wrote this great series of short stories and then years later revisited them and headed into bizarre territory and Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth are an attempt to tie the series to his other work, and after being rather disappointed with them didn't read Prelude to Foundation (and after a friend told me a couple of plot points in that am glad I didn't). I sold those 3 back to the same book store, and have reread the original series a couple of times since with no inclination at all to reread the others.


That's how I felt about the Dune series. Read The first three, don't even bother with the rest of them. It's Herbert going into LA LA land.

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22 Mar 2010 09:07 #58085 by Ska_baron
So I read Prelude to Foundation because I thought it was the first in the series. I really didnt care for it. Just boring stuff though the idea seemed kinda cool.

I love Asimov, so I know it's not that. From his collection I loved I, Robot (never saw the movie, but looked only LOOSELY based on the series of short stories that comprise I, Robot the book).

Also by Asimov, I liked Caliban. Also in the Laws of Robotics vein and is a bit of a crime/mystery as I recall. Really makes me wanna reread it...

And I think one of my all time favorite Sci-fi books is one I found in a library long ago as a kid and my wife hunted down and got me: Allies and Aliens. It's is a single-volume work encompassing the novels The Torch of Honor and Rogue Powers by Roger MacBride Allen.

So two stories in one. First is the invasion, and second is the payback ;) Has anyone else ever read this? I feel like I'm the only one...

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22 Mar 2010 10:03 - 22 Mar 2010 10:08 #58088 by maka
Valis was a very hard read. At some point I read many of Philip K. Dick books one right after the other and ended with Valis. I reached a point I couldn't read any more of his stuff... But I loved Ubik. In a way, from what I remember, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep seemed like one of his most approachable books...

The Forever War is also one that I really enjoyed. I never read the sequel(s) and I wonder if they're as good as the first one... Another classic read long ago that I just remembered was Cities in Flight by James Blish, pretty crazy premise but made for an enjoyable story...

BTW, I did read all of the Foundation books (except the prequels) and I remember enjoying the last ones too. True, it ties the Foundation series with the Robots universe, but in a way that makes sense. As a fan of the robot series it was a nice surprise. Anyway, it's been very long since I read those last books (I'll get to them after I re-read the first Foundation series), and I was a teenager when I read them last, so....

BTW, another book from Asimov (kind of like a very, very early prequel to it all) was The End of Eternity.

And I just remember another great book by Orson Scott Card: Treason.
Last edit: 22 Mar 2010 10:08 by maka.

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22 Mar 2010 12:54 #58106 by Spanish Inquisition
The term “Science Fiction” is difficult because it encompasses so many different types and styles. Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth is categorized as Fantasy even though it takes place in the future. Hmmm. . . In its most basic form, Sci- Fi is about mans interaction with technology, and the future of Mankind. With that in mind here are some good places to start. In no particular order:

Foundation Trilogy (Isaac Asimov)- I hated these the first time I read them. Very little action and endless new characters. Nonetheless, age and patience have brought understanding. Wow. (But maybe don’t start here)
2001 (Arthur C. Clark) – Great even if you have seen the movie.
Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein)- Classic war in space with WWII vibe.
Protector (Larry Niven) – Good hard sci-fi that is still fun and compelling (also agree with recommendations of Ringworld and Mote in God’s Eye)
Tales of Prix the Pilot (Stanislaw Lem) Russian space stories with a dry wit
Cosmicomics (Italo Calvino) Italian space tales that are mind-blowing and hysterical.
Stainless Steel Rat (Harry Harrison) Fast paced action with a sense of humor.
Slaghterhouse 5 (Kurt Vonnegut) – Perfect. Why Sci-Fi exists.
Hitchhiker’s Guide Trilogy (Arthur Adams) – The funniest books ever written.
Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) – Somehow action packed and thoughtful, yet easy to read.
Old Man’s War (John Scalzi) – Hard hitting modern Sci-Fi along the lines of Heinlein.



I also love Phillip K. Dick and Samuel R. Delany, but let’s save that stuff for after you’ve sampled a bit of the more “classic” approach.

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22 Mar 2010 13:29 #58110 by metalface13
Yeah Valis was to tough get through. I would say The Man in the High Castle is the most approachable by Dick.

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22 Mar 2010 13:36 #58114 by Spanish Inquisition
Yes I loved Man in High Castle. Is it Science Fiction? Who freakin' knows? Certainly not in the classic sense with spaceships and such. Some of Dick's earlier works are fairly straightforward and fun. It's only with hindsight that you can tell that he is becoming a bit insane. . .

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22 Mar 2010 15:30 #58140 by maka
"Hitchhiker’s Guide Trilogy (Arthur Adams) – The funniest books ever written."

Agreed! These books are amazing not only because they're so funny but also because of how everything is connected in ways you can't even imagine when you start reading. Can't believe I forgot about them...

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22 Mar 2010 18:19 #58182 by Ancient_of_MuMu
Ska_baron wrote:

So I read Prelude to Foundation because I thought it was the first in the series. I really didnt care for it. Just boring stuff though the idea seemed kinda cool.

I love Asimov, so I know it's not that. From his collection I loved I, Robot (never saw the movie, but looked only LOOSELY based on the series of short stories that comprise I, Robot the book).

If you liked 'I, Robot' you will like the original Foundation trilogy as the writing is more punchy and it gets to the point so much quicker than the other Foundation books which are much slower and containing half the ideas in 3 times the pages.

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22 Mar 2010 20:24 #58196 by Spanish Inquisition
maka wrote:


BTW, another book from Asimov (kind of like a very, very early prequel to it all) was The End of Eternity.


Yes, that one was a pleasant surprise. Also: Caves of Steel which is the first in what later became the "Robot Series"

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22 Mar 2010 22:14 #58209 by beuks33
Really glad for all the Dick references! Valis is definitely challenging because it veers more into philosophy than anything else, but his stuff is quite timeless as a touchstone for any questioning mind to attach itself to. A more modern author in the same vein is: Michael Marshall Smith. A good starting point with him is: Only Forward.

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