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  #51  
Old 06-20-2003, 04:23 PM
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Interesting suggesitons, everyone. But I think if one is really going to give good advice here, we should really ask what Kaspar is looking for ... as is obvious from above, the range of "types" of SF is Astounding. (Or should that be Amazing ...) Are you looking for something easy or complex? Funny or serious? Short or epic? Rattle off a few qualifiers and you'll find someone with a suggestion ...
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Old 06-20-2003, 04:51 PM
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Most of my favorites have been mentioned. I'll just point out a few must-read short stories of Asimov that you can find in his collections.

"The Feeling of Power"

"The Final Question"

"Nightfall". Asimov inscribed it with this quote from Emerson:
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If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God?
  #53  
Old 06-20-2003, 07:06 PM
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Another vote for Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series-- gripping character-driven novels in a science-fiction setting, with a great main character. A lot of the "science" is biological, dealing with how people and societies create themselves. The drive to become a parent is also a strong recurring theme.

The hard thing with these books is knowing where to start. Shards of Honor and The Warrior's Apprentice are both okay, but probably wouldn't strike you as anything spectacular. If you stick with it, the writing improves exponentially. I think Memory is probably my favorite, though A Civil Campaign is absolutely charming.
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  #54  
Old 06-20-2003, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ponder Stibbons
Interesting suggesitons, everyone. But I think if one is really going to give good advice here, we should really ask what Kaspar is looking for ... as is obvious from above, the range of "types" of SF is Astounding. (Or should that be Amazing ...) Are you looking for something easy or complex? Funny or serious? Short or epic? Rattle off a few qualifiers and you'll find someone with a suggestion ...
That's a good idea. As I said, I'm looking for novel-length stories.

If it's the beginning of a series that's fine, but I would like to finish the book having read a complete story, not just part of one. It should stand alone. Then, if I liked it, I have the choice of reading more about the characters, etc., because I want to, not because I feel obligated. I'm certainly not afraid of epics, if they're self-contained. And funny or serious, I like them both!

This is a very important point, maybe the most important: Easy -- very easy -- on the technobabble. I care that they get to the moon, not how they get to the moon. I've heard the qualifiers "hard" and "soft" being bandied about. I think I definitely lean towards "soft" at this point.

There are a lot of suggestions here that seem very promising. And I'm not discounting any for the future! As I said, I'll be saving them all.
  #55  
Old 06-20-2003, 11:36 PM
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Someone mentioned Make Room! Make Room!. While it's a great novel, it is very depressing. Just keep that in mind when you read it.
  #56  
Old 06-21-2003, 02:27 AM
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Chronos had some very good suggestions, including
Quote:
I would recommend starting with his juveniles (you can't go wrong with any of Heinlein's juvies)
Even now, Heinlein's juvies are very readable and exciting, though sometimes they do show their age. Heinlein made sure that the science in his SF was as accurate as possible. An added bonus...last time I looked, most libraries had quite a few of these books in the stacks.

Kaspar, now that you've defined your wishes more clearly, I think that you should DEFINITELY give Niven's Ringworld a try. It does have some technobabble, but it's a fascinating story, with a true sense of wonder. I found his The Integral Trees and its sequel Smoke Ring to be harder to wrap my mind around, though still VERY good stories. You can read The Integral Trees as a standalone novel.

Some bookstores have an SF/fantasy geek, and will have a good selection of SF/fantasy. Same with libraries. If you don't find a good selection of SF at one store, then try another.

By the way, some people call it scifi. There's a clash in the SF reading community about calling it that. I, for one, rarely call ANYTHING scifi unless it's a film. If I call a book scifi, I am sneering at it. My preferred term is SF or science fiction.

Congratulations on finding an interesting new genre. You have endless hours of entertainment waiting for you.
  #57  
Old 06-21-2003, 12:26 PM
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If you've got a humanities degree and are used to reading mainstream fiction and prefer your SF soft, you have GOT to read Le Guin. She's one of our most literary authors, and her science is always subordinate to the story. She specializes in developing characters and societies (her father was a famous anthropologist, and it shows). If any SF enters the literary canon, it'll be Le Guin -- there are already Cliff's Notes for The Left Hand of Darkness. A wonderful, beautiful writer.

Red Mars comes recommended by a fairly famous postmodernist philosopher whose name escapes me now. The science in it is good, but the sociology is better; it describes a politic that is completely plausible and subtly terrifying. Add in some amazing spectacle scenes, and you're set.

For sheer linguistic style, you can't beat William Gibson's Neuromancer. Written in the mid-eighties before the man had ever seen a computer, the book is chock-full of coolisms, with strange and electrifying images jumping out from every page. He's not so big on the character development, and after reading the book three times I have no idea what its plot is, but it's a terrifically fun read if you don't worry too much about that stuff. And the book is the seed for the whole cyberpunk aesthetic, which is kind of nifty.

Daniel
  #58  
Old 06-21-2003, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
And the book is the seed for the whole cyberpunk aesthetic, which is kind of nifty.
I'd also recommend one of the best books derived from the cyberpunk tradition--Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. Great story and wonderful, wonderful writing. He has a very distinctive style that may initially be strange--he writes (IIRC) in the present tense and has a habit of ending his books very abruptly. Many people are annoyed by this. That said, Snow Crash is still chock-full of fascinating ideas.

I'd also recommend Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky. Huge, involving story, with a minimum of technobabble. His A Fire Upon the Deep won the Hugo.

Last, I'd recommend Robert Sawyer, a Canadian author. He writes books that are, basically, about ideas. But they're fascinating ideas, so I don't mind if his humans are rather more boring. I liked his Illegal Alien, a courtroom novel about an illegal alien (literally) and his Quintaglio series, about a world where dinosaurs became the dominant species for some reason I can't recall. Each of the books is about a time in the history of this species where someone makes an important scientific discovery: the dinosaur Galileo, the dinosaur Darwin, and the dinosaur Freud. Another good one is Hominids, where a Neanderthal from an alternative universe where they beat out homo sapiens is brought into our universe.
  #59  
Old 06-21-2003, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by SkyBum
I cant believe no one has mentioned any of the wonderful sci-fi titles by L Ron Hubbard ;-p

[hit submit/run/hide]
What would you start with first, Battlefield Earth or dianetics? Seeing as how both are complete crap fiction.
  #60  
Old 06-21-2003, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kaspar Hauser
This is a very important point, maybe the most important: Easy -- very easy -- on the technobabble. I care that they get to the moon, not how they get to the moon. I've heard the qualifiers "hard" and "soft" being bandied about. I think I definitely lean towards "soft" at this point.
There's one thing that needs to be said about science fiction readers. Some of us read for cool scientific ideas, others want stories that are still focused on human beings and human societies. If you're in the second category, I highly recommend these two short solo novels:

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin. Imagines a planet where the populations is similair to human beings, but gender does not exist. The result is a very interesting look at how government, religion, and economy are all affected by gender issues. Beautifully written with great characters.

The Songs of Distant Earth, by Arthur C. Clarke. The idea is that humanity is starting to establish colonies in nearby star systems, but those colonies are carefully engineered to be Utopias. Those who planned the colonies feel that human life would be better without religion, military force, or traditional families, so they simply don't teach the children about the possible existence of such things.
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  #61  
Old 06-21-2003, 10:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by ITR champion
There's one thing that needs to be said about science fiction readers. Some of us read for cool scientific ideas, others want stories that are still focused on human beings and human societies. If you're in the second category...
...I'll add David Brin's Glory Season. It's set in a largely pre-technological civilization, so there's a minimum of "science" and a maximum of "fiction." It's a sociological study, mostly, and (in my opinion at least) one of Brin's best. Shows he can do a lot more than spaceships and black holes and genetics and stuff.
  #62  
Old 06-22-2003, 08:01 AM
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You may want to check out some books by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. He is more famous for his fantasy novels, but I like his sci-fi books as well.

See if you can find The Parafaith War or Adiamante . I liked both of those books.

He also has a series called The Ecolitan Matter . This is 4 books but another may be out soon.

I'm not sure how I would describe his books. Lots of high-tech gadgets and stuff but also a lot of political intrigue as well.

Not the best stuff I've read but some very enjoyable books.
  #63  
Old 06-22-2003, 03:21 PM
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I'm gonna mini-hijack my own thread here and say that, having just finished Manifold: Time, I found it interesting that my first two science fiction books in a while (Childhood's End was the other)

SPOILER:
both concerned the ultimate destiny of humankind and also contained scary, super-smart children.
  #64  
Old 06-22-2003, 08:04 PM
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Based on your spoiler, it sounds like you should queue up Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children just to keep the theme going.
  #65  
Old 06-22-2003, 11:06 PM
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I have to put in a BIG plug for Heinlein's juveniles, especially for someone who is new to SF and looking for easy reads.

In order:

Citizen of the Galaxy
Have Space Suit - Will Travel
Starman Jones
Tunnel in the Sky
Time for the Stars
The Star Beast
The Rolling Stones
Between Planets
Red Planet

Ignore the 'pulpy' titles, and the 'juvenile' categorization - these were more about marketing and literary standards in the 1950's than a reflection of the content. Every one of the books above is an enjoyable read, and the first six on that list are tremendous books.

And these are the essential Heinlein books that are not classified as 'juveniles':

Double Star
Starship Troopers
The Door Into Summer

If you're looking for a 'fun' series of books, I would recommend The Stainless Steel Rat books, and the Repairman Jack stories by F. Paul Wilson, although the last books are more horror than SF.
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