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Old 06-19-2003, 11:36 AM
Kaspar Hauser is offline
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Cutting my science fiction teeth


This year, for the first time in, say fifteen years, I read a science fiction novel: Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke. I got it for 50 cents at a church book sale. I liked it very much. I decided I want to read more science fiction.

But since I hadn't really read anything of the sort* since I was 14, I decided to go slow. I read a bunch of Star Wars novels. So far, so good. Granted, they don't get much respect, but they're fun.

For my next choice, I picked up another book I got for 50 cents, Manifold: Time, by Stephen Baxter. Yikes! I'm only about halfway through, but man, talk about jumping into the deep end! Every other page is a mini-science lecture on quantum physics, jet propulsion, chemistry, astrophysics, etc. Don't get me wrong -- I'm thoroughly enjoying it and am glad I'm reading it (so please don't spoil it for me!) but this is a little too much for me this early in the game.

So help me out with my reading list, guys. I'm looking for canon, for classics, for bestsellers, for obscure cult anomalies, for just general good science fiction that does not make a head warped by liberal arts and humanities classes explode. Is there anything you think a sci-fi newbie without a science background would enjoy? Anything I simply must read?

*For the record, I have read a lot of alternative history. Does that count?
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Old 06-19-2003, 12:04 PM
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If you have the stomach for sweeping sagas that involve a large cast of characters, I would heartily recommend a series of 6 books written by Peter Hamilton (they were originally published in the UK as 3 books, but each was so big that they were split in half for their US release):

The Reality Dysfunction (Parts 1 & 2)
The Neutronium Alchemist (Parts 1 & 2)
The Naked God (Parts 1 & 2)

These books have are true "space opera" and deal with an interstellar empire with a lot of advanced weaponry and technology.

Another sweeping saga I would recommend is the "Saga of Pliocene Exile" books by Julian May, made up of the following:

The Many Colored Land
The Golden Torc
The Nonborn King
The Adversary

This series has an eclectic mix of time travel, aliens and psychic powers.

Yet another sweeping saga would be a series by David Brin collectively known as the "Uplift Saga" which includes:

Sundiver (a prequel book)
Startide Rising
The Uplift War
Brightness Reef
Infinity's Shore
[i]Heaven's Reach/i]

This is another grand space opera with a galactic empire (that is not particularly well disposed toward humans) and lots of alien races.

As you might have guessed, I like sweeping sagas that have plenty of time to develop the characters. I read these series as they were coming out, meaning I had to wait a year or so between each book. Fortunately, the books have now all been published and each series has a definite "end" to it.

Enjoy!

Barry
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Old 06-19-2003, 12:13 PM
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Try some short story compilations by Isaac Asimov.

Also, try Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. I read that recently and thought it was really good.
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Old 06-19-2003, 12:26 PM
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I could go on and on about this, but probably the best introduction to short fiction (which is a huge part of SFs' history) would be reading the SFWA's Grandmaster collections, edited by Frederik Pohl. I believe there are three of them. The Grandmasters are: Robert A. Heinlein, Jack Williamson, Clifford D. Simak, Fritz Leiber, L. Sprague de Camp, Andre Norton, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, Ray Bradbury, Lester Del Rey, Frederik Pohl, Damon Knight, A.E. Van Vogt, and Jack Vance. This isn't a complete collection by any means (where is Zelazny? Sturgeon?) but it would be good introduction for any 'newbie'--the books include a few stories by each author, as well as an introduction discussing the author in question.

I'm in a hurry right now, but I'll try to stop back later, if this thread isn't already innudated. However, one last recommendation I'd make is for Heinlein's "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress," one of the classics of the field.
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Old 06-19-2003, 12:41 PM
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Asimov's "Foundation" trilogy.

The second "Foundation" trilogy by Benford, Bear and Brin.

[A major second for Brin, his work is very well written. I'm also very happy to say that after corresponding with him, he is equally nice to exchange emails with.]

"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Heinlein.

Works by Edmond Hamilton, for some early examples.

"The Illustrated Man" by Ray Bradbury

(more a fantasy style, but still good)


Some fantasy authors who rate in this discussion:

"The House on the Borderland"
William Hope Hodgeson

"The City of the Singing Flame"
Clark Ashton Smith

"Golden Apples of the Sun"
Ray Bradbury

"Fahrenheit 451"
Ray Bradbury

These are good starting places.
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Old 06-19-2003, 12:43 PM
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"Ringworld" and "Ringworld Engineers"
Larry Niven

The "Rendezvous with Rama" series
Arthur C. Clarke
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Old 06-19-2003, 12:48 PM
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I strongly recommend Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man (won the first ever Hugo Award) and The Stars My Destination.
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Old 06-19-2003, 12:53 PM
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A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter Miller. Absolutely essential reading.
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Old 06-19-2003, 12:56 PM
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Anything by Fredrick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth:

"The Space Merchants"

(One of the most translated sci-fi books in history.)

"Search the Sky"

(A personal favorite.)

"Wolfbane"

"Gladiator at Law"
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Old 06-19-2003, 01:14 PM
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<Donning asbestos underpants>
For the love of all that is good and pure, stay away from Asimov, Clark and Niven! Yes, they forged the way, and yes they are in some ways the giants on whose shoulders many other authors stand, however, if you are looking to get in to science fiction for the firs time I think that you will find them a bit of a chore.
</DAU>
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Old 06-19-2003, 01:22 PM
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I would highly recommend the book (and the following series) from which I get my username. Ender's Game, winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

Perfect for those new to the genre, this first in the series is a quick, light, fun read. The follow-ups, Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide, get a bit heavier, so I think that this series could be what you are looking for.
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Old 06-19-2003, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Binarydrone
<Donning asbestos underpants>
For the love of all that is good and pure, stay away from Asimov, Clark and Niven! Yes, they forged the way, and yes they are in some ways the giants on whose shoulders many other authors stand, however, if you are looking to get in to science fiction for the firs time I think that you will find them a bit of a chore.
</DAU>
Asbestos underwear or not, I don't understand why you would say that. Aside from the fact that those are the authors I read when I first discovered science fiction as a child, the OP specifically stated that he read a book by Clark and liked it. Personally, I find the works of Asimov and Clark a little too old fashioned for my current tastes, but I would still recommend them for somebody just getting interested in the genre.

Works by Greg Bear, on the other hand, I would definitely advise holding off for awhile (unless you happen to be a physicist).

Barry
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  #13  
Old 06-19-2003, 01:36 PM
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As for Specific Recommendations:
  • Earth, by David Brinn. I consider this to be his masterpiece, and a book that I revisit much.
  • The Fifth Sacred Thing, by Starhawk. This is a book that is set about 50 years in to the future and deals with (among other things) a polyamorous utopian society and how they deal with a conflict with a military/right wing Christian society. Very well done.
  • Under the Eye of God, and A Covenant of Justice, by David Gerrold. In the future, humans have become oppressed by their own creations. Pretty darn good.
  • At Winters End ,by Robert Silverberg. Another huge favorite, set far in the future concerning humanity emerging from their underground lairs where they had survived some sort of nuclear winter (with a really cool twist).
  #14  
Old 06-19-2003, 01:48 PM
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For some old, rather over-the-top pulp scifi, there's always Doc Smith's Lensman series, if you can find it.

I've found Walter Jon Williams to always be a safe bet.

If you want something a bit more bizarre and eclectic, you can't go wrong with Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun. His command of the English language is rather startling.
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Old 06-19-2003, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by godzillatemple
Asbestos underwear or not, I don't understand why you would say that. Aside from the fact that those are the authors I read when I first discovered science fiction as a child, the OP specifically stated that he read a book by Clark and liked it. Personally, I find the works of Asimov and Clark a little too old fashioned for my current tastes, but I would still recommend them for somebody just getting interested in the genre.
Point taken, point taken. However, IMHO Childhood's End, by Arthur C. happened to just be a lucky place to start. I think that this says it best:
Quote:
I find the works of Asimov and Clark a little too old fashioned for my current tastes
They are a bit dated, and have such huge bodies of work to wade through (for (again MHO) not much reward) that I fear the newbie would give up on the genre all together. For this reason, I would tend to not suggest these authors for someone just getting in to the genre (and to be honest I would be picky about which Robert Heinlein I suggested as well). Somthing a bit more fresh, I should think would be a good idea.

I had a similar problem with Gibson. By the time I read him I had played Shadowrun, watched Johnnie Mnemonic etc. etc. and so I found myself thinking "that has so been done to death" while reading him (even though he did it first!)
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Old 06-19-2003, 02:45 PM
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The Vorkosigan series, by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Easy to read, gripping, well-written, excellent character development, and by far the funniest books I ve ever read.
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Old 06-19-2003, 03:24 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions so far.

I actually read The Stars My Destination and some Bradbury when I was still in middle school, which was probably the last time I read any SF. I was assigned A Canticle for Leibowitz and Stranger in a Strange Land in high school, but in typical ornery teenage fashion I guess I shrugged them off. I bet they're still at my parents' house.

Also, I'm not looking for sweeping series as much as self-contained novels. I think that's another reason someone like me might shy away from science fiction, and I think, fantasy -- it seems that a lot of stories rely on a major committment from the reader. I'd rather get a feel for the genre first before I embark on a 15,000-page journey.

I'm writing all these suggestions down, though. Keep 'em coming! Convert me!
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Old 06-19-2003, 03:58 PM
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I see Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson hasn't been mentioned yet. Good book about what Martian colonization would look like.
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Old 06-19-2003, 04:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by enderX
I would highly recommend the book (and the following series) from which I get my username. Ender's Game, winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

Perfect for those new to the genre, this first in the series is a quick, light, fun read. The follow-ups, Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide, get a bit heavier, so I think that this series could be what you are looking for.
I generally only read SF that is highly recommended by others as well. That being said, Liebowitz by Miller (as previously mentioned by Biffy) is brilliant.

I would also (along with many others) highly recommend Ender's Game. I would, however, question enderX's characterization of the book as a "...light, fun read." If you read this expecting a comic romp through the cosmos you will be disapointed.
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Old 06-19-2003, 04:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Biffy the Elephant Shrew
A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter Miller. Absolutely essential reading.
Boldface, underline, exclamation point. One of the best books of the genre, yet it never ceases to amaze me how few people have heard of it.

If you want serious SF, Kaspar, try The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Cool concept, very thought-provoking. Was sold as ordinary fiction by the publisher, rather than science-fiction, because it's got kind of a highbrow theme. Read it now before Hollywood has a chance to screw it up.

If you just want pulpy fun, try Timothy Zahn. He gets a bad rap among SF purists because he writes about zippy spaceships and aliens that look vaguely but not exactly like some Earth animal, but he delivers the space-opera goods. If you've read Star Wars novels, you've probably already done his Admiral Thrawn stories. Now try The Conqueror's Trilogy.

If you want to read something that isn't written very well from a literature point of view but that will blow you away conceptually, try Robert L. Forward's The Dragon's Egg. It's tough going for the first quarter or so, because it's obvious he doesn't have a clue how to write human beings, but stick with it; the strength of the ideas carries it well over the top. The ending gave me chills.

If you want to read an absolute classic that has dated badly in some elements but that still represents the brilliant forward thinking of the genre at its best, and that despite certain things that don't hold up will still give you a lot to think about, check out Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner. A unique and still standalone effort, since it treats an idea much-neglected in SF.
Quote:
Originally posted by godzillatemple
Works by Greg Bear, on the other hand, I would definitely advise holding off for awhile (unless you happen to be a physicist).
I don't know that he's all that difficult. Moving Mars, I thought, was a lot of fun. Bear isn't hard to read compared to, say, Zelazny, who sometimes comes off like James-Joyce-as-sociologist.

On preview: The first Ender's Game is good, Speaker for the Dead less so but still interesting, and the third and fourth books I did not enjoy (didn't even finish the fourth). I haven't read Shadow.
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Old 06-19-2003, 04:43 PM
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Zelazny? Duh. I meant Samuel R. Delaney.
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Old 06-19-2003, 04:53 PM
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John Varley:

Steel Beach
Millenium
Gaea Trilogy: Titan, Wizard, Demon


Robert Charles Wilson:
The Bridge of Years
The Harvest


Dan Simmons:
Hyperion
Fall of Hyperion
Endymion
Rise of Endymion
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Old 06-19-2003, 05:09 PM
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Quote:
I would also (along with many others) highly recommend Ender's Game. I would, however, question enderX's characterization of the book as a "...light, fun read." If you read this expecting a comic romp through the cosmos you will be disapointed.
My SO and I have been enjoying his latest work: a companion series told from the viewpoint of Bean. Not so much SF as it is a book-long mindgame, it reads like a good spy novel, if there is such a thing. Anyway, Bean makes Ender look like a bumbling moron. I'd recommend it to the OP, as he says he likes alternate histories, and this kind of bridges the gap between that and sci-fi.
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Old 06-19-2003, 05:21 PM
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Any of the "Culture" novels by Iain M Banks make very good reading.
The Dispossessed or The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin are a couple of classic stories.
Nearly anything by Philip K Dick, perhaps The Man in the High Castle would be a good choice.

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Old 06-19-2003, 05:27 PM
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Armor by John Steakley

Voice of the Whirlwind
Hardwired
and Days of Atonement all by Walter Jon Williams

Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

The Island in the Sea of Time trilogy by SM Stirling
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Old 06-19-2003, 05:57 PM
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Footfall is a great suggestion. Lucifer's Hammer, by the same authors, is also good.

The Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring by Niven. A totally fascinating setting (like Ringworld) for a great adventure.

Almost anything James P. Hogan wrote in the 80's and 90's is pretty accessible, considering that it is totally what is known as 'hard SF.' Try the Giants Trilogy (Inherit the Stars, The Gentle Giants of Ganemede, and Giants Star. He wrote another in that setting, Entoverse, but I don't consider it part of the same story) or Bug Park. But whatever you do, don't read Cradle of Saturn. It's still a good adventure, but it gives credance to Veilikovsky. In the last half-decade or so, Hogan lost his formerly-scientific mind.

Oh, and by the way, you probably don't want to read Baxter's other Manifold books. I think Manifold: Time was the easiest of the set. Manifold: Origin will reallly torque your noodle.
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Old 06-19-2003, 06:31 PM
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Get a copy of 'The Year's Best Science Fiction,' edited by Gardner Dozois. You should be able to pick up copies from the previous couple of years for very little in some bookshops and online. It contains about 30 stories that truly are among the best in the genre.

I'd also recommend Anne McCaffrey's 'The Ship Who Sang.'
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Old 06-19-2003, 06:38 PM
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I suggest one of Connie Willis' short story collections, especially Impossible Things. (Her full length novels are also generally good but the short stories are a better introduction IMO)
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Old 06-19-2003, 06:59 PM
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My 70 year-old mother in law read Forge of God (Greg Bear) and quite enjoyed it; an interesting, realistic look at the Fermi paradox from the point of view of present-day Earth.

Science fantasy is an entirely different species which has little in common with real science fiction, IMO.

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Old 06-19-2003, 08:35 PM
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I'd like to throw in a hearty second (actually, by now, I think it's a third) for anything by David Brin. Almost all his stories are each set in their own "universe", so any single book can be read on its own. Even within the Uplift series that godzillatemple mentioned, each book stands alone, more or less -- at any rate, the first three certainly do. (I actually read Startide Rising before Sundiver by mistake, and I didn't feel that I was missing anything.) The second three are meant to be one single storyline, though and should definitely be read together.

Also, his book Kiln People was a great read. Sort of a combination of science fiction with a mystery novel. In addition, The Practice Effect was one of the first books of his I read, and thoroughly enjoyed.

Let's see, what else have I read...definitely try a few Asimov books. Some are better than others, but I can't think of any that were remotely "bad" by any stretch of the imagination. Nor can you go wrong with Bradbury, from what I remember...it's been quite a few years since I read any of his books.
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Old 06-19-2003, 08:57 PM
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I just finished The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and it's fantastic. Highly recommended.

I also adore Ender's Game; it's one of my favorite books of all time. Don't know how much I'd recommend it for your purposes, though, since it's not really all that science-fictiony - actually, it's the classic example of SF-for-people-who-think-they-hate-SF; the aliens are just a MacGuffin, really.
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Old 06-19-2003, 11:10 PM
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A couple of favourites:

Dancers at the End of Time by Michael Moorcock. A trilogy about decadance and the redeeming power of true love. The characters have godlike powers that they use only to amuse each other, until Jherek Carnelian meets Amelia Underwood, a nice Christian married lady from 1896, and falls in love. Surreal and touching by turns.

Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement. Hard SF, set on a Jupiter-sized planet with a day of (IIRC) 36 minutes. The main character is a native who looks like a squashed centipede. I like him! Good adventure, too.
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Old 06-20-2003, 12:00 AM
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Read Harlan Ellison. Anything. A Boy and His Dog would be a good place to start. In my opinion, Ellison is the best.

I also second (or third, or whatever we're up to now) the recommendation for Ender's Game. The rest of Card's stuff is worth checking out as well.
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Old 06-20-2003, 12:03 AM
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I can recommend 3 books that are part of different series but work as stand alone novels.

West of Eden by Harry Harrison. One of the most fully realized nonhuman (they're not alien) species ever.

Wildseed by Octavia Butler. It's great for comic book fans because it shows a more realistic look at super powers. Also has great characters.

The Snow Queen by Joan Vinge - A very interesting read for the celestial mechanics of the main planet. If you like this and want to read more, skip the second book World's End because it's not very good and everything is recapped in the third book The Summer Queen.
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Old 06-20-2003, 12:19 AM
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How about Robert Silverberg? He's one of the most prolific authors in the business and back in the 70's alone he wrote several classics. Advantages are that most of his books are stand alones, not parts in a series and most are novellas or short novels. Looking over a list of his works, I'd recommend any of the following: Hawksbill Station, Nightwings, Up the Line, The World Inside, The Book of Skulls, Dying Inside, The Stochastic Man, Born With The Dead, Passengers, How It Was When The Past Went Away, Good News From the Vatican, The Pope of the Chimps, Amanda and the Alien, Sailing to Byzantium.
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Old 06-20-2003, 12:42 AM
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For Asimov, I'd recommend The Caves of Steel as an introduction. It's sort of smack in the middle of his universe, but stands alone if you only want to read one book.

Or pick up any of a hundred Asimov short story anthologies. Be sure to try out a robot story or ten. I love them, each and every one.
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Old 06-20-2003, 01:47 AM
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Boy, what a great assignment!!!

More kudos for "Ender's Game". For Brin my suggestion would be "The Postman". Arthur C. Clarke's short story collection "The Nine Billion Names of God". Of the other Masters I'd suggest Asimov's short story "Nightfall". Most any Heinlein, but "Stranger..." is a great start. "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman. "Star Dance" by Spider Robinson (whose "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" series is great if you like really bad puns). For a plethora of wonderous authors, check out "The Hugo Award Winners" collection. And check out garage sales or libraries for old issues of "Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine". I saw some GREAT writers go thru that wonderful magazine.

There are TONS more, but my time is done.

Welcome to SF geekdom!!
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Old 06-20-2003, 04:40 AM
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The Amtrak Wars - Patrick Tilley.
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Old 06-20-2003, 08:13 AM
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Another vote for Ender's Game, The Postman, anything by Spider Robinson and Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books.

I'd also recommend Jack McDevitt's novels. "Moonfall" is a good introduction, although "Eternity Road" is my favorite. They're all stand-alone, but there are a few recurring characters, who are extraterrestrial archaeologists.

David Weber's Honor Harrington novels are excellent as well. Think "Horatio Hornblower" in space! The first is "On Basilisk Station."

C. J. Cherryh's "Foreigner" series is another favorite of mine. Her aliens are so real, so fully-developed - I can hardly believe she actually made them up!

And don't forget Frank Herbert's "Dune!" The newer "prequels" by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson are worth reading, too!

Science Fiction is a great genre! Have fun exploring!





I'm also a big fan of C.J. Cherryh.
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Old 06-20-2003, 08:32 AM
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I cant believe no one has mentioned any of the wonderful sci-fi titles by L Ron Hubbard ;-p

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Old 06-20-2003, 09:18 AM
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I also suggest the Le Guin books: Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed.

I just finished The Good Omen by Pratchett and Gaiman...excellent humour, very enjoyable read for me.

There are so many wonderful science fiction titles to choose from. Good luck finding the ones that you like best.
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Old 06-20-2003, 09:22 AM
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Not usually a sci fi author but I really rate The Gap Series by Stephen Donaldson as a good foray into those things sci
  #43  
Old 06-20-2003, 09:25 AM
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None of these requires any pre- or post-reading, but most have follow-up/related stories.

Heinlein--Stranger in a Strange Land and Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Niven--Ringworld
Niven & Pournelle--Mote in God's Eye
Herbert--Dune
Asimov--Caves of Steel
Harrison--Make Room, Make Room
Ellison--Deathbird Stories or Approaching Oblivion
Ellison (editor)--Dangerous Visions
Brin--The Uplift War
Van Vogt--Space Beagle

Also the Hugo Award collections are excellent.
  #44  
Old 06-20-2003, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by RikWriter
Armor by John Steakley

Very gripping read!
There has been many great suggestions here, and probably a good 15 years of reading material. Some of my suggestions I would like to add are these: (warning, some of these are softer sci-fi, or Science-Fantasy mix)

LeGuin- Don't forget The Lathe of Heaven ; check out the movie as well, blockbuster generally has it if there are any around where you live. (a great story about a guy that when he dreams he alters reality- he thinks he is going crazy and sees a shrink whom then takes advantage of him to change the world as he (the shrink) sees fit)

Robert Silverburg- So many novels has this guy published, and so many of them are wonderful. I would suggest his Adaptation of Asimov's work Nightfall. The story of a race of creatures that due to alignment of their suns, has daylight ALL the time, except once every 1000 years, where there is one night of darkness. Will the darkness drive them mad and destroy them? The great unknown? An awesome read.
Also still on Silverburg, and older one of his, but one I really love is [/i]Kingdoms of the Wall[/i]. Click the link for the story. One of my all time favorite novels (lost my copy though, pretty hard to get ahold of)

You gotta check out Jack L. Chalker's Well of souls novels, the original series anyhow. (series, btw, 4-5 books per series)

Some more of my favorite Sci-fi stand alone novels-

Ship of Fools- Richard Paul Russo. The story of a group of colonists that ship gets lost. They search for other intelligent life has become their main mission. They soon come to face a enemy of mysterious identity. A dark and fascinating read. I would rate this my #2 favorite. (for writing skills mostly)

An oldy but goodie- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. An experiment in which a mentally retarded man is transformed into a supergenius. Written wonderfully from his perspective. Tragic and wonderful. A must read.

How like a God- Brenda W. Clough. Sort of fantasy really, a Man wakes up one day and discovers he is Telepathic. As his powers grow, his sanity weakens. He must search for stablity, and search for others like him, or for the one that made him. Awesome book.

Santiago: Myth of the Far Future- Mike Resnick. An old style western set in space. Mythic prose, a hero searches down a powerful yet nebulous enemy of the law- Santiago. Epic, gripping, and enjoyable. There is another book out now called Santiago returns or something similar.

The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter. A bit more of a hard sci-fi. This takes up after the Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Time travel far into the future. Hard to explain, but definately a great book.

Destiny's Road- I know somebody warned you against Larry Niven, but this book is great. Jemmy is a boy that sets out on an adventure to find out where the Road goes, and where the ship that made it came from.

Blood Music- Greg Bear. A genetic scientific experement gone awry. A powerful intelligence springs forth and America is destroyed in the process. But is it? A definate addition to any list.

The Boat of a Million Years- Poul Anderson. A group of Immortals make their way through time, to our present, then our future and discover their true potential. Then they take a ship into space to discover what is out there. Great read, especially if you love reading about immortals and like some history.

Legion of the Damned- William C. Dietz. Really an interesting read about the French Foreign legion far in the future when they are cyborgs and giant robots fighting an alien invasion. A glurge book mostly, but wonderfully engaging.

The Icarus Hunt- Timothy Zahn. A renegade star frieghter pilot takes on a job and is chased by some powerful enemies that control 95% of space flight. Jordan (the pilot) soon enough discovers that this is no ordinary cargo, but something that may bring mankind a power that can change the course of human history. Enjoyable read.

Madness Season- C.S Friedman. Daetrin is a strange man. He has survived an alien invasion, survived several centuries of inhabitence, and is probably around 500 years old. When the alien conquerers discover something odd about him, they take him away off planet, where he meets some pretty interesting beings. Can he free humanity?

This Alien Shore by C.S Friedman is also a great read. Jamisia is a girl that apparently knows something, or has something somebody wants. She runs across the galaxy, running from strange but ruthless adversaries, trying to unravel the mystery of her identity and importance. She will uncover a secret buried deep within her psyche a secret which the universe may not be ready to face....

Well, those are a few of my favorite. I think these and the others suggested are all good and will keep you busy for quite some time.
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Old 06-20-2003, 10:19 AM
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Slap me for all my typos, lack of bolding, terrible coding, and piss poor grammar. Looks like a dyslexic monkey was slapping poo on the keyboard rather than something a college student would type.
  #46  
Old 06-20-2003, 10:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Blue Sky
John Varley:

Steel Beach
Millenium
Gaea Trilogy: Titan, Wizard, Demon

I agree heartily. Except you forgot The Golden Globe, one of my favorite books of all time. Oh, and you forgot to tell him to find a shovel so he can bury Millennium when he's done.

Opinions differ, I'm sure.


Robert Silverberg: The Face of the Waters was very good. Kingdoms of the Wall was good but fatally flawed in the home stretch.

Larry Niven: All in all, a much better short story writer than a novelist. The Fifth Profession is just brilliant. All the Myriad Ways is one of the most haunting sci-fi short stories I've ever read. For novels, I'd recommend Legacy of Heorot if you like pretty straightforward sci-fi/horror, Ringworld if you like talky but visionary sci-fi, and Lucifer's Hammer if you like apocalyptic meteor fiction.

So many other great stories have been mentioned so far, I'll just second: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Time Ships, Armor, The Left Hand of Darkness, Startide Rising, Ender's Game, and Blood Music.

My own additions to this prestigious list:

Patricia Anthony: Happy Policeman
Greg Egan: Quarantine
  #47  
Old 06-20-2003, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Epimetheus
Slap me for all my typos, lack of bolding, terrible coding, and piss poor grammar. Looks like a dyslexic monkey was slapping poo on the keyboard rather than something a college student would type.
But you get bonus points for actually saying something about each story/book that you have recommended!
  #48  
Old 06-20-2003, 11:54 AM
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Originally posted by Bunnylady
C. J. Cherryh's "Foreigner" series is another favorite of mine.
Cherryh is a very good writer. Second the recommendation.[/quote]And don't forget Frank Herbert's "Dune!"[/B][/QUOTE]Of course this is a classic, but I don't know that I'd recommend it as a "starter" for someone just getting into SF. The first sixty pages or so are awfully dense; once you get through that, it's a corker, but there's a heck of a lot of setup first. I'd call it "intermediate," something to read and enjoy once you're familiar with the genre, as well as "advanced," something to come back and read again later once you recognize just how damn good it is.
Quote:
Originally posted by Carl_A_Norris
Not usually a sci fi author but I really rate The Gap Series by Stephen Donaldson as a good foray into those things sci
I like the Gap books a lot. Really good hard SF; it's clear Donaldson has thought about the implications of his setting a lot more than the average writer, and the Amnion represent one of the most plausible (and scary) nonhuman societies I've read in SF. But the books are dark, dark, dark. Violent, scary, nihilistic, full of emotional and physical pain. Much of the story revolves around the premise of space as a frontier, which allows unsupervised humans to indulge the worst of their proclivities. Being a cynic, I think Donaldson is probably right, and the stories are undeniably compelling (in a white-knuckle sort of way), but I wouldn't recommend these to a neophyte.

One more to look for, which is out of print but absolutely worth it if you can find it: Orphan of Creation by Roger MacBride Allen. Not at all your typical SF plot; it's set in the present, and begins with an anthropologist who discovers that australopithecine protohumans may not have died out millions of years ago after all. Great story, excellent characterizations.
  #49  
Old 06-20-2003, 02:32 PM
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One more author suggestion: If stories about manned space travel in the next century or so excite you, read anything Ben Bova has written in the last 10 years or so. Titles like: Mars, Return to Mars, Moonrise, Moonwar (distinctly inspired by The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but it's an important step in his future history), Venus, Jupiter, The Rock Rats, etc.

Right off the top of my head, I can't remember every title or what the chronological order should be, but I liked them all. The order doesn't matter too much, except in the case of the Mars and Moon books.

Of course, you could also read anything Bova wrote earlier in his career. He's always been good.
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Old 06-20-2003, 04:11 PM
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I heartily agree that Heinlein is good, but
Quote:
Most any Heinlein, but "Stranger..." is a great start.
is absolutely false. Stranger in a Strange Land should not, under any circumstances, be the first Heinlein you read. You'll either love it or hate it. If you love it, you won't love it any less for having waited a while, but if you hate it, it'll leave a bad taste in your mouth for anything Heinlein. I would recommend starting with his juveniles (you can't go wrong with any of Heinlein's juvies) and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. After you've got 3 or 4 other Heinleins under your belt, then go ahead and pick up Stranger.

Niven's specialty is in coming up with wildly imaginative ideas, which are still fully consistent with what we know of science. The world of The Integral Trees (and the sequel The Smoke Ring), for example, is more bizzare than anything I've read in any other literature, fantasy, SF, or otherwise. He's also done things like having an astronaut strip off his suit, in order to survive long enough to be rescued (and it works!)

Asimov, of course, is also a good choice. I would recommend that you start with I, Robot, which contains his classic robot short stories, or The Caves of Steel (and its sequel The Naked Sun). All three of these are also contained in The Complete Robot. You might also want to read the Foundation series: The robot stories are an easier read, but Foundation is probably better overall. My favorite Asimov is Pebble in the Sky, his first novel, but unless you have a good library, it's impossible to find any more.

Ellison is a very skilled writer, but you may or may not like his work. Almost all of his work is very dark and morbid. He mostly wrote short stories, though, so it doesn't cost too much time or effort to give him a try.

More recently, I'm also a fan of David Weber. I've read all but the last of the Honor Harrington series, and he's also done some very good fantasy.

And yet another suggestion, for getting started: Pick up any volume of The Hugo Winners anthologies. The Hugo is the most significant award in science fiction (it's voted by fans, not authors like the Nebula, and the choices are generally better), so you're sure of getting good stuff. All of the stories are relatively short, and there are a variety of authors in them, so you can get an idea of whose work you particularly like. The earlier ones were edited by Asimov, and have his unique style of commentary between the stories.
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