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Old 08-28-2011, 03:40 PM
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Suggest Good Science-Fiction


I was at the bookstore yesterday looking for a couple self-help type books, when I wandered into the Sci-Fi section. I haven't read anything in this genre since I was a kid and I'm not really sure what is good and what isn't. At $15-20 a pop, I wasn't really interested in taking the risk. Can anyone recommend any good authors or titles? The series I read as a kid was Animorphs (stop laughing ). They were pretty cool I guess. I especially liked the one that was about the Ellimist's beginnings. If they were a little more "sciency," they would've been better. I'm not so interested in the whole animal morphing thing (although that was pretty cool), as much as I am in the whole aliens, space-travel, different worlds, etc. Any ideas?
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:28 PM
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I certainly don't want to dissuade anyone from posting their recommendations to this thread, but I do want to point out to the OP that we have a SDMB Book Recommendation Thread Compendium with links to lots of previous threads of book recommendations, including a few specifically devoted to Science Fiction.
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by BuickGNX1987 View Post
I was at the bookstore yesterday looking for a couple self-help type books, when I wandered into the Sci-Fi section. I haven't read anything in this genre since I was a kid and I'm not really sure what is good and what isn't. At $15-20 a pop, I wasn't really interested in taking the risk. Can anyone recommend any good authors or titles? The series I read as a kid was Animorphs (stop laughing ). They were pretty cool I guess. I especially liked the one that was about the Ellimist's beginnings. If they were a little more "sciency," they would've been better. I'm not so interested in the whole animal morphing thing (although that was pretty cool), as much as I am in the whole aliens, space-travel, different worlds, etc. Any ideas?
The Mote in God's Eye.
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Old 08-28-2011, 05:36 PM
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There are plenty of good books, but a lot of the ones I loved are, sadly, out of print as people who were familiar with the authors have gotten older and died. (Lots of people on this Board obviously love Jack Vance, for instance, but I haven't seen a Jack Vance book at a non-used-bookstore in ages)


Here are some you can find:

I, Robot and the Foundation* original trilogy by Isaac Asimov

Childhood's End, Rendezvous with Rama* and The Complete Short Stories by Arthur C. Clarke

Dune, Children of Dune, and Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

Damned near anything in print by Robert Heinlein (especially The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Starship Troopers)

Most of the things in print you can find by Larry Niven, with or without collaborators. I also recommens the entire series of The Man-Kzin Wars, which now has 12 volumes, plus spinoffs and expansions.

Anything by John Scalzi

I think a collection of Cprdwainer Smith's works is still in general distribution. You can get his complete works from NESFA press, but it'd be a special order.



There's plenty more, but that's a good start. Sadly, I think you'd have a hard time finding Alfred Bester (The Demolished Man, The Stars my Destination), L. Spraue de Camp, Robert Sheckly, William Tenn, Henry Kuttner, Catherine L. Moore, Lester Del Rey, Fredric Brown, and a host of others on even a well-stocked bookstore's shelves.




* stay away from the sequels and prequels. Especially the Rama books co-authored by Gentry Lee and the really thick Foundation Sequels and Prequels that Asimov wrote And the Dune sequels and prequels by Andreson and Brian Herbert aren't as good as the first few books by Frank Herbert. Even though, sadly, all of these sequels are very common.

Last edited by CalMeacham; 08-28-2011 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 08-28-2011, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink
I certainly don't want to dissuade anyone from posting their recommendations to this thread, but I do want to point out to the OP that we have a SDMB Book Recommendation Thread Compendium with links to lots of previous threads of book recommendations, including a few specifically devoted to Science Fiction.
Somehow, I completely missed that. My bad. It was stickied and everything. It appears that I have unnecessarily embarrassed myself here, but I have some good suggestions so far so I guess it isn't a total loss.
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Old 08-28-2011, 06:03 PM
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Locus magazine maintains an extensive database of all major awards in the field, and is readable, sortable, and searchable by winners and nominees. They cover science fiction, fantasy,and horror as well as many specialized awards for young adults, poetry, gay & lesbian, libertarian, alternate history, etc.

Award winners are usually a somewhat different slice of the field, just as most mainstream bestsellers never show up in the award nominees. However, most of the winners are also big names with widespread popularity. Best of all they're up-to-date so that you get names other than people whose heyday was 50 or more years ago.
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Old 08-28-2011, 06:55 PM
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There are plenty of good books, but a lot of the ones I loved are, sadly, out of print as people who were familiar with the authors have gotten older and died. (Lots of people on this Board obviously love Jack Vance, for instance, but I haven't seen a Jack Vance book at a non-used-bookstore in ages)
Tor has done a number of rereleases and compilations of Vance's work - including the Demon Princes and Planet of Adventure series. While you might not find them in a bookstore you can get them online...
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Old 08-28-2011, 07:15 PM
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Tor has done a number of rereleases and compilations of Vance's work - including the Demon Princes and Planet of Adventure series. While you might not find them in a bookstore you can get them online...
You can get newly-published books by Hal Clement and Cordwainer Smith and Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore from NESFA Press, Hanta Press, and others, too, but you won't see them in even a well-stocked bookstore. I'm surprised that Tor=-published books aren't similarly available, but I stand by my statement that I haven't seen Vance in any bookstore in ages -- and i've looked. I tried to limit my list to things I have seen. And to things I'm familiar with, which is why it's shy on recent writers.

Last edited by CalMeacham; 08-28-2011 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:00 PM
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You can get newly-published books by Hal Clement and Cordwainer Smith and Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore from NESFA Press, Hanta Press, and others, too, but you won't see them in even a well-stocked bookstore. I'm surprised that Tor=-published books aren't similarly available, but I stand by my statement that I haven't seen Vance in any bookstore in ages -- and i've looked. I tried to limit my list to things I have seen. And to things I'm familiar with, which is why it's shy on recent writers.
Sounds like your neighborhood needs a better class of bookstores. I've bought all of these authors, including limited-edition runs of Vance reissues, at my local bookstore.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:02 PM
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David Brin is good. Check out Earth, Glory Season, Kiln People, The Postman, The Practice Effect, or Sundiver.

Lois McMaster Bujold is very popular. Most of her books are part of a series, so you should start out with Falling Free, Cordelia's Honor, or Young Miles.

John Varley's recent Red Thunder trilogy is good: Red Thunder, Red Lightning, and Rolling Thunder (although I feel Rolling Thunder is not as good as the first two).

Last edited by Little Nemo; 08-28-2011 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:15 PM
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Sounds like your neighborhood needs a better class of bookstores. I've bought all of these authors, including limited-edition runs of Vance reissues, at my local bookstore.
Sounds like you have an extraordinary bookstore -- I live in the Boston area, and haven't seen thgose books in any of the stores.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:51 PM
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Two more recent suggestions (not to take anything away from the classics):
The Heliconia Trilogy by Brian Aldiss (beginning with Heliconia Spring)
The Skinner by Neal Asher (I understand there are sequels now set in the same world, but I haven't read them).
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:14 PM
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...I am in the whole aliens, space-travel, different worlds, etc. Any ideas?
Sounds like you're looking for some good ol' fashioned Space Opera, which, if that's the case, I highly recommend Peter F. Hamilton's Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained. The Niven works are good too.
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:30 PM
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A few other possibilities:

Edmond Hamilton (schlocky pulp SF, but I love it)
Leigh Brackett, especially the Mars stories (great sword-and-planet pulp SF)
Ted Sturgeon
David Drake (military SF)
Fredric Brown
Chad Oliver (anthropologists in spaaaace!)
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Glen Cook, specifically Passage at Arms (an SF treatment of submarine warfare)
Matthew Hughes (though he's trying a little too hard to channel Jack Vance)
Keith Laumer (Baen has reprinted a bunch of his stuff--there should be some available on the Baen Free Library)
Christopher Anvil (ditto re Baen)
A Bertram Chandler (ditto re Baen)
E. E. Doc Smith (the all-time master of space opera)
Eric Frank Russell
James H. Schmitz (ditto re Baen)
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:43 PM
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Dragon's Egg, by Robert Forward.
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:49 PM
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For an interesting look at different worlds, and aliens, I want to second the recommendation for The Mote in God's Eye.


I'll add recommendations for A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, both by Vernor Vinge. Fire was published first, but Deepness takes place prior to the action in Fire. I believe you can read each in any order - after all I read them in publication order - but some people seem to prefer reading Deepness first. Both works deal with humans encountering dangerous (and fascinating) aliens upon their own home worlds. Fire also has a hilarious (and poignant) send-up of Usenet communications woven through the story that's probably going to feel a bit dated today.

Another satisfying book dealing with alien relations is Eric Flint's (With K.D. Wentworth) The Course of Empire, which is available to read as a free ebook here. The action in the book begins 20 years after the alien Jao have conquered Earth.



(For that matter, browsing about Baen's Free Library is a good way to get a feel for some of the other authors mentioned in this thread. For example, Lois McMaster Bujold's The Mountains of Mourning is available to read there for free - and serves as a decent introduction to Miles Vorkosigan, and Barrayar. If you want an introduction to David Drake's works, the first of his RCN books With the Lightnings is available there - and the series is an excellent storyteller's homage to the Aubrey/Maturin stories of Patrick O'Brien. I will admit it is a promotional endevour for the publisher: Baen Books, like any successful pusher, is a firm believer in the utility of telling people, "The first hit is free!")
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:55 PM
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For an interesting look at different worlds, and aliens, I want to second the recommendation for The Mote in God's Eye.


I'll add recommendations for A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, both by Vernor Vinge. Fire was published first, but Deepness takes place prior to the action in Fire. I believe you can read each in any order - after all I read them in publication order - but some people seem to prefer reading Deepness first. Both works deal with humans encountering dangerous (and fascinating) aliens upon their own home worlds. Fire also has a hilarious (and poignant) send-up of Usenet communications woven through the story that's probably going to feel a bit dated today.
This recommendation is heartily seconded. I much prefer Fire to [/i]Deepness[/i] but both are great.

(And it seems fairly insane to me to think one should read deepness first--but explaining why would involve minor spoilers so I won't go into it.)
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:01 PM
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This recommendation is heartily seconded. I much prefer Fire to [/i]Deepness[/i] but both are great.

(And it seems fairly insane to me to think one should read deepness first--but explaining why would involve minor spoilers so I won't go into it.)
I should have been more explicit - I think reading Fire first is going to be more satisfying, too.
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:32 PM
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People should keep in mind there are a lot of great SF works that a novice SF reader might not appreciate. I like Peter Hamilton, for example, but the man takes a thousand pages just to get a story started. And many SF tropes are old-hat to regular readers but can overwhelm somebody new to science fiction. Remember to keep the recommendations accessible to somebody who's just starting out in the genre.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:08 PM
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I'd actually go straight for the classics and suggest The Martian Chronicles.

And I'm personally a big fan of Cyril Kornbluth—The Adventurer is on Gutenberg (and a creepy favorite of mine ), but you can get the complete collection of his stories on Amazon. "The Marching Morons" is his better known work, but I'll also recommend "That Share of Glory" and "The Mindworm," too.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:40 PM
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Begin here. Start at the top and work down.
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:37 AM
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The series I read as a kid was Animorphs (stop laughing)...
Ah, but did you read ALL of the Animorph books? I read them a decade ago (at bedtime to the kids when they were little)... and I went back and finished all 54 of them. And guess what? They held up as serious Science Fiction and they were SO much fun -- big conflicts in the last couple of books, and lots of humor as the characterizations hold true til the end, and beyond. In fact, I've reread the last few books a couple of times.

Come to think of it, I've also reread Ender's Game, The Hunger Games, and The Knife of Never Letting Go.

I guess the "Young Adult Fiction With A Sci-Fi Bent" that's out now makes for the best narratives and characterizations. I'm not a huge SF fan (reading Dickens and Hemingway right now), but those "YA SF" classics are probably the only books I've read so far that I keep re-opening.

Maybe I just like "A Fun Read". Hope you find some good ones.

Last edited by digs; 08-29-2011 at 12:40 AM.
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Old 08-29-2011, 04:39 AM
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Go nostalgic--crack open Heinlein's juveniles, or Andre Norton.
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Old 08-29-2011, 07:29 AM
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Ah, but did you read ALL of the Animorph books?
I might have missed a couple in the middle of the series, but other than that, yes. Some of them more than once, especially the various _____ Chronicles that were part of the series. They were my brother's and one day I was bored so I read one and got hooked. I do remember stuff starting to get pretty crazy towards the end of the series.

I see that I have tons of suggestions and links to look into now. I'm a relatively fast reader, but I think I'll be busy for quite some time. Thanks for your help everyone!
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Old 08-29-2011, 07:34 AM
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The Foreigner series by CJ Cherryh is really really well done, and if you're interested in geopolitics at all has a lot of parallels to modern diplomacy.
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Old 08-29-2011, 10:25 AM
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Here is another site of lists. There is a brief plot description for each book. I am using this list to round out my own reading, having read most of but not all.
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:08 AM
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A couple of anthologies that collect the "golden age" of science fiction:

Adventures in Time and Space (Healy and McComas)

and

A Treasury of Great Science Fiction (Boucher) -- 2-volume set

You'll get short stories, novellas, and novels from some of the greats--Heinlein, Kuttner ("Lewis Padgett"), Bester, van Vogt, Wyndham, Poul Anderson, Asimov, del Rey, de Camp, Campbell, Dick, Sturgeon, Bradbury, Clarke, etc.

These are the collections that turned me on to SF--you can't hardly do any better if you like classic SF.
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:13 AM
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My all-time favorite sf book is Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin, a collection of interrelated short stories about a guy who finds an ancient ecological-engineering starship and decides to cash in on it. Good dark-humored fun.
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:35 PM
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Keith Laumer (Baen has reprinted a bunch of his stuff--there should be some available on the Baen Free Library)
Anything on Hunter's list is fantastic, but there should be a footnote with Laumer. He had a stroke in the late '70s and anything before the stroke is going to be varying degrees of fantastic. Anything after the stroke is unreadable.

Quote:
James H. Schmitz (ditto re Baen)
Heh--there was a huge, HUGE controversy when Baen reprinted Schmitz: Eric Flint (the editor) decided to update a few word choices (Schmitz used the term "newshen" for a female reporter, for instance and he took out a reference to someone smoking on an airplane...stuff like that). The usenet erupted into flames over Flint's "butchery" of the work. Until a dozen or two authors (Bujold, S.M. Stirlling, etc) popped in and said: "Wait-they'll reprint my back catalog, but they want to change a word or two? Fine with me." which pretty much showed the writer's perspective.

Lemme add Kuttner to the list. This is a kind of expensive collector's edition, but it has many of his best stories.
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Old 08-30-2011, 02:35 AM
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A couple more that I should have added:

Stanley G. Weinbaum
James White, specifically the "Sector General" series
Murray Leinster (some of his stuff has also been reprinted by Baen)

Last edited by Hunter Hawk; 08-30-2011 at 02:37 AM.
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Old 08-30-2011, 05:44 AM
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A relatively recent series that I rather liked, the Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon. About a young woman who is given command of a merchant ship in her family's shipping company after she is drummed out of her planet's military academy. No aliens, per se, but humans have a pretty wide variety in the setting of these books, both socially and physically. First book of the series is Trading In Danger.

I would normally suggest the Honor Harrington books by David Weber, but those are less "Wonders of the universe" sci-fi and more military fiction/political thrillers. Still interesting for the wide variety of human cultures (one of the major powers in the universe is mostly ethnically Chinese, but styled after the Prussians, with German as their official language. Another planet is run by the Mafia. And notorious for the strictest law enforcement in the galaxy. They're with the good guys.).

And of course, wandering off topic from books a bit, but sci-fi in general, you might like Mass Effect (video games, mostly), which has a very epic (in the "huge, grand, expansive" sense, not the "totally cool" sense) feel to it, and a very rich universe for the game to take place in. They kinda deluge you in little details here and there to give you the impression of a place that exists rather than just being a collection of maps and levels in a game.

Why yes, I have been playing that lately, why do you ask?

Oh, back to books, I'm reading Hokas Pokas, about a planet of very enthusiastic anthropomorphic teddy bears who fully embrace anything they read about, much to the chagrin of anyone who has to deal with them while trying to figure out what book they have found themselves living in today. It's absolutely hilarious.

Last edited by Raguleader; 08-30-2011 at 05:44 AM.
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Old 09-03-2011, 10:27 PM
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Well, I finally got down to the bookstore today. I compiled my list based on these suggestions, which filled up both sides of the page, and headed out. As I walked up to the bookshelves in the sci-fi section, I reached into my back pocket for my handy-dandy list and found...nothing. Right away, I knew that I had left my carefully compiled list setting on my dresser.

I remembered The Mote in God's Eye and that was about it. Of course, they didn't have it. "Well", I figured, "I guess I can look around and see if anything rings a bell." So up and down the aisles I went, mentally kicking myself for not remembering the list, even though I reminded myself as I put the list on the dresser, "Now don't do something stupid like leave without this list."

Then, like a smack to the face, there it was. Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton. Hell yeah! That was on the list! I picked it up, read the back to see what it was about, also saw that it was $9.00, and saw that this was very good. Off to the checkout counter I went; the disaster (and an unnecessary trip) was averted.

Once again, thanks to all of you for your suggestions. I look forward to getting back into science fiction, and you all have saved me from the horrors of a terrible book and even worse, the horrors of wasting money!
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Old 09-04-2011, 12:29 AM
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Then, like a smack to the face, there it was. Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton. Hell yeah! That was on the list! I picked it up, read the back to see what it was about, also saw that it was $9.00, and saw that this was very good. Off to the checkout counter I went; the disaster (and an unnecessary trip) was averted.
Hopefully, you realized I wasn't kidding when I said Hamilton takes a thousand pages just to get a story started. Pandora's Star is the opening book in the Commonwealth series - and the series is 4384 pages long.
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:00 AM
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Anything by Iain M. Banks (the M is important!). All his stuff is good but I just love, love, love his books on The Culture.
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:38 AM
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Hopefully, you realized I wasn't kidding when I said Hamilton takes a thousand pages just to get a story started. Pandora's Star is the opening book in the Commonwealth series - and the series is 4384 pages long.
Blast! I did not remember that. Oh well, all I can do is try to get into it and see what happens. I see that Judas Unchained, is a part of this series, am I missing another one?

ETA: Nevermind, I see there is one called Misspent Youth, although it kind of looks like it isn't necessary to be able to follow Pandora's Star. J.U. was right next to the book I got, but I don't remember seeing M.Y. there.

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Old 09-04-2011, 11:05 AM
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Blast! I did not remember that. Oh well, all I can do is try to get into it and see what happens. I see that Judas Unchained, is a part of this series, am I missing another one?

ETA: Nevermind, I see there is one called Misspent Youth, although it kind of looks like it isn't necessary to be able to follow Pandora's Star. J.U. was right next to the book I got, but I don't remember seeing M.Y. there.
Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained are definitely mean to be read in succession - they're basically two halves of a single book.

Misspent Youth is sort of a prologue to the series. It's set about 300 years before the events of Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained. It basically explains how the stuff we see in the later books got started.

The Void trilogy - The Dreaming Void, The Temporal Void, and The Evolutionary Void - is set about 1200 years after Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained. The trilogy's story is distinct but many of the characters from the earlier books reappear.
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Old 09-04-2011, 05:29 PM
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Tell me what kind of science fiction movies are your favorites, and I might be able to offer some more narrowed suggestions for you.
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:03 PM
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cmyk,I haven't seen very many. I like the Star Wars movies. I really liked the Knights of the Old Republic games, mainly because of all the little facts about the Star Wars universe it gives. Most of that stuff seems to be glanced over in the movies.

I saw this older one about a submarine and crew that get shrunk and injected into someone's body. That was pretty cool.

Terminator 1 and 2 were pretty cool, especially 1. I liked 2 better as a kid, but when I watch T1 now, I think it's the better of the two just because of the mood it sets. I mean, how hopeless does it look for Sarah Connor after the Terminator single-handedly takes on that police station. Whatever uncertainty the viewer has about the effectiveness of small-arms fire on the T-800 pretty much evaporates after that. Plus Ahnuld is like the perfect actor for a emotionless killer cyborg.

I've seen some newer ones, like War of the Worlds (Tom Cruise version) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (I think; it had Keanu Reeves). Those were OK I guess. I don't know though, I don't find very many movies interesting these days. Avatar was pretty good I suppose.

Other than that, not too many things are ringing a bell here. Sorry, I know that doesn't help very much.

Little Nemo, thanks for the info. If I like this one, I'll know where to continue. I can deal with a slow developing story if the author is throwing enough interesting stuff out there. I like Stephen King's books and they sometimes seem like they take awhile to develop. Generally, he keeps it interesting. There are exceptions though. There was one that I got about 60 pages or so into; just waiting for it to get going until finally I just couldn't do it anymore. It was one of the very few books that I started, but did not finish. I think it was Lisey's Story, but I could be wrong.

(I guess I should be italicizing these titles huh? Not sure where I'm getting the underline from.)
  #39  
Old 09-04-2011, 10:15 PM
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cmyk,I haven't seen very many. I like the Star Wars movies. I really liked the Knights of the Old Republic games, mainly because of all the little facts about the Star Wars universe it gives. Most of that stuff seems to be glanced over in the movies.
Oh, if you liked KotOR, you definitely want to play Mass Effect. Another sci-fi game series from the same people.
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Old 09-05-2011, 07:46 AM
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Little Nemo, thanks for the info. If I like this one, I'll know where to continue. I can deal with a slow developing story if the author is throwing enough interesting stuff out there. I like Stephen King's books and they sometimes seem like they take awhile to develop. Generally, he keeps it interesting. There are exceptions though. There was one that I got about 60 pages or so into; just waiting for it to get going until finally I just couldn't do it anymore. It was one of the very few books that I started, but did not finish. I think it was Lisey's Story, but I could be wrong.
I hope you enjoy Hamilton. He really is an excellent writer and he does keep the ideas coming. It's just that his work can be overwhelming - I think Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained have something like a hundred characters you need to keep track of.
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Old 09-05-2011, 11:56 AM
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I hope you enjoy Hamilton. He really is an excellent writer and he does keep the ideas coming. It's just that his work can be overwhelming - I think Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained have something like a hundred characters you need to keep track of.
I'm really surprised to hear so many recommendations for the "Pandora's Star" series. I read (and enjoyed) "Pandora's Star" but "Judas Unchained" was so universally reviled I never even picked it up.
  #42  
Old 09-05-2011, 12:23 PM
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cmyk,I haven't seen very many. I like the Star Wars movies. I really liked the Knights of the Old Republic games, mainly because of all the little facts about the Star Wars universe it gives. Most of that stuff seems to be glanced over in the movies.
Expansive universes and Future histories.
I think the Foundations series by Asimov and/or the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons. Also, Dune by Frank Herbet, of course.

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I saw this older one about a submarine and crew that get shrunk and injected into someone's body. That was pretty cool.
Miniaturization.
Fantastic Voyage. I haven't read the original, but I read the sequel Fantastic Voyage: Destination Brain (also by Isaac Asimov) when I was a teen and loved it. I think you would too.


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Terminator 1 and 2 were pretty cool, especially 1. I liked 2 better as a kid, but when I watch T1 now, I think it's the better of the two just because of the mood it sets. I mean, how hopeless does it look for Sarah Connor after the Terminator single-handedly takes on that police station. Whatever uncertainty the viewer has about the effectiveness of small-arms fire on the T-800 pretty much evaporates after that. Plus Ahnuld is like the perfect actor for a emotionless killer cyborg.
Cyborgs and Time Travel.
Not a lot is coming to mind here, since the sci-fi aspect is pretty thin, and was more cat and mouse / action and explosions. There are myriad stories about both cyborgs (Asimov again), and time travel. But I nothing comes to mind as far as ruthless, killer robots right now. However, a recent time travel story I thought was fun was The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman.

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I've seen some newer ones, like War of the Worlds (Tom Cruise version) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (I think; it had Keanu Reeves). Those were OK I guess. I don't know though, I don't find very many movies interesting these days. Avatar was pretty good I suppose.

Other than that, not too many things are ringing a bell here. Sorry, I know that doesn't help very much.
It helps a lot. For me, I try to narrow down what concepts I like, and find SF books that center around those. Anyway...

Alien invasion and First Contact.
I very much recommend reading the book that started it all, War of the Worlds by H.G. Welles. Written in 1898, it's still damn near perfect, IMHO. It's in the public domain now, so that link is the entire novel.

The science fiction genre is my favorite (especially hard science fiction). I've found that most of my favorite stories are in the short-fiction category here. Pick up almost any short science-fiction anthology, and I think you'll find many stories that appeal to you, are a quick and fun read, and you might start to develop a more refined taste for what you like, and authors who appeal to you more than others.

Also, Stephen King is mostly known for his horror stories, but he's done plenty in the science fiction genre as well. Under The Dome is a recent one, but here again is where I think short-fiction shines. In Skeleton Crew (a stellar anthology by King) is The Jaunt, one of my favorite stories of all time. Also, check out Asimov's The Last Question.


Good luck and enjoy the hunt!

Last edited by cmyk; 09-05-2011 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 09-05-2011, 12:28 PM
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First Contact
The Sparrow By Mary Doria Russell. Probably one of the most well written and well constructed First Contact stories I have ever read. It is plausible and visionary at the same time.

There's a sequel called, "Children of God" which is also good but quite different.

Last edited by Hello Again; 09-05-2011 at 12:28 PM.
  #44  
Old 09-05-2011, 05:42 PM
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Can i make the obvious suggestion, which i don't believe anyones made yet. If you don't want to blow money on something you don't like how about your local public library. Take some of the suggestions made and see if your local library has them in stock. If not they can probably order them for you from another one. Or just go there and browse in person and see if anything catchs your eye.
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:39 PM
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The Library: It's like the Internet, for old people! *gets smacked by a thrown copy of Twilight*
  #46  
Old 09-05-2011, 07:14 PM
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Hopefully, you realized I wasn't kidding when I said Hamilton takes a thousand pages just to get a story started. Pandora's Star is the opening book in the Commonwealth series - and the series is 4384 pages long.
Well, it's the first of a two-parter, the second one about as long as the first. The second series of books (a trilogy) is set over 1,500 years from the events in PS and are a separate (and, imho, not as good) story.
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Old 09-05-2011, 07:25 PM
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The Library: It's like the Internet, for old people! *gets smacked by a thrown copy of Twilight*
Oh, I am so using this as soon as I get a chance.

But it's true.

In my Nuthin' But SciFi phase (late 60s), I would sit on the floor in the SF section of the Wauwatosa Public Library for hours, browsing. Because some authors and genres and styles I just loved, and some I thought were boring or contrived.
  #48  
Old 09-05-2011, 07:32 PM
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I'm really surprised to hear so many recommendations for the "Pandora's Star" series. I read (and enjoyed) "Pandora's Star" but "Judas Unchained" was so universally reviled I never even picked it up.
I didn't like it at first, but it grew on me quite a bit. But in case anybody is interested, here's my first impressions about JU.

Last edited by JohnT; 09-05-2011 at 07:32 PM.
  #49  
Old 09-06-2011, 04:30 AM
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The Library: It's like the Internet, for old people! *gets smacked by a thrown copy of Twilight*
I'm literally about to go out to one now. You kids keep the noise down while i'm out.
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