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Old 01-28-2005, 04:04 PM
Bippy the Beardless Bippy the Beardless is offline
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What about going further back to H.G.Wells' works? War of the Worlds must be one of the earliest alien invasion stories, and introduced the ideas of death rays and mechs.
Old 01-28-2005, 04:23 PM
Charlie Tan Charlie Tan is offline
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To continue the Heinlein hijack:

I could argue that he singlehandedly created modern SF. The defense will present these exhibits:
- He took ordinary humans and put them in extrordinary circumstances, unlike many things before with superheroes, or at least ordinary heroes (starship captains and the like).
- The juveniles transformed the "Go west young man" to the young lad, reaching for the stars.
- He took SF out of the pulps and into hard covers, showing up on the NY times best seller list.
- He brought social issues into SF.
- He was clearly a great inspiration for the whole counter culture of the 60's, wheather those who ambraced that culture knew it or not.
- He always tried to make the science plausible.

All of this doesn't make him a saint and there are a lot of flaws, but I think that in discussing the quintessential SF novel, and dismissing him as "sexist", is wrong. His biggest flaws is that later in his career, he spent quite a lot of time trolling. Most of his books after SiaSL are meant to provoke. I think he liked the attention - and sales - he got from SiaSL. Two of his finest works are post SiaSL: The moon is a harsh mistress, which gets my nomination, and The tale of the adopted daughter. I bet Joss Wheadon read that one before devising Firefly.
Old 01-28-2005, 04:25 PM
Charlie Tan Charlie Tan is offline
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Originally Posted by Bippy the Beardless
... death rays...
Ah, they're 1890's style death rays.

I couldn't help myself.
Old 01-28-2005, 04:35 PM
bclouse bclouse is offline
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I absolutely agree with Alfred Bester's "The Stars, My Destination". It's a fantastic read.

One of my favorite books is "White Light" by Rudy Rucker. It's sorta Alice in Wonderland crossed with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's claimed by many, or by some at least, to be the first of the cyberpunk books.

David Lindsay's "A Voyage to Arcturus" is a book that was written in the 20's thats turns a journey into outerspace into a journey inward towards our inner being.

Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons "Watchmen", although a graphic novel that pushes the boundaries of the superhero genre, I believe it can be encompassed in the science fiction realm.

None of these books are typical science fiction novels but, at least for me, show how far the genre can pushed into different directions.
Old 12-07-2012, 02:33 PM
psikeyhackr psikeyhackr is offline
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Here is the quintessential science fiction story but it is not a novel.

Omnilingual (Feb 1957) by H. Beam Piper

It is in the public domain and available as an audiobook.

So much stuff called science fiction today has nothing to say about science.

Old 12-07-2012, 03:03 PM
Voyager Voyager is online now
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It must be Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

<Check the dates>
Old 12-07-2012, 09:02 PM
SCAdian SCAdian is offline
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers!
Wow - someone else who has heard of that book!
Old 12-07-2012, 09:10 PM
SCAdian SCAdian is offline
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Originally Posted by SusanStoHelit View Post
I didn't like A Canticle for Liebowitz much (I made it a third of the way through), but even if you do like it you must admit that it's not exactly an accessible book, right?
I thought the first third was the best part of the book. Second part, not so good. Third part, terrible.
Old 12-07-2012, 09:13 PM
SCAdian SCAdian is offline
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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

Citizen of the Galaxy.

The Mote in God's Eye.
Old 12-09-2012, 07:21 AM
RTFirefly RTFirefly is offline
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Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post

Heinlein's women were classic Frontier Women. Read a little history of the American West & you'll find many that could & probably were models for the characters.
For some of the characters, maybe, like Mimi, the senior wife in the Davis family in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. But Wyoming Knott, in the same novel? Or any of the women in Stranger In a Strange Land? The frontier would have chewed up those women and spit them out.

Heinlein never did get women right. His women, regardless of ability, wanted to crank out babies almost as soon as they were 'husband-high', as he puts in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Until he realized the amount of grief he was catching for his sexist characterizations, and then he constructed some equally unrealistic superwomen.

IMHO, one of the best windows into RAH's thinking about women is how he sees and portrays his own wife in Tramp Royale, his account of their trip around the world together. In some ways, he views her as an equal, but in other ways, he's all but patting her on the head in condescension.
Old 12-09-2012, 07:27 AM
RTFirefly RTFirefly is offline
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But despite Heinlein's limited view of women, what Charlie Tan says is basically correct: he all but singlehandedly created modern SF. And for the quintessential SF story, I'd have to split my vote between Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Joe Haldeman's The Forever War.
Old 12-09-2012, 08:24 AM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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To nominate a dark horse:

"Sargasso of Space" by Andre Norton. A juvenile, very accessible, but it's got great SF elements: space travelling traders, advanced alien technology, mysterious extinct alien races who are so alien that staring at their art too long can drive you insane. It's got "out there" capitalism with corporations and independent contractors competing to bid on exploration rights to newly discovered worlds, addicts of strange new drugs ... really, an EXCELLENT book to introduce a new reader to SF, especially a young one. Does not represent all of SF, but then, nothing can.
Old 12-09-2012, 10:11 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Originally Posted by SusanStoHelit View Post
I don't mind the women-in-traditional roles thing much - most stories from the "golden age of sf" (ie the 50's) have that to some extent, and it has been a male-dominated field. What makes me mad (and I'll admit that I am probably overreacting) is that when Heinlein wants to write a strong, positive, and sympathetic female character, he makes her act just like a man, like it's the ultimate compliment, something that every woman should strive to do and be. It is gender equality of sorts, but it misses the point entirerly.
How the hell do you *want* her to act?

If she acts like a woman, she is too girly. If she acts normally, she is to manly. Perhaps you want her to be martian?

Look, if I grab a gun and go out and shoot a pack of dogs harassing my sheep, am I acting manly, should I cower in the house and let the pack kill off valuable animals? Should I call some manly man and whimper and squeel at him to come save my sheep? Or should I just get the damned job done. [I will confess that I did call animal control to haul the bodies off. With husband out to sea, you simply *deal* with shit.]

So, if a woman jumps into her spaceship and tears off after some BEM that took her kid, is she being a man with tits or just a woman getting the job sorted out?
Old 12-09-2012, 10:32 AM
Springtime for Spacers Springtime for Spacers is offline
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A serious Delany suggestion: Nova. Nova is strong on traditional story telling (in essence it is both a treasure hunt and a grail quest). It presents a galaxies wide human society that is beautiful and strange, civilised and wild. The people of this society have lives full of possibility, they plug themselves directly into their machines for work so they can work at anything anywhere.. In theory, among these bounteous worlds there are still divisions of class, of wealth of health.

Delany places his exotic, human characters into this story, a synecdoche of this society. Mouse, a gypsy who acquired his plugs and his place in society late has an unfixable congenital neurological condition of the voice. Prince Red, heir to riches has a similarly crippled arm, unlike the Mouse he can never be plugged in. The bigger problem of Prince Red however is that, like former spacer Dan, he is a madman. In other ways merchant adventurer Lorq Von Ray is maddest of all. He seeks the most valuable substance in the human universe, in the heart of a nova, at the instant the star blows. If he succeeds he will overturn everything that holds the worlds together.

Nova, a product of the New Wave embedded in the traditions of classic Science Fiction, reaching back to legend, expresses in wonder and beauty and terror all that SF has to offer, everything I, at least, look for in a novel, in 1968 and now.
Old 12-09-2012, 11:18 AM
RTFirefly RTFirefly is offline
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Two votes against:

1) The Foundation trilogy. Really? The characters are somewhere between wooden and cardboard, and the underlying premise has since had its butt kicked by chaos theory.

2) Dune, in addition to being long and boring, is one of the most morally repugnant novels I've read. Let's unleash the jihad on the galaxy, because the slaying of hundreds of millions will be good for galactic civilization or some such.

Early in the second half of the book, an alternative is briefly presented, discarded as even more morally repellent to Paul Atreides for reasons never made clear to the reader, and then dropped. There's no indication of whether this alternative would result in the death of anyone.
Old 12-09-2012, 12:09 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Since other people are listing several novels each in their posts, I'm going to go ahead and list my twenty favorite science fiction works that are longer than 25,000 words:

1. Olaf Stapledon First and Last Men and Starmaker
2. Philip Jose Farmer The Riverworld Series
3. Frank Herbert Dune (and maybe its sequels)
4. Walter Miller A Canticle for Leibowitz
5. Alfred Bester The Stars My Destination
6. Ursula K. LeGuin The Left Hand of Darkness
7. H. G. Wells The Time Machine
8. Philip K. Dick The Man in the High Castle
9. Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth The Space Merchants
10. Theodore Sturgeon More than Human
11. Roger Zelazny Lord of Light
12. Arthur C. Clarke Against the Fall of Night
13. Stanislaw Lem Solaris
14. Ken Grimwood Replay
15. Joe Haldeman The Forever War
16. Clifford Simak City
17. Michael Frayn The Tin Men
18. Larry Niven Ringworld
19. Robert Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land
20. Isaac Asimov The End of Eternity

Last edited by Wendell Wagner; 12-09-2012 at 12:09 PM.
Old 12-09-2012, 12:35 PM
The Tooth The Tooth is online now
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Originally Posted by RTFirefly View Post
IMHO, one of the best windows into RAH's thinking about women is how he sees and portrays his own wife in Tramp Royale, his account of their trip around the world together. In some ways, he views her as an equal, but in other ways, he's all but patting her on the head in condescension.
That's how I feel about Heinlein. I get the impression from a lot of his stories that he thought women could do anything they wanted; be cops, astronauts, executives, etc., even though they're only women. It's first-generation feminism.

And the lecturing on the wonders of libertarianism bring me down too. I've read a lot of Heinlein, and I want to like his work, but he doesn't make it easy.

As for the Quintessential Science Fiction Novel, I'd suggest David Brin's The Uplift War or maybe Brightness Reef.
Old 12-11-2012, 05:45 AM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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I missed this thread the first time round, but

Jules Verne - From the Earth to the Moon

Hard science (for the time), good detail and realism pushed beyond the known. Great stuff.



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