Gah, jury duty -- recommend some sci fi

Sigh. So I got tagged for jury duty on Monday. I have a non-fiction book to bring with me, but I don’t think I can read any single thing for 8 hours straight and not get restless. I plan to go to the bookstore tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon to pick something up.

I get restless easily so something reasonably absorbing would be good. Anthologies of short stories is another possibility, since I’d get to “switch gears” after each story and there’s less of the “same thing for 8 hours straight” problem.

I’m a little Asimoved out, but other suggestions are welcome.


How about Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan books? You don’t really say what you like, so this is just me suggesting someone I like.

Possibly Keith Laumer or Christopher Anvil–light SF that’s still reasonably engaging.

I liked the Vorkosigan books as well. If you’ve read those maybe the “Old Man’s War” books by John Scalzi. Kind of Heinlienesqe. For a bit grittier books I really like the Richard K Morgan Tekeshi Kovacs books.

Heinlein’s Glory Road
Niven/Pournelle’s Inferno
John Varley’s Steel Beach
Haldeman’s Buying Time
Bester’s The Demolished Man
Fredric Browne’s Martians’ Go Home
Zelazny’s Lord of Light
Frederick Pohl’s Gateway

I could go on and on …

Hey, I was going to suggest the Vorkosigan series! Well, that’s three votes for you.

I also really enjoyed all the stories in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

Well it’s edited by Asimov, but the stories are by various authors: “100 science fiction short short stories”. I think there’s a 100 fantasy short short stories too. Technically it’s young adult, but there’s some William Sleator collections that are pretty interesting.

Absolutely no anthologies selected by Gardner Dozois who, I believe, is doing his utmost to destroy the SF genre.

Any SF anthology selected by the late Isaac Asimov or one of his team of loyal assistants such as, for example, Martin Greenberg.

George Martin’s Tuf Voyaging It’s a collection of short stories, novellas really, about the same character, Haviland Tuf, written throughout the authors career. The first story’s a bit rocky but the last one’s pure gold and the rest are quite good too.

In the unlikely event you haven’t read Douglas Adams. His Dirk Gently stories, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul Are both fantastic.

Gene Wolfe’s collection of short stories endangered species is great. I especially like that many of the stories mesh together in subtle ways that you have to really be paying attention to find.

Anything in Larry Niven’s known space series: Protector, the Ringworlds, Crashlander, Fleet of Worlds, the Man-Kzin wars, (though that last series is mostly written by others, so the quality is less even.)

Anne McCaffrey has some good sci-fi stuff - the pegasus series and other Talent books, Crystal singer, and Sassinak/Generation Warriors.

The Mike Resnick Starship series

Second stuff by Heinlein. And Douglas Adams, of course, if you like a bit of humor with your sci-fi.

The Immodest Proposals collection by William Tenn. Also his Here Comes Civilization.

Tenn is very under-rated.

Perhaps a book of Suduko puzzles for a change?

The Family Tree, by Sheri Tepper.

Anything by Neal Stephenson. I like his stuff, and his books are really, really long - they’ll keep you occupied all week.

Good advice upthread, but I disagree about Dozois. His Year’s Best SF collections are great. IMO his introductory essays about the State of SF each year are worth the price of the book by themselves. Grab a stack of his Year’s Best SF collections, and you’ll have a wide variety of great reading.

I second Neal Stephenson. Very absorbing. I really liked Anathem, but my favorite was Snow Crash followed closely by Cryptonomicon.

Failing that, Octavia Butler. She is great, but a warning, her stuff is different and disturbing, but it is gripping and well written.

Or you could go with classics like Ursula LeGuin, The Dispossessed and Left Hand of Darkness especially.

I also like the Dozois “Years Best” anthologies. I can’t recall finding a bad story in any of them. I also liked The Space Opera Renaissance, which has some good well written adventure stories, including a Vorkosigan story, though I have to say most military SF leaves me cold.

Buy a used copy of In Cold Blood or Helter Skelter. Highlight random bits, dog-ear corners, mark pages with Post-its and cackle wildly as you read it. You won’t spend 8 hours there, I assure you! :smiley:

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – imaginative and involving, and the "nested’ structure will hold your interest.

HA! I heart you. :smiley:

Thanks everyone. I was hoping to cast a broad net and come up with stuff that was entirely new to me, and I think I succeeded.

Also wanted to ask – perhaps this is a taste thing – but has Neal Stephenson gotten any better since Snow Crash? I agonized through the first half way back when but ultimately gave up (which I virtually never do, I’m a stickler for finishing books, movies, plays, on principle or something… or mostly hoping that it’s gotta get better.) I sensed there was a good story in there somewhere, but the writing was so disjointed and poorly structured that I couldn’t find it.

(FWIW the only other book I gave up on was American Psycho. I got about a third of the way through before I figured out it wasn’t going to get less boring. I was mentally cheering when he finally attacked the homeless guy, thinking that we were finally getting to plot, and then he immediately returned to the endless yuppy shopping list. Gah.)

I think he’s gotten better, but he’s still Neal Stephenson. If you didn’t like Snow Crash, you probably aren’t going to like Cryptonomicon or The Diamond Age. I like them, but they are long and can be very convoluted.

The dead tree editions are also good as impromptu lifting weights. Don’t drop them on your foot - there are easier ways out of jury duty! :wink:

(Aside: I read Cryptonomicon on my PDA. When I bought a paperback copy as a Christmas present for my boss, I was shocked at how damn BIG the book was. It was bigger than my PDA, its charger, and the box they came in. Big book!)