In search of science fiction recommendations

For a period of five-six years or so, I had pretty much stopped reading fiction entirely. I hadn’t really planned on it, I just found myself drifting into reading a lot of religious/mystical things in equal parts with layman’s science writing (to keep the scales balanced, you see).

It’s time I got back into fiction again. I’ve recently picked up Vernor Vinge’s “A Deepness in the Sky” (loved it), based on memories of enjoying his “Realtime” series years previous, and I’ve read some John Barnes (“Kaleidoscope Century”, “Candle”–likewise based on memories of enjoying the heck out of “Mother of Storms”–I like his work, but do wish he’d get over his apparent fascination with rape themes).

Previous to that, I enjoyed Dan Simmons’ “Hyperion” series, the first two books rather more than the following two “Endymion” works. Oh, and Neal Stephenson’s “Diamond Age”, which I enjoyed but thought sort of just staggered and fell apart in the final third.

So…recommendations? I like works with great world-building–Barnes did an especially good job of that, though the fascinating world he built up (the Meme Wars was just a neat concept) sort of ended up looming much larger than more flat characters. I enjoyed Simmons’ mixing of spiritual themes into “Hyperion”, and Vinge’s “Deepness” really kept me interested because of the strength of the characters. What I’d really like to see is those three strengths fused into something even better.

But I’ll settle for good quality entertainment, too. :slight_smile: What do you think, sirs?

Niven’s “Ringworld” left a pretty good taste in my mouth, ditto with the first four books of the “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” trilogy.

I read a lot of Arthur C Clarke in the first part of the year, and enjoyed “The Ghost of the Grand Banks” and “Hammer of God”.

If you like fantasy, Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles are excellent - and believable.

Well, I don’t know if I can give you good ‘world-building’ recommendations, but here are some of my absolute favorite sci-fi novels that I recommend to everyone:

Steven Barnes and his Aubry Knight series (Streetlethal, Gorgon Child and Firedance). The series is set in the near future (which technically makes it sci-fi) but concentrates more on the characters than the technology. Excellent characterizations; the characters are very complex and the dialogue and interaction is striking.

Steve Perry and his Matador series (The 97th Step, The Man Who Never Missed, Matadora, The Albino Knife, The Machiavelli Interface, Black Steel, and Brother Death). A series about intergalactic bodyguards and the revolution they forment against the corrupt Confed. Very stripped-down and easy to read. I love it for the inventiveness of the technology and the dialogue. Plus, there are some ideas in there I’ve never seen in sci-fi before.

And Kilt, I just finished the Camulod series – fantastic! That was one of the best series I’ve read in a great long time.

Simon Green’s Deathstalker series (Deathstalker, Deathstalker Rebellion, Deathstalker War, Deathstalker Honor and Deathstalker Destiny). Very campy space-opera, but REALLY well-written. A noble is outlawed by the Empress and starts a rebellion against the throne. Again, complex characters, great dialogue, and neat ideas.

These titles are a little more pulpy than what you’ve listed, but I enjoy them greatly.

jesus, asking for a sci fi recommendation among this crowd…

well, there should be a good joke in that somewhere but I can’t come up with it.

I’m not a huge sci-fi fan but I’ve been under the influence of The Boy lately.

Try “Millenium” by John Varley.

My husband, who lives and dies by his sci fi and fantasy, thinks that Robert Jordan, Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, and Guy Gavriel Kay, to name a few, are the best world builders out there right now, although they belong to the fantasy genre.

Pick up Ender’s Game, some Heinlein (Lazarus Long, the moon books), Frank Herbert’s Dune series, Issac Asimov, Dan Simmons’ Hyperion books (at least the first two!).

Enjoy! You can look forward to many lost evenings with your nose in a book!

Eon” by Greg Bear was quite good (and epic).

I believe there was a follow up novel, but I can’t recall the name.

I have been absorbing Jeff Shaara’s “historic novels” of late . . . but after that I should get back to sci-fi.

William Gibson wrote ‘Neuromancer’, and a couple of other near-future novels, with the emphasis on developments in computing, multinational businesses, weaponry and genetics.
I find them gripping.

Fred Pohl had a trilogy on Heechee aliens, although the story is told from the point of view of one interesting human character.

Roger Zelazny wrote the Amber series, which has led to me participating in an e-mail roleplaying game set in the Amber world with other SDMB members.
Warning! only read the first 5 books. The last 5 are terribly weak and contrived.

Almost anything by C.J. Cherryh, who writes fantasy and science fiction with equal facility (sometimes in the same book!) and is one of the best writers of truly alien aliens (not humans in funny suits).

Try Serpent’s Reach and Downbelow Station and the Morgaine series Gate of Ivrel, Well of Shiuan, Fires of Azeroth, and Exile’s Gate.

Another fun world builder is Mercedes Lackey . . . not what you’d call “great litratoor” but a good read nonetheless.

Search in the archives on the phrase “science fiction” in the title of threads and you’ll find a slew of them filled with recommendations. In any case, here are my 20 favorite science works 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. Michael Frayn The Tin Men
  17. Larry Niven Ringworld
  18. Robert Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land
  19. Clifford Simak City
  20. Isaac Asimov The End of Eternity

Do you also want fantasy recommendations? You say nothing about fantasy in the OP, but many of the books people have been mentioning are fantasy.

Every damn time a thread like this comes up I feel like Tweek from South Park.

AHHH! Ender’s Game! Read it! AHHH!! They’re after my underwear! AHHH!

glee, there were actually four books in Pohl’s series, but the fourth one wasn’t that great anyway so it doesn’t count. The first one, Gateway, I’d definitely recommend.

Glad you liked Hyperion, Drastic, that was a great series. Do NOT read Hollow Man though. Just a waste of time.

If you like more “idea” books than “character” books, I’d go with 2001, or I, Robot.

Besides the aforementioned,

Asimov: The Gods Themselves, Nightfall and Other Stories, Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation

Heinlein: Starship Troopers, Time Emough For Love, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Past Through Tomorrow

Ellison: Almost everthing he wrote

Niven and Pournelle: Lucifer’s Hammer, The Mote in Gods Eye, Footfall

Bradbury: The Illustrated Man, Farenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes

Clarke: The Fountains of Paradise, Reandevous With Rama, Childhood’s End, 2001

Spider Robinson: Calahan Chonicles, Deathkiller, Antinomy, Meloncholy Elephants

Fredrick Pohl: Gladiator at Law (With Kornbluth), Gateway, Man Plus

There are so many more but my fingers are getting tired.
But other authors to check out are: Piers Anthony, Robert Aspirin, David Weber, Harry Harrison, Harry Turtledove, Glen Cook, of course Zelazny, Mike Resnick, etc.

Offhand? Anything by Kage Baker. Her stuff’s intelligent, interwoven, and touches upon humanity and some spiritual ethical themes…and she has an interesting view of the future.

Also Circuit of Heaven and End of Days, both of which are by Dennis Danvers.

Philip K. Dick’s VALIS “trilogy” (I use the term loosely, as the three books are related thematically, rather than in terms of storyline) has got to be my favourite work of sci-fi ever.

The best sf novel I ever read I think is out of print: Sam Delaney’s stars in my pocket like grains of sand.

These have been mentioned, but to me they’re not just recommendations, but must reads:
Orson Scott Card - Ender’s Game
Philip K. Dick - the Valis trilogy (or Ubik is my favorite)
Neal Stephenson - Snow Crash

If you liked Simmons and Vinge, I’d recommend checking out the work of David Brin. If you want to try him out Glory Season is an excellent solo novel. If you’re feeling more ambitious, jump into the Uplift series which currently consists of six novels (start with Sundiver or Startide Rising.) Another author similar to the two you mentioned is George R.R. Martin. Personally, I feel his shorter work is his best, so I’d recommend one of his collections.

actually, Issac Asimov is a good author. i suggest you read the foundation “trilogy” and all those extra books he tacked on, and the whachamacallum series, you know, the one with Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw. and i think he co-authored this book called Nightfall. Nightfall is kinda crazy though. anyway, those are the books i’ve read from him, and i’m searching for the rest.

Just about anything by Philip K. Dick if you think you’d like a hard-to-describe mixture of psychodelic mysticism (particularly in his later books) and naive mid-20th century Americana (especially in his earlier ones.)
His Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? might be one of his best. It was later “made” into Bladerunner and can be also found under that title. The book was much more (philosophically) interesting and had a completely different feel to it than the action flick, though.

have you ever read any h. beam piper? it’s old, but good. the fuzzy stories.
and i loved lem’s the cyberaid, i just can’t figure out if he is (was?) a great writer or had a really great translator or both.
i also just read dragons egg by robert l.forward. it was pretty darn good. the sequel i did’t like so much, but it had words in it. so i read it.
i also highly reccomend double star, by heinlein. actually anything by heinlein is worth a read.

Gardner Dozois has edited several short story compilations that are usually pretty worthwhile.

Greg Egan’s done some good stuff, and I’ll echo the recommendation for Brin’s Uplift series (“Startide Rising” is my preferred one, but the other five are okay). I also enjoyed Jack McDevitt’s “Engines of God.”

I’ve got a long-term fondness for John Wyndham, but that might be just me :slight_smile: