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Science Fiction; recommendations?
Topic Started: Mar 31 2010, 06:42 AM (6,385 Views)
Porphry
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Literary lunatic
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I couldn't find a specific sci-fi thread.
I love Philip K. Dick (the twelve or so books of his I've read), and I like William Gibson and Samuel Delany; Ian M. Banks was a teen favourite; but these are the only sci-fi authors I've tried reading, so I'm wondering if you could recommend anything else I might like? Nova Swing looks tempting, I think I've seen it recommended here. Mieville as well looks interesting, though I don't have room at the moment for a biggie like Perdido.
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redmill at domburg, 1911
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( ... untitled ... )
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Read M. John Harrison's Light before you read its "sequel", Nova Swing. Highly recommended. Below is a link to a thread on him. Enjoy:

http://z11.invisionfree.com/thefictionalwo...?showtopic=1364
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nnyhav
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also see pkd-xmas:
http://z11.invisionfree.com/thefictionalwo...?showtopic=3413
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oneofmurphysbiscuits
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hey Porphry, these are some of my favourite short sci fi/fantasy w orks


i should reread Roadside Picnic, but meanwhile and also

The left hand of darkness - every time i read the Le guin, and the further i get from it, the more i appreciate how carefully wrought is her world, the fears and fixities played out within

Gene Wolfe's "the fifth head of cerberus" - Ursula Le Giun has called him "..our Melville" and this will give you a taster, see if he's for you

and the MJH, as before
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suzannahhh
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we've gloried over Gene Wolfe in other threads:

http://z11.invisionfree.com/thefictionalwo...?showtopic=1495

and some here in the trilogies thread

http://z11.invisionfree.com/thefictionalwo...p?showtopic=290
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oneofmurphysbiscuits
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i've just bought "the book of the short sun" trillogy, having read just about everything else, i think. I all but worship of the temple of, barring my natural inclination not to be enjoined etc etc, but he works wonders
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You could start with contemporary stuff and work backwards. The 2010 Arthur C Clarke Shortlist has just been announced http://vectoreditors.wordpress.com/2010/03...ward-shortlist/

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Porphry
Mar 31 2010, 12:42 PM
Mieville as well looks interesting, though I don't have room at the moment for a biggie like Perdido.

City & the City is almost perfect.
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suzannahhh
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MArcel
s right about City and the City
and I've just looked at
Barrington Bayley
mentioned by Moorcock in the review
of China's book
anyone read anything of his?
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Canox
Apr 1 2010, 12:05 AM
Porphry
Mar 31 2010, 12:42 PM
Mieville as well looks interesting, though I don't have room at the moment for a biggie like Perdido.

City & the City is almost perfect.

I woudl review it but MIéville is daunting. I don't dare.
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I Am Not Hamlet
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How about J G Ballard, Thomas Disch, Neal Stephenson, and Harlan Ellison?
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oneofmurphysbiscuits
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ooh good catch, I am, Ballard especially

i still have to read the city and the city, but it's really perfect?

sorry, almost perfect, you said, right
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Porphry
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Thanks everyone! I think I'll go for Light first, and then Gene Wolf, who sounds amazing. And City and the City.
I've actually read some Ballard and Stephenson, Snow Crash was a teen favourite, and Ballard I've been meaning to read a whole lot more of.
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nnyhav
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http://myelvesaredifferent.blogspot.com/2011/01/asimov-number.html
http://myelvesaredifferent.blogspot.com/2011/01/lovecraft-number.html
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Funhouse
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The stars of modern SF pick the best science fiction

Ursula Le Guin picks, er, Virginia Woolf?

Quote:
 
You can't write science fiction well if you haven't read it, though not all who try to write it know this. But nor can you write it well if you haven't read anything else. Genre is a rich dialect, in which you can say certain things in a particularly satisfying way, but if it gives up connection with the general literary language it becomes a jargon, meaningful only to an ingroup. Useful models may be found quite outside the genre. I learned a lot from reading the ever-subversive Virginia Woolf.

I was 17 when I read Orlando. It was half-revelation, half-confusion to me at that age, but one thing was clear: that she imagined a society vastly different from our own, an exotic world, and brought it dramatically alive. I'm thinking of the Elizabethan scenes, the winter when the Thames froze over. Reading, I was there, saw the bonfires blazing in the ice, felt the marvellous strangeness of that moment 500 years ago – the authentic thrill of being taken absolutely elsewhere.

How did she do it? By precise, specific descriptive details, not heaped up and not explained: a vivid, telling imagery, highly selected, encouraging the reader's imagination to fill out the picture and see it luminous, complete.

In Flush, Woolf gets inside a dog's mind, that is, a non-human brain, an alien mentality – very science-fictional if you look at it that way. Again what I learned was the power of accurate, vivid, highly selected detail. I imagine Woolf looking down at the dog asleep beside the ratty armchair she wrote in and thinking what are your dreams? and listening . . . sniffing the wind . . . after the rabbit, out on the hills, in the dog's timeless world.

Useful stuff, for those who like to see through eyes other than our own.
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grechzoo
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Ender's Game was the first book that swept me off my feet, read it in one day and was blown away by every chapter.

Loved its sequel, Speaker for the Dead just as much, if not more. However from then, the remaining books in the series tail off, as do all of Card's works.

Bear in mind since reading those two, my tastes have progressed and changed vastly, and I haven;t gone back to them yet. So it could be they are not as well written as I remember.

However when I think about the above mentioned books, there is only fondness. :)

Also Dan Simmon's Hyperion is meant to be brilliant, on my shelf, yet to be read though.
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Jayaprakash
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I somehow find I don't love Gene Wolfe as much as I used to, which I may talk about in the Wolfe thread at some point. I still treasure his novel There Are Doors, though.

Adam Roberts is a good one to try for someone who likes PKD and Delany. He combines a deep knowledge of the genre's tropes with immense literary ambition. For my money, he is the best English SF writer of his generation. easily beating fan favourites like Peter F. Hamilton and Alistair Reynolds, but don't tell them I said that. His post-apocalyptic novel Snow is a great place to start , esp. if you're familiar with the novels of John Wyndham.


Ursula Le Guin once likened PKD to Borges, but I'd say that Ted Chiang's short stories are the closest thing to an SFnal version of Borges. The collection Stories Of Your Life And Others is the best short story collection to be released in the genre in ages.

Among older writers, Cordwainer Smith's stories play with different narrative techniques and offer a unique future history.

Two more SF writers from the UK who write stuff that is thought-provoking and of literary merit: Ian Watson and Christopher Priest.

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Ian Watson and Christopher Priest? I know the latter by name, but that's it. explain?

I know Priest wrote the novel that The Prestige is based on, but that's it.
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Jayaprakash
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Ian Watson is a British SF writer who has been at it since the late 70s. I've only read a very small fraction of his work, I'll try and explain why it has impressed me:

The Embedding, his first novel, is still among his best known probably because it won er some big-time SF award or other. In it, Ian Watson basically misunderstands a linguistic concept, but then uses that misunderstanding to build an amazing thought-structure that allows for reality to be manipulated and transformed in some very weird ways. I love it because it delivers the genuine shock of the truly strange, even numinous; something SF is a lot better at than a passing acquaintance with military SF or space opera might suggest. Adam Roberts explains it better: http://punkadiddle.blogspot.com/2011/05/ian-watson-embedding-1973.html


His short story collection, The Very Slow Time Machine suffered from some dodge gender and race business, but also delivered a variety of truly strange and hair-raising concepts, including the titular time machine, which basically has to move backwards in time to pick up the momentum it needs to travel into the future, intertwined with an exploration of messianic cultism. I cherish SF's ability to confront us with high strangeness and make us see our own world and universe in a different light at the same time. These stories do that a lot of the time.

As does another early novel, The Jonah Kit. A whale with a human-mind implant, a scientist who proves that our universe is just a ghost of reality, an ongoing dialogue between differing interpretations of reality and a memorable ending. SF that makes the intellect and the imagination tingle. That's pretty good, I think.

Christopher Priest is, maybe, a very British Philip K Dick? All his works that I've read revolve around some fundamental disjoint in the fabric of reality. They're also really well written, easily as good as the stuff that gets nominated for Bookers. I haven't read The Prestige but The Affirmation is a great place to dive in.
Edited by Jayaprakash, Jul 3 2011, 07:25 AM.
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ugh. I shouldn't have asked
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