Who are your favourite 'real' sf writers?

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posted on May, 28 2009 @ 05:07 AM
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reply to post by frayed1
 

I clicked the link you posted and read (more accurately skimmed) the Benet story. If I had a nickel for every description of post-holocaust New York I've read... but his must have been one of the first, at least in the genre. 1937, right? Kudos to him.

The photo at the bottom of the page makes him look like a comedy Japanese of that era, though...




posted on May, 28 2009 @ 08:37 PM
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Bump S&F. Anyone want to chat novels?

My favourite authors have to be

A C Clarke at the top. Then in no order

Peter F Hamilton
Michael marshall Smith
Greg Bear
Robert Reed
Stephen Baxter
and for comedy sci-fi

Robert Rankin

There were also some early Dean Koontz that straddled the sci-fi/horror line "Midnight" was fantastic.


The problem I have with following authors of any genre is that they have a period where they've still got ideas and they've learned their craft, and all the novels within that period are great. then the author goes into decline.

Of the ones I've listed above I'd most definitely put Stephen Baxter in the "in decline" pile. He had a good run though and his xelee novels actually were awesome. I believe this decline began more than half way through the four book 'Time' series. I no longer buy Baxter's works, only because the stories on the back covers always sound so dull. I have to get my mindblowing fix in novels from Robert Reed instead now, but he's not prolific enough for me.



posted on May, 28 2009 @ 08:38 PM
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Bump S&F. Anyone want to chat novels?

My favourite authors have to be

A C Clarke at the top. Then in no order

Peter F Hamilton
Michael marshall Smith
Greg Bear
Robert Reed
Stephen Baxter
and for comedy sci-fi

Robert Rankin

There were also some early Dean Koontz that straddled the sci-fi/horror line "Midnight" was fantastic.


The problem I have with following authors of any genre is that they have a period where they've still got ideas and they've learned their craft, and all the novels within that period are great. then the author goes into decline.

Of the ones I've listed above I'd most definitely put Stephen Baxter in the "in decline" pile. He had a good run though and his xelee novels actually were awesome. I believe this decline began more than half way through the four book 'Time' series. I no longer buy Baxter's works, only because the stories on the back covers always sound so dull. I have to get my mindblowing fix in novels from Robert Reed instead now, but he's not prolific enough for me.



posted on May, 29 2009 @ 12:55 AM
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reply to post by sharps
 


Anyone want to chat novels?

Why not, so long as folk take thought to put up spoiler warnings?

Any particular novel?

I have a particular fondness for first-contact stories. One I haven't read, though everyone tells me I should, is The Mote In God's Eye. Have you read it? And if you have, could you tell me whether any literary use is made of that brilliant title in the course of the novel, or is it just wasted?



posted on May, 29 2009 @ 04:22 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


Me too I love anything first contact. I think the fascination for me in these type of novels is a) how the two species bridge the gap of communication and culture b) The long range ramifications of contact on us, and c) What questions the protagonist asks, and in what order of importance he puts the questions. Strangely I think my first questions would be about Earth - what's really going down on this planet, is the history of the Earth as we see in science books or are we as ignorant of our past as I think we are.

One of my favourite films of all time is 'Contact', it's somewhat different to the book but it gets me everytime when she walks along the beach and meets her father. I reckon a caring benevolent race would perform first contact in a manner similar to this.

Have you read Ursula La Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. It's a supposed classic of 'contact' and sci-fi feminism. I did half a module on it a few years back. Most people rate it but I felt it was overrated although I enjoyed how the politics of the story mirrored what was happening in the West at the time.

In another Uni module we studied 'Solaris' by Stanislaw Lem. A fantastic story of a kind of first contact. It has my favourite all time sci-fi novel quote. Characters are discussing the way humans always anthromorphise everthing and that in space nothing changes.

"...We don't want other worlds, we want mirrors..."


Other types of sci-fi I love are 'generation starship' stories where the inhabitants have no idea they are on a spaceship. I read one once (won't say which or by who) where there was a planet inside the engine room. When I first began to suspect, I got goose bumps and kept them as I speed read to the reveal scene. Mind blowing! I love mindblowing. Which brings me to my other favourite type of sci-fi stories with mind blowing scale, stories that have the possibility of altering the course of the galaxy or indeed universe. Another that I read that shall remain nameless had two enemies either side of the universe fighting a war by throwing galaxies at each other!

Space operas are good too I've just finished Hamilton's Pandoras star and judas unchained. The first book I bought of his was The reality Dysfunction and I am ashamed to say I've had parts 2 and 3 for at least five years and haven't read them. It's been so long I feel to do the trilogy justice I'll have to reread the first one. I love the way hamilton just keeps throwing out these 1200 page epics. But I've never reread a novel in my life they just sit there on the shelf and make me feel safe and secure (bizarre reaction I know).

So in an attempt to warm myself up towards reading the night's dawn trilogy I have begun this week to reread Greg Bear's Eon. What a superb book.

Have you ever read 'Ender's Game' ? I think I'd have to rate that as the best sci-fi novel of all time. I can't reccomend it highly enough. It's one of those read in one sitting novels. It's a shame it'll probably never be made into a live action film. For obvious reasons once you've read it.

Finally no I haven't read The Mote in God's Eye but I love the title. I've just googled it read about one sentence and new I didn't want to know anymore about it. I do that with novels if I think are going to be great. I never read the back page and instead hope to get thrown into an adventure i know nothing about, Because I'm too good at guessing twists plots story arcs etc. I do a bit of sci-fi writng myself. I keep meaning one of these days to load one onto a forum to get feedback.

So what's your favourite sci-fi novel and, sci-fi qoute or line from a novel?

I think that's the longest post I've ever made anywhere!



posted on May, 29 2009 @ 04:32 PM
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Great news for me. all of these years I'd assumed Ender's Game was a solo novel. Wiki just informed me there's ten books in all and some short stories. I know where my book buying pennies are going for the foreseeable future.



posted on May, 30 2009 @ 06:36 AM
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Originally posted by sharps
a) how the two species bridge the gap of communication and culture

Enemy Mine by Barry B. Longyear. I haven't read the book; just the novella on which it is based, which was published years ago in, I think, Asimov's. I quit reading SF magazines years ago too. Too much dross.

Of course, Enemy Mine turns inward, like most SF does (your Solaris quote is right, but it also reflects a convention of the genre) to become a meditation on otherness, xenophobia and intolerance. One of my favourite FC stories.


b) The long range ramifications of contact on us,

I'm less enamoured of those 'They have been Watching Us for Millennia' numbers, possibly because the mother of them all, 2001: A Space Odyssey, was the first SF novel I read. Having said that, I love Iain M.* Banks's Culture novels, which take the whole concept to another level.


c) What questions the protagonist asks, and in what order of importance he puts the questions.

Hmmm... see above. I'm more of a realpolitik kind of guy, and I find it hard to see how two intelligent species could meet in the galaxy without either engaging in competition of some kind or else being completely irrelevant to each other. There's a great triple-first-contact novel by Frederik Pohl called Jem. It's a horrific allegory of late-Cold War-era geopolitics and a complete downer to read, but brilliant.


Strangely I think my first questions would be about Earth - what's really going down on this planet, is the history of the Earth as we see in science books or are we as ignorant of our past as I think we are.

As I said, I'm not too keen on having the privacy of my home planet invaded by peeping toms from outer space; fortunately, I also think their existence highly improbable for Drake Equation-related reasons. But assuming that such voyeurs existed, I would definitely want to ask them about all the naughty bits. Was the Empress Theodora... no, on second thoughts I'll leave the questions I would ask to your imagination; likewise their order of importance.



Have you read Ursula La Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. I felt it was overrated although I enjoyed how the politics of the story mirrored what was happening in the West at the time.

I've read it at least twice, most recently last year (after a lapse of nearly thirty years) to see how it stood up. I stands up very well indeed. The only elements that had aged were the space-travel ones, and as you'll recall they play a very minimal part in the story.

Off the top of my head, three things impress me about TLHOD

First, the realism of the politics (on the ground, not within the implausibly goody-goody Ekumen of which the book's narrator, Genly Ai, is the ambassador). The power struggles in court, the troubles of Estraven and so on are all very true to life. So are the attitudes and behaviour of the feudal-totalitarian society surrounding the court.

Second, and this is a commonplace with LeGuin - her male characters are brilliantly realized, always far better so than the female ones. She avoids the problem entirely in this novel by eliminating the ladies altogether. Her Gethenians are on the whole rather masculine than feminine, and she does them well. Paradoxically, the most feminine character in the book is the only indisputable male in it, the narrator, who is an Earthman. I suppose this is why the book is often hailed as a milestone in feminist literature.

The highest achievement, though, is the brilliant sexual concept at the heart of the novel. The Gethenians are human but hermaphrodites (no giveaway; it's explained early in the book), being by turns male and female in season. LeGuin works out the dynamics of the Gethenian sexual instinct and behaviour expertly, avoiding all probability pitfalls, and then uses it to drive the plot and add life to the characters.

Early LeGuin - before she went all earthmotherly and macrobiotic - is very, very good. Another classic, or near-classic, is The Dispossessed. Check it out if it's still in print. But then she went and drowned herself in Earthsea, an ocean of tears of her own creation, and became unbearable.


Have you ever read 'Ender's Game' ? I think I'd have to rate that as the best sci-fi novel of all time.

Ouch.

My own choice would be The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. But everybody reads for different reasons, and derives different pleasures from it. One man's meat, etc.


I never read the back page and instead hope to get thrown into an adventure...

Me too. What I do is read the first paragraph. If the author can write, and the introduction captures my attention, I'll keep going.

I never read song lyric sheets either.
 

*What is it with SF writers and middle initials?



posted on May, 30 2009 @ 09:20 AM
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H. Beam Piper

Uller Uprising is classic as is Space Viking.

A. Bertram Chandler

Thoroughly enjoyed his Rimworld Series.


Robert Silverberg

Still remember Hawksbill Station as a classic.



posted on Jun, 8 2009 @ 04:18 AM
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I have just begun reading The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus edited by Brian W. Aldiss. It's a brilliant collection, bringing together some of the greatest short stories ever published in the genre. Real SF fans will realize how good it is when I mention that it includes the following:

Lot by Ward Moore

Skirmish by Clifford D. Simak

Grandpa by James H. Schmitz

Nightfall by Isaac Asimov

Swarm by Bruce Sterling

Blood Music (originally a short story) by Greg Bear

Answer by Frederic Brown (the most famous SF short story ever written)

The Liberation of Earth by William Tenn

Night Watch by James Inglis

Great Work of Time by John Crowley

Of course, I've read more than a couple of these before, but I'm still enjoying the book immensely. It takes me back to the days when SF was a challenging literature of ideas - an era that ended with the day Star Wars was released, and 'sci-fi' was crowned King of Hollywood.



posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 03:33 PM
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Kurt Vonnegut is my all-time favorite. My favorite novel of his is Cat's Cradle. The best, IMO. Just the best.



posted on Jun, 12 2009 @ 04:53 AM
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reply to post by ravenshadow13
 

Vonnegut is a fine writer, but though his work is full of science-fiction furniture (aliens, intersterllar travel and so on) it is certainly not science fiction. It's unspecialized literary fiction that incorporates SF elements.

Vonnegut himself rejected the label: On Science Fiction by Kurt Vonnegut.

Doesn't mean we can't discuss him in the thread, though.



posted on Jun, 12 2009 @ 11:52 PM
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Originally posted by johnlocke
After 30 years of Sci-Fi fandom, my favorite still has to be Robert A. Heinlein.


Have you beat a bit in readership years (going on 45 now), but have to agree with your assessment of Heinlein. He is, in my opinion, the preeminent Science Fiction author of the 20th century.



posted on Jun, 13 2009 @ 12:13 AM
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I like all the classic guys. I'd guess that Frank Herbert is my favorite amongst the heavy hitters. Dune is very prophetic imo and I have a sneaking suspicion that there just may be a war against 'thinking machines' some day. -Hope the unaltered blood pumpers win.

For a lesser known author I enjoy the heck out of reading Jack Vance. The Dying Earth series is a lot of fun as are the Demon Prince and Tchai series'. Pretty light on the science but heavy on the human angle. Rather classic too in that hero rescues innocent babe from scumbag/thing and the like. I wish I could talk the way he writes just to mess with people



posted on Jun, 16 2009 @ 07:08 AM
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reply to post by beezwaxes
 

I'm interested in Vance chiefly as the man who influenced and inspired Jack Vance. I don't think I've ever read him, though. Time to make up for that. Any recommendations?



posted on Jun, 16 2009 @ 05:26 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


How rude of me not to reply! Sorry I must have been worse for wear when posting. I just rediscovered the thread.

Enemy Mine - only seen the dennis quad movie which for the time and the budget I thought was done fairly well. They covered the whole idea of enemies joining forces for survival quite well. Made me think of lost japanese soldiers in ww2, but unfortunately the idea has ben rehashed so many times since it's kind of ruined it for me.

2001- the first sci-fi film I ever saw. I think it was at that point that I realised I was different to the rest of my family. We all started watching it together but they got bored and switched over so I had to retreat to the black and white portable in the back room. I've read all the odyssey series and of course The Sentinel. I don't do heros but if I had to pick the nearest thing i had to one would be old clarkey (I really hope he was innocent of the pedophile allegations). As a series though I have to say I preferred 'Rendezvous...' the first instalment of which was my first ever 'grown up' sci-fi read. Clarkey's early stuff was so far ahead of his time. Much more so than any writers today I think. But I'll fully admit to having missed entire sections/authors of the genre. Take steam punk I couldn't bear that, but I loved a novel where all metal had been eaten by bugs and spaceships were wooden clockwork affairs.

I'm also not so keen on the they've been watching us forever scenario either and for the same reasons you give- you can't beat perfection. But I am interested in the long term ramifications to both species of contact. The clashes, compromises, mistakes, cultural differences, racism etc I think your right about how competition between races to.

Culture novels- I've bought about four of his sci-fi novels but the dreadful Feersum enjinn I abandoned him. Consider phlebas was superb though.

The Drake equation- is this the one used in the Foundation series? I'm vaguely aware of it but the problem with such equations are that they are assumptions built upon assumptions. The Fermi paradox makes me laugh because there are milliions of people worldwide who'd say 'they are here' and I tend to agree. I also have some sympathy for the Anthropic Principle.

TLHOD I tend to agree with most of what you say but I just don't rate it as highly.

RIGHT THEN what's up with Enders Game? I absolutely loved every page of it. And i kicked myself for not having come across the book years earlier. It's hard to come up with something original and I felt that it was oozing originality. The whole zero gravity training was pure class. I see this books influence on modern sci-fi and movies all the time. Shame it can't be filmed
until our governments release anti-grav tech


I'll have to check out 'the book of the new sun' is it a FC story?

Have you read Olaph stapledon's 'Starmaker' and 'the last and the first men'?
I bought them because i wanted to start reading the classics but although i love their premise I foud the reading tedious and neveer finished either. Same goes for Babel 13?. I must give 'the last and first...' another go because it and H G Wells' 'the shape of things to come' are both very prophetic.

Phew!!! that's it for now I'll check out everybody else's posts tomorrow.

edit because i'm disliterate

[edit on 16-6-2009 by sharps]



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 03:38 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
I'm interested in Vance chiefly as the man who influenced and inspired Jack Vance. I don't think I've ever read him, though. Time to make up for that. Any recommendations?

Oops.

What I meant to say was 'I'm interested in Vance chiefly as the man who influenced and inspired Gene Wolfe.'

In particular, The Book of the New Sun.

Sorry, all.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 04:52 AM
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reply to post by sharps
 


Enemy Mine - only seen the dennis quad movie which for the time and the budget I thought was done fairly well. They covered the whole idea of enemies joining forces for survival quite well.

Yes, it was a film too, wasn't it? I'd forgotten that.

In the original story the joining of forces for survival was just a plot device - the real focus was on the growing understanding and mutual identification between these representatives of two alien species. Perhaps that wasn't played up so much in the film. Did Jeriba give birth in the film?


the dreadful Feersum enjinn I abandoned him. Consider phlebas was superb though.

I think everyone finds Feersum enjinn heavy going at first and not just because of the weird phonetic spelling either - the opening sequence, that damn' antique locomotive race, is almost impossible to follow. Banks seems to have a weakness for set-pieces like that - the bizarre airship tournament in The Algebraist is another example. I recommend going back, though - the book comes good despite its bad beginning, and the final sequence and the ending (we only find out exactly what the 'feerum enjinn' is on the last page and man, is it fearsome!) are among Banks's best work.


The Drake equation- is this the one used in the Foundation series?

Nope, that was the fictional mathematics of psychohistory. The Drake Equation is an old estimate for the number of intelligent civilizations in the Galaxy.


RIGHT THEN what's up with Enders Game?

It's nothing but a badly written, morally repellent thriller.


Have you read Olaph stapledon's 'Starmaker' and 'the last and the first men'?

I've read Last & First Men. Like you, I abandoned it at the first reading and at the second. Twenty years later, older and more patient, I tried it again. Yes, the scope is quite wonderful for something written that long ago and yes, Stapledon was an imaginative and thoughtful writer. But frankly, you could go to your grave not having read it and miss nothing at all.


Babel 13?

Never heard of this. Could you tell me more?



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 06:13 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


The first Vance that I read was the 'Tschai Planet of Adventure' series many moons ago and I'd say it's a good place to start. Lite reading space opera but plenty of texture. Vance is known for his ability to paint a picture in your mind and these are good examples. Some of the characters remind me of people I work with so it's still probably my favorite JV. You can get the series in a single book now although the cover art is pretty cool on the old DAW's. -Amazon has the new one.

The 'Dying Earth' series gets a little macabre but pretty tame for these days I guess. Very entertaining imo. It's pretty much about a group of magicians in the far future although it's a future without much tech. -No need when you have magic. That comes in a compilation now too.

Just finished rereading the 'Demon Prince' series. If you like Vance, it's good. 5 books each about a 'Demon Prince' which in this case is a group of super criminals and the guy out to get revenge on them all.

There's more but those are my favorites. I discovered Vance after buying Douglas Barlow's guide to extraterrestrials when it came out then getting all the books from the illustrations that I hadn't read. So there's another way to find some reading.



posted on Jun, 20 2009 @ 04:35 PM
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reply to post by beezwaxes
 

This guy sounds like a stylist, or maybe a pervert. Right up my alley then.



posted on Jun, 20 2009 @ 10:41 PM
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I think I already recommended some in this thread, but I just read "Eon "and "Eternity" by Greg Bear, and will start "Legacy" soon. I'd never read anything by him before, but he's a great writer. Those are very 'hard'-sf, if that affects who might want to read him or not.





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