Author Topic: Where to start with SciFi  (Read 5728 times)

Vince

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Where to start with SciFi
« on: September 11, 2013, 01:48:17 pm »
OK, I seem to have completely bipassed science fiction as a genre and I'm thinking I should rectify this. So please can I have some suggestions of good books for a novice of this area?
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2013, 01:57:21 pm »
Depends on your taste. What fiction non-sci-fi have you read and enjoyed?
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Wascally Weasel

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2013, 02:08:09 pm »
There’s all sorts of stuff to suggest –

Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ series is definitely worth a look.

Arthur C Clarke’s ‘Rendezvous with Rama’ – there are sequels but the later ones are co-written and I’m not a fan.  He also writes female very, very poorly in my view.

Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ novels tend to divide opinion with a love/hate even within the SF community/.  For me I love the original but find the successive novels an exercise in diminishing returns.  Avoid the ones co-written by his son and another author.

For more modern SF Iain M Bank’s SF (mostly set within the universe of The Culture) is definitely worth a read in fact I would recommend ‘The Player of Games’ as a great first SF read.

Bob Shaw’s ‘The Ragged Astronauts’ is an enjoyable read, as is the sequel (part of a sadly incomplete trilogy).

I’m a big fan of ‘Lord Valentine’s Castle’ by Robert Silverberg.

Jeff Noon is interesting, if a little cold – try either ‘Vurt’ or ‘Pollen’.

Neal Stephenson’s early books are very readable, especially ‘The Diamond Age’ and ‘Snowcrash’.

I’m a big fan of ‘The Forever War’ by Joe Haldeman too.

Loads more out there!

Vince

  • Can't climb; won't climb
Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2013, 02:11:16 pm »
Depends on your taste. What fiction non-sci-fi have you read and enjoyed?

Mostly crime or thrillers.

Loads more out there!

Yeah, thats the problem!
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Wascally Weasel

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2013, 02:14:23 pm »
Depends on your taste. What fiction non-sci-fi have you read and enjoyed?
Mostly crime or thrillers.

Then definitely try ‘Snowcrash’ by Neal Stephenson.  Also try ‘Altered Carbon’ by Richard Morgan and ‘Hardwired’ by Walter Jon Williams.

RJ

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2013, 02:22:03 pm »
I'm not a sci-fi buff at all, but am really enjoying working my way through Iain M Banks's oeuvre, as much if not more than his M-less "straight" novels. 

Thoroughly recommended.

simonp

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2013, 02:23:12 pm »
The Wool Trilogy by Hugh Howey. Starts with Wool, then prequel Shift and ends with Dust.

For short SF, Asimov's Nightfall collection. Foundation Series as mentioned and also his Robot novels and short stories.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nine_Billion_Names_of_God - by Arthur C Clarke

Various by Greg Bear particularly Blood Music and Moving Mars.


Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2013, 02:25:03 pm »
Depends on your taste. What fiction non-sci-fi have you read and enjoyed?

Mostly crime or thrillers.

Loads more out there!

Yeah, thats the problem!

Try Peter Hamilton - Greg Mandel series
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindstar-Rising-Greg-Mandel-1/dp/0330537741/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1378905742&sr=8-14&keywords=Peter+F.+Hamilton

'Player of Games' and 'Use of Weapons' are also excellent starters.
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Charlotte

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2013, 02:32:06 pm »
Get a copy of Ready Player One and work your way through the authors that the protagonist namechecks, starting off with their most popular stuff:

Quote
- Douglas Adams
- Kurt Vonnegut
- Neil Stevenson
- Cory Doctorow
- Richard K. Morgan
- Stephen King
- Orson Scott Card
- Terry Pratchett
- Terry Brooks
- Alfred Bester
- Ray Bradbury
- Joe Halderman
- Robert A. Heinlein
- J.R.R. Tolkein
- Jack Vance
- William Gibson
- Neil Gaiman
- Bruce Sterling
- Michael Moorcock
- John Scalzi
- Roger Zelazny

Ready Player One is definitely one of the best SF books I've read recently - and it's like a who's who of SF, popular culture and internet memes.
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simonp

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2013, 02:40:11 pm »
Charlotte's post leads me to a question: are we talking Hard S.F. or Fantasy?

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2013, 02:43:52 pm »
All those are good, but for some obscure reason, one is missing that really really shouldn't be.

Philip K Dick

Oh, and if you fancy an SF laugh - Harry Harrison

Ruth

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2013, 02:48:34 pm »
Where's Arthur C Clarke?

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2013, 02:49:34 pm »
Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ novels tend to divide opinion with a love/hate even within the SF community/.  For me I love the original but find the successive novels an exercise in diminishing returns.  Avoid the ones co-written by his son and another author.

Kevin J. Anderson is the other author.

Author existence failure is a tricky issue for multi-book series, Gordon R. Dickson's Dorsai sequence being another example.

Props for mentioning Hardwired, which someone really should have the balls to make into a film or a miniseries - the use of the present tense makes the book read like a screenplay. I'm also quite fond of Voice Of The Whirlwind, which is a sequel of sorts (or at least, set in the same universe, decades later).
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vorsprung

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2013, 02:50:13 pm »
I didn't like Wascally Weasel's list ( but I agree on Jeff Noon and Neal Stephenson)  so here's mine


A Canticle for Leibowitz   Walter M. Miller, Jr.

The Outcasts of Heavens Belt    Joan D Vinge

The Word for World Is Forest    Ursula K. Le Guin  ( I like a lot of her stuff  )

The Drowned World    JG Ballard

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch  Phillip K. Dick ( in fact almost all of PKD's novels are fabulous, the other favourite is "Martian Time Slip")

The Time Traveler's Wife  Audrey Niffenegger

The Shape of Things to Come   HG Wells

The Ballad of Halo Jones  Alan Moore





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vorsprung

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2013, 02:53:53 pm »
..and 'Use of Weapons' are also excellent starters.

I read 'Use of Weapons' recently and found it to be piss poor.  Apparently this was Mr Bank's first, unpublished novel that was later published when he became famous
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Pedal Castro

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2013, 02:54:13 pm »
+1 for Altered Carbon

and obviously Philip K Dick

+ HG Wells and John Wyndham

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2013, 02:56:17 pm »
There’s all sorts of stuff to suggest –

Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ series is definitely worth a look.

Seconded, though the first three are the best, and Asimov writes females pretty badly in all of them (but worse in the later books where he's making a conscious effort to include female characters and doing it so very, very badly).

There's always the Stainless Steel Rat and various other books by Harry Harrison which are fun, although many of them are Sci Fi Parody.

If you like short stories which verge on poetry, then Ray Bradbury, although some of his longer works (The Martian Chronicles (aka The Silver Locusts in some editions) and Fahrenheit 451 are definitive of the genre.

Also definitely John Wyndham (apart from Web, which is awful) and Halo Jones.
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2013, 02:57:22 pm »
Harry Harrison

Gods, yes - the Stainless Steel Rat books are a hoot, though I'd stop at The Stainless Steel Rat for President - some of the more recent ones were somewhat inferior.
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vorsprung

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2013, 02:57:47 pm »
Where's Arthur C Clarke?

Sri Lanka.  He died there in 2008 and was buried
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2013, 03:00:25 pm »
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tiermat

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2013, 03:11:05 pm »
For an easy start I would look at Anne McCaffery's early work (The Ship Who Sang especially) and then go onto the Pern books.  the first few come across as Fantasy books with hints of Sci-Fi, but by the time you get to The Dolphins of Pern, the inhabitants have managed to get some of the tech working and the becomes very much a cross-over.

For my money I find "Feersum Injuns" (SP?) the best if IMB's books.

Asimov wrote a number of short stories which are quick to read and lead you into more detailed, longer Sci-Fi, or not, if you can't get on with them.
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #21 on: September 11, 2013, 03:16:48 pm »
I thought the Pern books were great when I was 10. Not sure they really work for many adults.
The Crystal Singer books are the other way round.

Julian May's Galactic Milieu series is good but you have to start with 'The Intervention'.
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2013, 03:21:28 pm »
Also, what do you mean by "Sci Fi"? Do you want rockets and robots and televisor screens? Asimov/Bradbury. Do you want the 1950s England destroyed by monsters? Wyndham's Triffids. Near-Future dystopia?  Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake trilogy. Post-nuclear apocalyptic dystopian future*? Wyndham's Chrysalids.


*Growing up in the 1980s/1990s, practically almost all my childhood reading was post-nuclear apocalyptic - Nicholas Fisk, Ann Halam's Inland trilogy, Louise Lawrence's Children of the Dust, Robert Westall's Futuretrack 5, Robert C O'Brien's Z for Zachariah, Robert Swindells' Brother in the Land... The school library was pretty much a "how-to" guide for coping with nuclear fall-out!
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fboab

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2013, 03:27:31 pm »
I like (already mentioned)

Ursula Le Guin
Asimov's Foundation stuff
John Wyndham
Dune (but agree with WW about sequels)
Julian May
Margaret Atwood

Not yet mentioned

Larry Niven (and his collaborations with Pournelle & Barnes)

and when I was littler

Heinlein.

However. Some of them are shite, and I know it's shite- poor characterisation, immense plot holes, etc etc but I like them anyway.

Why do you think you're missing something?
I've read hardly any Westerns (unless you count Cormac McCarthy) or War Things (unless you count Hemingway or HE Bates) and y'know, I can carry on my whole life like that.
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tiermat

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2013, 03:28:30 pm »
I thought the Pern books were great when I was 10. Not sure they really work for many adults.
The Crystal Singer books are the other way round.

Julian May's Galactic Milieu series is good but you have to start with 'The Intervention'.

It must be my inner 10 yr old that likes them, then :)
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State