Author Topic: Where to start with SciFi  (Read 5733 times)

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #25 on: September 11, 2013, 03:36:07 pm »
Also, what do you mean by "Sci Fi"?

That's a rather deep rabbit hole in which to jump: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ScienceFiction
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #26 on: September 11, 2013, 03:46:47 pm »
Kim Stanley Robinson is very good.
The Mars Trilogy are great hard SF with lots of sociology and politics thrown in for good measure.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2013, 04:05:44 pm »
Can I point out the Harry Harrison also wrote some excellent serious Sci-Fi too.


Try One Step from Earth and his Discworld series (I think that's what the trilogy is called - the individual novels are Starworld, Wheelword and Homeworld I think) - I thought they were good.


His best parody for me was Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers which is a real pisstake of Space Opera but I did last read it when I was about 12 so I dunno if it's any good for adults.


Many people find C. Clarke and Azimov very dry - which is kind of fair comment really.


I though Arthur C. Clarke's best book was Childhood's End - brilliant stuff!  Rendevous with Rama is a decent second although its sequels (as mentioned) suck big time - particularly the later ones.
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caerau

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2013, 04:14:38 pm »
Incidentally, you might want to think about what you might like in Sci-Fi as it covers a range of styles broadly described as


Hard Sci-Fi - this is the driest stuff generally, Azimov and Clarke were big authors here - this focuses on real science and what might actually be possible in the future.  Can still be very good though - I certainly like it.

Soft Sci-Fi.  Star Trek is a good example.  Lots of sciency stuff but really a lot of it is fantasy.  "How does the intertial dampner work mister Roddenberry?" - "Very well thankyou".   Makes for some cracking stories though :-)

Space Opera- essentially Swords and Scorcery Fantasy set in space with laser guns and big fuck-off ships.  Think Star Wars. It gets me a bit that people even classify this as Sci-Fi really.  Being in space doesn't really make things 'scientific'.  Can also be excellent though of course :-)
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2013, 04:30:19 pm »
Yes, knowing what scifi is seems to be part of my problem. In my yoof I read Triffids and the Midwitch Cuckoos, and others such as the Death of Grass, but I had not considered them as science fiction, probably because they are set on Earth and didn't have robots that said 'bleep'. I don't consider Hitchhiker's Guide as scifi either.
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2013, 04:39:47 pm »
Incidentally, you might want to think about what you might like in Sci-Fi as it covers a range of styles broadly described as


Hard Sci-Fi - this is the driest stuff generally, Azimov and Clarke were big authors here - this focuses on real science and what might actually be possible in the future.  Can still be very good though - I certainly like it.

Soft Sci-Fi.  Star Trek is a good example.  Lots of sciency stuff but really a lot of it is fantasy.  "How does the intertial dampner work mister Roddenberry?" - "Very well thankyou".   Makes for some cracking stories though :-)

Space Opera- essentially Swords and Scorcery Fantasy set in space with laser guns and big fuck-off ships.  Think Star Wars. It gets me a bit that people even classify this as Sci-Fi really.  Being in space doesn't really make things 'scientific'.  Can also be excellent though of course :-)

Cyberpunk - set in the near future but the topic is really the present.  About technology that is soft and that sticks to the skin
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caerau

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #31 on: September 11, 2013, 04:45:37 pm »
I knew someone would come in with Cyberpunk after my post  :thumbsup: - yes there are many subgenres.


I like Neal Stephenson's Diamond age - it pretended to be Cyberpunk and then transformed into true Hard Sci-Fi.




Triffids and that are definitely Sci-Fi for me.  John Wyndham's stuff is certainly good and kind of hard to judge as Sci fi at times but I think they count.


If you want a classic - try Aldous Huxley's Brave New World  or Orwell's 1984.


It's all is dramatically different from one author to the next it's impossible to gauge it all.




Douglas Adam's stuff is basically comedy Space Opera I'd say.
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #32 on: September 11, 2013, 04:55:08 pm »
It's worth mentioning that SF as a genre is one where the short story can really work well, and is probably a very good starting point.

Kim

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #33 on: September 11, 2013, 05:03:29 pm »
I've been on an early science fiction kick of late.  Jules Verne, HG Wells, that sort of thing.  The stuff that created the genres I grew up with, but never actually got round to reading.  I'm finding it fascinating from a sociological and history of science viewpoint (the conceived propulsion system of the Nautilus says an awful lot about the state of electrical engineering in the 1860s, for example, and the book in general is practically a homage to the Victorian classification-is-all approach to biology).

In that vein, how about M. P. Shiel's The Purple Mist.  One of the defining works of the post-apocalyptic genre.

Top tip: Older hard SF is always best appreciated with googlepedia on standby to translate the wacky units and archaic chemical names into something that makes sense.
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Kim

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #34 on: September 11, 2013, 05:04:02 pm »
It's worth mentioning that SF as a genre is one where the short story can really work well, and is probably a very good starting point.

Very much this.

Colin Kapp's Unorthodox Engineers stories are quite good.  As well as the usual Clarke, etc.
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #35 on: September 11, 2013, 05:07:16 pm »
I'd say that space opera is more a question of scale than of scientific hardness - some space fantasy is also space opera, but not all space opera is space fantasy.

Star Wars qualifies as space fantasy for the wizardry (i.e. the Force, and the Jedi and Sith orders of force adepts), not to mention the fantasy/folk story tropes invoked throughout, but the galactic-scale setting and technology (can we say Kardashev Scale here?) also puts it in the space opera sub-genre as well.
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2013, 05:56:43 pm »
It's not Sci Fi by the way.  It's SF.

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #37 on: September 11, 2013, 06:09:10 pm »
Gibson
Banks
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caerau

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #38 on: September 11, 2013, 06:10:53 pm »
Not Syfy then? ;)


Although I brought up Soft, Hard etc.  I do prefer not to delve too deeply into genre classifaction - that way one treads the dangerous path from Geekdom to Nerd-dom and one does not want to go to far down that path. :-*
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #39 on: September 11, 2013, 06:36:17 pm »
Depends on your taste. What fiction non-sci-fi have you read and enjoyed?

Mostly crime or thrillers.

the first 3 William Gibson books (Neuromancer ... ) are definitely SF but they're also my favourite thrillers! Great if you love a bit of noir (they owe rather a lot to Chandler).

(the later ones are great too)

It's not Sci Fi by the way.  It's SF.
I've been reading the stuff since (er.... )before 1980, and I'm happy with either term. You call it what you want :)
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2013, 06:44:03 pm »
Tau Zero by Poul Anderson.

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #41 on: September 11, 2013, 06:52:49 pm »
Depends on your taste. What fiction non-sci-fi have you read and enjoyed?

Mostly crime or thrillers.

the first 3 William Gibson books (Neuromancer ... ) are definitely SF but they're also my favourite thrillers! Great if you love a bit of noir (they owe rather a lot to Chandler).

I was about to say William Gibson was a pretty good bridge, Charles Stross Rule 34 / Halting State too. I'm not much of one for the spaceships sort of SciFi though.

Hillbilly

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #42 on: September 11, 2013, 07:41:27 pm »
I did a similar thing about 2 years ago.  What I did was did a "100 greatest Sci-Fi books" search on google and then looked down them to see what sounded interesting plots.  I also stumbled across a couple of books via Amazon recommends and friends recommending I look at some titles.

In the end, three books that have stuck with me are:

Jeff Noon - Vurt
Phillip K. Dick - Ubik
Joe Haldeman - The Forever War

I've read a few others over the past 18 months or so.  Some Sci-Fi is interesting.  Some is twaddle.  But they generally have an interesting idea buried in them.

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #43 on: September 11, 2013, 07:47:55 pm »
Wunja, I apologise for coming late to this discussion and allowing so many people to distract you with their "opinions" on SF.  OMG.

Nobody has mentioned A.E. van Vogt.  His work, "Voyage of the Space Beagle" is the place to start.

After that you can listen to everyone else.
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #44 on: September 11, 2013, 07:51:17 pm »
Hieros Journey,  Sterling E Lanier = magic.

The original Dune Saga is also extremely well written.
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mattc

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #45 on: September 11, 2013, 08:10:22 pm »
If you'll forgive me:
Douglas Adam's stuff is basically comedy Space Opera I'd say.
Slightly OT this ... but a friend once told me he'd never read/listened/watched HHGTTG cos
"I don't like Science Fiction"

I felt this was like avoiding Blackadder cos of its costume drama content.
Has never ridden RAAM
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #46 on: September 11, 2013, 08:11:20 pm »
Alan Dean Foster  :facepalm:

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #47 on: September 11, 2013, 08:23:12 pm »
Stand on Zanzibar & The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner.  M John H
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #48 on: September 11, 2013, 08:27:03 pm »
Bloody Tapatalk!

M John Harrison's Light and its sequels, his Viruconium fantasy stuff is good as well.

Most stuff by Gibson, Banks, Reynolds & Stross.   Ken McLeod is good as well.

Lots more, but my battery is dying.

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #49 on: September 11, 2013, 08:47:51 pm »
Blindsight by Peter Watts is an excellent first contact novel, available to download free. Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Noon is near future SF written from the perspective of an autistic savant.

Ursula le Guin is worth reading. Thoughtful stuff where shooting or blowing shit up is not usually on the menu.
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