Author Topic: Where to start with SciFi  (Read 5863 times)

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #50 on: September 11, 2013, 08:49:16 pm »
Bloody hell !  I forgot China Mieville !
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nicknack

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #51 on: September 11, 2013, 09:11:30 pm »
Bloody hell !  I forgot China Mieville !

Yes, indeed.

A totally bonkers imagination. Wonderful stuff.

Coincidentally, I finished Railsea 5 minutes ago.

Even creepier - I've just switched the tele on and Who Do You Think You Are are talking about salvage! (You need to read the book).
There's no vibrations, but wait.

Jakob

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #52 on: September 11, 2013, 11:11:34 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.

I have not read Hardwired, but I've lost count on how many times I've read the 2 others.

caerau

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #53 on: September 12, 2013, 02:00:28 am »
Incidentally, Frank Herbert's Dune got rather undersold earlier I thought.


It's quite simply one of the best books I've read - utterly brilliant.


Its sequels do, as mentioned slowly disappear up the author's butthole though.  Particularly from God Emperor (book 4) onwards - 2 and 3 are still pretty good.  Chapter House Dune is almost undreadable pretentious drivel.  For some reason I've read it twice and still don't understand it.


The modern ones bear no resemblance to the original series save they are set in the same universe.  They don't even possess the 'cleverness' of the originals -they're just bollocks.  I had a read of one once and decided I wouldn't bother after a couple of pages.
It was like The Stainless Steel rat meets sandworms with none of the charm of either series.


Dune though - just wow.  Never think it's anything like that awful Sting film.  It's a completely unfilmable book if ever there was one.


It's a reverse Elvis thing.

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #54 on: September 12, 2013, 09:06:40 am »
Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon is near future SF written from the perspective of an autistic savant.
I've bought two copies of that book. Both times lent them to people and they've never come back.

I don't think much of her other sf, but speed of dark is brilliant. Much much better than 'dog in the bloody nightime'.

Elizabeth Moon has a severely autistic son, I believe.
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red marley

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #55 on: September 12, 2013, 10:49:21 am »
If we provide too many more examples, Wunja will be back to square one (but that's not going to stop me).

I guess one thing to consider Wunja is whether you want to ease yourself in to Science Fiction, or are you looking for 'classics' of the genre, looking for what possibilities it has to offer etc.

To ease yourself in from more familiar literature I would recommend The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin. It's an accessible read but is literate by non-genre standards and contains some thought provoking political ideas. One of my favourite books of any genre.

Many (but by no means all) of the classics of Science Fiction originate from cold-war era American writers. As others have said, Ray Bradbury, Philip K Dick and Robert Heinlein among others have produced some of the classics of that period and are worth reading if that is what you are after. Personally, while Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury) and Stranger in A Strange Land (Heinlein) are both regarded as classics of the genre, I personally found both to be a little overrated. Reading them now may not be the best introduction to what the genre can offer. On the other hand I think Philip K Dick has produced some masterworks. As an introduction I'd consider Time Out of Joint or Ubik as typical of his mid-period stuff. If you like it, definitely consider his some of his later and more ambitious works such as A Scanner Darkly, VALIS,  and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.

As for more modern SciFi SF that uses the genre to explore form of writing among its themes, I'd second the suggestion of Feersum Endjinn by Ian M Banks. While a quarter of the book is written in phonetic English (as the title), it is surprisingly readable and a good introduction to Banks' science fiction work.

I am no expert in SciFi SF (case in point) and generally find 'difficult' literature, well, er, difficult. But one of the problems with it as a genre is the huge volume of trash. For example, while I loved Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat books when I was 14, in my view they are just that - books for 14 year olds (hiding behind a respectable veneer of pastiche).

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #56 on: September 12, 2013, 11:06:14 am »
Wunja, you may have noticed Philip K Dick getting quite a few mentions, there's a reason for that. If you haven't read SF, you may not have been familiar with his work. Actually, you are.

The well known films from his work include:
Minority Report (a short story originally)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep ? turned into Bladerunner
We Can Remember it for you Wholesale turned into Total Recall

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #57 on: September 12, 2013, 12:07:45 pm »
Incidentally, Frank Herbert's Dune got rather undersold earlier I thought.


It's quite simply one of the best books I've read - utterly brilliant.


Its sequels do, as mentioned slowly disappear up the author's butthole though.  Particularly from God Emperor (book 4) onwards - 2 and 3 are still pretty good.  Chapter House Dune is almost undreadable pretentious drivel.  For some reason I've read it twice and still don't understand it.


The modern ones bear no resemblance to the original series save they are set in the same universe.  They don't even possess the 'cleverness' of the originals -they're just bollocks.  I had a read of one once and decided I wouldn't bother after a couple of pages.
It was like The Stainless Steel rat meets sandworms with none of the charm of either series.


Dune though - just wow.  Never think it's anything like that awful Sting film.  It's a completely unfilmable book if ever there was one.




It's worth web-searching for the abortive Alexandro Jodorowsky Dune film project, which got as far as having concept artwork produced by Chris Foss H. R. Giger and Jean "Moebius" Giraud. It would have been an epic production, and probably an even bigger mess than the Lynch version - Salvador Dali as the Emperor Shaddam, anyone?  ;D

Dune, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune were turned into two mini-series for the Sci-Fi Channel, and were quite well received at the time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jodorowsky%27s_Dune
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Herbert%27s_Dune
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Herbert%27s_Children_of_Dune
"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

caerau

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #58 on: September 12, 2013, 12:28:19 pm »
Yes I saw those, they were not bad actually but as always a pale shadow of the books.  They didn't invent crap like 'weirding modules' like Lynch's film which was to their credit.  Certainly they were a valiant attempt at it  :thumbsup:
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #59 on: September 12, 2013, 12:56:28 pm »
It's not Sci Fi by the way.  It's SF.
Or are they different things? Or different ways of looking at the same thing? One of my cousins (who is a real clever scientist) used to be president (or chairman or lord high commander or whatever) of the British Speculative Fiction Society - so for them it was very much about exploring technological possibilities.

I've never thought of myself as liking S(cience) F(iction) but Kathy's post earlier makes me wonder. I enjoyed reading Oryx and Crake and the Handmaiden's Tale, and when I was a child I thought Peter Dickinson's Changes Trilogy was great (post-apocalyptic near future, non-nuclear, all on earth, no technologies, with a wizard - who is a drug addict - but no elves or dragons, all the characters are human) so perhaps I should just say I don't enjoy stories focusing on things beyond the present, human world.
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #60 on: September 12, 2013, 02:04:54 pm »
Harry Harrison was one of the authors that I read almost anything by in my early teens.  He wrote some more ‘serious’ SF and of those I would recommend ‘Captive Universe’.

He also wrote ‘Make Room, Make Room’ which was filmed as ‘Soylent Green’.  It’s arguably a good book but it is very depressing.

caerau

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #61 on: September 12, 2013, 02:24:09 pm »
The most depressing reads I've had have been Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant but that's straying into pure fantasy.  But they are proper grim when it comes to the dark side stuff. Of what I've read only Tolkein and him make the dark/evil characters really proper nasty and not cool in any way.

I'm reliably informed that Donaldson had also written some very darkly depressing Science Fiction too but as I haven't read it, nor remember what it even is, I wouldn't recommend it.
(Thomas Covenant books are excellent by the way, provided you can cope with reading about genocidal bad guys and a papist 'hero')
It's a reverse Elvis thing.

red marley

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #62 on: September 12, 2013, 02:31:42 pm »
(Thomas Covenant books are excellent by the way, provided you can cope with reading about genocidal bad guys and a papist 'hero')

Was that brought to us via the magic of autocorrect or did I miss a major theme in the books?

caerau

  • SR x 3 - PBP fail but 1090 km - hey - not too bad
Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #63 on: September 12, 2013, 02:34:59 pm »
 ;D ;D ;D :facepalm:


I would correct it but it is such a good mis-type I'm proud of it!  (why is there no rofl smiley around here?)

It's up there with a 'Hey Preston!' I once typed elsewhere - meaning Hey Presto! obviously ;)
It's a reverse Elvis thing.

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #64 on: September 12, 2013, 05:18:27 pm »
The most depressing reads I've had have been Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant but that's straying into pure fantasy.  But they are proper grim when it comes to the dark side stuff. Of what I've read only Tolkein and him make the dark/evil characters really proper nasty and not cool in any way.

I'm reliably informed that Donaldson had also written some very darkly depressing Science Fiction too but as I haven't read it, nor remember what it even is, I wouldn't recommend it.
(Thomas Covenant books are excellent by the way, provided you can cope with reading about genocidal bad guys and a papist 'hero')

Yes indeed, Jeez - if you think Donaldson's Covenant books are dark, his Gap series is a whole other level.

The characters Angus Thermopyle and Nick Succorso are properly nasty, misogynistic and evil. They're a good read though - but quite hard work at times, in a typically Donaldson way.

LEE

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #65 on: September 12, 2013, 05:32:53 pm »
Wunja, you may have noticed Philip K Dick getting quite a few mentions, there's a reason for that. If you haven't read SF, you may not have been familiar with his work. Actually, you are.

The well known films from his work include:
Minority Report (a short story originally)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep ? turned into Bladerunner
We Can Remember it for you Wholesale turned into Total Recall

I've read all of those books and seen al the films.

The similarity between the books and films can be a bit tenuous at best.

I much preferred the films tbh.

2001 - A Space Odyssey.  That's my recommendation. 

caerau

  • SR x 3 - PBP fail but 1090 km - hey - not too bad
Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #66 on: September 12, 2013, 05:36:10 pm »
The most depressing reads I've had have been Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant but that's straying into pure fantasy.  But they are proper grim when it comes to the dark side stuff. Of what I've read only Tolkein and him make the dark/evil characters really proper nasty and not cool in any way.

I'm reliably informed that Donaldson had also written some very darkly depressing Science Fiction too but as I haven't read it, nor remember what it even is, I wouldn't recommend it.
(Thomas Covenant books are excellent by the way, provided you can cope with reading about genocidal bad guys and a papist 'hero')

Yes indeed, Jeez - if you think Donaldson's Covenant books are dark, his Gap series is a whole other level.

The characters Angus Thermopyle and Nick Succorso are properly nasty, misogynistic and evil. They're a good read though - but quite hard work at times, in a typically Donaldson way.


Yep, those were the ones I was told about  :thumbsup:   They're more depressing than Covenant? - wow.
It's a reverse Elvis thing.

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #67 on: September 12, 2013, 05:39:07 pm »
The most depressing reads I've had have been Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant but that's straying into pure fantasy.  But they are proper grim when it comes to the dark side stuff. Of what I've read only Tolkein and him make the dark/evil characters really proper nasty and not cool in any way.

I'm reliably informed that Donaldson had also written some very darkly depressing Science Fiction too but as I haven't read it, nor remember what it even is, I wouldn't recommend it.
(Thomas Covenant books are excellent by the way, provided you can cope with reading about genocidal bad guys and a papist 'hero')

Yes indeed, Jeez - if you think Donaldson's Covenant books are dark, his Gap series is a whole other level.

The characters Angus Thermopyle and Nick Succorso are properly nasty, misogynistic and evil. They're a good read though - but quite hard work at times, in a typically Donaldson way.


Yep, those were the ones I was told about  :thumbsup:   They're more depressing than Covenant? - wow.

Not so much depressing, but dark. Sexually dark. Perverse. Much much more rapey than Covenant.

caerau

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #68 on: September 12, 2013, 05:43:28 pm »
I've seen people refuse to read Covenant because he is a rapist.


Yeeeessss.  But... it happens at the beginning and he spends like the next six books paying for it - big time.  And he's hardly a 'hero' in the conventional sense anyway.


I doubt I'll read the Gap series to be honest although I do find the prospect intriguing.  Some years ago now I bought the first book in the 3rd Chronicles of Covenant and I have never managed to actually bring myself to read it.  The second chronicles managed to be even darker and nastier than the first so I'm not sure I should read it in a house that possesses razorblades.
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microphonie

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #69 on: September 12, 2013, 06:16:50 pm »
I'll agree with the recommendations for:

Iain M Banks
M John Harrison
Philip K Dick
Jeff Noon

and add:

David Brin - the Uplift trilogies & Existence
Jon Courtney Grimwood - Arabesk trilogy (probably more futuristic thriller than SF)
Dan Simmons - the Hyperion Cantos or Illium/Olympos duology
Ian McDonald - Brasyl and River of Gods/Cyberabad Days
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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #70 on: September 12, 2013, 07:18:45 pm »
Wunja, you may have noticed Philip K Dick getting quite a few mentions, there's a reason for that. If you haven't read SF, you may not have been familiar with his work. Actually, you are.

The well known films from his work include:
Minority Report (a short story originally)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep ? turned into Bladerunner
We Can Remember it for you Wholesale turned into Total Recall
Another OT diversion: Dick has written 'straight' fiction. I read one - it was readable, odd, but a little dull. No surprise I can't remember the title ...

As for the film adaptations, i'd say they are good short stories, and the films are truly excellent examples of their genre.(well, MR is perhaps just average).
n.b. Bladerunner stole all of its style from Neuromancer, not the work of Dick.
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caerau

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #71 on: September 12, 2013, 07:46:33 pm »
Films are about short story length to be fair - probably why they fit so well.  A full length novel needs to be made into a very long film to do the book justice in my view.
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mattc

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #72 on: September 12, 2013, 07:56:51 pm »
Films are about short story length to be fair - probably why they fit so well.  A full length novel needs to be made into a very long film to do the book justice in my view.
+1

Also, you can just steal the basic idea and write a cinematic script round it. Cos noone reads shorts,  you avoid too many fans whinging about what you missed out, how the hero is too short, or the hobbits have too many toes, and how - inexplicably - it just wasn't very much like the book ... ad nauseum ...
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No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

red marley

Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #73 on: September 12, 2013, 08:27:46 pm »
I realise this is veering OT, but by coincidence I've just read Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption today as I was interested to see what they'd changed to make the film. The answer is very little. Those changes they did make were all for the better - the book has several prison governors; big bad warden hardly features; there is no elaborate bookkeeping sting, and Red isn't Morgan Freeman. Most of Red's narration is lifted straight out of the book and the characterisation pretty similar (although it is very hard not to see Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman when reading it). I guess Stephen King knows how to write cinemticgraphically, but the film was just about the perfect book adaptation.

Back to slightly nearer the topic, I think by far the most faithful PKD film adaptation is A Scanner Darkly. While a short story typically has about the right amount of plot for a film and SF especially is ripe for good filmic plots, a full novel allows a greater depth of characterisation and narrative style. PKD's mid to later works certainly had that speed-fuelled paranoic quality to them, captured perfectly in A Scanner Darkly.

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Re: Where to start with SciFi
« Reply #74 on: September 12, 2013, 08:28:05 pm »
Matt, Bladerunner was released while Neuromancer was being written.
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