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Rein
2003-Apr-24, 01:23 PM
informant recommended me to start a new thread on this one, where we were talking about novels instead of movies. My favourite is Contact (the fact is I'd only read just a handful of sci-fi though).

I found it appealing because first of all the background of the story was not in the future. This somehow conveyed a very practical feeling, since all the details mentioned were rigid & hardcore science. (apart from the trip to the center of the galaxy). Secondly, the whole contact procedure also seemed to be very rational and reasonable etc...there're really so much nice ideas in the book. One thing I didn't like about it though. Inspite of criticizing creationism for speculating an all-powerful being, the end of the book seemed to contradict with the author's point of view. The circle in pi definitely meant that there're someone powerful enough to manipulate the structure of space-time. Doesn't that sound pretty much like God? I think Carl used the debate to express his view on christianity, but towards the end it seemed like he's hoping for something similar after all.

dgruss23
2003-Apr-24, 01:57 PM
I would have to say that Isaac Asimov's Nightfall is very close to if not my favorite.

nexus
2003-Apr-24, 02:01 PM
I like Contact too, I also like stuff by Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. When I read Dune years ago I thought it was my favorite SF book, but I'm not sure now.

Tzuk_Te
2003-Apr-24, 02:27 PM
Wow, how can you pick just one when there are so many good SF novels out there? I just finished reading Perdido Street Station by China Mieville and thought it was great. I am now reading Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series and highly recommend it as well. Otherwise, I tend to like authors, heres a list!

Iain M Banks - Use of Weapons is my favorite here
David Brin - Startide Rising of course
Tim Powers - The Anubis Gates and Declare although I really like just about everything from him.

I know there's more, those are just the ones off the top of my head.

Grand Vizier
2003-Apr-24, 02:32 PM
Really hard one to call. It would be bad enough thinking up a Top Ten. Since this is an astronomy board, two (non-astro/astro) are needed.

Top general SF: Philip K Dick - The Man in The High Castle (I read a lot of alternate history, but this works as a great novel, not just a sort of academic 'what-if' like, for example, Harry Turtledove's stuff).

Top space/astronomy-related SF: Iain M Banks - The Player of Games (OK, there's not a whole lot of science, but there's a fair bit of astrophysical engineering in the Culture novels)

mutant
2003-Apr-24, 02:45 PM
My two favorite sci-fi novels are Enders Game by Orson Scott Card and Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. Van Vogt.
Enders Game has several sequels the best of which I think is Enders Shadow.

CJSF
2003-Apr-24, 03:00 PM
The Madness Season, by C. S. Friedman is one of my faves.

CJSF

informant
2003-Apr-24, 03:36 PM
Since I was criticizing Clarke in another thread, let me balance the scales by saying that he's written some true science fiction classics, like Rendezvous with Rama, Childhood's End, and many of his short stories.

captain swoop
2003-Apr-24, 03:44 PM
Hal Clement is good

and a couple of the guys who write the Dr Who books are good.

OK I know they aren't in the same 'class' as the list that you are all making

snowcelt
2003-Apr-24, 04:35 PM
Very hard to pick a favorite. Dune is fantastic, A.E. van Vogt's Slan was very good. But the one that struck me most had to be Walter Miller Jr's A Canticle for Liebowitz!

jokergirl
2003-Apr-24, 04:45 PM
I would say Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and of course Orwell's 1984, but both are rather dystopias than "hardcore" science fiction.

Of hardcore Scifi, I'll nominate AC Clarke (loved Childhoods End and the 2001 books!), the Hitchhiker books (well, at least the first 2-3), PK Dick's stories and William Gibson's Neuromancer trilogy.

But there's still so many books, so little time...

;)

R.A.F.
2003-Apr-24, 09:17 PM
My favorite, the one that still sticks in my mind, is an old short story by Isaac Asimov named "Victory Unintentional".

It concerns three robots sent to Jupiter to negotiate a peace treaty between the Earthers and the Jovians.

The Jovians are impressed by the abilities of the robots and decide that war with the Earth would be suicidal.

Only at the end do the robots realise that the Jovians had mistaken them for humans.

It's a comical story (the three robots are really funny) and it would be very hard to believe that it could actually happen...but it's fun and I really think it's one of his better stories...Asimov didn't...he hated it.

Wingnut Ninja
2003-Apr-25, 01:02 AM
Asimov wrote a lot of very funny, charming robot stories. :)

I like just about anything written by David Brin. Earth is very cool.

g99
2003-Apr-25, 04:12 AM
Favortie Sci-Fi books? Phew this will be a long list. Well of those i can remeber:

Enders game by Orson scott card
Jurassic Park by Michael crichton
Straship Troopers by heinlen
Red planet by heinlen
Space cadet by heinlen
Forever war by haldeman
(who happens to live here in gainesville, really cool. :-) )
Area 51 series by Robert Doherty
On the beach by Nevil Shute
The lost regiment series by William R. Forstchen
The World war and Colonization series by Turtledove
Raptor Red by Robert Bakker
and many more that escape me right now. I'll post more as they come to me.

But if i had to choose my number one book:

Jurassic Park. And for more reasons than the book itself and the movies.

Wunderhund
2003-Apr-25, 04:50 AM
I can't believe no one has mentioned the Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. Very well-researched hard sci-fi that addresses a lot of the scientific hurdles of terraforming Mars in the 21st century and beyond.

I also liked Contact, and I thought the point of the "circle in pi" at the end, as well as the hyperspace tunnels of unknown origin, were simply Sagan's nod to the fact that while things like creationism may be silly, there are things in the universe we haven't yet begun to understand.

ocasey3
2003-Apr-25, 04:57 AM
I just discovered David Brin and I loved Earth as well as Heart of the Comet with Benford.

Along those same lines, I also loved Larry Niven's (and someone else's) books Lucifer's Hammer and Footfall.

As a kid my faves were Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. As an adult, I love Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, Time Enough for Love and Number of the Beast was a lot of fun.


Though not strictly ScFi, I love Anne McCaffrey's Pern books.

Other Favorites include:

Dawn - Octavia Butler
Dune
Contact
Integral Trees
The Foundation Books
Hitchhiker books
The Ringworld books.

And I can't stand L. Ron Hubbard. Started the Decology of his and was bored beyond belief. Battlefield Earth was at least interesting. I read these before I knew his connection with Scientology. We all make mistakes. :roll:

informant
2003-Apr-26, 05:39 PM
I just discovered David Brin and I loved Earth as well as Heart of the Comet with Benford.

Then you should read Glory Season, and his Uplift series: Sundiver, Startide Rising, The Uplift War, Brightness Reef, Infinity's Shore, and Heaven's Reach.


Along those same lines, I also loved Larry Niven's (and someone else's) books Lucifer's Hammer and Footfall.

You mean Jerry Pournelle? (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0449208133/qid=1051378488/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-1824948-7079110?v=glance&s=books)

David Hall
2003-Apr-27, 01:21 AM
So hard to list favorites. When I was younger, just about every book I picked up became my new favorite.

Seriously, all you really have to do is name the Big 3 authors and you have about 50% of the greatest stories right there. Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein have written more good SF than most of the rest of the pack combined. Add a smattering of great second-generation authors like Herbert, Niven, LeGuin, Forward, William Gibson, and you've got quite an impressive list going.

Here are some of the stories I remember most: the Foundation series, Nightfall, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, Rendevous with Rama, The City and the Stars, 2001, Dune, The Left Hand of Darkness, Dragon's Egg, Contact, and just about everything by Niven. This is just a quick list though. If I wanted to be thorough I'd have to list most of Heinlein, for example. :-) I'm no doubt forgetting a ton of other deserving titles as well.

One less well-kown author I like is Brian Herbert, son of the great Frank Herbert. I've read two of hs really quirky novels --Sidney's Comet, and Sudanna, Sudanna-- that prove he has a real knack for describing strange cultures. I hope to dig up the rest of his library someday.

The best treatment of an alien race I've ever seen is Niven and Pournelle's The Mote in God's Eye. That has got to be one of the most incredible works of fiction I've ever read. Get it, read it, enjoy it!

But seriously, the most memorable of all the SF stories I've read is Clarke's Childhood's End. The reason is that this is the one and only book that has ever moved me to actual tears, the ending was just that emotional. Any book that can cause that much of a gut reaction has to go to be near, if not at, the top of the list. :-)

Colt
2003-Apr-27, 02:55 AM
Niven and all of the Known Space authors.. I love them. Also Clarke. :D -Colt

Rein
2003-Apr-27, 12:58 PM
But there's still so many books, so little time...


Exactly :D. There seem to be so many interesting titles, and in fact I'd read none of them recommended here before :oops: . But I prepare to 'munch' some starting from 2 weeks later (having college final year exam now..yeah!), starting from some of the Big Three's .

QuagmaPhage
2003-Apr-27, 03:50 PM
Arthur C. Clarke is definetely my favorite author, followed by Stephen Baxter.
I like Baxter's Xeelee Sequence books, Timelike Infinity, Ring and Vacuum Diagrams especially because of the cutting edge science. Clarke also came up with the idea for The Light of other Days which was cowritten with Baxter. The basic idea is a device that can show events in the present and the past and the effects it has on society. A similar idea was mentioned in Clarke's Childhood's End.

Baxter has also written a few novels featuring NASA and the exploration of nearby space. Voyage is an alternate history novel where NASA goes to Mars instead of developing the space shuttle after the Apollo missions. Titan is about a last try to rekindle public interest in spacefligt by launching an expedition to Saturn's Moon Titan.

Another good author that hasn't been mentioned in this thread yet is Peter F. Hamilton. His Night's Dawn trilogy is just amazing. Each of the 3 books is around 1200 pages but they don't feel that long because of good story writing, beliveable technology and interesting charachters. I had a harder time getting through Kim Stanley Robinson's also excellent but certain places too lengthy Mars trilogy, particular Green Mars.

captain swoop
2003-Apr-28, 09:09 AM
Lovecraft

informant
2003-Apr-28, 10:32 AM
Three more for the road: :D
Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles, Brian Aldiss, Hothouse/The Long Afternoon of Earth, Stanislaw Lem, Solaris.

daver
2003-Apr-28, 05:05 PM
I haven't seen these, but i haven't looked all that hard:

Lord of Light, Zelazny
Witches of Karres, Schmitz

Grand Vizier
2003-Apr-28, 05:25 PM
Another good author that hasn't been mentioned in this thread yet is Peter F. Hamilton. His Night's Dawn trilogy is just amazing. Each of the 3 books is around 1200 pages but they don't feel that long because of good story writing, beliveable technology and interesting charachters.

Yeah that's great widescreen stuff. I loved it, apart from the smug annoying hero. I also felt let down by the ending. The running worry is how on earth the author is going to resolve this mess, and the end was a kind of 'with one bound he was free' Saturday serial affair, dressed up to look more profound.



I had a harder time getting through Kim Stanley Robinson's also excellent but certain places too lengthy Mars trilogy, particular Green Mars.

Again, one of my favourites that I have reservations about. I like characterisation and, in a trilogy of this length, they shouldn't just be drawn in in crayon (OK for a shorter novel or a short story, admittedly). The real protagonist in the trilogy is the Martian landscape and areology, which was riveting. Convinced me I'd be a Red in this context - they were the coolest, even if they did lose.

Adding more titles, has anyone mentioned Alfred Bester's Tiger, Tiger (The Stars My Destination)? Just read it again, and it still holds up. Gully Foyle - now there's a character.

gethen
2003-Apr-28, 11:48 PM
Ursula LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness. Good astronomy, good biology, good psychology, good story.

Pinemarten
2003-Apr-29, 09:51 AM
To respect the value of bandwidth, I will keep this short.

99% of the fiction I have read is considered SF by today's standards. The other novels were various classics for school, and 'stuff on the shelf' when I lived in rural areas.
When I studied SF under Dale Townsend back in the 70's, he explained, in varying degrees, what was accepted as SF.
Science Fiction has to have a base in science. Science Fantasy doesn't. Sword and Sorcery is just that. He believed that the best SF did not drift far from existing science. The fewer assumptions or premises' created to make an entertaining story, the truer the science ; therefore the better the SF.
So, with that stated; none of the following are in any particular order, and I can't make the list without including fantasy, sword, and sorcery.

Best Authors: Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Tolkien, Phililip Jose Farmer, Roger Zelazny, David Niven, Frank Herbert, Stephen R. Donaldson, etc.

Best series: Dune, The World of Tiers, Riverworld, Rendevouz with Rama, Ringworld, The Amber Series, Eye of the World, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Elric of Melnibone, Conan, etc

Best non-series books:
Most of Heinlein's novels weren't series, although his characters were included in is future time-line. The ones I finished were all good.

I worked a long shift today, and my brain hurts, I reserve the right to edit this post when I am more together.

kucharek
2003-Apr-29, 09:59 AM
I like most books by Stanislaw Lem. I read "Solaris" once a year and still find something new in it. Lem's range is very broad, but I like his often reoccuring subject of the impossibility to get into real contact with totally different cultures, as most SF doesn't make a problem out of this.
The book I read most often when I was young in the 70's was George R. Stewart's "Earth Abides" from 1949. Today, I still like the "hard facts" in the book, but the tone of the writing is now somewhat to "biblical" to me.

Harald

gethen
2003-Apr-29, 02:34 PM
Hey Kucharek, I thought I was the only person still alive who had read Earth Abides. I even recommended it to my son to use as a reference in a class he's taking taught by a self-avowed sf freak, and the prof was unfamiliar with the book. One thing I did like was a sequence at the end during which the author listed the small civilizations that had sprung up in the aftermath of the plague and their very varied religious leanings. Parts of that discussion were almost tongue in cheek. I saw it as a statement of religion as a tool to help man get through what life deals him--certainly not biblical. Just my opinion.

snowcelt
2003-Apr-29, 02:39 PM
Pinemarten. You say that you "respect the value of bandwidth" and then went on to waste it. The topic is science fiction! All you managed to do is show us is bad fantasy. If "99% of [all] the fiction [you] have read is considered SF by today's standards" you must have read alot of SF. You cite but a few pieces of SF in your rather long list of good works read. The vaste majority of your list is fantasy. Almost of all your SF good works is in fact fantasy. I suggest that you save your time and switch from SF and read straight fantasy.

kucharek
2003-Apr-29, 02:43 PM
I didn't meant the subjects in the book, just the writing style sometimes. Okay, it's an old book and I just read the German translation of it, maybe that's what it gives the wording some old-fashioned style.

Harald

Grand Vizier
2003-Apr-29, 03:31 PM
Hey Kucharek, I thought I was the only person still alive who had read Earth Abides.

No way. I have that on my shelves and reread it recently. Another book that stands up to the test of time, IMO. I read it as an awful warning to people who handwave away the problems of rebuilding a complex industrial society after any kind of global catastrophe (everything is too interdependent in a society like ours to put it all back together in a hurry) - but I have encountered people who see it as a pleasant little novel about a return to an arcadian idyll, albeit forced and involving gigadeaths (The Planet X lot would feel that way, I just know).

informant
2003-Apr-29, 03:45 PM
Pinemarten. (Ö) You cite but a few pieces of SF in your rather long list of good works read. The vaste majority of your list is fantasy. Almost of all your SF good works is in fact fantasy. I suggest that you save your time and switch from SF and read straight fantasy.

Maybe, but most of the writers he mentioned were SF writers. And he also mentioned "Best non-series books: Most of Heinlein's novels (...) The ones I finished were all good.", which includes a lot.

I donít see his post as OT.

snowcelt
2003-Apr-29, 04:00 PM
I stand corrected. But seriously. Elric of Melnibone? Henry Potter has more SF content. And I suppose that my prejudice to Heinlein probabily does'nt help.

gethen
2003-Apr-29, 09:09 PM
I didn't meant the subjects in the book, just the writing style sometimes. Okay, it's an old book and I just read the German translation of it, maybe that's what it gives the wording some old-fashioned style.

Harald

:oops: Totally misinterpreted you. You're right, the style is a bit dated, but like you said, old book. Wonderful book.
Grand Vizier, I can see where some folks might see it as a return to some wonderful pastoral lifestyle, but I didn't either. People were losing their kids to diseases that shouldn't have been fatal and some people were losing their sanity. Even those who survived the plague had trouble surviving its aftermath. I doubt the Planet X folk have taken those little details into account if they're looking forward to the end.

Pinemarten
2003-Apr-30, 08:01 AM
Are there any rules about cracking snowcelt's password and having him/her shower me with praises, apologies etc., and then carrying on to mention certain facts about his/her ancestry, parentage, and personal habits?
Just kidding.
My list was a little heavy on fantasy. I have read most of Heinlein's work, he was my first and favorite. I even traded my thick copy of Dune for a thin copy of Stranger in a Strange Land in SF class.
I concede the point that much of his work was 'No Doughnut', but the science he did use was accurate and educational. Look up Waldo in the dictionary.

Rue
2003-May-01, 04:39 PM
Mars Crossing by Geoffrey Landis (NASA scientist)
It is more of a space action-drama than sci-fi-even though it gets classified as SF. It is about astronauts stranded on Mars and all the aweful things that happen to them.

Micheal Crichton's Timeline- for the history not the time travel.

Speaking o' timetravel I will mention HG Wells both Time machine and The War of the Worlds. (first alien invasion story)

Grand Vizier
2003-May-01, 07:06 PM
People were losing their kids to diseases that shouldn't have been fatal and some people were losing their sanity. Even those who survived the plague had trouble surviving its aftermath.

Just as it would be I think, given a plague of that magnitude. But it's happened before - accounts of the Black Death, a lesser disaster than that in the book, which killed up to 1/3 of the population of Western Europe, has been described as having a similar effect - and that was on a society that was arguably more robust than ours, being agrarian already - no question of not having the skills to return to the land...

Getting back to movies, I just caught the remake of The Time Machine for the first time (which wasn't great, but actually wasn't as bad as I expected) and noted the scene where Guy Pearce reads from one of the stones that the Eloi have preserved - and it's that Biblical passage 'One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever...' Wondered if it was Simon Wells' homage to George R Stewart, given the post-catastrophe context.

gethen
2003-May-02, 02:44 AM
Yes! I thought the same thing when I saw that quote carved in stone. Once again, I thought I was the only one still familiar with Earth Abides and so figured it was just coincidence. Should have had more faith in the staying power of a good story.

Zombywoof (Jedi Knight)
2003-May-02, 06:52 PM
As for the rest (books and movies) its hard to say. I like 2001 a Space Odyssey, The Star Trek stuff (TV too), the original Alien and Aliens. In books I like Asimov. I read a number of his when I was a kid, especially the Robot stories. On TV I also like the original Outer Limits series. Some of the stories scared me when I was a kid. Of course I like Star Wars too.

Rich
2003-May-03, 08:00 AM
Glad to see that I'm not the only Brin fan around here. Don't be afraid to venture away from his Uplift novels, Earth, Glory Season, Kiln People are all very worth your attention as well. Heck, as a dedicated pragmatist I'm very into his non-fiction too, check out The Transparent Society if you get a chance. It's a fast interesting read on the future choices and challenges we face as technology changes how we look at our freedom, safety, and privacy... good stuff.

...And just about anything by Niven. What I wouldn't give for a sterilized Motie watchmaker!

Grand Vizier
2003-May-03, 08:43 AM
Yes! I thought the same thing when I saw that quote carved in stone. Once again, I thought I was the only one still familiar with Earth Abides and so figured it was just coincidence. Should have had more faith in the staying power of a good story.

You know - I'd want to ask Simon Wells if he really meant that. I think he did. But (can't help myself), the point you've just made is that Earth Abides abides - at least in our minds.

A point about the very early (pre-60s) Cold War era - the best works, in hindsight and in my opinion, were in some ways melancholic/pessimistic in nature, for example, Canticle for Liebowitz, Theo Sturgeon's stuff - even Clifford Simak. These were people who transcended adolescent power fantasy. (A caveat - I don't have a problem with adolescent power fantasy, I love it, it's just it usually gives rise to unmemorable page-turners.)

The reason I think this was so was because their works centred on a wider range of characters. Heinlein could only do the Competent Man, which he later expanded to include the Competent Woman (and it went downhill from there). Even Hollywood can do better than this.

Ah, hell, I'm working up to a thesis. Gotta go.

g99
2003-May-13, 04:22 PM
with my hand tied behind me back by David :P :

O.K. so who is everyones favorite author period?

Mine: William R. Forschen and his Lost Regiment Series. I have got to tell you. While they are not the best novels probobly, the storyline and the characters really pulled me in. I went throught those books faster and with more furvor than any other series. They are the best i have read.


But individually:

Characters: Robert Sawyer

Story: Heinlen

Plot: Michael Chrichton (altought Prey is a P.O.S.)

Can't put it down factor: Forschen




:-)

Conrad
2003-May-20, 01:44 PM
I was an indiscriminate reader of s.f. in my youth. Nowadays I am a lot more picky, and the only consistently read author in my collection now and twenty years ago is PK Dick. I still pick up stuff by the Old Masters that I hadn't read as a callow youth, but the bookshelves in libraries and shops seem to be groaning under the weight of immense fantasy trilogies <grumble grumble>. Enough whining, Rob, and post!

The Centauri Device - M John Harrison
Okie Trilogy - James Blish
Non-Stop - Brian Aldiss
Tiger Tiger - Alfred Bester
Dune - Frank Herbert
The Kraken Wakes - John Wyndham

That'll do to be going on with!

gethen
2003-May-20, 02:25 PM
Grand Vizier wrote:

A point about the very early (pre-60s) Cold War era - the best works, in hindsight and in my opinion, were in some ways melancholic/pessimistic in nature, for example, Canticle for Liebowitz, Theo Sturgeon's stuff - even Clifford Simak. These were people who transcended adolescent power fantasy. (A caveat - I don't have a problem with adolescent power fantasy, I love it, it's just it usually gives rise to unmemorable page-turners.)

Just stumbled back onto this thread and found your post. Have to say, I also agree that A Canticle for Liebowitz is pretty pessimistic but still one of the best sf books I've read. I was not as fond of the much later sequel Saint Liebowitz and the Wild Horse Woman though. Found it a bit muddled, a much harder read. Still, guy makes you think.

TheGalaxyTrio
2003-May-20, 02:36 PM
"Creatures Of Light And Darkness" by Roger Zelazny. It takes a couple reads to even realize it *is* a science fiction.

Close second: Michael Moorcock's "Dancers At The End Of Time" trilogy.

David Hall
2003-May-20, 06:00 PM
Ursula K. LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven. There's a freaky novel for you.

Iain Lambert
2003-May-21, 09:55 AM
Oh well, not a mention for any of the books I was about to recommend. In no particular order:

Vurt - Jeff Noon. Absolutely marvellous, and possibly my favorite book of all time. The outcome you'd expect if you crossed Lewis Carroll, Irvine Welsh and Shaun Ryder, and then asked them to write an SF novel.

The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell. The number of people who haven't read this is just worrying; its absolutely stunning, won tons of awards, deals with Alien contact in a wonderful way, invents the most impressive alien ecosystem I've seen in a long time, and absolutely kicks you in the teeth with a stunning ending that demands a second read.

Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson. What the world really needs, not yet another cyber-novel that just follows the Gibson blueprint. Only just barely SF, but since Snow Crash is also so great, I guess he counts.

The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde. OK, so its basically fantasy rather than SF. But you need to read it. Its absolutely hilarious.

Odinoneeye
2003-May-21, 10:21 AM
I was really happy to see someone mention Octavia Butler. I did enjoy Dawn and the other Exogenesis books, but my favorite of hers is Wildseed.

One of my favorite authors who hasn't been mentioned is Harry Harrison. West of Eden is a well thought out piece of speculative fiction. The Yilane would get my vote as favorite alien, but their not aliens.

Captive Universe is another one of his I really enjoyed. The only book I ever read that gave me vertigo.

As for his less serious stuff, Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers is a wonderful parody of sci-fi cliches. Every race in the galaxy picks up English through listening to the radio. One race of black scorpions only gets the BBC so they all talk with British accents.

gethen
2003-May-21, 12:53 PM
The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell. The number of people who haven't read this is just worrying; its absolutely stunning, won tons of awards, deals with Alien contact in a wonderful way, invents the most impressive alien ecosystem I've seen in a long time, and absolutely kicks you in the teeth with a stunning ending that demands a second read.
.

Amen. One of the most affecting books I've ever read, period. Couldn't stop thinkning about it for a long time. The sequel was also good, but of course, less shocking.

Rein
2003-May-28, 12:12 PM
Recently I started reading Clarke's fountain of paradise, and found it surprisingly hard to follow. I'd only done the first few chapters so I really can't be sure of the larger part that follow, but I'd read some Clarke's short stories before but this is really a bit unlike his usual style, right?

Even more surprising is the fact that Borders house so few Clarke's work. I can't even find the space odyssey series there!! :o

Rodina
2003-May-28, 12:26 PM
A few all time and/or current favorites of mine:

Arthur C Clarke Songs of Distant Earth

Any of Heinlein's juveniles Tunnel in the Sky, Space Cadet, Have Space Will Travel, etc.

Mary Doria Russell The Sparrow

Niven & Pournelle The Legacy of Heorot

Brin's first Uplift Trilogy - Sundiver, Startide Rising, Uplift War (I didn't like the second series quite as much)

Allen Steele's latest, Coyote, is quite good.

James Blish, A Case of Conscience (a must read if you liked The Sparrow, as it hits on some similar themes -- Jesuits trying to make sense of non-human intelligence, but was written in like 1959 or something)

Rein
2003-May-28, 12:47 PM
I'd rewatched Kubrick's 2001 and found it much nicer than the first time I saw it. Probably I'd been surfing some decoder website and can now understand more of what he's trying to express. But I still haven't catch why did the monolith was on the moon while initially it was planted on earth? Or there're more than one?

ToSeek
2003-May-28, 04:39 PM
I'd rewatched Kubrick's 2001 and found it much nicer than the first time I saw it. Probably I'd been surfing some decoder website and can now understand more of what he's trying to express. But I still haven't catch why did the monolith was on the moon while initially it was planted on earth? Or there're more than one?

Seems as if there are at least three: one on Earth (if only temporarily), one on the Moon, and one around Jupiter.

informant
2003-May-28, 04:50 PM
The monolith on Earth disappears after a while, so technically it could be the same as the one on the Moon. (There's no indication of that, though.)


Recently I started reading Clarke's fountain of paradise, and found it surprisingly hard to follow. I'd only done the first few chapters so I really can't be sure of the larger part that follow, but I'd read some Clarke's short stories before but this is really a bit unlike his usual style, right?

Several of Clarke's most recent novels alternate between multiple characters, and are written in a non-chronological way. This works well for (say) The Songs of Distant Earth, but not so well for other novels.

Mark Skarr
2003-May-29, 12:04 AM
For story, I'd have to say my favorite Sci-Fi story is At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft.
But for books, I'd have to say the inappropriately named Hitchhicker Trilogy by the late Douglas Adams. And then there's Illegal Aliens by Ncik Polatta (sp), which is absolutely hilarious, if you can find it. Bad science abounds and no one really cares because it's funny.

daver
2003-May-29, 12:20 AM
I'd rewatched Kubrick's 2001 and found it much nicer than the first time I saw it. Probably I'd been surfing some decoder website and can now understand more of what he's trying to express. But I still haven't catch why did the monolith was on the moon while initially it was planted on earth? Or there're more than one?

The monolith on Earth was an Uplift device. Presumably it was then moved to the moon to see if the experiment worked (the lunar monolith-as-inteilligence-detector came from the Clarke story The Sentinel).

In the novelization, the monolith on Iapetus was used to explain Saturn's rings (at the time thought to be an ephemeral phenomenon--well before shepherd moons were postulated) and the difference in albedo of Iapetus.

CthulhuBob
2003-May-29, 10:56 PM
Just new here and noticed that no one has mentioned Greg Bear or Robert J. Sawyer yet. Bear is a physicist and Sawyer an astronomer so they know their science inside and out. I love Greg Bear's Blood Music and Hammer of God (the latter has an ingenious theory on how to blow up a planet). Sawyer wrote Illegal Aliens and Factoring Humanity, both very interesting first contact stories. He also wrote an intelligent design / first contact novel with a title that escapes me at the moment but was also very good. If anyone has read this book can they verify the facts about his theory on Betelgeuse for me? And I have to admit I have not yet read Contact (please don't hurt me :) ) but with all the kudos it gets here I will definitely have to pick it up.
Thats my 2 cents (CAN) worth.

g99
2003-May-29, 11:12 PM
Just new here and noticed that no one has mentioned Greg Bear or Robert J. Sawyer yet. Bear is a physicist and Sawyer an astronomer so they know their science inside and out. I love Greg Bear's Blood Music and Hammer of God (the latter has an ingenious theory on how to blow up a planet). Sawyer wrote Illegal Aliens and Factoring Humanity, both very interesting first contact stories. He also wrote an intelligent design / first contact novel with a title that escapes me at the moment but was also very good. If anyone has read this book can they verify the facts about his theory on Betelgeuse for me? And I have to admit I have not yet read Contact (please don't hurt me :) ) but with all the kudos it gets here I will definitely have to pick it up.
Thats my 2 cents (CAN) worth.

Yah i have mentioned Sawyer several times in other related threads. :-) I do like Sawyers books but the only thing i have problems with is that several of the later ones are very I.D. .

And the bookm you are thinking of is [Calculationg God. Good book, but the I.D> kind of put me off some.

CthulhuBob
2003-May-29, 11:25 PM
Yah i have mentioned Sawyer several times in other related threads. :-) I do like Sawyers books but the only thing i have problems with is that several of the later ones are very I.D. .

And the bookm you are thinking of is [Calculationg God. Good book, but the I.D> kind of put me off some.

Yesss, thats right, thanks. It maybe very ID but at least the aliens made the humorous distinction that having a god does not necessarily mean you have an afterlife, and even if there is one, it doesn't really have anything to do with a Creator (silly humans). So what about Betelgeuse anyway? Are we hosed?

g99
2003-May-29, 11:34 PM
I did love the aliens in Starplex and illegal alien :-). He deas do a very good job at incorporating different cultures and languages into the aliens. He actually makes them seem foreign rather than some ancient earth culture or cliched culture.

Geoff394
2003-May-30, 06:05 PM
What is I.D?

David Hall
2003-May-30, 06:41 PM
What is I.D?

I just knew someone was going to ask that. :-)

Intelligent Design--the idea that the universe has a creator and that his handiwork is evident in his creation.

(I haven't read those books though, so I don't know the exact details.)

g99
2003-May-30, 07:31 PM
In Calculating God (http://www.sfwriter.com/excg.htm) the main point of the book is trying to see if there is a god. (from the bnack of the book):
An alien shuttle lands outside Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum. A six-legged being emerges, who says, in perfect English, "Take me to a paleontologist."

It seems that Earth, and the alien's home planet, and the home planet of another alien species traveling on the alien mothership, all experienced the same five cataclysmic events at the same times in their prehistory (one was the asteroid impact that on Earth wiped out the dinosaurs). Both alien races believe this proves the existence of God: God has obviously been playing with the evolution of life on each of these planets.

From this provocative launch point, Sawyer tells a fast-paced, and morally and intellectually challenging, SF story that just grows larger and larger in scope.

And when a supernova explodes out in the galaxy but close enough to wipe out life on all three homeworlds, the big question is: Will God intervene or is this the sixth cataclysm? CALCULATING GOD is SF on the grand scale.


Spoilers...........











In the end of the book they find out the god has been manipulating DNA and genes of the three species to make another god. You see the cancer causing mutation in humans is supposed to happen (something about unlimited life), Plus one musation in each of the other alien races that basically kills them too is combined. When all of that is combined they create the next God.





But in defense of Mr. Sawyer they are very good reads and i reccomend them.

Hypatia
2003-May-30, 09:14 PM
My absolute favorite SF was a short story (by Joseph Campbell, I think) called "The Cold Equation".
It was written in the 40' or 50's but the character development is superb and deals with the cold realities of people who live & work at fringes of civilization where mistakes can be fatal.

ToSeek
2003-May-31, 12:59 AM
My absolute favorite SF was a short story (by Joseph Campbell, I think) called "The Cold Equation".
It was written in the 40' or 50's but the character development is superb and deals with the cold realities of people who live & work at fringes of civilization where mistakes can be fatal.

Tom Godwin (http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue35/cold.html). And you're thinking of John W. Campbell (http://members.tripod.com/~gwillick/camp_jw.html), the science fiction editor, not (I assume) Joseph Campbell (http://www.jcf.org/about_jc.php), the authority on mythology.

Geoff394
2003-May-31, 04:55 AM
Thanks for the explanation David! I've read quite a few of Sawyer's books and with the exception of Calculating God I didn't read any of that into his work. I've met Sawyer a few times - nice guy, very intelligent and thoughtful.

Here's a quote:




On intelligent design, I'm intrigued but not yet convinced. I think there's a lot of good evidence for it, and I've not been impressed by the counterarguments staunch evolutionsts have come up with. For instance, I heard a biologist being interviewed on radio, and she was trying to refute Michael Behe's arguments for intelligent design outlined in the book DARWIN'S BLACK BOX. The interviewer (this was on CBC Radio) knew his stuff, and kept pressing her about how irreducibly complex structures could possibly evolve by natural selection. She replied that natural selection isn't the only way evolution works -- which is news to me; it sounded a lot like she was saying she knew in her bones that Behe must be wrong, and was willing to simply lie when pressed, rather than admit that he had a point she couldn't yet answer.

captain swoop
2003-Jun-03, 08:25 AM
For story, I'd have to say my favorite Sci-Fi story is At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft.


I like that one and 'Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath' but that's more Fantasy than Sci- Fi

'Color Out of Space' is good as well.

try here

http://www.ech-pi-el.com/lovecraft/

Evil Data
2003-Jun-11, 07:29 PM
Most of classics have been mentioned, but don't forget Frank Robinson's 'The Dark Beyond The Stars' which is an exceptional novel about a young crew member aboard a generational ship in the midst a long, unsuccessful voyage in search of life.
Also, just about anything by Robert J Sawyer, Stephen Baxter ), and of course Arthur C Clarke is good. But my absolute favorite is 'Eon' by Greg Bear.

Sparkyroo
2003-Jun-12, 04:14 AM
Well unless I missed it through my scanning of the posts, I didn't see anything by Robert L. Forward! Anyone ever read "Dragon's Egg" "Starquake" or "Camelot 30K"? These were wonderful stories. The great thing about Forward is that he knows what he's writing, since he is an actual physicist so the stuff he wrote about was theoretically sound. Greg Bear is the same way...my favorite book of his is "Eon" and "Hammer of God". But I think Forward is up in the top three of favorite authors...sadly he died last September... :(

So if you find any of his books they are well worth reading!

Eric

Odinoneeye
2003-Jun-12, 04:31 AM
I've read Camelot 30K. I agree it's a good read.

pulsar4529
2003-Jun-12, 07:53 PM
I just picked up Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Although I am only a hundred pages into it, it seems very well written and its really entertaining. I had a hard time putting down in order to study for a calc test last night.
After that I plan on reading Ender's Game, because I found a copy at a garage sale. And it comes with plenty of recommendations, so it should be good.

Digital Apprentice
2003-Jun-12, 09:25 PM
On my "most recently re-read" shelf:

Eden- Lem

Deathbird Stories- Ellison

Uller Uprising- Piper

Children of the Lens- Smith

Memoirs found in a Bathtub- Lem

ChesleyFan
2003-Jun-12, 10:12 PM
It's only been the past 2-3 years that I've begun reading original sf (before that it was Star Wars and Star Trek books *shudder*), and most of those books are more recent, so I'll probably miss some classics. But here goes:

Encounter with Tiber by Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes-

Back to the Moon by Homer Hickam

Aftermath and Starfire by Charles Sheffield

The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke

2001 by Arthur C. Clarke

Venus by Ben Bova

The Art of Chesley Bonestell by Ron Miller

That last one isn't a novel, nor is it really sf, but it includes plenty of Bonestell paintings depicting the "Collier's Space Program." A nice look into to the 1950s/early 60s perspective on spaceflight.

g99
2003-Jun-12, 10:16 PM
i was thinking of picking up Back to the moon how was it?

ChesleyFan
2003-Jun-14, 02:56 AM
i was thinking of picking up Back to the moon how was it?

It was decent. The first half (approximately up until they leave Earth orbit) is better than the second; then the science begins to stretch and Hickam throws in a secret-government-killbot-SDI-program-that-conviently-was-left-on-the-Moon plot twist which gets hokey fast. Still, it's a fast read that's entertaining while it lasts.

Kinda weird to pick it up a book about hijacking Columbia after she's gone, though. :(

mike alexander
2003-Jul-03, 12:27 AM
If you can find a copy, Tom Godwin's 'The Survivors' (reissued later as 'Space Prison'). Back when all SF had to be 215 pages long. Neglected classic. Read this and you will remember Ragnarok, the prowlers, the mockers, the Gerns and all the rest of the characters for a long time.

'Gladiator at Law' Pohl and Kornbluth. The image of the Stock Exchange as a casino is worth the admission. VERY dark, and a lovely book.

Find a copy of Spider Robinson's collection 'The Best of All Possible Worlds', if for no other reason the Oliver LaFarge story 'Spud and Chochise'. You won't be sorry. Also contains Robert Heinlein's 'The Man Who Traveled in Elephants'.

ANY collection of Ted Sturgeon. If you can read 'Slow Sculpture' without crying there may be something wrong with you. Ditto Isaac Asimov's 'The Ugly Little Boy'.

See if you can find the Alfred Bester collection 'Starlight'. See what a true master can do with words.

Poul Anderson's 'Tau Zero'. Science has passed it by... and it don't matter a bit.

Look for early Fritz Leiber and enjoy Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. Later, try 'Our Lady of Darkness'.

Roger Zelazny, especially his earlier books like 'Jack of Shadows' and 'This Immortal'.

Kizarvexis
2003-Jul-03, 01:45 AM
The Chanur series by C.J. Cherryh. They are in the same universe as the Alliance/Union series.

Compact space novels
The Pride of Chanur
Chanur's Venture
The Kif Strike Back
Chanur's Homecoming
Chanur's Legacy

Alliance/Union novels
Heavy Time
Hellburner
Downbelow Station
Merchanter's Luck
Rimrunners
Tripoint
Finity's End
Cyteen
40,000 in Gehenna

Kizarvexis

Rue
2003-Jul-03, 03:00 AM
In Calculating God (http://www.sfwriter.com/excg.htm) the main point of the book is trying to see if there is a god. (from the bnack of the book):
[i]An alien shuttle lands outside Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum. A six-legged being emerges, who says, in perfect English, "Take me to a paleontologist."


The best bit of dialogue in that book went something like this:

Alien:Take me to a paleontologist.
Security Guard: Vertabrate or Invertabrate?
Alien: Aren't all your paleontologists the same species?

Ha!

Humphrey
2003-Jul-03, 04:35 AM
In Calculating God (http://www.sfwriter.com/excg.htm) the main point of the book is trying to see if there is a god. (from the bnack of the book):
[i]An alien shuttle lands outside Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum. A six-legged being emerges, who says, in perfect English, "Take me to a paleontologist."


The best bit of dialogue in that book went something like this:

Alien:Take me to a paleontologist.
Security Guard: Vertabrate or Invertabrate?
Alien: Aren't all your paleontologists the same species?

Ha!

Yes Sawyer does have some great dialogue. That was one of the funniest scenes. :-)

I also love how he actually has the ALiens differnet looking from anything we have seen his aliens are Insect like, human like or anything. They are just...well alien.

snowcelt
2003-Jul-05, 02:53 PM
Has anyone looked at what the best really means? Indeed, many have stated that this novel or that meant much to him/her, but what does it mean to us all? My dad thought that SF rated somewhere around dog s**t and old way of wiping your arse(no s***!). Now he thinks that this bit of lit is better then Joyce (go ahead and try to read Ulysis. Why? Because I made him read some lame old ERB. The best SF is but that: the best. If you are going to play with the same, old, 7 plots: you may as well play with something a bit diferent.

TriangleMan
2003-Jul-05, 05:24 PM
Has anyone looked at what the best really means? Indeed, many have stated that this novel or that meant much to him/her, but what does it mean to us all?

I'm not sure that is something that can realistically be achieved - determining which book is "the best", absolutely, beyond all others, to everyone. Like any form of art a novel will evoke different levels of feeling from person to person. Just like we would never be able to determine what is the best painting or best piece of music, the differing tastes of people will cause a range of preferences in their sci-fi. The best we can do is describe which ones we, individually, liked the most.

Kizarvexis
2003-Jul-06, 04:00 AM
Has anyone looked at what the best really means? Indeed, many have stated that this novel or that meant much to him/her, but what does it mean to us all? My dad thought that SF rated somewhere around dog s**t and old way of wiping your arse(no s***!). Now he thinks that this bit of lit is better then Joyce (go ahead and try to read Ulysis. Why? Because I made him read some lame old ERB. The best SF is but that: the best. If you are going to play with the same, old, 7 plots: you may as well play with something a bit diferent.

Well, the Chanur and Alliance/Union series did have time dilation effects due to relativistic and FTL travel. So Cherryh tried a little harder for realism within the sci-fi framework.

Kizarvexis

eburacum45
2003-Jul-09, 02:43 AM
Back to Greg Bear- The Forge of God (not Hammer ) is brilliant, and has a sequel- The Anvil of Stars; they explore the Fermi Paradox in a way which is very convincing.
I am also vey inspired by his Eon as a depiction of the future of mankind- for another look at the far future, Time by Stephen Baxter is brilliant, and Excession by Iain Banks is an examination of a galaxy ruled by intelligent and machiavellian machines, as clear as a bell in concept.

mike alexander
2003-Jul-11, 11:16 PM
Heck, odds are that books are like music. What you grew up with is what you like best. Someone once asked Ted Sturgeon what the real Golden Age of science fiction was and he replied, "Fifteen."

Glad to see earlier that someone else remembered Earth Abides. If you liked it, you might seek out two other books by George Stewart, "Storm" and "Fire". He also wrote a nonfiction book about how places in America got their names that , surprisingly, you might enjoy, called "Names on the Land".

And can someone help me here? When I was a kid I read Forbidden Planet. The novel, not the movie. In the funny section of the library where the book spines had the little rockets on 'em. I usually have pretty much total recall of Book/Author pairs, but this one has slipped completely from my mind with the single exception of a phrase describing the spaceship as ..."sitting on its *** like a toadstool..."

Author, anyone? Thank you in advance.

QuagmaPhage
2003-Jul-12, 02:24 PM
Author, anyone?

According to Locus (http://www.locusmag.com/index/b462.html#A6698.1):

STUART, W. J.; pseudonym of Philip MacDonald, (1899-1980)
* _Forbidden Planet (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 0-374-42445-4, Nov '90, $3.95, 184pp, tp, cover by Jon Agee) Reprint (Farrar Straus & Cudahy 1956) young-adult novelization of the classic sf film.

mike alexander
2003-Jul-14, 04:33 PM
Thank you QuagmaPhage! Thirty years of wondering solved by the genii of Bad Astronomy!

What I find most fascinating is that a SF movie novelization was done in 1956!

man on the moon
2003-Jul-14, 05:33 PM
well...Jules Verne has been loved by many for over a century. and i think at least some of it's still sci-fi. i say some because, well, you know why.

Humphrey
2003-Jul-14, 05:35 PM
well...Jules Verne has been loved by many for over a century. and i think at least some of it's still sci-fi. i say some because, well, you know why.

I loved the Jules Verne T.V. show Sci-fi had for a single season. It has good stories, an epic feel, and amazing visuals. To bad they cancelled it because it wasn't getting the ratings as its other stupid shows at the time (not counting Farscape).

Jim Starluck
2003-Jul-15, 09:19 AM
Movies: Star Wars (original trilogy only, none of the new crud)
Books: David Weber's Honor Harrington series
TV: The late, great Farscape

Carv
2003-Jul-23, 06:19 AM
When I was younger I was really into "big idea" science fiction, hence my fondness for Crichton and Niven--guys who wrote cardboard characters as often as not, but could throw out an setup like Ringworld or The Andromeda Strain that would blow my freakin' mind. As I got older, character became more important to me, hence my addiction to Sawyer. But the works I come back to most often are those which mix the two strengths. Here are a few that live happily in my memory:

Footfall (Niven/Pournelle)
Dune (Herbert)
Startide Rising (Brin)
Jurassic Park (Crichton)
The Heechee Saga (Pohl)
Ender's Game (Card)
Snow Crash, The Diamond Age (Stephenson)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg)
Aliens (Cameron)

"The Best of Both Worlds" (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

And from the not-so-hard science departments:

R Is for Rocket, S Is for Space (Bradbury)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Adams)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling--it's a time travel story)

The Empire Strikes Back (Lucas/Kasdan)
Back to the Future (Zemeckis/Gale)

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jul-23, 06:30 AM
Sawyer? Which Sawyer is that?

Musashi
2003-Jul-23, 06:32 AM
Robert J. Sawyer?

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jul-23, 06:37 AM
He's the only one I know. I actually really like his books. He seems to at least try to incorporate science into them. Is this who you're talking about Carv?

Carv
2003-Jul-23, 10:47 PM
That's the guy.

akualele
2003-Jul-24, 09:03 AM
I like Robert Forward and Charles Sheffield. They don't just flirt with hard science in their writing, they get down and do the two-step mambo with it.

snowcelt
2003-Jul-24, 10:47 AM
I like Robert Forward and Charles Sheffield. They don't just flirt with hard science in their writing, they get down and do the two-step mambo with it.

I was so saddened to find that both of these peple died but last year.

Ducky
2003-Jul-24, 01:18 PM
Can anyone tell me the name of the author of a little story called "A Pail of Air"? I heard that as a radio play as a child, then inadvertantly stumbled across it as a story a few years later. I've been wanting to re-read it, but those pesky memory cells just aren't giving me the info I need.

Doodler
2003-Jul-24, 03:38 PM
I, Jedi - Micheal Stackpole, fantastic look into the making of a Post Empire Jedi

The Dune Series, including prequels, I haven't read the Butlerian Jihad yet though (Note to Brian Herbert FINISH BOOK 8 ALREADY!!!!!)

The Ring of Charon and The Shattered Sphere - Roger MacBride Allen

2001,2010, and 2063- Arthur Clark, 3001 was a waste of paper

The Nimrod Hunt, don't remember the author.

Between the Strokes of Midnight, can't remember the author, but its about acheiving immortality through altered states of consciousness

Ship of the Line, Diane Carey, I think. One of the three or four alternate stories about the birth of the Enterprise-E, the best one in my opinion.

Heir to the Empire
Dark Force Rising
The Last Command - Timothy Zahn's trilogy effectively Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII, and IX - George shoulda made these movies instead, FAR superior to the new movies, and a notch above Lucas's original works. I loved how he put Luke and Leia in positions where they were forced to come to terms with Vader being their father. Best character work done for them, all done with Lucas's blessings (before he lost his mind making the first three).

Starship Troopers, Heinlein's original work takes the movie out into a dark alley and beats it senseless.

The Area 51 series - great extrapolation of all the current en vogue conspiracies in one very well executed series. Best read with a tinfoil beanie!

The Stainless Steel Rat books, always good for a laugh

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and its follow ons, especially So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish.

ToSeek
2003-Jul-24, 03:42 PM
Can anyone tell me the name of the author of a little story called "A Pail of Air"? I heard that as a radio play as a child, then inadvertantly stumbled across it as a story a few years later. I've been wanting to re-read it, but those pesky memory cells just aren't giving me the info I need.

Fritz Leiber (http://www.lankhmar.demon.co.uk/poa.htm)

One of the greats - love his Lankhmar series!

Ducky
2003-Jul-24, 03:49 PM
Can anyone tell me the name of the author of a little story called "A Pail of Air"? I heard that as a radio play as a child, then inadvertantly stumbled across it as a story a few years later. I've been wanting to re-read it, but those pesky memory cells just aren't giving me the info I need.

Fritz Leiber (http://www.lankhmar.demon.co.uk/poa.htm)

One of the greats - love his Lankhmar series!

Thanks, ToSeek!

Launch window
2004-Sep-19, 10:54 AM
Mars Crossing by Geoffrey Landis (NASA scientist)
It is more of a space action-drama than sci-fi-even though it gets classified as SF. It is about astronauts stranded on Mars and all the aweful things that happen to them.

Micheal Crichton's Timeline- for the history not the time travel.

Speaking o' timetravel I will mention HG Wells both Time machine and The War of the Worlds. (first alien invasion story)

Spielberg and Tom Cruise will be bringing The War of the Worlds to the big screen, soon and will rewrite a script based on the classic H.G. Wells alien-invasion novel.

Ravana
2004-Sep-24, 04:25 AM
I'll second Kizarvekis on the Cherryh material. Start with Downbelow Station; it pretty much sets up the universe (it was the first one written). One of the things that makes this series great is that there is so much of it, and that it is consistently well-written. I'm always bummed when I finish a book and want the story to go on.... I'd say this series is second to one, as far as science fiction series go.

No, not none: the exception is David Brin's Uplift series... which, interestingly enough, is the third time I've brought that up today, in different contexts. (Some people are probably getting tired of me mentioning it by now....) Start with Startide Rising; it's the best of the lot--though the series by no means goes downhill.

That being said, length is no criterion in and of itself. Others that I'd rate "best" (pick one? don't think I can):

Roger Zelazny -- Lord of Light
Frank Herbert -- Dune (and, in this case, *not* the rest of the series; some of the books were good, but none approached "best" material)
Samuel Delany -- damn near anything, but in particular Dhalgren... not for everybody, though
Walter Jon Williams -- Angel Station

PeterFab
2004-Sep-24, 06:22 AM
No, not none: the exception is David Brin's Uplift series... which, interestingly enough, is the third time I've brought that up today, in different contexts. (Some people are probably getting tired of me mentioning it by now....) Start with Startide Rising; it's the best of the lot--though the series by no means goes downhill.

But, but, but....
You can't get tired of the Uplift series. :D

I have nearly worn out my copies of Startide Rising and The Uplift War. In my opinion they are respectively the best and the most fun of the series.

Ravana
2004-Sep-25, 07:09 AM
I actually bought second copies of both: my first is signed (the SFBC hardback with both in it).

I agree with your assessment on both books.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Sep-25, 08:00 AM
I actually bought second copies of both: my first is signed (the SFBC hardback with both in it).

Um

WOW!


I agree with your assessment on both books.

Yeah, me too.

snowcelt
2004-Sep-25, 09:42 AM
Ravava. When you state that Samual R. Delaney wrote a book you liked (and said not for everyone) called Delghran I almost vomited. I think this novel rates right up there with Hitler's MEIN KAMPF and Moa' little red book. Delaney. The most over rated writer in the planet award would be too kind. :D

jenkswrester
2004-Nov-01, 09:31 PM
event horizon was an awsome film it was scarry and had some good effects :D

Gullible Jones
2004-Nov-02, 12:13 AM
Stephen Baxter's Raft.

Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End.

Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Greg Bear's Eternity

Norstrilia, by Paul Linebarger (as Cordwainer Smith) - also his collected short stories (published as The Rediscovery of Man)

Andre Norton's No Night Without Stars

And of course, Ursula LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness, which should IMO should be required reading in high school, and is pretty much my all-time favorite work of science fiction.

Kaptain K
2004-Nov-02, 08:17 AM
Greg Bear's Eternity
and Eon.

Weird Dave
2004-Nov-02, 10:47 AM
Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy was great, but I agree with Grand Vizier that the ending was a let down.
[Mild Spoiler: highlight to read] It ignored the whole "humanity must find its own solution" theme that the Kiint insisted on all the time. Also, I was expecting for Louise to somehow be possessed by Joshua (cooperatively, as with the Skibbows) and beat Dexter into pulp in a huge fight. That would've been fun... :)

My favourite book is quite possibly War of the Worlds. Read it if you have any interest at all in Science Fiction. His short stories are well worth a read too. They include a great Planet X / end of the world sequence called The Star.

Stephen Baxter's Time is absolutely great: the time-jump sequence in the middle is the most mind-blowing thing I have ever read. Most of my other favourites have been mentioned already (except that I want to recommend all the older Arthur C. Clarke stories, like Tales of Ten Worlds and The Deep Range).

Here in the UK, Earth Abides has been reissued in the Science Fiction Masterworks series.

Recently I've been reading some old Clifford Simak books, and some of them are pretty good. I enjoyed All Flesh is Grass, and also thought that the plot of Time and Again was great. Sadly, the latter was set in totally unbelievable setting. It is the year 8000AD, yet people still smoke pipes and drive cars with steering wheels. I would love to see that rewritten by Baxter or Hamilton, keeping the original plot but with the modern writer handling some proper futuristic technology/society.

Finally, I'm amazed nobody has mentioned Terry Pratchett. Yes, I know he's comic fantasy really, but he uses lots of ideas that are more Sci-Fi than Fantasy. E.g. societies that make sense and use of Physics terminology. Tom Holt is also a great, funny author.

Sigma_Orionis
2004-Nov-02, 04:24 PM
Sorry, Long Post

Favorite Authors (No Particular Order):

Isaac Asimov
Arthur C. Clarke
Harry Harrison
Jack Vance
Cordwainer Smith
Phillip K. Dick
Theodore Sturgeon
Howard Fast

Favorite Novels (No Particular Order)

Rendevouz with Rama (Arthur C. Clarke)
The Foundation Series (Issac Assimov)
I Robot (Isaac Assimov) (yes Virginia, I liked ALL the short stories in the collection :D )
The Ballad of Beta 2 (Samuel R. Delany)
Ringworld (Larry Niven)
The Stainless Steel Rat (Harry Harrison)
The Silver Brains (Fritz Leiber)
Martian Go Home (Fredric Brown)
Captive Universe (Harry Harrison)
Nightfall (Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg)
Counterfit World (Daniel F. Galouye)
A Case of Conscience (James Blish)

There is a couple more but I can't recall the authors or Titles

Favorite Stories/Short Novels:

The Cold Cold Box (Howard Fast)
The Velvet Glove (Harry Harrison)
The Arm of the Law (Harry Harrison)
The Robot Who Wanted to Know (Harry Harrison)
I see you (Harry Harrison)
The Repairman (Harry Harrison)
The Mind of God (Howard Fast)
The Price (Howard Fast)
Cephes 5 (a bit corny but I liked it :) , Howard Fast)
The Egg (Howard Fast)
Sail 25 (Jack Vance)
The Last Castle (Jack Vance)
The Moon Moth (Jack Vance)
Extrapolation (Theodore Sturgeon)
The Bicentennial Man (Issac Asimov)
Buy Jupiter (Isaac Asimov)
The Tunesmith (Loyd Biggle Jr.)
The ScapeGoat (Alan Barclay)
On the Sand Planet (Cordwainer Smith)
Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes)
I Have no mouth and I must Scream (Harlan Ellison)
The Swordmen of Varnis (Clive Jackson)
Everyday Is Christmas (James E. Gunn)
The Adventurer (C.M. Kornbluth)

When I was a kid I read TONS of scifi :D

Humots
2004-Nov-03, 12:15 AM
Weird Dave:

Have you read The Time Ships by Steven Baxter? It's in the form of a sequel to The Time Machine. Baxter does an excellent job on Well's style and characterization. The novel brings in ideas after Wells' time, such as alternate time lines and Dyson spheres. He also manages to reference practically everything Wells wrote in one way or another.

Gullible Jones
2004-Nov-03, 02:27 AM
Still more...

Gunner Cade, by C. M. Kornbluth and Jusith Merrill.

Dune again. (One of the things I like about it is the fact that energy weapons are, for once, not overused...)

Fahrenheit 451. Alright, I suppose that's not sci-fi, but it definitely deserves a mention. (Its name has unfortunately been tarnished by a certain woo-woo... :roll: )

Ray Bradbury's various collected works - S is for Space, The October Country, The Martian Chronicals, etc. Definitely not hard sci-fi, but engrossing reads nonetheless.

And the little-known short story award: Deathsong, by Sydney J. van Scyoc - an strange and haunting tale of humans confronting that which they cannot understand

Weird Dave
2004-Nov-03, 05:38 PM
Weird Dave:

Have you read The Time Ships by Steven Baxter? It's in the form of a sequel to The Time Machine. Baxter does an excellent job on Well's style and characterization. The novel brings in ideas after Wells' time, such as alternate time lines and Dyson spheres. He also manages to reference practically everything Wells wrote in one way or another.

Not yet, but it's now on my list :) . Baxter and Wells, what a collaboration!

Van Rijn
2004-Nov-04, 01:39 AM
Some of the exposition in "The Time Ships" was excessive, but it was a very good book, and did fit in a H.G. Wells universe very nicely.

There are more, but these come immediately to mind:

"The Ganymede Club" and "Dark as Day" by Charles Sheffield. Sheffield did excellent hard science fiction stories and I liked most of what he wrote. I especially liked the background in these stories. Self replicating machines are just part of it. It really hurt when Sheffield (along with Forward and Anderson) all died in 2001.

"Tau Zero" by Poul Anderson. I'll also mention "The Man Who Counts" though it isn't his best ... but it is about the character my pseudonym is based on.

"Marooned in Real Time" by Vernor Vinge. Vinge isn't noted for his great output, but almost everything he writes is very good. This is one of the best novels centered around the technological singularity premise.

"Have Space Suit, Will Travel" by Robert Heinlein. The first Heinlein book I ever read, and it still reads well today. A great adaptation of the "Powers of 10" concept. Also, most other books by Heinlein are at the top of my list (his last books weren't so great, however.)

"Ringworld" and other Known Space books by Larry Niven. Also, "A World Out of Time."

"Lucifer's Hammer" and "The Mote in God's Eye" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

Tero
2004-Nov-07, 12:24 PM
As a teenager I read most of the classic sci-fi by Asimov, Clarke etc. Later I heard of this new (not so new anymore) genre called cyberpunk, and I fell in love with it. My darker side likes the mix of computers and decadent social chaos. I do like the contemporary space opera kind of stuff too, like Vernor Vinge and Iain M. Banks.

Right now I'm reading Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space (in Finnish though).

My favourite sci-fi movies are not very surprising: 2001, Blade Runner and Contact. There are so few really good sci-fi movies! :(

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Nov-07, 03:20 PM
Revelation Space? Wonderful! One of my favourite sci-fi books!

eburacum45
2004-Nov-08, 08:00 AM
Somerone really should mention Olaf Stapledon once again;

in Last and First Men and Star Maker he imagined billions of years of future history and gave rise to countless hard science fiction plots and alien species.

escoville
2004-Nov-08, 04:47 PM
Has no one in this thread mentioned Christopher Priest, whose Inverted World, A Dream of Wessex and The Space Machine should belong in anyone's top ten.

Otherwise:
The Left Hand of Darkness (LeGuin)
Doomsday Book (Connie Willis)
The West of Eden Trilogy (Harrison)

And while we're on this subject, can anyone tell me how Gregory Benford can get away with writing Eater without acknowledging Fred Hoyle. Eater is practically a rewrite of Hoyle's Black Cloud, down to the name of the leading character (Kingsley). If he meant it as a spoof, he should have said so. (I agree that it is much better written than The Black Cloud.)

Careless
2004-Nov-17, 06:47 AM
Well, I'd like to thank this list for giving me so many titles. Just bought 23 books based on it. (gonna be reading a lot next month when I'm stuck in another country with nothing to do)

Fram
2004-Nov-17, 10:51 AM
I have to agree with the selection of most authors and books mentioned in this thread. Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein are true classics.
One series I haven't seen mentioned (I might have missed it of course) is The Gap by Stephen Donaldson. I think it's very, very good, especially the first one.
And I've just read Titan by Stephen Baxter, and liked it a lot, although it's very pessimistic. I will have to read more by him (it was my first). David Brin (Earth) is one of the next books and for me new authors lying waiting for me!

Van Rijn
2004-Nov-17, 08:37 PM
IAnd I've just read Titan by Stephen Baxter, and liked it a lot, although it's very pessimistic. I will have to read more by him (it was my first).

More like apocalyptic. I like most of his books (and in most, things aren't easy for humans) but this one went too far for me. I found it to be extremely depressing, with few of the interesting ideas I expect in a Baxter story and the plot was far too unlikely. "The Time Ships" doesn't exactly portray humanity in a great light, but it was much more interesting to me. "Raft" also comes immediately to mind.

Damburger
2004-Nov-17, 08:44 PM
Despite being a bit of a science geek, I like a lot of bad science stuff.

My favourite TV series right now is Stargate SG-1 (Hey, this 10 foot wide disc I'm poking with my finger is an event horizon!) and film wise I love the old Star Wars movies (not a trace of science there).

fossilnut
2004-Nov-18, 01:09 AM
Someone used the word 'dystopia' and I agree. Not-too-future totalitarian worlds.

My favorites

Brave New World
1984
A Handmaiden's Tale
Farenheit 451

My first into to Science fiction was the Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Today, however, I enjoy what's called 'Hard Science' Science fiction.

I do, however, find the dichotomy between Science 'fiction' and 'fantasy' amusing. Why is it science 'fiction' when gravity is ignored, Relativity sidestepped? As a scientist I could at least see it within the parameters of science ( even though absurd) that winged dragon-like mammal could be genetically bred one day and a princess with a lot of cleavage might put a saddle on it and fly around a castle while wielding a sword. That's much less fantasy than Relativity being circumvented by 'warp speed' or a 'worm hole through time'.

Humphrey
2004-Nov-18, 01:52 AM
A little off topic but, Welcome to the board fossilnut! :-D

fossilnut
2004-Nov-18, 04:07 AM
A little off topic but, Welcome to the board fossilnut! :-D

Thanks for the welcome but as for 'off topic'.

Depends where one jumps into the thread. These threads are like organic beasts evolving. There is some previous discussion distinguishing the 'higher' order of science fiction from the pulpish science fantasy. I just don't agree that much of so-called 'hard' science fiction is any less fantasy.

Humphrey
2004-Nov-18, 07:24 AM
I ment my welcome was off topic, not your post. :-)

JonnyWishbone
2004-Nov-18, 07:54 AM
Ah, the Uplift books -- I bought Sundiver in the original paperback when I was a lad and didn't read it for a couple years. Luckily, Startide Rising came out around the same time as I finally read Sundiver, so I was happy.

I prefer the Uplift series to Simmons's Hyperion quartet, though I enjoy Simmons as well -- it's just that a lot more praise seems to go to Simmons's work. So I talk up the Brin series to friends whenever they ask me what's a good sf series to read.

Varley's Titan trilogy is nice, though the third book wraps everythng up a bit too neatly.

As to favourites -- well, the sf novels I've reread the most may not necessarily be the best novels I've read -- they're more like comfort food, I guess, for the most part. But they'd include Heinlein's Have Spacesuit-Will Travel and Citizen of the Galaxy (Heinlein's best book, juvenile or otherwise to my taste); Niven and Pournelle's Inferno (OK, not sf -- but the protagonist is an sf writer); Harry Harrison's Deathworld and Starworld trilogies; Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles; Gordon Dickson's Way of the Pilgrim; and a few others I'll probably trot out at another time.

Cheers, Jon

escoville
2004-Nov-18, 08:48 AM
Fossilnut's point about sf and fantasy is interesting. The human mind has a compulsion to categorize, and the boundaries between categories are likely to seem firmer than they are. But we all know what people mean when they call one book "fantasy" and another "science fiction". If a book is described as fantasy, we know we can expect what is basically an adult fairy-story, and frankly in most cases, we can expect it to be appallingly badly written. Even if we take one of the better examples -- Andre Norton's Witchworld -- she murders English grammar. Tolkien, especially towards the end of Lord of the Rings, adopts a bombastic pseudo-archaic style that has been described as "Brewers' Biblical". This is the hallmark of fantasy.
Other so-called science fiction is no more than adventure set on other planets because we have run out of room on this one. Jack Vance is the best example here: there's no science in it at all, but Planet of Adventure and The Demon Princes series are good yarns in the Treasure Island tradition. The fact is though that they're basically all about small-town America.
Let's face it: most sci-fi has as much to do with science as most detective writing has to do with criminology. But the top ten per cent or so (including the works Fossilnut mentions) has more to it, both scientifically and literarily.

ToSeek
2004-Nov-18, 03:33 PM
I do, however, find the dichotomy between Science 'fiction' and 'fantasy' amusing. Why is it science 'fiction' when gravity is ignored, Relativity sidestepped? As a scientist I could at least see it within the parameters of science ( even though absurd) that winged dragon-like mammal could be genetically bred one day and a princess with a lot of cleavage might put a saddle on it and fly around a castle while wielding a sword. That's much less fantasy than Relativity being circumvented by 'warp speed' or a 'worm hole through time'.

I am inclined to say that the difference between science fiction and fantasy is that science fiction claims to be set in our cosmos (even if the physics may be dubious), while fantasy takes place someplace where the rules are clearly different.

teddyv
2004-Nov-18, 09:29 PM
I Have no mouth and I must Scream (Harlan Ellison)

I read this years ago, but it still totally sticks out in my memory. Kind of Matrix-like, but a lot better (and a short story to boot). The ending is an almost perfect example of hell.

Makgraf
2004-Nov-18, 10:26 PM
I do, however, find the dichotomy between Science 'fiction' and 'fantasy' amusing. Why is it science 'fiction' when gravity is ignored, Relativity sidestepped? As a scientist I could at least see it within the parameters of science ( even though absurd) that winged dragon-like mammal could be genetically bred one day and a princess with a lot of cleavage might put a saddle on it and fly around a castle while wielding a sword. That's much less fantasy than Relativity being circumvented by 'warp speed' or a 'worm hole through time'.

I am inclined to say that the difference between science fiction and fantasy is that science fiction claims to be set in our cosmos (even if the physics may be dubious), while fantasy takes place someplace where the rules are clearly different.
Well there are a lot of fantasy novels that are set in our world but either after some form of apocolypse (e.g. Shanara books) or in the past (e.g. Conan). Then we have some forms of science fantasy, science fiction that is basically fantasy. The Pern books are theoretically science fiction because they're set on another planet. But give me a pen and half an hour and I could excise any sf references from it (The computer found in Renegades could become some kind of magic oracle, the spaceship in the last one would be a little trickier).

fossilnut
2004-Nov-19, 03:11 AM
[/quote]"I am inclined to say that the difference between science fiction and fantasy is that science fiction claims to be set in our cosmos (even if the physics may be dubious), while fantasy takes place someplace where the rules are clearly different".


How can it be in our cosmos if the physics are different? Relativity, gravity, the quantum, etc, exist all over the Universe. The physical laws of the Universe are the same in our solar system and galaxy as they are in every niche. 'Dubious' is a mild word once All of the physical laws of the Universe are thrown out the window. Ignore one law, such as Relativity, and all of reality collapses.

ToSeek
2004-Nov-19, 03:12 PM
"I am inclined to say that the difference between science fiction and fantasy is that science fiction claims to be set in our cosmos (even if the physics may be dubious), while fantasy takes place someplace where the rules are clearly different".


How can it be in our cosmos if the physics are different? Relativity, gravity, the quantum, etc, exist all over the Universe. The physical laws of the Universe are the same in our solar system and galaxy as they are in every niche. 'Dubious' is a mild word once All of the physical laws of the Universe are thrown out the window. Ignore one law, such as Relativity, and all of reality collapses.

You are assuming that our present understanding of physics is complete, which it certainly isn't. We can't be sure that warp drive is impossible, even if it does seem unlikely right now.

fossilnut
2004-Nov-19, 05:07 PM
"We can't be sure that warp drive is impossible, even if it does seem unlikely right now"

What is 'warp speed'? It's less of a fantasy than flying dragons on other worlds? Flying dragon-like creatures are actually a possibility on one of the hundreds of quintillion planets orbiting quintillions of stars in the hundred billion galaxiies of the Universe. Relativity applies to ALL those planets the same as it does on Earth.

Warp speed is a literary device to 'not' have to deal with the reality of the physical laws of the Universe. If we were restrained by the real Universe, then a lot of science fiction would be boring. 'Warp speed' is no more based in science than Samantha twitching her nose on Bewitched.

Space keeners, including myself, like to delude ourselves that the speed of light is just a speed bump that will be overcome somehow. Otherwise we'd have to face the truth that 'we ain't going anywhere' and there's no evidence of ET's cause 'they ain't going anywhere'. Relativity sucks.

ToSeek
2004-Nov-19, 06:30 PM
Why does "warp speed" need to be explained? You don't see contemporary technothrillers explaining what a transistor is (well, maybe Tom Clancy does...). As long as it's not utterly impossible (as with Elizabeth Montgomery's nose-twitching), what's the problem?

fossilnut
2004-Nov-19, 06:45 PM
Why does "warp speed" need to be explained? You don't see contemporary technothrillers explaining what a transistor is (well, maybe Tom Clancy does...). As long as it's not utterly impossible (as with Elizabeth Montgomery's nose-twitching), what's the problem?

Who said there is anything wrong with it? Warp speed like Samantha's nose is fantasy. What's wrong with fantasy? Both warp speed and Samantha's nose twitching are literary devices to create scenarios not possible otherwise.

Please explain how warp speed is less utterly impossible than Samantha twitching her nose? Is it because it's couched in scientific mumbo jumbo that makes it sound good? 'The fabric of space'....'worm holes'... 'bending time back on itself'...?

ToSeek
2004-Nov-19, 08:14 PM
Please explain how warp speed is less utterly impossible than Samantha twitching her nose? Is it because it's couched in scientific mumbo jumbo that makes it sound good? 'The fabric of space'....'worm holes'... 'bending time back on itself'...?

We KNOW that people can't twitch their noses and make things disappear. We don't know for certain that there isn't some physics that makes it possible to travel faster than the speed of light.

If you were alive a hundred years ago, you would claim that any story that claimed that subatomic particles could be both particles and waves and got more massive the more quickly they moved were fantasy. You'd have been wrong.

fossilnut
2004-Nov-20, 02:51 AM
What's that got to do with logic?

Because 'a' is wrong it doesn't make 'b' wrong. You'd learn that if you ever study scientific methodolgy. We once didn't know about subatomic particles therefore warp speed is possible? Huh? No logical connection.

It's like saying we once didn't know about subatomic particles therefore ghosts are possible. Leprechauns are possible. Why is Relativity not valid because we once didn't know about subatomic particles?

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Nov-20, 02:58 AM
What's that got to do with logic?

Because 'a' is wrong it doesn't make 'b' wrong. You'd learn that if you ever study scientific methodolgy. We once didn't know about subatomic particles therefore warp speed is possible? Huh? No logical connection.

It's like saying we once didn't know about subatomic particles therefore ghosts are possible. Leprechauns are possible. Why is Relativity not valid because we once didn't know about subatomic particles?

I feel a need to weigh in here.

It's Simple, really ...

Relativistic Equations have a Loop Hole, albeit, a Small One.

Space itself, can move at ANY Speed.

An Object embedded it that Space, will Move with it, while Retaining an At Rest, Velocity.

It may Require more Energy to Generate, Such a Field, than actually Exists, in The Universe, but, for the Moment at Least, it Remains a Distinct Possibillity.

Hence, the Warp Drive ...

JohnD
2004-Nov-20, 04:15 PM
The vast majority of the books recommended above are from the last 60 years, except for the occasional mention of Verne or Wells and apart from Aldiss and Clarke, American.
In the interest of widening your experience:

Rudyard Kipling. An astonishing wide-ranging talent, who wrote SF as well as fantasy, philosophy and novels, for children as well as statesmen, and was a reporter, a newsman, to his bones.
My favourite SF is "With the Night Mail", a piece of pure reportage from an alternative Earth, yet similar to his and ours today. This story is especially full, in that it uses 'hard SF' technical features and at the same time pictures a world with a wholly different political system. And adds to the story advertisements, small ads and notices as it would when it appeared in a magazine from that world. You can even read the whole story on the 'Net: http://whitewolf.newcastle.edu.au/words/authors/K/KiplingRudyard/prose/ActionReactions/nightmail.html

And if you like that, the same website among many of his other works, also holds his story based in the same world, "As easy as ABC". If this will introduce you to Kipling, I think you will find what a great writer he was, and has been forgotten to be. Ignore his paternalist colonialism, he was a true Nobel Prize winner!

John Wyndham. A thoroughly English writer, who may not be to American taste and who definitely did not write 'hard', technical SF, though he did write good space opera too. His best known novels are post-apocalytic; "The Kraken Wakes", "The Day of the Triffids", and my favourite, "The Chrysalids". "The Midwich Cuckoos", a story of a sort of mini-apocalypse, is so English and middle class that it may be incomprehensible in the US, but it was serialised once again recently on BBC radio.

I hope you enjoy them!
John

fossilnut
2004-Nov-20, 04:46 PM
John,

Those Whydham books are among my favorites. They were standards in our Canadian school curriculum (along with 1984, Brave New World and On the Beach) His books are available as book tapes in our library and a couple years ago we listened to some again on a long car trip. I like your description as 'middle class'. That sums up the atmosphere. They are also a cross between sci-fi and darwinism The aliens are often some life form trying to muscle into an ecological niche through survival of the fittest.

escoville
2004-Nov-20, 05:50 PM
Re the British and American thing:
British authors are fairly well represented, actually: Clarke, Alldis, Huxley, Orwell, Priest, and now Wyndham -- how could we have forgotten him? He's curiously prophetic: The Day of the Triffids presupposes (a) genetic engineering and (b) satellite-based laser anti-missile system. (But I agree with those who think The Chrysalids is a better book.) Then there is Sir Fred Hoyle F.R.S.: rather variable, but The Black Cloud is a classic, and October the First is Too Late is not bad. Among older British writers, we shouldn't forget H.G.Wells, H. Rider Haggard (She), Conan Doyle (The Lost World), Mary Shelley. By the way, for those who know Wells but don't know Christopher Priest, I recommend the latter's Space Machine, a brilliant and sympathetic pastiche combining The Time Machine and War of the Worlds. (Priest's Inverted World and Dream of Wessex are two of the best SF ever.) And Kingsley Amis wrote a great piece of allohistory called The Alteration, about a 20th-century boy singer's attempts to avoid castration in a Europe which escaped the Reformation (if Philip K. Dick's Man in the High Castle counts as Science Fiction, then so does this.)

When American writers set their stories in Britain, the results are not always very successful. Connie Willis' Doomsday Book is a great book, but seriously flawed because she tries to portray mid-21st-century Britain as "quaint", with time-travelling devices but no phones that work. Still, it's a thousand times better than her awful Passage, which is set in America. In the 1960s Gregory Benford wrote Timescape, set partly in Cambridge (Engl.) in the 1990s: unfortunately all his favourite locations had disappeared by the real 1990s. But he couldn't help that, and it's a good book. (Re his "Eater", see my note a few posts up. )

One of the most interesting things about "near future" SF is seeing how well predictions come true, and what the writers failed to predict. Did ANYONE predict the Internet?

ToSeek
2004-Nov-20, 06:05 PM
What's that got to do with logic?

Because 'a' is wrong it doesn't make 'b' wrong. You'd learn that if you ever study scientific methodolgy. We once didn't know about subatomic particles therefore warp speed is possible? Huh? No logical connection.

It's like saying we once didn't know about subatomic particles therefore ghosts are possible. Leprechauns are possible. Why is Relativity not valid because we once didn't know about subatomic particles?

You are misunderstanding me (and I find it hard to believe that it's not deliberate). What I'm saying is that once upon a time notions that are now regarded as part of mainstream physics would have been derided as ludicrous and fanciful (such as quantum physics and most of the theory of relativity that you regard as utterly sacred and proved beyond all possible doubt). You have no way of concluding that it's impossible that a hundred years from now some sort of "warp drive" could fall into the same category, even though now it seems as unlikely as things being both particles and waves would have been a hundred years ago.

fossilnut
2004-Nov-20, 06:52 PM
escoville. Who could not like H.G. Wells ' Time Machine'! So British.

The book also contains , however, one of the worse (in a good way) lines in all of science fiction. The main character is sitting in his time machine and his friend asks him how the machine works. I expected some detailed explanation of time travel but instead he states something like ' Push the lever forward to go into the future and pull it back to travel to the past'.

Interesting how even the Time Machine is as much a social commentary as a great tale. The Brits manage to pack a lot of ideology into a story without reducing it to 'us versus them'. 'Them' is usually just 'us' if we aren't vigilant to protect ourselves against a creeping totalitarianism or the consequences of machinery of state out of control (such as in 'On the Beach' or Dr. Strangelove').

Fram
2004-Nov-22, 11:09 AM
Regarding the non-American writers: I think Stanislaw Lem was already mentioned in this thread, and else, he should be!
And for the record, I love the SF books by Dutch youth writer Tonke Dragt. She is really brilliant, always an enjoyable read, and one of her fantasy books has just been voted the best Dutch childrens book of the last fifty years. I don't know if her work is translated much, but it should be 8) . I have found that one of her SF books (The towers of february) ha been translated in English, and most of her works have been translated into German.

Ilya
2004-Nov-22, 06:58 PM
My absolute favorite SF is "Galactic Center" series by Gregory Benford. Second (and very, very different in style) are Hal Colebatch's contributions to "Man-Kzin Wars" series.

Sigma_Orionis
2004-Nov-22, 07:46 PM
I Have no mouth and I must Scream (Harlan Ellison)

I read this years ago, but it still totally sticks out in my memory. Kind of Matrix-like, but a lot better (and a short story to boot). The ending is an almost perfect example of hell.

Couldn't agree more :)

fossilnut
2004-Nov-24, 06:17 PM
"and a short story to boot"

I once heard Ray Bradbury make a comment on the short story versus the novel. He stated that there is is no story or plot that can't be written in a short story. Wheareas, a novel isn't about 'a story' but about a 'character'....the story in a novel is just a means of developing the character. The same character could be developed using any plot in the form of a SF, western, war, adventure, romance, thriller, etc.

zebo-the-fat
2004-Nov-24, 10:35 PM
Dragons egg by Robert L. Forward was great, just for the ideas if nothing else! Has anybody read Cosm (can't remember who wrote it) ?

Humots
2004-Nov-25, 12:27 AM
Dragons egg by Robert L. Forward was great, just for the ideas if nothing else! Has anybody read Cosm (can't remember who wrote it) ?

Gregory Benford, I believe.

Ilya
2004-Nov-25, 08:41 PM
Dragons egg by Robert L. Forward was great, just for the ideas if nothing else!

Perfect description of all Forward's books - great ideas, and nothing else. Neither story nor characterization.


Has anybody read Cosm (can't remember who wrote it) ?

Gregory Benford.

Humots
2004-Nov-25, 10:38 PM
Perfect description of all Forward's books - great ideas, and nothing else. Neither story nor characterization.

That's true of a lot of hard Science Fiction: the ideas come first, and if the author can do a good job of story telling and characterization, so much the better.

Ilya
2004-Nov-25, 10:55 PM
True, but Robert Forward was an extreme case - INCREDIBLY good ideas, excellent science, and TOTAL lack of plot or character depth. Ben Bova is a less extreme example of the same -- ideas not quite as amazing, but still very good, while plot and characters very weak, but at least they exist.

Greg Benford is my favorite hard SF writer because he shines in all of the above categories.

Gullible Jones
2004-Nov-26, 01:46 AM
Benford's good, but he should never have attempted to write a sequal to Against the Fall of Night. Beyond the Fall of Night might as well take place in a different universe...

Morrolan
2004-Nov-26, 02:07 AM
JohnD: IIRC, Peter F. Hamilton is also a Brit.

Parrothead
2004-Nov-26, 04:36 PM
It has been awhile since I've read any SF. Some that I've enjoyed have been mentioned, works by Wells, Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov, Wyndham (noticed he was finally mentioned). Eon and Eternity by Greg Bear. Someone mentioned Mary Shelley, Frankenstein is a classic (ok may be filed as horror/fiction), but it's questions very much apply to present day. I'm going to have to look into titles mentioned in this thread, as well as re-read some others. :D

HerrProfessorDoktor
2004-Dec-16, 01:18 AM
And I've just read Titan by Stephen Baxter, and liked it a lot, although it's very pessimistic.

I agree, Titan is nothing to read if you're prone to bouts of depression. It's pretty grim. However I did think it was one of the most tactilely real SF books I've ever read. Baxter has certainly done his homework on NASA, and the nuts and bolts visualization of spaceflight he offers in Titan, Voyage and the Manifold series are unmatched by any other authors I've read.

I didn't buy the simplistic worldview in that book that allowed the entire population of the US to turn into raving religious nuts overnight. But, I did find the picture he paints of the decline of NASA and the rise of public apathy after the loss of Columbia in 2003 (it was written a few years before that) really eerie. I'm sure it would have been depressing to read a few years ago, but now it's even more so. Fanaticism rises, science funding falls, the world blows up. The end. :(

On the lighter side, the first two Manifold books, Time and Space were some of the most enjoyable speculative romps I've read in a long time. The image of the protagonists watching on a conference room TV as a little squid travels through time to witness the heat death of the universe was priceless. :lol:

Also in the recent bin, Tony Daniels' Metaplanetary was amazing, though it started to slow down once war broke out. Then it slides into more conventional military SF territory. But, the experience of the rest of the book more than makes up for it.

I wish Greg Egan would come out with something new! Reading Diaspora and Schild's Ladder was the closest I've ever come to a religious experience.