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Topic: Don't Know Where To Start

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Subject: Don't Know Where To Start
Date Posted: 12/5/2007 4:36 PM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2007
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I really want to try some Science Fiction books. My daughter loves them but she reads more for teens. I've looked at the books posted for about a week now but every one I look at is book 3 or book7 in a series. I need your help. I love Dean Koontz and King. (mostly horror I know) I know if the book gets to technical I'll just stop reading it. I'm not giving you much to go on but I'm not sure myself where to start so thanks for any help you can give.
Date Posted: 12/5/2007 5:38 PM ET
Member Since: 8/4/2007
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If you are looking for science fiction rather than fantasy, here are a few you might like. 

Expendable by James Alan Gardner

Enders Game by Orson Scott Card

Dune by Frank Herbert

Dragonquest (Dragonriders of Pern) by Anne McCafferty  (1st book of the series - it leans toward fantasy, but very enjoyable)

Hyperion by Dan Simmons (my favorite -- it can get a little on the technical side, but you can skim over the heavy tech parts and still understand what is going on)

Your guidelines were pretty general so I have listed mostly what people consider as classics of the genre.  All of them are the first book in a series, but they can be read as a stand alone book as well.   Of course, there are a ton of others as well...

Date Posted: 12/6/2007 6:09 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2007
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Cindy,

I would also recommend "Enders Game" by Orson Scott Card.

Card has written many other books, around these characters, but don't let that fool you. This book functions very well as a stand alone book. AND it's a great introductory read into Science Fiction

I would second "Hyperion", but even though I adore that book, it does get dense (technical) some might call it -- the problem is that the story is told through FOUR different points of view.

I would instead recommend the following book:

"A Fire Upon the Deep" by Vernor Vinge -- It is a great story of First Contact told from an alien perspective!!! If you end-up liking it, I could recommend to you, another similar title:

"The Genesis Quest" by Donald Moffitt. There is a second book in this story called "Second Genesis", but NOT reading it does not detract from enjoying the first book!

Enjoy!

 

Date Posted: 12/6/2007 10:18 PM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2007
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Thanks for your help. I'm off to look up some SF books.
Date Posted: 12/8/2007 3:07 PM ET
Member Since: 7/28/2007
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A good trilogy within Anne McCaffrey's larger series of books set on the planet Pern is the Harper Hall trilogy.  The main character is a young girl/woman named Menolly.  The three books are:

Dragonsong

Dragonsinger

Dragondrums

Date Posted: 12/14/2007 9:51 AM ET
Member Since: 12/7/2007
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sci fi & fantasy overlap so it really depends on what u are looking for in a book. I just read Raymond Feist's serpentwar series & really enjoyed. I love the Anne MacCaffrey Pern series to, at 1st it takes a little to get into but that is just because it is a different world etc. Stick with it & u will love them, i am sure. Also, have u read the Harry Potter's series? Eragon? Just because they are labeled teens we adults loved them as well. happy reading!

Date Posted: 12/15/2007 2:49 PM ET
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I have read all the Potter books and loved them. I also read both Eragon and Eldest. Like them too. I just finished Dune. Very good. I'm going to my library and looking into McCaffrey. I've seen a ton of her books there. I'll try one and if I like it will order from here.
Date Posted: 12/15/2007 3:24 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2007
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I have read a ton of Anne McCaffrey, but strangely NONE of her Dragonrider's series.

Hopefully, I'll catch-up with all of that soon. If you finished DUNE, you just finished a seminal Science Fiction work.

I would definitely then recommend the "The Foundation Series" by Isaac Asimov. It consists of:

1) Foundation

2) Foundation and Empire

3) Second Foundation

A discussion can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_series

These can be enjoyed by themselves OR you can read the whole series!

This is world building on the order of Dune and Harry Potter, where something in an earlier book affects a later book.

 

Enjoy

Date Posted: 12/15/2007 3:25 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2007
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Forgot to mention, if I ever get the Foundation Trilogy omnibus back -- I've lent it out, I'll be glad to POST IT!!!!

Date Posted: 12/16/2007 6:59 PM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2007
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Science fantasy is SO varied (as is fantasy, which it sounds like you like as well), and the SF readers I know  seem to have such varying tastes, that it's hard to decide what to suggest. I agree with a lot of the suggestions above, and disagree with some of them.  (For instance, I can't stand the Hyperion series, personally - and not because it's dense; I just don't like it.) My suggestion is that you check out the lists of novels that have won the two major SF/fantasy awards, the Hugo and the Nebula, over the years - you may not like all of them, but you can figure that, as the saying goes, "People who like this sort of thing will like this a lot."  I have read more than half of these (I grew up in a SF-reading houshold and my parents owned a lot of the older ones!) and liked most of the ones I've read (even in areas of  SF that I generally don't like much. 

The links are: Nebulas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebula_Award_for_Best_Novel

and

Hugos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Award_for_Best_Novel

The name of each book is linked to a short entry describing it, so you can see if the summaries sound appealing. You might want to start with the ooks that one BOTH awards (which are footnoted), since those obviously impressed two separate awards committees at once. And, conversely, a lot of the other nominees that lost are also awfully good, IMHO.

I can't do justice to the huge variety of great books out there, but here's a small scattering of my favorite writers, and books you might read to try them out, that came  to my mind inspired by those lists:

Lois McMaster Bujold (heavily represented in the awards): start with "Shards of Honor" (or the two-book combo "Cordelia's Honor," which includes that and another book, plus a short story in between). Or, in fantasy, "The Curse of Chalion" or the connected Hugo winner "Paladin of Souls".

C. J. Cherryh: try "Cyteen" if you're up for something pretty long and complicated (it's available as either one book or, sometimes, three separate paperbacks starting with "Cyteen: The Betrayal"); "Downbelow Station" if you're up for something, uh, still pretty long and complicated (but not as much); or the "Chanur" series (starting wtih "The Pride of Chanur," or the 3-volume set "The Chanur Saga") for something a bit simpler.

Ursula K. LeGuin: try "The Left Hand of Darkness" if you're up for a fairly mindbending and fairly feminist book dealing with a group of hermaphroditic humans on another planet; "The Earthsea Trilogy" (and its two sequels - it's actually a pentalogy now) for a really wonderful fantasy series (starting with "A Wizard of Earthsea").

Roger Zelazny: the Amber series, starting with "Nine Princes in Amber".

Marion Zimmer Bradley: the Darkover series, starting perhaps with "Darkover Landfall" (a prequel) or else with, say, "The Heritage of Hastur". Or, of course, her most famous book, the Arthurian fantasy and mainstream bestseller "The Mists of Avalon" (I don't personally consider it either one of her best books OR one of my favorite Arthurian fantasies, but then, tastes really do differ).

Robert Heinlein: "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress"  - this is a classic, and IMHO the best book by one of the early giants of the field (though he also wrote a lot of books I don't like). Or his "juveniles", like "Red Planet" or "Between Planets" or "Farmer in the Sky".

Have fun!



Last Edited on: 12/30/07 4:36 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/17/2007 11:51 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
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One of my favorite books was Ursula K. Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness. It's not technical at all, a very character-driven story.

Date Posted: 12/17/2007 11:25 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2007
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Rebecca (aka Bookmuncher),

You took a different, and I think on the whole better tack -- I agree wholeheartedly with your approach. There was a time I used to make an effort to read every single book (every single year at that!) that was at least nominated for a HUGO!!!

That's how I came to appreciate and love Vernor Vinge (he's won a couple) and a couple of others.

Like, I said, Hyperion is an acquired taste. I recommend it, BUT NOT for the novice reader. Other than that, I bet our tastes are not that different!

Date Posted: 12/21/2007 12:18 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
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   One of the easiest ways to get used to reading SF is the way  started out, by reading short story collections. The Hugo Winners collections have the award-winning stories from each year, as do the plethora of "Best Sf of 19__" collections. The short stories can give basic concepts of SF in short, easily digestible doses, and give you exposure to a range of authors. The earlier mention of Heinlein is the best suggestion anyone can give to a beginner. His juvenile novels are easy to understand, but not dumbed down. His adult novels and short stories are almost all classics. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND  is a novel that every adult in civilized society should read. (Yes, I know it had strong influences on Charles Manson. So did the Beach Boys.)

 

Date Posted: 12/21/2007 12:18 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 285
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  One of the easiest ways to get used to reading SF is the way  started out, by reading short story collections. The Hugo Winners collections have the award-winning stories from each year, as do the plethora of "Best Sf of 19__" collections. The short stories can give basic concepts of SF in short, easily digestible doses, and give you exposure to a range of authors. The earlier mention of Heinlein is the best suggestion anyone can give to a beginner. His juvenile novels are easy to understand, but not dumbed down. His adult novels and short stories are almost all classics. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND  is a novel that every adult in civilized society should read. (Yes, I know it had strong influences on Charles Manson. So did the Beach Boys.)

 

Date Posted: 12/21/2007 12:18 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 285
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 One of the easiest ways to get used to reading SF is the way  started out, by reading short story collections. The Hugo Winners collections have the award-winning stories from each year, as do the plethora of "Best Sf of 19__" collections. The short stories can give basic concepts of SF in short, easily digestible doses, and give you exposure to a range of authors. The earlier mention of Heinlein is the best suggestion anyone can give to a beginner. His juvenile novels are easy to understand, but not dumbed down. His adult novels and short stories are almost all classics. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND  is a novel that every adult in civilized society should read. (Yes, I know it had strong influences on Charles Manson. So did the Beach Boys.)

 

Date Posted: 12/21/2007 12:18 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 285
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     One of the easiest ways to get used to reading SF is the way  started out, by reading short story collections. The Hugo Winners collections have the award-winning stories from each year, as do the plethora of "Best Sf of 19__" collections. The short stories can give basic concepts of SF in short, easily digestible doses, and give you exposure to a range of authors. The earlier mention of Heinlein is the best suggestion anyone can give to a beginner. His juvenile novels are easy to understand, but not dumbed down. His adult novels and short stories are almost all classics. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND  is a novel that every adult in civilized society should read. (Yes, I know it had strong influences on Charles Manson. So did the Beach Boys.)

 

Date Posted: 12/21/2007 12:18 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 285
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    One of the easiest ways to get used to reading SF is the way  started out, by reading short story collections. The Hugo Winners collections have the award-winning stories from each year, as do the plethora of "Best Sf of 19__" collections. The short stories can give basic concepts of SF in short, easily digestible doses, and give you exposure to a range of authors. The earlier mention of Heinlein is the best suggestion anyone can give to a beginner. His juvenile novels are easy to understand, but not dumbed down. His adult novels and short stories are almost all classics. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND  is a novel that every adult in civilized society should read. (Yes, I know it had strong influences on Charles Manson. So did the Beach Boys.)

 

Date Posted: 12/21/2007 12:19 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
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     Larry Niven is also a good starter. He has several short story collections, as well as novels such as RINGWORLD

Date Posted: 12/29/2007 7:32 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2007
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The first science fiction books I ever read way  back  when were by C.J. Cherryh--the Faded Sun trilogy: Kesrith, Shon-jir, and Kutath. I fell in love with sci fi with those books and C.J. Cherryh is still the author whose books I will actually buy in hardback.

I think a book you might enjoy as a science fiction starter is Cuckoo's Egg by C.J. Cherryh. I like her Foreigner series also although I know some people don't like those as much.

 

The world of sci fi is vast and believe me there is plenty out there to explore. If you don't like one book, I'm sure you'll be able to find another. Have fun!

Subject: Sci-Fi Suggestions
Date Posted: 12/31/2007 10:16 PM ET
Member Since: 1/7/2007
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Would like to put in my two-cents worth...

...for quick easy reads I would suggest Keith Laumer's RETIEF series of books - most of them are 120 - 150 pages and are all tounge-in-cheek fun. No fancy science, no part 2, 3 or 4's and just good fun to read...you can read any of them in any sequence as they are all full stories in themselves.

Another to read would be Clifford D Simack books (any of them) . . . also Asimov's early stuff such as I, Robot and The Caves Of Steel (late 50's and 60's) . . .

     -      Good luck and I hope you get the Sci-Fi "Bug"!     -    have a Happy New Year!

Danny N (Alameda) - Havelock NC

Date Posted: 3/3/2008 12:45 AM ET
Member Since: 12/7/2007
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If you liked Harry Potter & Eragon I am sure you will love the Pern (name of the Planet) series with dragons etc by Anne MacCaffrey; also recommend T A Barron's the lost years of Merlin which are superb just read & found another favorite character, Shim, who while a giant is 1st thought to be just a dirty dwarf (he is a very small giant who wishes to be big)! super character so loveable! have you read the Dark Elf Trilogy by R A Salvadore? & met the best beloved charactor of all time drizzit? highly recommended!

Date Posted: 3/3/2008 7:44 AM ET
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I agree. Short story collections, like the Hugo award winners for each year, are a good way to find an author or style you like. There were some excellent short stories I read that would have made excellent full length novels.

 

Date Posted: 3/3/2008 9:21 PM ET
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I've never like reading short stories. I don't know why. I just finished There Will Be Dragons by John Ringo. It's on my keeper shelf along with Dune. My daughter has a bunch of Stephen Brust novels she wants me to read. (did I spell is name right?) Thanks to everyones suggestions. I also have Dragonquest on my TBR pile. I think SF/F will be a new favorite.
Date Posted: 3/15/2008 9:22 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2008
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For someone starting out in SF, Heinlein is one of the best writers to try.  His aproach to SF shaped the whole genre.  If you want to try Heinlien DON'T start with 'Stranger In A Strange Land'!  Try 'I Will Fear No Evil' or as previously mentioned 'The Moon I A Harsh Mistress'.  Both of those books pushed some boundaries with socially acceptable behaviour, but neither pushed too hard.

For a more lighthearted approach, try the writer known as "The New Robert HeinLein"... Spider Robinson.  He has several books that would make it easier to slide into the genre, 'The Free Lunch' and 'Callahan's Lady'.

 

Take all of these suggestions in stride though, SF is a vast place and there are whole worlds out there for you to discover!