Discussion Forums - Science Fiction

Topic: Would like to try Sci Fi, can you help me choose?

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
Page:   Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Would like to try Sci Fi, can you help me choose?
Date Posted: 1/9/2010 2:59 AM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2007
Posts: 2,825
Back To Top

I have been reading the forum for a while trying to learn up, but I still don't know where to start.

I think I would do better starting with a book set on Earth, or simillar. I have read a lot of Stephen King, and I have seen his books mentioned a few times in regards to Sci Fi. I never thought of his books as science fiction before...but I do see the connection. I read The Host by Stephenie Meyer and meh, it was okay.

A really, really long time ago when I was a young teen I read a book about a set of twins. I can't remember much about it other than there was a shed or a building of some sort that sped up time. Not the building itself, but maybe the land under it? One twin went in and made himself older...

LOL, not much to go on. Hmm, I would probably like to stay away from ray guns, space ships, anything too Star Trekie. Not that those are bad things!! I just know that my favorite Star Trek episodes were when they would land on planets. Earth type planets....oh dear, I feel like I've commited some Sci Fi sin,  I don't want to offend the masses!

Maybe Fantasy would be a better starting point for me?

 

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 11:24 AM ET
Member Since: 12/23/2009
Posts: 26
Back To Top

I don't read too much sci-fi, but I really loved Gabriel Faust's Eternal Vigilence series - it's a strange cross of the sci/fi/cyberpunk/vampire genres.  It's beautifully written. 


I also liked Infected, and the follow-up, contageous, by Scott Sigler; and also his brilliant novel, Ancestor

Dan Simmons' Hyperion

Doomsday Book by Willis

Sphere and Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

How about a classic like HG Wells' War of the Worlds, or Frank Herbert's Dune series, or Farenheit 451, or Slaughterhouse 5?



Last Edited on: 1/9/10 11:36 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/9/2010 11:26 AM ET
Member Since: 12/23/2009
Posts: 26
Back To Top

Oh, I forgot to mention Crescent by Phil Rossi, that was an amazing read!  It's a cross between Sci-Fi & horror

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 12:09 PM ET
Member Since: 1/6/2010
Posts: 60
Back To Top

If you like stories with people exploring earth-like planets, you might enjoy The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell.  It's about a group that is the first to explore another planet and make contact with the aliens there, and the planet and alien societies are really well-planned and convincing.  It's also good if you're looking for something more serious and not in the vein of a light "space opera", since she gets into issues with religion and how people react to extremely bad experiences.

 

I also second the recommendation of Dune, The Doomsday Book, and Fahrenheit 451, since those are some of my favorites.

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 5:21 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
Posts: 447
Back To Top

  What are some authors you like that aren't sci-fi/fantasy?  That might help us pick some SF books that you would enjoy.

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 6:16 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

What kind of story are you looking for? Do you like plenty of action, great character development, humor, big ideas lovingly explored? (Obviously the best books have all of the above, but which of those things are must-haves instead of just it would be nice?) Do you like books that explore philosophy or politics, or do you prefer books that avoid those subjects? Do you like depressing novels or uplifting ones? :)

For that matter, which Stephen King novels are your favorites? That might give us some idea of what elements of SF and fantasy appeal to you and which don't. . .

But as for generic SF recommendations, if you want to get a feel for the genre you should start with the Golden Age authors: Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, Clarke. . . Wikipedia has a nice list here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_age_of_science_fiction

I believe the first major science fiction series I read was Isaac Asimov's Foundation series and his Robot novels. . . since you wanted something set on one planet, I'd start with the robot novels, so read I, Robot (a collection of short stories surrounding the invention of the positronic brain) followed by Caves of Steel (a murder mystery set in the future where the detectives are a New York City policeman and a robot). After that I read (and loved) Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke, which is about humanity's reaction to being approached by an alien species for the first time.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 1/9/2010 8:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
Back To Top

Greg Bear has written a number of hard science fiction stories set here on Earth.  I'd recommend Blood Music and Vitals as the best.  Despite the setting, he includes a lot of scientific detail, which can be tedious for some people. 

If you're more interested in political/sociological SF, you could try The Children of Men by P.D. James (very, very different from the movie, if you've seen that).

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 8:45 PM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2007
Posts: 2,825
Back To Top

Thanks everyone!

Do you like plenty of action, great character development, humor, big ideas lovingly explored?

Absolutely!

I love historical fiction & mysteries...I don't like romance. I will put up with it in small amounts if it isn't what the whole book is revolved around.

I like anything outdoors, woodsy,  people living off the land.

I liked Under The Dome, thought Dreamcatchers was okay, The Stand. I guess I'm open to the whole alien invasion idea.

I did read half of 1632 by Eric Flint, would that be SF or fantasy? 

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 9:09 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

1632 is alternate history (I think), which can be classified as either science fiction or fantasy because it doesn't really fit in either. :) It's "speculative fiction" at its purest, in a way. . . at least in my opinion!

If you enjoy historical fiction and mysteries I would strongly recommend Farthing by Jo Walton and its sequels. . . it starts out as a classic British country house mystery that just happens to take place in an England that made peace with Hitler in 1941; all the alternate history world-buiding goes on out of the corner of your eye, and then about 2/3 of the way through it comes to the fore and punches you in the gut. It's great.

And just about my favorite science fiction novels are Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga. . . they are space opera, so there's very little of the pure idea-driven science fiction about them, but Bujold writes really excellent characters that grow significantly over the course of the series, she paces her stories better than just about any other author out there, there's humor and pathos in just the right proportions. All the books stand on their own (which is nice) but they're best if read either in publication order or in series chronological order; either way you would start with Shards of Honor (which can be found in the omnibus Cordelia's Honor with the next book in series chronological order, Barrayar). It does have romance, but the romance is a subplot. Here are two descriptions found on different editions of the novel; the very different tone of each should give you some hint of the width and breadth and depth Bujold is capable of:

Cordelia Naismith, Betan Survey Captain, was expecting the unexpected: hexapods, floating creatures, odd parasites... She was not, however, expecting to find hostile humans on an uninhabited planet. And she wasn't really expecting to fall in love with a 40-plus barbarian known to cosmopolitan galactics as the Butcher of Komarr. Will Mother ever understand? And can such an odd beast as love survive an interplanetary war?

*     *     *

Commander Cordelia Naismith of Beta Colony and Captain Aral Vorkosigan of Barrayar suddenly find themselves at war with each other, abandoned by their respective forces on an uncharted planet and dependent on each other for their very survival. Trapped in an endless war without victory or glory and only one thing worth fighting for...Shards of Honor.

And one other recommendation before I go. . . there are plenty of novels that blend the lines between science fiction and fantasy; Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels have been favorites of mine forever, for example, and if you like the idea of people living off the land but want the land to be a bit more exotic than good ol' Earth (different creatures, different landscapes, maybe aliens, maybe humans with powers) they might be a good place for you to start. You could also try Orson Scott Card's Worthing Saga.

Hope some of these sound interesting to you, and welcome to the SF fold! :)

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 9:58 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
Posts: 447
Back To Top

Besides what everyone else has suggested -which looks really good to me. Here's some more:

Time and Again Jack Finney Time travel back to lincoln's era slight amount of peripheral romance. He wrote soylent green too (I think) (classic IMO)

Special Deliverance Clifford Simak -a group of people from different worlds (very different types of worlds) are transported onto yet another world to solve a sort of  problem - quest.  He usually writes harder science fiction.  This is closer to fantasy

Friday   Robert  Heinlein  super engineered woman is a sort of spy courier -has adventures

If you like  the movies Blade Runner, Total Recall or Minority Report Phillip K Dick wrote the stories the movies were based on.  He has a bunch of short stories & novels.  

Bellwether -Connie Willis really funny easy read takes place in present day USA





 

Date Posted: 1/10/2010 1:37 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,091
Back To Top

I'd recommend Octavia Butler.  Maybe Parable of the Sower or Kindred.  They are both set on earth, Parable is a science fiction novel set on earth in the future, and Kindred is more of a fantasy novel.

Personally, I don't think I'd suggest that you start with the classic science fiction authors (although I did, but that was 30 years ago).  The genre has changed dramatically since then, and I'm not sure that most of the Classic authors will really hold up to someone used to reading today's literature, though I will make an exception for Phillip K Dick as he completely transcended the genre.  ETA: I don't mean that you won't necessarily enjoy the classic authors, but I'm not sure that reading them will give you a good idea of what's going on in science fiction today, and if you don't like them you may give up on the genre and miss other books that you will really enjoy.

You may also be interested in Spider Robinson.  His Callahan series has mostly stories and lots of puns, which are fun and fluffy reads.  Books like Stardance and Mindkiller are quite different, and a bit more substantial.  All are set on Earth, and there are no ray guns involved.

I will also second the suggestion that totally violates the "no ray guns or spaceships" rule but I'll be stunned if you don't really enjoy any way: Lois McMaster Bujold's Cordelia's Honor.  The plot centers around a world that was cut of from the rest of humanity and reverted to a more primitive technology, then was reintegrated with the rest of the more technologically advanced worlds.  It does have ray guys and spaceships, as I said, but they aren't the purpose of the story.



Last Edited on: 1/10/10 1:43 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/10/2010 1:40 AM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2007
Posts: 2,825
Back To Top

Wow! Thank you all so much! I'm excited to start exploring this genre.

Date Posted: 1/10/2010 6:50 PM ET
Member Since: 10/31/2009
Posts: 84
Back To Top

Tara mentioned Michael Crichton, and I think that's a good suggestion for someone testing the waters.  His science fiction books have such broad appeal that they often aren't even thought of as scince fiction.

"Do you like plenty of action, great character development, humor, big ideas lovingly explored?

Absolutely!

I love historical fiction & mysteries...I don't like romance. I will put up with it in small amounts if it isn't what the whole book is revolved around.

I like anything outdoors, woodsy,  people living off the land."

To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer is all that and a bag of chips.  The story is about how all of Earth's dead find themselves resurrected young and healthy along the banks of a giant, planet spanning river.  The story is told from the perspective of Richard Francis Burton as he seeks to not only survive on this new world, but to uncover the reasons behind its very existance.

Date Posted: 1/11/2010 3:02 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

I feel I must dissent from the recommendation of Michael Chrichton. . . I have enjoyed his novels quite a bit, but one thing that bugs me if I read them in bunches is that science always seems to be the source of the danger in his novels. . . and that subtly anti-scientific bent is not one I like to subject myself to in large doses. Obviously he isn't the only author that does that; the genre seems pretty close to evenly split into authors that paint science as something that will make our lives better and those that paint it as the greatest danger we can face. But I definitely like to stick to the former half. :)

Date Posted: 1/11/2010 9:13 PM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2009
Posts: 64
Back To Top

Oh my...BUJOLD!!!! You can start with The Warrier's Apprintice since most of her stories in the series revolve around this stories main character, Miles. Like stated above, it does have some scenes set in space, but it is wonderfuly character-driven. Miles is absollutly brillant, and I suggest starting with Young Miles as this is the 1st 2 novels and a novella...enjoy!!
 

Subject: I recommend Elizabeth Moon's Remnant Population
Date Posted: 1/23/2010 8:59 PM ET
Member Since: 1/2/2010
Posts: 69
Back To Top

Thankfully, now I can add text.  I recommend either Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon or, if you want somehting on earth, 1632 by Eric Flint. 

Remnant Population is about a Grandma who is a colonist on another planet.  She is a sweet old lady who you don't want to mess with.  Nothing to techy, just a good story about surviving on your own and putting one over on the company.

1632 is the first book in a series by Eric Flint with several co-authors.  You can read it online at www.Baen.com in their free library.  This is an interesting twist on the Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court type story.  It is so popular that they have about 10 or so published novels and a Ezine called Grantville Gazette that is at 27 bimonthly issues and still going strong.



Last Edited on: 1/26/10 9:34 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Subject: Robert Stallman and Orson Scott Card.
Date Posted: 1/28/2010 2:30 PM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2009
Posts: 843
Back To Top

I would recommend Robert Stallman The Beast Trilogy.

It is about a beast that is trapped in a human body and how it is finally freed.  Comical, mystical and sad at the same time.

The books are called - The Orphan, the Captive, the Beast.

Orson Scott Card - Ender books   (all of them). At a minimum Enders's Game, Ender's Shadow and Shadow Puppets.  Smart, clean, intelligent books.

Date Posted: 2/3/2010 11:21 PM ET
Member Since: 4/13/2009
Posts: 285
Back To Top

Another strong recommendation for the Vorkosigan series by Bujold - She's always the author I recommend to friends that don't normally read science fiction.   There are a number of ways to approach them, but based on your preferences I'd start with Shards of Honor and Barrayar (or just read the omnibus Cordelia's Honor) and then go on to the Warrior's Apprentice.

By the way, the story you remember about the twin brothers is probably Singularity by William Sleator - he's the same author who wrote The House of Stairs,  one of my favorite books as a teen.

Subject: Couple of Sci-Fi 'classics'
Date Posted: 2/4/2010 6:07 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

I'd like to recommend A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller.  It's about the USA of the Future, after the 'know-nothings' have rebelled abainst science and technology and driven the scientists and engineers into a shadow world, and what happens when some 'sacred' relics and documents are discovered by some monks of a strange esoteric order.

Also, don't miss Stranger in a Strange World, about a fellow born and raised on Mars who is 'rescued' and returns to Earth, where the earthlings have one helluva time understanding him, even though he speaks their lingo.

Date Posted: 2/4/2010 8:34 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

Bonnie: Do you mean Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein? It is a classic, and an enjoyable read to boot. . .

I tried A Canticle for Leibowitz once, because it's one of my father's favorite novels of all time, but I just couldn't get into it. It's REALLY slow. . . but for those who love it, Miller published a sequel a few years ago called Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horsewoman.

Subject: Oops . .
Date Posted: 2/5/2010 6:21 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

Yes, Phoenix Falls, I did mean Heinlein's novel----I don't know how come I made that mistake in the title.  Please say Hello to your dad from a  fellow fan of Canticle........ 

Date Posted: 2/5/2010 7:20 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

Will do. . . did you read the sequel? If so, what did you think? (He wasn't that impressed. . . but he loved Canticle so much I don't see how any sequel could have matched it for him. . .)

Date Posted: 2/6/2010 7:38 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

Nope, I haven't read the sequel yet, but intend to do so, even if it's probable I'll agree with your dad about its merits.  I signed up for the Classics Challenge for 2010, but I'll have room in my reading schedule for other choices besides the "classics" in the coming year.  I wouldn't like a steady diet of all one genre----I enjoy other genres too much for that.  And besides, the other genres all have their own "classics", don't you agree?  (Do you ever read Ursula K. LeGuin?) 

Date Posted: 2/7/2010 1:18 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

I absolutely agree with that. . . and I have read LeGuin's Earthsea cycle but somehow haven't gotten around to the rest of her work yet. . . loved the Earthsea books. . .

I should have planned more leeway in my challenge schedule. . . it's frustrating the heck out of me that I've discovered new authors and series I love doing my challenges, but don't have time to read more by them because I can't force any more of their books into the challenges!

Date Posted: 2/10/2010 1:05 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,670
Back To Top

anything by Sherri S Tepper ... particularly Grass (one of my absolute favorites)

anything by Ursula LeGuin - particularly The Left Hand of Darkness or The Word for World is Forest

everybody who is interested in science fiction should read Dune

Mararet Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale

Page: