Sci-fi S/D

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I have never read any science fiction, not even the Hitchhiker series. Can you tell me some good ones to start from?

Fred (Fred), Thursday, 10 June 2004 20:00 (sixteen years ago) link

I could list loads, but here are just several I love:
Philip K. Dick - maybe Man In The High Castle or Ubik.
Sam Delany - Babel-17 or the Einstein Intersection.
Damon Knight - The Man In The Tree
China Mieville - I read The Scar, but from what I hear Perdido Street Station is a better start.
Theodore Sturgeon - More Than Human
J.G. Ballard - well High-Rise was published as if it were SF.
Stanislaw Lem - nearly anything
Arthur C. Clarke - The City And The Stars (really, it's great)
Michael Coney - The Celestial Steam Locomotive
Keith Roberts - Pavane
Ursula Le Guin - The Left Hand Of Darkness or The Dispossessed

That's off the top of my head - I can dig out more suggestions if you want, but that should be ample to be going on with. If you mention your other tastes, I can focus a bit.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Thursday, 10 June 2004 20:45 (sixteen years ago) link

Ballard's short stories are the shit

fcussen (Burger), Thursday, 10 June 2004 20:51 (sixteen years ago) link

I second the City in the Stars.

More suggestions here

School Me On Some Sci-Fi My Astral Brothers And Sisters!

You could do worse than these

Dune--Frank Herbert
Childhood's End--Arthur C. Clarke
Foundation--Isaac Asimov
Stranger in a Strange Land--Robert Heinlein
Neuromancer--William Gibson
Hyperion--Dan Simmons

otto, Thursday, 10 June 2004 20:58 (sixteen years ago) link

I've got Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein, will it be a good starting point?

Fred (Fred), Friday, 11 June 2004 08:32 (sixteen years ago) link

Thanks for the list Martin Skidmore, I guess I would like humorous or soft science fiction.

Fred (Fred), Friday, 11 June 2004 08:56 (sixteen years ago) link

Douglas Adams (as you mention in your original post) is a great place to start. It's a trilogy of five.

Mikey G (Mikey G), Friday, 11 June 2004 09:09 (sixteen years ago) link

I have got the 5 hitchhiker books with me, so I just might start with them. Thanks for the link otto.

Fred (Fred), Friday, 11 June 2004 09:34 (sixteen years ago) link

You can't really go wrong with any (or all, if you have time!) of Gollancz's SF Masterworks series.

Personal favourite is Alfred Bester - 'The Stars My Destination' (originally published as 'Tiger, Tiger') is just a fantastic read, dark and funny.

Mog, Friday, 11 June 2004 09:50 (sixteen years ago) link

Ursula LeGuin's short stories are a good place to start on her type of anthropological sci-fi - the two "The Wind's Twelve Quarters" collections are both really good.

Jeff Noon's 'Falling out of cars' is a really good post-apocalptic-y novel; his short story collection, 'pixel juice', can be patchy but has some wonderful cyberpunky shorts. (He's in love with words, and it can get a little too much, but can also be breathstopping gorgeous.)

The short stories archived at sci-fiction can be pretty good, too, and are conveniently online.

cis (cis), Friday, 11 June 2004 09:51 (sixteen years ago) link

I'd start with an anthology of short stories. There are lots available on Amazon.

SRH (Skrik), Friday, 11 June 2004 09:54 (sixteen years ago) link

Neil Stephenson - Snow Crash.

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Friday, 11 June 2004 09:58 (sixteen years ago) link


I second the emotion for the SF Masterworks series. And you can get them new in Fopp (if you live near one) for a tasty fiver each. That's class.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Friday, 11 June 2004 11:29 (sixteen years ago) link

For funny sci-fi, there's also Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat series.

otto, Friday, 11 June 2004 12:09 (sixteen years ago) link

Iain M Banks Culture series or (from what I've read so far) any of Philip K Dick's pre-breakdown novels, though the rest aren't bad either if you can handle your head being messed with.

Onimo (GerryNemo), Friday, 11 June 2004 13:40 (sixteen years ago) link

Is there any SF book in which the focus is on commerce, rather than technology, of the future?

Fred (Fred), Friday, 11 June 2004 15:44 (sixteen years ago) link

S: Sci.
D: Fi.

Casuistry (Chris P), Friday, 11 June 2004 17:07 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes! Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossessed, which features lots of stuff about economics.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Friday, 11 June 2004 19:56 (sixteen years ago) link

I gave a reading once with Ursula Le Guin. She seemed nice.

Casuistry (Chris P), Friday, 11 June 2004 23:54 (sixteen years ago) link

I love books, and I love Ursula Le Guin! In fact I just wrote a paper on how she redifined traditional notions of text/literature as a ?? post-modernist author. What fun!

kath (kath), Saturday, 12 June 2004 02:54 (sixteen years ago) link

Great stuff on commerce in Fred Pohl & C.M. Kornbluth's Gladiator-at-Law and The Space Merchants.

I oppose the recommendation of anything by Asimov, unless you have very high tolerance for awful prose, and possibly for Heinlein too, except there are a couple of very neat early time travel shorts, on the basis of his having the emotional maturity of a 12 year old and being very right wing.

Favourite funny SF: much of Stanislaw Lem and Robert Sheckley.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Saturday, 12 June 2004 12:30 (sixteen years ago) link

Even though I started that other thread to express my latent desire to read some sci-fi I'll post on here cuz this thread is more current, thus closer to the future! I picked up a bunch of collections at the thrift store -25 cents apiece- and I'm gonna plow through them soon. It will be my sci-fi summer. Anyway, I got 4 Nebula award collections. How do people rate those? They are even in order! 29 to 32. A lot of the names mean nothing to me. Other than the biggies: Le Guin, Silverberg, Vance, Ellison.
I also got a big collection of stuff from Galaxy magazine. That as all the biggies in it: Pohl, Dick, Leiber, Sturgeon, etc. Also someone I don't know with a really cool sci-fi name: Algis Budrys. Lots of 50's and 60's stuff for the most part.
I got a collection of sci-fi "travel" stories (which seems kinda redundant) called Not The Only Planet that looks pretty cool. It was put out bt the travel publisher, Lonely Planet. It's got an Aldiss story in it. I know people like him.
I got the Selected Stories of Theodore Sturgeon.
And lastly, something called The Good New Stuff which is a collection of modern sci-fi adventure stories in the pulp tradition. That one had Bruce Sterling in it. I don't know ANY of the other writers. Swanwick? Nordley? Vinge?
Anyway, pretty cool for 2 bucks! I was happy to find them. Plus, I love short stories, and I figured it was a good way to start reading sci-fi instead of plunging into some long-ass novel right off the bat. This way I get a wide range of styles and when I like something I can make a note of the author for future reading. Overall, I would say I got a pretty good cross-section of the genre. Plus, the Nebula books and even some of the others have lots of cool essays and histories of various authors, styles, lore and "state of the genre" polemics.

scott seward (scott seward), Saturday, 12 June 2004 13:02 (sixteen years ago) link

The Nebula generally went to more radical and modern stuff than the Hugos, back in the days when I paid attention. The standard isn't consistent, but there was always a lot of the best - one of the better arts awards, arguably.

Budrys wrote one excellent book, Who?, but was generally fairly dull.

Which Vinge? There are at least two I know - Joan, who wrote at least one fine novel, and Vernor. Pretty sure they were related, possibly married.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Saturday, 12 June 2004 17:09 (sixteen years ago) link

Vernor roXor.

VengaDan Perry (Dan Perry), Saturday, 12 June 2004 19:27 (sixteen years ago) link

These are my suggestions to start reading sci -fi
Try, THE ICE PEOPLE by Rene Barjavel
The Second Trip Robert Silverberg
The Time Hoppers Robert Silverberg
Pebble in the Sky I. Asimov
Songs of Distant Earth Arthur Clarke
These books are not very long books and I think, when you first look into a genre, it is important not to try long, tedious novels. These little jewels will make you want to read more...
Enjoy them!
Warmest regards

Nelly Mc Causland (Geborwyn), Saturday, 12 June 2004 20:13 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, the Vinge in the Adventure sci-fi book is Vernor.

There is this one guy in the Galaxy collection who looks really cool. I haven't read the whole story yet. He wrote under the name Cordwainer Smith. Apparently he was a professor at John Hopkins University who also wrote strange surreal sci-fi stories. The story in the collection is called The Lady Who Sailed The Soul.

scott seward (scott seward), Saturday, 12 June 2004 20:51 (sixteen years ago) link

Cordwainer Smith is one of the greats, yes - he only wrote four SF books (you can find them in even fewer volumes)(he wrote at least one classic work on I think psychological warfare too - he had a diplomatic background), and they are all wonderful. Norstrilia isn't a bad place to start, perhaps.

Nelly, I don't know The Ice People or Barjavel - can you tell me something more about it?

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Saturday, 12 June 2004 21:57 (sixteen years ago) link

I love this place :-*

Fred (Fred), Sunday, 13 June 2004 09:12 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm surprised that the discussion has made it this far without mentioning either Jules Verne or H. G. Wells! I'd recommend Wells to anybody getting into sci-fi: start with "War of the Worlds" (the granddaddy of alien invasion stories) and "The Time Machine" and go from there into some of his other books.

As for more modern stuff, I like Joe Haldeman's work (the best of which is "The Forever War") and Robert Charles Wilson also does some good stuff; his "Chronoliths" is one of the more interesting time travel works to be written in recent years.

Mark, Sunday, 13 June 2004 15:36 (sixteen years ago) link

I've never read anything by Daphne du Maurier, but I remember reading somewhere that she had written a sci-fi (about time travel?). I don't remember it's name. Would you recommend it?

Fred (Fred), Sunday, 13 June 2004 16:07 (sixteen years ago) link

I didn't even know that Daphne du Maurier had written a novel that used time travel until you mentioned it (I did some searching and discovered it was "The House on the Strand"), so I'm probably not the best person to ask. My recommendation, though, would be to pass on it; apparently it's more of a romance novel than a work of science-fiction, and if you're interested in reading sci-fi you're probably better off with the more straightforward genre works that everybody's recommending.

Mark, Monday, 14 June 2004 03:03 (sixteen years ago) link

Hmm. That's what I was thinking. I have two of her books with me but never got to read even one, lest it be too romantic for my tastes.

Fred (Fred), Monday, 14 June 2004 18:28 (sixteen years ago) link

I always steer sci-fi newbies to Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. he's a great storyteller, and his characters are memorable. these are traits found in all good books, no matter the genre. if you are indeed interested in commerce, the great classic Dune by Frank Herbert revolves around this as well as many other deep societal themes. it's hard-core sci-fi tho' -- strange names, techno-babble, mythical worlds... the works, but also the best.

Docpacey (docpacey), Monday, 14 June 2004 22:57 (sixteen years ago) link

haha I wouldn't call Frank Herbert hard sci-fi in a world that already contains Kim Stanley Robinson: his character have insides, and he's interested in them.

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Tuesday, 15 June 2004 07:54 (sixteen years ago) link

Kurt Vonnegut's 'Sirens Of Titan' counts as SF too, I guess - and is a wonderful, funny and very moving book.

Mog, Tuesday, 15 June 2004 09:25 (sixteen years ago) link

Golden Age: Frederik Pohl, Judith Merril: their granddaughter, Emily Pohl-Weary, finished up Merril's autobiography for her and won last year's Hugo. All great stuff (Emily writes not hard sci-fi but very sci-finfluenced fiction).

Current: Jim Munroe.

(Ya ya, all Canada-connected: Hey, I warned you I was into Canucks these days. Cue the Russian Futurists album!)

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Tuesday, 15 June 2004 17:13 (sixteen years ago) link


Casuistry (Chris P), Thursday, 17 June 2004 19:24 (sixteen years ago) link

four years pass...

Some help required, I'm looking for any recomendations people have for Classic Sci-Fi, excuse me if my terms are a little off beam I guess I mean classic as in taking part in the future/in space or on alien worlds/general epic-ness, as opposed to say I Am Legend or later Heinlein books.

I have read a few bits and bobs over the years (Dick/Heinlen/Asimov/Clarke etc:) but I'm wondering what the big space opera style books are like and who to read, but I've no idea where to start or who to start with.

The net throws up lots of lists but they are pretty impersonal even the Amazon ones are a bit alll over the place.

There are so many exotic names out there Simak/Le Guin/Pohl/Van Vogt I'd like a little guidance.


MaresNest, Monday, 7 July 2008 09:42 (eleven years ago) link

Jack Vance's "The Demon Princes" are good if you want a fellow traveling to planets full of odd people. (Giant mechanical spiders and the like)
He writes well, too, so that's a nice bonus. These are practically the definition of space opera. It's _Lady Snowblood in Space_, if you will.

Iain M Banks' "Culture" novels are excellent as well. I'm not sure which one might be most up your alley here though, perhaps "Consider Phlebas"

Friends who are more into SF than I are seem very fond of these huge Peter F Hamilton tomes such as his "The Dreaming Void" trilogy. I gather there's a lot of giant spaceships and the like.
Charles Stross has done some popular space opera recently with "Singularity Sky" etc. I find his writing dreadfully annoying, but he's a guy that's really having a lot of fun with his books. What else? I guess Stross' fondness for the singularity would naturally lead you to Vernor Vinge and stuff like his "A Fire Upon the Deep".

Øystein, Monday, 7 July 2008 11:29 (eleven years ago) link

A seconding for 'Consider Phlebas' by Banks: big, fast-paced, intelligent, hugely imaginative fun.
Alistair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter (who has "co-written" with Clarke, in that he wrote the books and Clarke stuck his name on the cover) and Greg Bear (esp 'Blood Music' (which is epic but not far-future or space-y) and 'Eon') are all good starting points for writers still writing and not dead. Greg Egan and Ted Chiang also good for mind-blowing short stories, if that's your thing.

James Morrison, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 00:46 (eleven years ago) link

i got a TON of great recommendations on this thread:

School Me On Some Sci-Fi My Astral Brothers And Sisters!

scott seward, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 01:13 (eleven years ago) link

Thanks all,

Quick update, I snuck into Borders yesterday after work and bought Fallen Dragon by Peter F Hamilton, it's a stand alone and is supposed to be one of his best.

MaresNest, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 08:28 (eleven years ago) link

I need to read more SF... maybe I should finally read some of the Phillip K Dick books (other than the two easy ones) so that I can have an informed opinion on this writer.

The Real Dirty Vicar, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 14:28 (eleven years ago) link

two weeks pass...

I used to read TONS of sci-fi when I was a kid, continuing up through my late twenties, though not so much these days. Some favorites:

Ringworld: Larry Niven
The Anubis Gates: Tim Powers
Crash: J.G. Ballard
The Cyberiad: Stanislaw Lem
Way Station: Clifford D. Simak
The Master of Space and Time: Rudy Rucker
The Book of the New Sun: Gene Wolfe
Brightness Falls from the Air: James Tiptree, Jr.
Roadmarks: Roger Zelazny
The Man in the High Castle: Philip K Dick
Bill, the Galactic Hero: Harry Harrison (skip the many sequels)
Dhalgren: Samuel R. Delany
Blood Music: Greg Bear
Neuromancer: William Gibson
The Iron Dream: Norman Spinrad
Presidio Street Station: China Mieville
Vurt: Jeff Noon
Dr. Adder: KW Jeter

Short stories by Theodore Sturgeon, Harlan Ellison, Connie Willis.

contenderizer, Thursday, 24 July 2008 16:49 (eleven years ago) link

Also, The Difference Engine, a Victorian proto-cyberpunk thing by Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Not a great story, but the ideas and implications have stuck with me for years.

contenderizer, Thursday, 24 July 2008 16:52 (eleven years ago) link

That's a hard list to argue with.

James Morrison, Thursday, 24 July 2008 23:04 (eleven years ago) link

eleven years pass...

this YouTube channel looks..... intertsing

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 17 December 2019 13:25 (six months ago) link

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