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House Louse
Oct 21, 2010


Hello and welcome to the exciting new sf/fantasy thread! All kinds of science fiction and fantasy are welcome, including stuff that falls on the edges of the genres; don't feel you're talking about the wrong sort of sf/f, because someone out there is probably just as enthusiastic about it as you are. Discussing non-sf/f by writers mostly known for their sf/f is welcome as a contrast to the main subject.

This thread is probably going to run a while. Don't feel you need to read 100+ pages to post, but likewise, please be aware that discussion of a certain book/series may have come up before and be a bit of a dead horse. Don't be disheartened if you get a cool response.

This is the best resource for information on science fiction: The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction, third edition, constantly updated. Enquire within upon everything sf: books, films, TV series, comics, specific authors, themes, and theory. The site also includes the 1997 Encyclopaedia of Fantasy, an equally good resource, though now dated. There's also the Internet SF Database. And don't forget Wikipedia, goodreads, and Google.

Hints on posting:
  • Post about books you're excited about! And mention the author or title.
  • Whether you're discussing a book or asking for recommendations, include lots of details to give us something to talk about and give us a taste of what you like!
  • If there's a thread for the book, series, or author you want to post about, post there! You'll probably get a better reply. If there isn't one, consider starting one.
  • Post your opinion, not somebody else's stale talking points. Noting popular opinions alongside your own is great.
  • Don't discuss how bad [insert male sf writer here]'s sex scenes are. They're awful. We know. And for God's sake don't discuss how good they are either!
  • Don't recommend David Weber's “Honor Harrington” series. It always provokes a derail about how bad they are and mentions of Rob S. Pierre. Same with Terry Goodkind and “this was no chicken”.
  • If someone asks for recommendations, pay attention to what they're asking for.

Speaking of recommendations, here are some other places to get them:
Here's NPR's hundred favourite sf/f books (you'll need to download it to make it big enough to read):

Tor.com discusses the best books to start reading authors with
A whole site full of recommendations!

Awards
All these links are to the Science Fiction Award Database; if you click on the Awards tab, the major awards are towards the top of the display. The most prestigious sf/f book awards are the Hugo and Nebula for science fiction and the World Fantasy Award.

Hugo Awards - A yearly reader's choice award for just about every form of science fiction. If you're interested in seeing the year's Hugo-nominated works (novels, stories, non-fiction, and comics), buy a supporting membership to the annual Worldcon and you'll receive all or most of them, plus the right to vote. You can see all of 2013's nominees here - five novels, four non-fiction books, thirteen novellas, novelettes, and short stories, along with five graphic novels for only $60! Of course, you then have to find the time to read all of them.
Nebula Awards - A yearly author's choice award for novels, novellas, and short stories.
World Fantasy Awards - A yearly juried award for fantasy.
British Fantasy Awards - A reader's choice award for UK fantasy.
British Science Fiction Association Awards - A reader's choice award for British science fiction.
International Horror Guild Awards - A juried award for horror and dark fantasy.
Seiun Awards - Similar to the Hugo Awards for Japanese writers, but also selects best foreign novels and short stories translated to Japanese. A few of the Japanese language winners have been translated to English (and it's possible to translate the foreign winners back to English with Translation Party!
Locus Awards - Best new US novel selected by readers of Locus, sf's trade magazine.
John W. Campbell Awards – for the best new writer, and are presented alongside the Hugos.
John W. Campbell Memorial Awards - not to be confused with the previous award, this is for the best sf novel published in the US.
Arthur C. Clarke Awards - Best new UK sf novel.
Philip K. Dick Awards - Best US paperback original.
James Tiptree, Jr. Awards - For novels and stories exploring questions of gender.

Free science fiction and fantasy online.

Here's a list of subgenres of sf, with goon-favourite authors and links to SA threads where relevant. Authors have probably written in more than one subgenre, but are listed in the one they're most famous for. There's a brief list of genre hoppers at the end.

Space Opera
Spaceships fighting aliens in space. Star Trek and such. But writers like Iain M. Banks do great things with it.
Authors: S. A. Corey, Peter F. Hamilton, Lois McMaster Bujold, John Scalzi, E. E. “Doc” Smith, Neal Asher, Joe Haldeman
The space opera general thread
Iain M. Banks
Star Wars
Star Trek

Hard sf
The cold, logical, end of science fiction. Supposedly scientifically accurate, but they still have ftl travel anyway.
Authors: Ted Chiang, Alastair Reynolds, Nancy Kress, Larry Niven, Hal Clement, Peter Watts, Greg Egan, Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert L. Forward, Vernor Vinge
CJ Cherryh

Cyberpunk
Sf that deigns to notice computers. Stereotypically takes place in pessimistic, polluted worlds, characters rebelling against international corporations.
Authors: Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson, Charles Stross, Simon Morden, Pat Cadigan, Richard Morgan.
Hannu Rajaniemi
William Gibson
Neal Stephneson

General sf
Alternate history thread.
A thread about post-apocalyptic fiction.
The Mongoliad by (amongst others) Neal Stephenson
"The Last Question" by Isaac Asimov, and maybe you can post other Asimov stuff there too?
Philip K. Dick
Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein are the “Big Three” sf authors up to the 60s and all very influential.
Arthur C. Clarke: technology in a world where everyone's really nice. Great short stories. 2001, Rendezvous with Rama.
Robert A. Heinlein: sf's strange uncle. Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers.
Frank Herbert: drugs and giant worms on Planet Arabia. Dune.
H. G. Wells: invented time travel and began the genre. War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Island of Dr Moreau.
Jules Verne: nineteenth-century adventure stories that shade into sf. Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
Philip K. Dick: paranoia, and the most accurate view of the world and the future. The Man in the High Castle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, short stories.
Paolo Bacigalupi: near-future sf about climate change. The Windup Girl.
James Tiptree, Jr.: she was one of sf's best, darkest, and most incisive writers. Short stories.
Joanna Russ: author of scathing, passionate, feminist sf. The Female Man.
Stanislaw Lem: Polish author, SF with a philosophical and sometimes satirical bent. Best known for Solaris and The Cyberiad.
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky: Russian brothers. Soviet Utopianism, interstellar exploration. Best known for Roadside Picnic, which the Russian 1979 movie Stalker and video game of the same name are based on.
Samuel R. Delany: exotic settings, sex, and literary theory. Nova, Babel-17.
Connie Willis: Best known for her loosely connected Oxford Time Travel series, wherein future British academics travel back in time to nerd out about things and generally get into a lot of trouble. Often very funny, but can and does take a more serious tone at times. To Say Nothing of the Dog
Lauren Beukes: A young white urban South African writer; Zoo City is about criminals bonded to animals to reform them.
Alfred Bester: one of the classics, basically invented telepaths as we know them. Also an influence on cyberpunk. Best known for The Demolished Man (which won the first Hugo award for a novel ever) and The Stars My Destination.
Anthologies: Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions, then-shocking stories from the 60s and 70s, both edited by Harlan Ellison. Gardner Dozois' annual Year's Best SF anthologies.

General Fantasy
China Miéville
Temeraire
Let's Read Xanth (You Were Stupid As A Teen, Too)
Steven Brust
Barry Hughart: A Bridge of Birds, a novel of ancient China that never was.
Guy Gavriel Kay: plagiarises history. Tigana.
John Crowley: Renaissance magic and fairy stories. A gorgeous writer. Otherwise, Little, Big.
Hope Mirrlees: One lovely fairy-story novel, Lud-in-the-Mist.
Susannah Clarke: one novel, the Napoleonic magic epic Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel.
Catherynne Valente: New spins on old myths from a strong feminist perspective. Impressive use of language. Orphan's Tales duology, Prester John series (starts with Habitation of the Blessed), Palimpsest, Deathless.
Richard Adams: Animal fantasies. Watership Down.
Philip Pullman: Stunningly imaginative and morally serious (and funny) YA books. His Dark Materials series.
Jeff VanderMeer: Metatextual stories about a city where mushroom-people and humans live. City of Saints and Madmen.
Jack Vance: Exotic, sharp-tongued, decadent adventures, whether sf of fantasy. The Dying Earth, Lyonesse, Big Planet.
Paolo Coelho: Parable-like/allegorical fantasy novel/fairy tales. The Alchemist.
Patricia A. McKillip: Her stories have the feel of classic fairy tales, even when they are entirely original. The Riddlemaster of Hed and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.
James Branch Cabell: Dark, cynical, funny, highly metaphorical fiction, also mostly forgotten. Jurgen was banned in the 1920's for encouraging adultery and immorality.
Anthologies: The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror edited by Ellen Datlow with others.

Epic Fantasy
Magic and maps. Thought The Neverending Story was too short.
Authors: Daniel Abraham, Lord Dunsany, Glen Cook, Jo Walton, Mary Gentle, Mark Lawrence, Anthony Ryan
Tolkien
A Song of Ice and Fire (with spoilers) and A Song of Ice and Fire without spoilers
Joe Abercrombie
Wheel of Time and Let's Read the Wheel of Time
The Malazan Book of the Fallen
Brandon Sanderson
R. Scott Bakker
Patrick Rothfuss
Scott Lynch
Peter V. Brett

Sword and Sorcery/Pulp
Smaller scale than high fantasy, often funnier, with less magic, and more amoral. Often published in pulp magazines.
Authors: Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard (Conan), Hugh Cook, Glen Cook, Steven Brust, Clark Ashton Smith, C. L. Moore, David Gemmel
The Black Library (Games Workshop tie-ins)
See also the Weird Tales thread, under Horror

Horror
Wooo I'm a ghost! Of an axe murderer! Spoooooky! No, it's not necessarily sf/f, but often is. The Cosmic Horror thread centres on pulp writer H. P. Lovecraft's horror/sf.
Authors: Joe Hill, Peter Straub, Elizabeth Moon, Tanith Lee, Max Brooks
Cosmic Horror and Weird Tales
Stephen King and his
Dark Tower series

Urban Fantasy
Doesn't mean fantasy set in cities. It means modern-day fantasy.
Authors: Mike Carey, Caitlín R. Kiernan, David Aaronovitch, Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, Daniel O'Malley
The Dresden Files and general urban fantasy
Harry Potter

Non-sf/f
Either books that aren't exactly sf/f, sf/f from writers outside the genres, or books popular with genre readers.
Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series
The King Arthur megathread (Some fantasy, some not.)
Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale. A dystopian feminist novel.
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein. “Now I know what it feels like to be God!”
George Orwell: 1984. I Big Brother, don't you?
G. K. Chesterton: The Man Who Was Thursday. A nightmarish spy story.
Alasdair Gray: Lanark. Scottish, socialist, and very strange.
Haruki Murakami: Japanese writer of oblique, romantic and weird novels. A Wild Sheep Chase.
Angela Carter: magical, bawdy, revisionist, complex, and wonderfully written. Nights at the Circus.

Comic sf/f
As in humorous, not the stuff that goes in BSS.
Authors: Robert Asprin, Jim C. Hine, Lawrence Watt-Evans, William Goldman, Esther Friesner (who also edited the Chicks in Chainmail anthologies), L. Sprauge de Camp
Terry Pratchett

Miscellaneous and genre-hoppers
Gene Wolfe
Wild Cards
Ursula K. le Guin
The Traditional Games subforum has its own book club discussing writers who influenced traditional games. Not necessarily sf/f.
Michael Swanwick: like Gene Wolfe, writes all over the place, but you can always tell it's him. The Dog said Bow-Wow, Stations of the Tide, The Iron Dragon's Daughter.
M. John Harrison: bleak, but brilliant. Literary space opera with Light, dying-earth fantasia with the Viriconium sequence.
Roger Zelazny. One of the greats of 70's SF, big influence on Neil Gaiman and other modern SF/F writers. Lord of Light, Isle of the Dead, “A Rose for Ecclesiates”, A Night in the Lonesome October. His Amber fantasy series is also entertaining but very pulpy.
Robert Holdstock: Literary fantasy that's similar in style to Gene Wolfe, mainly influenced by Arthurian legend, Greek mythology and Celtic mythology. His plots and themes can get weird and be confusing, Holdstock's works are very rewarding on rereads. Also wrote sf. Mythago Wood.

Other perhaps-useful TBB threads:
Young Adult books
Lloyd Alexander
Japanese literature – Haikasoru publishes translated Japanese sf
Russian literature
German literature
Scandinavian literature
Audiobooks

I intend to keep this list up-to-date; if you start a new relevant thread, or find a good old one in the archives, do PM me or mention it in the thread.

Thanks to everyone in the old thread who helped me write this.

House Louse fucked around with this message at Oct 7, 2014 around 12:42

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Fiendish Dr. Wu
Nov 11, 2010

You done fucked up now!


Also, don't know what to read? Try this:

House Louse
Oct 21, 2010


Ugh, five minutes after I post and I realise how to make up for the picture's size issue. I suck.

Three things I learned while writing the OP:
1. The John W. Campbell Award for new writers is not the same as the Campbell Memorial Award for best novel published in the US.
2. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians won the Philip K. Dick Award, which is nearly as bizarre as Gravity's Rainbow losing the Nebula to Rendezvous with Rama.
3. Although the term "high fantasy" demands an opposite "low fantasy", it doesn't have one. The term exists, but it doesn't have a consistent definition. Which just cements Tolkien's influence on the genre: it's him, and some other traditions.

Hedrigall
Mar 27, 2008

*grunt*


Great OP, just thought of two things you should add:

A big fat visible link to the Help Me Identify This Book thread, so this thread isn't flooded with that kind of post.

A link to the Internet Science Fiction Database (isfdb.org) which is the best place for author bibliographies, comprehensive lists of short stories by authors, tables of contents of anthologies, and so on. Invaluable resource. You can also go to the entry for a particular short story and find out every anthology and collection it's available in.

AreYouStillThere
Jan 14, 2010

Well you're just going to have to get over that.

Awesome OP, thank you for taking the initiative. Makes me want to get out and try all those new authors I've never read.

Rythe
Jan 21, 2011


Wow OP thanks for that amazing picture to the NPR top 100 sci-fi/fantasy books, I have read a ton of books on there already but that picture just opened up 6 more series I need to download and get reading. That was perfect timing too, I just finished the Mistborn trilogy and was in the mood for another series. I am going to start with Iain Banks Culture series or Joe Haldeman The forever War series, any recommendations on what one I should read first?

ed balls balls man
Apr 17, 2006


Rythe posted:

Wow OP thanks for that amazing picture to the NPR top 100 sci-fi/fantasy books, I have read a ton of books on there already but that picture just opened up 6 more series I need to download and get reading. That was perfect timing too, I just finished the Mistborn trilogy and was in the mood for another series. I am going to start with Iain Banks Culture series or Joe Haldeman The forever War series, any recommendations on what one I should read first?

Honestly i'd just read The Forever War and skip the sequels, then start on The Player of Games by Banks.

Jedit
Dec 10, 2011

Proudly representing vanilla Legends since 1994


Rythe posted:

Wow OP thanks for that amazing picture to the NPR top 100 sci-fi/fantasy books, I have read a ton of books on there already but that picture just opened up 6 more series I need to download and get reading. That was perfect timing too, I just finished the Mistborn trilogy and was in the mood for another series. I am going to start with Iain Banks Culture series or Joe Haldeman The forever War series, any recommendations on what one I should read first?

The Forever War, and stick with the first one.

Unkempt
May 24, 2003

Sexual Air Supply


House Louse posted:


Barry Hughart: A Bridge of Birds, a novel of ancient China that never was.


I found the sequel to this the other day, 'The Story of the Stone', but haven't read the first one; anyone know if you need to read them in order?

specklebang
Jun 7, 2013

Discount Philosopher and Cat Whisperer


If we are giving a recommendation, can we post the link to Amazon (or other source)? I'm new here and I want to properly participate. Since this is a new thread, I'm excited to be here. I've gone through hundreds of pages of older threads but here is a fresh opportunity. I've read SF all my life and I have some favorites to suggest and am hoping for new suggestions to add to my library.

So, links - yes or no? Thanks.

AreYouStillThere
Jan 14, 2010

Well you're just going to have to get over that.

Unkempt posted:

I found the sequel to this the other day, 'The Story of the Stone', but haven't read the first one; anyone know if you need to read them in order?

As far as I recall, you don't need to read them in order, you'll just miss out on some of the character development like why the two main characters are a team. That said, Bridge of Birds is far and away the best of the trilogy and one of the best books I've ever read.

andrew smash
Jun 26, 2006

smooth soul

specklebang posted:

If we are giving a recommendation, can we post the link to Amazon (or other source)? I'm new here and I want to properly participate. Since this is a new thread, I'm excited to be here. I've gone through hundreds of pages of older threads but here is a fresh opportunity. I've read SF all my life and I have some favorites to suggest and am hoping for new suggestions to add to my library.

So, links - yes or no? Thanks.

Don't post Amazon referral links, nobody is interested in lining your pockets. Otherwise nobody will mind if you post links but we can all use google so it might not be worth the effort.

Walh Hara
May 11, 2012


specklebang posted:

If we are giving a recommendation, can we post the link to Amazon (or other source)? I'm new here and I want to properly participate. Since this is a new thread, I'm excited to be here. I've gone through hundreds of pages of older threads but here is a fresh opportunity. I've read SF all my life and I have some favorites to suggest and am hoping for new suggestions to add to my library.

So, links - yes or no? Thanks.

If you post links at all, link to wikipedia. It contains all the relevant information (author, links to other books in the series, genre, short description, number of pages, year it was published, tv/film adaptations, awards won, etc) and the reception section (if available) is much more useful than amazon ratings or whatever.

Also, I can't be the only one that organises my list of books by bookmarking their wikipedia pages (and putting those bookmarks in relevant maps). It's certainly a habit I can recommend.

House Louse
Oct 21, 2010


I loving hate Amazon, and Wikipedia's erratic; I'd recommend the encylopaedias linked in the OP or isfdb.org, as Hedrigall recommended. Or the author's own site. Not really worth the effort though, just mention the title and author.

E: I'm sure you all care about my opinion of Amazon very much!

House Louse fucked around with this message at Jun 16, 2013 around 19:46

Zola
Jul 22, 2005

What do you mean "impossible"? You're so
cruel, Roger Smith...

Walh Hara posted:

If you post links at all, link to wikipedia. It contains all the relevant information (author, links to other books in the series, genre, short description, number of pages, year it was published, tv/film adaptations, awards won, etc) and the reception section (if available) is much more useful than amazon ratings or whatever.

Also, I can't be the only one that organises my list of books by bookmarking their wikipedia pages (and putting those bookmarks in relevant maps). It's certainly a habit I can recommend.

I personally don't object to someone posting a direct link to Amazon if it's to link directly to a special or something, I've done it myself with Bridge of Birds when the trilogy was on sale on Kindle, but it has to be a direct link, not a referral link.

Fiendish Dr. Wu
Nov 11, 2010

You done fucked up now!


House Louse posted:

Ugh, five minutes after I post and I realise how to make up for the picture's size issue. I suck.

I figured it was a small oversight

Rythe posted:

Wow OP thanks for that amazing picture to the NPR top 100 sci-fi/fantasy books, I have read a ton of books on there already but that picture just opened up 6 more series I need to download and get reading. That was perfect timing too, I just finished the Mistborn trilogy and was in the mood for another series. I am going to start with Iain Banks Culture series or Joe Haldeman The forever War series, any recommendations on what one I should read first?

I have Consider Phlebas queue'd up for my next read. Working on Fall of Hyperion now, and really enjoying it.

Smapti
Jun 15, 2013


Fiendish Dr. Wu posted:

I have Consider Phlebas queue'd up for my next read. Working on Fall of Hyperion now, and really enjoying it.

Consider Phlebas is exceptional. Along with Use of Weapons and Excession it's among my favorite Culture books. (My favorite Banks SF book, Feersum Endjinn, isn't a Culture book; it's a standalone but is well worth reading.)

Also, has anyone read Kameron Hurley's Bel Dame Apocrypha series? I just finished the first book, God's War, and had mixed feelings about it; the world building is fantastic -- it's set on a world dominated by Islamic sects who are able to work insect magic (!!!) -- but I found the pacing to be somewhat off.

And as for books that I'm excited about, I just read an astounding short story collection by John Langan called The Wide Carnivorous Sky. Langan uses metafictional tropes that are usually reserved for literary fiction (eg, writing in the second person; constantly breaking the 4th wall; recursive stories within stories; etc) to bring new life to old horror tropes such as zombies, The Exorcist, vampires, Lovecraft homage, etc. He also has very good characterization and attention to detail -- highly recommended if you like horror fiction.

Megazver
Jan 13, 2006


Fiendish Dr. Wu posted:

I figured it was a small oversight


I have Consider Phlebas queue'd up for my next read. Working on Fall of Hyperion now, and really enjoying it.

Most people (me included) think that Consider Phlebas is not the best first Culture book. I'd go with Player of Games if I were you.

specklebang
Jun 7, 2013

Discount Philosopher and Cat Whisperer


I read all 3 of Kameron Hurley's Bel Dame books and I really liked them for the world building and the profound violence. They're a little weak on plot but Umayama (the planet) is just mesmerizing (to me).

This author seems to be obscure and I loved his Continuing Time series (4 books) which is cyberpunk/AI driven with a little telepathy and he makes this work very well. I'd say that if you liked Altered Carbon you'd like Moran. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Keys_Moran

Jedit
Dec 10, 2011

Proudly representing vanilla Legends since 1994


Smapti posted:

Consider Phlebas is exceptional. Along with Use of Weapons and Excession it's among my favorite Culture books. (My favorite Banks SF book, Feersum Endjinn, isn't a Culture book; it's a standalone but is well worth reading.)

gently caress Feersum Endjinn. It's one of the worst books I've ever failed to finish reading.

I'll second Megazver's assertion that The Player of Games is a far better place to start reading Culture than Consider Phlebas. It's infinitely more accessible and gives perhaps even more insight into what the Culture is about.

Fiendish Dr. Wu
Nov 11, 2010

You done fucked up now!


Sounds good. The Player of Games is also only 250something pages so it should be pretty quick either way.

Haerc
Jan 2, 2011


Fiendish Dr. Wu posted:

Sounds good. The Player of Games is also only 250something pages so it should be pretty quick either way.

I'd read Player of Games first, but Use of Weapons is my favourite.

Slavvy
Dec 11, 2012

Motorcycles?!!?

In MY middle earth??!!


Can anyone recommend me hard-ish sf with at least halfway decent characterisation? I've found that when I read cheesy space opera with a panoply of interesting characters, the 'science' makes me cringe. Yet the vast majority of hard sf, and even just plain ol' regular sf, has characters who are barely distinguishable from eachother, let alone interesting unto themselves. LE Modesitt JR is the worst example of this I can think of; I am incapable of reading another of his books because I don't want to read two paragraphs about what sort of sweater vest the guy is wearing and what type of meal he ordered.

What's some decent sf where the characters are remotely interesting? Yes I want aliens and strange worlds and space ships and all that poo poo, but why do the people involved have to be two-dimensional silhouettes with a name and gender printed on the front? That isn't to say I haven't read any sf which isn't like this, it's just that the majority seems to be this way and I find it hard to pick something up, regardless of how wonderful the premise is, if the characterisation is non-existent. 90% of the time when I pick up a book that has 'hugo/nebula/whatever winning' written on the front I know there will be at least ten characters you can't tell apart.

When I think about it, the same often applies to fantasy. Often someone will have some sort of curse/destiny/hidden role/secret past and their personality doesn't seem to be at all affected or shaped by it. The wheel of time had about a dozen characters who were only differentiated by their circumstance and the colour of their clothes.

Additionally, what are some cool books about colonisation? I've only read a few novels on the subject, most of which I can't remember right now besides Niven's Destiny's Road.

Haerc
Jan 2, 2011


Slavvy posted:

Can anyone recommend me hard-ish sf with at least halfway decent characterisation? I've found that when I read cheesy space opera with a panoply of interesting characters, the 'science' makes me cringe. Yet the vast majority of hard sf, and even just plain ol' regular sf, has characters who are barely distinguishable from eachother, let alone interesting unto themselves. LE Modesitt JR is the worst example of this I can think of; I am incapable of reading another of his books because I don't want to read two paragraphs about what sort of sweater vest the guy is wearing and what type of meal he ordered.

I feel like those two terms are in complete opposition. It always seems like hard sci-fi focuses on systems, and space opera focuses on characters.

Anyway, you should (if you haven't already) try Ian M. Banks's novels. The characters are deep, and the science isn't retarded.

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007

Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952

Jedit posted:

gently caress Feersum Endjinn. It's one of the worst books I've ever failed to finish reading.

Actually, it's probably the book with the hardest to follow dialect you've ever failed to finish reading. Banks writes a fantastic accent when he sets his mind to it, especially, of course, Scottish. It doesn't make it any easier on the reader, but when you 'hear' the accent in your head, the book clicks too. The downside is, Feersum Enjin is basically Neuromancer.

mllaneza fucked around with this message at Jun 17, 2013 around 08:38

DerLeo
Dec 11, 2011

I have seen the light, and it is a string


Red Mars from Kim Stanely Robinson hits both your high points there, but be warned that he spends as much time talking about the politics of colonization as he does about the science and engineering of it.

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007

Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952

DerLeo posted:

Red Mars from Kim Stanely Robinson hits both your high points there, but be warned that he spends as much time talking about the politics of colonization as he does about the science and engineering of it.

Which is neatly counterbalanced by how he makes Mars itself, its landscape, microbiology, and mythology a central character in the series. I particularly admire how he uses landscape in the series. It's most prominent in the mountaineering section in... Green Mars (I think) about the tour guide; there's a story about climbing Mons Olympus in the short story collection. It's terrific. If landscape can be a character.

Wrageowrapper
Apr 30, 2009



House Louse posted:


Lauren Beukes: A young, black, urban South African writer; Zoo City is about criminals bonded to animals to reform them.



Though she is South African she isn't black. She was on an Australian Show a few weeks back talking about William Gibson and was whiter than white. Zoo City is awesome though and the main character is a black woman.

Smapti
Jun 15, 2013


Slavvy posted:

Can anyone recommend me hard-ish sf with at least halfway decent characterisation?

I highly recommend Peter Watts for this. He's a marine biologist by training, so his work has a lot of really fascinating hard-sf extrapolation in it (in fact, he's the only hard sf author I can think of who tends to compress his ideas to the point that I wish one of his books was actually expanded to two or three books), but his books are also firmly rooted in character; in fact the characters are central to his books rather than ancillary ornaments as tends to be the case in most hard sf. As for starting points into his work I would recommend either Starfish (the beginning of his deliciously grim Rifters trilogy) or Blindsight. His books are available for free on his website here, along with various pieces of short fiction that are also well worth reading.

Smapti fucked around with this message at Jun 17, 2013 around 16:12

Guy A. Person
May 23, 2003

I EARNED THIS AVATAR BY BEING AN ENABLER OF BAD TELEVISION. PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT ARROW, THE WALKING DEAD AND KROLL SHOW!



So I am looking for recommendations on basically any fantasy that is either a single book or so self-contained that I could read the first book in a series without needing to immediately go into the next part. I tend to try to mix up genres and move from fiction to non-fiction so I don't want to get caught up in a series, especially one that is extremely long. I recently read the Colour of Magic since it was on a Kindle Daily Deal and, just as I feared, it ended on a total cliff-hanger with no resolution (although I have heard that the second book does wrap up this particular story). I would prefer swords & sorcery - either high or low - since I don't get enough of that in my reading diet, but I am fairly open in my reading tastes and can find enjoyment in anything. I have followed the flow-chart above and it seems like Stardust by Neil Gaiman is one of the few that matched my criteria. I am pretty set on sci-fi, so don't need any recommendations there. Some fantasy I have read and enjoyed:

Series (just for reference): Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire

Single books: The Princess Bride, A Bridge of Birds, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell, American Gods, Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon, The Once and Future King. I also really enjoyed Kelly Link's short story collections, they are kind of modern feminist fairy tale/fantasy.

Jedit
Dec 10, 2011

Proudly representing vanilla Legends since 1994


Guy A. Person posted:

So I am looking for recommendations on basically any fantasy that is either a single book or so self-contained that I could read the first book in a series without needing to immediately go into the next part. I tend to try to mix up genres and move from fiction to non-fiction so I don't want to get caught up in a series, especially one that is extremely long. I recently read the Colour of Magic since it was on a Kindle Daily Deal and, just as I feared, it ended on a total cliff-hanger with no resolution (although I have heard that the second book does wrap up this particular story).

Congratulations, you read the one Discworld two-parter. Every other Discworld book can be read by itself, though there are some you want to read in a set order.

andrew smash
Jun 26, 2006

smooth soul

Guy A. Person posted:

So I am looking for recommendations on basically any fantasy that is either a single book or so self-contained that I could read the first book in a series without needing to immediately go into the next part. I tend to try to mix up genres and move from fiction to non-fiction so I don't want to get caught up in a series, especially one that is extremely long. I recently read the Colour of Magic since it was on a Kindle Daily Deal and, just as I feared, it ended on a total cliff-hanger with no resolution (although I have heard that the second book does wrap up this particular story). I would prefer swords & sorcery - either high or low - since I don't get enough of that in my reading diet, but I am fairly open in my reading tastes and can find enjoyment in anything. I have followed the flow-chart above and it seems like Stardust by Neil Gaiman is one of the few that matched my criteria. I am pretty set on sci-fi, so don't need any recommendations there. Some fantasy I have read and enjoyed:

Series (just for reference): Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire

Single books: The Princess Bride, A Bridge of Birds, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell, American Gods, Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon, The Once and Future King. I also really enjoyed Kelly Link's short story collections, they are kind of modern feminist fairy tale/fantasy.

The broken sword, poul anderson.

Azathoth
Apr 3, 2001

Bronie for Life / Bitcoin afficionado

Take a look at Monument by Ian Graham. It's pretty dark, but succeeds in telling a self-contained story in a single book. It isn't well-known, but the author tells a story that most other authors would stretch to a trilogy and does so without feeling like it was compressed.

Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch stands on its own, but is the start of a series, so it doesn't wrap absolutely everything up, but all the major conflict is resolved. It tells a good story, despite having inconsistent tone between the first and second halves. As good as you'll find in a modern standalone fantasy novel.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin is also the first book in a series but is both a very quick read and good on it's own. I don't normally gush about someone's writing style, but her lyrical prose is an absolute treasure to read and meshes perfectly with the story being told.

Going back further, you might check out the works of Lord Dunsany. I'd start with King of Elfland's Daughter and if you like his style (which is very different), go further from there. My favorite is Gods of Pegana, but I wouldn't start there.

Symptomless Coma
Mar 30, 2007
for shock value

After listening to this fantastic interview from 1989 in which he narrates a kind of sci-fi of the present, I think I have a writerly crush on JG Ballard. Those that have read him - where should I start?

Iseeyouseemeseeyou
Jan 3, 2011
Probation
Can't post for 28 days!


Since we're on a new thread:

Humanity's Fire by Michael Cobley is a good space opera trilogy. Extremely expansive universe, arguably too many view points and excellent world building. It falls into hard sci-fi and can be a pain in the rear end at times, e.g. too many view points, certain cliches, etc., but it's an entertaining and engaging series. The best comparison I can think of for it would be Mass Effect meets The Culture.

A few of us were discussing it in the last thread so I decided to bring it back up. And as of now I am almost done with the second book . I'll hopefully be able to finish the series this week and write up a better review of it.

e: In my opinion, it's far more enjoyable space opera than The Lost Fleet & The Expanse (Leviathan Wakes). I still enjoyed both of those series, but this is series is far more invested in world building, galactic politics & war, etc. than The Lost Fleet & The Expanse.

Iseeyouseemeseeyou fucked around with this message at Jun 17, 2013 around 20:06

specklebang
Jun 7, 2013

Discount Philosopher and Cat Whisperer


I presume this book is "fantasy" and I thought characters were well developed and the book is a stand-alone. I wrote the author to ask if this was going to be a series and he gave me a definte maybe :-).

The book is Prophet Of The Ghost Ants by Clark T. Carlton.

quote:

Just as our current society has domesticated animals to sustain ourselves, the human societies of this future have yoked insects to their service. Food, weapons, clothing, art - even the most sacred religious beliefs - are derived from Humankind's profound intertwining with the once-lowly insect world . . . Corrupt elites ruthlessly enforce a rigid caste system over a debased and ignorant populace. Duplicitous clergymen and power-mongering Royalty wage pointless wars for their own glory. Fantasies of a better life, a better world, serve only to torment those who dare to dream. One so cursed is a half-breed slave named Anand, a dung-collector of the midden caste who, against all possibility, rises above hopelessness to lead his people against a genocidal army of men who fight atop fearsome, translucent Ghost Ants.

Jedit
Dec 10, 2011

Proudly representing vanilla Legends since 1994


Symptomless Coma posted:

After listening to this fantastic interview from 1989 in which he narrates a kind of sci-fi of the present, I think I have a writerly crush on JG Ballard. Those that have read him - where should I start?

Empire of the Sun and The Kindness of Women, but they're not SF. Try The Drowned World.

specklebang
Jun 7, 2013

Discount Philosopher and Cat Whisperer


One of my favorite authors is Neal Asher who write very far future, very high tech tales set in his partly utopian/partly dystopian future in which AIs pretty much run everything.

The best way to read Asher's books aee in their chronology order rather than their publication dates.

Prador Moon - not his best book but gives you the Polity setting and introduces the Prador, a lobster-like race wit bad tempers.
The Shadow Of The Scorpion - met young Ian Cormac who will later become a cop for the Polity.
Gridlinked - Now Ian Cormac is an adult and he's dealing with the "Seperatists" who aren't very nice.
The Line Of Polity - Ian Cormac book 2.
Brass Man - More Iam Cormac and Mr. Crane, a good AI gone bad
Polity Agent - Ian Cormac book 4
Line War - Ian Cormac book 5
The Technician - A couple of thousand years after Cormac this Polity stand-alone has all sorts of crazy monsters and more character development than usual.
The Skinner - a couple of thousand years later, we go to the planet Spatterjay which is very, very different from any other planet I've been to. This is my favorite Asher book and is still set in the Polity Universe.
The Voyage Of The Sable Keech - Spatterjay book 2 featuring dead but determined "policeman" Sable Keech
Orbus - Some Spatterjay characters are captured by The Prador and have Thralls installed in their brains.

ed balls balls man
Apr 17, 2006


specklebang posted:

One of my favorite authors is Neal Asher who write very far future, very high tech tales set in his partly utopi

I've only read the Ian Cormac books but I blew threw them in two weeks and really enjoyed them. He has some great ideas when it comes to AIs, Androids and other sci-fi concepts, the universe he builds is a testament to that.

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specklebang
Jun 7, 2013

Discount Philosopher and Cat Whisperer


ed balls balls man posted:

I've only read the Ian Cormac books but I blew threw them in two weeks and really enjoyed them. He has some great ideas when it comes to AIs, Androids and other sci-fi concepts, the universe he builds is a testament to that.

You've missed his (IMHO) best ones - The Technician and the Spatterjay ones. I've read The Skinner twice and by audio once and I only re-read my absolute favorites. Nice to see another Asher fan.

I'll also suggest Gary Gibson and Richard K. Morgan (Altered Carbon and Steel Remains - the other Morgan's not so much). This one, if it ever comes out on Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Gideons-Fall-...eric+gabrielsen would also fit your tastes.

I tried to read Ian Banks but for whatever reason I just couldn't get into it although I feel like I should have.

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