What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

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Suggest books for me > Non-Dystopic Sci-Fi

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message 1: by Stephen (last edited Mar 07, 2016 11:15AM) (new)

Stephen (havan) | 128 comments I recently came across a comment that lamented how Sci-Fi has generally been somewhat gloomy and/or dystopic with the notable exception of the Star Trek Novels.

I started to object but then, I couldn't really come up with any good examples. Does optimistic Science fiction exist? How can the author generate dramatic interest without a problem to overcome?


message 2: by Teri-K (last edited Mar 07, 2016 09:19AM) (new)

Teri-K | 302 comments I'm no expert, but dystopian fiction is "writing used to explore social and political structures in 'a dark, nightmare world.'" You can have conflicts and problems that aren't dystopic, which is generally dark and depressing, at least to me.

The first non-dystopian sci-fi that pops into my head is the Vorkosigan series by Bujold. Many of those books are just plain fun. There are interplanetary conflicts as well as inter-personal ones, but I wouldn't even begin to call them dystopic.
Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold is the first chronologically.

Then there's Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


message 3: by Nente (new)

Nente | 68 comments Right Teri-k, I was going to recommend the Vorkosigans too! If anything, Bujold is sometimes too optimistic: every hero is honourable, clever and attractive, now aren't they?


message 4: by Nente (new)

Nente | 68 comments I also can recommend Tales of Pirx the Pilot and The Cyberiad by Stanisław Lem. His novels are frequently rather dark, yes, but then his short stories more than make up for that.


message 5: by Teri-K (new)

Teri-K | 302 comments Nente wrote: "Right Teri-k, I was going to recommend the Vorkosigans too! If anything, Bujold is sometimes too optimistic: every hero is honourable, clever and attractive, now aren't they?"

Well, technically I don't think Miles is supposed to be attractive... but I get what you're saying.

One of the things I like about them is that the women are also honorable, clever and attractive, and don't exist as either sex objects or someone to get into trouble and be saved by men. (When we were first married DH tried to get me to read sci-fi and I refused to finish a lot of them. He needed his consciousness raised just a bit. lol Warrior's Apprentice was one of the first he suggested that I could like. But that's another issue, and not as much of one these days.)


message 6: by Nente (last edited Mar 07, 2016 10:34AM) (new)

Nente | 68 comments Yes, I should have said "every character" instead of "every hero." It applies to women even more, the psychotics and villains are all male.
Even the political system on Barrayar is idealistic. Bujold makes for great escapist literature, but as long as you have a grain of salt handy it won't spoil you.


message 7: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 596 comments Yes, Teri-K I was going to recommend Bujold too.


Amy (Other Amy) | 162 comments Doorways in the Sand is such an upbeat read it left me all in smiles last year. All of Michael Crichton's stuff is more focused on a particular thing going disastrously wrong a la Jurassic Park, and I enjoyed quite a few of his books. More recently, Fuzzy Nation (John Scalzi's 'remake' of H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy) was also great. (Old Man's War is as well, but you could debate whether that is a dystopian setting; I don't think it is.) The Martian is quintessential upbeat sci-fi, although it's only sci-fi in the barest sense of science that hasn't happened yet.

I actually don't read a lot of sci-fi, but that's off the top of my head. I think sci-fi lends itself to dystopia because authors are trying to explore large scale concepts of what society would be like if x were implemented (and went wrong), but there's plenty of other conflict to be had.


message 9: by ``Laurie (new)

``Laurie (laurielynette) | 1040 comments Would you be interested in classic sci-fi books by:

Jules Verne
or
H G Wells?


message 10: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (havan) | 128 comments Laurie wrote: "Would you be interested in classic sci-fi books by:

Jules Verne
or
H G Wells?"


Actually, I SHOULD have thought of the classics. I guess that the context of the debate was more modern though. Thanks.


message 11: by Peter (new)

Peter Meilinger | 475 comments I'll third or fourth Bujold's Vorkosigan books, and second Scalzi's Old Man's War series. That setting has some serious problems, but I think the tone of the books is optimistic in that at least people are trying to make things better.

In that same vein of "trying to make a better world," I'll recommend Poor Man's Fight by Elliott Kay. It's a coming of age military SF story about a peaceful kid who finds out he's got a real talent for war. The bigger story is about a consortium of interstellar corporations who have become big enough to manipulate the entirety of human space in order to maximize their profits. Our Heroes solar system gets sick of this and tries to opt out, but it's not that easy. There are two books in the series so far, with a third coming out possibly as early as this week.

For a truly, no caveats optimistic SF setting I'll recommend Grand Central Arena by Ryk Spoor. It takes place several hundred years in the future, and humanity has more or less gone through the Singularity and come out still recognizable on the other side. It's a lovely space opera-ish setting, except for the lack of faster than light travel and aliens. And wouldn't you know it, the book is about the first tests of a new FTL propulsion system!

Instead of moving the ship faster than light, the ship and its crew are transported to The Arena, which is a scale model of the entire universe. It's several light years across and is populated by every alien race that has achieved FTL, which is thousands and thousands of them. It's an absolutely epic setting of adventure, exploration and intrigue and I enjoyed the hell out of reading about it. I can't recommend the book enough. There's one sequel so far, Spheres of Influence, and a third book is in progress and can't arrive soon enough for my taste.


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