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What are the darkest sci-fi/ fantasy stories not including Dystopias and post apocalyptic stories?

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message 1: by Christos (last edited May 15, 2017 03:05PM) (new)

Christos | 65 comments Dystopias, post apocalyptic stories are to easy of course those are going to be the darkest, so other than those What are the darkest sci-fi/ fantasy novels you've ever read?

The darkest Sci-fi book I've ever read has to be Demon by Daniel Suarez. Daemon

The darkest Fantasy Book I've ever read is the A Song of Ice and fire series.A Game of Thrones


message 2: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (JohnTaloni) | 2839 comments Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever has to be up there.


message 3: by Allison (new)

Allison Hurd | 207 comments The Secret Book of Paradys remains one of the darkest books I've ever read. I guess it's sort of a dystopia? It's set in alternate Paris when everything has turned to debauchery. But it's not like a Hunger Games or something, the story focuses on the people living in a still-functioning society that is just... F'ed Up.

Robin McKinley's fairy tale retellings are super dark, too. Everyone seems to die, get raped, or end up marrying someone that isn't the person they love. But then, the source material is pretty bleak to begin with.


message 4: by Trike (new)

Trike | 5316 comments Yeah, Daemon and his other books are pretty dark.

The short story "Dogfight" by William Gibson and Michael Swanwick is really grim. I found the text online: http://www.kulichki.com/moshkow/GIBSO...

A Calculated Life is set in a future that feels distressingly possible, where society becomes ever more polarized between rich and poor. It's a very calm and quiet sort of creeping nightmare.


message 5: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (SeanOHara) | 2347 comments Nothing's darker than survival horror -- The Crimson Labyrinth, King's Game, the later volumes of Zeroth Maria -- where the author throws a bunch of people into an enclosed environment and forces them to participate in an iterated Prisoners' Dilemma. It can overlap with dystopia, and sometimes doesn't need to be SF at all, but plenty is a straight-up exploration of Hobbesian dynamics.


message 7: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2513 comments Malazan series. There's some seriously messed up stuff in those books.


message 8: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 1951 comments Tim Lebbon's Noreela books (beginning with Dusk) are set in a pretty grim world.

I loved Tanith Lee's Paradys books and need to reread them again at some point.


message 9: by AndrewP (last edited May 16, 2017 09:14AM) (new)

AndrewP (AndrewCa) | 2227 comments J wrote: "Use of Weapons"

Yes, that is defiantly one of the darkest endings I have ever come across.

Being a geek who works in the tech field, Daemon doesn't feel dark at all.


message 10: by Phil (new)

Phil | 1042 comments For me, Donaldson is the king of depressing. His Thomas Covenant series for fantasy and his Gap series for science fiction.


message 11: by Fresno Bob (new)

Fresno Bob | 481 comments I've been reading everything written by Laird Barron, but people might tag that more as horror than anything else. In terms of straight grimness, David Drake's Northworlds Trilogy takes the cake for me


message 12: by Alan (last edited May 16, 2017 02:20PM) (new)

Alan Denham (AlanDenham) | 123 comments J wrote: "Use of Weapons"
You reckon that's dark? Try Surface Detail


message 13: by Brendan (new)

Brendan (mistershine) | 926 comments Surface Detail seemed a bit more cartoony than Use of Weapons, which was a sort of slow-motion soulcrushing. One of my favourite books ever.


message 14: by Robobobo (last edited May 17, 2017 12:06PM) (new)

Robobobo | 31 comments sci-fi: Blindsight
fantasy: The Darkness That Comes Before

Both are dark, bleak, and a little depressing, but especially Blindsight features some very interesting ideas concerning consciousness and really alien aliens. Bakker, on the other hand, is sometimes a little too brutal for my taste.


message 15: by Matthew (last edited Aug 09, 2017 08:35PM) (new)

Matthew (masupert) | 209 comments The The Black Company is pretty dark once you realize (and they sort of don't) who they are.

I would say if you are looking for a "Grim Dark" sort of genre, most of the Warhammer books are in that realm.The Horus Heresy series ( Horus Rising) is a good place to start there.


message 16: by Sean (new)

Sean | 308 comments Prince of Thorns and the rest of the Broken Empire trilogy.

Yes, it's in a post-apocalyptic setting, but since said apocalypse happened a long time before the books (probably centuries, though I don't recall any exact amount of time being provided), I don't think they qualify as being post-apocalyptic.


message 17: by Rik (last edited Sep 15, 2017 08:19AM) (new)

Rik | 777 comments Phil wrote: "For me, Donaldson is the king of depressing. His Thomas Covenant series for fantasy and his Gap series for science fiction."

The Gap series for sure.

The first book is basically one long rape / torture fantasy with the protagonist as the victim. Then in the second book when you think she's free she falls in with another abuser. Then in later books when you think your past all the rape / torture stuff the sadistic rapist from the first book returns only know sides with the good guys and is made out to be some sort of anti hero seeking redemption. If you can get past all this there actually is a pretty good sci fi story in the series.

I've often been curious about Donaldson given his writing. Its why I always recommend his Mirror series to people if they are curious since its the one series of his that doesn't use rape for character development.


message 18: by Michele (new)

Michele | 9 comments I agree about Blindsight. Such an amazing, dark sci-fi book. My favorite.


message 19: by Sky (last edited Sep 15, 2017 02:41PM) (new)

Sky | 661 comments Sean wrote: "Prince of Thorns and the rest of the Broken Empire trilogy.

Yes, it's in a post-apocalyptic setting, but since said apocalypse happened a long time before the books (probably centur..."


I second this. In fact everything by Mark Lawrence is great, including the lighter-hearted (if you can call it that) follow-up trilogy, Prince of Fools and his new series Red Sister.

I warn you if you try to read Prince of Thorns you'll just have to stick it out through the first 1/3rd of the book. It is brutal and painful. Probably one of the most unlikeable characters in all the fantasy I've read (including anything Joe Abercrombie put out), but if you stick with the book you'll come to love, or at least understand, Jorg. I highly recommend it, sad it never got picked up as book of the month or won any of the march madness contests.


message 20: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 1105 comments Mark Lawrence did an online poll to decide the grimdarkness level of famous fantasy series.
http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.co.id...

Bakker is indeed high up in this list, alongside Michael Fletcher who is in the top spot. Interesting that Black Company, The Blade Itself and Gardens of the Moon are not on the top 5.


message 21: by Michael (new)

Michael | 2 comments How about The God Engines by John Scalzi? This is one of the darkest books I've ever read. This was Scalzi's frist crack at Dark Fantasy or Fantasy of any kind for that matter.


message 22: by Trike (new)

Trike | 5316 comments Michele wrote: "I agree about Blindsight. Such an amazing, dark sci-fi book. My favorite."

I literally just read Watts' short story "The Colonel", set in the same universe as Blindsight. It's definitely dark. Not just the bit with the violence, but the sense of ennui that permeates it.

Available for free on Tor.com: https://www.tor.com/2014/07/29/the-co...


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2373 comments Spar by Kij Johnson is disturbing and dark, no apocalypse, just aliens and rape. I mean I'm not sure I can even recommend it because it's impossible to forget. But it did win the 2009 Nebula Award, and was a 2010 Hugo Award Nominee and 2010 Locus Award Finalist.


message 24: by Brendan (last edited Sep 17, 2017 06:18PM) (new)

Brendan (mistershine) | 926 comments Jenny (Reading Envy) wrote: "Spar by Kij Johnson is disturbing and dark, no apocalypse, just aliens and rape. I mean I'm not sure I can even recommend it because it's impossible to forget. But it did win the 2009 Nebula Award,..."

Talk about a lead sentence that uh, grabs you.


message 25: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 1105 comments I am still confused about female authors writing about rape.
The recent NK Jemisin's book I read featured a particularly violent one. It's very unsettling. Even Robin Hobb did it once (view spoiler) I am not saying that female authors can't write about it, and male authors can, but.....I don't know, maybe add more sensitivity to it? and I don't like rape as plot device. Surely a story will work without rape in it? Sorry for the rambling.


message 26: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2294 comments I'm just done with authors who use rape as a means to give the female character trauma in her past that spurs her to grow. It's cheap, it's disturbingly sensationalistic and it shows a lack of imagination to me (male characters grow without rape as a background event...).

Can it be used in a story at all? yes... but I think authors nowadays need to be especially careful to make sure it's really an event that proceeds from the story and not use it just to give the rape victim a traumatic event.


message 27: by BR (new)

BR Kingsolver (brkingsolver) | 5 comments Phil wrote: "For me, Donaldson is the king of depressing. His Thomas Covenant series for fantasy and his Gap series for science fiction."

I finally gave up on the Thomas Covenant series after several books, but A Dark and Hungry God Arises (Gap Sequence) has to be the darkest Sci-Fi I've ever read. Just checked, and it's out of print.


message 28: by Rik (last edited Sep 18, 2017 02:38PM) (new)

Rik | 777 comments Rick wrote: "I'm just done with authors who use rape as a means to give the female character trauma in her past that spurs her to grow. It's cheap, it's disturbingly sensationalistic and it shows a lack of imag..."

Have you read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or seen the movie? If so what do you think of the rape scenes in it? The movie tames it down somewhat, it has to else be rated NC17, but you get the general idea. There are two and involve the main character and while its traumatic I found it to be vital to her character and understanding her character. Spoiler to follow: (view spoiler) The author of the novels is a male however his longtime girlfriend (basically wife but they never married) is thought to have co-written the books so there is some female input here.

I personally don't have a problem with it so long as its not used cheaply. Rape is a real thing that will happen to a lot of women so if it fits the story and isn't used a gimmick I'm okay with it. I'm not sure where the Dragon Tattoo falls for me. On the one hand the rape and revenge rape are clearly used for a lot of shock value. However they also fully fit with the main characters personality as she's someone has often been targeted as a victim but she's also one who will seek a scorched earth type of revenge. The rape is hardly the only situation where this occurs with her throughout the series though its the only one involving rape.


message 29: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2294 comments Not seen the movie or read the book. I'm not naive about the occurrence of rape but I find it cheap and unimaginative in most fantasy to use it as a default way to give a female character a traumatic incident in her past... as if other kinds of trauma don't happen to them.


message 30: by John (new)

John | 19 comments I have to agree with posts above calling out Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series (fantasy) and his Gap series (science fiction) as among the darkest.

I also think Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy is also quite dark.


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