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Incomparable Book Club > What's your favourite first contact novel?

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message 1: by Kai (last edited Aug 09, 2018 11:45PM) (new)

Kai | 6 comments I suspect I'm a sucker for first contact stories because after having read Contact, The Listeners, and Rendezvous with Rama all I know is that I want to read more and BETTER stuff like that - but what??


message 2: by Janice (new)

Janice (archergal) | 10 comments Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained by Peter Hamilton are not particularly uplifting first contact stories. The do contain really ALIEN aliens that I find actually rather terrifying.

I liked the books.


message 3: by Ziad (new)

Ziad (motdiem) | 6 comments The three body problem could be considered a first contact novel and is great.


message 4: by Kai (last edited Aug 12, 2018 11:54PM) (new)

Kai | 6 comments Janice wrote: "Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained by Peter Hamilton are not particularly uplifting first contact stories. The do contain really ALIEN aliens that I find actually rather t..."

Thanks, Janice, for these suggestions, but they are rather space opera with alien encounters - that's not really what I'm after. I'm looking for present day/not too far in the future stories about the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence, trying to communicate with them, humanity's reaction, ... that sort of topics.


message 5: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Jensen (splatteredbits) | 4 comments “Spin” is really good. So is “Three-Body Problem”.


message 6: by Milele (new)

Milele | 1 comments Many Iain M Banks "Culture" books have the Culture organization called "Contact" make contact with an isolated civilization. I love these books though they're maybe not what you had in mind.

Footfall is an older classic of this genre.


message 7: by Kai (new)

Kai | 6 comments I actually have "The Three Body Problem" on my reading list but for other reasons (has been mentioned on a Book Club episode). I'm definitely going to give Spin a try, thanks, Aaron, for the suggestion! I have read some of Banks' Culture novels, I like those, but they are not "first contact" according to my definition, neither is Footfall (alien invasion). Sorry for being nitpicky, but I'm not just looking for SciFi with aliens, there're just too many of those...


message 8: by David (new)

David | 9 comments Hi, I would suggest The Mote in God’s Eye a great first contact story by Jerry Pournelle & Larry Niven. Enjoy, David


message 9: by Mon10a (new)

Mon10a | 2 comments Suggested ‘oldies but goodies’:

Verner Vinge
- A Fire Upon the Deep
- A Deepness in the Sky

Arthur Clarke
- Rendezvous With Rama


message 10: by Kai (new)

Kai | 6 comments I have put The Mote in God's Eye on my reading list - thanks David - and am curious, but not sure whether I'm going to like it... let's see how well it has aged... I've read A Deepness in the Sky - doesn't really fit my bill for first contact - and also "Rendezvous with Rama" which I have mentioned in my original post if you look closely ;-)


message 11: by carol. (new)

carol. The Sparrow I thought was devastating, but really, really good.

Children of Time is like a double first-contact; an initial change and a later contact. Fun.


message 12: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Jensen (splatteredbits) | 4 comments _The Sparrow_ is good. “Devastating” is also a very accurate description.


message 13: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay | 4 comments A few more first contact stories:

Semiosis - Generational story of human colonists on a world where the biosphere is millions of years older than Earth's and tightly co-evolved with intelligence of many sorts, including in some surprising places.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) and its sequels - These books are great fun in general, although heavy on pop culture references. They also riff off many classic SF tropes including first contact.

A Darkling Sea - Two interstellar civilizations (one human) are monitoring an intelligent deep sea species (sort of blind lobster-eels) when first contact accidentally happens. It's like a much more in-depth (ha!) version of the ST:TNG episode "Who Watches the Watchers".

C.J. Cherryh does some great first contact books. I particularly like 40000 in Gehenna and her very early Chanur books (The Pride of Chanur) deal with first contact with humans from the alien perspective.

Nnedi Okorafor does a fascinating version of first contact occurring in Nigeria with a dose of magical realism in Lagoon. I'm not positive that it's entirely successful, but it's ambitious and interesting.

A sub-category of first contact can be Big Dumb Object SF. Stuff like Ringworld, Rendezvous with Rama, Eon. This one gets done over and over in SF. A couple of good recent examples of this are:

Noumenon and Noumenon Infinity - A generation ship-based community investigates a Tabby's Star"-like object,

Fluency is a self-published call-back to the older style of SF like Eon and Rama but written with more modern techniques.

Embers of War is another recent entry in the BDO category. The aliens aren't as interesting as the objects though, and the most interesting thing going on here is the ship AI.

There's also some excellent military SF that deal with first contact situations, primarily by shooting back at it. Notable ones I've read would include the Magnificent Seven-like Forsaken Skies and the excellent Marko Kloos books starting with Terms of Enlistment (the first one's very rough but they get a lot better).


message 14: by David (new)

David (prooffreader) | 7 comments Some excellent suggestions in this thread, the only one I can think of to add is Blindsight. One of the members of the first contact team is a vampire. It's not as ridiculous as it sounds.


message 15: by David (new)

David (prooffreader) | 7 comments Oh, and Stanislaw Lem's Solaris. I can't say I exactly *liked* reading the book, but I'm incredibly glad to *have read* it. Very different from the George Clooney movie, which itself is a remake of a great Tarkovsky movie.


message 16: by Ziad (new)

Ziad (motdiem) | 6 comments Solaris was wonderful as an audiobook too


message 17: by Lewis (new)

Lewis (lbutlr) | 10 comments I will second, for the 5th time? The Three Body Problem. It is heavy on science, physics, and math, but it is absolutely brilliant.

It had A very Chinese perspective, but that’s fine, it works in this story.


message 18: by Kai (new)

Kai | 6 comments @David: I've read Blindsight and some others by Peter Watts (e.g. Rifters series) which are strange but great reads, also Lem's Solaris and others; Fiasko might actually also count as "first contact" story.

Thanks, Lindsay, for your long list of suggestions! Fluency sounds very interesting; I am definitely going to give it a try, also going to look at the others.

Btw, The Hercules Text has been recommended to me by my favourite ebook store, which seems to fit the bill perfectly. Does anyone know that one?


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