SciFi and Fantasy Book Club discussion

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Recommendations and Lost Books > Looking for books with main emphasis on natural science

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message 1: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments Dear experienced readers,

Do you have suggestions for me for SF novels with emphasis on biological topics? Exploring new lifeforms (fauna or flora), further developement of existing species and such? Geological exploration also would be nice. Anything about natural sciences.


message 2: by Anthony (new)

Anthony (albinokid) | 1471 comments Does The Left Hand of Darkness apply in this regard?


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 2207 comments How focused do they need to be?

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) has a section where the MCs discover a new planet with [new] lifeforms, etc.

All Systems Red is set during a geological/biological exploration BUT it is an action/character focused storyline.


message 4: by Anna, Circadian heretic (last edited Aug 15, 2018 12:54PM) (new)

Anna (vegfic) | 9629 comments Mod
Semiosis sort of, although there's lots more, meaning that it starts out with a heavy emphasis on biology, and then moves on to include other subjects.

Did you read Into the Drowning Deep with the group?


message 5: by Trike (new)

Trike First Contact stories feature this quite a bit. The best ones also reveal something about ourselves. Alan Dean Foster’s Nor Crystal Tears, for instance,

Brave New World is a pretty terrifying (and prescient) look at eugenics.

Anything in the Biopunk subgenre might be of interest. For example, Ribofunk.

Greg Bear’s Blood Music.

Frank Herbert’s Dune.

Many of the Eight Worlds stories and novels by John Varley. The John Varley Reader. See also The Female Man by Joanna Russ.

For weird, wacky, and/or terrifying biology, see books like Darwinia, The Day of the Triffids, and the Southern Reach trilogy.

James Blish did an interesting switch on terraforming planets to be suitable for humans, instead looking at gengineering humans to be suitable for planets: The Seedling Stars.

For geology, books focusing on terraforming are worth exploring, such as Robinson’s Mars trilogy.

There are a lot of short stories which do geology and related sciences, but I can’t find a decent list of them. The novella Uncharted Territory by Connie Willis isn’t exactly about that, but it’s in the ballpark and is super good.


message 6: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments Anthony, MrsJoseph, Anna and Trike : Thank you so very much for the suggestions. Some of those books sound intriguing, so I put them on my TBR.

@Anna: I only joined the group beginning of July, the August group read was the first I participated.


message 7: by Karin (last edited Aug 15, 2018 03:16PM) (new)

Karin | 773 comments ETA I'll be back, I just remembered one I read in the past year or so.

Here it is - Omega by Jack McDevitt. It's a solid 3 star like, but I didn't find it brilliant.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber is all about a planet with new life forms, where an anthropologist or clergyman (or perhaps he was a linguist--I forget now but he did learn the language) goes to get to know a new sentient species.



Agenda 21 is about the environment, but it's a dystopian thriller and y/a--Beck is concerned that the UN's Agenda 21 because he feels it could be taken too far. However, the second book spends more time in the actual environment.

I know I've read others in the categories you mention but can't think of any titles right now. One I don't care for that is all about the ruined environment is the postapocalyptic The Road--it's well written and quite a few of my GR friends have liked it.


message 8: by Anthony (new)

Anthony (albinokid) | 1471 comments I read it many years ago, so I remember almost nothing about it, but I think Startide Rising by David Brin would apply as well.


message 9: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (last edited Aug 15, 2018 03:12PM) (new)

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
Yeah, I'd say the Hainish cycle in general has a lot of really cool stuff about living on non-Earth equivalents. Dispossessed, Left Hand of Darkness, the Word for World is Forest are supposed to all have that vibe!

Spin is a sort of pretty, nostalgic book about the delicate balance of Earth, and a lot of other things related to your request that I can't really talk about without spoilers.

I was recommended Beggars in Spain as another bio-focused sci fi (and also the book vying for second in this month's polls, ending today! A second place means it might return for our Runner Up poll in December!)

Planetfall, one of our past buddy reads, has a lot of that and a lot of very good mental health depictions, too.

The Sparrow is a combo first contact/linguistics/new species in a new world. Careful though, it's astoundingly beautiful and heartbreaking.


message 10: by Anthony (new)

Anthony (albinokid) | 1471 comments @Gabi, both Planetfall and The Sparrow are on my TBR list and I’d be happy to do buddy reads of them down the line.


message 11: by Karin (new)

Karin | 773 comments Yes, the Sparrow and its sequel, Children of God!

There are many more but I can't remember them all, and they aren't all posted on GR, and even some of the ones that are aren't shelved anywhere but read.


message 12: by Meredith (last edited Aug 15, 2018 03:24PM) (new)

Meredith | 1352 comments Grass by Sheri Tepper is set mostly on an alien planet and focusses on solving the planet's mysteries focussing on plant and animal life forms.

Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre has some cool biology in it, as does Ammonite by Nicola Griffith.

ETA: Undertow by Elizabeth Bear, another set on an alien planet and big component is interacting with amphibian-like life forms there.


message 13: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments Oh wow! Thank you so very much to everybody! This group is a treasure!
My TBR list just elongates. Especially Sparrow and Grass sound very tempting. And Ammonite is my next BR.


message 14: by Anna, Circadian heretic (new)

Anna (vegfic) | 9629 comments Mod
Anthony wrote: "@Gabi, both Planetfall and The Sparrow are on my TBR list and I’d be happy to do buddy reads of them down the line."

There's an upcoming buddy read for Sparrow (October 15th), and Planetfall already has a discussion.

Meredith wrote: "Grass by Sheri Tepper is set mostly on an alien planet and focusses on solving the planet's mysteries focussing on plant and animal life forms."

Yes, Grass! The mystery will continue through the series, but I think it can be read as a standalone.

I also have to add Remnant Population, which I didn't add in my original post, because I didn't think it fit well enough. But it fits as well as most of the recs, and is an excellent read!


message 15: by Shanna (new)

Shanna | 43 comments Children of Time explores the bio-advancement/enhancement of a non-human species. I thought it was a great book.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress explores the geology of the moon somewhat. It was written before we knew as much about the moon, so perhaps it's not realistic. I enjoyed it anyway.


message 16: by Anthony (new)

Anthony (albinokid) | 1471 comments Thanks for letting me know about the Sparrow buddy read, Anna! Also, I had Grass in paperback years ago but never read it and have added it to my queue, thanks for that reminder as well.


message 17: by CBRetriever (new)

CBRetriever | 4625 comments Shanna wrote: "Children of Time explores the bio-advancement/enhancement of a non-human species. I thought it was a great book.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress explores the geology of ..."


spiders

shudders {{}}

I had a hard time with that book because of that


message 18: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments @CBRetriever: which one has spiders in it? I adore spiders! They were the very reason why I started studying biology in the first place (although I ended up with plants).

Thank you Shanna!

@Anna: There seems to be not so many books about what I'm looking for (exploration of strange new worlds), so I'm as well glad about any suggestions that brush that topic.

Thanks for the point out to the Sparrow BR, I'll be there.


message 19: by Pinar (new)

Pinar | 6 comments The Word for World is Forest / Ursula K. Le Guin, Solaris /Stanislaw Lem, Eden / Stanislaw Lem


message 20: by Lizzie (last edited Aug 16, 2018 03:30AM) (new)

Lizzie (lizzie_bobbins) | 92 comments May I recommend a couple of older books which would fit the bill, and I also really enjoyed: Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper and The Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clarke.

If you are looking for a "strange new world", Dark Eden by Chris Beckett might be worth exploring!


message 21: by Faith (last edited Aug 16, 2018 06:10AM) (new)

Faith | 331 comments Try Fragment by Warren Fahy. Has an interesting collection of strange life forms.


message 22: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
Oh, exploration? Andre Norton has that. I read Zero Stone. The worlds were cool.

Definitely Planetfall, then. And the Vorkosigan Saga. Shards of Honor has exploration. Also some of the most traumatic things I've ever read, but definitely while exploring!


message 23: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments Thank you for the new recommendations.

@Allison: now you definitely have piqued my interest! The traumatic things referred to "Shards of Honor"?


message 24: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
I will direct you to my review, if I may, which has 2 different content warnings and a few other details!

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 25: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
(But also The Sparrow is exploration, too, and highly recommended).


message 26: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments Thanks a lot, Allison, I have to look this up when I get back home. My mobile app only shows me the comments but not the review.

Sparrow, Planetfall, Grass, Children of Time and Left Hand of Darkness are definitely on my list now.


message 27: by Anna, Circadian heretic (new)

Anna (vegfic) | 9629 comments Mod
Gabi wrote: "I adore spiders! They were the very reason why I started studying biology in the first place (although I ended up with plants)"

Based on this I think you might enjoy Semiosis. I haven't read many books where you get to look inside a plant's mind :D Definitely look at some reviews!


message 28: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments @Anna: bought! You absolutely got me with "look inside a planet's mind " - love all kinds of Gaia theories.


message 29: by Anna, Circadian heretic (new)

Anna (vegfic) | 9629 comments Mod
Not planet, plant! :D


message 30: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments LOL! That happens when you read what you want to read. ;) But plant's mind sounds just as intriguing.


message 31: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments Allison wrote: "I will direct you to my review, if I may, which has 2 different content warnings and a few other details!

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."


Ooh, oookay ... I'm at the browser now and could read your review. And that's definitely a No for me. Thank you for the warning, Allison.


message 33: by Barry (new)

Barry (boprawira) | 64 comments The Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson is basically about terraforming Mars, so plenty of discussion on flora and fauna lives, especially in the 2nd and 3rd books.


message 34: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments ~Annaki~ wrote: "I loved The Word for World Is Forest <3"

I owned this book once, but unfortunately I can't find it anymore. I have no rememberence of the story, but I loved the title. Since in German the word for forest starts with "w" as well (Wald) we had the poetical alliteration "Das Wort für Welt ist Wald"

@Barry: thank you! Terraforming is a subject I love.


message 35: by Trike (new)

Trike Gabi wrote: "@Barry: thank you! Terraforming is a subject I love. "

You’re welcome. :p


message 36: by Barry (new)

Barry (boprawira) | 64 comments @ Gabi you’re welcome. Oh, and the book with the spider is Children of Time, if you weren’t clear before. If you really are interested in them, I think you might find the book to be fascinating indeed.

The Martian by Andy Weir could also be up your alley, although it focuses more on how to survive in Mars.


message 37: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments Trike wrote: "Gabi wrote: "@Barry: thank you! Terraforming is a subject I love. "

You’re welcome. :p"


:D I got it! Thank you, too, of course.


message 38: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments Barry wrote: "@ Gabi you’re welcome. Oh, and the book with the spider is Children of Time, if you weren’t clear before. If you really are interested in them, I think you might find the book to be fascinating ind..."

I know, for some people this sounds weird, but spiders are indeed the most fascinating animals for me.


message 39: by MadProfessah (new)

MadProfessah (madprofesssah) | 741 comments If you like spiders you’re gonna LOVE “Children of Time” then!!


message 40: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments With all those recommendations I guess I have to squeeze Children of Time into my schedule next. Thanks a lot, everybody.


message 41: by Anna, Circadian heretic (new)

Anna (vegfic) | 9629 comments Mod
Gabi wrote: "With all those recommendations I guess I have to squeeze Children of Time into my schedule next. Thanks a lot, everybody."

Or wait until October 15th, that's when the group reread starts!


message 42: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments Anna: good to know. I have to have a look where I can find the group re-read schedules. So far I've only memorised the group reads and the BRs.


message 43: by Anna, Circadian heretic (new)

Anna (vegfic) | 9629 comments Mod
There's a pinned thread in the Reread folder, with all the upcoming dates!


message 44: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments Anna wrote: "There's a pinned thread in the Reread folder, with all the upcoming dates!"

Thank you so much. When I come home from vacations, I'll create an Excel list with all the books I want read and the dates of the various group schedules .. then I won't be such a nuisance anymore ;)


message 45: by ~Annaki~ (new)

~Annaki~ (annaki) | 20 comments Gabi wrote: "~Annaki~ wrote: "I loved The Word for World Is Forest

I owned this book once, but unfortunately I can't find it anymore. I have no rememberence of the story, but I loved the title. ..."


I have the English version, but it has been translated to my language (Danish) as well, to "Verden er Skov", which translates "World is Forest".


message 46: by Anna, Circadian heretic (new)

Anna (vegfic) | 9629 comments Mod
Gabi wrote: "When I come home from vacations, I'll create an Excel list with all the books I want read and the dates of the various group schedules .. then I won't be such a nuisance anymore"

You're not a nuisance at all! :) I like to remind everyone about all the things going on and coming up as often as possible, so I'm only happy when there's a chance to do it naturally.

You can also create a personal thread in the challenge folder if you want. I keep track of things to do with this group in mine, and I also have a secret GR group just for myself, where I add books to the to-read shelf with start dates, to remind myself of what's coming up. It's a great way to stay on track if you're in several groups and/or do readathons, or have personal challenges, etc.


message 47: by Anna, Circadian heretic (new)

Anna (vegfic) | 9629 comments Mod
~Annaki~ wrote: "I have the English version, but it has been translated to my language (Danish) as well, to "Verden er Skov", which translates "World is Forest"."

The Finnish edition is "Maailma, vihreä metsä", which means "The World, a Green Forest". I like the English (and German) titles better, but I can't think of a way to translate it to Finnish literally, without it sounding super clunky.

And I love the book, I should reread it someday.


message 48: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 3405 comments @Anna: then I'm happy that I provided a reason for the reminder :D. BTW, I've seen that Dirk Gently is on as well, which I wanted to re-read forever and also the Neverending story, which I should read someday ... being German (sorry OT ;) )


message 49: by Trike (new)

Trike Oh, The White Plague, too.


message 50: by S.B.K. (new)

S.B.K. Burns (sbkburns) | 1 comments I love Herbert!

Actually, if we're going to assign colors, GETTING THEM UP used to be called EMERALD DAWN--it's green. That got me thinking about a book I read many years ago, THE GREEN RAIN. Accidently some kind of chlorophyll rained down and was incorporated into people's skin. Now there were whites, blacks,and greens. As a social sci-fi, the people had to deal with, all of a sudden, becoming a part of a minority "race"--green.


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