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suggestions > Required Reading--New Scifi

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message 1: by J-Lynn Van Pelt (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:01PM) (new)

J-Lynn Van Pelt | 19 comments I really enjoyed reading the posts based on Randy's last topic about classic scifi.

What about this question, what are the most essential reads in contemporary scifi?

What authors/books are pushing the definition of scifi or really taking scifi in new directions?

message 2: by Randy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:02PM) (new)

Randy (cptnrandy) | 7 comments I'm happy to chime in with some of mine.

I'd want to include virtually anything by:

William Gibson
Vernor Vinge
Bruce Sterling
Gene Wolfe
David Brin

And my "fallen out of favor" list:

Orson Scott Card
Dan Simmons

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Orson Scott Card? Out of favor?


Yes, not all of the books were amazing. But the ones that stayed true to the Ender concept (Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, Shadow of a Hegemon, Shadow of a Giant, and the one-to-be-published) are all AMAZING

message 4: by Rindis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:02PM) (new)

Rindis | 80 comments Presumably, 'out of favor' for non-Ender books....

Anyway, All I've read from Card so far is the first two Enders and Hatrack River (book-club 3-1; I do not remember the names of the individual volumes). Hatrack is good, Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead are stellar, and I'm certainly interested in advice on what to read next.

Absolutely, positively essential current SF author: Lois McMaster Bujold

I don't think she's pushing any envelopes... other than pure quality. She has a good, well realized setting, with stellar characters and well executed stories.

message 5: by Randy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:02PM) (new)

Randy (cptnrandy) | 7 comments Nope, out of favor for his politics.

You ever read any of his non-fiction? And he burned me years ago on some of his short fiction, in which I felt he dealt dishonestly with the reader. Lost my taste for him.

Frankly, I felt that Ender's Game is overrated, but passible, but his work holds no interest for me after getting a sense of the man.

That's the danger of knowing too much about an artist - usually I prefer to know very little about them.

And I always thought that Simmons had potential, but there was usually something that fell flat in many of his works. Then I read some of his "hard boiled" detective fiction and found it strangely distasteful. Then Olympus came out and I was shocked at his portrayal of rape as a clever way of bringing someone out of suspended animation and I was done.

I'm not saying that others can't enjoy these writers work - but I no longer can.

message 6: by J-Lynn Van Pelt (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:04PM) (new)

J-Lynn Van Pelt | 19 comments Randy,
I understand what you are saying about Orson Scott Card's politics. I don't agree with them either, but do admire that he is unabashedly open about what he believes.

I generally try not to know too much about the authors because I like a little mystery to the writer/reader relationship.

Plus, Ender's Game and the Ender's Shadow series is brilliant.

Rindis--I am glad you are liking the Enders series, but would suggest jumping over to Ender's Shadow and its sequels as soon as possible. I loved them! Ender's Shadow is brilliant because it is the same story as Ender's Game, but still adds so much to the story. The reader gets to love Ender even more through Bean's eyes. And the sequels are fascinating.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Seriously, regardless of your thoughts on his politics...

They ARE brilliant, and he is recognized as one of the foremost authors of science fiction of recent history.

For example, I'm against people who are very religious... it just bothers me. However, I do know that Card is a supposedly devout Mormon, and yet I still love his works...


message 8: by Margot (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:05PM) (new)

Margot | 6 comments just curious...what sort of politics does he claim? I know he's a Mormon, but that's not politics. That's religion.

Unless for him he's got that confused or something.

message 9: by Randy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:06PM) (new)

Randy (cptnrandy) | 7 comments Extremely, shockingly right wing. I'm sure a few seconds searching will bring it right to you. But be warned: it completely turned me off to him as a writer. You might want to just give this a pass if you want to continue reading and enjoying his work.

message 10: by Andy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:06PM) (new)

Andy (andyg1128) | 1 comments Very right wing, but not as much as one may think.

Been reading some of his rants in a local free newspaper near his home (used to live about 30 minutes from him and I still read the free rag online)

On some points he sounds so conservative you want to cringe, but on others he sounds so liberal it isn't funny.

His book, Empire, is what sent him into the spiral because of the cognitive dissonace it causes in people. It paints a world where the "blue state/red state" conflict boils into an almost civil war. It paints the Blues and the Reds both in a negative light, even though it is told from the Red viewpoint so the Blues come out looking worse.

Most people miss the underlying storyline of a new "Empire" being created under everyones noses...Interestng read if you can get past the top level of the story, just like Ender's Game

message 11: by Bob (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:11PM) (new)

Bob | 2 comments Concur with Rindis - Lois McMaster Bujold is one of my top five writers ever, and she's still producing regularly. While she's switched to fantasy recently, it's honest fantasy - she builds rules for magic and lives by them. As Rindis said - no new directions, just top quality. You might also consider Robert J. Sawyer - his Hominids trilogy provides more controversial and mind-expanding concepts per page than any book I've ever read. Even more than Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land or Niven's Ringworld, and that's saying something, especially since Hominids is set in present-day society.

On Card - I get the impression he's a Libertarian. They don't fit nicely on the "liberal-conservative" spectrum, which makes both of those categories try to call them the enemy. Empire was a frightening book, because it is easy to see as all too real - in principle, if not in detail.

Andy, what paper?

message 12: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 25, 2007 05:22AM) (new)

The only way that you can call Orson Scott Card libertarian is if you're using the word "libertarian" as a synonym for "jingoistic ass-hattery". That said, Card's a pretty good author (& an interesting choice for discussion! He's known for his SF, but some of his fantasy's pretty tight).

Randy: In short, you're right. Orson Scott Card is a jingoistic ass hat but if you hadn't liked him so much to start with, I don't think you would have felt as betrayed by his f**ked up political views.

Oh & for new school authors? I think Cory Doctorow's amazing (& I even agree with him politically! How cool is that?!)

p.s. Btw, OSC's fallen temporarily out of favor w/me because 'magic street' was utterly craptacular.

message 13: by Rob (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:22PM) (new)

Rob | 19 comments OMG. Dan Simmons? No you didn't? You did!

I'm going to put good ol' Dan right back on the favorite list. How do you like them apples?

Hyperion is simply a great read and Illium and it's sequal were alot of fun. Sorry mate.

If you like WELL WRITTEN; sex, violence & page turning plot. Make it a Dan Simmons day.

He's one of my favorite authors.... and you put him on the fallen out list.

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Those all good authors for the last century, but for the twenty first century you need to read:

Scott Lynch
Richard K. Morgan
Alastair Reynolds
Charles Stross
Elizabeth Bear

My pick for this year's Hugos -- In War Times, Kathleen Ann Goonan and A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham.

message 15: by Hugh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Hugh (hughbehm-steinberg) I'd throw in China Mieville and Ken MacLeod (particularly his Fall Revolution series -- my favorite is The Cassini Division).

message 16: by Tamara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

Tamara | 3 comments another vote for China Mieville and Cory Doctorow. also Neil Gaiman!

message 17: by Servius Heiner (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:35PM) (new)

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments Neil Gaiman! I like his stories but the man doesn't know how to end a story to save his life. I read three of his books, and they were all good... till the end then i just wanted to burn down the mans house, you just can't go cheep on endings, and he always does.

message 18: by Lori (new)

Lori I'd most definitely add

Roger Zelazny
Tim Powers

Actually, I wouldn't know what to call Powers, except wild! Like the Amber Chronicles, borders between scifi and fantasy.

Others I've enjoyed a great deal in recent years are

Vernor Vinge
Dan Simmons (not the new one)
Alastair Reynolds
William Gibson

Love Bujold, but not her latest stuff. Robin Hobb has replaced her as my favorite fantasy writer with her Farseer trilogy, continued with the Tawny Man.

message 19: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey | 25 comments In SF published in the last decade, I would take a look at the following authors and books:

Karl Schroeder ( Sun of Suns, Queen of Candesce, Permanance)
Elizabeth Bear (Hammered)
Richard Morgan (Altered Carbon, Woken Furies)
Chris Moriarty (Spin State)
Julie Czerneda (A thousand Words for Stranger)
Tobias Bucknell ( Crystal Rain ,Ragamuffins)
Elizabeth Moon (Vatta novels)
David Weber (Off Armageddon Reef)
Kage Baker (Company Novels)
Peter Hamilton (Judas Unchained, {Pandora's Star)

message 20: by Allison (new)

Allison | 15 comments Jeffrey, I'm glad you mentioned Elizabeth Moon and Julie Czerneda - they're two of my favorites.

I read a few of Gaiman's books - I like his mind-bending concepts, but I agree that his endings leave a lot to be desired. It's as if he enjoys getting all worked up with the plot and the setting ... and then gets bored and doesn't put the same energy into the last 1/8th or so of the book.

(Mercedes Lackey in the Fantasy genre always seemed to do the same thing - the endings feel tacked on like a disappointing afterthought. She does it in the last 3-5 pages, though!)

message 21: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey | 25 comments I read Neverwhere by Gaiman and I thought the horror/urban fantasy was a fine mesh, adn the ending made sense to me

However, I also read American Gods by Gaiman and I agree that the ending seemed forced, weird not sure what the word should be. However the sheer audacity, imagination and inventiveness of the story really overshadowed the ending IMO.

message 22: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Wright (wrightales) | 3 comments I would have to include:
Nicola Griffith
Octavia Butler
Rachel Pollack
and on the is-it-sci-fi borderI would include:
Jonathan Carroll

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments Peter F. Hamilton. Am I the only one that reads him... or likes his Books, I only see him mentioned two times... I'm pretty well read and I truly think he has some of the best.

message 24: by Emily (new)

Emily (cosmicvagabond) | 4 comments Hamilton is great, but I'll admit his hard tech science can get tedious. I actually like "Fallen Dragon" the best of all his books, even though it was a stand alone.

Gaiman isn't bad, but Clive Barker can always do it better and first. I find too much of Gaiman's stuff forced and loose, whereas a lot of Barker's stuff seems tighter and more believable, if that's possible for such a genre.

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments Fallen Dragon... I need to read that one still.

message 26: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey | 25 comments Fallen Dragon ws very good and I also liked the Reality Dysfunction Series and his quantum murder books. But you really have to be committed to his works. The Naked God, the last book in the Reality Dysfunction trilogy was 975 pp in hardcover.

message 27: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey | 25 comments Neal Stephenson is really good as well.

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments I'm plowing through "the naked God" right now. I'm going to look for his Quantum murder series, Problem is I live in Alaska, so I'm always ordering books, that get exspensive.

message 29: by Quincy (new)

Quincy | 2 comments about osc I have recenly had the honer of meeting him breifly and in passing I hinted to the idea of making a book about a black charater. Which he replyed he had already written one, can anyone tell me which book he was refering to????

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments Lois McMaster Bujolds' Warrior Apprentice... Is that book one of a series? Is the series called Warrior apprentice, it look’s interesting and I have actually never read any of her stuff. So I am excited, I do love finding new talented authors… maybe I should rephrase that to undiscovered talents.

message 31: by Jamie (new)

Jamie Collins (jamie_goodreads) | 12 comments I only discovered Bujold last year, and I read straight through the entire Vorkosigan series over a couple of months.

The Warrior's Apprentice is the first Vorkosigan book that features Miles himself. It's a pretty good place to start the series, although it's not the very best book. The next book after this one, The Vor Game, is a Hugo winner.

There are two books that come chronologically earlier, Shards of Honor and Barrayar (also a Hugo winner) but they are about Miles' parents.

All of these books are now available in omnibus volumes, which should save you some money if you're buying them new. You usually get two novels and a short story in each volume.

message 32: by Rindis (new)

Rindis | 80 comments Nick, it is a book in a series, yes. However, Bujold believes that someone should be able to pick up any book and dive right in, and writes her books to suit (e.g., they're all written as independent novels). Warrior's Apprentice is her second book published, and the third one she started writing, and the earliest one to feature Miles (the actual name of the series is "The Adventures of Miles Vorkosigan"). Most volumes have a timeline in the back showing where everything fits.

message 33: by J-Lynn Van Pelt (new)

J-Lynn Van Pelt | 19 comments Quincy,
I'd be interested in knowing which book Orson Scott Card was refering to. Ender's had a multicultural cast, but don't remember any of the main characters being black. His book Leah and Rachel is based on the old testament and one could argue that the people in the region were definitely people of color (although American christianity and bibles rarely portray them as so).

But, was there a book by OSC that had a main character that was black?


message 34: by Kristjan (last edited Feb 12, 2008 06:41AM) (new)

Kristjan (booktroll) J-Lynn said: I'd be interested in knowing which book Orson Scott Card was refering to.

Magic Street? I believe it is one of his newer books and the reviews were not very stellar.

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments Rindis, Eleanor thanks for the insight, I have an ever growing list of books to read now, And yet I am still looking for more.

message 36: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey | 25 comments You should note that Iain M. Banks writes as Iain Banks as well. Iain M. Banks is used for sf and the other name is used for his other works.

message 37: by chris (new)

chris (chrisaflute) | 5 comments Another vote for Charles Stross. The stories which were later published as "Accelerando" were magnificently mind-blowing. Lobsters, fer cry-yi.

I'm new here, so please forgive if I breach protocol by recommending my favorite sources of new SF, namely, the "pulps". F&SF, Analog,and Asimov's are my staples. The book reviews therein have been very helpful.

message 38: by Travis (new)

Travis | 6 comments On Hamilton, maybe I'm in the minority but I love the techie side of his works. Being a techie myself, I love researching the possibilities of SF technology after I've read the book.

Pandoras Star / Judas Unchained are probably two of the most epic and life pondering books I've ever read.

I need to go in for Rejuvination!

And man I would love a virtual screen projected from my cornea to navigate the internet while trying not to work.

This series has really brought me down to feeling how precious life really is, and how little we know about....'what's out there'

message 39: by Quincy (new)

Quincy | 2 comments Just an up date about my question from a few weeks back. Did osc ever write a book where the main character was Black? I have yet to find the answer to that question but now i have another, please anybody. OSC and a woman named kidd co wrote a book called Lovelock and it is book one in the trilogy does anyone have info about the next book in the series? Who, what where, when, why and how?

message 40: by Kai (new)

Kai (wlow) | 1 comments i think there was supposed to be a trilogy for lovelock, and it's supposed to still be a work in progress...just wanted to add, i agree with an older comment that ender's game is overrated

message 41: by Mostephl (new)

Mostephl Glad to know some others agree that Ender's Game is overrated. Never did really understand the hype on this.

My favorite authors?
Octavia Butler (especially Dawn)
William Gibson (Sprawl Trilogy of course, but also really liked Idoru)
Lois McMaster Bujold (but agree that recent stuff is less than stellar)

I like Jan Siegel's trilogy starting with Prospero's Children and am dismayed to see it receive such bad reviews on this site.

Liked David Brin's Kiln People tremendously but am less than enthused by others I have read by him.

message 42: by John (last edited Nov 08, 2008 08:50PM) (new)

John Conrad (jmconrad) Too true Randy (about Orson Scott Card). I felt the same way about Piers Anthony when I was reading his books 20 years ago. I read his comments on writing and his weird ideas on various other topics, and I lost my taste for his writing completely.

Writers lose their mystique when we get to know them too well. I attended writers workshops with Orson Scott Card and Stephen R. Donaldson when I was in college in 1987. They lost a little of their mystery when they explained some of their writing secrets and methods. I still like some of Card's books, but I think he churns them out with less pizazz than his first few had. I think that if I ever write a book I won't settle for anything less than a masterpiece, which is why I'll never write one. Also I don't think I could stand the criticism.

Anyway, the rule is: never get to know your favorite authors. They will never fail to disappoint you. For authors: never give interviews, or reveal to your readers too much about yourself. Be a Boo Radley, except never come out!

message 43: by Bradley (new)

Bradley | 9 comments Boo Radley? Bradley? hhehehe =)

message 44: by Stephen (last edited Nov 25, 2008 04:16AM) (new)

Stephen (photoscribe) | 83 comments Is Card anything like Steve Ditko, who co-created Spiderman and Dr. Strange at Marvel? Despite his obvious sympathy for the downtrodden in his art, he has also created a character for a fanzine published by Wally Wood ("Witzend", ) called "Mr. A", and this character was a law and order freak's wet DREAM!!! Ditko's views of crime and punishment were so far to the black and white, it would scare Pat Buchanan!! Is that where Card is...?

Stephen H. Turner
The Last Voyage of the Cassiopeia
Almagest: The Adventures of MarsShield
The Avedon Question

message 45: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 117 comments CJ Cherryh has been mention briefly, but let me underscore her as one of the great contempory SF writers. Down Below Station is one of the great SF novels and I love her Foreigner series which is ongoing.

One not mentioned, who I read everything, is Alan Dean Foster Pip and Flinx are good friends! Another I read everything is Stephen Baxter

Then there is Carey Rockwell who got me started in SF - not sure he should be considered 'contemporary'


message 46: by Mark (new)

Mark | 1 comments Iain M. Banks - a Must.

message 47: by Jon (new)

Jon Neal Asher-Just finished the Agent Cormac series and loved every single book. Action packed stuff.

message 48: by Mawgojzeta (last edited Aug 25, 2009 12:06PM) (new)

Mawgojzeta Kai wrote: "i think there was supposed to be a trilogy for lovelock, and it's supposed to still be a work in progress...just wanted to add, i agree with an older comment that ender's game is overrated"

I have been waiting for the rest of the books forever, it seems. I do not believe the trilogy will be completed at this point. Hope I am wrong.

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