Hatrack River Writers Workshop discussion

sf novels

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message 1: by arriki (last edited Jan 23, 2009 12:14PM) (new)

arriki | 5 comments Aside from futuristic war novels and alternate histories are you finding many/any new truly sf novels on the shelves? Many/any riveting or even worth reading? Am I just missing them or are my standards just too high?

I know I'm being a snob, but -- for the most part -- the writing itself appears to be far below the quality of the better mystery/thriller/detective novels coming out in this century.

I find it difficult to spot sf on the bookshelves when only their spines are visible.

message 2: by Christine (new)

Christine | 1 comments I'm finding that I enjoy classic scifi more than modern scifi. I have enjoyed many more of the books written before about 1980 than the book written after that. I'm enjoying the one I'm reading now -- Gateway by Frederick Pohl. I'll do a review when it's over. No wars, just long-dead alien civilizations and space exploration...some psychology.

I have liked the two Sector General novels that I have read...they all revolve around an intergalactic hospital and have a lively variety of aliens. The detail and imagination of the alien races is better than most anything I've read. The stories themselves are good...I couldn't take reading all of them back to back or anything, but I picked up the first one a year ago and the second 6 months ago...thinking it's about time for another.

Of course, Heinlein and Asimov are brilliant -- if you haven't read everything by them then I'd get right on that. :=)

message 3: by arriki (new)

arriki | 5 comments As a contemporary writer of sf, I am interested in what's being chosen by the current book editors.

It is disheartening that, from my experience lately, so many people rave about the past -- even distant past -- sf novels.

How is 21st c. sf failing us? Or is it 21st c. publishers who are responsible?

message 4: by arriki (new)

arriki | 5 comments Since this site is all about sharing book titles and opinions on their quality and since we’re digging into the past for readable sf – here are some of my favorites.

ACE D-series always had a blurb on the cover hinting at what the story was about. At one time I had committed to memory almost all the ACE sf and fantasy cover blurbs so I will for nostalgia add those to the title and author where applicable.

Old stuff from the good old days.

THE SUN SMASHER by Edmond Hamilton – the ultimate weapon for an uncrowned king

STARHAVEN by Ivar Jorgenson – planet of the outcasts

THE NEMESIS FROM TERRA by Leigh Brackett – caught in the web of the Fourth World

FIRST ON MARS by Rex Gordon – the “Robinson Crusoe” of the red planet

THE PSIONIC MENACE BY Keith Woodcott – the S.O.S. from beyond the galactic frontier

THE OUTLAWS OF MARS by Otis Adelbert Kline

THE DOOR THROUGH SPACE BY Marion Zimmer Bradley – beware of the 4-D demons

STAR OF DANGER also by Bradley – he ventured where expert spacemen never dared

THE ANGRY ESPERS by Lloyd Biggle jr – these mind-readers hated earthmen

LISTEN! THE STARS! BY John Brunner – tune in on eternity – and disappear

THE STAR OF LIFE by Edmond Hamilton

THE HUMANOIDS by Jack Williamson

SLEEPING PLANET by Willam R Burkett jr

Now some more recent novels that I kind of liked

RESONANCE by Chris Dolley (actually quite good)

PUSHING ICE by Alistair Reynolds (okay and real space sf but jerky as a story. It was like three novellas roughly pushed together)

LOOK TO WINDWARD by Iain M Banks (great writing but he can’t tell a coherent story, in my opinion. But I love to read the words and scenes)

PERMANENCE, LADY OF MAZES, and SUN OF SUNS by Karl Schroeder ( really the epitome of recent sf but something in the writing isn’t quite right because I began each of those novels eager and excited and interested yet had a hard time finishing them)

message 5: by Adam (new)

Adam Lowe (adamlowe) | 1 comments I think there's less hard SF out there these days. The trend is for cross-genre works that blend SF/F/H. I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing, it's just different.

I've had trouble classifying my own novel (http://www.troglodyterose.com) because it's neither wholly SF or F. Some fantastical things happen in it, but they're all explainable through the science of the world I've created. There's also a horror element, with the main characters at various times pursued a la Alien and slasher films by monstrous creatures called Justicars.

My publisher (http://www.crossingchaos.com) finally saw fit to label it science fantasy, which is fine, although I think it's not wholly accurate.

message 6: by S.R. (new)

S.R. Dantzler (BentTree) | 1 comments I think that the trend towards less hard SF closely resembles our views as a culture. Let's face it Space travel isn't something on the minds of our modern culture as it has been in the past. SF legends of the past, like Asimov, Sir Clarke, Heinlien, Bear, Niven, etc... blossomed in a time when the possibilities were fresh and exciting. The space race is now over and interest in space travel is fading.

I will admit that the majority of new SF I read is short fiction, and there a many exciting writers breaking new ground and bending our genre. I embrace the new direction and it really inspires me to break down walls and paint new worlds.

Alaistar Reynolds is probably the best hard SF out their now and while Space Opera is not what gives me chills I still read it and as far as Space opera goes, I consider his prime.

I also have the tendency to read the classics. Having 1100 books on my shelves assists this habit I am sure. I don't hit the Barnes and Noble as often as most writers. But the Classics still inspire me. It has definately influenced my millieu building. Seeing how the greats build their worlds and considering the actual world in which they lived in at the time helps me to look for possibilities in our modern world.

I actually have one millieu in which technology has evoled to unforseen levels but Earth has given up completely of the notion of Space exploration.

message 7: by Debbie (last edited Jan 26, 2009 10:28AM) (new)

Debbie (deborahw) | 2 comments Well, I don't tend to read sci-fi because I know enough about science to know most of sci-fi is actually fantasy. Also, much of sci-fi (past and present) doesn't match my values or have heroes or heroines I like very much.

However, I do read some sci-fi and most of it isn't futuristic war or alternate histories. Here's a list:

The Matadora series by Steve Perry -- Not my values, but it's basically a martial arts story about a few people taking on a corrupt government in a unique way.

Jaran by Kate Elliot -- While much of the action occurs on a primitive planet, it is again a story of a unique resistance against a peaceful but still oppressive alien species.

The Ship Who... series by Anne McCaffrey -- disabled children are put in control of space ships and these are their adventures exploring new planets and so on.

Arrow From Earth by F.M. Busby -- this story explores the problems of experimental space travel from the point of view of a stow away on the ship

Lightwing by Tara K. Harper -- a story about creating fast-enough space travel in a research lab/station

None of these are very recent, but I don't think they're old enough to qualify as Classics, either.

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