OT: Really good, long-form epic science-fiction

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Thrawn, Oct 15, 2013.

  1. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Shockingly, being a die-hard fan of TrekLit since the DS9 Relaunch, I'm also a fan of other long, multi-book works of science fiction.

    There's an analogy I'm going to steal from (I think) tor.com's Jo Walton - plot twists are like spear points. The ones that really penetrate have long, heavy spear shafts behind them, the kind of weight built up by long, epic stories full of detail and memorable characters.

    So in that spirit, here's a list of some of my favorites, and some others that are on the to-read pile, and I'm curious what you all think I've missed.


    Favorites:

    Titan, Wizard, and Demon by John Varley (3 novels)
    Revelation Space universe by Alastair Reynolds (5 novels, ss collection)
    Xeelee sequence by Stephen Baxter (7 novels, 2 ss collections)
    Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold (15 novels, 4 novellas)
    Commonwealth Universe and also Night's Dawn by Peter F. Hamilton (5 and 3 novels, respectively)
    League of Peoples universe by James Alan Gardner (6 novels)
    January Dancer series by Michael Flynn (4 novels)
    Uplift series by David Brin (6 novels)
    The Lost Fleet by Jack Campbell (6 novels, plus two spinoff series I haven't read yet)

    There's also Brandon Sanderson's fantasy novels, all of which are in a giant shared universe and all of which play by very specific rules, so that almost counts as sci-fi. And Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, which is historical fiction but feels like sci-fi when you read it.

    I've also read the RAMA series and the Hyperion series, but wouldn't recommend those. Or, at least, the first book of each is stunningly wonderful and every other volume afterwards is just as stunningly horrid.


    On the list to try someday:

    Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson (3 novels)
    Culture by Iain M. Banks (9 novels, ss collection)
    Wess'Har by Karen Traviss (6 novels)
    Leviathan Wakes series by James S. A. Corey (6 novels planned - I'll read it when it's done)


    So - recommendations, opinions, other series to share?
     
  2. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, while I'm not finished yet, I'm currently reading Encounter with Tiber by John Barnes and Buzz Aldrin, and it's really very good. I love Neal Stephenson, and I love books that have a bit more to them. And Encounter with Tiber is right up there, according to many reviews I've read, with some of the best hard sci-fi and sounds right up your alley. It gets right into the science aspects in a spectacular way, right down to drawings to explain some of the concepts. And it's a rather ambitious novel. Amazon just recently re-released it for the Kindle, as it was originally published in 1997.

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/687527.Encounter_with_Tiber
     
  3. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Revelation Space and the Red Blue Green Mars trilogy are great. I'm afraid I'm not familiar with a lot of the others, but I have just embarked on the fantasy Game of Thrones series, which I am thoroughly enjoying at the moment.
     
  4. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Here's one for you: The Martians is sort of a fourth book in this series. It's on my "to read" shelf also, so I can't tell you much about it (saving you from spoilers, and whatnot.), but I do know that it has earlier drafts of chapters from the first three novels, as well as short stories (at least one) continuing the story, and other information.

    I don't know if you'd be interested in that, but I figured it was relevant.
     
  5. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Check out Peter Hamilton.
     
  6. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I have a hardcover of that autographed by Buzz. :)

    If you enjoy that, also try James P. Hogan's Giants series, though stop with the third book. :)
     
  7. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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  8. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oooh, I forgot this one. Yeah this is definitely on the list; I'm hoping all of it will come to ebook eventually, which it hasn't yet, but if/when that happens I'm definitely there.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I found it disappointing. It seemed rather self-indulgent, a project that a less successful author would never have been able to get into print, because it was rather badly in need of editing and quality control, or at least clarification. The chapters jump among continuities rather randomly, and there's a sequence of non-contiguous chapters in a common continuity that initially seems like a prequel to the trilogy, but then veers off and turns out to be an alternate reality. It has some interesting parts -- I mainly keep it because of the chapter containing the full text of the Martian constitution set up in the trilogy -- but on the whole I find it a failure. It's certainly a letdown if you're expecting a continuation of the trilogy.
     
  10. Claudia

    Claudia Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    :techman: my favourite SF-book series... well not only SF. *g*

    I absolutely enjoyed the characters, the political intrigues, the humour, Barrayar... and I hope Bujold's going to write more stories set in that universe (not necessarily from Miles' PoV, but there're enough other stories left to tell, least of all from the Regency etc.).

    Otherwise I can't really contribute since I don't usually read SF (except ST)... unless the SF-element just slips by next to the characterization
     
  11. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Very nice! Now I'm jealous :) It's one of those books that I wish I had noticed the first time around, though now I do have the benefit of reading it on my Kindle. The hard-science in it is making me giddy. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll be sure to check it out, and stop at the 3rd ;)
     
  12. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    The two most obvious suggestions I can make is Dune (the 6 books written by Frank Herbert) and Ben Bova's Grand Tour series, with novels that take place on Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, the asteroid belt, Jupiter, and Saturn. There are some really appealing characters, and some of the books would make terrific movies.
     
  13. Zedferret

    Zedferret Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I would recommend the Epic Series by Lee Stephen and the Expanse series by James S.A. Corey.
     
  14. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm just finishing it now; I only have Cryoburn left. Really wonderful stuff. Simon Illyan might be top-10-favorite-characters-all-time material for me.
     
  15. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I really enjoy Robert J. Sawyer's work, especially his novels Calculating God and Triggers.

    (Full disclosure: I am an acquaintance of Rob's, having met him through an internship I held a few years ago, and I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on his Triggers manuscript before publication. So I do have a bit of a bias there. ;) )
     
  16. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Have you read Douglas Adams' Hitchicker's Guide To The Galaxy series? So far that's the one of the two non-tie in sci-fi novel series I've started. I've only read the first three so far, but I loved them. The other series I'm working on is The Hunger Games trilogy. I loved the first book, and I'm reading the second one right now and so far it's just as good as the first.
    Do you do comics? It's only kind of sci-fi, but I read the first digital collection of Y: The Last Man and I loved it.
     
  17. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As much as I like sci fi as a genre, ad reading in general, outside of the Star Trek and Star Wars books I've barely read any sci fi series. While i've found a few good ones, I generally don't like taking risks on wasting my time and most sci fi not connected to pre existing franchises just don't usually seem interesting enough for me to try. I'd like to read more, but it seems like half the "sci fi" books I find on best of lists are usually realy bizarre premises that don't even involve space or spaceships (which is a must for me, I don't care about time travel or sci fi thats more earth based) and the other half just sound stupid.

    That said, two that I do like (although I don't know how huge and epic they are) are the Starship series by Mike Resnick (5 books) and the Troy Rising series by John Ringo (3 books).

    The Starship series follows a man named Wilson Cole, a former captain of the republic navy who was demoted for reckless behavior. He gets reassigned as second (or third, I forget which) officer on the strship Teddy Roosevelt, an old beat up ship far from the front lines. Eventually, things happen that lead to him assuming command, getting into a confrotation with the Republic (which is more than a little corrpt) and having the Teddy Roosevlt go off on its on. Its a very entertaining series, with a great cast of characters who I really like. I guess its technically miltary sci fi.

    The Troy Rising series deals with Earth's first contact with aliens, who take over. There are a few main characters over the course of the books (although a former sci fi writer named Tyler vernon is the main character for the first book and some of the second), and it follows them and the world from being invaded to fighting back and eventually becoming a power in space. It takes a few missteps and I found the last fort of the third book kind of confusing. The ending asn't really a cliffhanger, but it does't feellike you get closure with he characters or univese. Still, I enjoyed most of the series nd consider it a good read.

    Neither of these are hard sci fi, and may not fit the strict definition of "epic" but I'd still say they're both very good series and someone who likes sci fi will probably enjoy them.
     
  18. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Way ahead of you on all three. Great stuff all around. I almost mentioned Hitchhiker's Guide in my post at the top, but felt like it probably doesn't exactly qualify.

    This sounds fun. I think I'll add it to my list.

    Based on what you wrote, you REALLY need to check out The Lost Fleet. Nothing in that except spaceships and space and awesome tactics and turnarounds. Most fun I've ever had on MilSF.
     
  19. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nonsense, of course it does. I just finished all six books a month ago (the first five were re-reads, AND ANOTHER THING...was new to me), and enjoyed them. Why wouldn't that series qualify? Because it's a comedy, and therefore not "serious"?
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Personally I don't think Hitchhiker's Guide worked as well in prose as it did in its original radio medium. The first book wasn't that good a novel -- it was largely just a transcription of the radio series, a succession of gags strung together. The later books, the ones that started as novels, got somewhat more substantial, but on the whole the series felt uneven to me, and I didn't care for Mostly Harmless at all.