What SF/F Book Are you Reading? .. Redux

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Klaus, Aug 31, 2011.

  1. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Just finished Diplomatic Immunity, which would leave Cryoburn as the only Vorkosigan book I haven't read yet. Been trawling through this series for the past few months (taking advantage of the fact the majority of them are available freely online, though I needed to pick up Memory, clever bastards) and I must say this by and large has been a fun, addictive set of space opera novels. They're brisk reads that are admittedly designed rather scrupulously with Chekov's Gun in mind (just about any detail a novel brings up will be important to the plot later on), and generally have a big interest - as far as the SF ideas go - in medical technology, especially 'uterine replicators', machines that render natural birth obsolescent and result in half a dozen different social and scientific implications over the novel series.

    Gonna miss this when I'm done, that's for sure.

    Also picked up my volume of Leigh Brackett stories where I left it. I have mixed views of the old sci-fi pulp I've actually read - E.E. Doc Smith is more fun than he is good, and as hilarious as the title and premise is, Edison's Conquest of Mars is fairly dire - but Brackett brings to the whole vanished Martian civilizations and drained canals and the lot of it... some darn solid writing. She's a cut above those contemporaries I'm actually familiar with.

    Glad you liked it.

    Not that I've read either story, but I've also heard it owes a bit to Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe". As familiar and as entirely legitimate as the observations of Avatar's unoriginality is, it does interest me that every other two accusations accuses it of ripping off completely different source material.
     
  2. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Klaus-if you enjoyed CITY that much, you should pick up The Instrumentality of Mankind by Cordwainer Smith.

    I'm re-reading the SM Stirling Nantucket Trilogy, having just finished Island In The Sea of Time. Always fun.
     
  3. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Larceny is the sincerest form of flattery!! :lol: I haven't read "Call Me Joe" in decades either, I"ll have to poke in my Hugo Winners volumes, I think it's there.

    I'll do that, thanks! :D
     
  4. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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  5. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Finished The Big Time by Fritz Leiber, your Hugo-winning novel in 1958. It's a short but fascinating read... the backdrop is "The Change War", a temporal war going from a billion years in the past to a billion years in the future, with two sides changing the timeline back and forth to try and force their desired outcome. The kicker here is that the whole story is set in a "Place", an area outside time and space where soldiers can rest/recuperate/get medical attention before returning to the fight, told first-person by a woman who is an entertainer there. It almost reminded me of a play, with the whole thing revolving around interactions between people in a restricted setting. Some really cool ideas and one of those "hmmm-what-does-that-mean?" endings, too. :D I've only read Leiber's fantasy before.

    Now on to Jack of Eagles by James Blish, a UK paperback with this lovely cover:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^
    That's one hell of a cover.

    I finished Cryoburn (and thus the Vorkosigan series) a few days ago. Was pretty satisfying overall.

    Just started Old Man's War, three chapters in. It's a good read so far, although half dozen of the senior citizens Scalzi's thrown at me speak with almost interchangeable snark/scientific speculation. He wrotes both pretty darn well, though, so one will see.
     
  7. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Klaus- Try The Coming of the Quantum Cats by Fred Pohl. If you liked The Big Time you'll like that. Or try the short story by Poul Anderson The Nest.

    BTW-love your sig. Here it goes now, the circular motion-Rub it!
     
  8. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Hate to double post but missed this at first. Scalzi does good-he's VERY reminiscent of Heinlein in style. Old Man's War was like a breath of fresh air in a stale market when it came out...
     
  9. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I have Old Man's War in the queue as well, just having fun working through unread things from the old masters first. :D

    ty for the recommendations, the only Pohl I've read are the Heechee books IIRC... and I need to read more Poul Anderson in general, whatever I've read of his is lost in the misty depths of time.

    :D
     
  10. Lowdarzz

    Lowdarzz Captain Captain

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    I just started The People of the Black Circle by Robert E. Howard.
     
  11. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Old Man's War does have a vague Starship Troopers/Forever War vibe but I figured this comes with the genre. I'm not wild about Heinlein.

    Conversely, I've realized that so many of the science fiction authors I've read were either dead or wrote the works I was reading decades before I was born. When most of the 'recent science fiction' I read as a teenager was either the later Arthur C. Clarke novels (or novels he 'co-wrote', like The Light of Other Days or the Rama sequels) that does say a fair bit... so I resolved to read more actually living writers this year, preferably those who may have actually written books after I was born.

    This said:

    Try Space Merchants, which he wrote with Kornbluth, and also Jem. Both are great. Space Merchants has a wickedly deadpan satire of Madison Avenue and Jem has some of the best alien species I've come across in literature for a long while (the passage where Pohl patiently tries to explain how Sharn-igon saw himself is a highlight of the book). One disgresses...
     
  12. Valin

    Valin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A classic. One of the best Conan stories.

    I just finished reading "Changes" by Jim Butcher. Excellent Dresden novel. And I'm about 100 pages into "Ghost Story" by Butcher.
     
  13. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Jack McDevitt's Time Travelers Never Die
     
  14. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So I finished Old Man's War.

    The bad first:
    Scalzi learns his Heinlein lessons a little too well.
    There's basically nothing about the interlude around Bender that works. The character is a smarmy, hammy straw man for the notion of peace, and Scalzi manages in a couple of sentences to display an impressive ignorance of Northern Ireland both right now and any sane hypothetical extrapolation (given both the current relations, immigration, culture, etc.), the handful of sentences about bloody marches in the far future make as much sense to - say, an American reader - a depiction of a white slaveholding South emerging naturally in the next few hundred years. Of course, this rather sloppy presentation doesn't really help the book's argument as to the necessity of perpetual war. Mutual genocide is inherently creepy, and these justiifcation passages feel rather shallow in that context.

    Second point, chiefly, is I think the books largely elided how American the CDF is. It's implied that it's largely American (as the colonists in turn are largely, apparently, Asian continent), and off-hand Viveros is the only CDF member given an explicit non-USA origin... but unless Perry's training group was entirely American, for example, Ruiz asking for 'minorities' to identify makes literally no sense at all. In the United States, nonwhites are minorities. This is not true on a global scale and would make no sense as a comment addressing such, and took me a little out of the novel.

    It's no Forever War. It's not even close, but it is - overall - a fine damn read, a very quick one, and I've already found myself plunging into the sequel. Scalzi's got an excellent sense of pacing and quite confident prose, he has genuinely clever and fun ideas about the applications of medical science to warfare (the basic conceit of the novel of septugenarians as draftees never gets old, if you'll forgive the horrible pun) and overall it's damn fine sci-fi war stuff.
     
  15. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Finally reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and wishing that instead of a Blade Runner remake, someone would make an attempt at a closer adaptation. The stuff about people being nostaglic about animals and them representing a kind of status symbol is both intriguing and sad.
     
  16. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah. There's a lot of details from the book I miss in the film - the omnipresent Buster Friendly and Mercer, for example. I also prefer Luba Luft as an opera singer compared to being a snake handler, but eh.
     
  17. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Finished Jack of Eagles by James Blish, which was very interesting, about a guy who develops the ability to see the future which wrecks his life and then things get strange lol, including alternate universes. It would actually make an interesting TV/movie plot, though the climax is a little esoteric for anyone except maybe Terry Gilliam to wrestle with.

    And as I began to suspect, it had absolutely nothing to do with that lovely orange Chris Foss cover I posted above! :lol: Gotta love the 70s publishing industry.

    Based on recommendations above and what I read about it, now on to lots more alternate realities in The Coming of the Quantum Cats by Frederick Pohl. :D
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2011
  18. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Loved Old Man's War and Time Travelers Never Die. Two of my favorites reads this year.
     
  19. Set Harth

    Set Harth Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The film touched on that to some slight extent.
     
  20. nickyboy

    nickyboy Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Reading The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons, it is really good so far.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2011

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