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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    Finished Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. Case can credibly be made for it as a science fiction novel, although msotly in the sense where the scinece is a conceit to drift into surrealism and states of mind. It was vivid and weird and the two entirely unconnected stories (one set in apparently the present day only with some really weird mental sciences, the other set in a hermetically sealed weirdly poetic fantasy land) were both quite good in their own right. Per the title, there's a bit of noir in that stirred genre stew too. However one defines it, anyway, damn good read.

    Also, on to The Lost Colony in Scalzi's OMW series. He's not to keen to repeat himself, I'll give him that. This is a fun book series, Scalzi likes his dialogue quippable and his prose brisk. I'm half done a book before I even notice.
     
  2. cb31

    cb31 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Iceworld by Hal Clement. It's a fun book and it's nice to have humans be the Aliens once in awhile! :)
     
  3. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just finished Steele's Galaxy Blues. It is a great way to dip your toes into the Coyote universe-but full of spoilers about earlier novels. I'd already read them so no harm here-just saying.

    Moving on to McDevitt's Ancient Shores....
     
  4. nvek86

    nvek86 Commander Red Shirt

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    Recently finished Clarke's "The Songs of Distant Earth". While not my favourite book of his (that would be either "The City and the Stars" or "The Fountains of Paradise"), it was still a great read. As usual there were a lot of great ideas and moments, two especially stood out for me:

    The first was the destruction of Earth, which was spooky and beautiful at the same time.
    The second was the discovery of the farming grounds of the sporcs, which I really didn't expect.
     
  5. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Zoe's Tale is rather unusual, being mostly a retelling of The Last Colony from, per the title, Zoe's perspective. This often means that the big plot beats are identical (but as a standalone book they're being explained to me anyway), but honestly the book has really worked for me so far mostly through the character interactions. There's more warmth and emotion in this book than any of its predecessors, even the surprisingly thoughtful Last Colony - we've come a long way from the sterile wit-laden cynicism of the first two Old Man's War books, that's for sure.

    Huh. I liked The Fountains of Paradise well enough when I read it (and loved The City and the Stars and Against the Fall of Night), but for me Clarke's best novel is easily Childhood's End... and then, well, let's say Rendezvous with Rama for second place.
     
  6. nvek86

    nvek86 Commander Red Shirt

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    I liked "Childhood's End" well enough (actually I can't think of any Clarke book that I didn't like for the most part), but I've heard so much about it before reading it that I may have had unrealistic expectations.
    And it's been several years since I read "Rendezvous with Rama", so I remember only the basic parts.
    "The Fountains of Paradise" has the advantage that I'm just fascinated by the concept of a space elevator.
     
  7. Candlelight

    Candlelight Admiral Admiral

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    Trying to get through The Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton but real life gets in the way. Have just bought Manhatten in Reverse for Christmas so I better damn well finish it!
     
  8. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson.
     
  9. pigletsgiblets

    pigletsgiblets Commodore Commodore

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    The Protector's War by S.M. Stirling.
     
  10. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Finished up Zoe's Tale and thus the Old Man's War novel series. Moved on to David Brin's Sundiver (and thus the Uplift series), and so far this book's been doing a good job of holding my attention and throwing out some odd stuff. The concept of Uplift - species raising other species to sapience across the universe, and humanity as the only known example of a species which raises ourselves (although we've been helping chimps and dolphins) is just a really cool premise, and would be more than enough to hang a novel on - but Sundiver seems to have more going on than just that. Think I'm gonna enjoy this overall.

    That's fair. On the other hand, I approached the novel basically only knowing it was the expansion of a short story I'd read.

    Rama was the one I came to later with the weighty reputation of a classic, on the other hand.
     
  11. General Kang

    General Kang Commodore Commodore

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    I just started "11/22/63" by Stephen King - very interesting so far - don't know if King has ever really done time travel. Let's just say it is fortuitous that I just finished reading "It" for the first time...
     
  12. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Leviathan Wakes by "James S.A. Corey," a pen name for a team of two fantasy writers. It shows. There's a main character whose motivation is falling in love with a dead woman (except its not as entertaining as Laura.) This character is written to be a noir pastiche, except the fantasy people don't quite get that no one in their right minds would live on a space station that doesn't track the people breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide. The whole mean streets ambience fails miserably if you stop to let yourself think about it, because there's no movie FX to let you see the nonsense.

    Then the vomit zombies show up. I think they're supposed to be horrifying but they're too stupid to be frightening. Then the dead woman returns to undergo a vomit zombie apotheosis. This is not exaggerating as the vomit zombie goddess blithely ignores the laws of physics, presumably to the metaphysical horror of the reader who somehow manages to actually care about this.

    The cop character is rationalized as being crazy but the ignorant cliche about crazy people going unnoticed while they cope isn't enough to save that character. There is actually another supposed lead who represents the idealistic human being but the authors plainly don't believe the guy really has a point. Nor for that matter do they much like him. Unfortunatley the emphasis on the clash of ideals between crazy mean realist and noble nebbish relies upon a fatuous view of wars being caused by public outrage. The painfully obvious truth of course is that public outrage is manufactured to justify predetermined policy. So much for the lame effort to be serious.

    As time goes by, it seems more and more that fantasy's current domination is a reflection of the backwards drift in mores and ideas. The hacks who can't distinguish fantasy and SF are not just ignorant but backward. And the zombie lovers may be the biggest assholes of the lot.
     
  13. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm a big Brin fan, and the Uplift series is a lot of fun with some great ideas... I actually went back and read Sundiver later on, after Startide Rising and the next couple IIRC. I like his aliens a lot, he does a better job than most in making them seem actually alien.
     
  14. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I really liked Sundiver, Startide Rising and managed to enjoy Uplift War. But the concluding trilogy just got to be too much for me.

    Re Clarke's Childhood's End, the big reveal about Karellen was a silly touch that pulled me out. It was way too much like those SF stories where two of the characters turn out to be Adam and Eve. Pretty much everything else by Clarke I liked better, even A Fall of Moondust or The Sands of Mars. (But not Earthlight.)

    Scalzi did move away from the Heinleinism so far as ideals go, which greatly improved the stories. If you want a Heinlein pastiche, I think Michael Kurland's Princes of Earth is probably one of the best on offer. I also think that the rationale for old recruits fails in the face of the practical rationale for young recruits: They are naive (especially if they're convinced they're street smart,) and much more susceptible to indoctrination. I liked the Scalzi novel about the galactic sheep better than any of the old man stories.
     
  15. nvek86

    nvek86 Commander Red Shirt

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    You can find time travel in his "Dark Tower" books (but then, you can find basically everything in there).
     
  16. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just finished The Clone Redemption - like all of Kent's books, it varies from being quite effective to be quite poor. The biggest problem for me is that we were introduced to a threat a few books back and
    they are now gone and we are not the wiser who they were or what they wanted.
     
  17. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, there's not many ways to do
    reveal of a hidden alien race's idenity that can be that interesting, no. It's kind of an artefact of the book's roots in the story "Guardian Angel", where leaving the question open to the final brief glimpse of a tail was rather effective.

    I would agree with that. As I said upthread, there's stuff in Old Man's War that rubbed me very much the wrong way, in the same manner Heinlein does. By the time we reach Zoe's Tale's general feeling that senseless war is not a good idea, the series had grown on me considerably.

    But on the other hand young people have their whole lives ahead of them, which old people don't. It may be less practical, but it has a kind of moral logic to it (in the sense it feels more moral than the system we actually have where people die as seasoned combat veterans before they're 21.)
     
  18. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This. Read it all-but damn he goes to some strange places in the second trilogy, if you will call it that. I enjoyed Uplift War and Startide Rising a lot. Sundiver was like early Piper to me-a hint of what was to come.

    I think Scalzi is hovering around the Trap. His book sold(Old Man's War) and he's being tempted w/monetarily to keep the franchise going even though his creativity will be, in the end, stifled. Check Allen Steele and his Coyote series-done a while ago, but he's still milking it.
     
  19. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, the meme dimension was very odd...
     
  20. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Intended read them all, though yes, I've heard the second trilogy has some big issues. Been a while since I've read full book series before this year, and I've sure gone down some rather bad paths (the 2001 series is downright unreadable by 3001, and I didn't hate Gentry Lee's Rama trilogy but it wasn't exactly great, and then there's the last two Dune books...).

    Mm. The afterwords of Lost Colony and Zoe's Tale make it clear he's pretty much done with the series (but then, after Lost Colony came Zoe's Tale). I enjoyed the books but I'd be quite content if Scalzi didn't write any more books in the setting. It's a very, very thin setting, for one thing - Scalzi's less interested in world building than getting a few good plot ideas and running with them... which, by the way, is just fine by me.
     

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