The Science Fiction & Fantasy Books Thread

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by JD, Jan 27, 2021.

  1. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I noticed we don't really talk about books much on here, so I thought it might be nice to set up a thread to do just that. Instead of starting a million different threads each time someone reads a book they want to talk about, I figured it would easier to just start one thread for everything.
    Right now I'm working my way through Sandstorm by James Rollins, the first book in his Sigma Force series. I've actually already read some of the later books in the series, but I decided to go back and start over from the beginning. I love this series, it's basically a combination of Indiana Jones, and military series like The Unit or Seal Team.
    I'm also planning on starting The Murderbot Diaries, and either the Shades of Magic or Stormlight Archives series pretty soon. I'm pretty definite on the Murderbot books, but I haven't decided which of the other two I want to go with.
     
  2. theenglish

    theenglish Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I enjoy reading these threads because I don't read a lot of Fantasy/SF outside of the classics. I like reading what else is out there.

    I did read the first three volumes in the Witcher series last year and re-read The Subtle Knife in preparation for the second season of the HBO series.

    I thought the Witcher books to be interesting enough, but was a little shocked that they read like someone's D&D campaign. I am hoping they explore the world more in later volumes--and I really liked the Netflix series so I will definitely be reading them.

    Re-reading The Subtle Knife, I realized how "tame" it was from what I remembered. In my mind, I somehow remembered it as more gritty and dark than it actually was. It was also a lot slower in its pacing then I remembered. That said I did enjoy it a lot.
     
  3. Grendelsbayne

    Grendelsbayne Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm bookmarking this thread for later because there have been some books I read the last few years that I definitely would've considered talking about in a place like this. Hell, even retroactively: anyone who hasn't read Larry Niven's The Integral Trees or Phillip Jose Farmer's To Your Scattered Bodies Go is in for a nice little sci-fi treat. And on the fantasy front, Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant is one of the greatest and most beautiful books I've ever read in any genre.

    Alas, I can't really add anything more current to me as the books I'm currently reading are all political and classic literature, but I'll come back next time I pull out something more genre.
     
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  4. theenglish

    theenglish Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I can't be the only one who would love to hear about older books as well. Books are not like television or movies--

    My upcoming reads for this year are: The Time of Contempt, Song for a New Day, The Relentless Moon, A Memory Called Empire-- and also a re-read of The Shining before reading Doctor Sleep.

    But I probably won't get to all of those in 2021.
     
  5. eschaton

    eschaton Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thank you for starting this thread. I have noticed that for some reason there's nowhere on the forum to discuss SF/Fantasy books other than Trek books, which seemed...weird to me.

    The most recent SFnal books I read:

    Stephen Baxter - World Engines: Creator

    This was the last book in his most recent series, which is meant as a sequel of sorts to his Manifold series from around the turn of the century. The Manifold series was an interesting rumination on the Fermi Paradox, with each of the books looking at a different possibility. Manifold: Time suggested we were alone in the universe, and involved far-future humanity. Manifold: Space that alien life is common, but "great filters" killed off advanced life before it could form galaxy-wide civilization. Manifold: Origin is more or less about the "galactic zoo" hypothesis, where life is common and we are being kept isolated for particular reasons.

    Regardless, the World Engines series revisits the characters from this original series (they all had the same main character, Reid Manenfant, and took place in alternate universes). It's basically a mashup of all of Baxter's different interests (hard-sci-fi, rocketry, alternate history, evolution, etc.). However, the final conclusion of the novel is a bit of a letdown, because it attempts to be a "stich-up work" which ties the three original books together as one universe. This is essentially impossible, because Manfold: Space shows a universe full of life, and this book canonically says life only evolved naturally once (on Earth) and all life elsewhere in the multiverse was because far-future humans built portals through time/space to seed other locations.

    Adrian Tchaikovsky - Children of Time/Children of Ruin:

    This is a newish duology I picked up on a lark because it was available quite cheaply online. It was a pleasant surprise, and a great read once I got past the absurd premise.

    The first book basically begins with humanity beginning to explore nearby stars and terraform other worlds, though with humanity threatened by reactionaries back at home. There was a plan (for some reason) to seed an alien world with monkeys who would be speed-evolved into intelligence over the course of a few hundred years, as part of some extropian idea of filling the (seemingly dead) universe with life. However, things go awry, and instead jumping spiders become intelligent. The novel follows their development into an intelligent spacefaring civilization over a period of thousands of years, and their eventual misadventures when humanity crawls back into spaceflight. I love good xenofiction where the focus is first-person narrative of nonhuman characters, so this stuff was great, although the very pessimistic tone regarding humanity in particular felt like authorial fiat at time to make the universe work, though it salvages itself with hope at the end.

    The second book mixes things up by introducing another solar system. This time there are uplifted octopus instead of spiders. I have actually read a nonfiction books on octopus cognition, and the author did his research well here. The octopus way of thinking is even more alien than that of spiders. There's also a great twist in this novel later on, but I don't want to give it away.

    Tad Williams - Shadowmarch series:

    This was actually a re-read on my part. When I was younger I was an anti-fantasy sci-fi snob, and was introduced to his sci-fi Otherland series, and decided to give his fantasy works a try. The series is ery reminiscent in certain ways of A Song of Ice and Fire which is ironic, because George R.R. Martin's main impetus for writing that series was Williams's earlier Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series. Regardless, there are underlying similarities in the initial setup, including a royal murder, young characters of high birth forced into exile, a boundary line across the north where something incomprehensibly old lurks beyond, and a seemingly unrelated side plot which involves a young woman in a vaguely "eastern" realm betrothed to a terrifying king. Yet Williams is less interested in court intrigue and much more interested in telling a coming-of-age story, along with exploring the detailed mythology of his world. He is a master at making supernatural realms which actually feel in some sense "real" in a spiritual sense rather than either mundane or just some random gobbledygook that characters in-universe believe. Not his best work, but worthy of a read nonetheless.
     
  6. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Tad Williams is one author I plan on checking out eventually. His Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series comes up a lot when I'm looking at fantasy books.
    Anybody here read the Grishaverse books? Some of the stuff I've been seeing for the upcoming Netflix series adapting the first two series has looked interesting.
     
  7. John Clark

    John Clark Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I have read The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams (Seem to remember enjoying it, but it's been a while).

    The Grishaverse are on my list, but not read so far.
     
  8. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, I quite like the series as well. It's definitely an interesting blend of styles and globe-trotting. I think my favourite was the one where they went to Africa, the one with the elephants, and the first one I read started in the Arctic, which I really liked.

    I read the first one, but it was enough for me to know I'll just be sticking with the games and the TV series. The writing is good enough, but it often feels like walls and walls of text, which I found quite tedious while waiting for something to happen.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2021
  9. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    There's an ongoing "What are You Reading?" thread in the TrekLit forum, which often branches out beyond strictly Trek novels, but another book thread is alway welcome . . .

    Just devoured The Daevabad Trilogy by S. A. Chakraborty, which is a rich, engrossing Middle Eastern fantasy saga, complete with djinn, flying carpets, ghouls, etc. Binged the whole thing in a matter of weeks.

    I also just read NINTH HOUSE by Leigh Bardugo, which is a spooky occult thriller involving secret societies at Yale University.

    And I'm currently revisiting one of my favorite old horror anthologies, BEYOND THE CURTAIN OF DARK, edited by Peter Haining, after rediscovering it in a box in our storage unit. Published way back in 1972, it made quite an impression on me as a kid. Unforgettable stories by the likes of Robert Bloch, Theodore Sturgeon, Fredric Brown, Patricia Highsmith, and others.
     
  10. dupersuper

    dupersuper Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    As a good Canadian, I would be remiss if I didn't push some Robert J Sawyer.
     
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  11. Cyrus

    Cyrus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I am not reading any scifi right now because there is nothing new from my favorite scifi authors.

    The greatest ever Isaac Asimov is long dead. I love Larry Niven books that he writes by himself but he seems to be retired as a solo writer and only doing collaborations. His last solo novel was published 17 years ago. The only active favorite is Jack Mcdevitt. He just finished writing a new novel but it will be a while before it is published.

    I have heard good things about those two Adrian Tchikovsky novels so I may give them a try.
     
  12. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I forgot when I wrote my other post that I haven't read the third book in @David Mack's The Dark Arts series, The Shadow Commision, so that's going to be my next read, once I finish Sandstorm.
    I love this series, it follows a group of sorcerer's through the middle of the 20th century. Each book jumps ahead about a decade, with the first book, The Midnight Front, based around WWII, the second one, The Iron Codex, deals with the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests in 1954, and The Shadow Comission is based around JFK's assassination in 1963.
    I loved the first two books and highly recommend the series to anyone who likes this kind of historical fantasy.
     
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  13. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The TTA series gathered a lot of sci-go book covers into one verse.

    I’d like to see more of that
     
  14. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    TTA?
     
  15. John Clark

    John Clark Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  16. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    OK, I've never heard of those before, but they sound kinda fun.
     
  17. Jedi Marso

    Jedi Marso Commodore Commodore

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    The TTA handbooks were awesome. (Terran Trade Authority)

    Basically they were artwork collection books with stories sort of generated around the art. A lot of the art appeared either before or after as sci-fi books covers, etc. There were a lot of books like that in the late 70's, early 80's. In fact, there are several FB groups for them, including one for the Terran Trade Authority.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2021
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  18. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My reading habits are all over the place, but I tend to favour fantasy literature over sci-fi of late. Mostly because there's not much modern sci-fi that appeals to me outside of The Expanse and the Bobiverse series.
    I've gotten through more than usual this year though. Highlights include 'Red Sister' by Mark Lawrence, both 'The Rise of Kyoshi' and 'The Shadow of Kyoshi' by F.C. Yee, 'Tevinter Nights', Heaven's River by Dennis E. Taylor, and re-reading 'The Sandman' (yes, it's a graphic novel, sue me!) and 'Neverwhere' by Neil Gaiman.

    Right now I'm about 85% done with the new Star Wars High Republic book. I like it overall so far, but we'll see if it sticks the landing.
     
  19. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Finished up Sandstorm Friday evening. I really enjoyed it, it was a nice introduction the world of Sigma Force. It had some interesting, likeable characters, a good story, some cool science concepts based around anti-matter, and the history stuff with Ubar was pretty interesting. Right now I'm reading the first volume of the Star Wars: Kanan comic series, and after that is @David Mack's The Shadow Cabal. If David Mack sees this then I have a question I've been meaning to ask. Are the women on the cover supposed to be Briet and Anja?
     
  20. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    Yes, in theory, those are supposed to be Briet Segfrunsdöttir and Anja Kernova on the cover of The Shadow Commission, in the book's climactic battle.

    I love Larry Rostant's art; I think he did an amazing job on all three covers for my Dark Arts trilogy. That said, I was disappointed that he chose not to illustrate Anja's facial scar on either book two or three.

    On book three, I had hoped he would portray Anja in Red Army WW2 white/gray winter gear. Anja fought in the rubble of Stalingrad; she'd have known not to wear dark colors in a snowy environment, even at night.

    I also had asked that Briet have a wand in one hand and a pistol in the other; I got the wand, but not the pistol. But in the end it's all right, because it's still a gorgeous cover. :-)
     
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