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Sci Fi redux

So yeah, I just wrote like 19 replies to that sci-fi post of a few weeks ago. The list of sci fi to read as it currently stands:
  • Halting State, Charles Stross, if only because I was already reading it when this started
  • The Skylark in Space, E. E. "Doc" Smith.
  • Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
  • The Space Merchants, Frederick Pohl
  • Neuromancer, William Gibson
  • Ubik, Philip K. Dick
  • Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter Miller
  • The Cyberiad, Stanislaw Lem
  • The Exiles Trilogy, Ben Bova
  • The Shockwave Rider, John Brunner
  • Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur Clarke
  • Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh
  • Doomsday Book, Connie Willis
  • The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson
  • Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
  • Dragon's Egg, Robert L. Forward
  • Tales of the Dying Earth, Jack Vance
Need to research Doris Lessing or Andre Norton.


Feb. 8th, 2009 03:15 pm (UTC)
I'd strongly encourage you to add Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, if you haven't read it already. It's wonderfully written, clever, and good sci-fi.

As a counterpoint to Rif, I find Gibson to be overrated and Diamond Age to be a real classic. Cyberiad was great, but I haven't read it in a long time. Stanislaw Lem is worth exploring in general.

Rendezvous with Rama is clearly a classic, and it's aged ok, but it does show that age more than a little, and didn't find it that satisfying, in the end. Doomsday book, I found a little plodding, but was still worthwhile.

Cat's Cradle and Dragon's Egg are really good, and sort of at opposite ends of the sci-fi spectrum. Slaughterhouse Five is my other favorite Vonnegut, though most wouldn't call it sci-fi. Forward's other stuff is, comparatively, disappointing.

I'd also recommend goodreads.com or librarything.com as good sites for social-networky tracking of reading lists, reviews, recommendations, and read books. I'm currently using godreads for this (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/544561)
Feb. 8th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
I wasn't as fond of Spin - the Big Picture was interesting, but the characters mostly seemed to be sock puppets of exposition. Admittedly, that's a staple characteristic of classic SF, but I expect better from recent works. But it won the Hugo, so others clearly disagree with me. :)
Feb. 8th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
I found the three main characters (Tyler, Jason and Diane) to actually be not only compelling characters, but more "real" and atypical than a lot of sci-fi character's who can be pretty cookie-cutter.

That said, I clearly just like RCW's character's in general, across his novels.
Feb. 8th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah, someone still needs to explain to me the difference between Neuromancer and a conventional hard-boiled detective novel that happens to be science fiction. I found it very blah.
Feb. 8th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
Well, I think it gets credit for being (one of?) the first cyberpunk books. Even Lord of the Rings looks like a standard quest adventure populated with D&D characters at this point. :)
Feb. 8th, 2009 08:37 pm (UTC)
It can't be that, because it was the book that convinced me I didn't need to read any cyberpunk in the first place. The books I'm comparing it to preceded it by fifty years, not the other way around.

(Not that I'm not open to recommendations of good cyberpunk books. But simply being "cyberpunk" merely makes me feel like I'm reading a pastiche on Raymond Chandler, when I could be reading Raymond Chandler).

Edited at 2009-02-08 08:39 pm (UTC)
Feb. 9th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC)
Science Noir
I've become very fond of Richard K. Morgan's work in the past year or so, and it very much has the feel of mixing science fiction with other genres. In particular, the Takeshi Kovacs books seem like Science-Noir-Detective and Science-Pulp-Adventure to me. Neither are `classics', but I'd recommend all of his currently-out books (even Market Forces, which is basically a screenplay he novelized himself).