Saturday, July 14, 2007

Where's The Science Fiction????

In a recent discussion about science fiction, it occurred to me that I haven't read a new work of science fiction in the last five years. Let me explain. I've been reading all sorts of material published from the 50's to the early 90's, and loads of fantasies. However, I haven't read a bit of two-fisted, hardcore science fiction in some time. I'm not talking about science fiction that would take a quantum engineer to explain it to me, but science fiction that tells a story and would fit into the niche carved out by the likes of Silverberg, Asimov, Heinlein, and Bradbury. So help me build a reading list for the next month. I want to read new science fiction. Not fantasy. Not the Star Wars redux (fantasy with some trappings of science fiction). I want science fiction. What are you reading? What should I go out and get from the library or from the book store? No vampires, no dragons, no wizards.

22 comments:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I know what you mean. The accent does seem to be on fantasy nowadays.

Crunchy Carpets said...

Try Iain M. Banks..the Culture books...or Vernor Vinge

Those are two of my fave's in sci fi who are still churning them out.

SQT said...

I don't read a lot of sci-fi but I like David Webber. He has a huge series too.

Sarah said...

John Scalzi's Old Man's War, & sequels.

Stewart Sternberg said...

What about authors who are still writing old fashioned novels, you know the kind..where they don't plan on writing the first of an eleven book series.

SQT said...

I'm weird, I like reading fantasy but prefer sci-fi movies. It's kind of rare I get into a sci-fi book. I'm not much help I'm afraid.

Crunchy Carpets said...

The culture books are great because they all stand alone in the same universe.

Matt said...

Like sara suggested, I've also enjoyed the John Scalzi books. They're definitely on the lighter side of sci-fi but they're fast paced and fun reads. I enjoyed the second book, Ghost Brigades, more than the first, Old Man's War.

Otherwise I can't think of any great sci-fi books coming out recently. I guess I should know since I work at a bookstore but it's not our specialty.

Patrick Michaels said...

Try Peter F. Hamilton. His Night's Dawn Trilogy and 2 book Commonwealth saga are pure space opera at it's best. If you want a single book to see if you like his writing style try Fallen Dragon.

avery said...

I was about to say Peter F. Hamilton, but Michael beat me to the punch. The Reality Dysfunction (and the sequels following it) is pretty good.

I've heard through the grapevine that Alastair Reynolds is good, too.

I don't read much sci-fi. I do like Philip K. Dick's style, though.

Carl V. said...

Let me throw in with those who are suggesting John Scalzi. If you like Heinlein I think you would enjoy Scalzi's work as Heinlein is a huge influence. They are fun, adventurous, have just the right amount of science, and are a rollicking good time. He has just finished the trilogy that began with Old Man's War (then Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony). If you like science fiction that has a caper element to it then his book The Android's Dream is also very good.

I recently read Joe Haldeman's most recent book, Old Twentieth, and really enjoyed it. The story reminds me of something along the lines of Star Trek holodeck adventures and the movie The Thirteenth Floor. A good, quick read.

A couple of years ago I picked up Larry Niven's short story collection The Draco Tavern. It has multiple short stories about various adventures that the owner of the Draco Tavern has with the aliens who visit earth. It was partly inspired by scenes like the Mos Eisely Cantina in Star Wars. I liked the main character very much and thought the stories were well done.

They are not too recent, but James P. Blaylock's steampunk novels Homunuclus and it's sort-of sequel Lord Kelvin's Machine: A Novel are both very good.

That ought to start you, anyway.

The Curmudgeon said...

Just read an essay in this month's Discover magazine that says that "hard" sci-fi is dead because we don't need it anymore.

I don't think this is true at all... and I'll be watching the comments on this for additional suggestions.

Tia Nevitt said...

I'm thinking about trying Hurricane Moon by Alexis Glynn Latner over at Fantasy Debut. Since this is her first novel, you can't get much newer than that!

Stewart Sternberg said...

Curmudgeon you are so right. I think science fiction is becoming a thing of the past. As we look at the hopelessness of the space program and lose the wonder of scientific advances, the genre loses its luster.

I'm going to collect my thoughts on the matter and do a posting on the subject, probably on my own blog, in the next day or so. I want to approach it from a writer's perspective. Thanks for giving me a push.

Crunchy Carpets said...

Check out Red Thunder by John Varley...it is about an ex astronaut and some bored kids in the near future building their own spaceship..he is a fun almost pulp writer in style.

Steel Beach and The Golden Globe are fun too.

And I think that sci fi will be reborn precisely because our programs suck...how do you keep any wonder alive if we cannot dream about.

I also think that space exploration and travel will be in the hands of private enterprise down the road and THAT is an are ripe for imaginative writings.

Alex said...

I read "The Golden Fleece" recently, and that was pretty good. Somewhat predictable, but the characterization and pace keep you turning pages.

Captain Kosmos said...

Alan Dean Foster continues to write great stories in his Humanx Commonwealth universe, particularly his Flinx and Pip novels. I just finished reading his Founding of the Commonwealth trilogy: (Phylogenesis (1999), Dirge (2000), Diuturnity's Dawn (2002). And Foster's web site is a sci-fi adventure in itself.

texasboyblue said...

For "hard" science fiction that's excellent in character development and story, try Greg Bear, Specfically, read The Forge of God and Blood Music. But you simply must read Darwin's Radio. He's written a lot of real science fiction stories, but these are, by far, the best of the lot.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. writes morality plays with a coating of fantasy or sci-fi. The Octagonal Raven is indicative of his sci-fi work.

Lois McMaster Bujold is all set to release another in the Vorkosigan series, all of which, thankfully, stand alone.

William Gibson is still doing his prophetic near-future stuff. I think All of Tomorrow's Parties is his latest one.

Will that and the other sugeestions fill up your summer?

Carl V. said...

I don't buy the argument that science fiction is dead or dying. For some interesting posts on the matter check out the ones listed here:

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/005344.html

mid-way down the post there are some interesting links.

In those they do talk about whether or not a time will come someday when technology will be so advanced that we won't be future thinking anymore (it is an interesting argument based on the lack of science fiction stories in which the characters are reading science fiction). That may be true, but considering that we've done very little with the space program and it is currently on hold and yet better and better telescopes, satellites, etc. are constantly showing us new wonders in the universe I don't see that we as a race are going to be in a place where we are quick to lose our sense of wonder or desire to explore 'out there'.

Sarah said...

A lot of stuff coming out from the new (well, in the last couple years) Pyr line also looks good. I liked the Joel Shepherd ones. They've been publishing some Australian SF that hasn't been available in the US.

Anonymous said...

Those are all good suggestions. Hamilton is a must read. Alastair Reynolds is good if you have appreciation for the basic concepts of nanotechnology and quantum computing. Another is walter williams with the dread empire fall books. Nothing special, but a good read

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Spacerguy said...

I recall H.G. Wells Time Machine was a fun one to read.