I've been reading quite a lot of science fiction books since I was in middle school. Recently I read a couple of good ones I'd like to recommend.
"The Cyberiad" by Stanislaw Lem is a collection of closely related short stories. It is based in a future universe populated primarily by robots (in fact, only one human appears in the book, and only as a brief mention). It is a collection of adventures of two robot inventors (or "Constructors" - in the vocabulary of the book). I really liked this book, and I put it next to "Solaris" as the best Stanislaw Lem book I've read to this point.
"The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson is also very good. It's more mainstream than Lem's books. The back cover describes it as Science Fiction, if Quentin Tarantino was a Science Fiction writer. There's vulgarity, drugs and sex throughout. It's also the story of a girl that grows up with a kind of virtual reality childrens book as her teacher. It's really very engaging. A real page turner, which is good if that's your style of reading (not mine, usually, but I enjoyed it).
A short list of some other books I've read in the past few years and recommend:
Kurt Vonnegut - "Cat's Cradle", "Sirens of Titan", "Slaughter House 5"
Ray Bradbury - "The Illustrated Man"
Philip K. Dick - "A Scanner Darkly", "Ubik", "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch", "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (made into the "Blade Runner" movie)
Thomas Pynchon - "Against the Day"
And some classics I read while still in high school: The "Foundation" and "Robot" series' by Asimov, especially the first three novels in the "Foundation" series, the "Dune" series by Herbert, "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Heinlein...
Of these, I think the Vonnegut and Dick novels are my favorites. I've read almost everything written by both authors.
The Pynchon novel there is fantastic, but definitely not for everyone. If you don't mind being a little lost in a novel once in a while, Pynchon is manageable. It's more in the style of Jules Verne/H.G. Wells early 20th century science fiction/fantasy, and it's a fairly challenging read, sprawling, dense and inventive, though less so than, say, "Gravity's Rainbow" or "V".
Anyone else read Science Fiction/Fantasy? (I don't mean Star Trek or D&D novels - sorry if that's your taste)
Apr 05 2010, 9:04am
I read loads of the stuff. The ones you listed are all awesome and part of my collection. Try Gene Wolfe's "Sun Books" a tetralogy (Books of the new Sun) followed by another tetrology and a trilogy (Books of the Long Sun, Books of the Short Sun) all related to one another (the later two series are both definite scifi, and the first one reads like fantasy but has some scifi underpinnings). In the newer vein, Paolo Bacigulpi has written some wonderful stuff and there is great scifi coming out of people like Alastair Reynolds and Karl Schroeder...
Apr 05 2010, 11:59am
i havent read much sci-fi though, so i dont know how it compares with the classics.
i just picked up one of his books in a charity shop and became hooked on his stuff for a while.
Revelation Space and House of Suns are my fav.
I recently read Valis by Philip K Dick. really, really enjoyed that.
also everyone should read Frank Herbert's Dune at least once.
i only dabble in sci-fi, im more into my hard-boiled detective fiction right now, Dashiell Hammett, Black Mask stories etc
i second Alastair Reynolds.
Apr 05 2010, 12:20pm
the two hundred pages of Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson are fantastic, documenting the months long, tense voyage to mars of 100 of the world's top scientists. the rest of red mars is also good, as is green mars. blue mars loses much steam. the rest of the book deals with the interface of science and industry, corporations vs the people, etc.
RAwilson's illuminatus trilogy is good, and, although i haven't read it, schroedinger's cat is supposed to be basically the same and almost as good. trippy.
thirding lem, cyberiad especially.
the fourth book in the dune series is my favorite. the second is the worst by far, so don't be turned off if you liked the first and can't stand the second.
VALIS is my favorite Dick book, though i've only read about half of them (missing ubik, eldritch, and a bunch of others).
Apr 05 2010, 12:46pm
Apr 05 2010, 3:48pm
I still dig William Gibson too. Other than that; I just scanned my bookshelf and saw The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold, which I remember getting a kick out of. I know I'm forgetting a ton of good stuff....
I went through a rabid Harlan Ellison phase about 12 or so years ago... I don't think I ever read something by him I didn't like. "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" is a good short story to check to see if you click with his stuff.
Apr 05 2010, 5:48pm
Also, I forgot about "A Scanner Darkly" - I'll add that to my Phil K Dick recommendations, since it's my favorite. I'll add "Slaughter House 5" to my Vonnegut recommendations as well, since it's my favorite of his books, and after thinking about it, it really is sci fi, unlike most of what he wrote afterwards.
If you're interested in classics, anything by H. G. Wells is a must read. I think he is probably the first to write what I would call modern sci fi (sorry Jules Verne, you're too 19th century for me). "1984" is a great novel, and "Brave New World" is also amazing, both are landmark books in the genre.
There's some really interesting recommendations here. I've been looking for newer sci fi to read, and I thought this blog would be a good way to find some names. Thanks everyone!
Apr 05 2010, 6:04pm
Where's the best place to buy these books online? Ebay? Amazon? I don't mind buying used at all, as long as they have all the pages (even if they don't, there's always the cost free online option to fill in the gaps).
Apr 05 2010, 9:41pm
I used to read a bunch of fantasy when i was younger...cheezy shit like DragonLance and Forgotten realms, although i like how R.A.Salvatore's style has matured.
A few favorites of mine are:
Anything by Orson Scott Card, but especially treason, and the ender saga.
Gateway and the entire heechee series are must reads. Gateway is my favorite book ever, and probably tied w/ ender's game for most read ever. Some people hate him, but I like some steven king. his short stories are fun and the gunslinger series is a definite journey.
I also liked heinlen to some extent.
used book shops are disappearing and it sucks.
Apr 05 2010, 10:43pm
finished the diamond age a few weeks ago and I thought it was really boring compared to Snow Crash. Stephenson seems to have really powerful openers like the deliverator chapter in snow crash and bud in the diamond age, but the pace just dropped off entirely for the rest of the diamond age. some really awesome concepts and scenes though.
If you're into cyberpunk, John Shirley's City Come A Walkin' is probably the earliest example. Gibson says he was heavily influenced by it and you can definitely tell when reading it.
The hidden gem that I've discovered is Chris Moriarty's Spin States. It's dense and a little questionable but it has stuck in my mind very firmly. it's a little funny how much talk of "glory holes" there is.
i stick mostly to cyberpunk.
anything by stanislaw lem, cyberaid and solaris being favorites
mission of gravity - hal clement
the lensmen series - e.e. "doc" smith
classic sci fi by a great writer and an editor who steer astounding through the golden age of sfi-fi. very unique writing style dated but good. out of print and a pain in the ass to find. i've just about got all of them.
l.e. modesitt jr - the ecolitan matter is great..but all of his writing is good. he kind of picked up the ball on ecological sci fi where frank herbert left off in greenselves. only its a bit more interesting and less loony than herbert was when he was writing those, he focus very much on the interaction of civilizations and how thier moral effect them. i love all of this sci fi. his fantasy stuff is mah imo
john ringo - some of the best combat sci fi that i've had the pleasure to read. A Hymn Before Battle is a great book. the whole polsouen war sage is. i've enjoyed all of his sci-fi stuff. his contemporary stuff wasn't bad but just not as good
almost all of my cyberpunk favs have been covered.
i would recommend jeff noon - vurt
its a great book if you haven't read it. solid cyberpunk
enough for now i guess
R.A. salavtore's books got so much better when he stoped having the pic of him holding the sword on the back cover
bandcamp Apr 06 2010, 1:59am
Last and First men - covers the next 2 or three billion years of human evolution.
Starmaker - the entire history of the Universe from a Science Fiction view point
Utterly outrageous and underrated.
Clasic stuff from the 1930's and almost forgotten - Olaf Stapledon. He wrote two great books:
i have been searching for any olaf stapledon in used book stores for years now.
the only time i've ever even seen one of his books is at the science fiction museum in seattle, it was there behind the glass.
so out of print and for me impossible to find..
Apr 06 2010, 8:24am
read the first ~90 pages of "the boat of a million years" by poul anderson. one of the worst pieces of crap I ever read. fucking boring. can't believe it was nominated for the hugo and the nebula.
Apr 06 2010, 3:40pm
I was thinking that I'd start releasing music as "Jim the Constructor" (a Cyberiad reference). Any opinions on the change of nickname? I think it's great for someone like me who writes their own Reaktor patches. Plus, my name is actually James, so it's a win-win situation.
Sci fi references make the best alias', imo.
My current nick on this site is actually from "Cat's Cradle": ice-nine ~ eyesnine (ice-nine was already some dance artist's alias when I joined up).
Apr 06 2010, 4:27pm
Stanislaw Lem is certainly awesome (you should check out the film versions of Solaris, both the Tarkovsky & Soderbergh ones).. And for some off the beaten path early cyberpunk stuff, Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix Plus is definitely a must. So many good authors, so little time hehehehe.