Classic Science Fiction Discussion and Recommendations
 
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  1. #1
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    Classic Science Fiction Discussion and Recommendations

    (MOD EDIT: This thread was split from another that started out as a paranoid political rant about Huxley and Orwell, but was taken over by folks who just wanted to talk good sci-fi.)
    i always though the world in a brave new world didnt seem that bad, you didnt have Darfour or hurricane katrina or the holocaust. it was a tidy kind of tyranny.

    Last edited by Elwell; November 17th, 2011 at 11:12 PM.
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    Alien-ruled dystopias are the best. You know who the enemy is, all the humans are united under one cause, and you get to use really neat guns.

    "Astronomy offers an aesthetic indulgence not duplicated in any other field. This is not an academic or hypothetical attraction and should require no apologies, for the beauty to be found in the skies has been universally appreciated for unrecorded centuries."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    i always though the world in a brave new world didnt seem that bad, you didnt have Darfour or hurricane katrina or the holocaust. it was a tidy kind of tyranny.
    And they had 'Soma'...

    Best place to live though is Iain M Banks' Culture. I could live there alright.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    Best place to live though is Iain M Banks' Culture. I could live there alright.
    yep. id love to see an O

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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    yep. id love to see an O
    That would be something wouldn't it? Along with those floaty robots to serve you using force field malleables and space ships with names like 'Velocity Kendall is a Cool Lookin' Guy'...

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    "That would be something wouldn't it? Along with those floaty robots to serve you using force field malleables and space ships with names like 'Velocity Kendall is a Cool Lookin' Guy'... "

    Thats what my yacht would be called.
    If people are wondering what we;re talking about, have a look at this

    http://www.vavatch.co.uk/books/banks/cultnote.htm

    Its a much smarter more fun utopia than you might be used to.
    I once asked Banks the following and heres what he said

    Me: Can you see a technological singularity happening this century? What might it be like?

    IMB: No. Frankly I'm sceptical about the whole idea; sounds too much like an excuse to stop thinking. I could be wrong, of course, in which case feel free to sue me from somewhere beyond the Singularity using a time machine."

    I told him id see him in hypercourt.

    http://www.iain-banks.net/2008/10/14...-october-2008/

    Last edited by Velocity Kendall; November 9th, 2011 at 04:19 AM.
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    Banks is interesting in that he seems to reserve his 'up' feeling books for the SF and the 'down' books for the 'literary' fiction. His 'Song of Stone' was pretty depressing (though not as bad as Gissing's 'New Grub Street' - boy that was a mother****er!)

    I have the impression he sees 'up' as a sort of fantasy and 'down' as what reality is. (But I'm guessing of course)

    This is a bit of a weakness in his writing in my view. 'Up' and 'down' are things that are mutually dependent on each other's context to exist, not distinct qualities and his approach seems to suggest he subscribes to the latter view.

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    Yeah the sci fis are definitely romps. Although Use of Weapons was pretty dark.. The Chairmaker and what not.
    I guess some books you read for the writing; I really enjoy VS Naipaul or Conrad if im in that mood, and some for the big visual ideas, in which case Charlie Stross or Ian Banks. Phillip K Dick is a shitty writer but he crams more original ideas onto a page than 20 normal people..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    Yeah the sci fis are definitely romps. Although Use of Weapons was pretty dark.. The Chairmaker and what not.
    I guess some books you read for the writing; I really enjoy VS Naipaul or Conrad if im in that mood, and some for the big visual ideas, in which case Charlie Stross or Ian Banks. Phillip K Dick is a shitty writer but he crams more original ideas onto a page than 20 normal people..
    I was forgetting 'Use of Weapons'.
    I haven't read any Charlie Stross - one to recommend?

    Philip K Dick does seem to be the kind of writer who believes that if you cram enough ideas into a book it will collapse under it's own critical mass and give off a read-e-ation burst that will do the same job as the sensuous effect of a story... Maybe he succeeds? Not for me though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    I haven't read any Charlie Stross - one to recommend?
    I've tried Stross' sci-fi but it's just not resonating with me at this point. No indictment on him, more on my mindset at the moment. But I love the shit out of his Laundry/Bob Howard series. That stuff I can't get enough of.

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    Yeah theyre ok, I just finished the 2nd Laundry book on audio. Lots of geek humour and james bond pastiche mixed with lovecraftian horrors from outside space time. I love Angleton!

    I really, really liked parts 2 and 3 of Accelerando and the sort-of sequel Glasshouse though. A lot.
    http://www.manybooks.net/titles/stro...rando-txt.html

    And Im a massive fan of his short stories. Where the Laundry books mix George Smily and James Bond with HP Lovecraft for comic effect, the following is anything but funny, and cos I hate laughing and smiles i prefer it... The stars are right, Situation Nightmare Green is coming to pass and the thing the Nazis scraped out of the drowned temple in the Baltic and the Russians now store in a rune-covered sarcophagus in the Urals is stirring... utterly chilling
    http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/colderwar.htm

    "Philip K Dick does seem to be the kind of writer who believes that if you cram enough ideas into a book it will collapse under it's own critical mass and give off a read-e-ation burst that will do the same job as the sensuous effect of a story... "

    i think thats exactly right. tremendously hit and miss. I felt The 3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and The Zap Gun were definite hits, A Scanner Darkly and Bladerunner, not so much.
    But again where i think he really excelled were the short stories:
    Upon the Dull Earth and Psiman Heal My Child are something else.

    Another SF writer Im loving at the moment is Ted Chiang.
    http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/under.htm

    And my all time SF top tip? Cordwainer Smith. Changed my life.
    http://www.webscription.net/chapters...520953___3.htm

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  21. #12
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    A Colder War is indeed brilliant.

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    "Chris, Velocity & others, could you get a little more on topic?...burned at the stake, thrown into the fiery pit, burnt offering... holocaust means burnt offering. "

    Shut your noise, your posts are the doubleplus-ungood duckspeak of the epsilon minus semi-moron.. YACK YACK YACK YACK but almost zero meaning. We were talking about Brave New World and other futuristic fiction we liked. You were just yammering on about the new world order as usual. I bet dollars to donuts you never even finished the book.

    Last edited by Velocity Kendall; November 10th, 2011 at 03:10 PM.
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  24. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    And my all time SF top tip? Cordwainer Smith. Changed my life.
    http://www.webscription.net/chapters...520953___3.htm
    Felicitations Kendall! I don't even have to buy it! I'll get stuck into this and letcha know what I think!

    Big time favourite book of mine, since you mentioned Lovecraft, is the Novella 'The House on the Borderland'.
    Couldn't find a free download but this might whet your appetite. (If you haven't already come across it)
    http://www.manybooks.net/titles/hodg...orderland.html

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  26. #15
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    You can get House on the Borderland for free - on Amazon! just download the Kindle desktop app or phone app and you're set. I love that book. Going to have to try this Cordwainer Smith stuff.

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  28. #16
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    Yessss House on the Borderland! that is an extremely odd/cool story. BBC Radio7 ran the audiobook several times. Again, slightly dodgy writing but fantastically inventive and creepy ideas.
    Anyone else like Stapledon? or Greg Bear? or Killgore Trout? More Than Human by Trout (oh alright Sturgeon) is one of the most touching SF stories. it would make an amazing Miyazaki movie.

    As a side question just to annoy Sam, how did yous guys get into SF? For me it was an illustrated Time Machine when i was 5 or 6, and of course Jeff Wayne, that got me hooked on the sense-of-wonder buzz. UUUUU LARRRRRRRRR

    Last edited by Velocity Kendall; November 10th, 2011 at 03:14 PM.
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  30. #17
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    Thanks Donalfall - I never realised you could do that!
    I've sorted it for my PC...
    I think I might just buy myself a Kindle for Kristmas now.

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    Velocity + Chris please recommend more...more! I'm on van Vogt and Simak and don't know where to go.

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    I remembr loving that Clifford Simak story about the guy who lives in a base at the bottom of Jupiters atmosphere, on the surface of the metallic hydrogen leyer, and gets so sick of being cooped upside designs ultrahardened diamond fibre bodies for himself and his pet dog, transfers their minds into them and goes and runs about outside. That was cool.

    To recap my list, if you like Van Vogt youll totally dig

    Stapledon. The creator of modern SF, and one of its most innovative thinkers. Makes the Time Machine seem small and limited by comparison. Epic doesnt begin to discribe Starmaker.

    Cordwainer Smith (probably my favourite of all, lyrical, strange, wise, beautiful, and completely convincing.. a key reason I want to learn to draw and paint and stuff is to depict these stories.. read Alpha Ralpha Boulevard, then everything else he wrote, then let it ferment in your mind for the rest of your life..... imagine TE White's The Once and Future King written for the education of young beings 20000 years in the future)

    Greg Bear (great wizzbang SF teamed with decent writing and a lot of interesting things to say about people.. Anvil of Stars is my absolute favourite, it searing stuff)

    Greg Egan (writes like a scientist, so the characters all sound the same, but amazing headtwisting ideas)

    Stephen Baxter (a spritual successor to Olaf Stapledon, so again, all the characters seem the same and its pretty cold, but the soaring secret history of the universe in Vacuum Diagrams is absolutely breathtaking...he deals in gigayears and universe-spanning wars and itll blow your mind... seems to have gone off the rails a bit recently but I cant recommend the older Xeelee sequence books enough.. Also Time was pretty good.. the other Manifold stories, meh)

    Kurt Vonnegut (obviously. can make you cry then laugh on the same page. The Sirens of Titan is my fave, but everyone should read Slaughterhouse 5)

    AC Clarke; almost unbearably pompous at times, but Rendezvous with Rama is considered a classic foa reason. Superceded by newer stuff but still a giant. The book version of 2001 is pretty lame, but I think the movie is the greatest thing ever so Id shake his hand just for that.

    Frank Herbert (endlessly compared to Tolkein, I always find herbert to be a sharper kind of thinking; whereas Sauron and Sam are cartoons, his characters think, a lot. Dune is worth reading every 5 years; its planetary ecology, chaos math, rejection of intelligent machines and themes of jihad seem oddly prescient and I also like his less well known novels and shorts. Very modern considering theyre pretty old now.)

    PK Dick (try the Father Thing collection of shorts; Upon the Dull Earth is the coolest outer limits never made)

    Iain M Banks (smart, funny, sexy SF, he never improved on the 1984 debut Consider Phlebas, but theyre all worth a go. Use of Weapons has a real sucker punch to it.

    Theodore Sturgeon (parodied as the bitter Fagin-like character Kilgore Trout by Vonnegut and referenced from then on in pop culture (napalm, morning, etc), books like More than Human are actually funny exciting intelligent adventures with a tonne of heart. MTH is about the evolution of gestalt humans that work together as superorganisms, but actually reads like a cross between Catcher in the Rye and Kikis Delivery Service. I loved every bit of it.

    John Brunner, edgy, modern-seeming novels like The Jagged Orbit and Stand On Zanzibar are packed with cool slang, post millenial tension, overpopulation... well worth the cover price

    Roger Zelazny. I read lord of light in a day, really drunk, it was fucking great

    Alfred Bester; Tiger Tiger is 50-odd years old I think, but never stops changing gear. It starts off seeming old and outdated and gets hotter and hotter till the end youre racing through the pages. Awesome fun.

    Phillip Jose Farmer: Dayworld is the perfect successor to Brave New World. A benevolent but total dictatorship where only 7th of the population is awake on a particular day of the week, but one man wants to live every day. Ace.

    Paul McAuley: I really loved the Confluence stories, set on a bizarre alien world, designed and 'spoken' into existence by humanities distant decendants 5million years in the future as their final act before retiring from our universe, and populated with human-shaped animals, it owes a great deal to Cordwainer Smith, and reads like a sort of hyperfuture version of India.

    Charlie Stross (supermodern SF, I loved Acclerando, Singularity Sky and Glasshouse. Loads of explanatory paragraphs and nerd humour, love it or hate it. I like it. No one does network savvy supertech like Stross)

    Ok enough noise from me, who's next?

    Last edited by Velocity Kendall; November 10th, 2011 at 03:56 PM.
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  34. #20
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    Hey Stacy, try the short story 'The Beckoning Fair One' by Oliver Onions. It's got the same quaint style as 'House on the Borderland' but that's just the surface face it wears. Imaginatively it's just as intense, but in a different, subtle way.

    I'll think of a few more in the meantime.

    Gotta go now but will answer Velocity's 'What started you off on SF' question when I get back.

    Last edited by Chris Bennett; November 10th, 2011 at 04:08 PM.
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    Velocity I read Childhood's End by Clarke was a great book, then I quit on him after I read the Deep Range. I'll seek out Rendezvous with Rama.

    Sturgeon. I read a short story by him called Killdozer! That I really likes. I'll have to try More than Human.

    Philip jose Farmer I just recently read my first thing by him a story called Riders of the Purple Wage. I really like the way he writes I was planning to start on "the dungeon" books soon.

    K. Dick I read We Can Build You..weird book..his shorts are probably better I will try them because I do like his ideas.

    All the others I haven't tried (cept Herbert). Bookmarked this thread for my next foray thanks Chris I will read those too.

    I have a few favorites that maybe you guys haven't tried even though I don't think I'm near as well read yet:

    Lloyd Biggle Jr. doesn't always write good things but Monument is a book I can read over and over. The Tunesmith is a good short by him also.

    Destination: Universe! By van Vogt is the neatest little book full of awesome ideas. It's hard to believe this guy wrote these stories that long ago.

    Midworld by Alan Dean Foster gave me some images I'll never forget.

    The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin

    Things recently, not classics but good:

    Wolfbane by Frederik Pohl. Pretty trippy book.

    The Dragon Masters by Jack Vance. Hard to get into his writing style at first but this was a cool story I thought. More crap goes on in this short than in some novels I've read.

    How I got started through my dad. He read us Dune and Battlefield Earth as bedtime stories. He kept his books in my room (about 300 books). I would copy the covers and read em. SciFi and art go hand n hand for me too thought unlike Velocity I'm still too clumsy to do anything but copy

    Last edited by Stacybean; November 10th, 2011 at 05:05 PM.
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    There's always John Wyndham's Consider Her Ways. Based more on an ant society with just women. The future of cloning?

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    Duuudes
    Im kicking myself for forgetting John Wyndham Alan Dean Foster, Pohl and LeGuin.

    "He read us Dune and Battlefield Earth"

    hell yeah. The Crysalids when youre a kid, wow that was intense.
    The journey by boat down the Maratimes, you could see and smell the crazily mutated life forms on the tropical coast of the eastern seaboard, lit at night by the glow of what used to be cities inland.
    Gives me the same buzz as Nausicaa, the old Miyazaki movie. Thats awesome too btw.

    I had trouble with Vance, but loads of people have said get into it, so I will.
    Destination Universe sounds right up my street Ill get on that.

    "I would copy the covers and read em. SciFi and art go hand n hand for me too thought"

    Youre totally right! The covers were always awesome! Totally got me into art and stuff too!
    I remember back in the 90s my my dad got cool sf from the libary and left the books lying around. One he seemed to book out a lot came in two different covers. One had a sweet picture of a mushroom cloud rising behind a Mad Max roadwarror type guy (I was 12), and the other this awesome cross space ship thing, and they made me pick up this strange frustrating story that turned out to be A Canticle for Liebowitz, one of the most amazing things Ive ever read. If it hadnt been for those cool pics Idve never read a book that sounds like some kind of obscure jewish holiday or soemthing.

    Hey Stacy have you seen the 70s PBS version of The Lathe of Heaven? I watched in youtube the other day. Its an awesome combo of low budget but insanely high concept. Good on them for making it. I really enjoyed it, and having not read the book was really impressed.

    http://www.eternalnight.co.uk/books/...leibowitz1.jpg
    http://gyazo.com/ebf2625c8d745975d3f19fab67093a06.png

    Oh hey and Solaris. Really nice story I thought. None of the good stuff seemed to make it into the Cluny/Soderburgh version. The ambivalent, unknowable space god, the crews darkest obsessions made real and only hinted at, and all that. Theres a line from Stross's Colder War that reminds me of Solaris, right at the end when talking about the entity codenamed by the CIA "XK-THULU" ...

    Something dark and angular skims across the stars, like an echo of extinct pterosaurs. Turbofans whirring within its belly, the F117 hunts on: patrolling to keep at bay the ancient evil, unaware that the battle is already lost. "Your family could still be alive, you know.''
    He looks up. "They could?'' Andrea? Jason? "Alive?''
    The void laughs again, unfriendly: "There is life eternal within the eater of souls. Nobody is ever forgotten or allowed to rest in peace. They populate the simulation spaces of its mind, exploring all the possible alternative endings to their life. There is a fate worse than death, you know.''

    Jesus that was a sam-length post sorry.

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  41. #24
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    Oh and fucking watch Primer its amazing, only sci fi movie ive ever seen as good as 2001

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    I have not seen it I haven't read the book in a while so it be worth checking out for me.

    Solaris by Stanislaw Lem? I'll give that a shot too. Excerpt sounds good.

    yes, read Destination Universe and if you haven't that Riders of the Purple Wage is really cool, the main character is a 3d artist harboring his grandfather, the last billionaire (and last person with currency too). In the end it describes a work that he makes in a way that just makes you wanna recreate it

    A Canticle for Leibowitz is a good bookl, I have never read a post-apocolyptia book like that one. I bought mine a couple years ago and the cover was not quite so cool.

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  44. #26
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    Anyone against the NWO should definitely listen to this, lol


    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    yep. id love to see an O
    Ringworld!!!
    Oh, and fuck Halo. But i guess, almost no idea is really original. People were blown away by Avatar when it was pretty much composed of borrowed ideas; floating rocks go back to Guild Wars, which pays tribute of said rocks to Roger Dean's paintings.

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  46. #27
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    i thought avatar was a horrible movie. the story was offensive, like this wierd re-remembering of Viet Nam where the yellow people were instead blue and vanquished the evil, technologically superior invaders with very few casualties on their side. it was grotesque. you didnt see the blue people running around crying with their skin melted off like actually happens when the USAF bomb the shit out of something. i couldnt understand how someone who'd made an action film as suspensful and astute as Aliens could create that shite
    and after all the hype about how it was going to be an immersive world with creatures cleverly designed as if they were alien but based on real biology, they served up this
    Classic Science Fiction Discussion and Recommendations

    sorry but that is fucking shit. fuck their stupid tree. i was glad when it burnt down. so rubbish.

    niven is a king. known space, thats an proper piece of immersive world building.

    Last edited by Velocity Kendall; November 10th, 2011 at 11:02 PM.
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  48. #28
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    I didn't mind the predictable story as i didn't expect any better but what i hated was the 'last samurai' shit. An american dude learns the alien culture in 1 week, becomes the better alien than they ever were and saves the world. The other half of the movie i wondered what made the hair of the blue chick stick to her nipples.

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  50. #29
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    yep. bizarre. spacetits were nice though.a missed oppottunity for more perfemale though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    Greg Bear Anvil of Stars is my absolute favourite, it searing stuff)
    Forge of God / Anvil of Stars is fab. I read "Forge of God" and thought "ooh, that was good, quite epic", then you get to "Anvil of Stars" and realise he was only warming up..

    Iain M. Banks Hell yes, my favourite is Excession. Banks on a bad day is better than most sci fi writers will ever be.

    John Scalzi- Old Mans War Funny, exciting, good. Apparently a film of this may be underway, please don't screw it up...

    Joe Haldeman - Forever War Like a bizarre mirror image of Starship Troopers or something. Well worth reading.

    Richard Morgan- Altered Carbon- Sci fi film noire-ish thing. Seems to be a bit of a "marmite" ie "love it or hate it" book, I thought it was great stuff and the whole trilogy is worth a look.

    Edit: I enjoyed Avatar so I probably can't be trusted...

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