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marlonharewood

Sci Fi recommendations

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After playing Mass Effect and reading through the books I've suddenly got all into Sci-Fi. Just wanted some recommendations of books and films that I can get into. I prefer to avoid books that were written early in the 20th century, would prefer more recent, say 10-20 year old books. Thanks

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Read Iain M. Banks' 'Excessions' for all of your space opera needs.

Read Aurthur C. Clarke's 'Rendezvous with Rama' for something more considered.

Read Issav Assimov's 'Foundation' for something pan-century and far-reaching.

Read Alfred Bester's 'The Stars my Destination' to have your face blasted off.

Oh, squeeze in Joe Haldeman's 'The Forever War' if you want to hate our species.

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Thanks Bastion. I've ordered Revelation Space and Diamond dogs as they were cheap on Play.com. Hoop I've seen 2001 and when I decide to have kids it is definitely a film I want to show them.

Anything other recommendations? Whenever I get into something I get all greedy and am ready to consume whatever I can.

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Check this out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SF_Masterworks

You can't go wrong with any of them, pretty much. This collection is really good. But aside from what I've mentioned, I'd pick out:

'A Scanner Darkly' - Phillip K. Dick. His best work, IMO. Unbelievably fragmented and bent writing that'll hurt your head but it really is something else in regards to its pacing, strange cohesiveness that breaks down if you stop to think about it for one moment and memorable scenes. It's completely brilliant.

'The Lathe of Heaven' by Ursula K. Le Guin is known as the 'writer's' sci-fi'. Ursula takes a concept that most people could only make work in the format of a short story and not only manages to build a rich novel from this, but somehow keeps the novelty going without it becoming tiresome. It's inventive, scary and built with an insular logic that will set your mind alight with ideas and make no sense whatsoever when you finish the thing.

If you want to really delve into something then chew on 'Last and First Men' by Olaf Stapledon, then get 'Star Maker' by the same author if you make it through that. It's future-anthropology, detailing the rise and fall of man on a galactic scale. It's difficult, frustrating and rarely satisfying, but it's utterly original.

And make sure you get everything Iain M Banks has written. It can get a bit over-detailed and smug sometimes, but he is, for my money (which isn't a whole lot, I'll admit), the most creative, forward-thinking, fun sci-fi writer alive. His books are just so bombastic and huge and never let up with ideas and scenarios that are just so damn cool without being all fucking sci-fi nerd-wanker embarrassing.

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'The Lathe of Heaven' by Ursula K. Le Guin is known as the 'writer's' sci-fi'. Ursula takes a concept that most people could only make work in the format of a short story and not only manages to build a rich novel from this, but somehow keeps the novelty going without it becoming tiresome. It's inventive, scary and built with an insular logic that will set your mind alight with ideas and make no sense whatsoever when you finish the thing.

There is actually a very good made for TV movie adaptation of this story. There are two versions so you need to make sure you get the right one:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081036/

As for books I'd highly recommend Russell Hoban's Fremder.

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Check this out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SF_Masterworks

You can't go wrong with any of them, pretty much. This collection is really good.

Yeah, but not all are in space, man. Stuff like Pavane and Dancers at the end of Time are more fantasy/alt. reality than hard SF. Good stuff, but not your space opera. And a lot of the others - like, say, all of the Dick - are set on Earth and may not be 'hard' technological SF. Flowers for Algernon is brilliant (the novella was, at least), but not a laser gun in sight.

And most of those are old-school SF. Positively victorian, in the case of Wells. Still all worth reading.

My faves from that list and which match the OP's criteria are probably:

- The Forever War (Joe Haldeman)

- Gateway (Fred Pohl)

- Ringworld (Larry Niven) isn't a favourite, but is a solid read. And if you like that, then try the Mote in God's Eye. Also in the list:

- The Centauri Device (M John Harrison)

Slightly outside the remit, but in my personal top ten reads of all time are:

- Roadside Picnic (Boris and Arkady Strugatsky).

- Lord of Light (Zelazny).

If the OP is willing to try some more old-school hard SF from the list, try:

- Cities in Flight (Blish)

- The Rediscovery of Man (Cordwainer Smith).

- Man Plus (Pohl)

- A Fall of Moondust, Rendezvous with Rama, The City and the Stars (Clarke)

- Mission of Gravity (Clement)

- The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (Heinlein)

- Dune (Herbert)

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Talking of M John Harrison, 'Light' is a great read.

I can't say that I agree with 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' - I can see what he was trying to do and appreciate that, but I think that Heinlein can be a poor writer sometimes, and this is very evident with this book.

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Talking of M John Harrison, 'Light' is a great read.

I can't say that I agree with 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' - I can see what he was trying to do and appreciate that, but I think that Heinlein can be a poor writer sometimes, and this is very evident with this book.

It's a long time since I read it - you tend to grow out of Heinlein. He's great when you're thirteen, and I was last thirteen a long, long time ago. He's also variable - some of the most juvenile rubbish I have read has been from Heinlein. In fact, I suspect that 13-year olds these days read Warhammer fantasy rather than dated Heinlein tracts.

I bunged it in as a likely hard-SF candidate from the 'Masterworks' list linked to from the post I quoted, not really as a personal recommendation per se; I nearly left it off as something I did not have a really strong positive recollection of (unlike pretty much all of the others).

So, I'll defer to your more recent experience (I'll bet I last read it about 30 years ago).

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Talking of M John Harrison, 'Light' is a great read.

God yes.

I'll put in a word for David Zendell's Neverness, it's great fun, is absolutely packed with ideas, and has an incredible sense of scale to it.

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I notice nobody has recommended Tau Zero yet. Yes it's a bit dated, yes it's unbelievably sexist while trying so hard not to be, and yes it plays a little fast and loose with the physics (which have dated a fair bit anyway), but it's still really good.

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Read Iain M. Banks' 'Excessions' for all of your space opera needs.

Don't read Excession first, start with one of the clearer ones like Player of Games or Consider Phlebas.

Talking of M John Harrison, 'Light' is a great read.

I got this on the recomendation of that Guardian list just a little while ago and must say I did enjoy his crazy future! I'm going to have to check out some of his other books too.

I know you wanted space sci-fi but do check out William Gibson's stuff too, very interesting books.

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Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

The GAP sequence by Stephen Donaldson - absolutely fucking brilliant, and batshit insane. It takes every standard sci-fi trope and turns it on its head. First book is a novella, latter ones are much meatier.

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Thanks Bastion. I've ordered Revelation Space and Diamond dogs as they were cheap on Play.com. Hoop I've seen 2001 and when I decide to have kids it is definitely a film I want to show them.

Anything other recommendations? Whenever I get into something I get all greedy and am ready to consume whatever I can.

Diamond Dogs is excellent, Revelation Space is pretty good too. Good choices ;)

Yeah, but not all are in space, man. Stuff like Pavane and Dancers at the end of Time are more fantasy/alt. reality than hard SF. Good stuff, but not your space opera. And a lot of the others - like, say, all of the Dick - are set on Earth and may not be 'hard' technological SF. Flowers for Algernon is brilliant (the novella was, at least), but not a laser gun in sight.

And most of those are old-school SF. Positively victorian, in the case of Wells. Still all worth reading.

My faves from that list and which match the OP's criteria are probably:

- The Forever War (Joe Haldeman)

- Gateway (Fred Pohl)

- Ringworld (Larry Niven) isn't a favourite, but is a solid read. And if you like that, then try the Mote in God's Eye. Also in the list:

- The Centauri Device (M John Harrison)

Slightly outside the remit, but in my personal top ten reads of all time are:

- Roadside Picnic (Boris and Arkady Strugatsky).

- Lord of Light (Zelazny).

If the OP is willing to try some more old-school hard SF from the list, try:

- Cities in Flight (Blish)

- The Rediscovery of Man (Cordwainer Smith).

- Man Plus (Pohl)

- A Fall of Moondust, Rendezvous with Rama, The City and the Stars (Clarke)

- Mission of Gravity (Clement)

- The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (Heinlein)

- Dune (Herbert)

Pretty spot on:

- The Forever War (Joe Haldeman)

- Gateway (Fred Pohl)

- Ringworld (Larry Niven)

All good reads, Dune is amazing too

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

The GAP sequence by Stephen Donaldson - absolutely fucking brilliant, and batshit insane. It takes every standard sci-fi trope and turns it on its head. First book is a novella, latter ones are much meatier.

Ender's Game was recommended to me right at the beginning of this thread, great book, highly recommended

As far as Ian M Banks is concerned, my personal favourite is Use of Weapons :lol: , honoury mention to Against a Dark Background. They are all great books though tbh, I've not read a bad one

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Neverness by David Zindell, Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

I'll second the Zindell (well I did recommend it earlier :( ), and I agree that Hyperion's really good, but… Fall of Hyperion isn't nearly as good because his explanations for the mysteries in Hyperion just don't work properly, Simmons is always great at the set up and rubbish at the pay off. :(

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I'll third the recommendation of Neverness, loved it. However the sequels to it, not so much. My favorite read recently was "Pushing Ice" by Alaister Reynolds. My favorite Iain M. Banks books, and one of my favorite books of all time, is "The Use of Weapons", its a must read, although something lighter like "Player of the Games" is a good intro to his Culture books.

For classics, you can't beat Philip K. Dick's mid-period Sci-Fi: Ubik, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (don't let the fact you've read Blade Runner put you off, its totally different and great), The Man in the High Castle (amazing book), A Scanner Darkly. His collections of short stories are a great place to start with PKD. I have a soft spot for Asimov's first 2 robot novels: The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun, most of Asimov's stuff is a bit dry for me though, I found Foundation novels to be a bit of a slog.

Lastly if you want a laugh, I highly suggest these two lesser known sci-fi comedy novels: Harry Harrison's "Bill the Galactic Hero", which is fucking classic (the later sequels, not so much), and Erik Frank Russell's "Next of Kin".

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Try Peter Hamiltons Night's Dawn trilogy, pretty deep stuff, very detailed and the technology used is not too far fetched and has been really well thought out.

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I'm not really a Sci-Fi bod, but I read Excession on the recommendation of a friend and really enjoyed it.

I read all the rest of the Culture books, all of which I enjoyed, albeit not quite so much as Excession. I also read his non-culture books under the Iain M. Banks name but they failed to strike the same chords, particulary The Algebraist which was so tedious I abandoned it halfway through.

I picked up Neuromancer by William Gibson in the hope of reigniteinga bit of interest in the genre but found it a little bit teenage nerdy. It was obviously trying to be a bit Neo-Noir like a future Raymond Chandler/Dashiel Hammet, but it felt pretty lacking in terms of charm, story and character.

Has anyone got anything they can recommend which is similar to the Banks culture novels? Or are they pretty much unique?

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I went around someone's house last night and on the bookshelves they had all of the Iain Banks books except for Use Of Weapons, the best one by miles. I can only imagine it is kept on a golden cushion in a safe or something, which would be fair enough.

Ok, The Player Of Games is nearly as good.

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I've recently finished the Old Man's War series by John Scalzi. Definitely enjoyed. For some reason, it reminded me of both Ender's Game and Mass Effect. Kind of like a bastard love child.

I'm gonna try some Stephen Baxter next.

And another recommendation for Forever War and Forever Peace. Some of my favourite ever books right there.

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I'm not really a Sci-Fi bod, but I read Excession on the recommendation of a friend and really enjoyed it.

I read all the rest of the Culture books, all of which I enjoyed, albeit not quite so much as Excession. I also read his non-culture books under the Iain M. Banks name but they failed to strike the same chords, particulary The Algebraist which was so tedious I abandoned it halfway through.

I picked up Neuromancer by William Gibson in the hope of reigniteinga bit of interest in the genre but found it a little bit teenage nerdy. It was obviously trying to be a bit Neo-Noir like a future Raymond Chandler/Dashiel Hammet, but it felt pretty lacking in terms of charm, story and character.

Has anyone got anything they can recommend which is similar to the Banks culture novels? Or are they pretty much unique?

Not the same as Banks but try some Ken Macleod, political future-humans, particularly his two series (Engines of Light and.... uh the other one....) or Learning the World. I wasn't too keen on Newton's Wake though (a re-read recently has put me off Macleod, albeit temporarily).

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I've read a few of MacLeod, and he always makes it seem like something exciting is going to happen, which inevitably then turns out to be some sort of mass strike or other dull political action. He should just have everything explode instead.

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I've read a few of MacLeod, and he always makes it seem like something exciting is going to happen, which inevitably then turns out to be some sort of mass strike or other dull political action. He should just have everything explode instead.

If you're doing MacLeod, the Fall Revolution books (The Star Fraction, The Stone Canal etc) are much better than the Engines Of Light trilogy.

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