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marlonharewood

Sci Fi recommendations

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Gateway by Frederik Pohl

I'd say Gateway is the opposite of hard sci fi. It's basically a human story with very little actual science or geeky stuff at all.

Until the end

I don't really know what hard sci fi means though, I suppose I think of it as science-heavy, "realistic" type stuff. The opposite of something like neuromancer or Gateway which gloss over the details and concentrate on the story and tone (although neuromancer is terrifyingly prophetic).

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I should probably re-read Schismatrix. I'm sorry ZOK but I didn't enjoy it that much first time round. However it was difficult to follow everything so I'm quite sure I'll pick up an awful lot more on the second read.

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I should probably re-read Schismatrix. I'm sorry ZOK but I didn't enjoy it that much first time round. However it was difficult to follow everything so I'm quite sure I'll pick up an awful lot more on the second read.

Finished Schismatrix a couple of days ago. Not sure about other editions but mine was relatively skinny and I assumed I'd blast through it. I was wrong, the typeface is tiny and it took me bloody ages.

Anyway, it was good. Epic in its scope and just constantly throwing out ideas like confetti. The central themes are politics and ideology, not usually my cup of tea and I did struggle to keep up at times. I definitely think it'd benefit from a second read though, there's just so much going on I felt like I was only catching about half of it.

:quote:

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I'm having to abandon Seveneves by Neal Stephenson; I'm about 80% of the way through but I stopped enjoying it quite some time ago and nothing else seems to be happening. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty fond of novels in which nothing much happens but this is so ham-fisted and stodgy with it that I just can't take any more. The first 2/3 is pretty good in a procedural sci-fi kind of way but then a massive event happens (which I won't go on about) then it's like he just stuck on another only partially related manuscript he found under the settee.

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It is a really odd book. I came to quite like the last act but it's... yeah. I wasn't that keen on a lot of the first part to be honest, or at least I had objections a lot of the time. He writes loads of stuff in his typical Stephenson style where clearly it's well researched so you get tonnes of detail on how things are happening. But it also glossed over gazillions of interesting stories while it did it.

<epic 5 page description of some kind of space tech idea>

<our heroes embark on it>

<literal one liner about how four of them died, one lost an eye, another needed a plaster. The job was done and we move on>

Anyway, I read it all and wasn't unhappy to have done so, just a bit equivocal about it all.

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Yep, I find everything of Stephenson's I've read to be like that. Showing off his research and bombarding the reader with trivia rather than telling an engaging story. One of those novelists who should probably be writing philosophy or history books instead of fiction. I would read it!

I really wanted to like Cryptonomicon but man, he buries the gold so deeply under everything else. It's the literary equivalent of grindy video game design.

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Perhaps so, but I got this feeling much more strongly with Seveneves than any of the others, and I think I've read 'em all. Unless it's me that's changing, it could be!

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I dunno, it doesn't seem that great. For $15, you may as well just buy 'The Demolished Man' and 'The Stars My Destination' from Amazon - they're the only really good books Alfred Bester did, and the rest of the bundle seems to mostly consist of shared-world stories that Roger Zelazny's estate farmed out after he died.

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Damnation Alley, Last Defender of Camelot, Eye of Cat, Doors of His Face..., are all classic Zelazny. It's the Amber stuff that's the sharecropping in that collection.

Can't recall reading 'Last Defender...'; 'Doors...' is a collection of his earlier short works from back in the 60s, and occasionally reads like it (I have a great illustrated version); 'Damnation Alley' is better as the original novella; 'Eye of Cat' is probably the pick - it's a later Zelazny doing his take on native American mysticism, with a Navajo tracker taking on a telepathic alien metamorph.

The Wild Cards books are shared worlds in the better sense, in that they're a series of short stories by different authors set in the same world - one of mutant-based super-powers. I've read the first collection, and it was entertaining enough.

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On 02/02/2016 at 8:04 PM, milko said:

It is a really odd book. I came to quite like the last act but it's... yeah. I wasn't that keen on a lot of the first part to be honest, or at least I had objections a lot of the time. He writes loads of stuff in his typical Stephenson style where clearly it's well researched so you get tonnes of detail on how things are happening. But it also glossed over gazillions of interesting stories while it did it.

<epic 5 page description of some kind of space tech idea>

<our heroes embark on it>

<literal one liner about how four of them died, one lost an eye, another needed a plaster. The job was done and we move on>

Anyway, I read it all and wasn't unhappy to have done so, just a bit equivocal about it all.

You're totally right. I didn't notice while I was reading it but now you mention it it seems blindingly obvious.

 

I've just finished reading Planetfall by Emma Newman and loved it. I wish it could have gone on for longer, not that I didn't think it wasn't the perfect length but purely because I enjoyed it so much.

 

I also recently picked up, put down and picked up again the Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. I don't really like world-in-world books so that initially put me off but I'm glad I persevered because it turned out to be awesome, as is the first sequel The Dark Forest. This is some really good stuff. The author really churns them out and sometimes seems more interested in getting it down on paper rather than polishing it up but I can overlook that because of the sheer awesomeness of the ideas.

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@zuumThe odd thing about Seveneves is when he does write the story (eg - sorry my memory for names is shot and I'm avoiding spoilers - the German commander using the module to alter the rock's course) it's fantastically tense and written from a slightly unusual viewpoint. Maybe they had to edit down one or the other to get it down to less than encyclopaedic length.

 

I don't know those other two books you mention, will look into them. 

 

Also: Hugh Howey has a thing for 99p on Kindle today only. No idea if it's any good, I think it's four Singles put together? For that money I got it anyway.

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Recently read Lord of Light and Gridlinked.

 

 

 

Lord of Light did nothing for me, I spent the whole book feeling like I was missing something. It just read like a slow paced (and surprisingly long) collection of tales from Hindu/Buddhist legend. I assumed there was some sort of clever link between the story and accounts in actual religious texts but since I know nothing on the subject it all rather passed me by.

 

Gridlinked was fantastic! For the first half. Very slick, understated in a sort of Banksian way but with some cyberpunk coolness thrown in too. It strikes a brilliant balance between ideas and style. Unfortunately about halfway through it seems like Asher ran out of ideas or motivation, and it gets steadily worse towards the end. Seeing how prolific a writer he is I'm kinda not surprised.

 

Are any of Asher's other books decent?

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The series that starts with Gridlinked gets better and better as it goes along with the stakes and battles getting bigger as you progress. In fact anything in his Polity universe is worth reading in my opinion. Try Prador Moon (nice standalone set years before Gridlinked with giant enemy crabs) and the Spatterjay books for sci-fi gruesome :)

 

I'd skip the owner series though. That's when he was completely in the grip of his Bruce Everiss style politics phase and it utterly infected his work. Happily he seems to have gotten over that with his current series (Back in the Polity but carries on a particular plot thread from earlier work.

 

Neal himself has a timeline. Doesn't include some newer books.

 

timeline.jpg

 

 

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About half way Through Forever War and really enjoying it, the writing style is really easy to read and the tech stuff is cool and interestibg. Any other fans?

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Finished it and really enjoyed it :)

 

gonna read a non fic book and then maybe back to sci fi (i always alternate between reading fiction and non fiction)

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