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DTMark

Good Sci-Fi Books

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I've spent so much time reading economics and politics that I haven't had much time for works of fiction lately (delicious subtle irony in that line)

Seen some excellent films, Sunshine (2007) really stood out.

But watching films only means I miss out on a wealth of material that never makes it on screen. What do you recommend?

For some context - I'm not keen on sci-fi "fantasy" as such. I like it to be more "real". I'm not really a fan of "funny" sci-fi (cannot stand stuff like Red Dwarf, there's one exception which was The Hitch Hiker's Guide "trilogy")

Working in IT and knowing a bit about the science part, I tend to frown on nonsense, like the bit in Torchwood in the last episode ("the eye cam is broadcasting this signal to every monitor within 100 yards" - really? Is it? How is it doing that, then - there's a gap between credibility and believability and this sort of conveniece invention is just sloppy writing, though the character speaking may of course have been bull*****ing.). Also like the way in certain series, Star Trek especially, a plot is conveniently solved with the straightforward invention of, say, time travel, only for the technology to be completely forgotten by the next episode.

I also tend to listen to audiobooks quite a lot when driving to and from parents house - was going to get Hyperion (Dan Simmons) as it's so very well rated. However I'm not keen on ones narrated by Americans with their aloominum metal, nucular wars and boo-ees in the sea and so forth. There is no such thing as "American English".

Quite like sci-fi horror, but not so much the "Of the Dead" series though I acknowledge some of it was classic. Michelle Paver's "Dark Matter" was rather good as was Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" for example.

What have you read (doesn't have to be recent, as long as the science part isn't lost in time, as it were - even HG Wells stands up quite well today) that you enjoyed?

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If you haven't already, give Peter F Hamilton a go. The science seems to hold up pretty well and I haven't found a series of his I dislike yet. Well written and very detailed.

If you like hard Sci-Fi then give Paul Mcauley a go. His more recent stuff is better, but then I'll have to declare a VI as he is a family member.

As for the classics.. Frank Herbert (The earlier Dune books) and Authur C Clarke would be my favourites.

I'll be interested to see some other responses to this as I normally like Sci-Fi but haven't seen anything worth reading for a while. I've been having to concentrate on the Fantasy side instead.

I may update this later as anything I've read in the last couple of years will still be on my e-reader/iPad.

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One of the best SF books I've read in the last couple of years is 'The Stars My Destination'; if it wasn't for references to megacorps like Kodak, I really wouldn't have known that it was sixty years old.

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Neal Stephenson is good, try Snowcrash as a starting point. His Baroque Cycle is also very good, but is more of a historical, political fantasy, but i'd still classify it as Sci-Fi

Michael Marshall Smith's Only Forward is very good, it starts as hard Sci-FI, but does change tack towards the end in a way that puts some people off.

I presume you're familiar with Iain M Banks. If not read The Player of Games

It's a bit old now, so some of the science is dated, but I've always been a big Heinlein fan, and Methuselah's Children would be my recommended starting point with his stuff.

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As for the classics.. Frank Herbert (The earlier Dune books) and Authur C Clarke would be my favourites.

That's what I would recommend, I'm sure most people have already read them though.

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Zoo City ; Lauren Beukes

The premise of a society in which a criminal is entrusted to live with and support an animal assigned to them following an un-named psychic event or they will die.

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Oh, whilst I think about it, Tad Williams has some good stuff. I really enjoyed Otherland. More to follow.

That's what I would recommend, I'm sure most people have already read them though.

Probably, although most younger people don't seem to have heard of Herbert in particular.

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I've spent so much time reading economics and politics that I haven't had much time for works of fiction lately (delicious subtle irony in that line)

Seen some excellent films, Sunshine (2007) really stood out.

But watching films only means I miss out on a wealth of material that never makes it on screen. What do you recommend?

For some context - I'm not keen on sci-fi "fantasy" as such. I like it to be more "real". I'm not really a fan of "funny" sci-fi (cannot stand stuff like Red Dwarf, there's one exception which was The Hitch Hiker's Guide "trilogy")

Working in IT and knowing a bit about the science part, I tend to frown on nonsense, like the bit in Torchwood in the last episode ("the eye cam is broadcasting this signal to every monitor within 100 yards" - really? Is it? How is it doing that, then - there's a gap between credibility and believability and this sort of conveniece invention is just sloppy writing, though the character speaking may of course have been bull*****ing.). Also like the way in certain series, Star Trek especially, a plot is conveniently solved with the straightforward invention of, say, time travel, only for the technology to be completely forgotten by the next episode.

I also tend to listen to audiobooks quite a lot when driving to and from parents house - was going to get Hyperion (Dan Simmons) as it's so very well rated. However I'm not keen on ones narrated by Americans with their aloominum metal, nucular wars and boo-ees in the sea and so forth. There is no such thing as "American English".

Quite like sci-fi horror, but not so much the "Of the Dead" series though I acknowledge some of it was classic. Michelle Paver's "Dark Matter" was rather good as was Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" for example.

What have you read (doesn't have to be recent, as long as the science part isn't lost in time, as it were - even HG Wells stands up quite well today) that you enjoyed?

Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter do some serious hard-SF, the Revelation Space series would keep you going for a while..

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Philip K Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep"; Blade Runner was based on this.

Huxley's "Brave New World", not strictly speaking sf I suppose but it is set in the future and he explores several themes that are thrashed out here daily...

Asimov is worth a go, in particular his short stories and Foundation series

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Oh, whilst I think about it, Tad Williams has some good stuff. I really enjoyed Otherland. More to follow.

Probably, although most younger people don't seem to have heard of Herbert in particular.

Dune is a must read for any Sci-Fi fan. An epic book.

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All time Sci-fi favorites are Iain Banks "Culture" series.

Neal Asher is another author in a similar vein.

Both good if you like "ultra-future" Sci-Fi; AI minds, continental-sized space ships and mind bending science.

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A book I'm very fond of is "The Lathe of Heaven" by Ursula K. Le Guin.

In my time I've read the paperback, eBook version, listened to the unabridged audio book and watched one of the two film adaptations (the first one, the TV movie, is the best).

Other favourite books include:

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clark

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All time Sci-fi favorites are Iain Banks "Culture" series.

Neal Asher is another author in a similar vein.

Both good if you like "ultra-future" Sci-Fi; AI minds, continental-sized space ships and mind bending science.

+1

Recommend Look to Windward

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The thing with SciFi is all the best stuff was written 40+ years ago and most modern stuff is, although very good, basically rehashed.

Asimov’s foundation series is the source of all Space Opera since written and as such is a good read. In fact all Asimov’s stuff is top draw. I have a habit of reading an author to death, in that if I like one book I'll read all they've done and with Asimov that is something I've never regretted.

Iain M Banks' culture books are a classic example of Space Opera but stand out in their own right. In particular Consider Phlebus and Surface detail for me but all his SciFi is top notch.

Dick was incredibly prodigious, especially his short stories, and as already mentioned Do Androids... is a classic, The man in the high castle is also good as is Cantata 140. He is mainly post-apocalypse, sociological type stuff and there are some very good parallels to society today in a lot of his short stuff, stories like The Mold of Yancy and The minority report are very thought provoking. Well worth getting some of the collections of the short stories as most are 30-40 pages long and as such a good bedtime read.

Herbert’s Dune series is a bit of a literary snare as after reading Dune, Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune they go downhill but you feel compelled to complete the series which becomes torturous and spoils the first three books. The three 'House' prequels are worth a read though.

Kevin J Anderson, specialised in Star Wars books and other serialisation along with work on the Dune prequels, is a bit hit and miss. The seven part Saga of the Seven Suns is a fair to middling Space Opera offering that, if you want to take your brain out and leave it in a jar, isn't too bad.

Peter F Hamilton is one of the best writers of non-challenging Space Opera, very well written and thoroughly compelling and often quite humorous. The Reality Dysfunction trilogy is a must so are the Gregg Mandel series which are more SciFi who done its.

Douglas Adams is another must, not only for the Hitchhiker trilogy(in five parts) but the Dirk Gently books are a good read.

Dan Symonds Hyperion series, although tough to get into, was another good set of books that became very gripping as the trilogy progressed. I must admit the first book got picked up and put down a number of times but I'm glad I completed them.

Alastair Reynolds is another highly competent SciFi writer who has written many books around his Revelation Space galaxy from, the first Chasm City to the last, The Prefect. Pushing Ice stands out to me but they were all highly enjoyable.

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Anything by John Wyndham or John Christopher is classic and 'down to earth' type stuff.

Not really sci-fi as such but 'Black August' and '60 Days to Live' by Dennis Wheatley are good apocalyptic stuff.

Clifford D Simak wrote a good novel called 'They Walked Like Men' about aliens who soften up the earth for invasion by first causing a global property crash! :lol:

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Stephen Donaldson's Gap series was pretty, well, entertaining wouldn't be the right word, perhaps engaging. Not hard sci-fi though (although very definitely not easy reading), the sci-fi aspect is used for the setting without having much in the way of science.

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I've spent so much time reading economics and politics that I haven't had much time for works of fiction lately (delicious subtle irony in that line)

Seen some excellent films, Sunshine (2007) really stood out.

But watching films only means I miss out on a wealth of material that never makes it on screen. What do you recommend?

For some context - I'm not keen on sci-fi "fantasy" as such. I like it to be more "real". I'm not really a fan of "funny" sci-fi (cannot stand stuff like Red Dwarf, there's one exception which was The Hitch Hiker's Guide "trilogy")

Working in IT and knowing a bit about the science part, I tend to frown on nonsense, like the bit in Torchwood in the last episode ("the eye cam is broadcasting this signal to every monitor within 100 yards" - really? Is it? How is it doing that, then - there's a gap between credibility and believability and this sort of conveniece invention is just sloppy writing, though the character speaking may of course have been bull*****ing.). Also like the way in certain series, Star Trek especially, a plot is conveniently solved with the straightforward invention of, say, time travel, only for the technology to be completely forgotten by the next episode.

I also tend to listen to audiobooks quite a lot when driving to and from parents house - was going to get Hyperion (Dan Simmons) as it's so very well rated. However I'm not keen on ones narrated by Americans with their aloominum metal, nucular wars and boo-ees in the sea and so forth. There is no such thing as "American English".

Quite like sci-fi horror, but not so much the "Of the Dead" series though I acknowledge some of it was classic. Michelle Paver's "Dark Matter" was rather good as was Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" for example.

What have you read (doesn't have to be recent, as long as the science part isn't lost in time, as it were - even HG Wells stands up quite well today) that you enjoyed?

If you want something real try Red Mars - its about the colonization of Mars and starts off in the early 2020's. Very, very good. I would say its not about the sci-fi though, but more about politics and sociiology that goes on as the colonization happens over a 200 year period using sci-fi as a backdrop.

Be warned though - despite this masterpiece, much of his other work is pretty tedious and not worth bothering with IMO.

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If you want something real try Red Mars - its about the colonization of Mars and starts off in the early 2020's. Very, very good. I would say its not about the sci-fi though, but more about politics and sociiology that goes on as the colonization happens over a 200 year period using sci-fi as a backdrop.

Be warned though - despite this masterpiece, much of his other work is pretty tedious and not worth bothering with IMO.

I'd second the very good point but not that it's more about politics and sociology. It's about them all, which is what makes it so interesting. There's no concentration on one aspect alone that sometimes mars (pun not intended) science fiction (and he obviously knows a hell of a lot about Mars).

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Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter do some serious hard-SF, the Revelation Space series would keep you going for a while..

I'll second baxter (haven't read Reynolds).

I've got into baxter over the last 3 years. Ones I'd recommend are mostly collaberations with Arthur Clarke:

Time's Eye (with Arthur C. Clarke) - A Time Odyssey Books 1-3

Cracking trilogy about interaction between humans and super advanced aliens.

The Light of Other Days (with Arthur C. Clarke)

Technology that allows humans to view any location in the past e.g. biblical times or partners infidelaties and the cans of works that opens!

Times Tapestry books 1-3 (Baxter alone - starts with Emperor)

Modern humans trying to fiddle with the past - a pretty well researched history lesson to boot, e.g. Roman/dark age Britain and islamic Spain.

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned Charles Stross yet.

Accelerando is fairly old now but probably the best take on a post Singularity future.

Halting State and Rule 34 are set in the near future and cover some very interesting issues within the "digital" economy.

And the laundry series (Atrocity Archives, Jennifer Morgue and Fuller Memorandum ) are a very good ride.

And don't forget the new Neal Stephenson REAMDE again based on the digital future.

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look an amazon and search for 'SF Masterworks' which is a series with a lot of classic SF by various authors. Look I've even put the link in for you.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=sf+masterworks&sprefix=sf+masterw

Also look at HG Wells, who was doing it before anyone else. Many of the things he wrote about in the late 1800s / early 1900s have since become science fact (the use of aeroplanes in war etc)

Also look at Philip K Dick.

Once you're read a book by an author you like - look here and you'll be able to find what else they've written (and the order to read them in) - www.fantasticfiction.co.uk

Then consider this:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0140185852/ref=oss_product

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  • 284 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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