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Default The Best Science Fiction Book (series) you've read

May 30th, 2008, 13:45
Originally Posted by Zakhary View Post

Currently.. I'm thinking about getting deeper into some of the "classic" stuff.
Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein… etc… What do you think?
I think you should add Philip K Dick and Vonnegut's sci fi to the list too
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May 30th, 2008, 13:46
Originally Posted by Lucky Day View Post
Dune, hands down, is the best Sci-Fi book ever written. .
Agreed, nothing else even comes close. My honourable runner up would be Iain M Bank's The Player of Games, but it's still not in the same league.
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May 30th, 2008, 13:49
Originally Posted by Zakhary View Post
Whoa. Seems like I got some reading to doo

I once read the first book in the Banks' culture universe.
"Consider Phlebas" I think it is in english.

I thought it was extremely weak. The aliens were laughable and
the whole thing just felt so silly somehow.
Are the later ones somehow significantly better? Cause I've heard
many people praise the "player of games" and "use of weapons" but I've
been unable to pick them up due to my horrible phlebas experiences
.
Definitely give Player of Games a go, it's significantly better than Consider Phlebas, which I agree wasn't great. The future humans (the Culture) and their society / morals etc are way more interesting than his aliens IMO, and Consider Phlebas didn't really do much justice to that.
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May 31st, 2008, 02:44
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
…declamatory…
thanks for that word. I've been getting tired of using "pretentious" and "airs" is almost archaic.



Philip K. Dick is ok. I would consider his writing something cerebral. He takes a simple idea and gives it a grit like a dime detective novel.

I've read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and The Man in the High Castle. "Sheep" is way different from the movie that was based on it, Blade Runner, but it can answer a lot of questions about the characters and motivations behind them. Both the movie and the book examine what it means to be be human but the movie is more sophisticated where the book is simple and almost dated.

The Man in the High Castle is a strange allegory of the Cold War.

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June 1st, 2008, 05:40
Sadly, most of the old classics seem dated now; we've progressed so far, but I still enjoy reading them. I wonder if they'll still hold any appeal for the next generation!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 1st, 2008, 06:26
That's true, much of the modern technology around has made much of that classic stuff out of date. I think this is why William Gibson became so popular with his Cyberpunk novels. It was a serious update that the genre needed and by focussing the stories on the near future it became more relevant, although it could make serious blunders like the silly concept of government by private corporation. The recession of the early 90's put that idea to rest and dated the style.

Works of Aldus Huxley and Bester are so ahead of their time its shocking. They could have been written today, or 10 years ago at the latest. Bradbury stays relevant because his themes are universal and are almost nostalgic. He wrote stories in the future that seems like he's writing about the past.

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June 1st, 2008, 08:21
Is the original Dune worth reading for someone who has already seen the movie (and mini-series) multiple times?

I want to read the entire collection of Dune books, and was thinking of starting with Dune Messiah since I already know the story of the original.
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June 1st, 2008, 08:46
Trust me, after the original, and perhaps its sequel, the series RAPIDLY deteriorates. Only if you're feeling extremely masochistic would I encourage you to read it all.

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June 1st, 2008, 10:10
Originally Posted by Lucky Day View Post
…although it could make serious blunders like the silly concept of government by private corporation. The recession of the early 90's put that idea to rest and dated the style.
Only if you don't have a broader historical perspective to set it against, besides a lot of the cyberpunk sensibilities have been incorporated in the more recent SF - see Hamilton, Reynolds and Morgan.
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June 1st, 2008, 22:49
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Trust me, after the original, and perhaps its sequel, the series RAPIDLY deteriorates. Only if you're feeling extremely masochistic would I encourage you to read it all.
Not so! I found the original, and perhaps its sequel ordinary, so to speak, as in "familiar storytelling", but I loved the other books for being different. I actually remember everything but the stories best. I was intrigued by the politics (I hate politics) and the scope of the Dune universe. I have a weakness for stories that span multiple generations or even eons.

JDR13: Regarding the TV mini series - while they adequately presented the stories of the first two books, I missed the dusty atmosphere most. The TV series was too clean. The first Dune movie had a nice atmosphere, but not much in common with the books. So.. I think it might be worth reading the first two books for the experience alone, but I guess you could also skip them if you are only interested in how everything unfolds after that.

As a sidenote, this is actually the best time for reading Dune: Summer. Hot, sunny, sweaty days. (Likewise, I'd recommend reading A Song of Ice and Fire in Winter.) Much more immersive that way.

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
Last edited by Arhu; June 1st, 2008 at 22:57.
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June 1st, 2008, 23:05
I, and most people, agree with Corwin on Dune.

The Frank Herbert Dune sequels are actually pretty heady. They just aren't that entertaining. Children of Dune was so rushed it was ridiculous. This was too bad because this book was closest to the original premise.

Dune Messiah was very predictable but it also ticked off a lot of Dune fans because of what he did to their favorite characters. It seems a lot of fans missed the point.

In God Emperor of Dune he uses the book series' popularity to make some political points. Unfortunately, it showed that Frank didn't know the difference between a Bureaucracy and an Aristocracy. He never read his Weber. However in Heretics of Dune it almost seems like he tries to correct it. Anyone that knew Frank would quickly learn what he thought of critics.

Heretics of Dune was probably the best of the sequels and it was full of the complications and intrigue like the first one. Unfortunately it doesn't have and real protagonists or antagonists so its difficult to read.

The rest of the Frank Herbert dune's just plod along because he has difficulty selling any other of his books. He had a house to pay for in Hawaii and an environmental ranch in Seattle.



Corwin, have you read the Prequels by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson? They are very, very good.

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June 1st, 2008, 23:06
I read Dune after watching the SciFi mini series a few years back. I was impressed who close the mini series followed the book. Loved the book, and bought the next two in the series, but never read them. Not sure why, but I guess I just kind of felt like at the end of Dune, it was done. Everything seemed pretty wrapped up and I didn't feel any need to read more about the universe of Dune. Very strange for me as I tend to read straight though series or authors.

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June 1st, 2008, 23:38
Haven't read the prequels, but I might on your recommendation.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 2nd, 2008, 01:09
Here are some of my favorites. I actually teach a class on SF occasionally - many of these are not only my favorites, but are the sort of texts which can be successfully taught & enjoyed in a university classroom.

Octavia Butler, especially the Xenogenesis trilogy. Incredible aliens, and incredible agility at standing SF conventions on their head. Probably the best American SF writer since Philip K. Dick's death.

Stanislaw Lem, especially Solaris and His Master's Voice.

Philip K. Dick, especially Valis, Radio Free Albumeth, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and A Scanner Darkly

I've read nearly all of Roger Zelazny's books. Many are trashy (I still like them, though), but Lord of Light is a work of genius.

Zamyatin's We is the basis of A Brave New World and 1984. I like it better than either.

All of H.G. Wells' SF books are great. Understanding the context of his books (his close relationship with Huxley and therefore, second-hand, with Darwin) and his anti-imperialist, pro-socialist politics help. The War of the Worlds and The Island of Dr. Moreau are my favorites.

Olaf Stapledon's books are mind-blowing, and very different from the SF most of us grew up knowing.

I like most of Asimov, especially the robot books. The Gods Themselves, though, is by far his best book.

Vernor Vinge's books are a lot of fun.

Oh - many smart people, including Brian Aldiss (whose history of SF, Trillion Year Spree, is pretty good) argue that Frankenstein is the foundational and most important work of SF. I tend to agree - although modern horror and fantasy are also indebted to Frankenstein.
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June 2nd, 2008, 03:10
I hear a lot of tribute to Mary Shelly in SciFi circles these days anemone, but of course her monster wasn't entirely original. I think what made it more popular than any of her husband's writings though was the simple theme the dangers of man playing God.

The Gods Themselves was about the "The (time) Watchers" wasn't it, or was that the story of the interdimensional beings with three sexes? Both are excellent and diverge from his robot/galactic empire universe.

I'm not such a fan of HG Wells or George Orwell. Their styles are just too difficult a read, although I finished a couple of Orwells.

I was no fan of the Dune mini-series, but knowing that was coming was the push to make me actually read the book. The book is so good it embarrasses both movies, although the first was very good in its own right, with terrific acting by Kyle McLachlan, Jose Ferrer and Francesca Annis and terrible with Jürgen Prochnow, Sting and Patrick Stewart. It was one of David Lynch's first films and it gets outright bizarre at times.

The costume and set design were great with the Dune miniseries but none of the actors are believable in their roles - at least for the first few that I watched. In particular Saskia Reeves and Ian McNeice were particularly bad.

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Last edited by Lucky Day; June 2nd, 2008 at 03:20.
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June 2nd, 2008, 13:45
Lucky Day - You'll get no argument from me that Wells is tough! He was an intellectual, as much as a novelist, and that shows in everything he wrote. One example: The War of the Worlds makes far more sense if we know that it was published side-by-side (in a magazine) with an article attacking British colonialism in Africa. It completely changes how you read the novel, once you know that. So not only is his prose tough, but he's engaged in all sorts of intellectual debates of his own time.

The Gods Themselves is about the aliens with three sexes (or one, depending). Very different from the usual Asimov. The other 70s Asimov I really like is "The Bicentenial Man," which is better than most of the robot novels before and after.

This thread makes me want to read Dune again, which I haven't done for years…
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June 2nd, 2008, 17:33
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Is the original Dune worth reading for someone who has already seen the movie (and mini-series) multiple times?

I want to read the entire collection of Dune books, and was thinking of starting with Dune Messiah since I already know the story of the original.
I thought the book had a lot of political and philosophical undertones that didn't really come across well in either of the conversions. And the film was miles from the book (not bad even so, but way off the original).

The rest are harder going, and far from essential reading unless you're really into the Dune universe. I'd personally not recommend the prequels much either, although for different reasons - they're easy to read (very, very easy to read) but somewhat lacking in substance IMO. Good pulp sci-fi though, depends what you're after.
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July 25th, 2012, 13:44
Thanks to those who recommended Iain M. Banks. I started with the first in his Culture universe, "Consider Phlebas", and even though it's supposed to be relatively weak, I was enthralled by the scale and backdrop. As PJ put it, "never blow up a warehouse if you can blow up a planet". Even my favorite super structures are in it: Dyson Spheres, which are mentioned only in passing as some sort of footnote, as in "yeah, a sphere was destroyed too, in the war, and a couple of rings".

Looking forward to reading the rest of the series. So far, this seems to be my kind of Sci Fi.

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July 26th, 2012, 00:20
WOW, a 4 year old necro!! Guess it took you quite awhile to read it.

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July 26th, 2012, 08:51
With his passing I would recommend anyone who hasn't check out the Ray Bradbury books.

Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man are probably the weakest since they are collections of short stories. Some of these have been made into radio shows and on cable. However, they give you great insight into his ideas on colonization, isolation and censorship. They also serve to flesh out his most celebrated novels Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

The latter deals with age and happiness and is very American in its positive approach. A similar story of youth and nostalgia is found in Dandelion Wine, but its not sci-fi at all.

Have we mentioned the two books by Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man and The Stars, My Destination? Even though the cynicism is ahead of its time in its candidness its an amazing read. The movie Jumpers is a rip off of its premise

There's been a series of shows on the Science channel called The Prophets of Science Fiction. Its a fascinating series of biographies that have helped me appreciate the authors even more.

Other than Dick's fascination of what is real, thanks to problems with schizophrenia and LSD, we see what inspired stories like We Can Remember it for You Wholesale (Total Recall) which seems to be in the same universe as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Blade Runner).

I see now that HG Wells was a bit of a futurist with a very pessimistic outlook. It was fascinating to see how he was involved in the inspiration of the nuclear bomb and how horrified he became at its reality.

Should I bother with the John Carter books? They are free after all. Seems a lot of people have converted a lot of popular classical books to Kindle.

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