The Best Science Fiction Book (series) you've read
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April 11th, 2008, 00:24
Dune, hands down, is the best Sci-Fi book ever written. Arthur C Clarke said it best when he said he knew of no other work like it except Lord of the Rings. Originally the book was to be in two parts but his editor talked Herbert out of it. Which was good because there is no real gap in the story to do that.
He deftly weaves politics, intrigue history, religion, economics, environmentalism, anthropology, and geography into a mythology that's been borrowed heavily by Star Wars, Star Trek, The Terminator, Wheel of Time, and almost every major sci-fi series you can name.
Children of Dune was actually the original premise but its so rushed unbearable. The sequels are deep but leave a lot to be desired in terms of entertainment value. Dune Messiah turned the characters on their head for good reason. The sequel with the most depth is probably Heretics of Dune which may get close to the depth of the first but its a difficult read with no real protagonist or antagonist.
The Kid and Kevin J Anderson wrote some fantastic prequels. Anderson's style is deceptively simple and the stories are very complex. They take some liberties with the characters but this can be forgive. Many of the plots and ideas take many books to resolve.
Brian Herbert unfortunately is no Frank, however. In his Bio of his father he explains he's had to be very careful how he talks because his father was so overbearing. The very last book in the series (not the prequels) was based on the outline that Frank wrote and its very disappointing. It seems to me they couldn't make a good story out of the constraints that Frank had put in it which on an outline sound nice.
Because of Anderson's work here I've picked up his current series The Saga of the Seven Suns. The complexity of the story mirrors that of the Dune prequels. I've not read any of Anderson's Star Wars books but I hear they are some of the best.
When I was kid I enjoyed Asimov's Foundation Series. Its a good yarn - a collection of short stories he wrote for the pulps in the 1930's. His first books he wrote were the Galactic Empire novels based on the early years of this setting. Better are his Robot novels. Starting in the 1980's he wove them altogether. His last in the series was a prequel to the Foundation books. "The Killer B's" were commissioned to write three more Foundation books a few years back. They are forgettable, although they have some wild ideas but they are more in line with their own work then Asimov's.
If you don't mind short story collections the Martian Chronicles is a great set of stories. The Illustrated Man has several stories that didn't make the book for various reasons and Farenheit 451 takes place in the same mythology of these books. Ray Bradbury is an amazing writer. X-1 was radio program that broadcast some of these stories. You can find some of them at archive.org. Also, in Canada, some of them were played out on the movie channel in 1/2 segments where the author introduces them.
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