Monday, February 19, 2007

Best Recent Sci-Fi: Request for Input

So, I devoured sci-fi when I was a kid, but have read very little of it since, mostly because, well, the writing usually sucks. But reading Birminghham's Designated Targets whetted my appetite, and I'm on the hunt for some good relatively recent sci-fi...or even fantasy or horror. Read Greg Bear's Forge of God yesterday...didn't like it at first, but thought it was pretty o.k. in the end.

Anyway, suggestions appreciated.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not exactly recent, but if you haven't read Dan Simmons' Hyperion series, you should.

If you have some interest in sci-fi themes within mainstream fiction, I recommend Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most things by George R. R. Martin are worth reading. If you include fantasy in sci-fi, then his "A Song of Ice and Fire" is highly recommended. If not, try to get ahold of a collection of his earlier works, particularly "Songs the Dead Men Sing".

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you haven't read it yet, Winston, I think you'd really enjoy Vernor Vinge's "A Deepness in the Sky", as well as his earlier book "A Fire Upon the Deep."

I enjoy most of Bruce Sterling's stuff - Holy Fire and Distraction were both pretty good, as is the Schsimatrix collection, if you can find it.

And, of course, most of the stuff Neal Stephenson's done from Snow Crash onward has been great. Stephenson's Baroque Cycle is pretty daunting, page-wise, but it's well worth it.

And just my two cents, but Simmons' original Hyperion novel is indeed excellent, and the sequel's not bad, but the rest of the books go downward from there.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Thanks for all the suggestions.

You know, I read _Snow Crash_ way back when...I loved the first chapter (on "the Deliverator"), but the rest of the book I thought was only so-so.

Also read the Cryptonomicon, which I liked pretty much.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Punning Pundit said...

John Scalzi's Old Man's War is excellent. As is his Android's Dream...

As far as fantasy goes, I recommend the works of Steven Brust. He's really quite a good storyteller, with a fresh look at what how fantasy can work...

11:57 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

I love fantasy, and so can go on and on and on with the recommendations. I'll try to restrain myself however.

I second Steven Brust. The Vlad Taltos series (starting with Jhereg) is kinda like putting Spenser into a completely fantasy realm and seeing what comes out. Completely different, but just as good, is "The Phoenix Guards" (and it's following books) which is "The Three Musketeers" set in a fantasy world. The writing is dense with description, but absolutely delightful.

If you like winding stories, then "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" is also excellent, though it takes a bit to get into (I loved it, my husband never finished it.)

Neil Gaiman is another favorite: "Good Omens" is one of the best books ever written. "American Gods" is very good, especially if you like mythology. If you're at all interested in comics/graphic novels, then check out his "Sandman" series. If you just want a taste of "Sandman" before committing, check out, "Sandman: The Dream Hunters"

Ellen Kushner is also wonderful--I adore "Swordspoint" It's another book I rate as pretty much perfect.

Charles de Lint is another favorite. Almost anything by him is excellent--he has some fantastic short story collections. Jack of Kinrowan is a good start to his writing style.

If you can find her books, I really like Nina Kiriki Hoffman.

If you want something newer, I very much enjoyed Scott Lynch's "The Lies of Locke Lamora"

If you think you'd like paranormal fantasy, I have a ton of recommendations for that. Although a lot of it has boinking.

As far as science fiction, my husband really likes Kim Stanley Robinson... and I can't remember any other authors off the top of my head.

Okay, I'll refrain from going on and on and on. Hopefully you'll find something you like.

And if you want more recommendations, let me know. :)
I read a LOT of books, and most are either fantasy or mystery.

Michelle K

4:16 PM  
Blogger Aa said...

The first that jumps to mind is the "Abhorsen" Trilogy by Garth Nix. "Sabriel", "Lirael" and "Abhorsen". I found them to be truly well written and creative fantasy. Probably the best I've read in years.

The Bartimaeus trilogy by Stroud is also excellent. The end of the third book caught me by surprise and that doesn't happen very often.

"His Dark Materials" Trilogy by Philip Pullman was also good. I thought the third book grew a bit weak by the end, but still an overall excellent series.

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Following up on the Bruce Sterling recommendation, I really love Islands in the Net. It’s not recent (1988), but it was a very insightful speculative novel about how the first post-Cold War generation would evolve. I still find the novel’s description of the rise of massive non-state terrorism using unconventional weapons spooky as hell.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anything by John Scalzi. Or Robert Heinlein.

Or Phillip Dick, though I need to warn you that, while Dick's ideas are often extraordinarily good, his prose and characterizations are inconsistent. Just so you know.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For humor, I would recommend Ron Goulart, and in particular his Chameleon Corps stories.

Any anthology put together by Groff Conklin is usually worth reading, and if you told us what authors you read in your youth, it would give us a better idea of what to recommend.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Ah, right, DA. A good point that was just beginning to dawn on me...

I read almost everything I could get my hands on, which wasn't much. (Small library, no bookstores for about 60 miles.) So while I read some of lots of people, I really focused on the classics: Wells, Verne, Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, Clarke, Tolkien. Also some LeGuin, Zelazney...after that it's pretty much a mix. But I know very little about sci-fi and fantasy of the last 15+ years.

Oh, and I absolutely hated _The Sword of Shannara_, in case that helps.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Myca said...

I know very little about sci-fi and fantasy of the last 15+ years.

You must read China Miéville. Excellent fantasy that spends a lot of time thinking about the social conventions and cliches of traditional fantasy.

Plus, I'd love to read some of your commentary on his stuff.

---Josh (Previously Myca)

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't believe I forgot this one: Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. Relatively light reading, somewhat repetitive, but very funny, entertaining, and great little fables on various Western-civ virtues: free thought, restrained use of power, tolerance, the importance of truth and meaning, etc. Small Gods is brilliant, and The Truth and Thief of Time are also good introductions.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Why does Terry Pratchett hate America so much?

Oddly I just started reading Terry Pratchett, and, though mostly mind candy, it's damn awesome mind candy.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

If you read China Mieville, I'd also like to know what you think.

I read "Perdido Street Station" and it's a good book, but I didn't really like it.

And Terry Pratchett is great, although some books are greater than others. (Ook!)

11:33 AM  

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