I’m looking for some special Science Fiction

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This topic contains 29 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Jaissatrea 9 years ago.

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  • #332296

    MAndrewSprong
    Participant
  • #554704

    MAndrewSprong
    Participant

    Hello! Thanks for reading this. Then again you may just compulsively read everything. That probably takes awhile. Go you. Remember to break for snacks. ANYhow~

    I need help. (That narrows it down) I’m writing my first book blah blah blah NOT THE POINT. A lot of, uh, MOST of the workshop-ish books I’m reading recommend that I look into novels similar to what I have in mind to see current trends and scout possible publishers. I love that advice. I’m just not having any luck. Ugh, I could go on forever about this.

    I looked around at Barnes & Noble but they failed me utterly. The Fantasy and Sci-Fi New Arrivals bookcase consisted of about twenty novels about magic and two sci-fi books… one of them another Dune release. Don’t get me wrong- I love magic. I’m writing sci-fi though, so you can see why I wasn’t looking for swords and sorcery… this time. Oh geez… forgive me, I’ll trim this down as best I can. I talk a lot. Bear with me.

    I’m sure someone has written something similar to what I am, and recently. That’s… not even a question. I know this. I just don’t know what book and who wrote it. I don’t know much of anything. I’m looking. Heck yeah I’m looking, but the only thing I’ve bought lately did not turn out well. I don’t want to badmouth a book I didn’t even read a hundred pages in, but… wow. I’m getting off-track again.

    >>SKIP DOWN HERE IF YOU WANT TO BYPASS MY RAMBLING, NO ONE WILL BLAME YOU.<<

    If you lovely people could help me, I’m looking for a sci-fi book with strong… I guess you’d call it characterization? Pretty well-developed, memorable people. A decent amount of action preferably- I’d like some romance. Basically what I have in mind has some stuff in common with the Space Opera… genre (if you can force me to call it that) but I’m not shooting for anything resembling, say, Star Wars. Hells no.

    If you’ve read any good sci-fi made in the last few years that stood out, had something unusual and fun… tell me please? I wish I could give you a better idea. Uh… about the closest any book has come to what I have in mind (that I’ve read) is Eoin Colfer’s “The Supernaturalist”. My content is aimed at an older audience, but that’s the most similar thing to my own ideas I’ve read. I’m sure there are closer novels and that’s why I need your help. Searches on my own have not yielded great results. Please see what you can do. I’ll keep looking, obviously.

    I would like strong characters I can get behind. An ending that at least makes me think, even if it ended bittersweet for some reason. I love intense action but I also like love stories in just about everything I read or watch. I know I can’t have everything. (Duh) But if something you read hit a few of these notes, and you thought it was good, tell me about it, you know?

    Thank you very, very much.

  • #554705

    charliebrown20
    Participant

    SF/F in the bookstores now is pretty much how you stated it…(unofficial stats here) 80% fantasy, 20% sci-fi, and of that 20% about 80% is fan fic…the remaining 20% is divided between space opera, military sf, and hard sf…so you’re lucky if you find more than one or two books to read in your specific field of interest.

    Don’t be discouraged, though. I’d recommend reading all of those, even if you don’t intend to write in that sub-genre or style. Read as much as you can.

    All I can recommend are my personal favorites:

    1) Anything by Joe Haldeman. He writes military SF and hard SF. His most recent release is Marsbound, which I enjoyed, and the sequel is due to release in January 2010. If you’d like more specifics on the story, you can read my review here .

    2) Any of the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks. These are technically space opera, but they read like hard SF. Nothing like Star Wars, which is why I like them (not that I don’t like Star Wars, cuz I will always love it). His most recent one is Matter, which I’m currently reading. Definitely has creative concepts, memorable characters, and believable science. I’ll be publishing a review on this one as well, once I’ve completed it, at TheBookBook and also on my blog .

    3) Check out the classics: Isaac Asimov, Ben Bova, Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, to name a few.

    I’d also recommend researching specific authors online, jot down the titles of their work, and check them out from the library. Reading a “book blurb” can only tell you so much. To understand the real depth of their writing and storytelling, you must read the book itself.

    Hope this helps! Good luck to you, and happy writing.  🙂

  • #554706

    Janette
    Participant

    Kilgore Trout.

  • #554707

    cypher
    Participant

    Sorry, I can’t recommend a specific science fiction story, but I have a wonderful book written by Michio Kaku called “Physics of the Impossible” (Doubleday, 2008). He divides his book into three sections:

    Class 1 Impossibilities – 10 subjects which stand a chance of becoming possible one day;
    Class 2 Impossibilities – which nobody but a science fiction fanatic would believe could happen (i.e., Faster Than Light; Time Travel and Parallel Universes). However, these subjects are occupying the thoughts of some very clever people around the World these days;
    Class 3 Impossibilities – downright impossible (perpetual motion machines, precognition).

    If you intend to include way out technology in your story, this book would definitely help. I paper-clipped the pages in Class 1 that interested me and used up a whole box of paperclips. I intend to refer to those clips when it’s time to send my main characters on their journey to Mars. However, at my present rate of progress, these technologies may well be tried, tested and in use.

  • #554708

    cypher
    Participant

    Lydia: I checked out your review. Great stuff. Marsbound is definitely another book I’m going to buy.

  • #554709

    Mikala Engel
    Participant

    I agree with reading the classics of the field. If you haven’t already done so, hit the library and read fifty to a hundred classic SF novels. You find many that sound much like yours, and you’ll find out what’s already been done, and what hasn’t.

    And for some free e-SF books, try Baen’s free library. http://www.baen.com/library/

  • #554710

    ljb1947
    Participant

    Actually there is still quite a lot of good SF out there. Maybe you’re looking at the wrong bookstore.

    Look for Elizabeth Moon. Her Vatta’s War series, starting with Trading in Danger, is good.

    You might also want to check out David Weber and John Ringo’s Empire of Man series, starting with March Upcountry, which is very good also.

    There is nothing wrong with reading the classics of the genre, in fact it’s a good idea but it doesn’t replace reading what is current in a genre. There can be a HUGE difference in what publishers wanted 50 years ago and what they want now.

    Edit: And while James and I haven’t agreed on much lately, he is quite correct that Baen’s Free Library has some good stuff in it.

  • #554711

    Mikala Engel
    Participant

    jrtomlin – 2009-09-09 11:45 AM There is nothing wrong with reading the classics of the genre, in fact it’s a good idea but it doesn’t replace reading what is current in a genre. There can be a HUGE difference in what publishers wanted 50 years ago and what they want now.

    Yep, read both old and new.  You have to read the old to know what’s already been done, else you’re likely to spend years reinventing the wheel.  You have to read the new to see what publishers want right now.  Though copying old or new is not a good idea.
    Though from my SF experience, many publishers want pretty much the same thing now as they did fifty years ago as far as story and characters are concerned.  Women have a larger role in SF plots now, but with much SF, only the science has changed.
  • #554712

    charliebrown20
    Participant

    Oldtimer – 2009-09-09 11:49 AM

    Sorry, I can’t recommend a specific science fiction story, but I have a wonderful book written by Michio Kaku called “Physics of the Impossible” (Doubleday, 2008). He divides his book into three sections:

    Class 1 Impossibilities – 10 subjects which stand a chance of becoming possible one day;
    Class 2 Impossibilities – which nobody but a science fiction fanatic would believe could happen (i.e., Faster Than Light; Time Travel and Parallel Universes). However, these subjects are occupying the thoughts of some very clever people around the World these days;
    Class 3 Impossibilities – downright impossible (perpetual motion machines, precognition).

    If you intend to include way out technology in your story, this book would definitely help. I paper-clipped the pages in Class 1 that interested me and used up a whole box of paperclips. I intend to refer to those clips when it’s time to send my main characters on their journey to Mars. However, at my present rate of progress, these technologies may well be tried, tested and in use.

    This has me curious enough to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

  • #554713

    charliebrown20
    Participant

    Jamesaritchie – 2009-09-09 11:51 AM I agree with reading the classics of the field. If you haven’t already done so, hit the library and read fifty to a hundred classic SF novels. You find many that sound much like yours, and you’ll find out what’s already been done, and what hasn’t. And for some free e-SF books, try Baen’s free library. http://www.baen.com/library/

    Baen has a free library?  When did I get so out of the loop?  😮   Thanks for the link, James. Definitely going to check this out.

  • #554714

    robfp
    Participant

    If you don’t have time to read a hundred or so good SF books in the next couple of days, try reading recent copies of “Analog” and “Asimov’s SF” or “Fantasy and Science Fiction”. You should get some kind of feel for what subject material is current in short SF, at least, plus you’ll find reviews of recent novels and collections as well as reference to recent books written by the authors of the stories published in the mags. Instead of B&N and B, visit some of the used book stores in your area, wherever that is. I just hit a few in cities between Topeka and Allentown, PA and found a huge selection of current SF in almost every store.

  • #554715

    robfp
    Participant

    If you don’t have time to read a hundred or so good SF books in the next couple of days, try reading recent copies of “Analog” and “Asimov’s SF” or “Fantasy and Science Fiction”. You should get some kind of feel for what subject material is current in short SF, at least, plus you’ll find reviews of recent novels and collections as well as reference to recent books written by the authors of the stories published in the mags. Instead of B&N and B, visit some of the used book stores in your area, wherever that is. I just hit a few in cities between Topeka and Allentown, PA and found a huge selection of current SF in almost every store.

  • #554716

    kerrywood
    Blocked

    raymondstary – 2009-09-09 11:22 AM Kilgore Trout.

    Oh do read Kurt Vonnegut. 

    Breakfast of Champions with Kilgore Trout.

    Or Slaugtherhouse Five.

  • #554717

    urworstnitemare
    Participant

    I’ve heard Orson Scott Card’s “Enders Game” is a great read.

  • #554718

    Janette
    Participant

    Oldtimer – 2009-09-09 11:49 AM

    Sorry, I can’t recommend a specific science fiction story, but I have a wonderful book written by Michio Kaku called “Physics of the Impossible” (Doubleday, 2008). He divides his book into three sections:

    Class 1 Impossibilities – 10 subjects which stand a chance of becoming possible one day;
    Class 2 Impossibilities – which nobody but a science fiction fanatic would believe could happen (i.e., Faster Than Light; Time Travel and Parallel Universes). However, these subjects are occupying the thoughts of some very clever people around the World these days;
    Class 3 Impossibilities – downright impossible (perpetual motion machines, precognition).

    If you intend to include way out technology in your story, this book would definitely help. I paper-clipped the pages in Class 1 that interested me and used up a whole box of paperclips. I intend to refer to those clips when it’s time to send my main characters on their journey to Mars. However, at my present rate of progress, these technologies may well be tried, tested and in use.

    I bought that book the other day, along with Hawking’s first two and “Your Next Door Neighbor is a Dragon.”

    And Everyman by Philip Roth.

    I entered without a plan. Dangerous.

  • #554719

    Janette
    Participant

    Pat Pechon – 2009-09-09 8:58 PM

    raymondstary – 2009-09-09 11:22 AM Kilgore Trout.

    Oh do read Kurt Vonnegut. 

    Breakfast of Champions with Kilgore Trout.

    Or Slaugtherhouse Five.

    My favorite is still Cat’s Cradle.

  • #554720

    cypher
    Participant

    Forgive my ignorance. Who wrote “Cat’s Cradle”? I still have $11 left on my birthday book token and I’m itching to spend it.

  • #554721

    ljb1947
    Participant

    It’s by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Nominated for a Hugo I believe.

  • #554722

    Janette
    Participant

  • #554723

    Janette
    Participant

    This is the clunkiest forum system I have ever seen. Jesus on a Moped.

  • #554724

    kerrywood
    Blocked

    raymondstary – 2009-09-11 3:03 PM This is the clunkiest forum system I have ever seen. Jesus on a Moped.

    It runs by Bokonon rules.

     

     

  • #554725

    Janette
    Participant

    Well, that makes it better.

  • #554726

    MAndrewSprong
    Participant

    Wow, I’m only… several weeks behind on responding to any of these great suggestions. Go me. Not. I’ve gone shopping for most of the books recommended here. I’m out-of-town, so I can’t list off the books I got like I should. I’m working my way through David Weber and John Ringo’s Prince Roger books and absolutely loving them. After I’ve read through all those I’ll start the Culture Series by Iain M. Banks or Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, all of which I collected with great pleasure at the beginning of this month.

    I also got most of the other recommended books like Elizabeth Moon’s Trading in Danger… ooh! I completely forgot that was part of a series! I haven’t even looked inside yet! (I dove right into March Upcountry) Vatta’s War series. Okay, I’ll add those to tomorrow’s shopping list. I also got books by Ben Bova, Robert A. Heinlein, and Joe Haldeman. I have about twenty or more novels to work on now!

    That’s workload enough, but I’m currently in a nice big city with lots of tasty book stores for a few days. Does anyone have a few more sci-fi titles they highly recommend? I’m in a good location to find them. Thank you all. I know this is pretty much resurrecting an old thread, but I’ve consistently forgotten to thank everyone for WEEKS. I’m sort of a terrible person. Hrm.

  • #554727

    fotojunkie
    Participant

    jrtomlin – 2009-09-09 11:45 AM
    There is nothing wrong with reading the classics of the genre, in fact it’s a good idea but it doesn’t replace reading what is current in a genre. There can be a HUGE difference in what publishers wanted 50 years ago and what they want now.

    Yes, yes, yes.

    YES! There should be a font bigger than this but it sure would be annoying, huh?

    If you don’t know your genre you are seriously screwed. SF as we know it didn’t begin in the 1950s or 30s. Not sure how far in the wayback machine you want to go – technically, you could go back to Lucian of Samosata from ancient Greece – The True History, which was the first time literature made a trip to the moon.

    I’d put some kind of barrier down in the early 1800s, not at Mary Shelley, not at E.A. Poe, but a German guy named Ernst Hoffmann. I would bet that almost no one today has ever heard of him, but one of his short stories was turned into a ballet that everyone knows – The Nutcracker. Except his version is closer to a Quentin Tarantino movie than the ballet. The only place online I’ve found his stuff in English is courtesy google. Much of the 19th century stories are fantastical -a leap from fairy tales – although you can find examinations into technology and science like Shelley and Poe, and with him you don’t have to go out and buy nothin:

    The Balloon Hoax

    Some Words With a Mummy

    The Unparalleled Adventure Of One Hans Pfaall

    The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

    There’s Verne, of course. Lewis Carroll, some Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne (what the hell?) I could not believe the guy who ruined 10th grade English for me with Scarlet Letter was the same guy who put out Twice Told Tales – short stories from bizarro land.

    Early 20th century big shots you’ve got Wells, Kafka, Edgar Rice Burroughs – Tarzan guy also did Land That Time Forgot and a bunch of books about Mars. Burroughs was king of the pulp junk, and there was a lot of that around during his time. After WWII you started seeing SF take a more serious turn. I’m not saying pulp is always bad, or that serious is always great. For example, I cannot get into Heinlein at all.

    Modern big shots you need be familiar with (in no particular order) – Larry Niven, Philip Jose Farmer, Neal Stephenson, Douglas Adams, Stanislaw Lem, Philip K Dick, George RR Martin, Ursula K Le Guin, Michael Crichton, William Gibson, Dan Simmons, Dean Koontz, Orson Scott Card, Peter Watts. You don’t have to like all these people, but you should understand what they brought to the table.

    Moving away from fiction, although he wrote some, there’s a guy named Charles Fort. He owned the Twilight Zone decades before Rod Serling.

    One of the best ways for SF brainstorming is to read about where science is headed. All the greats did this. The book Physics of the Impossible was mentioned, and I agree about that one. Kaku also did Parallel Worlds, which appealed to me for possible SF down the road.

    There’s a regular rotation of physics profs and cosmologists on shows on Discovery Channel, Science Channel, etc. My favorite is Neil deGrasse Tyson. On TV he’s an affable guy who speaks normal English. He hosts NOVA Science Now on PBS. But if you ever get the chance to hear him in person – get there. He is one of the most incredible speakers in any topic. Much better than his TV appearances. My wife can’t stand science, but a while back Tyson came to speak at a local college and I told her – you need to see this guy. She reluctantly went and after it was done she said – why isn’t every school teacher, not just science, like him? Really funny, smart, down to earth, several books, etc.

    MIT publishes a great magazine called Technology Review. You can sign up for a free weekly email. There’s always at least one thing in there that I find valuable just for my own interests. The entire magazine is interesting, but so far I am guaranteed to find at least one item that I’ll save for possible use.

    TED brainiacs, another good resource. It really never ends.

  • #554728

    Rilke
    Participant

    Check out Robert J. Sawyer. http://www.sfwriter.com/index.htm

    Jeff

  • #554729

    Spirited 1
    Participant

    You do know Philip Jose Farmer, with Vonegut’s permission wrote an actual book under the pen name Kilgore Trout.

  • #554730

    Lexi – 2009-09-09 8:40 AM1) Anything by Joe Haldeman.

     

    I massively agree with this. He’s the “new” author on my reading list and is great! Sometimes his characterization is a little funny but it’s definitely good reading. 

  • #554731

    cypher
    Participant

    Has anyone read Exegesis by Astro Teller (computer science fiction)? I thoroughly enjoyed it, but then I enjoy all sci-fi. Henry Petroski (To Engineer is Human) described this book thus: “Astro Teller has written a wonderfully intriguing story of how we can get emotionally involved with the technology we create – and it with us.”

    In 1997, Astro Teller was a 26-yr old Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon, where he specialised in artificial intelligence.

  • #554732

    Jaissatrea
    Participant

    Previous posters have suggested some good authors and books. (Despite his increasing Mormon weirdness, I’ve always been a fan of Orson Scott Card.) I’ll offer up something less well-known. While I don’t think I would describe these as classics, I’d recommend the Deathworld trilogy by Harry Harrison. The main character is Jason dinAlt, a gambler who ends up dealing with inhabitants of a planet whose flora and fauna are trying to destroy them. In addition to being at least passably well-written, the three books play out the universal conflicts of man vs. nature, man vs. man, and man vs. himself. This isn’t classic stuff, but I’d wager you’ll find them interesting if for no other reason than the (presumably intentional) exploration of the Three Conflicts.

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