Science Fiction thread

In the open thread Johno asked:

Any cats can steer me in the direction of some good SF novels. Not very interested in the horror fantasy genre.

Many Cats responded with some very good recommendations. I’ll repeat some of those and and may miss some (sorry).

Science fiction is a genre where there is a lot of bad stuff and growing up in a rural area where beggars couldn’t be choosers I read a lot of bad science fiction as a kid. There is also a lot of good stuff out there. The best advice I can give is to follow authors. The problem being two-fold: which authors to follow (this is a question of personal taste) and which book to read first (it often happens that the entry point for an author varies from person to person).

My entry point for Asimov was Foundation. There are many, many sequels and prequels and what-not. I suggest reading them in the order they were published. I hated his Robot series and stopped reading the Foundation series when the two series converged.

Red Planet was my entry point to Heinlein. Some of his later stuff gets a bit weird so I’d stick to Starship Troopers and The moon is a harsh mistress. Job is funny but will annoy some religious people. If you only ever read one Heinlein let it be The moon is a harsh mistress.

Poul Anderson is underrated.  His Technic Civilisation Saga has been republished by Baen Books across seven omnibus volumes in internal story order. Highly recommended. Speaking of Baen they have published two books – Give me liberty and Visions of liberty – that are collections of libertarian themed short stories. Generally check out the Baen site.

Larry Niven. Read it all. Loved it all. I started with the Ringworld series and then then read around it. The Man-Kzin wars are still being written.

Then then is Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Loved it. I re-read the series every year for about ten years. Unfortunately the selfish bastard passed away before finishing the story and his son picked up the franchise and completely and utterly destroyed it.  In my last house move I gave away all mu Dune books. Read the original series – do not read anything written by Brian Herbert.

I have never really manged to get into Neal Stephenson. A lot of people tell me that he is awesome. I did manage to finish Seven Eves and really enjoyed it. I also read about 75% of Snow Crash. But after starting but not finishing several of his books he isn’t for me.

Iain M Banks sadly passed away a couple of years ago. I have enjoyed all his science fiction. The Culture series is very good BUT read Use of weapons first (it is the third book of the series IIRC). Do not read his whisky travel book.

I love Peter Hamilton. I read all his books more or less as they come out. I started with  his Night’s Dawn Trilogy. His Commonwealth series is also very good and on-going. If you start there then read Pandora’s Star.

My other go-to author at the moment is Alistair Reynolds. Start with Revelation Space. I have read that series in the order it was published and also in internal chronological order. Best to start reading in the order it was published. I did not enjoy his Poseidon’s Children trilogy at all. Everything else he has written is magnificent – including a stand alone Doctor Who story. For those Cats who have watched Love, Death + Robots on Netflix he wrote the Beyond the Aqulia Rift  and Zima Blue stories.  Zima Blue is one of the best short stories I have ever read (and I’m not a fan of the format).

I have stopped reading David Weber. He abuses his readers with long gaps between books and by moving the story along very slowly. His Safehold series, for example, has a great premise – humanity has been hunted to extinction across the stars and clings to existence on a hidden planet by suppressing technology. An android is attempting to advance civilisation to the point where humanity can again travel to the stars and avenge itself. Okay. So we’re multiple books into the series and humanity has progressed to 18th century technology. Now if your audience wants to read science fiction why write historical war stories. What he has done to Honor Harrington is intolerable. At one stage there was a new book every year, then every other year, then every five years. Not as bad as George R.R. Martin I guess. The early Honor Harrington is very good and the books must be read in order and the side stories, spin-offs, and short story collections must also be read in order to make sense of the story.

Richard Morgan is a strange one. He starts with fantastic stories but then seems to lose interest. He wrote the Takeshi Kovacs series (first book Altered Carbon – also on Netflix and very good). It starts off very well but by the third book he was clearly bored. He also wrote the fantasy A Land Fit For Heroes series. Again, great premise but starts well and then peters off. I liked his Market Forces – but I suspect not his best work.

The Chinese author Cixin Liu has written a trilogy called Remembrance of Earth’s Past. The first in the series being The three bodied problem. Very clever. The entire galaxy is in a Malthusian trap – now he never uses that terminology but that this is premise of the series.

Probably out of print but the Phoenix Legacy trilogy by MK Wren is well worth reading. Wren was an American but this series about the rise of a post-apocalyptic world has Melbourne as being the capital of a unified Earth and the centre of an advanced civilisation with a feudal social structure.

Gordon Kendall’s White Wing is also probably out of print but also one of the finest stand alone books I’ve ever read.

I’m sure there are others but these are the stand out authors I can think of at the moment.

Honorable mentions: China Mieville’s Bas-Lag novels are not strictly science fiction but steam-punk. I really enjoyed them.

Mark Lawrence –  Stimpy introduced me to his work. While his books appear to be fantasy at face value they are actually science fiction. The magic in a post-apocalyptic world is really the science of the pre-apocalyptic world.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna  Clarke is an alternative history with magic. Not science fiction at all but highly recommended.

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104 Responses to Science Fiction thread

  1. .

    The spice must flow!

    Dar god Virginia Madsen was beautiful.

  2. Confused Old Misfit

    The acting in Dune movie was appalling.

  3. Ben


    Tad Williams – Otherland (series)
    Stephen King – The Dark Tower (series)
    Harry Harrison – Stainless Steel Rat (he only steals from institutions that have insurance coverage)
    Arthur C Clarke – Childhood’s End

  4. Stuart Morgan

    Patrick Rothfuss. Although he also abuses his readers with long gaps between books – and that won’t be helped by the tv/film contract he’s signed… That being said; the books are wonderful.

  5. YT

    Joshua Dalzelle : Black Fleet series, Omega Force series and standalone Blueshift
    M. R. Forbes: Forgotten Earth series and Forgotten Colony series.
    Just two authors I recently discovered.

  6. Mark A

    Thanks for this post Sinc. I copied and saved the entire post, not just the link.
    Avid sci-fi fan here.

  7. Pedro the Ignorant

    Joe Haldeman’s Forever War series of three books. Won the Hugo and Nebula awards in the 1970’s. Classic hard core SF with a military theme. Rippers.

    He wrote many more novels and short stories, but most are rubbish.

    Heinlein of course, especially his early works. Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness also a Hugo award winner, a bit weird and veers off into the fantasy genre, but well written.

    Anything by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

    Do not read anything by John Ringo, I reckon he is a serious psychopath and this is reflected in his writing, especially violence against women. Creepy.

    Lots of SF potboilers out there, but if you stick with the major authors you can’t go too far wrong.

  8. TBH

    I totally recommend Neal Stephenson and have read a fair bit of his work. Start with Snow Crash and Diamond Age I reckon. I also enjoyed Seven Eves of his more recent work.

    My favourite SF is Hitchhikers, though it’s probably more comedy than anything. At the age of roughly 12 it was my gateway to an amazing world of SF discovery.

    I read the first book in Liu Cixin’s Three Body Problem series recently and found it to be intriguing and interesting. Work a look for any SF nerds.

  9. Scott Osmond

    Some good suggestions. For some modern indi authors try Vaughn Heppner’s Doom Star or AI series.
    B V Larson also has some good stuff out, my favourite would be the Undying Mercenaries series.
    Honourable mentions go to Christopher Nuttall’s Empire Corps, Arc Royal and Learning Experience series.
    Oh, can’t forget Richard Fox all good. Agree with the doomlord about David Webber he got too big to edit I think.

  10. stackja

    I am still fascinated by ‘Monsters from the Id’.

  11. Herodotus

    The Forever War, as recommended above by Pedro.

  12. Iampeter

    Highly recommend The Expanse novels by James SA Corey.
    Don’t let the terrible TV show put you off, this is an excellent series.

  13. Entropy

    JCk Campbell has great military sci fi
    The Stark’s War trilogy
    The lost fleet series

    Also Orsen Scott Card uplift series I enjoyed when younger, although as I recall Sundiver was a bit slow as first in the series but it took off with uplift war. Not a very hidden critique of UN politics. And Enders Game of course.

  14. Aus Autarch

    Uplift was David Brin, not OSC. – His “Earth”, “Transparent Society”, “Kiln People”, and “Existence” are particularly worth reading

  15. Grog swiper

    Don’t forget Robert Heinlein

  16. Back Burn

    In no particular order:

    “Rendezvous with Rama ” – Arthur C Clarke: Alien Spacecraft does a Solar System fly by.

    “Last and First Men” – Olaf Stapledon: The future history of humanity. It makes Global Warming look like a pimple.

    “Neuromancer” – William Gibson: The first cyberpunk novel.

    “Pushing Ice” – Alastair Reynolds: One of Saturns’ Moons exits orbit and heads out of the Solar System.

    “Accelerando” . Charles Stross: Economics 2.0. Humans do not stand a chance against AI companies.

  17. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    I am in general not an SF fan, although I doubt that I’ve really given it a proper run. I read some Asimov when I was about sixteen, and his name although not the book’s name has stuck with me. Years later I also read the whole of the Dune series, and loved it. So there may be hope for me yet with SciFi.

    Meantime, I will read historical novels from any period, as long as they are well-written. Most historical novel writers have a style and approach which can get formulaic, but then, that’s popular writing in general I find, perhaps all authorship in fact; from the comments it certainly seems to be so for SF. The good part of that is that a track record in meeting expectations also helps readers to gauge what they might be getting, and if writers stray too far from their patch readers often don’t like it.

    Rarely do such specific popular genres reach high art (Mantel comes close with her Cromwell books) but when we see where ‘high art’ is going at writers’ conferences and in many of the ‘acclaimed’ novels of today, who really cares? Reading whatever takes my fancy has always been my retreat, my pleasure and my joy. Why argue with that? I’ll maybe try Poul Anderson, on Sinc’s recommendation. I think I incline more to the techno and dystopia side of SF than the fantasy stuff.

  18. Suburban Boy

    Excellent suggestions, Sinc.

    I agree on the “Foundation” novels, but would add that the prequels and sequels by other authors (Greg Bear, David Brin and Gregory Benford) are worth reading, as well as Asimov’s. This is in contrast with the “Dune” novels” where, as Sinc as indicated, only the books by Frank Herbert are worth reading.

    I would also add:

    William Gibson’s “Sprawl” novels (the first, “Neuromancer”, already recommended above by Back Burn)

    Walter M. Miller’s “A Canticle for Leibowitz” (the finest of post-apocalyptic SF, IMHO)

    “Eon” and “Blood Music” by Greg Bear

    Anything by Ray Bradbury

  19. Entropy

    Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age is awesome.

    As for foundation, Apple is apparently funding a streamer based on the series. No doubt attracted to the hypotheses that a secret government can hold the fort until Gaia take over.

  20. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    My Big Sis, who is these days a highly qualified medical Specialist, rarely reads novels, but does love SciFi. I will take some of these recommendations to her. She is a very practical woman indeed who also carries an underlying sense of impending apocalypse: our difficult childhood and fractured adolescent years created in her a pessimist, in me an optimist – two ways of handling it. She is an anti-immigration greenie, and I am a devotee of Matt Ridley. She reads only SciFi and I read anything and everything. 🙂

    For discussion: is it mainly men who like SciFi? And mainly men who write it? If so, why?

  21. John A

    I’m not much into SF as entertainment reading, sorry.
    But no Arthur C Clarke 2001 / 2010?

    I read Asimov and Clarke to understand their dystopian worldviews, since their writings have had such an influence on, and parallel closely, the direction of technology we see even now.

    Yes, the Foundation series in time order, and yes, the Robot series too. Also, read his short stories because he has a particular “god problem” which belies his strong anti-Christian evolutionary stance. He was the first, I think to confront the “frankenstein” issue of robots vs their makers, hence his entirely different approach to humanity spreading throughout the galaxies and of course the three laws of robotics. If you want to understand more of that, also have a look at his non-fiction writing on the issues of technology and human development/progress.

    Would like to say more but gotta go…

  22. S M Stirling, Nantucket series.
    Jose Phillip Farmer, Riverworld, although the final book is barely worth reading. I read the first book in this series when I were a you gun when it first came out. I then had to wait years, decades, as the rest dribbled out.
    Christopher Nuttall, A Learning Experience and Science and Sourcery. (for those who have read nivens the magic goes away, in this book the magic comes back).
    Phillip K. Dick The Man in the High Castle.

  23. Olan Thorensen, Yosef Kolsko series.

  24. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Walter M. Miller’s “A Canticle for Leibowitz” (the finest of post-apocalyptic SF, IMHO)

    Yeay! I also read this, forgot about that till I saw the name, and I really liked it. Those little monks tending the old blueprints with such loving skill as they embellished them with beautiful scrolled artwork. A very Roman Catholic book, if I recall it well enough, as I read it years ago. It went through the ‘Dark Ages’ of re-finding a lost culture and civilization very well. Impressive enough to have a big impact on me, as someone rather keen on the longue duree approach to history.

    Eco’s ‘The Name of the Rose’ is also interesting, bringing yet another popular genre, that of ‘the detective’, into the Middle-Ages historical genre in a similar way. Funny, but I’ve never been too interested in the detective genre, beyond liking Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie. I read ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ and found I dislike the Nordic obsession with creepiness. Won’t read any more like it.

  25. L Sprague de Camp, Lest Darkness Fall.
    Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars, Tarzan of the Apes. These two books are entry drugs which lead to serious long term addiction and much time spent lying on your back reading the next book.

  26. ACTOldFart

    Stanislav Lem. He asks the simple question, “Even if we made contact, or they contacted us, could we hope to understand them?” It leads to a couple of absorbing novels, Solaris and His Master’s Voice

    Dante Alighieri. Not much science, but his imagined worlds make Frank Herbert’s, and all the others’, look anaemic.

  27. lotocoti

    Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle is a great (as in Titanic) non-SF SF work.

  28. Lutz

    An absolute must is Philip K. Dick, all books, but Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a must. Very different from Bladerunner, but where AI is heading.

    I recently discovered the books of CJ Sansom, a series of historical novels taking place under Henry VIII. Unbelievably well written and all based on real history, The first one is ‘Dissolution’.

  29. ACTOldFart

    The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

  30. wretch

    Piers Anthony. His Bio of a Space Tyrant and Of Man and Manta series are great. Adept too if you’re ok with a bit of fantasy. Another tick for almost anything written by Arthur C. Clarke.

  31. John Bayley

    Amongst the ‘up-and-coming’ SF writers Evan Currie and Elliott Kay (‘Poor Man’ series) are worth checking out.
    Neil Asher has done some great ‘space opera’ along the lines of Peter Hamilton.
    Hamilton himself was great, but his most recent novel, ‘Salvation’, was not only boring but full of SJW themes (uni-sexual future humans + gay-only warrior caste anyone?)
    Iain Banks was a communist in real life and it shows. I never liked the 3 or so of his books I tried.
    Richard Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs series was good, but he also lets his politics (raging leftist) creep into his work. His ‘A Land Fit for Heroes’ was not only immensely boring, but the graphic depictions of gay sex scenes the main character repeatedly engaged in were tasteless and unnecessary. There are few books I can’t finish, but in this case I could not even complete the first one in the series.

  32. C.S. Lewis “The Space Trilogy” – “Out of the Silent Planet”, “Perelandra”, and “That Hideous Strength”.
    Kilgour Trout

  33. Not Uh oh

    Can’t believe that no one has mentioned the Hyperion trilogy by Dan Simmons. Enthralling.

  34. Dr Fred Lenin

    Dont forget global warming and man made climate change fir science fiction quite imaginative and certainly not entertaining . “The Science Fiction is Settled “ 72 out of thousands of “scientists “agree .

  35. Macspee

    One going back to my early years: The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
    J. Neil Schuman, Alongside night and the Rainbow Cadenza
    Loved most Heinlein, disliked Herbert and the Dune books, Arthur C Clarke mostly good, some women whose names I forget (age plays tricks on the mind), Ayn Rand’s Anthem, Edgar Rice Burroughs, from age 5 on for a while – until Amazing Science Fiction could be bought without mother finding out

  36. bollux

    Anything by John Wyndham.

  37. A Lurker

    Arthur C. Clarke (I have all of his books).
    ‘2001’, ‘2010’, ‘Childhood’s End’, ‘Rendezvous with Rama’ are all standouts.

  38. Wayne

    For something like the futuristic outer space SF I remember try Author Linda Nagata especially her Nanotechnology series.

    For one thing the stories are based in space. I am tired of post apopolytic novels. If the Third World War is imminent I will find out where ground zero is and go on picnics there.

    On that cheery thought have a nice day.

    Ps hats off to the gentleperson who recommended the IPCC reports although I query whether they qualify as ‘Science’.

  39. TBH

    Second any recommendation for David Brin. Sundiver, Brightness Reef and a host of his other books are fantastic. One of the core themes, which I find fascinating, is how humans in his books have genetically uplifted other species such as dophins and brought them to an equal footing intelligence wise. Worth a read.

  40. Wayne

    Sigh let down by technology and lack of caffeine that should of course be apocalyptic.

  41. Arky

    Jose Phillip Farmer, Riverworld,


    An absolute must is Philip K. Dick, all books

    I also like Dick.
    And Moorecock.

  42. Not Uh oh

    M R Forbes’ “Forgotten” series also very good. He’s written a heap of other stuff which I’ll eventually get round to.

  43. areff

    Riverworld (read in 1974) got me passionately interested in Richard Francis Burton and led directly to his account of his undercover visit to Mecca. Everyone should read it — not only a ripping yarn fraught with peril (when he was sprung standing up while taking a leak) but has some still-pertinent observations about Salafists:

    These Wahhabis were by no means pleasant companions. Most of them were followed by spare dromedaries, either unladen or carrying water-skins, fodder, fuel, and other necessaries for the march. The beasts delighted in dashing furiously through our file, which, being colligated, was thrown each time into the greatest confusion. And whenever we were observed smoking, we were cursed aloud for infidels and idolaters.

  44. Botswana O'Hooligan

    We already live in a very real SF World that hasn’t a lot going for it so try Terrey Pratchett’s disc world series starting with “The Colour of Magic” to take our minds away from politics and politicians and the slow and steady removal of both our perceived and actual rights.

  45. areff

    In regard to Burton, years later I filled an idle afternoon in London by visiting his tomb. It’s quite the piece of work:

  46. Rafe Champion

    Steam punk is probably not the genre that Johno is looking for but FWIW one of my sons is a busy contributor.

  47. Kel

    For Lizzie. A well regarded female Author who writes in several genres:

    I am aware of Sarah Hoyt through her many sensible contributions to Instapundit.

  48. PoliticoNT

    Some great entries here team – many books I hadn’t heard of but am looking forward to.

    Some of my favourites:

    Harry Harrison’s ‘Death World’ Trilogy.
    Charles Stross’s ‘Saturn’s Children’ (find most of his work not my taste, but this is sublime)
    Ian McDonald’s recent Luna series, ‘Luna: New Moon’ and ‘Luna: Wolf Moon’ (GoTs on the moon, only not shit like GoTs.)
    Pierce Brown’s ‘Red Rising’ – fantastic Lord of the Flies tales – part of a series, sadly let down by subsequent books, but worth reading on its own.
    And – currently reading ‘Children of Time’ by Adrian Tchaikovsky. 600pgs long. I’m at page 461 and the tension is still building. Story unfolds in an interesting way – chapter about depending on which group of characters is being focused on. Great stuff.

  49. Leigh Lowe

    Science fiction thread?
    Really, Sinc?
    It is not that sort of blog.

  50. Sinclair Davidson

    I should have added Dan Simmons Hyperion Cantos – a bit slow to start but once it gets going I loved it. I have re-read the Soldiers tale section many, many times.

    Julian May’s Saga of Pliocene Exile series and Galactic Milieu series are worth reading too. I read them out of order – starting with the Galactic Milieu series. You should start with the Exile series.

  51. Sinclair Davidson

    It is not that sort of blog.

    I’m yet to have a “What I’m reading” thread.

  52. PoliticoNT

    Lizzie – you might also like Becky Chambers ‘The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet’
    Not exactly high-end lit, but easy, fun reading.

  53. Re Riverworld, To Your Scattered Bodies Go has twice been made into a pilot for a TV series, one of them also featuring the Fabulous Riverboat. Neither of these pilots were much good, but even bad Riverworld is good Riverworld.

  54. Craig Mc

    The Forever War – Joe Haldeman (the sequels start well, but are plagued with deus ex machina silliness)
    Hyperion/Fall of Hyperion – Dan Simmons (the two other sequels are OK, but not as good)
    A Fire Upon The Deep, A Deepness In The Sky – Vernor Vinge
    The Engines Of God – Jack McDevitt
    Ender’s Game, Speaker For The Dead – Orson Scott Card
    A Canticle For Leibowitz – Walter Miller
    Lucifer’s Hammer – Pournelle & Niven
    Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep – Philip K Dick

    The Birmingham WW2.1 books are a pulp hoot. Very entertaining.
    Avoid Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis unless you want to slap people.
    I haven’t read it, but The Stainless Steel Rat is heavily recommended.
    I haven’t read the Corey books, but I can’t agree that The Expanse TV show is rubbish. There’s it and The Man In The High Castle for sci-fi goodness and then daylight.

  55. stackja

    Leigh Lowe
    #2975444, posted on March 31, 2019 at 11:43 am
    Science fiction thread?
    Really, Sinc?
    It is not that sort of blog.

    Sinc does not just emote economics?

  56. stackja

    Forever (2014 TV series) – Wikipedia
    Forever is an American fantasy crime drama television series that aired on ABC as part of the 2014–15 fall television season.

  57. How to get plebs interested in Science Fiction

    Seven of Nine

    Just saying nerds have needs!

  58. The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman is a good read
    So is Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – very original.
    And if you have never read HG Wells “The Time Machine” the message about the Eloi and Morlocks is never more relevant for today. Truly a classic.
    The Theory of Nothing by Thomas Barlow is a dig at modern science
    and possibly the most enjoyable time travel book I have read for a long time is Replay by Ken Grimwood. Published before Groundhog day, it has many more layers and is very different.

  59. The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman is a good read
    So is Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – very original.
    And if you have never read HG Wells “The Time Machine” the message about the Eloi and Morlocks is never more relevant for today. Truly a classic.
    The Theory of Nothing by Thomas Barlow is a dig at modern science
    and possibly the most enjoyable time travel book I have read for a long time is Replay by Ken Grimwood. Published before Groundhog day, it has many more layers and is very different.

  60. No su for you!

    In no particular order.
    David Zindel: Nevernress, The Broken God, War in Heaven
    Mike Resnick: Santiago, Ivory, Dark Lady
    William Telford: Timequest trilogy
    Orson Scott Card: Ender’s Game, Wyrms
    A E Van Vogt: Weapon Shops of Isher
    Robert Silverberg
    C H Cherryh: Heavy Time, Rimrunners…
    Poul Anderson: Tales of the flying Mountains
    H Beam Piper: Federation, Empire, Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen
    Richard S McEnroe: Shattered Stars
    John Courtenay Grimwood: End of the World Blues

  61. Spongebobstevepants

    The Dune prequels were excellent. Show your workings Sinc.

  62. Cynic of Ayr

    Joshua Dalzelle : Black Fleet series, Omega Force
    Omega Force was a good somewhat light light hearted read. I forget the books, about nine I think.
    Not that much outlandish high tech stuff, but some.
    Very interesting characters! Very! Funny moments too.
    Without letting any cats hit the toe from bags, there were four sorta humans but not, – well, one had four arms – and a synthetic dude. (Didn’t like being called a Robot.)
    The food maker thingammy (some technical words like that) was on the fritz (another technical term) for some time.
    Eventually, the boss human says he didn’t know it was buggered. (Ditto)
    One says, “Why do you think I was sick all the time?”
    Two say, “We told you months ago!”
    Three says, “We’re starving!”
    The Synthetic says, “I don’t eat, so I couldn’t care less.”
    (Come to think of it, there were five sorta humanoids, but you get the drift.)
    Raymond L. Weil writes good stuff too. Mostly Space War. If I have a complaint, his books aren’t all in chronological order. He jumps back and tells more details of an era, say, that was mentioned. He says that these books can be read as stand-alone stories, and I suppose that’s true, but I am, at present, totally lost in where the huge saga is at present.
    I have to keep a spreadsheet to keep some semblance of track.

  63. Spongebobstevepants

    It waa all the Dune sequels that were rubbish. I dont want to post spoilers but those books got really wack and stopped making any senae. The sequels were amazing and actually sane.

  64. Entropy

    Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi.
    As I get older it is very appealing, what 75 year old wouldn’t want to get a high performance, slick body coloured green?

  65. Sinclair Davidson

    David Zindel: Nevernress, The Broken God, War in Heaven

    Yes – excellent.

  66. The Angry Dome

    Timothy Zahn – Angelmass and The Icarus Hunt.
    Angelmass will appeal to a few Cats with it’s examination of the nature of politics and politicians with a SF overlay.
    The Icarus Hunt is a fun intergalactic heist-style of book but with some great plot twists and concepts.

    The Expanse Series – Again, love the concept and characters. Oh for an Avasarala-type politician to emerge in Australia!

    This last one will cause controversy among the purists, but I really enjoyed Kevin J Anderson’s Saga of the Seven Suns. It is almost a SF Game of Thrones with all the characters and sub plots to keep track of. Some of the characters are very meh but the galaxy-wide scale and the concept of the elemental races (Faeroes, Hydrogues, Verdani and Wentals) kept pulling me through the seven book series.

    And of course the Star Wars Expanded Universe had some cracking reads – Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire and Hand of Thrawn Series would be the highlights. The New Jedi Order series is about 27 books long and by a whole range of authors. The series as a whole is a little uneven, but there are some very good SF authors included such as Greg Keyes, Sean Williams and Shane Dix, Michael Stackpole and James Luceno. Again, not really for the purists, but I lapped them up as a Star Wars-loving teenager before all the prequels came out and ruined everything.

  67. Pedro the Ignorant

    Has there ever been a movie made from a great SF novel that wasn’t complete and utter rubbish?

    As evidence I offer Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

    Although, thinking back, the movie made of Orson Scott Card’s Enders Game wasn’t too bad, but aimed at a juvenile audience, methinks.

  68. vlad

    I see others have beaten me to Arthur C Clarke, one of the traditional “big three” with Heinlein and Asimov.

    So I will put in a word here for John Christopher’s TRIPODS trilogy, starting with The White Mountains.

    One of the best sf novels as a novel is George R Stewart’s EARTH ABIDES.

  69. Tel

    Science fiction thread?
    Really, Sinc?
    It is not that sort of blog.

    Think of it as Oprah’s book club … not as much payola … and a bit more manly and hairy chested.

    Paul Krugman wanting to be Hari Seldon. That’s a must read.

  70. Driftforge

    Some good reads. One I haven’t seen mentioned is John C Wright, who has written some superlative works of science fiction. Awake in the Night Land, was a fascinating piece, and I very much enjoyed his Phoenix trilogy.

  71. Sinclair Davidson

    The Expanse Series

    A lot of praise here for the Expanse series. I read the first book and watched the first series and was underwhelmed. I really liked the Miller character but thought the Holden character to be a complete dickhead. Who survives? The dickhead.

  72. Viva

    Shikasta and other sci-fi novels by Doris Lessing

  73. The Angry Dome

    I really liked the Miller character but thought the Holden character to be a complete dickhead. Who survives? The dickhead.

    Reading further into the series, you realise Holden is supposed to be a dickhead. You’re supposed to question his decisions, you’re supposed to not automatically like him.
    He does change and grow throughout the series, so maybe they started him as a dickhead to give an easy character development arc.

  74. Gan Do

    I can’t believe that nobody has mentioned one of the greatest of all time.
    RIDDLEY WALKER By Russell Hoban

  75. Whalehunt Fun

    I enjoyed Nathan Lowell’s series titled Trader’s Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper.
    And Lindsay Buroker’s Fallen Empire series.
    Barry J Hutchison’s Space Team is light-weight but laugh a minute slapstick comedy. Sort of Get Smart incompetence in space.
    For shortish books Derek Paterson’s Starship Captain is good.

  76. slackster

    Take a gander at Lois McMaster Bujold for some fun stuff in the Vorkosigan Saga books

    Jack Vance Dying Earth is a must read

  77. slackster

    Missed an old classic:

    To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José Farmer

  78. Pedro the Ignorant

    I can’t believe that nobody has mentioned one of the greatest of all time.
    RIDDLEY WALKER By Russell Hoban

    No, just no.

    Written in pseudo English gibberish, I lasted about two pages and threw it in the bin.

    About the fifth book I have ever thrown away in my life.

  79. Pedro the Ignorant

    Just having a dig through the bookshelves and noting which of my extensive collection of SF could be considered “classic”. The major authors are all there of course, a few indi types, but one thing I note is that over the years my taste in SF has remained pretty much static in that I like the “hard science” types, and rarely stray into the fantasy genre.

    Having an idle half hour up my sleeve, I dug up this list of 100 “best SF of all time” list from America’s NPR public broadcaster (yes, I know). The top 30 or so titles are predictable, but there are a few surprises.

    Anyway, enjoy the NPR’s Top 100 Sci Fi Titles.

  80. TBH

    Pedro, you beat me to it. I was going to post the same thing.

  81. Notafan

    Wyndham is great.

    I loved John Christopher, probably more for teen boys though.

  82. Crossie

    Many years ago I read “The Shore of Women” by Pamela Sargent and thought thank God nobody could be that insane. The story is that after a nuclear war women take over the world and banish the men into the outer wilderness. The men are only used for their sperm and boy children are expelled into the outer darkness at the age of seven, if I remember correctly.

    Recent feminist rhetoric seems to be edging that way but I still think that the their infatuation with Islam will derail their wet dream.

  83. Clam Chowdah

    Not all science fiction is about the science, but rather the scientific premise is the vehicle to make interesting observations about human behaviour. That’s why Alfred Bester’s “Tiger, Tiger” (US Title, “The Stars My Destination” is so great. It’s all about the power of revenge.

  84. Clam Chowdah

    “Revelation Space” is a favourite of mine for similar reasons. The star of the novel is the vile motivations of the various protagonists.

  85. Crossie

    I didn’t know it is now unacceptable to be an able-bodied white male. I tuned too late into Skynews to know who was the idiot spouting this trash.

  86. Crossie

    #2976060, posted on March 31, 2019 at 10:20 pm
    I didn’t know it is now unacceptable to be an able-bodied white male. I tuned too late into Skynews to know who was the idiot spouting this trash.

    Oops, wrong fred.

  87. David Brewer

    Agree with Macspee about Alfred Bester, try also his “Tiger, Tiger” in Penguin, originally “The Stars my Destination” – classic 50s sci-fi and strangely believable picture of 2400 AD.

    I quite like Ira Levin too, reading “This Perfect Day” at present. Light Hitchcockian menace from everyday scenes.

  88. Clinton

    I love the Harry Turtledove series ‘Worldwar’ set in WW2, but just as the Germans have reached the maximum extent of their advance space lizards invade earth and shenanigans ensue as each major country takes them on in their own unique way.

    Reading of how an advanced space faring race defends a landed space ship against a seven tonne shell fired from a German railway gun = Awesome. And the consequences of that particular ship being attacked are spectacular for everyone.

  89. Crossie

    I enjoyed reading Dumarest of Terra saga by E.C. Tubb.

  90. iamok

    Lois McMaster Bujold is absolutely brilliant strategic stuff. Must read. Phillip K Dick is also amazing, short or longer stories. Fueled by mescaline IIRC

  91. John Constantine

    The Day of the Triffids.

    Currently circulating in high ranks of their shortreich in waiting, as a warning of how well the surviving proles could do if you give them any hope at all.

    Dystopia makes you free.

    Cheerful Squalor is joy.

    Demonstration of support for the State at gunpoint is Spontaneous.

    Your rations will be increased to fifty percent less.


  92. None

    In one of the very first years that we got Christmas presents because we were generally too poor to get any Mum gave my brother a dollar or two to buy Christmas presents and so he decided he’d get me a couple of paperbacks from a bargain bookstore. I was a teen and going through a sci-fi stage so he bought me I Robot and a book with all these flames on the cover that looked very apocalyptic. It was Billy Graham’s World Aflame. My brother has only ever read one book in his entire life and didn’t even open the book to see that it had headings.

  93. Eyrie

    S.M Stirling’s Draka series. 3 novels. Nice tribute to his mentor Poul Anderson in the final novel, “The Stone Dogs”. The Anderson influence shows in some of the writing. Lovely settings but a grim horror story.
    Drakon! would make a great movie script and is structured like one. Great action yarn.
    Drakas is a short story collection where other authors play in that universe. The Harry Turtledove story introduces us to a US Navy officer by the name of Anson MacDonald.
    Some of Greg Bear’s stuff. Quantico and Vitals in particular. The start of War Dogs looked promising but deteriorated rapidly. Poul Anderson was his father in law.
    Michael F. Flynn’s stuff is great. Absolutely loved the “Firestar” quadrilogy and subsequent works are set in that future. I was ready to go to Fernando de Noronha to work on Planks. Basically what Musk is doing in Boca Chica texas right now.”The Wreck of the River of Stars” was great and introduced me to Farnsworth cages for fusion reactors.
    Did watch a Riverworld movie that was great. Basically “Firefly” on a riverboat.

  94. Mark A

    #2976272, posted on April 1, 2019 at 7:57 am
    My brother has only ever read one book in his entire life and didn’t even open the book to see that it had headings.

    Take your word for it, but I can’t imagine going through life not reading books.
    Near on impossible.

  95. Derp

    Fallen Dragon is a fantastic stand alone Peter Hamilton novel, and includes a cameo by Brisbane

    The Mote in God’s Eye is one of the best efforts by Niven and Pournelle

    Legacy of Heorot is another beauty or theirs.

  96. Derp

    Marooned in Realtime by Vernor Vinge is one of those detective stories with a Sci-fi bent that provokes lots of thinking hours and days later.

    Neil Asher also writes some very varied and interesting AI characters in his Polity series. Mister Crane, a brass, golem killing machine in “Gridlinked” and “Brassman” is unforgettable.

  97. Arky

    I collect shitty old sci fi paperbacks.
    For the cover art.
    The stories haven’t held up.
    They’re all shit.
    None of them predict the banal stupidity to come.

  98. Arky

    I collect shitty old sci fi paperbacks.
    For the cover art.
    The stories haven’t held up.
    They’re all shit.
    None of them predict the ba nal stupidity to come

  99. None

    Near on impossible.

    Very possible. Book reading not required in high school. After that book reading is a choice. Bro is an exec. If it is longer than 1-2 pages he won’t read.

  100. vlad

    None of them predict the banal stupidity to come.

    The Marching Morons (1951) predicted even worse than we’ve got now.

  101. notafan

    absolutely agree None

    some people boast about it

  102. Mark A

    #2976792, posted on April 1, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    on impossible.

    Very possible. Book reading not required in high school. After that book reading is a choice. Bro is an exec. If it is longer than 1-2 pages he won’t read.

    Fair enough.
    I pity them.

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