Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

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jeeohn
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Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby jeeohn » Mon Nov 01, 2010 3:54 am

Checked out a book called Matter from the library the other day. It's a massive 500 page sci-fi novel by the British author Iain M. Banks; apparently it's part of a larger group of novels that takes place in the same universe. Matter literally improved my diction just by reading it--I must have about 2 or 3 pages of words I later looked up and incorporated into my own writing.

What I like most is the fact that, at the end, you're not sure if anything really happened. There's a hint that the entire story (and conflict for that matter ((har har, matter)))--in the context of the universe of course--doesn't actually happen; that it was an elaborate theatrical performance produced by the higher, more powerful alien civilizations for their own amusement. It's really something.

I also really enjoyed Beat the Reaper, though the author's name escapes me. Not exactly hard Sci-fi, more like fake medical premises forming the basis for extraordinary events (for instance, the main character rips out his own shin bone to kill a few goons).

What are some books you enjoy?

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Snow » Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:10 am

I love Stephen King's Dark Tower series, though I'm not exactly sure what genre you classify it as... It just proves that when you become uber-successful, you will go insane like Jack Torrence. That's not a dig on the series, as I practically worship the books, but they make you think, until you think about them too much, and if you think about them too much, then it's too late -- you're nuts :P .

All I've read for Sci-Fi is Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy (yeah yeah, brand name, hope it still counts). It made me fall in love with tactics, fleet-to-fleet spaceship warfare, and was an inspiration for one of my own created characters (although she's considered a tactical genius in her universe, she's not omniscient just by studying art :P ) I've also recently bought two of the Dune series and two books written by Isaac Asimov to study a more broad range of sci-fi.

Unfortunately, I don't have any really Fantasy books, so I'm looking for suggestions on that. I'm not really into Tolkein's High Fantasy (eg elves, dwarves, et cetera), although magic and mythical beasts is fine by me. Any recommendations?
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby austinDm » Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:29 am

I like Ursula K. LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness. It's the story of an emissary from a galactic community that functions something like the Hanseatic League did here on Earth. He comes to a planet nicknamed Winter because it's cold and snowy all the time. Also, all the aliens on the planet change gender every month. It's a really interesting study of what makes us human and how we could possible communicate and persuade people of a culture that varies from our own even on the genetic level.

In terms of fantasy I really enjoyed the first two books in Alan Campbell's Deepgate Codex. It's rather dark fantasy, but also very well written. The second book takes place in part in hell, and Campbell's vision of the place was very inventive. I have yet to read the final book (a little busy unfortunately :oops: ) but I'd definitely recommend the series.

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby izanobu » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:34 pm

My favorite sci/fi and fantasy authors that I can think of right now: Elizabeth Moon, Robin McKinley, Terry Brooks, Jim Butcher, Neil Gaiman, Dan Simmons, Neil Stephenson, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, George RR Martin (his short stories in particular if you want to know about how to write amazing short stuff), Octavia Butler, Patricia A. McKillip, and Guy Gavriel Kay.
And probably a million more, but I can pretty much recommend anything those authors have written.

If you want to write, you gotta read ;)

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Patty » Mon Nov 01, 2010 2:02 pm

I count myself as one of the world's biggest fans of C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner series. For those who have never read the books, it's space-operatic SF, not particularly technologically advanced or technologically detailed (so what I'm saying here is: you don't need a PhD inscience to understand this), but OMG the cultural detail and character immersion!

Since I've read all the books a few times (and there are 'only' 11), I spend my reading time perusing SF. I'm quite into Stephen Baxter at the moment, and working my way through a huge pile of Asimov's (and enjoying it so much that I've subscribed for two years), as well as reading a lot of space/science-related non-fiction.

Fantasy, I've read little, and what little I've read I haven't been able to enjoy as much, although books by Aussie authors Glenda Larke and Jennifer Fallon have kept me satisfied enough to read entire series.
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Michael B » Tue Nov 02, 2010 4:29 pm

Interesting, very different from my list. I have to look up a lot of these authors--this is a useful thread to have.

I mostly read fantasy myself, but I've been having difficulty finding new authors that I enjoy. Some of my favorites:

Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy, and the trilogy that follows that one. I'm a sucker for flawed characters and the irony of knowing, when everything falls apart, that it didn't have to be that way. She does this superbly. In fact, I have to resist the urge to reread it next so that I can experience some new authors.

Juliet Marillier's Sevenwaters trilogy. Very fond of. Excellent characterizations.

Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel trilogy, and trilogy following the trilogy (though not the trilogy following the trilogy following the trilogy. All right, I didn't give it much of a chance, but I was really put off by the beginning. Where'd her voice go??) Anyhoo, be forewarned that there's a lot of sex (I personally could have done with less), but her prose is easily among the most gorgeous I have ever read. _Love_ the characters, and also enjoyed the political aspects of it.

Robert Jordan, though I haven't brought myself to read the the Sanderson replacement novel yet.

Yes, Tolkien.

And...The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy! Rereading this right now for the umpteenth time. Amazing.

*Sigh* I wish I had more time to read. And write. Actually, I'm feeling really guilty right now. So...bye!

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Patty » Sat Nov 06, 2010 11:17 pm

I quite enjoyed the first two books of Robin Hobb's Soldier Son trilogy. I like it because the character feels genuine for the setting and his situation.

I enjoyed parts of her Liveship Traders trilogy (those dealing with character), but found the anachronistic, agenda-pushed feel of some plot issues a bit much.

Elizabeth Moon and Lois McMaster Bujold write pretty decent rollicking space opera, a bit short in the science-stakes for my liking, but then again, that might be what people prefer.
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Snow » Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:36 am

Not books, but a Sci-fi author whom I adore beyond all others -- Blake Hutchins. He and another author, Ian Christy, wrote the story behind the Metaltech series of games (Earthsiege, Earthsiege 2, Starsiege, which I and quite a few others still play today, 10 years after its creation.) Also included in his universe are Cyberstorm and Tribes. I've loved that series (especially Starsiege) for so long I know all of it's little nooks and crannies in my sleep :D. Suggest looking it up for a gratifyingly dark and gritty sci-fi setting.

Consequently, I've finished my writing for the night and now must go on to continuing the work Mr. Hutchins created with my own fan-made Starsiege psuedo-sequel. My abilities to code the game are far beyond the original developers', I just hope my ability to continue the story can even hold a candle to Mr. Hutchins.

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby bwthomason » Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:23 am

Some of my personal favorites include: Glen Cook, Gene Wolfe, Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin. Yea...I know kind of a gritty theme going here.

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby jeeohn » Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:49 am

My library blitz has kind of tapered off in the past week or so (distractions distractions...), but I did manage to get through Anansi Boys, a very funny fantasy story; not exactly a complicated read but a fun one. I, as usual, forget the author. My memory is another thing that's been tapering off as of late.

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Osiris » Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:40 am

jeeon, I'm delighted to find someone else who loves Banks's work! I have not read Matter, but have read about half of his other novels. My gateway book to his writing was Excession, and remains my favorite. He is a consistently good writer and I think you can not go wrong with any of his books. I highly recommend Player of Games and Use of Weapons. Look to Winward and Consider Phlebas were also pretty good.

If you like him, you may also like another of my favorites, also a British author: Alastair Reynolds. He is not quite as consistent, but in my opinion his best work is better than that of Banks. Start with the Revelation Space Trilogy, and don't miss The Prefect and House of Suns, arguably better books. Galactic North is also very good. Less enjoyable for me but also worthy of mention is Century Rain. Sadly, I' did not enjoy his latest work, Terminal World. I only got through 100 pages before I had to put it down.

Another excellent British author is of course, Arthur C. Clarke. I thoroughly enjoyed 2010 and Rendezvous with Rama.

On this side of the Atlantic, I enjoyed Stephen R. Donaldson's Gap Series on the SF side, and his Chronicles of Thomas Covenant on the fantasy side. Vernor Vinge is also good, I enjoyed A Deepness In The Sky and A Fire Upon The Deep. He seemed not to publish anything for a while after these two, so I am pleased to see he has some more recent novels that I will check out. I also count William Gibson as one of my favorites, anything pre-2003 is good in my opinion (with the exception of Idoru). While we are on the topic of cyberpunk, I also loved Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and The Diamond Age.

I feel almost blasphemous when I say that I have not yet read Asimov's Foundation. I hope to rectify that soon. I tried as a college student but I just couldn't get into it then.

Currently, I am reading Haldeman's Camouflage. I am currently hunting for some new authors to read, but am not finding myself so engaged by anyone at present.
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Meredith » Tue Dec 14, 2010 11:21 am

Anything by Lois McMaster Bujold, but especially:

THE CURSE OF CHALLION
THE PALLADIN OF SOULS
and THE SHARING KNIFE series.

If you like damaged heroes, those are mandatory reading.

I'm not a big Sci Fi fan, but I do like the Miles Vorkosigan saga, too, for the characters. Brilliant, hyperactive, physically fragile Miles. And where will you ever find another character like Sergeant Bothari?

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby kitty.naz » Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:50 pm

love reading mythical novels but lately I been buzy in my exams but now I free. I missed reading for fun as appose to reading for marks. The fantasy book I enjoyed:

Twligiht Series
The Vampire Diaries

a sci-fi book I enjoyed:
The X-Files- Anti bodies

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:33 am

Your recommended hard science fiction reading, from the master of hard science fiction -- who is also a Contest judge, and a very nice fellow:

LARRY NIVEN

"N-Space"
"Playgrounds of the Mind"
"Scatterbrain"
"Stars and Gods"

If you read nothing else by him, these four collections/omnibus should do just fine. Excellent stuff.

"N-Space" and "Playgrounds of the Mind" are each 20 years old, so they might not be easy to find at the bookstore, but Amazon has them. They're what inspired me to be a pro fiction writer, many years ago.
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Alex Kane
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Alex Kane » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:07 am

Really enjoying Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, at the moment.

My recommended reading list would be:

Tides from the New Worlds, Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin*, and Sly Mongoose by Tobias S. Buckell
20th Century Ghosts, Heart-Shaped Box, and Horns* by Joe Hill

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Fantasy Fan » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:04 am

well i love to read and i love sci-fi and fantasy, i enjoy good books that have good storys and characters so here are my favorite books to enjoye to read

Fantasy
1. the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis

2. the Lord of the Rings, the Simirallion and other books about Middle-earth by J.R.R Tolkiean

3. the Xanth novels by Piers Anthony

4. the Wizard of Oz and the other OZ books by Frank L. Baum

5. books about Mythology particuarly Greek mythology and books about folklore like those that deal with faries

6. books about King Arthur and knights of the round table i love anything arthuriean.

and those are the fantasy books i enjoye and i am sure i will find more to read

Sci-fi

the Star Wars Novels- they are done by great authors like Kevin J. Anderson, Timothy Zahn and other greats i just got done reading Darth Bane: Dynesty of Evil the conclusion to the darth bane trilogy and i read the Legacy of the force series which was a good series and had some unexpecting and shocking moments .

books by Ann McCaffry like her Dragon Riders of Pern series i love those books i have the first three books of the series and i have Dragon's Kin which she co-wrote with her son Todd McCaffry

and i did like the Mass Effect novels and i hope they are coming out with more

its because i love to read books by authors like these that i want to become a writer i have always love reading it is sad today not many people like to read but you have to have a good imagination to read a book and picture what you are reading in your mind.

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby nodehead » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:30 am

Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama and Matheson's I am Legend were the two books that got me hooked on sci-fi many a year ago - Rama in particular. I'd probably rank them as my two favorite reads of all time / thus far in the life of me. Haldeman's Forever War, Pohl's Gateway and Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 are also favorites.

My favored author of the now is Alastair Reynolds. His novella, Diamond Dogs got me hooked. I think his best novel-length work has to be Century Rain. His Revelation Space series is pretty good too, Chasm City in particular. Haven't read Terminal World or House of Suns yet, but they're both sitting on the shelf and will be opened one of these days.
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby WriteToLive » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:13 am

I just finished The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov. Such a great read.

My all time favorite, though, has to be Speaker for the Dead.
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Alex Kane
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Alex Kane » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:29 pm

Just started reading Paolo Bacigalupi's short fiction collection, Pump Six and Other Stories. Gotta say, the writing is phenomenal. The characters and settings are incredibly real, and the implications about the present are pretty haunting. Love his style and worldbuilding.
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby izanobu » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:00 pm

Curse you, Alex. I already have Wind-up Girl. Was going to put moritorium on buying any more books until I've cleared my Kindle, but I grabbed the collection you mention cause you reminded me it was there. :P

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Alex Kane » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:54 pm

izanobu wrote:Curse you, Alex. I already have Wind-up Girl. Was going to put moritorium on buying any more books until I've cleared my Kindle, but I grabbed the collection you mention cause you reminded me it was there. :P

:mrgreen: Glad to...er...help.

If it's any consolation, the stuff is top-notch. Hoping to do all my homework in a Superman-esque flash so I can read for an hour or two tonight and, you know, sleep too. I love Bacigalupi's description, above all. Like William Gibson's early work, only maybe even better.
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby izanobu » Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:31 pm

Yeah, and I figure he's winning all these awards and stuff, his writing has something to teach me.
I also picked up the Year's Best Science Fiction for my Kindle for the same reason. Gotta keep up with the field ;) (Man this job is pain... or not).

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Patty » Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:40 pm

One reason why I started subscribing to the top magazines. I read the Windup Girl last year. I actually voted for it at the Hugos *grins*

Doesn't it strike you as ironic when people want to be writers, but claim to hate everything that's been published in the last 20 years?
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby izanobu » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:24 pm

I think it's a phase some (many?) writers go through, actually. I think there's a point when we're so wrapped up being critical of the details/technicalities of writing but don't yet understand story that sometimes everything looks like crap. I have heard countless stories of beginning writers who find that after learning a little about writing can't enjoy reading books anymore. I think, however, that most people probably grow out of this issue with time :)
Personally, I'd be unhappy has hell if I stopped enjoying reading. A few professors tried to ruin it for me, but they failed. A lot of my fellow English majors though, I don't know if they'll ever be able to read for enjoyment again.
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Alex Kane » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:49 pm

izanobu wrote:I think it's a phase some (many?) writers go through, actually. I think there's a point when we're so wrapped up being critical of the details/technicalities of writing but don't yet understand story that sometimes everything looks like crap. I have heard countless stories of beginning writers who find that after learning a little about writing can't enjoy reading books anymore. I think, however, that most people probably grow out of this issue with time :)
Personally, I'd be unhappy has hell if I stopped enjoying reading. A few professors tried to ruin it for me, but they failed. A lot of my fellow English majors though, I don't know if they'll ever be able to read for enjoyment again.
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So true. I notice all the time that one writer or another occasionally breaks the "rules," or experiments with narrative tense/structure, and the more I reflect on it, I realize that the particular story actually benefited from it. There's reason behind all the madness. No one could write a great story without the rules, but I think it's the folks who break the mold (I shudder at my own cliche :P ) that are remembered as notable storytellers.
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby M. Wimmer » Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:19 am

Has anyone else found that the more they write science fiction, the less they want to read it? I'm almost exclusively onto non-fiction, mostly biographies and history, though I did just buy Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, just to keep myself up to date of the goings-on in the SF scene today. I'm not really enthusiastic about starting it, though. I also have a short collection by Tobias Buckell but haven't lookes at it yet. He has a unique voice, somewhat similar to O.S. Card.

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Snow » Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:28 am

M. Wimmer wrote:Has anyone else found that the more they write science fiction, the less they want to read it? I'm almost exclusively onto non-fiction, mostly biographies and history, though I did just buy Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, just to keep myself up to date of the goings-on in the SF scene today. I'm not really enthusiastic about starting it, though. I also have a short collection by Tobias Buckell but haven't lookes at it yet. He has a unique voice, somewhat similar to O.S. Card.



Ironically, I write sci-fi because there's no sci-fi out there that I personally enjoy reading. I mean, I can wade through it, but there's no sci-fi for me, if that makes any sense.
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby kyle » Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:36 am

Snow wrote:Ironically, I write sci-fi because there's no sci-fi out there that I personally enjoy reading. I mean, I can wade through it, but there's no sci-fi for me, if that makes any sense.

That makes perfect sense. However, it also makes those early sales challenging...

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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby Jeff » Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:07 pm

I used to love door-stop epic fantasy. I can't read it any more. I don't seem to have the time or the patience, and a lot of epic fantasy is flawed enough that my harsh internal editor gets his dander up. Do we really need all of those sprawling subplots?

With no time these days, I'm several years behind in my reading. I'm about to start Ananzi Boys by Gaiman, and Drood by Stephenson. I'm not sure what to expect with Ananzi Boys, as the ending of American Gods annoyed me (though I thought the remainder of the book was brilliant).
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Re: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Enjoy?

Postby izanobu » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:12 pm

I write in the genres I write in *because* those are my favorite genres to read. And I figure that since I read so much of those genres, I at least know the tropes, what's selling, and have good baselines to study in terms of what writing works (ie gains an audience) and what doesn't. But I have a shamelessly commercial mindset about this. I want to write the books/stories I want to write, sure, but I want to also sell and sell lots. That means knowing my market and studying those who have been successful and looking at what works in their writing that I can learn from.

I used to read a lot of "literary" fiction, but I stopped enjoying it (too slow, not enough plot, often a lot of navel-gazing by characters with no real depth, of course this is all just my opinion as a reader :) ). I wouldn't dream of trying to write literary novels. If I don't enjoy most books in the genre, how can I expect to understand and be able to touch on reader desires and expectations?

So, for me, I stick to writing in genres I love to read.


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