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Rekindle my interest in SF

Science Fiction Fans

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Sep 14, 2009, 7:15pm Top

As a preteen and teen I read an loved Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Bradbury and others. Then, for some reason I got away from reading SF. Now I read mostly mysteries and thrillers. Time passes and I'm closer to 65 than I like to think about. I have a technical background (Chem Engineer), but I don't delight in picking out the bad science in fiction (nor am I particularly good at it).

So, given the above, recommend one or two books that will rekindle my interest in SF. Where should I start? And why?

Thanks in advance for any replies and recommendations.

Sep 14, 2009, 8:08pm Top

Given your preferences, I would suggest the following starting points:

* Scalzi's Old Man's War: because it is a funny, action-packed read and a bit Hienlenesque.
* Vinge's Fire Upon the Deep: because it engages classic themes of space opera and first contact in a distinctive and entertaining way.

If you like either one of them, they have written more excellent books you may want to follow-up with.

Good luck book hunting.

Sep 14, 2009, 8:41pm Top

Jack McDevitt's A Talent for War because it's more a mystery that takes place in the future than it is sciency.

Edited: Sep 14, 2009, 8:53pm Top

Richard Morgan's Thirteen (or Black Man if you're buying it in England). An SF noir/thriller.

Sep 15, 2009, 4:42am Top

I think I would start out by looking at some short stories first. It will enable you to sample the field - SF has grown a lot, and widened its remit since you were at the golden age. You can get a number of Year's Best anthologies - the Dozois is always the biggest. However there are a lot of good stories available for free at http://www.freesfonline.de/ but then you don't know which are good other than go for the Awards section (which is a good but not perfect start).

For novels Paul McAuley's The Quiet War was the best thing I read last year. But as you have pretty much the entire period from the New Wave onwards it is hard to pick out just one or two books. In another thread I recommended the following list

The Quiet War by Paul McAuley
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
Brasyl by Ian McDonald
Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
Learning The World by Ken Macleod
Pashazade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
The Separation by Christopher Priest
A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin
Blood Music by Greg Bear

As I think they are all great novels, and give some breadth to your reading - they are not all space adventures for example.

Sep 15, 2009, 6:40am Top

There are a few mystery/thriller crossovers into SF, either near future or far which might lead you from your current reading back into the latest SF offerings.

the prefect might be worth considering, or century rain both part mystery. Technically excallant (AR is a physicist so tends not to make major science errors) and superbly written.

one of us is more near future, but still a mystery/detective story at heart. It comes close to the newer 'weird sf' genre.

Other crime style SFs little brother - although this is probably too YA for you. Kil'n people an excellent introduction to David Brin's work, or halting state - very much modern cyberpunk style.

As an older style crossover option there is police your planet by lester del ray. Again part detective/part SF/part thriller.

Sep 15, 2009, 7:23am Top

I tried to keep away from the mystery/thriller SF books because I think that they are potentially a double-edged sword. Yes they may make it easier to start reading them, but also the OP may start comparing them (hopefully not totally unfavourably) with out-and-out thrillers.

Sep 15, 2009, 7:45am Top

True, but The Execution Channel and The Night Sessions might appeal - although they're more thriller-ish than Century Rain or The Prefect.

But for "pure" sf, you probably can't do better than The New Space Opera and The New Space Opera 2, which are indicators of the state of the genre.

Edited: Sep 15, 2009, 11:37am Top

Just because you read mystery/thriller books now doesn't necessarily mean you want SF mystery/thriller, so as such I'm going to simply recommend some titles that I very much enjoyed. For the record, I dislike poor dialogue, completely farcical plot twists or deus ex machina, so this means (quite frankly) that I find most science fiction a bit tiresome. So when I do find something I like, I tend to like it a lot.

Iain Banks Culture novels are excellent. Very high tech, and usually concerning some conflict or special agency at work. I would start with Consider Phlebas.

Blindsight by Peter Watts is a very good "first contact" novel set in the near future. Fascinating for its technical and scientific approach towards understanding what exactly constitutes consciousness, it also has a scientific explanation for vampires. I kid you not. Quite challenging (I'm still not sure I understood it all), I found this novel quite gripping, if a little bit frustrating.

River of Gods by Ian McDonald (I see his later novel Brasyl recommended above) is supposed to be one of the most entertaining SF novels of recent years. I bought a copy last week and look forward to reading it, but I'm passing on the recommendation based on its fame.

I also recommend A Fire Upon the Deep. Great fun and a true "space opera", but in a good way.

Sep 15, 2009, 11:50am Top

Every time I see Consider Phlebas I think of blood clots.

Sep 15, 2009, 12:34pm Top

If you are scientifically inclined, Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson is really a must read.

I would suggest you check out Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light too, but as it is quite old, you might have read it already.

Hyperion by Dan Simmons is also quite a good take on Science Fiction. Not necessarily scientifically correct, but who cares. ;)

People have already mentioned plenty books which could do what is requested, though.

Sep 15, 2009, 1:21pm Top

Also good for science is Nancy Kress.

Elizabeth Bear does some fun space opera.

Cherryh & Le Guin & Slonczewski are all great recommendations.

Kathleen Ann Goonan has done some great books; people love her nanotechnology books, but I particularly enjoyed The Bones of Time, about cloning King Kamehameha.

Sep 15, 2009, 2:48pm Top

I've come to enjoy reading well-written novels by authors not particularly associated with science fiction, such as:

Air by Geoff Ryman
As She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem

Very hard science fiction can be found from Greg Egan:
Distress and Diaspora and others.

Highly recommended is Ted Chiang's short stories:
Stories of Your Life and Others

Sep 15, 2009, 4:51pm Top

I found The Unincorporated Man to have a similar appeal to Heinlein. A man from the short term future has himself cryogenically preserved and is awakened in the distant future to find out that everybody still alive was incorporated at birth and works most of their lives attempting to gain a majority control of themselves. Some hard science, but more economics and government building.

Sep 15, 2009, 5:52pm Top

Thanks for all these replies! Currently digesting them . . .

Sep 15, 2009, 7:53pm Top

I'm going to stick with the crossovers -- these are five that I think got the balance pretty much just right.

The City and The City by China Mieville -- hot off the presses!
Ice by Vladimir Sorokin
Farthing by Jo Walton
Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharyn McCrumb -- not really sf, but who am I to quibble
Days of Atonement by Walter Jon Williams

Sep 16, 2009, 9:05am Top

I will always second the reading of Hyperion but since you sound like someone who would probably appreciate the use of accuracy in the science of science fiction I would recommend that you look for books in the "Hard SF" sub-genre.

Authors like: Alastair Reynolds, Greg Bear, Kim Stanley Robinson, Greg Eagan, Neal Stephenson, Robert Sawyer, Peter Watts

Sep 16, 2009, 10:44am Top

Neal Stephenson and Robert Sawyer - hard SF? You must be having a laugh. The others all have some hardness to them.

Edited: Sep 16, 2009, 5:51pm Top

>13 psybre:: A warning - Greg Egan isn't just hard sf, he can be bloody difficult at times! (But very rewarding if you like that sort of thing.)

Sep 16, 2009, 9:40pm Top

As someone who read and loved the same authors (with the exception of Bradbury) as the OP - I can second the nominations on some of these - Kim Stanley Robinson, Vernor Vinge, and some works by Greg Bear and David Brin will appeal as genuine descendants of the type of Sci-Fi written by the Grand Masters. (I'm looking into some of the other authors suggested in this thread - I'm looking for some more Charles Stross - I was underwhelmed by my first taste, but I haven't read Halting State yet .)

It kind of depends on what appealed to you about the 1940's/50's SF you liked. I am pretty much a stickler for credible science - the author has to make me believe it is at least plausible. The White Queen may have been able to believe six impossible things before breakfast but I need a rational explanation as to why you think your space-ship can make a U-turn and if the first 6 aliens species you meet are a.) carbon based b.) bipedal and c.) have a social/theological structure that is recognizably human then you better have a credible theory as to why that should be so.

Sep 16, 2009, 9:48pm Top

> 18 with regards to 17

I would put some of Neal Stephenson's work in the Hard SF (by my criteria) category. Certainly not the Baroque Cycle but Snow Crash and The Diamond Age would qualify by my standards. Only one tiny thread of Cryptonomicon takes it out of the truly-Hard SF category. And I would make up a new "Quantum-Hard SF" category for Anathem.

(Zodiac was just a bio-thriller and I didn't care for it, The Baroque cycle was historical fiction with a science-y bent - I lost interest half-way through the 3rd book and likely won't bother again.)

Sep 18, 2009, 12:47am Top

I'm making a list and hope the used book store has lots of these. Thanks again for the suggestions. I'll try to report (but not promising anything!).

Sep 18, 2009, 4:11am Top

I don't think anyone has mentioned Peter Hamilton yet. I found Fallen Dragon was a good start for me.

Edited: Sep 18, 2009, 7:36am Top

Oh yeah -- Connie Willis is also great. Funny, thoughtful. Doomsday Book brought her her first big awards but I like some of her later stuff.

For more SF/slipstream-y stuff, Karen Joy Fowler's Sarah Canary is something I always recommend; also Patricia Anthony's God's Fires. And, I'm partial to Molly Gloss's Wild Life.

Gloss also ha a generation ship book which is pretty good & not your standard fare -- The Dazzle of Day.

Chris Moriarty has two books that are hard SF of the post-human variety -- Spin State and Spin Control. I think in that order, but check me.

Sep 18, 2009, 10:58am Top

#24 Yes, Spin State and then Spin Control. Excellent suggestion! Spin State is an accessible, page-turning, suspense-filled science-fiction novel.

Edited: Sep 21, 2009, 10:37am Top

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson has already been suggested. I would suggest Bios by the same author.

Also, Camelot 30K by Robert L. Forward is a great read.

Edited: Sep 21, 2009, 1:46pm Top

#26 Would you be willing to share your reasons for suggesting Bios as an "rekindle interest to SF" novel? The other reviews here on LT are less than provoking. I'd like to hear about Camelot 30K also. Thanks!

(edited for clarity)

Sep 21, 2009, 4:28pm Top

Bios is an extremly well written story by a mature writer at the top of his game. The main character of the story is a young woman who is not quite human. She has been genetically modified for living on af very strange planet, that is instant death for normal humans. The descriptions of the woman and of the strange planet are the main themes of the story. And then there is those, who work to stop her at any cost. It is not at big story, but it is very well done.

Camelot 30K is hard science fiction. Forward discribes an alien race that can live under the extreme conditions on Pluto. And the contact between this race and humans. It is all well done and interesting to read.

English is neighter my first, nor my second language. I hope you will forgive the simple language og all spelling errors.

Edited: Sep 21, 2009, 6:10pm Top

That's okay Brian, I've been around English all my life and I can't spell it either. You do infinitely better at English than I do at Danish. Keep it up!

Sep 21, 2009, 6:38pm Top

Thanks! ;o

Sep 21, 2009, 7:18pm Top

Nice synopsis of Bios, Brian. It has been a while since I read it, but I thought very well of it. I looked at the SF reader review and it seems to come down a little harsh ( a letdown for that reviewer after Darwinia, one that I unfortunately have not yet read). I would at least rate it a bit above average from memory.

Sep 22, 2009, 2:57am Top


Your English is still better than that of most forum posters.

Sep 22, 2009, 9:48am Top

Thank you Brian and RBeffa both. Bios is going (nearly) on top of my TBR pile now.

Sep 23, 2009, 9:18am Top

I'd also recommend The Color of Distance by Amy Thomson, a first contact story, told from both, human and alien POVs. The heroine is stranded on an alien planet, and rescued by frog-like creatures with enormous medical skills. As the aliens use color and patterns on the skin to talk, her skin is modified accordingly. While reading, this "skin talk" seemed so natural to me, that I've caught myself trying to do the same :-)

Oct 7, 2009, 4:09pm Top

I finally had a chance to visit my favorite used book store. I took a print-out of these messages and searched for any of the books mentioned - no particular preferences involved. I found Cyteen and Farthing. I'm not sure about the numbers associated with Cyteen. The copy I bought says complete in one volume, but I, II, and III are not obvious by thumbing through the pages. I suppose all will be clear once I start reading. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Farthing has something to do with Hitler, a fascinating subject alone.

I suspect I'll start Farthing first, as soon as I finish my current book.

Thanks again for all the recommendations. I plan to try to find as many of the books mentioned here as possible. For anyone interested, I'll post my impressions of the books I read.

Oct 7, 2009, 4:34pm Top

I am certainly interested in hearing how it goes for you. Good reading!

Oct 7, 2009, 5:13pm Top

#35 For anyone interested, I'll post my impressions of the books I read.

Good because then we will be able to tell you don't bother trying X if you really didn't like Y. Or give some other good suggestions if you really loved Y.

Oct 8, 2009, 3:24am Top

If you need a lot of science-fiction books, you could use BookMooch for getting the ones you want! There is a LOT of sci-fi there.

Oct 8, 2009, 6:45am Top

# 38 - I use BookMooch & Paperbackswap. I get more books through the latter, but the former has more relaxed rules & is international. PBS is only in the US.

Oct 8, 2009, 6:51am Top

bookmooch is supposed to be international - but the majority of its users are US-based, and many of them won't post out of their country.

Oct 8, 2009, 7:36am Top

Yeah, and postage has gone up quite a bit most places since they started, too.

Oct 8, 2009, 9:10am Top

RE: Bookmooch. I do quite a bit of international posting, but I am careful. A paperback to Japan was $5, but $8.50 to Canada or South Africa. $17 to the Phillipines or Australia. I will post to about $12 since I get 3 points for it.

There are quite a few hard to find books that I've gotten from the U.K. If you read other languages, it's a good way to get books, too.

Oct 8, 2009, 9:16am Top

I tend to send by surface if it's going overseas. It's not like the recipient will complain - they're getting the book for free, after all :-) I let them know first, of course.

Royal Mail is a bit more consistent with charges for posting abroad. It costs the same for the US and Canada, less to mainland Europe, more to Australia and NZ...

Oct 8, 2009, 10:07am Top

I'm a member of BookMooch. Of the 530 or so books I've sent, about half of them have been science fiction and nearly 100 of them have been sent internationally, mostly to Canada and the UK but also to South Africa and Cyprus and Israel and Japan and the Philippines and China and more. However, I was never able to send any of those books for free, and hence it's improper to suggest that a recipient is getting books for free on BookMooch.

Oct 8, 2009, 10:18am Top

They're getting them for free, unless you're charging them postage.

Oct 8, 2009, 10:28am Top

45: Except they have to generate points to mooch the book to begin with, which means they had to send books out, which costs postage. On Bookmooch, currency is points, you buy that currency with money in the form of postage and packaging.

Oct 8, 2009, 10:47am Top

#44 claimed that the books were free because it had cost him for the postage. That's not the same as saying they're not free because you have to pay postage on the books you send out in order to earn points to receive books.

Oct 8, 2009, 10:55am Top

47: Well, that was the implication I took from his post. It's not really that important either way, is it?

Oct 8, 2009, 10:56am Top

No, not really.

Oct 9, 2009, 12:29am Top


Yeah, I had a UKite send me a book (not related to bookmooch) a while ago surface, turned in a week! He said they often chuck them on planes anyway if there is space or something.

That's happened to me sending stuff from here once or twice, too.


Or, Bookmooch Will Still Cost You Money

Oct 9, 2009, 9:13am Top

Since I study from home, I use BookMooch for getting *academic* books (i.e. expensive), and believe me, the cost of postage in France compared to what I used to pay in the UK is *way* cheaper. I can send anything overseas by surface mail/printed paper rate for 3, 4 or 5 Euros (average, depends on weight) and sometimes it is cheaper to send (still by surface mail) in Europe AND France than it is to pay the 'normal' letter rate - in France. We are lucky, I think.

In any case, if a book that I need costs me THAT cheap, I won't complain. Some of them can be expensive, especially if out of print. BM is great for reaching out to communities that expensive booksellers and secondhand bookstores don't (reach). If I could, I would open a free library with mooched books (the BookMooch library?) - I am already a volunteer at the local one! ;-)

Oct 10, 2009, 1:08pm Top

Back to suggesting books or authors, I love David Weber and John Ringo. The Honor Harrington books by Weber are good. The earlier Posleen books by Ringo are great. If you are interested in post apocalyptic stories, the S.M. Stirling series starting with Dies the Fire is a lot of fun.

Oct 13, 2009, 7:53pm Top

#16 jburlinson:

I finished Farthing today. I liked it. I wouldn't say that is was a great mystery story, and I am somewhat surprised that it is classified as science fiction (what do I know!?). But I enjoyed the story, although the ending was pretty depressing. I suspect I have gotten comfortable with neatly tied up solutions in what I've been reading lately. Even so, I enjoyed the book and am interested in the sequels. Thanks for the recommendation.

Now, on to something more 'sciencey'.

Edited: Oct 13, 2009, 7:57pm Top

53: Farthing is alternate history, which for some reason or another, has gotten mashed into the category of science fiction.

Oct 13, 2009, 9:15pm Top

The mashup of alternative history into science fiction has been getting to be a pet peeve of mine in a way. It just sort of irks me to have this slew of Harry Turtledoves (and even a Newt Gingrich) in the science fiction section. I don't read most of them, so perhaps there are some science fiction elements in them - perhaps the southern cause is working on the A-bomb or something, I dunno. But I guess perhaps it stems from stuff like The Man In The High Castle by Dick in past years being accepted into it. Perhaps the publishers and librarians think scifi fans would be more interested in it then general fiction fans ...

Oct 14, 2009, 4:21am Top


Some alternate history has always been SF. Even back to the 30s - Leinster's "Sideways In Time", De Camp's Lest Darkness Fall
Since then we have had books such as Bring The Jubilee which is undoubtedly SF and undoubtedly AH. So it doesn't surprise me that when SF writers write AH it is called SF. After all SF is what we point to when we say it (thanks Damon Knight).

Oct 14, 2009, 4:28am Top

Just about every definition of sf you can use includes alternate history. Whether you're pointing at it, it's written by sf writers, marketed with the letters "sf" on the spine, found in the sf section of the book shop... The only definition which doesn't fit is probably the "squids in space" one but, who knows, there may well be such a story somewhere out there (in an alternate universe?).

From my own point of view, alternate history is not set in this world, nor the past of it. Neither is it fantastical. It may have the trappings of a western or a romance, but it's written in the mode of sf, so I'm happy for it to be part of the genre. Even if all those types who insist on calling it "counter-factuals" aren't. But they're no different to the "speculative fiction" types. As I have said in the past, you can call them pommes frites but they're still chips...

Oct 14, 2009, 11:02am Top

All novels are alternative history in the sense the events and characters are fiction, never happened.

With this understanding of novels, all novels are SF.

The SF genre is an amoeba on the body novel.

Edited: Oct 14, 2009, 11:10am Top

57: I think some alternate history novels are properly SF, but not all of them. A novel that simply has a change in history and deals with that change, in my opinion, isn't SF even if it is marketed as such. On the other hand, a novel in which, for example, a time traveller changes history and then we deal with the implications, or a dimensional traveller moves to an alternate reality and so on would be. Sometimes a change in history can produce a SF story, for example, Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series, featuring an alien invasion during WWII, would be. But other times it won't, such as Turtledove's Great War series.

Oct 14, 2009, 12:02pm Top

That's pretty much how I see it. Alt-history stories can be science fiction if they contain science fiction elements. Otherwise they're just fiction.

This has put me in a mood to re-read Dick's Man in the High Castle though. I always thought it was one of his very best.

Oct 14, 2009, 1:15pm Top

Interesting comments re alternative history.

Started Cyteen last night - only a few dozen pages in so far.

Oct 14, 2009, 5:05pm Top

I'll have to take issue with those who denigrate alt history as being somehow unworthy of consideration as sf. The science in at play in these fictions is, generally speaking, probablistics, if we consider this as the systematic replacement of constants with probability distributions and carefully modeling the physical relationships among the parameters. Maybe more specifically, alt history should be evaluated in accordance with the Dempster–Shafer theory, a mathematical theory of evidence that allows the author to combine evidence from different sources in order to lead the reader to arrive at a degree of belief (represented by a belief function) that takes into account all the evidence provided. This is not the normal preoccupation of mainstream or even fantasy fiction.

Edited: Oct 14, 2009, 5:34pm Top

I'd also like to suggest that the problem here, as in so many genre-classification issues around SF, with the confusion of "SF", "science fiction", and what ought better be termed "speculative fiction". I think it's clear that alternative history fits nicely within the rubric of "speculative fiction" -- speculating "what if" is basically the definition of the genre. But too often "science fiction" is used in a generic sense, as synonymous with "speculative fiction", rather than in its more precise sense, as fiction dealing with science or technology. So many people talk about alt history as "science fiction" meaning, really, "speculative fiction"; then other folks hear "science fiction" and think "science fiction" meaning, ah, "science-y fiction".

Thus, I think of SF = speculative fiction as the umbrella category including * alt history * science fiction * fantasy * science fantasy * and the many other permutations of these kinds of genres.

Oct 14, 2009, 6:47pm Top

Which of these is not "speculative fiction"

The Odyssey

Don Quixote


David Copperfield



The woman in White

Portrait of a Lady

The Sea Wolf

I could go on. Okay, which one is not speculative fiction?

Oct 14, 2009, 8:31pm Top

>12 lquilter: I agree wholeheartedly with the suggestion of Kathleen Ann Goonan for the OP. Bones of Time was very good, but last year's Campbell Award-winning In War Times is also worth a go considering your science background and interest in World War 2.

Oct 14, 2009, 9:31pm Top

This is why I divide my book shelves into areas of interest, sort of based on fiction/nonfiction, but even there I find gray areas. Well done historical novels go with history 'fact' books. Religion, mythology & philosophy have their own shelf with Ayn Rand's fact & fiction in it...

Oct 15, 2009, 3:01am Top

I'm with gene - all fiction is speculative. Science fiction may not be the best label but a) it signals that it is fiction with a rational, scientific worldview; and b) it doesn't deny the genre's heritage. And yes, alt history has the same worldview - it doesn't admit of fantasy. Ergo, it is sf.

Oct 15, 2009, 4:42am Top


There was however one blatant howler in In War Times, it doesn't however affect the story as it was an incidental detail.

Oct 15, 2009, 11:41am Top

> 67 Science fiction may not be the best label but a) it signals that it is fiction with a rational, scientific worldview;

A "worldview"-based definition admits of a ton of narrative realism that has nothing to do with science fiction -- Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Harlequin romances, Louis L'Amour, all the highbrow literary fiction in the New Yorker ..... I frankly prefer to have "science fiction" mean something more than a "worldview" that is implicit in, what, the vast majority of all published fiction in the English language.

Science fiction, to me, is ultimately about setting -- a setting that is not-real but is not implausible from a scientific worldview, and these settings are based on speculations of a scientific or technological bent. Fictional characters inserted into a historical setting do not render it speculative--they render it fictionalized.

Alternative history is a historical setting that was not (or is not, or will not be), but could have been, real. It *might* or might not be scientific-oriented, but it is definitely speculative.

.... this is all off-topic, of course, so maybe it's better to set up camp in a different thread.

Oct 15, 2009, 11:24pm Top

Sounds like you have tons of suggestions already! I used to love all the same writers you mentioned, though, and maybe here are some additional ideas from SF I've read in the last few years. I got completely away from reading SF in 1978 or so, and didn't come back to it until around 1993, and had exactly the same problem - all those guys were pretty much done writing, so who should I be looking at? Here are great books I've found:

Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear - Bear is a writer with great sensitivity to characters. This book seems absolutely unique in the depth of the research he put into molecular biology and evolution. How he could present that level of science and still make it a meaningful story is beyond me, but it's an amazing book and a work of genius. Engaging at all levels. Won the Nebula Award after it was written. Bear has written many SF novels you can explore.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson - "social science fiction", i.e. speculation on the turns society will take in the future. It's about 10 years old now, but it's just as interesting as when it was written. Exciting, fun, fascinating visions of the future. I don't buy the connection between computer viruses and language that he presents, but that's a relatively minor drawback in enjoyment of the book. It's great. (He also later wrote Diamond Age, which won some big award but has a completely different flavor. I didn't like that one...)

In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker - time travel. The quality of writing is superb. The protagonist is a young woman who is a member of The Company, sent back in time to perform certain tasks for reasons that develop over a series of books, and which I gather are not totally on the up-and-up, though the protagonist has her head and heart in the right place. This is the first book of a series of about ten books, but it stands quite on its own. The series became quite popular. One really loves this protagonist - she's absolutely delightful.

The Silver Wolf by Alice Borchardt - not SF, more like "historical fantasy". About some people who were able to become wolves. The story takes place back around 3rd century England. The whole historical setting is fascinating and clearly depicted, but the story is so interesting I could hardly put the book down. The author wrote a few more books you could also explore if you like that one, but she unfortunately died recently.

The Fourth World by Dennis Danvers - the author is fairly obscure, but I love his books, which are written not only well, but with a strong social conscience. The Fourth World involves an interplay between virtual reality and farmers in Mexico that's pretty unique, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. He has about four or five other titles to his name. Probably has to be special-ordered, though, or buy on Abebooks.com etc.

Foreign Bodies by Stephen Dedman - sort of a mystery, but very much SF. It doesn't actually go into the science in detail, though. A guy in the future to his surprise wakes up in a woman's body and in finding out about who this woman is (was), participates in some important events. A fascinating story! Also read The Art of Arrow-Cutting by the same author, which I enjoyed almost as much.

Days of Cain by J.R. Dunn - another time travel story. Incredibly powerful, about the meaning of our existence and what it's all for.

books by Eric Flint - tends also to write time travel, but right now I am reading 'Rats, Bats, and Vats', which is SF. I'd call both his books I've read "light reading" - definitey a lot of fun, interesting scenarios, etc. Very easy to read and worth the time because they are so darned entertaining.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire - Not SF! But fantasy. Still, I always loved Ray Bradbury's writing, and this is one of the writers who has a remarkable wordcrafting skill similar to Bradbury's, yet who also, like Bradbury, writes flowing stories with great meaning. I also read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and Son of a Witch and liked them equally.

All of an Instant by Richard Garfinkle - another time travel story but totally unique - travel from the start of human history to its furthest future reaches. Not just "fun" - it takes some thinking along the way to understand it because it uses a pretty novel concept, but if you don't mind getting your head wrapped around an unusual idea, it's an extremely rewarding book. Great characters with a great message.

Iron Council by China Mieville - nominated for 2005 Hugo. About a bunch of people who try to organize a rebellion on their world by heisting a train and moving towards the capital by picking up the track after it and placing it in front, and so moving forward. But that's nothing compared to some other ideas in the book - incredible ideas with profound social conscience. Wow. Perdido Station is supposed to be even better, but I didn't read that. He has written several books

Towing Jehovah by James Morrow - wonderful fantasy. God dies and his mile-long body falls into the Atlantic. A washed-up tanker captain is hired to drag it to the Arctic and hide it so nobody knows. But how does one keep that a secret? The book is about how mankind might change if they had no more excuses for their behavior and had to be responsible for their own actions. Sounds very deep, but it doesn't quite read so seriously. Fun reading, actually, but makes you think as well.

Spares by Michael Marshall Smith - the first book I read that involves the ethical questions of cloning humans. The book is about those cloned humans and a guy who was hired to guard them for their owners. It's deeply moving. I thought the book was stunning.

Double Vision, then Sound Mind, by Tricia Sullivan; also her book Maul - I didn't read Double Vision, but should have read it first. The books have strong and weak points, but the strength is in mind-blowingly original use of langauge and unique ways of putting together a story, together with very interesting ways of bringing together a storyline and an idea, and making the storyline communicate the idea as commentary on the idea. That's probably too obtuse to follow, sorry. But try one and see what you think.

A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge - another person also recommended it. Space opera, but truly grand. I loved it. It's a sequel to "A Fire Upon the Deep", so probably read that one first.

The Risen Empire and The Killing of Worlds by Scott Westerfield - the rulers of the galactic empire are dead, but continue to rule nevertheless as creatures which think and simply have a different outlook on "life". Many interesting ideas, a fascinating concept, excellent writing.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis - yet another time travel story. There is a need to find where a certain item is or came from, in order to prevent a major disaster in World War II. A wonderful period piece about various 19th and 20th century times in England's history, an interesting mystery, and a very satisfying ending.

Bios by Robert Charles Wilson - about a difficult colony on a planet, with writing I always consider "scintillating" in the immediacy of the images. Not the ending I would have chosen, but an absolutely remarkable experience on another planet. He also wrote a number of other books, including Spin which won the Hugo in 2006 which I read and like pretty well. Spin has a sequel, Axis.

The Jaguar Hunter by Lucius Shepard - a book of short stories. I wrote a review about it on LibraryThing that should give you a good idea about it. Another stunning book. More fantasy than SF, but check that review out and see what you think. Many other books that are supposed to be good.

There are lots of good books and authors, and unfortunately I don't read fast enough to experience more. I gave you a wide sampling because maybe only a few will sound appealing to you. But these are all great. I Hope you enjoy some of these.

Oct 22, 2009, 3:31pm Top

I'm nearly 300 pages into Cyteen. It's pretty slow going. I haven't read carefully enough to have all the political entities well defined in my head, so I'm somewhat constantly confused about who's doing what to whom and why. The intriguing part of the story, to me, has become the alternating sections describing the development of the young (new) Ari and her 'security,' Florian and Catlin. The Jordan, Justin, Grant part of the novel has really gone over my head - I don't understand what is going on in that part of the plot. I'll keep reading.

I am looking forward to finding and reading more of these recommendations.

Oct 29, 2009, 6:24pm Top

I finished Cyteen last night. My initial difficulties continued right up to the end. I never quite understood the different political factions and their motivations. Ari was less interesting as she got older and more involved in the politics. Justin and Grant never made any sense to me - I didn't get their relationship nor any real sense of why they were such prominent 'Enemies'. Maybe I needed to 'work' a little harder at understanding.

Now on to City and the City, which I found at the local branch library.

Oct 30, 2009, 8:35pm Top

I too started with the authors you name and like you moved away for a while but came back to the fold reading authors such as Alastair Reynolds and Neal Asher. now I am firmly hooked again.

Oct 31, 2009, 9:56am Top

> 70 bibliojim

That's a great list. Thanks for spending the time to put that together.

Nov 3, 2009, 6:59pm Top

I finished The City and the City late last night. Another murder mystery with an interesting other-worldish setting. Borlu's solution to the crime was beyond my ability to deduce from the information given. I found the mystery of the novel to be unsatisfying. Although I anticipated strange, interesting events when Breach became directly involved, that didn't happen. The idea of the book was excellent, but it didn't live up to its potential, IMHO.

Nov 3, 2009, 7:30pm Top

#76 I think I agree with your assessment. I rated The City and the City as a bit above average based on originality, but I had some problems with the dialogue and I also found the ending unsatisfying. I didn't quite buy the resolution of the mystery for what we had been given. Plus, Breach was built up so huge I thought we'd get a much bigger bang out of it. Didn't happen. Interesting culture creation though.

Nov 3, 2009, 8:46pm Top

#76 RBeffa - Ahh! Glad someone had similar feelings about the book. Still, I agree that it was better than average. Looking for some grand space opera now for a change of pace,

Nov 3, 2009, 9:59pm Top

I'd say a break from mystery/thriller might be called for; maybe head for straight hardish sci-fi. Have a look at Wreck of the River of Stars by Michael Flynn. Some masterly writing there to savor, and more in line with the authors you mention.

Nov 9, 2009, 4:43pm Top

I picked up Darwin's Radio from the above recommendations today. I also found a book by Dennis Danvers - End of Days. Not the book recommended by bibliojim, above, but one that was available. Took off time from SF to sneak in When the Sacred Ginmill Closes and a reread of In a Dry Season. I'll keep working on this list . . .

Nov 9, 2009, 6:13pm Top

Has the OP-er been encouraged enough?. lol.

What about Across Realtime by Vernor Vinge.

Anyone who could read that story, with its mindblowing scope, and its engaging characters, and absolute top flight writing, and not then be encouraged to read more sci fi, could pretty well accept they no longer had a speculative fiction interest.

Nov 9, 2009, 6:33pm Top


Reading the thread, I cringed when I saw one of the books you found first was by C.J.Cherryth, or as I like to think of her "I will write a million words about why my characters never actually do anything, but talk about doing things instead. And the men all mental weaklings".

Though to be fair she has written one good book, Cuckoo's Egg though one out of 150 odd isn't good strike rate.

Nov 9, 2009, 6:52pm Top

#80 and #81 - Annodyne - Intrigued entirely by the name Vernor Vinge, I have been looking for his recommended books. I found some in the local library's catalog, but they were all at other branches, so I took what was immediately available. I'm not good at waiting for things!!

Re C.J. Cherryh, although I hadn't thought of it in that way, I like your description!

Nov 9, 2009, 7:02pm Top

Yeah, it is a very female style, appeals very strongly to women, or actually to be specific, girls.
To be fair, her grasp of the other writing techniques is extremely powerful, her characters are as fully formed as anyone elses, and her worlds are interesting and also complex, working societies . . . full of dithering weak men, dithering women subservient to powerful matriarchs, themselves terminally of two minds about most courses of action. Oh, and furries who exist for the sole purpose of pointing out how human society could be so much better if we all obeyed our wummin folk, and had claws and manes.


That one book though, Cuckoos Egg, is one of the best sci fi stories I have ever read.

I don't know how much luck you will have finding Mr Vinges work in secondhand stores. People do tend to hold onto his books, and read them thrice.

Nov 10, 2009, 4:12am Top

#83 - you probably need to read more Cherryh. Only a handful of her books have female protagonists. And your description of her writing style is sexist crap.

As for Vinge, I'd say A Fire Upon the Deep was his best.

Nov 10, 2009, 12:22pm Top

#84 - I'll see if I can track down A Fire Upon the Deep to follow the two books I mentioned above.

Nov 10, 2009, 5:56pm Top


Which part? the part where I say one of her books was one of the best I have ever read? the part where I comment on her admirable ability in characterisation, world building , or the part about her own absolutely sexist attitude?.

And I have read more that half of her books. And I didn't say word one about male or female protagonists.

So that is two mistakes and a subjective, selective insult in your post of thirty or so words, wow, going for a record?. So, you owe me two "yeah,I guess" es and one "yeah, I got carried away there, sorry about the gratuitous insult".

Nov 11, 2009, 3:12am Top

Nope, not going to apologise for calling you out when you write things like "appeals very strongly to women, or actually to be specific, girls ... full of dithering weak men, dithering women subservient to powerful matriarchs, themselves terminally of two minds about most courses of action ... furries who exist for the sole purpose of pointing out how human society could be so much better if we all obeyed our wummin folk". Judging by your comments in this thread and in others in this group, you need to seriously reconsider your attitude on this point.

Edited: Nov 19, 2009, 7:13am Top

What you are really saying is, only complementary points can be made about any womans writing. And that is arrant nonsense. When a person writes something and they make sexually discriminatory characters, it doesn't matter if they are men or women.

And yes, it is an issue that I comment on a bit more than other people would, mostly because many people who feel exactly as I do on the topic shut their mouths the instant a backlash comes from people like yourself, who seem to want to deny others an opinion on the topic of sexism. This is not something that only happens on literary forums. It is a form of bullying.

Her writing is full to bursting with sexist depictions of men. Depictions that, if they were of female characters would automatically be considered sexist stereotypes.

Bren in the Foreigner books, to all intent the only male human character, literally powerless diplomat/hostage of a Matriarchy, not allowed arms, ( The entire human race is in fact suppressed/disarmed by the matriarchy in the book ) by the authors choice a character that doesn't have an adult sex life, surrounded by female characters that ,while superficially looking human could beat him to death with their hands, has no control at all of his own destiny. Constant ditherer. Sexually discriminatory character.

Tully in the Chanur books. Literally the only male human character, Brain damaged, no adult sexual relationship, guest/captive of a matriarchy, depicted as constantly confused and frightened by events, has no control of his own destiny. Sexually discriminatory character.

Sten Duncan in the Faded Sun. Depicted as almost a weak and despised creature in the view of the scene-setting character, becomes the vassal/hostage of ( yep ) a matriarchal alien race, whom he "adopts" as his new race, betraying/saving the naughty patriarchal human race from their own folly. Not only has no control over his own destiny, is threatened with instant death if he doesn't consistantly abandon his ( human ) destiny and adopt the ( matriarchal ) alien destiny, not just for himself alone mind you, but for the entirety of humanity. Sexually discriminatory character.

Thomas Mondragon in Angel with a sword. Physically impaired, supposed potent male stereotype ( soldier ) dependent on a females protection. No control of his own destiny. Admittedly not subject also to a matriarchy lol. Sexually ambivalent character, not quite as bad as the other examples. Though he also dithers an awful lot for a person of a supposedly military mind.

Those are four examples. I could find more, super easily in the Alliance-Union books imho.
While all of these various geldings are only symbolic, they are exactly that, deliberately SYMBOLICALLY gelded male characters. Sexually discriminatory male stereotypes.

Now we look at the book of hers I have lauded.

Cuckoos Egg.
"They named him Thorn. They told him he was of their people, although he was so different. He was ugly in their eyes, strange, sleek-skinned instead of furred, clawless, different. Yet he was of their power class: judge-warriors, the elite, the fighters, the defenders".

What do you know, a bit of balance. Sure, he is considered ugly and strange, and sure he doesn't have a sex life, but it is INTEGRAL to the story that this is so. And basically he is in fact a lowly character, but again, it is a function of the story, and more because he is a novice, but look, a novice in "their power class: judge-warriors, the elite, the fighters, the defenders".
Symbolicly potent male character.

You will of course just ignore my giving you examples of my opinion about her sexist work. And I don't doubt people will strongly disagree with me, given how popular her stories are. People have varying opinions about stuff.

Nov 19, 2009, 12:36pm Top

Has anyone considered why there are so few matriarchal societies? Is it found in the basic natures of men and women?

I don't see women, in a woman's world, running aggressive societies. Aggression requires too much testosterone.

Nov 19, 2009, 12:50pm Top

89: Historically, or now?

Nov 19, 2009, 1:35pm Top


Nov 19, 2009, 1:55pm Top

91: Historically, the lack of matriarchal societies is most likely connected to the fact that women bear the children, which is extraordinarily hard on a woman's body in a pre-industrial society. Being pregnant was tiring and often difficult, giving birth was dangerous, recovering from birth was difficult and made the mother susceptible to diseases and infection (due to her temporarily weakened state), and taking care of children (a job most often left to the mother) was time consuming. The life expectancy of women was shorter than men, and the ravages of childbearing had a lot to do with it.

Nov 19, 2009, 1:57pm Top


Dude, think whatever you like about the writer, but note that things like this:

Yeah, it is a very female style, appeals very strongly to women, or actually to be specific, girls.

are going to mark you as an idiot sexist, yes--because you're generalising, in terms which are traditionally reserved for insults. I happen to be, specifically, a woman who, specifically, hasn't read Cherryh; I also happen to know of, specifically, men, who have read her and like her. Male men and manly men--at least as male and manly as yourself, I'd wager. It is both mistaken, and in our culture insulting to call these men "girls". Heck, it's generally insulting to call grown women "girls".

While all of these various geldings are only symbolic, they are exactly that, deliberately SYMBOLICALLY gelded male characters. Sexually discriminatory male stereotypes.

Let's see... a "symbolically gelded" male is a male "stereotype"? You surprise me. I had come to expect exactly the opposite, in my decades of reading. Furthermore, these "symbolically gelded males" are what appeals to "girls"? Have you tried this notion on the Twilight crowd--you know, where all the actual girls are?

And I don't doubt people will strongly disagree with me, given how popular her stories are.

See, even people who have no clue about her stories, like myself, are going to strongly disagree with you, because your attitude--and language--is brimming over with non-literary grievances. Think on it.

Nov 19, 2009, 4:50pm Top

Margaret Atwood hates being referred to as "science fiction" so I always feel like I have to recommend her to other sci-fi fans! Her latest book, The Year of the Flood is most definitely speculative fiction, if not straight out sci-fi. It's dystopian, it's post-apocalyptic, it's got massive doses of genetic engineering, what's not to love? I've always been a big fan of her straight-forward, spare writing style as well. It manages to be elegant without being overly wordy.

Nov 19, 2009, 4:54pm Top

Arrrgh! While I know I inadvertently contributed to this with an offhand comment upthread, the OP is really only interested in recommendations to help me find some interesting SF books. Mostly for enjoyment, maybe a little enlightenment. A good argument is usually kind of fun and often enlightening, but this one—I'm not interested in.

Edited: Nov 19, 2009, 6:05pm Top


I have daughters, two of them. one son. 6 nephews and 14 - ( 6 adopted or step ) nieces. Almost all of these children are readers, we all share our likes and dislikes, and borrow ( this is the polite term for rampant feeding frenzies lol ) books from one another ( of course my nephews and nieces' parents and I also share books, but they are not as much fun to deal with as the families kids are. ). Books are the standard birthday present in my family.
I was a member of two different PTA school support commities , and specifically we raised more than $5000 in one year for my daughters primary-school library fund when they moved to a new building. New Zealand schools have always had large parent support for "non-primary" things like sport and book supplies.
I have been an avid reader since I was old enough to hold a book.

So I can say that, from my experience, it is a very female style*,
appeals very strongly to women,
or actually to be specific, girls.

I have handed the first of the Chanur books to lots of my young family members. The boys find them boring. Not enough action, FAR TOO MUCH TALKING. The girls without exception absolutely loved the books.
I give the boys and the girls the first of the World of Tiers books too, and guess what, the boys prefer it. Funny that.

* By which I mean, very complex relationships, emotive development of characters being paramount, recursive explication of motives and characters emotions. Action being of secondary importance to all of the above.

Look. How is it you would never ever think of calling out a person who said "R.A.Heinleins' style is a very male one" which it clearly is, and " His books appeal mainly to men, or more specifically, to boys" which they plainly do, but you have no hesitation to call me an idiot sexist when CLEARLY I AM NOTHING OF THE SORT, because I have (a) praised the authors other writing skills, (b) Have already said I have read half of her books, pretty obviously I like her skill enough to over look her faults eh?, hardly sexist I would think.(c) Praised strong female characters in general and in particular, and most importantly (d) have said nothing at all sexist or discriminatory of women or women characters or authors. The only thing I have said is I DISLIKE writing that is itself sexist, and claim this particular female writer is guilty in many of her books.

And yes, it is a new stereotype, but "powerless symbolically gelded male" is in fact a stereotype. A discriminatory one just as much as the 18th century "woman twists ankle, has to be protected by valiant male" was a discriminatory one.

YOU think on this. You have an opinion about my opinion of her writing but actually yourself say "even people who have no clue about her stories, like myself". What does this suggest to you?. *I roll my eyes in your direction*

Nov 19, 2009, 8:19pm Top

Just as a second opinion, but I first read Cherryh in the early 80's & quit reading her because there wasn't enough action, as I recall, but it's been a lot of years. My son said something similar, but my daughter & wife love her.

Edited: Nov 20, 2009, 4:37pm Top

A few points.

(1) Depictions of matriarchies are, in themselves, neither sexist nor feminist; it all depends on what the author is doing with the matriarchy. I can cite numerous horribly misogynistic works that depict matriarchies.

(2) A gender stereotype is not the same thing as a single author frequently depicting a gender in a particular way. A gender stereotype is a common belief about a gender. Depicting males as "dithering" rather than "forceful" is the opposite of a gender stereotype, since the common belief is the association of masculinity with forcefulness. If Cherryh routinely depicts males as "dithering" rather than "forceful", then it would be more correct to say that she is subverting the sexist stereotype that all male characters are forceful, competent, and so forth. It may be depressing and upsetting to one's privilege when the positive stereotypes about one's gender are subverted, but that doesn't make the subversion its own stereotype.

Now, she may or may not have her own sexist beliefs that drive her depictions of male characters as incompetent and dithering -- but that's not a sexist stereotype -- it's simply sexist characterization.

Since the original poster also noted that female characters are also depicted as dithering, I can't say as I see how she's even doing sexist characterization. She just seems to have a rather dim view of a lot of people of both genders.

(3) Anecdotal evidence of the "my best friend is black", "I have eighty-nine uncles" type is a remarkably weak argument. Even if one had a reason to believe the self-interested statements of someone asserting a point, supported by their alleged personal experience, one has no reason to believe that the person offering their experience as evidence in fact (a) had a representative and unbiased experience; (b) accurately perceived that experience; and (c) is accurately representing it. I encourage people who make statements like "Cherryh's writing is appreciated by girls" to support that sort of statement with marketing, sales, reviews, and so forth. Otherwise, it would be good to qualify it ("in my experience") not just when one is speaking in public, but when one is actually reflecting on the issue.

(4) My initial response to the original commentary by Annodyne --

Yeah, it is a very female style, appeals very strongly to women, or actually to be specific, girls.
To be fair, ... {various positive comments}

was first, "You say 'appeals to ... girls'" like that's a bad thing." And second, what's the evidence for this statement? Having now seen the "evidence" (Annodyne's various family members) I'm not persuaded of the validity of the point, but I'm still aware of the bad taste in my mouth from the apparently sexist tone of that comment.

The original poster may protest, and so I will point out that the appearance of sexism comes from the juxtaposition of "appeals to ... women, or ... girls" with a "to be fair" comparison to various positive attributes of the writing. Implicitly, therefore, appealing to women or girls is a negative. Hearkening back to my number two point, that is a sexist stereotype -- the idea that women's things, genres, interests, conversation, contributions, and so forth, are worth less than counterparts targeted or created by men is at the heart of sexism.

I find it unfortunate but not surprising that these attitudes are still so very much in evidence.

Nov 21, 2009, 12:25am Top

98. I am so surprised to learn that no new stereotypes will every be formed. But you tell us that " A gender stereotype is a common belief about a gender". Gee, I guess all the stereotypes that you personally have never encountered don't exist then, eh?. And When they are common enough , they become a stereotype, what is the cut off level?.
Arrant nonsense again. I am sure the Amish have stereotypes you and I will never learn, I can tell you Maori have them, and I promise you, if you cleared your vision, you will find women hold them about men, and ALL of these stereotypes evolve.
You play at semantics.

Here you are at it again.
"appearance of sexism comes from the juxtaposition of "appeals to ... women, or ... girls" with a "to be fair" comparison to various positive attributes of the writing".
Or from your prejudice that anyone at all saying anything at all negative about a female author is a sexist.
Because by your tortuous logic any possible listing of faults and positives can be twisted to be sexist. The truth is I actually like her work well enough to have read much of it, I like her work well enough that when I wrote out a criticism, I read it and thought, 'that hardly fairly represents my appreciation of her work' and did what I thought was my duty to a talented writer.

You inadvertently revel of course, your own preconceptions, what imo amount to prejudices against anyone who dares to say anything critical, however justified, about a female writer.

"My initial response to the original commentary by Annodyne --

Yeah, it is a very female style, appeals very strongly to women, or actually to be specific, girls.
To be fair, ... {various positive comments}

was first, "You say 'appeals to ... girls'" like that's a bad thing."

No. I didn't say it like that's a bad thing. You READ it as if I was saying that.

My post you took exception to, was to be honest, slightly tongue in cheek, that is why I went on to lampoon what I see as her strong fault.

Accusations of sexism are like someone saying "Nazi". Initially powerful but soon revealed as a mere rhetorical tool. Bullies use them to silence people.

Nov 21, 2009, 12:27pm Top

I finished End of Days last night. Not the recommended The Fourth World, but the first Danvers I could find. As I began reading, it seemed a little too simple, put I enjoyed it more and more as I read on. By the final few chapters, I was really enthralled by the story and how I thought things were going to end. Then the ending—I was not satisfied by Danvers' finish! Still, this one was fun and enough of a departure from my usual mystery/thriller reads that I think I HAVE rekindled an interest in science fiction. On to Darwin's Radio.

Edited: Nov 21, 2009, 3:07pm Top



You have an opinion about my opinion of her writing but actually yourself say "even people who have no clue about her stories, like myself".

No, as I have already explained at length, I have an opinion about your opinion about what appeals to women, or, "specifically, girls".


Accusations of sexism are like someone saying "Nazi".

Oh, goody. YOU called Cherryh sexist repeatedly--so does this apply to YOUR judgements of sexism too, or only to other people's?

Look, lquilter wrote an excellent response. I suggest you reread it.

Edited: Nov 27, 2009, 12:06pm Top

Finished Darwin's Radio this afternoon. I really enjoyed it—I would have enjoyed it more if I had explored the book a little more before starting to read. 'A Short Biological Primer' at the end, along with a 'Short Glossary of Scientific Terms' which follows, would have been a great help if I had realized (stupid me!) they were there. The biology was way beyond me, but I had the feeling that it was presented accurately. I had no real basis for thinking that, but reviewers and the Afterward seemed to back up my feeling. A very enjoyable read.

Edited to correct a typo.

Nov 27, 2009, 5:09am Top


There is a sequel to that called Darwin's Children which is less good (IMO) but still entertaining.

Dec 4, 2009, 6:22pm Top

Started the only Vernor Vinge I have been able to find (you know, easily, at the library or used bookstore)— Marooned in Realtime. What do you know? It's a murder mystery as well as SF!! Pretty interesting start - I'm about 86 pages into it.

Edited: Dec 4, 2009, 6:26pm Top

Started the only Vernor Vinge I have been able to find (you know, easily, at the library or used bookstore)—Marooned in Realtime. What do you know? It's a murder mystery as well as SF!! Pretty interesting start—I'm about 86 pages into it.

Edited because some funny things were happening to the text I typed!

Dec 7, 2009, 11:30am Top

Finished Marooned in Realtime early this morning. The ending was ultimately disappointing.

Jan 12, 2010, 12:48pm Top

It took me nearly a month, but I finished Lord of Light. I got really busy in December and that limited my reading time. Hence the slow pace. I enjoyed the book. The concept was interesting, men as gods on a new planet. Super powers, wars, guys and girls killing each other, transfers to new bodies, and so on. I confess I had a hard time keeping the characters straight as they changed bodies, names, etc. Partly a result of reading in short spurts, I suppose. But also not the best ability to keep all those details straight. What's happened to my reading comprehension in my old age?

Now back to the list to find something else to read.

Jan 13, 2010, 11:37am Top

Ugh - Please do not start with Fallen Dragon: one of the worst Hamilton has ever produced.

I would say - go first for the Greg Mandel series:

# Mindstar Rising
# A Quantum Murder
# The Nano Flower

The leap to some of his latest stuff:


Then (because it's pretty demanding) go backwards, to the Night's Dawn Trilogy:


The very latest stuff, the Dreaming Void trilogy, is again variable, not his best form but fun and from what I understand, the science is generally sound, too.

I would say that while Hamilton is excellent at the detective/sf fusion stuff (Mandel and Commonwealth Saga), and great when he does straight space opera (Night's Dawn), he wobbles quite a bit whenever he tries the amalgam of fantasy and sf - Fallen Dragon and the really execrable sections of the Dreaming Void concerning Edeard being cases in point. The next Tolkien he is definitely not, although, like the latter, he does often have a slightly irritating adolescent view of women.

Jan 14, 2010, 6:07pm Top

#108 So far I'm just the opposite on Dreaming Void. I've enjoyed the Edeard sections far more than the space opera lasers a-blasting sections. I'm nervous about how Edeard has developed by the end of the 2nd book, but staying tuned. I've already forgotten all the non-Edeard stuff. I did like Nights Dawn and I'm normally more into SF than fantasy.

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