Seeking Classic Science Fiction Authors/Stories/Series
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Hallo, Hallo Sci Fi Readers!
I've been inactive in groups for a few years, forgive me. However, as the New Year approaches, I've been re-organising my reading life - from challenges I want to participate in for my blog to streamlining my social engagements into LT rather than keeping Riffle and LT. Likewise, I'd like to become more active in the few groups I've decided to keep as they highlight my favourite genres and/or bookish interests.
Having said that - I would love to go into the Vintage Sci Fi Month (hosted by Little Red Reviewer) with a few authors in mind. She's also helping me sort out which authors to read with a few suggestions but the crust of it is that the grandfathers/grandmothers of Sci Fi I own in my personal library are still packed away. I can't access them for January's readathon - so, I'm going to rely on my local libraries and their ILL (interlibrary loan) services. I'm hoping to get Scribd back in January as well but in lieu of that I can also get audios from my libraries (either digital or CD).
Here's the issue for me - I really fell hard for The Clan Chronicles by Julie E. Czerneda (if you visit my blog, you'll find the ENTIRE series has its heart blogged as my ruminations grew over a few years of reading the Clan). So much so, I feel trepidation about which authors to read next! Now, I did co-host (with Lisa (deargeekplace.com) Small Angry Planet and enjoyed it. I still need to re-read the final chapters & upload my thoughts as we're co-hosting the next two novels as RALs in January and February where we read certain chapters and then chat about them via Twitter. You all welcome to join us.
I also loved Rimrider as an audiobook - and there are a few others as well which come to mind, however, overall, when it comes to moving into Vintage Sci Fi realms, I'm at a proper loss without my own books to wander amongst! *le sigh*
What would you suggest for a girl who loves Hard Sci Fi and certain aspects of Soft Sci Fi?
I'm not interested in stories with overt vulgarity though - as that is one critical note I had about Chambers' series; she really irked me a bit for how much language was inclusive in some of her chapters. Her characters won me over though and since it was a RAL I went with the journey it lead too as the discussions on Twitter were worth the experience. However, in general, I prefer cleaner reads - a story can have strong language but not sprinkled so heavily,.. I'm also not one for explicit violence so that would be a turn-off too.
What I love are stories rooted in Science,
stories set in a traditional or non-conventional Space Opera niche,
Sci Fi Noir or stories like "The Demolished Man",
stories with elements of alternative history or mystery/suspense are ones I'm interested in exploring,
NOT Dune, please - I was irritated the whole time I listened to the opening bridge on audio,
not an appreciator of Orson Scott Card, Douglas Adams and I didn't enjoy Starship Troopers - but I was curious about other works by Heinlein.
I'm a hard sell for Dystopian so I wouldn't recommend that category. The only one I enjoyed reading was Dream of the Navigator.
Parallel Universes can be interesting;
time travel journeys or future/past visitations,
City, Mountain, Space, Interstellar travel, Deep Space, Asteroid Belts or Rims,
honestly I'm open to all settings at this point.
The stories can be one-offs, series, or even novellas/short stories if you know of a published collection I might still be able to borrow through libraries - here I'm thinking of via ILL.
I read a wide sea of Speculative Lit, from mainstream (big trade/small press/Indies/Self Pub) to Inspirational Fiction (just finding out there is a niche out there for SpecLit in INSPY) - I also appreciate #ownvoices, diverse voices & stories and regularly read LGBTQ+ stories.
Sub genres (finally found a list via Worlds Without End):
*(most keen on seeking)
AI / high tech / robotics / Nanotech,
as well as the rest of what I mentioned.
// unsure if I am being specific enough, so please ask me questions!!
UPDATE: Specifically for JANUARY/#VintageSciFiMonth I'm looking for any stories published 1979 and backwards to when Science Fiction began.
For recs 1979-to present day I still would love them as if you know of modern SF writers who fit these categories, that would be #awesomesauce as I can sort out reading them for next year's #RRSciFiMonth (Sci Fi November).
Thanks for your help!
// update: 19 Dec due to illness my replies have been lapsing a bit but are starting to resume.
daxxh I love you recommended an anthology for me! I love reading anthos as they give me a chance to become introduced to a writer's style and thereby, I can get a feeler for how their larger stories might resonate with me. I have been meaning to seek out more anthos outside of the ones I review as they really are a heap of joy for me to read.
I'll have to research these authors and see what I can find. So far, Gateway is holding my eye!
Quite a wide range of options to choose frome there...!
Your sub-genre of "mountain" fiction leapt out at me. The only sf mountaineering story I can think of is Roger Zelazny's "This Mortal Mountain", about an attempt to climb a forty-mile high mountain on an extraterrestial world. It's collected in The doors of his face, the lamps of his mouth, which looking again at your list I think might tick quite a few more of your boxes.
>5 iansales: Thanks, Ian. The KSR pieces you mention are still in my TBR pile, amazingly. As for the story about climbing Mount Olympus; yes, I thought of that too, but I couldn't remember the author either. Indeed, I got out my copy of the Zelazny to check that it wasn't him, though I suspected it wasn't because I recollected the mountain in his story was too spiky to be Olympus. The SF Encyclopedia is no help here, alas.
>7 ChrisRiesbeck: Well, it's a book by a writer I would recommend, but I doubt that it fits the OP's criteria. And it's as much about mountaineering as 'A Streetcar Named Desire" is about trams. :-)
Not exactly "vintage" yet, but you don't mention Iain M. Banks.
I also appreciate #ownvoices, diverse voices & stories and regularly read LGBTQ+ stories.
That's really hard to square with your request for "vintage", which is very dominated by Old White Guys. How old does it have to be?
Thanks for responding - I've been offline due to feeling unwell this week, however, I'm turning a corner (hopefully!) and will be able to look into your recs now. I can't wait to reply and let you know my thoughts.
Officially for the #VintageSciFiMonth it remarks stories are meant to be older than 1979; which is why I also opened this *thread for recommendations outside of that scope - as I felt I might be a hard reader to suggest Classics too due to what I'm keen on finding and reading, so if you know of post-70s authors to modern day which befit that category of interest, I can seek those out to read during Sci Fi November which is also an annual book blogosphere event (one that I love). Thanks for asking! I'm going to update the info I was sharing to reflect the year!
>12 lorax: Delany? Russ? Butler? We might not think of them as vintage, especially given Delany is still around, but their heyday was a good fifty years ago...
There are also a whole bunch of female authors from the 1960s and 1970s who wrote stories whihc touch on LGBT issues.
>17 iansales: hahaha...yeah it was easy to track the author with your clue. I always look for the easy searches :)
I concur with >2 daxxh: recommendation concerning Simak. I think his book Way Station would meet your requirements as would his short story collection The Worlds of Clifford Simak. For time travel you might want to look at Roadmarks by Zelazny. I really liked Roadmarks but there are a number of people who don't. Another possibility might be some of Connie Willis's works. I read To Say Nothing of the Dog and was personally underwhelmed but quite a number of other people think very highly of the book. It is time travel and I think it would qualify as "soft SF".
>22 MyopicBookworm: Lessing's 'Canopus in Argos: Archives' series, of which 'The Marriages...' is a part, takes a rather philosophical stance on space opera. My personal starting point might rather be The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, which is a single, fairly straightforward narrative but which gives the atmosphere of Lessing's excursion into SF a bit more clearly.
I appreciate everyone's support - I'm going through your recommendations this coming weekend - I've had a wreck of a start to New Year's trying to fight off a virus I caught in December. You've all been so kind to make these recommendations, I can't wait to see which of the stories really align well with what I'm seeking out. I'll write more direct replies on the weekend, too. Til then, I am full of gratitude.
I know the month is nearly over, but I wanna drop another vintage suggestion just because I just read (and enjoyed) it: the Time Traders series by Andre Norton. The stories themselves are adventurous, entertaining romps of clueless humans through time and space with evil aliens and a very nostalgic touch of Cold War rhetoric, but the author is actually a woman, one of her protagonists is a native American, and she has at least one or another woman in her cast who plays major roles.
>25 DeusXMachina: I am so thankful you've mentioned Andre Norton! I've been wanting to begin reading her collective works and never understood where to begin reading her stories. In the end, January proved rather adverse to reading - I had a long and hard recovery from a Christmas virus, two migraines and Winter allergies - to which end, I decided to take things a bit slower come February and I'm still compiling my Classic SF reads as a result. I'm thankful to have been given such a lovely rounding of advice -- I'm going to be reading selections from these recommendations for #RRSciFiMonth (this November) as to be honest, January dissolved without too many stories read overall. I want to begin reading some of these selections earlier than November and I'm definitely adding your idea to read Norton!
Everything you wanted to know about vintage SF:
Cordwainer Smith, accept no substitutes. Start with the novel Norstrilia & then look for his numerous and wondrous short stories, all set in the same Universe. Smith had a myth-creating style unlike anyone else, a pure pleasure to read.
Jack Vance is another oldie but goodie, with several fine space opera series and a distinctive droll style of writing. I think his best work was the trilogy beginning with Lyonesse.
Robert Heinlein's "juvenile" novels are the most fun to be had in his canon, if Starship Troopers is not to your taste. Try Red Planet, for a good sample. His adult book The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is my personal favorite of his books.
Poul Anderson: Brain Wave. It's not part of a series -- and that's too bad, because it will leave you wanting more.
Theodore Sturgeon didn't write series, but his best work will make your jaw drop. Read More Than Human, and The Dreaming Jewels (also published as The Synthetic Man.) Sturgeon was not really a hard-science guy, but an awesome storyteller.
H Beam Piper wrote a bunch of books set in a universe of his own design. Little Fuzzy is the most memorable and fun. John Scalzi recently tried his hand at retelling the story, but Piper did it first and best.
John Wyndham wrote some exciting alien invasion novels, including Day of the Triffids and Out of the Deeps. My favorite of his: Trouble With Lichen, about the discovery of a cure for old age.
Roger Zelazny is most famous for the Amber series, which I've read but don't particularly recommend. His short stories, on the other hand, are often purely wonderful. Best: a collection titled The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth and Other Stories. Award-winning stuff, well-deserved.
Another poster mentioned Ursula LeGuin -- I disliked The Left Hand of Darkness, but greatly enjoyed her books The Lathe of Heaven and The Dispossessed.
James Tiptree Jr. (pseudonym of Alice Sheldon) is a little more sophisticated than Andre Norton, and for my money is the best female writer of the classic SF era. Try: Brightness Falls From the Air, or Up the Walls of the World.
I've been reading this genre for over 50 years, and these books are all old and durable friends.
>27 Dabooda: It's a bad sign when you cite James Tiptree Jnr., a writer whose dawning on the SF scene I remember (including Robert Silverberg's resounding declaration that "James Tiptree Jnr. is definitely not a woman"), as belonging to "Golden Age" sf. Which truly illustrates that the Golden Age of anything is the time when you were 14.
I'm surprised no one has suggested the Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov. It can't get any more classic than that.
>30 Karlstar: I'd suspect that most people who have read the Foundation Trilogy are aware of its iconic status, and there are quite a few of those who will pay real money to not have to read it now. I don't recommend most of Asimov's works to those newly arriving on the Science Fiction section, and have to say that he wrote works that have better stood the test of time, and would recommend those instead. There are many in that pantheon of Grand Masters who are better admired for their contributions without inflicting their works on current readers.
I have multiple authors that I love, and find that most of them are best left to memory, rather than being current suggestions. I even have a blind spot in a couple of cases (albeit a revisit to Door Into Summer has reminded me that some things are best left to the golden memories of the past).
Some authors age better than others. Tiptree is an excellent example, and Heinlein's juveniles are still a fun read. I will forever have a soft spot for Green Hills of Earth as well.
Harlan Ellison, now there's a writer that has withstood the passage of time (and I am STILL sad he's gone).
Okay, okay, I'll quit.
>30 Karlstar: I won't be suggesting them because they're badly written, and Asimov was a notorious groper and I see no good reason to encourage people to read him.
Being a man dead and incinerated, Asimov's putative groping is in no way facilitated by reading his books, which have never been marketed as "grope reads" in any case. In fact, the larger part of his fiction is notable for its silence in sexual registers. Please, less with the ad hominem.
The original Foundation books are arguably weak novels and poor science fiction by current standards, however. I read them as a teenager, and I'm among those referenced by >31 Lyndatrue: as a few of those who will pay real money to not have to read it now.
>33 paradoxosalpha: His behaviour was "overlooked" at the time, we should not do that now. Recommending his books means people buy them, which directly benefits his estate. The same is true for Marion Zimmer Bradley. It doesn't matter if we read the books uncritically as kids or teens, and enjoyed them. We are grownups and we can make choices about our reading that takes into account things other than just the words in the books. In fact, in this day and age, we would be foolish to focus solely on the words in the books.
So, unlike the rationalist Asimov, you seem to believe in a conscious afterlife. Or has his estate been groping people?
>35 paradoxosalpha: No, but unlike you I'm not willing to trivialise sexual harassment.
>36 iansales: It's not trivializing the original misdeed to notice that your efforts at condemnation and punishment are misdirected.
>37 paradoxosalpha: We're going to have to agree to differ here, I'm afraid. The (lack of) quality of Asimov's prose aside, I'd sooner not have people forget what he was like and how he abused his fame to harass women. If they then choose to read his books, at least they are aware of his reputation when they do so.
Ooh dear my! :( I've lost track of this convo - I meant to return sooner, however, it took me a bit to recover from my health afflictions recently and then, I was slammed by a booked blog schedule. I was looking forward to providing updates and replies - however, I didn't realise this became a *thread of debate. I'll say this, I've learnt loads just reading through the convo and as a woman, I am attempting to be more cognisant and aware of which men in the past and in our contemporary world are part of the key issues we're facing today. I am thankful some of you took the time to offer notations of warning and I am thankful the rest of you were talking about the merits of the collective works (in general). I also agree - each reader has to decide for themselves what they will do, however, after I learnt about OSC I discontinued seeking out his literature. Thereby, I'll have to make a few amendments now as there are a few authors apparently I still wasn't clued into having a past that isn't quite as honourable as most of us would have preferred.
For now, please know I am appreciating your responses - and for those of you providing the titles and authors directly, bless you!! I can't wait to compile my list and get reading!! I'm also hoping I can get some of these through my library and/or via Scribd on audiobook, as one of my struggles lately is reading too many stories in print (ie. chronic migraine after effects) -- overall, I am thankful this discussion staid diplomatic. As I truly was hoping to seek out new authors I haven't yet discovered in this lovely genre of interest and I appreciate you keeping the topic mostly directed towards that end.
>39 joriestory: I stopped reading Card many years ago. It's not just that he's blatantly homophobic, but he also wrote a novella that implies gay men are paedophiles and and he used his fame to campaign against same-sex marriage.
There are a lot of skeletons in US science fiction fandom's cupboard. Check out the Breen Boondoggle.
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