May 25, 2004
23 Down, 29 To Go, Sci-Fi Anyone???
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami, is a novel that deftly explores the human brain's perception of the world. Murakami masterfully melds two distinct storylines, building a thriller that gains speed as you read. Interesting and insightful, I can strongly recommend this book.
Can anyone recommend some science fiction for my next book? Aside from William Gibson's Pattern Recognition (that I read earlier this year), I haven't read any science fiction since high school. Philip K. Dick has been recommended already, but I'm looking for other options. Thanks in advance, I appreciate all the responses.
Posted by david on May 25, 2004
Dunno if you've read it but Jim Dodge's Stone Junction has been called science fiction by some. It's a wonderful book....
Cory Doctorow's Eastern Standard Tribe is pretty awesome, no two ways about it. And if you were so inclined, you could even download the thing in its entirety for free: http://craphound.com/est/download.php
Just thought of another couple you might like too...William Gibson's Idoru is pretty good and I found it better than the acclaimed Neuromancer...or if you want something more epic, try Kim Stanley Robinson's "Mars" books (a trilogy). Philip K Dick is good too. I'm not a big sci-fi fan since there's so much crap out there and very few writers actually writing proper literature in a sci-fi genre as opposed to hack sci-fi....
Mockingbird by Walter Tevis (The Hustler, The Man Who Fell To Earth, etc.) is excellent; the Del Rey paperback has an introduction by Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn, Fortress of Solitude, etc.), who's a big fan of Tevis. Set in a future where robots control society -- bits of 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World yet it's much different than any of those books. Great read. Tevis was a fantastic, and much overlooked writer.
I'd recommend The Terminal Beach, The Voices of Time and The Drowned World, by J. G. Ballard. Like Murakami, he's a highly respected figure in contemporary literature, but he's also written some of the best science fiction dystopia you'll find.
Thomas Disch's 334 is a brilliant collection of linked stories.
My favorite P.K. Dick is Valis which all crazy gnostic-like religious stuff.
Joanna Russ's The Female Man is interesting from a feminist point of view and stylistically dazzling.
And if you are willing to spend the time Samuel Delany's Dhalgren is a work of genius.
"The moon is a harsh mistress" by Heinlein. Its a really fast read that makes you want to read more of Heinleins work, unline starship troopers which made me angry to read.
if you like Murakami, also go for David Mitchell. Ghostwritten and number9dream are out in the States and recommended; the forthcoming Cloud Atlas is a little -- well, weirder -- but also excellent.
i'm not sure if it qualifies as science fiction, but with all that's been going on lately, i'd go with "Fahrenheit 451". i read it again 2 summer's ago and it's still a dynamic page turner.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. It's like a pop/more fun version of Neuromancer.
Anything by Kurt Vonnegut or Douglas Adams, and you might enjoy Neal Stephenson
I'll echo two previous suggetions - Samuel Delany's Dhalgren and China Mieville's Perdido Street Station. I'm a long-time SF reader, and although I endorse virtually all of the recommendations posted to date, those two really stand out.
though not techically sci-fi in definition, it is often found in the sci-fi sections. a work of futuristic fantasy, Stephen Donaldson's THE CHRONICLES OF SIR THOMAS COVENANT THE UNBELIEVER is an unbelievable series following the life of a man who is a leper in this world, yet is translated to another world where his mortality becomes a key to its survival. but as he gives up hope for life because of leprosy, covenantis unbelieving of his abilities and potentially could seal the fate of those in this parallel universe.
the character development in this novel is unlike any i've read, including brave new world, farenheit, crime and punishment, lord of the rings, dune...
OH if you have not read DUNE, by herbert, READ IT! (the first one at least) great work of sci-fi.
Richard Morgan is a bay area sf writer who continually gets compared to phillip k dick frequently in print, though I'm not entirely convinced that comparison is accurate. Both his first book Altered Carbon and his followup Broken Angels are stylish and fast paced SF with some really thoughtful future science.
And another vote for Mieville, all of his books are gems. But they're more fantasy than science fiction, to be honest.
Finally if you're looking to go epic and weird try Samuel R. Delany's Dahlgren. I personally consider the Gravity's Rainbow of the SF genre, and its one of my favorite books.
I strongly second Snow Crash and The Moon...Mistress. Also the first two books of Orson Scott Card's "Ender" series are very thought-provoking. Also check out "Parable of the Sower" or just about anything by Octavia Butler.
Hyperion by Dan Simmons (the first in a series of four, but easily standalone) is frighteningly imaginiative and exceedingly well written.
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson; Rendevous With Rama by Arthur C. Clark;
I also highly recommend the David Mitchell novels. You might also enjoy the Philip Jose Farmer "Riverworld" series... starts with the premise that everyone who has ever lived throughout history is "reborn" by a never-ending river. In "To Our Scattered Bodies Go" (the first in the sage), Sir Richard Burton )who discovered the source of the Nile) tries to find the source of this river (with the help of the real-life Alice, of Wonderland fame).
Try "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Walter Miller. The post-apocalyptic tone is great. It's learned and funny. One of the genre's classics.
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you may want to check one of the eastern european classics, stanislaw lem.
I recommend star diaries as a beginning.
If you've never read (or heard of) Jeff Noon, you should really check out his stuff. Start with Nymphomation. The genre is sci-fi, but it's really more about language and the potentials embedded in pop-culture. His books are great, and really fun reads. Automated Alice and Vurt are also great. Most of his work takes place in the Manchester of the near-future.
Great site. Probably heard this a hundred times but read PK Dicks' The Man in the High Castle - a one week book with loads of great ideas - less of his usual paranoia - 8/10 book
I know I jumped in a little late, but I'm in a similar situation as you, hadn't read Sci-Fi with two exceptions (Stephenson) in a decade. I recently restarted, with advice from friends. Some that have done it for me:
A Story of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang -- pretty much every short story this guy writes wins an award, and it's easy to see why.
Johnathan Lethem, up until recently, was pretty darn sci-fi. I liked Amnesia Moon and the short story collections.
Starfish, by Peter Watts, a marine biologist. Good deep sea stuff -- mysterious, gripping. Has a sequel which is almost as good, in very different ways.
If you don't mind a little gay fiction mixed with your sci-fi (two literary ghettos that rarely see each other), The Sex Offender by Matthew Stadler takes place in a very interesting near-future.
Super Flat Times, dystopian stories by Matthew Derby, amazing. Picked it up because of glowing cover quote by Ben Marcus.
What Ben Marcus writes isn't really sci-fi. But it's not really anything classifiable--Gertrude Stein meets history museum exhibit narration? Flip to a random page of The Age of Wire and String and see if it floats yr boat.
Other literature so strange & wonderful it borders on sci-fi: Tlooth by Harry Mathews (only American member of the Ouilipo collective), You Bright & Risen Angels, Wm Vollmann's first book (he needs an editor more than anyone in America)
Very late response, but I think "Glimpses" by Lewis Shiner is a fantastic read and combines Sci-Fi (time travel element) and music beautifully.