Recent convert...where to start?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by laserbrain, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. laserbrain

    laserbrain New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I recently decided to start reading sci-fi. My past reading list is made up of non-fiction (war/death/destruction...usual light reading) but I want to delve into a different world. I tried fantasy for a while there (brooks/erikson/jordan) but they are either dull as hell or a rip off of LOTR.

    I've always been a fan of sci-fi movies but haven't taken on reading it yet. I think what I am interested in is military sci-fi. I am about to start The Forever War. Don't know if i'll like it, but that seems to be a good start. I went to my local book store today and was blinded by all the titles. I have no clue about what's good basically and I need some pointers
     
  2. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2000
    Messages:
    10,050
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    173
    The Forever War as an award-winning classic, not a bad place to start at all.

    I put together a fairly extensive recommendation thread where I've tried to break down some of the more popular and acclaimed writers, some of the subsets of SF (such as Military SF, Space Opera, etc)

    The New and Improved Recommendation - Science Fiction


    Off the cuff; though, I'd suggest John Scalzi. Anything by him, really. He's a smart writer, his novels are accessible to both new and long-time readers of SF.
     
  3. Colonel Worf

    Colonel Worf Registered User

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2003
    Messages:
    664
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Read Dune by Frank Herbert. Just dive right into the good stuff!
     
  4. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Messages:
    348
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    26
    The Dune series becomes all weird after a few books, but the first three you can litteraly read non-stop. I was stuck in a giant snowstorm for a few days and read all three in a row. I felt feverish, but elated. That stuff is super good.

    My two cents.

    The novels I've liked the most in my life have been: Baxter's Vacuum Diagrams, Reynold's Revelation Space, Niven's The Integral Trees, Morgan's Altered Carbon, Cherryh's Cyteen, Russel's The Sparrow, and Butler's Lilith's Brood.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  5. laserbrain

    laserbrain New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    ok thanks. I'll have a good look through this list. I saw a suggestion on another thread for inherit the stars by jp hogan. I know its not military sci-fi but it looks good. i downloaded it for my kindle
     
  6. symbolhunter

    symbolhunter Science-Fantasy Zealot

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2011
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    43
    You could always take an historical approach to the genre. Thus you could start with some of the best of the Golden Age writers, e.g. Asimov, Heinlein, Sturgeon, Kuttner, Bradbury, Tenn, Simak, and Schmitz to name a few. See if any specific type has a particular appeal {Space Opera, Dystopia, Science-Fantasy, time Travel etc.} and go on into more modern works by writers such as Cherryh, Asher, Vinge, Rynolds, and others.

    The advantage of using the historical method is that many of the Golden Age writers—at their best—were very accessible and enjoyable.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012
  7. MyklSkeleton

    MyklSkeleton Registered User

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2011
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I agree with Rob, John Scalzi is a great place to start. I'd recommend Old Man's War and the sequels, specifically.
     
  8. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2000
    Messages:
    10,050
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    173
    Cool, I just read that about a week ago and enjoyed it.
     
  9. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    2,939
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    73
    Can't complain about Forever War or Dune.

    They are even good contrasts in kinds of science fiction. Dune is more world building and style and atmosphere and Forever War is more at the hard edge of reality. He is a Vietnam vet and admitted that when he was trying to sell the novel to publishers he was told that nobody wanted to read Vietnam type science fiction. So it is interesting after all these decades it is regarded as a classic.

    Another type of sci-fi tho it might not be easy to find would be:

    A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke

    In the same vein and probably easier to find:

    Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson.

    Now a lot of people say the Mars trilogy is boring. I did not find that to be the case, but I am somewhat of a science/engineering geek in terms of the SF I like.

    You have to check out something by Heinlein or some SF ninja will assassinate you sooner or later.

    The Door into Summer, Citizen of the Galaxy, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

    With Asimov you will hear about the Foundation Trilogy sooner or later.

    And the Vorkosigan series by Bujold is free if you have an e-reader.

    http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/

    psik
     
  10. laserbrain

    laserbrain New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    thanks so much for all the replies so far guys. There is so much out there and I think now I have what I need to start. I'll check back here in a year or so lol.
     
  11. DennisC

    DennisC Heritage, Not Hate

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Dune Series

    Dune was great. CHildren of Dune was like listening to a 4th grader read Thanatopsis for 3 months straight.

    One thing Dune fails to do is to expand on the issue of being able to see the future and what that means for a society and for an individual who can see the future.

    But yes, Dune remains an absolute gem worthy of anyone's mental library.

    Modern military oriented science fiction... hm. I am at a loss there. One of the stories in Hyperion has a nice military stint to it. However no others are coming to mind.
     
  12. zakhrin

    zakhrin Registered User

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2004
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    91
    For modern military science fiction:

    Richard Morgan: Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, Black Man (aka "Thirteen")

    Great modern scifi with some military tech involved. Though it's violent and have very descriptive sex scenes, so it could shock some people.

    Simon R Green: Deathstalker series

    Robert A. Heinlein : Starship troopers

    Then books i think most would enjoy:

    Jack Vance : The demon princes

    Stephen Donaldson : The Gap

    Alfred Bester : The stars my destination
     
  13. ArtNJ

    ArtNJ Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Messages:
    605
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    28
    I personally view the Forever War as a classic only because of when it was written and would not recommend it to a recent convert at all. Here is the 3 star review I posted on Amazon:

    The basic premise of this book is known to anyone that has read the back cover -- soldier who, because of relativistic effects, fights "forever". As one would guess, the soldier comes back to human society several times, with big gaps in years.

    Because the book was written a while back, the first time the soldier comes back to Earth is more or less now, and the described world (and thus the marine's future shock) doesnt feel too realistic. To be fair, you have to evaluate it for potential realism as a parallel timeline given that the author was writing 30ish years ago, but even at this level, the sheer magnitude of change in such a short time didnt feel right to me. Maybe its possible the entire world could sink back to wild-west type chaos in less than a generation after a "collapse," but I didnt really buy it here. I suppose the point is more the future shock than the future itself, and on that level it works.

    The second time he comes back, we really arent even told too much about what the world is like, just about sexual preferences, which is dissappointing (and a little comical -- I mean seriously, 400 years and all the author can talk about is sex, and people otherwise act and look the same???). In fairness, perhaps dramatically changing sexual practices was just another way to ram home the future shock concept, which, again, seems more central to the book than the actual futures.

    The third time he comes back, your given only a brief glimpse of what the human universe is like at this point, and not told how we got there. Thus, the future elements are very light, and much of the book, is simply what its like to be a marine in a long bloody war, through training and fighting. The combat sequences are not going to overwhelm anyone, but they do keep the book moving. Characterization is also very light and there is no real character "development" to speak of -- the protagonist is likable enough, but not terribly distinctive, and he doesnt change or grow during the book.

    In sum, the Forever War is not hard sci-fi with detailed predictions about the shape of future technology and events. Its soft, concept driven, sci-fi that ran with the concepts of a pointless war stretching forever and future shock from relativistic effects, and included some military stuff and sex to keep the story moving. You can see where in the era following the Vietnam war it was considered a meaningful book, but one could wish that there was a bit more too it. Similarly, if this was one of the first books to meaningfully explore future shock, you can see where that would be influential as well. Reading today, however, future shock is old hat to me, and I'd really like to see some believable or interesting futures to go along with the concepts.

    The book is mostly a quick breezy kind of read, with just a few slowish segments where Haldeman makes some token effort to describe the physics of a space battle, or the history of a future earth time. So it moves pretty well, and even if it doesnt become a favorite of yours, reading an influential classic (which this is) for a good price cant hurt ya any.
     
  14. ArtNJ

    ArtNJ Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Messages:
    605
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Heinlein's Door into Summer (which Psyhacker recommended) may still be on sale at Amazon. A bit light and fluffy, but it seems to be universally liked at least to some degree. And you may already know that Heinlein is a giant (historically) in the sci-fi field.

    Agent to the Stars, by the same author previously recommended for Old Man's War, is one of the best rated books on Amazon, and I think mostly everyone that reads it likes it to at least some degree. It is thus very safe; you will likely like it. Old Man's War is pretty accessible/safe too.

    I recomend these to newcomers, because they are so widely liked. You may want something more intense/harder after you try them, but these are a good start.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  15. winterkill

    winterkill Registered User

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Reynolds Revelation Space is my all time favorite. It's dense,though, but well worth the effort. Maybe Ursula Leguin if you are looking for something that is more social commentary and not quite as dauntingly scientific.
     
  16. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    2,939
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    73
    Revelation Space was dauntingly scientific? :confused:
     
  17. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    2,939
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    73
    I can see why people can regard The Door into Summer as light and fluffy on the basis of most of the story. But Heinlein and Bujold kind of sneak things into their stories which have more depth than they superficially appear.

    This time travel story takes place in 1970 and 2000 but was written in 1956. It does not describe it but says there was a short nuclear war with Russia before 1970. Considering the Cuban Missile crisis of 1961 that was nearly a prediction on Heinlein's part though maybe not an impressive one considering how many people were expecting it in the 50s. But then Heinlein talks about the economy for automobiles in the year 2000. Look at Detroit and the economy today.

    I think many people don't see what is in good sci-fi today because they are so casual about it and treat it as mere entertainment reading no different from fantasy. Good SF writers are smart and knowledgeable people who incorporate what they think into their stories. To me that is another level of entertainment which lasts beyond the reading of the story. Quite often I don't even notice things until days after I finished it. These stories that are touted as having great world building mostly have nothing to say.

    psik
     
  18. k1w1taxi

    k1w1taxi Registered User

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2010
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    If it is Military Sf that is likely to float your boat then three Series I would Suggest are
    The Seafort Saga by David Feintuch. (Starting with Midshipman's Hope) Some people find his main protaganist a bit whiny but I still enjoyed the series.
    Honor Harrington by David Weber.(On Basilisk Station) Lots of Military 'Technoporn' and the military parts are excellent, the politics rather less so imo.
    The Lost Fleet by Jack C Campbell (Dauntless) The best of the three series.

    If you found much of the fantasy you have read to be dull then I would steer clear of Dune quite frankly. For me every attempt to read it is a sure invitation for Mr Sandman to visit.

    Cheers
    Lee
     
  19. Overgeeked

    Overgeeked Fishbowl Helmet

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2012
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    If you're after military sf to start with, you can't go wrong with Heinlein's Starship Troopers, or Scalzi's Old Man's War. If you like short stories at all, a big staple of sf, you should also check out Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century. Good luck and have fun.
     
  20. jbcohen

    jbcohen Wildrunner

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2001
    Messages:
    713
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Here is a list of the top ten best Sci-fi authors, I would recommend that you start at the top:

    1) Arthur C. Clark - wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey, At Childhood's End
    2) Isaac Asimov - Best known for the foundation trillogy
    3) Robert A. Heinlein
    4) Ray Bradbury - Best known for Fahrenheit 451
    5) Philip K. Dick - Best known for Blade Runner, Paycheck and Minority Report