What do hardcore SF readers look for?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by BillyTooma, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. BillyTooma

    BillyTooma New Member

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    I've just had my first SF book (collection of shorts) published and while I will not use this forum to advertise it, I wanted to know (for future works) what SF readers look for in a good book? For me, I enjoy reading the works of Clarke, Bradbury, and Herbert. Those are my top three favorites but I'm also a fan of Kress and Le Quin. Right now I have a full-length novel gaining steam in my mind. Oh, and covers. What kind of a book cover catches SF readers' attention? Figure I'd go straight to the source for some answers.
     
  2. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    How much of what is read the result of group think. Here are three Googles:

    +neuromancer +gibson 3,390,000 results (0.51 seconds)

    +"two faces of tomorrow" +hogan 138,000 results (0.49 seconds) x24

    +"shockwave rider" +brunner 95,500 results (0.30 seconds) x35

    Neuromancer isn't as good as either of the other two.

    psik
     
  3. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

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    Hasn't Hogan's looniness translated into his work?
     
  4. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    The Two Faces of Tomorrow is from 1979. Long before the supposed "looniness" appeared.

    psik
     
  5. winterkill

    winterkill Registered User

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    My favorite themes in science fiction are:

    Realistic space travel beyond the solar system - Since you mentioned Le Guin, her novella "Paradises Lost" is a pretty solid example of this. Poul Anderson is also good at this. His novels Tau Zero and Star Farers are two novels about human interstellar travel that I really enjoyed.

    Plausible descriptions of first contact or first evidence of ET civilizations - There's a short story by Gregory Benford called "The Hydrogen Wall" that is one of my favorite examples of this. Reynolds' novel "Pushing Ice" is another good one.

    Detailed descriptions of the universe's distant past, ancient fallen civilizations, stuff like that. The last few chapters of Clarke's "Rama Revealed" are my favorite for this type of thing. The Dawn War history developed by Reynolds for his Revelation Space universe is also really good.
     
  6. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

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    Looniness is a real word ;) Amazing, huh? Spell checkers miss it every time. Dictionaries are smarter, though.

    Glad to know he was saner at one point.
     
  7. krisbslick

    krisbslick Executor

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    For me, science fiction is all about the 'shock' and 'awe' factors. By shock I mean, I like big unpredictable plot twists (the “did that just really happen!?” moment) And by awe I mean, just imagining the whole grandeur of battles, space travel, BDO, and other things only accessible (right now anyway) through a science fiction universe. I think Peter Hamilton's books really exemplify these traits.

    As for covers, I'll always read the back cover of a novel with a space setting depicted on it. (That's actually why I started on Jack McDevitt's Alex Benedict Novels-not the first book's cover though)
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
  8. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

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    The blurb for Stephen Baxter's Vacuum Diagrams totally sold the book for me. That was plain awe.

    Here, in luminous and vivid narratives spanning five million years, are the first Poole wormholes spanning the solar system; the conquest of Human planets by Squeem; GUTships that outrace light; the back-time invasion of the Qax; the mystery and legacy of the Xeelee, and their artifacts as large as small galaxies; photino birds and Dark Matter; and the Ring, where Ghost, Human, and Xeelee contemplate the awesome end of Time.
     
  9. Seli

    Seli Registered User

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    It al depends on what the writer wants to write. Personally of the current crop, for the sf'nal look at Egan, Peter Watts or Reynolds; perhaps even Asher, Hamilton, Buckell, Stross. Or Bacigalupi, Murakami, Stephenson. (and there should be some women there as well, but I cannot think of them right now :()

    I still find the beginning near unreadable though, all the things that are wrong with tech-exposition heavy sf. And never got past that, I'll have to try again at one point.
     
  10. hippokrene

    hippokrene Peckish

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    I'm in the TOR beta, so I'm into lightsabers, space opera, galactic spanning empires, and epic battles of good verses evil.

    Next month, it will be dystopian near futures, and hopefully some cyborgs.

    And I'm always into superheroes.
     
  11. noori noori

    noori noori _ amenhotepi

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    asimo

    my favorite themes are different propulsion types. like warp-engines and such.
    my very favorite sf theme are saucers.
    thinking of 1950s and 60s sf book-cover art ... a sf art theme i like is: asimovs' sf book-cover art. like his Second Foundation book cover-art.

    ..


    [​IMG]

    ..
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011
  12. DDCOrange

    DDCOrange Registered User

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    Hard Sci-Fi is difficult because the author needs to connect with the reader and too many of us poor, dumb, slobs don't understand Physics, Astronomy, Engineering (Genetic or otherwise), Nanotechnology or even how our computers work.
    Personally, I find that a writer is truly great when they can bridge this gap and still be understood by the masses. Let's face it, they can write perfectly logical science fiction where everything is correctly portrayed but if the reader can't comprehend it they won't be able to sell any books, let alone get published in the first place. Most of them don't just write for scientists alone.
     
  13. DDCOrange

    DDCOrange Registered User

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    Wow, I've actually read two of these! Whatever happened to Brunner, I've read a lot of his stories; Shockwave Rider was one of his best? Is he still writing or dead?
    Disagree about Neuromancer but hey I haven't yet read Two Faces of Tomorrow (but I think I will if I can find it. I could do with a little "looniness"):)
    People either love Neuromancer or hate it. The concept of Rastifarians in space still brings a smile to my face.
     
  14. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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  15. Randy M.

    Randy M. Registered User

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    Brunner died in 1995.


    Randy M.
     
  16. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Neuromancer is worthy of neither love nor hate. I just find it peculiar that such a big deal is made of it. The beginning of The Two Faces of Tomorro is here:

    http://www.webscription.net/chapters/0671878484/0671878484.htm?blurb

    psik
     
  17. DDCOrange

    DDCOrange Registered User

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  18. DDCOrange

    DDCOrange Registered User

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    I'm really sorry to hear that. I liked his books, particularly Shockwave Rider, The Sheep Look Up, and Stand on Zanzibar.
     
  19. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Not necessarily but I think there are people with anti-scientific attitudes who claim that they like stuff they call science fiction.

    They seem to make a big deal about world building and characterization and don't care how bad or indifferent the science is in a story. A common response is, "when I want science I'll read a real science book". My suspicion is they don't read real science books.

    I think Joanna Russ explained it in 1975.

    http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/6/russ6art.htm

    Star Wars is not didactic though it is entertaining. I think C. P. Snow's Two Cultures is relevant to this also.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Two_Cultures

    psik
     
  20. DDCOrange

    DDCOrange Registered User

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    Thank you for the articles. I think I see your point. What you politely term as "anti-scientific attitudes" I simply call "lazy and ignorant" (a category where I place myself sadly). Most of us I suspect are very weak on the sciences and find it "too much trouble" to enlighten ourselves when confronted with areas of science we know nothing about even with the world wide web at our fingertips. We either take it at face value or give up particularly if we need to stop and research every other paragraph.
    My feeling is that this genre offers to the most freedom as the sciences are constantly evolving. Having never experienced interstellar travel ourselves we can only speculate what it's like based on what we know and that is constantly changing. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that the scientific disciplines are not necessarily exact and therefore anything goes (well, almost). So sometimes we force ourselves to turn off our brains for a moment in order to enjoy a entertaining story so be it.
    Still, I do sometimes go back and look up some of the more interesting aspects of the science in the stories to better understand what's going on and so I do learn something.
    By the way, I haven't given up on the circular orbit (hopefully it's not a trick i.e. circular orbits are not possible!).