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  1. #1
    Registered User lemming's Avatar
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    WORST sci-fi ever

    Hey, they had a good idea over on the Fantasy forum... we get enough "best ever" threads. So what's the WORST sci-fi you've ever suffered through (or thrown down in complete disgust)?

    As I mentioned out-of-genre on the fantasy thread, I nominate The Nano Flower by Run-on Sentences Hamilton, as well as anything by Zelazny. Blech, and yawn, respectively.

    lemming

  2. #2
    Loveable Rogue Moderator juzzza's Avatar
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    This may be akin to blasphemy but I couldn't finish 'Consider Phlebas' By Banks.

    It was recommended by a friend and maybe I had way too high expectations. I can't criticize the writing because it was very good, I just switched off during the fat cannibal episode.

    Sorry.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by juzzza View Post
    This may be akin to blasphemy but I couldn't finish 'Consider Phlebas' By Banks.

    It was recommended by a friend and maybe I had way too high expectations. I can't criticize the writing because it was very good, I just switched off during the fat cannibal episode.

    Sorry.
    I'm surprised, 'cause I thought that scene was hilarious, right up there with King Tard the Seventeenth in "Against A Dark Background." Wasn't the cannibal scene on Vavatch Orbital while the cruise ships were going down? From what I remember, that was awesome.

    I've learned to be patient with Banks. For me at least, he's not the kind of author that really pulls me in at first, but I know there will be a huge pay-off for sticking it out.

    Can't say Peter Hamilton was "the worst," but I wasn't able to get into his stuff.

    There was a recent Hugo or Nebula award-winner, some short story called The Shipmaker or The Shipbuilder or something like that, written by a French author. I thought it was awful. Kept waiting for something interesting to happen and it never did. No real big ideas. The writing was bland.

    Overall, I'd say the most awful science fiction is on-screen, in movies and TV. TV SF is almost universally terrible, to the point where a series like BSG is shocking because it's actually good.

  4. #4
    Orthodox Herbertian Omphalos's Avatar
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    I realize we are talking about books, but all of the stuff I have ever read by Kevin J. Anderson I think is trash. The guy has the literary sensibilites of a box of crackers and the ego equivalent of ten terrible writers all wrapped up together.

    As for Battlefield Earth, yes it's trash, but its great trash. The blatant hero-worship of Goodboy Johnny by the drooling morons that make up the human race; the craptastic dialog of the aliens; aliens who are called Psychlos; the implausibility of the equivalents of cavemen learning to purify gold ore and fly jet planes; jet planes that sit in their hangers for 3,000 (3,000?) years waiting for said cavemen to come start them up; the ease of the resolution of the overwhelming Psychlo menace; a drink called Kerbango!; Sheer. Frigging. Genius. It was so bad it made me want to party with breathe gas. Or.....something or other.

    I also have yet to find any independent SF that is worth the paper its printed on. There are so many "authors" out there hawking their craptastic books on their personal websites that it's difficult to figure out how to find one that doesn't suck. I personally - as a book reviewer with a website of my own - get these things sent to me all the time, and to a "T" they all are terrible. And they all say the same thing when they shoot the book off to me - "Please don't review my book if you are going to give it one star!" - because they have read my website and know I will if the book is only worth one star. It's like they know that they are terrible, but want me to read it and gush over it anyway. Puhleeze, girlfriend!



    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys.
    It's supposed to be a classic, precursor to the new wave style of the 60's etc, etc...
    What I found was a bunch of misogynistic guys drinking whiskey and having a chat by the pool that lasts about half the book. Then they go out and do some kind of experiment where they have to go through a booby-trapped monolith type box without dying. The End.

    I do not understand this book.
    The purpose was not to describe a situation that logical thinking could solve. It was to posit a menace that under ordinary circumstances human limitations would prevent us resolving while examining the relationships of different male archetypes in a setting where death and sex are mixed up they way they often get mixed up in people's minds. I'll admit that Budrys could have done a better job by giving us a bit more plausibility, but it wouldn't have been the same book because the strangeness of the artifact was meant to keep the reader reeling while all this other stuff was going on. Here's something I wrote about it several years ago:

    Along comes Connington, a HR director for the project. He convinces Hawkes, the project manager that what he really needs is a crazy man who doesn't care about death, and delivers him Barker, a suicidal narcissist with a flair for daring-do. The other major element of this story, and I think the one that was more important to Budrys, was characterization. The characters here were not as full as they could have been, but Budrys crafted them as well as he needed to, and played their dominant traits against one another masterfully. Added to the three above was Claire, Barker's woman. The character's names are excellent metaphors for their behavior. Barker was always making as much noise as he could and trying to draw attention to himself. Hawkes just cared about the project and did not care whom he killed. Connington was a conniver and con man who was more interested in getting into Claire's drawers, and Claire used her sex to get whatever she wanted; she was a treat for Connington who may have been motivated to send Barker to his death so he could have Claire, rather than helping Hawkes get the job done. Though get the job done they do, but in probably the biggest let down in the history of the genre. Barker makes his way gradually through the artifact over the course of months, dying on the Moon who knows how many times, but never going insane or dying on Earth, until one day he announces that he is at the end. Hawkes teleported with him on the next mission and went through the artifact with him, and together they walk out the other door, and immediately forget about the artifact for good. There are no answers here about the artifact; nothing about its purpose or its builders. Instead Hawkes reveals that the teleportation only works one way. There is no way back to Earth, so for all their work, the two are doomed to die on the Moon when they run out of air.

    I think that Budrys was writing about foolish strategies that people use to make themselves happy. None of the characters were likeable people. All of them had neuroses that were so deeply welded to their personalities that they came off like fetishists. And despite failure after failure, none of them changed, save for Hawkes who in the end managed to find it within himself to care about someone else more than himself or his job. Although Budrys may actually have been trying to make a comment about the opposite; about how people's personalities tend to drive them to do stupid things to get noticed, but only wind pushing away important people in their lives. Take a look at the Connington-Barker-Claire triangle. Claire was constantly trying to move up by hooking a new and better man, which pushes Barker away. Connington tries too hard to bed Claire, which causes her to recoil time after time. And Barker puts his life on the line daily. Claire shrinks from him as a result.
    Still though, I think I am with you. It could have been a lot better.
    Last edited by Omphalos; January 30th, 2012 at 07:21 PM.

  5. #5
    Intrigued diletante Nicolas's Avatar
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    Omphalos, that's a great analysis of the book.

    The fact that none of his characters are likeable is very true. Looking back, it might have been one of the reasons why I wasn't enjoying the book when I read it.
    Your remarks about their nature and relationships are insightful, and certainly go a long way towards explaining that long sequence at the mansion that seems almost like a different book.
    Might be worth revisiting it one day. Thanks.

  6. #6
    Registered User JunkMonkey's Avatar
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    I think the events of Battlefield Earth took place in the year 3000 making those planes only 1000 years old. (Did I just defend Battlefield Earth?)

    My vote for the worst 'SF' book I have read is: (Forgive me if I quote from a post of mine on another forum because quite frankly I don't want to spend any more time thinking about this than I have to.)

    The Survivalist No. 6: The Savage Horde - Jerry Ahern. Jesus, Mary and all the Saints! This has to be THE single most ****ingly awful book I have ever read. 59 chapters spread over 208 pages (that's 3.5 pages per chapter - though some are actually less than a page long) of porny gun-wanking in which our 'hero', John Thomas Rourke, shoots people. Lots of people. He must kill at least hundred people in this book. He doesn't ask many questions before shooting them either, but it's all right really, this is Post Apoc America and the people he kills with relentless and boring frequency are all 'brigands' or 'wildmen', hairy ill-shaven (and therefore amoral) targets for clean shaven and God fearing him to gun down page after page after page after page.
    “He already had the target-a man about six-foot four, unshaven, his black leather jacket mud-stained, a riot shotgun in his hands, the pump tromboning* as the twelve-gauge, roughly .70 caliber muzzle swung on line.”
    To break the monotony reading about John Thomas shooting people in the head page after page we are often treated to fetishistic descriptions of guns being reloaded; the hero's weaponry: a pair of chromed Detonics Combat Master .45 pistols in Alessi shoulder holsters, Colt Python and Colt Lawman revolvers, an A.G. Russell Sting 1A knife, and a shoulder sling with a CAR-15 assault rifle; and, occasionally, a parallel story in which John Thomas' wife shoots hairy amoral, would be rapists in the head with either an M-16 assault rifle or .45 automatic - even their 8 year old son gets in the act and shoots the occasional hairy ill-shaven biker in the head - though he has to make do with an antique lever action .30-30 Winchester rifle. There are twenty-nine books in the series. Four books after this one (according to Wikipedia) the united Rourke family get themselves cryonically frozen and wake up 500 years later - by which time the human race will have presumably bred enough targets for them to bother getting up again.

    *'Tromboning' is, apparently, a genuine shooting term and nothing to do with the male gay sexual act of the same name.
    PS if you don't know what 'Tromboning' is don't look it up. It's very NSFW and an image many of you may not want to find inside your heads.

  7. #7
    Registered User Pennarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omphalos View Post
    As for Battlefield Earth, yes it's trash, but its great trash. The blatant hero-worship of Goodboy Johnny by the drooling morons that make up the human race; the craptastic dialog of the aliens; aliens who are called Psychlos; the implausibility of the equivalents of cavemen learning to purify gold ore and fly jet planes; jet planes that sit in their hangers for 3,000 (3,000?) years waiting for said cavemen to come start them up; the ease of the resolution of the overwhelming Psychlo menace; a drink called Kerbango!; Sheer. Frigging. Genius. It was so bad it made me want to party with breathe gas. Or.....something or other.
    Quote Originally Posted by JunkMonkey View Post
    I think the events of Battlefield Earth took place in the year 3000 making those planes only 1000 years old. (Did I just defend Battlefield Earth?)
    The novel's jets were rusted metal piles on the tarmac, and the humans (who were not caveman but a cross between Amerindians and early "Western American Settlers" era in culture and technology) used stolen Psychlo ships. The movie's jets, on the other end, were in working order after 1,000+ years without rusting, their rubber wheels rotting away, or entropy having chemically-altered the base's stored fuel or cause its volatile components to evaporate. (In 2012 NASA can't even keep cryogenic gases from evaporating out of their sealed containers...)

  8. #8
    Registered User JunkMonkey's Avatar
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    The book did have a telephone directory that had been lying around in the open but was still legible after a thousand years although it had 'almost gone to pieces'. And I remember a bunch of characters finding a thousand year old truck stuffed full of crates of thousand year old Thomson Sub-Machine guns and crates of thousand year old ammunition all of which which worked first time without blowing any of their faces off.

  9. #9
    Greymane Wilson Geiger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikolas View Post
    TV SF is almost universally terrible, to the point where a series like BSG is shocking because it's actually good.
    Funny for me to see this, as I thought BSG was absolute drivel, suitable to be on daytime soap TV.

  10. #10
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    Starswarm~ Brian Aldiss
    Extro ~ Alfred Bester
    Usually I like both these authors but I suppose everyone has an off day.

  11. #11
    Porkchop Express Jack Burton's Avatar
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    I guess I was more dissapointed than disgusted, but I'd say KW Jeter's Blade Runner novels.......!

  12. #12
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    I tried and tried to get into Hamilton's The Reality Dysfunction and was b-o-r-e-d. Didn't care about the characters or the story.

  13. #13
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Yes....big fat novels, lots of different characters....

    took me a while too, but felt it was worth it in the end.
    Mark

  14. #14
    Disabled by the evil Mods Belgarion's Avatar
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    Dune's prequels.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Belgarion View Post
    Dune's prequels.
    which books would be considered prequals?

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