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  1. #1
    Registered User BillyTooma's Avatar
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    Lightbulb What do hardcore SF readers look for?

    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. #2
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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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. #3
    Registered User Pennarin's Avatar
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    Hasn't Hogan's looniness translated into his work?

  4. #4
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pennarin View Post
    Hasn't Hogan's looniness translated into his work?
    The Two Faces of Tomorrow is from 1979. Long before the supposed "looniness" appeared.

    psik

  5. #5
    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. #6
    Registered User Pennarin's Avatar
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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. #7
    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 by krisbslick; November 22nd, 2011 at 03:55 PM.

  8. #8
    Registered User Pennarin's Avatar
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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. #9
    Registered User Seli's Avatar
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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 )

    Quote Originally Posted by psikeyhackr View Post
    The Two Faces of Tomorrow is from 1979. Long before the supposed "looniness" appeared.

    psik
    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. #10
    Peckish hippokrene's Avatar
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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. #11
    _ amenhotepi noori noori's Avatar
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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.

    ..




    ..
    Last edited by noori noori; November 23rd, 2011 at 09:51 AM. Reason: spelling text

  12. #12
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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. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by psikeyhackr View Post
    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
    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. #14
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    OK, here is a test for whether or not you will like hard science fiction.

    Can you put the planet in a circular orbit?

    http://galileoandeinstein.physics.vi...ts/kepler6.htm

    psik

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by DDCOrange View Post
    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.
    Brunner died in 1995.


    Randy M.

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