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  1. #1

    Underrated sci-fi books

    Any ideas? Books you've come across which were either poorly reviewed but which you ended up loving. I go for a lot of small press bargain priced ebooks these days and wade thru a fair amount of crap but occasionally come up trumps. Let's make a list. They have to be stand out though.

  2. #2
    Asimov fanatic Zathura2's Avatar
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    Well, I'm not quite sure if they're underrated or not, but they are out of print; that is the "Lensman Series" by E.E. "Doc" Smith.

    This is tied with Asimov's "Foundation" Saga as my favorite series of all-time. A friend of mine owns the series, and lent them to me to read, and I've been infatuated ever since. I've been trying to collect them, but only own two random books that I found in used bookstores.

    I once looked them up online, and found a leather-bound box set for about $700. >.<

    I could get used paperbacks for as little as $15 a book online, but I don't trust the quality descriptions, as I once ordered a "fine" book, and not only was it falling apart, but about 15 pages were missing from the middle.

    ....I didn't bother asking for my $2.45 back, lol. I just let them know what I thought about their "fine" description.

  3. #3
    trolling > dissertation nquixote's Avatar
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    I loved Metaplanetary and Superluminal by Tony Daniel. I thought they were right up there with Vinge or Brin or Simmons as the best New Space Opera I've ever read. But sales were terrible and the series was suspended indefinitely.

    Makers is probably Cory Doctorow's least-well-received book, but I absolutely loved it.

    Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix was well-received in the 80s, but is not discussed much now, even though it was so visionary that its ideas are still staples of cutting-edge SF authors like Charles Stross.

    Jack Vance is one of the best SF authors ever, but relatively few people have read his stuff. It's all good, and much of it is amazing. I recommend the Cadwal Chronicles and the Demon Princes novels.

    David Zindell's Neverness is another overlooked gem, a really wild far-out space opera full of philosophy and cosmic weirdness.

    Samuel Delaney is another excellent classic author that is not discussed much nowadays. His best books, IMHO, are The Einstein Intersection and Babel-17.

    Those are the most underrated books I can think of right now.

  4. #4
    Member of the Month™ Ropie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nquixote View Post
    Samuel Delaney is another excellent classic author that is not discussed much nowadays. His best books, IMHO, are The Einstein Intersection and Babel-17.
    Nova is a fairly wild read. He has a great style, Delaney, and I always mean to read more.

  5. #5
    Webmaster, Great SF&F owlcroft's Avatar
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    For some value of "science fiction" . . . .

    This includes some lesser-known works by well-known authors, as well as some works once renowned but possibly now lost to memory .

    So--from Lists 'R' Us Central:
    • Ackroyd, Peter: First Light
    • Aldiss, Brian W.: Report on Probability A
    • Arnason, Eleanor: To the Resurrection Station
    • Attanasio, A. A.: the "Radix" tetrad
    • Auster, Paul: In the Country of Last Things
    • Barrett, Neal, Jr.: the "Aldair" tetralogy
    • Billias, Stephen: The American Book of the Dead
    • Bisson, Terry: Wyrldmaker
    • Bryant, Edward: Cinnabar
    • Carr, Terry: Cirque
    • Chapman, Stepan: The Troika
    • Cherryh, C. J.: Wave Without a Shore & Voyager in Night
    • Compton, D. G.: Chronocules
    • Conway, Gerard F.: The Midnight Dancers & Mindship
    • Cook, Glen: The Dragon Never Sleeps
    • Cover, Arthur Byron: Autumn Angels & The Sound of Winter
    • Crowley, John: The Deep
    • Disch, Thomas M.: Camp Concentration
    • Dowling, Terry: Rynosseros
    • Dorsey, Candas Jane: A Paradigm of Earth
    • Effinger, George Alec: What Entropy Means to Me
    • Foster, M. A.: Waves & the "Transformer" trilogy & the "Book of the Ler" trilogy
    • Geston, Mark S.: The Day Star (& maybe others--still re-reading)
    • Grant, Richard: Saraband of Lost Time & Rumors of Spring & Through the Heart
    • Harrison, M. John: The Committed Men & The Centauri Device & the "Viriconium" quartet {some sf, some fantasy} & Signs of Life & Light & Nova Swing
    • Holdstock, Robert: Where Time Winds Blow
    • Jeter, K. W.: Farewell Horizontal
    • Knight, Damon: The World and Thorinn
    • Laumer, Keith: Knight of Delusions
    • Lee, Tanith: Days of Grass
    • Leiber, Fritz: The Big Time
    • Lieberman, Herbert: Sandman, Sleep
    • Lightman, Alan: Einstein's Dreams
    • McDonald, Ian: Desolation Road & Ares Express & Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone
    • McIntyre, Vonda N.: Dreamsnake
    • Millet, Lydia: Oh Pure and Radiant Heart
    • Mills, Magnus: The Scheme For Full Employment
    • Norwood, Warren: the "Windhover Tapes" tetralogy
    • Ore, Rebecca: Becoming Alien
    • Palmer, Thomas: Dream Science
    • Panshin, Alexei: the "Anthony Villiers" books
    • Park, Paul: the "Starbridge Chronicles" trilogy
    • Percy, Walker: Love in the Ruins
    • Piserchia, Doris: any and all of her 10 sf novels
    • Pratchett, Terry: Strata {the sf forerunner of the discworld}
    • Priest, Christopher: Indoctrinaire & The Prestige
    • Read, Herbert: The Green Child
    • Resnick, Mike: Santiago
    • Roberts, Keith: Pavanne & The Chalk Giants {& probably any other sf--still reading}
    • Shepard, Lucius: Kalimantan
    • Shinn, Sharon: the "Samaria" cycle
    • Simak, Clifford: Highway of Eternity & Way Station
    • Smith, Cordwainer: Norstrilia & The Rediscovery of Man {settle for nothing but the NESFA editions}
    • Spinrad, Norman: The Void Captain's Tale & Child of Fortune
    • Stableford, Brian: everything--and it's a lot.
    • Sucharitkul, Somtow: the "Inquestor" tetralogy
    • Tepper, Sheri S.: Northshore & Southshore
    • Vance, Jack: one of the all-time greats, but not all his work is as well-known as it should be
    • Wells, Martha: City of Bones
    • Whitehead, Colson: The Intuitionist
    • Williams, Michael: the "Hawken Family" duology
    • Williams, Tad: the "Otherland" tetralogy
    • Williams, Walter Jon: the "Drake Maijstral" trio
    • Wright, Austin Tappan: Islandia
    • Zindell, David: the "Neverness" tetralogy

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Zathura2 View Post
    [...] This is tied with Asimov's "Foundation" Saga as my favorite series of all-time.
    Errr...this being the most overrated series of al times in my opinion

    Back on topic: second the Devil Princes by Jack Vance, and add Stone by Adam Roberts, Helliconia by Brian Aldiss (not underrrated, but perhaps forgotten...), A trace of memory, Dinosaur Beach and others by Keith Laumer, World of Null-A by AE van Vogt.

    Cheers,

    Sfinx.

  7. #7
    trolling > dissertation nquixote's Avatar
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    Owlcroft: Could you write up reviews of those and then send them my way?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by nquixote View Post
    Owlcroft: Could you write up reviews of those and then send them my way?
    Yeah. I'd buy the book of reviews when it comes out, too.

    A few I'd add:

    Davy (post-apocalypse world)
    Still I Persist in Dreaming (story coll., all set in the same world as Davy)
    Good Neighbors and Other Strangers (story coll.)
    -- all by Edgar Pangborn

    Pangborn's is among the most compassionate writing I've found in s.f. He creates characters who behave the way you wish more people would, who strive to behave in ethical ways, and who still run into conflict with the world around all the same.


    City -- by Clifford Simak

    Simak creates an Earth inhabited by dogs and robots wondering what happened to the humans. The early stories in this collection may take a bit of patience, but you can almost watch how the idea ripened and deepened in Simak's mind as he wrote. The later stories in the collection are still quite powerful.


    Randy M.

  9. #9
    Registered User beniowa's Avatar
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    Tobias Buckell's Xenowealth books: Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose.

    Also,
    The Inferior, Peadar O'Guilin
    Devil's Cape, Rob Rogers
    The Risen Empire, Scott Westerfeld
    The Fade, Chris Wooding

  10. #10
    Webmaster, Great SF&F owlcroft's Avatar
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    So many books, so little time . . . .

    Re: Could you write up reviews of those and then send them my way?

    Alas, I remain far behind on augmenting my site with author reviews, and time would forbid more than a sentence or so on each. But I daresay Google Is Your Friend, and would readily turn up evaluations of each. I had hoped to get back to author write-ups this winter once the baseball season was over, but somehow the time just seems to evaporate . . . .

    Later today I'll try to make time for at least that sentence or so, but no guarantees.

  11. #11
    Member of the Month™ Ropie's Avatar
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    I'll add one I read last year - Tuff Voyaging by George RR Martin. Really excellent SF and almost unknown by the standards of his mammoth fantasy best-sellers.

  12. #12
    trolling > dissertation nquixote's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by owlcroft View Post
    Re: Could you write up reviews of those and then send them my way?
    Thanks! I was just kidding, though.

  13. #13
    Webmaster, Great SF&F owlcroft's Avatar
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    Phew.

    I was just kidding, though.

    Thank goodness. I took another look and was daunted. But they're all books running somewhere from good to superlative, and I fear most--at least today--are little-known (it's hard to say how well regarded).

    It's hard to know who knows what. Cordwainer Smith is absolute must-read for anyone who wants (or claims) to know anything about sf. Doris Piserchia had a unique and wonderful voice, but who remembers her today? M. A. Foster is as close as one will come to Jack Vance without someone deliberately aping the style. Brian Stableford, for all his huge output, probably couldn't write a bad book if he tried. And so on.

  14. #14
    W.T. Quick : Dreams of Flesh and Sand
    Daniel Keys Moran: The Long Run
    George Alec Effinger

    The best in cyberpunk, I would say all 3 produced something better than anyone but Bruce Sterling.

  15. #15
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    Stephen R. Donaldsons 'Gap Cycle' never recieved much glory. I thought the series was excellent.

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