Good scifi thread (96)

1 Name: Bookworm : 2006-01-31 02:40 ID:iCCThARF


2 Name: dmpk2k!hinhT6kz2E : 2006-01-31 02:58 ID:Heaven

As a teen I liked books by Asimov, Clarke (but not 2001 and its progeny), early Heinlein, and Le Guin. More recently I though some of Doctorow's work was alright.

I can't say I was particularly impressed by any of Neal Stephenson's works, since I just know someone will eventually list him.

I've concluded there's even less decent literature in sci-fi than there is in fantasy. Bleh~

3 Name: !WAHa.06x36 : 2006-01-31 14:43 ID:bVYA10RH

Stephenson is good, as long as you don't make the mistake of taking him in any way seriously. Also, he builds stories like a magpie steals shiny objects and stuffs them in its nest. I find this entertaining, but many don't, and I really couldn't argue against their views on that.

Iain M. Banks writes incredible sci-fi. Beware that his stories are very socialist/humanist, which may be distressing to those who aren't used to this.

Ken MacLeod is a friend of Banks', and he loves to play with politics in his stories. Also not one to take entirely seriously, his stories feature anarchists, libertarians, free-market communists, pot-smoking aliens, dinosaurs and starship-piloting squids. Great fun.

I've only read one book by Jan Lars Jensen, Shiva 3000, but it was so good, I'm going to recommend him just based on that one sample. Hindu gods roam India in some kind of half-surreal future.

Peter F. Hamilton writes huge books of fairly straight soap opera with ridiculous concepts explored in minute detail. Tons of characters, tons of subplots, entertaining if you like your stories long and unlikely.

M. John Harrison seems sort of promising, although I only read one book by him, Light, which was fascinating and somewhat disturbing.

And finally, for the classics, I did use to like Asimov and Clarke too, although I don't know if I would still like them all that much today. Stanislaw Lem, though, is well worth reading. Solaris is a real classic, and his works of humor, such as The Cyberiad can be as funny as anything Douglas Adams wrote.

4 Name: Bookworm : 2006-01-31 22:39 ID:/gCibOKY

Books by Andreas Eschbach, especially "Quest" and "Die Haarteppichknuepfer" (has recently been released in english as "The carpet makers", iirc). There are not many books by him that are available in laguages other than German (Alot of his books have been translated to French), but they tend to be quite good.

"Die Haarteppichknuepfer" is just plain awesomeness. It's set in a universe where the ruler, the "Sternenkaiser", has just been overthrown. The rebels that are now the new Government stumble upon a huge colony with thousands of planets dedicated to producing carpets made of hair for the Kaiser's palace. The strange thing is just that there are no Carpets anywhere in the Palace...

The way this book is written can be a little confusing, i'ts not written as one continuous plot but as a collection of short stories about several people who are all somehow connected to those carpets. But this is one book you'll most probably won't want to put away - when I was reading this, I wanted to read on just to find out where those carpets are going.

5 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-02 16:54 ID:sYQXVsJK

>Iain M. Banks [...] Beware that his stories are very socialist/humanist [...]
>Ken MacLeod [...] Also not one to take entirely seriously,[...]

On a totally unrelated note I also recommend Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream.

>for the classics, I did use to like Asimov and Clarke too, although I don't know if I would still like them [...]

I've always wondered where all the love for Asimov/Clarke/Heinlein comes from. Neither of them was particulary inventive or a good writer. Even when when sticking to only Golden Age authors there's Bradbury, Sturgeon, Clement, del Rey, Bester (didn't write much though), (early) Dick, Brunner...

6 Name: dmpk2k!hinhT6kz2E : 2006-02-03 01:28 ID:Heaven

> I've always wondered where all the love for Asimov/Clarke/Heinlein comes from.

Teenagers. You read what's in the school library, and if what you find on the shelves are piles of the above-mentioned, what do you think you'll be reading?

Hey, it could be worse. Everyone could be in love with Orson Scott Card, or gag Niven.

7 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-03 01:59 ID:Heaven

C.S. Friedman. A study in how to take over-used concepts, and write interesting stories about well defined characters responding to somewhat cliche situations.

8 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-03 05:16 ID:AzQwMTz8

Hay guyz. This is an outdated but still valid "top 100" sci-fi and fantasy list compiled from rec.arts.scifi:

I've basically been going down the list and reading everything. The gems so far have been Roadside Picnic by A & B Strugatski, A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge, The Dragon Never Sleeps by Glen Cook, and Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny...

Where do you guys go for book recommendations?

9 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-03 06:26 ID:O+pXlD8s

i like "enders game" by orsen scott card

10 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-03 21:07 ID:Heaven

>>9 Lol!

11 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-04 03:30 ID:Heaven

I liked "The Integral Trees" by Larry Niven. But I don't read much scifi, and I bet some elitist will come out and disparage me for liking that book. It was quite good, regardless.

12 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-05 10:15 ID:O+pXlD8s

>>10 what's wrong with enders game? :(

13 Name: dmpk2k!hinhT6kz2E : 2006-02-05 12:48 ID:Heaven

You want balls of fun? Try the sequels to Ender's Game.

Card was either high on drugs, or trying to outdo Hubbard at creating a religion. I personally favour the latter explanation.

14 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-05 18:07 ID:AzQwMTz8


Nothing was wrong with Ender's Game. Great book. One of the reasons people dislike OSC (other than his strange personal beliefs he sometimes injects into his writing) is his amazing ability to write a good book and then destroy the original idea with awful sequels. The first couple of Alvin Prentice books were pretty good too, then OSC wrote the series into a stupid mess.

I just finished Lois M Bujold's Shards of Honor: it was pretty damn good. Adventurous and easy-to-read... I'm hoping the rest of the series keeps me as entertained.

15 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-05 20:59 ID:O+pXlD8s

yeah. holy crap are your right. I've tried reading the sequel to ender's game and just couldn't get past the 3rd chapter. and i tried multple times.

16 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-06 04:02 ID:n0mVvsdf

Isn't that the book about kids with superpowers? Like a rejected animu script?

17 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-06 20:11 ID:cBQh7WrI

Ursula K Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

Trying to find the second book of the Earthsea cycle so I can read the whole thing.

18 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-07 00:37 ID:O+pXlD8s

I heard it sucked. I read the first Earthsea book and liked it very much. I've seen the miniseries or whatever that melded the two books together. the book was better :P

19 Name: !WAHa.06x36 : 2006-02-07 12:52 ID:bVYA10RH

For a different perspective on Orson Scott Card, read I haven't actually read the book, but it seems to me that article raises a number of issues seem pretty important to think about.

There's also the far kookier, with its ensuing flamewars in the comments, which is sort of hilarious in its own right.

20 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-07 18:18 ID:W2UdEKZI

The first link in >>19 is great. Skip to the last section (Why is Ender's Game Popular?) if you have a short attention span:

>This, I fear, is the appeal of Ender’s Game: it models this scenario precisely and
>absolves the child of any doubt that his actions in response to such treatment are
>questionable. It offers revenge without guilt. If you ever as a child felt unloved, if
>you ever feared that at some level you might deserve any abuse you suffered,
>Ender’s story tells you that you do not. In your soul, you are good. You are specially
>gifted, and better than anyone else. Your mistreatment is the evidence of your
>gifts. You are morally superior. Your turn will come, and then you may severely
>punish others, yet remain blameless. You are the hero.

The above explains exactly why (having read it as an adult) I don't think the book is that great. The short story was much better.

21 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-08 21:23 ID:O+pXlD8s

I never thought of it that way. HMMMMM

22 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-09 04:00 ID:Heaven

be sarcastic all you like >>21, there are people here around age 16 who have not thought of it that way for real

23 Name: 21 : 2006-02-09 08:38 ID:O+pXlD8s

I wasn't being sarcastic. lol. I seriously never thought of it that way. For me, it was Ender doing something that he would regret for the rest of his life. To do something that seems right at the time and then find out it's wrong. Also, even though one is blameless, one doesn't feel that way. To regret and feel guilt even when one is "blameless". That's what I got from the book. But your interpretation is very interesting. Definatly a new perspective on it.

24 Name: dmpk2k!hinhT6kz2E : 2006-02-09 22:12 ID:Heaven

I think some people read a bit too much into a novel. Ender's Game seems targeted at a young-adult audience, so I doubt it's filled with deeper meaning.

Go too far and it becomes a Rorschach inkblot.

25 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-12 12:30 ID:Heaven

>Go too far and it becomes a Rorschach inkblot.

Ha ha ha. Read the book before you say that.

26 Name: dmpk2k!hinhT6kz2E : 2006-02-12 14:45 ID:Heaven

I wouldn't have posted my opinion on the matter if I hadn't read it.

What next? Discussion about deeper meaning in the actions of comicbook superheroes?

27 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-12 18:20 ID:6MP8hcPY

There are classes in college that discuss the deeper meaning of Wizard of Oz.

There have been countless analyses of Little Red Riding Hood which was targeted at a young-adult audience.

And people do discuss comicbooks.

28 Name: dmpk2k!hinhT6kz2E : 2006-02-13 00:39 ID:Heaven

I shouldn't be surprised. It seems a lot of English majors take great relish finding meaning that was never intended. They remind me of whacky conspiracists.

> And people do discuss comicbooks.

The world is coming to an end. --

29 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-13 05:11 ID:HCxzrkox

I understand why >>28 holds that opinion, but I can't see anything wrong with 'finding meaning that was never intended'. Isn't that what current criticism is all about? The reader creates the meaning and so on?

30 Name: Ohya Seiichiro : 2006-02-13 11:13 ID:CTk7jWJV

I am very rich

31 Name: !WAHa.06x36 : 2006-02-13 17:37 ID:r73me2S+

Now, it is a valid criticism of literature criticism to say that introducing meaning where none exists is not a very interesting line of reasoning. Postmodernists in particular are very guilty of this.

However, this neither means that looking for hidden meaning is a worthless pursuit, nor does it mean that apparently shallow works lack meaning which has been subconsciously introduced by the author, or meaning influenced by the society the author lived in.

And furhtermore, this statement is really showing a lack of insight:

> There have been countless analyses of Little Red Riding Hood which was targeted at a young-adult audience.

Little Red Riding Hood is a traditional folk tale. Saying that it is "targeted at a young-adult audience" is highly non-sensical. It is approximately true for the re-telling by the Brothers Grimm, if you ignore the fact that the term "young adult" is seriously anachronistic for the period it was published.

Even so, there is much to be analyzed - how was the traditional folk tale changed for this publication, what does that say about the intentions of the authors, and what does it say about society at the time, and how does it change the underlying message of the tale from the original folk tale? Furthermore, the orignal tale exists in many versions, as does any folk tale. Comparing these gives insight into many things.

32 Name: !WAHa.06x36 : 2006-02-13 17:41 ID:r73me2S+


PS: Read the quote at the top of the article:

There's always moral instruction whether the writer inserts it deliberately or not. The least effective moral instruction in fiction is that which is consciously inserted. Partly because it won't reflect the storyteller's true beliefs, it will only reflect what he BELIEVES he believes, or what he thinks he should believe or what he's been persuaded of.

But when you write without deliberately expressing moral teachings, the morals that show up are the ones you actually live by. The beliefs that you don't even think to question, that you don't even notice-- those will show up. And that tells much more truth about what you believe than your deliberate moral machinations.

--Orson Scott Card

33 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-13 23:50 ID:O+pXlD8s



that's actually really nice

34 Name: dmpk2k!hinhT6kz2E : 2006-02-14 04:48 ID:Heaven

I'm not certain I buy Card's argument. Some fiction is quite out there. Does this mean that it reflects the morality of the author?

If so, I have a long list of authors whom I hope I never bump into on the street, lest they drag me into an alley and do horrible things to my corpse.

I'd be inclined to say that an author whose writing necessarily reflects their core beliefs lacks imagination.

35 Name: !WAHa.06x36 : 2006-02-14 13:38 ID:bVYA10RH


You didn't read the quote. He's saying that it's when an author doesn't try to insert a moral message that his true morals shine through. That has nothing to do with writing messed-up stories, because then you are intentionally using morals you may not agree with, just for fun. Neither does it have anything to do with imagination.

It's a sort-of counter-argument to your "Ender's Game seems targeted at a young-adult audience, so I doubt it's filled with deeper meaning.", because it's when exactly when you are not inserting deeper meaning that your true beliefs shine through, which is why it's perfectly reasonable to deconstruct the morality of the book.

36 Name: dmpk2k!hinhT6kz2E : 2006-02-14 22:36 ID:Heaven

Last I checked, writing messed-up stories does not usually entail intentional insertion of morality, except in the most tenuous sense, nor does it have anything to do with deeper meaning.

Interpretation of literature reminds me of this:
Guy A: This novel really means this!
Guy B: No it doesn't, you illiterate dunce. It really means this. See here and here. That proves it!
Guy C: You're all shallow fools. You have to read the first letter of every seventh word backwards, cross-reference it with the Bible, and compare with the history of candle-making, which is clearly symbolic!

Bah, say I. Humans see patterns where there are none.

37 Name: !WAHa.06x36 : 2006-02-15 22:43 ID:r73me2S+


You're dangerously close to dismissing all of human communication and intelligence as meaningless there.

Point the first: Authors do write deeper meaning into their stories all the time. And they want you to see that.

Point the second: Even when they don't, their own beliefs and those of the society they live in will influence the story. This is not impossible for the reader to comprehend, either.

Point the third: Sometimes authors write confusing stories just for the fun of it, without any intended meaning, or with misleading meanings.

Point the fourth: It is sometimes hard to tell the difference between points one, two and three, and your own prejudices or delusions. This does not mean that trying is meaningless, nor that success is impossible!

Humans sometimes see patterns where there are none, but most of the time they see patterns where patterns abound.

38 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-20 23:49 ID:Heaven


Why does the meaning have to be deep? What does that even mean?

39 Name: !WAHa.06x36 : 2006-02-21 12:40 ID:Heaven


That's just shorthand for any meaning the story contains beyond what is explicitly written down.

40 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-21 16:40 ID:HSDpS5ri

One word: deconstruction.

41 Name: dmpk2k!hinhT6kz2E : 2006-02-21 22:51 ID:Heaven

42 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-22 03:05 ID:Heaven

>>40-41 lol
Post-modernism is awesome, the big philosophers can be tough to read but neat-- but I get the feeling from what I've had to read that a lot of younger academians are only pretending to understand it. It's like they're write incomprehensible shit hoping like hell that it means something and that they'll get to be a pr0fessoo0r

43 Name: !WAHa.06x36 : 2006-02-22 14:01 ID:bVYA10RH

I tried to avoid bringing the postmodernists into this back in >>31, but apparently that didn't help.

Point is, postmodernist literary criticism is largely a huge failure. It's grown into a self-contained and self-congratualting mass incapable of questioning itself, and heading straight into irrelevance.

But just because they like to deconstruct texts, and make up any kind of crazy meanings for it they see fit, does not mean that some deconstruction and criticism isn't both possible and valid.

(For more on the postmodernists, I recommend reading It's long, but definitely worth it. For incurable nerds, there's also the less insightful but still entertaining

44 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-22 19:00 ID:HSDpS5ri


Postmodernist literary criticism kind of fails because it generally focuses more on elitism than on postmodernism - but postmodernism itself is awesome, I think... I am sort of a «strong postmodernist», as the article you posted says - it doesn't really have any relevance if there are factors other than speech, since speech is the method we're always going to filter everything through - even if we didn't know how to speak, we would most likely be filtering things through abstraction (that is, assuming general qualities out of concrete consciences of perception), which is still a simpler version of the language ability. However, I, for certain, DO speak, so not only I don't know if this is true, but it doesn't really matter at all. Because of this, and the qualities postmodernists attribute to speech, I don't think there's any problem with seemingly «bizarre» deconstruction... but I do agree that all the posing and confusing babble of some (most) critics is exasperating, to say the least. Also, their relentless use of quotes as points (as oposed to just playing with intertextuality, which is more of a literary thing, though I'm all in for bringing down the barrier between criticism and literature itself) makes me wonder what do critics understand about postmodernism - I mean, sometimes they're using quotes from «authority philosophers» instead of using their own understanding of such thinkers (or their own postmodern ideas, like), which is as unpostmodern as it gets, I think.

45 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-23 05:14 ID:Heaven

Dear >>44,
Please learn to use paragraph breaks.

Most cordially yours,

46 Name: Bookworm : 2006-02-23 13:30 ID:Heaven


Postmodernists do not "use" your patriarchal "paragraph breaks"!

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