Best Sci-Fi Novels

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lorcanoworms
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by lorcanoworms »

Nolanator wrote:
Brazil wrote:
Nolanator wrote:
sorCrer wrote:Finished a rereading of Consider Phlebas 5 minutes ago. Damned good. Going to read them all again.
Finished Player of Games recently. Hadn't read it in a long time and was possibly only my second read-through. The epilogue pure Banks. Literally the last two words of the book throwing the entire story into a different context.
The Culture is always in the driving seat and playing several moves ahead of everyone else in the Galactic Game of Thrones. :thumbup:
What was that?
Serious spoilers.
Spoiler: show
In the book, Gurgeh is beating everyone in their giant board game which decides how their society plays out in the Azad Empire. He's ready to beat the sitting emperor in the final, but the emperor goes off the reservation and tries to kill everyone. The small drone Flere-Imsaho, which was assisting Gurgeh, turns out to be an SC agent and goes all pew-pew-pew and saves him. Fairly standard Mind (well, drone) ex Machina in the climax of a Culture novel.
Then, in the epilogue, the F-I reveals that the Culture manipulated Gurgeh into playing the Game in order to bring the Empire crashing down as they disapproved of the social structure. The final two words reveal that F-I actually posed as the psychotic ex-SC drone which early in the novel manipulated Gurgeh into cheating and then blackmailed him into reaching out to SC to do it a favour. That set the entire plot into motion.

The Minds that control the direction in which the Culture develops are many moves ahead of everyone else.


Similarly, the epilogue in Surface Detail revealed that Vatueil, the soldier fighting in the simulated War in Heaven, is actually Zakalwe from Use of Weapons.* In Surface Detail the Culture are at pains to claim no involvement in influencing this simulated war in a different civilisation, but in the end they're right up to their armpits directing other societies to what they feel is a better set-up.

*Vatueil is an anagram of the half-sister, Livueta, he mutilated in UoW (I had to look her name up). The reveal that Zakalwe is actually not the half-brother you think is itself another revealed in the epilogue of UoW.

It's trick he used a lot to completely turn the story you've just read on it's head. Character motivations etc are all under a totally different light now.
He used it a lot, but I've always enjoyed it.
That was a lot longer and more waffly than I intended when I started typing. :lol:
I read it and don't remember any of that :)
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6.Jones
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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The Water Bear. Kind of a bit Iain M Banksy. Especially interesting since hundreds of water bears are now loose on the moon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07VNSQ1R5
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JM2K6
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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I enjoyed book 1 of Asher's Transformation series - the Black AI and all that - but book 2 turned into a real slog. Complexity for the sake of it, given what actually happens is quite straightforward (although he leans on his deus ex machinae a bit too much).
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Finally finished Tiamat's Wrath, bringing me up to date with the Expanse novels. Had to go and refresh my memory of the two novels before it to remind myself how certain main players were positioned leading into TW.

Then I realised that I'd missed one of the novellas set between the main books. Strange Dogs. Read it earlier and thought that it's a brilliant proper sci-fi short. Told through they eyes of an 11 year old girl, daughter of colonists on a new planet as she explores the area around their house by herself. Lots of stuff relating to the main story arc hinted at, of course, but well worth the read in its own right.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Nolanator wrote:Finally finished Tiamat's Wrath, bringing me up to date with the Expanse novels. Had to go and refresh my memory of the two novels before it to remind myself how certain main players were positioned leading into TW.

Then I realised that I'd missed one of the novellas set between the main books. Strange Dogs. Read it earlier and thought that it's a brilliant proper sci-fi short. Told through they eyes of an 11 year old girl, daughter of colonists on a new planet as she explores the area around their house by herself. Lots of stuff relating to the main story arc hinted at, of course, but well worth the read in its own right.
Just bought the first book. I hardly ever read fiction these days, but i like the TV show a lot so I will give it a ago.
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749a
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by 749a »

Enjoyed the RR Haywood's Extracted time travel trilogy, Extracted, Executed and Extinct.
Not exactly hard sci-fi, and as (almost) always with time travel the plot doesn't quite stand up to close scrutiny, but good fun.
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Pat the Ex Mat
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Sydney Uni is offering a Sci-fi writing course this year. It's a bit short notice but would be interesting to try.
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Toulon's Not Toulouse
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Nolanator wrote:Finally finished Tiamat's Wrath, bringing me up to date with the Expanse novels. Had to go and refresh my memory of the two novels before it to remind myself how certain main players were positioned leading into TW.

Then I realised that I'd missed one of the novellas set between the main books. Strange Dogs. Read it earlier and thought that it's a brilliant proper sci-fi short. Told through they eyes of an 11 year old girl, daughter of colonists on a new planet as she explores the area around their house by herself. Lots of stuff relating to the main story arc hinted at, of course, but well worth the read in its own right.
While it's annoying to read the books as they come and wait for the next one to show up, I take solace in the fact that we'll get them before GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRM announces that Winds of Winter is completed and just needs "a few fixes" that will take another decade.

Regarding Expanse, since you're up to date:
Spoiler: show
I'm still pissed off at the death of Clarissa. Cool character that'd have been worth developing when Amos, of course, gets a pass. I enjoy the raw aspect of Amos's way to deal with life head on and come out on top, but at this point it's becoming ridiculous. Bobbie's death was fitting, felt a bit like Miller's in that regards.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Nolanator »

Spoiler: show
Peaches had to go. Her sickness and the certainty of dying young was part of her redemption arc. At least she did it in style.

Bobbie was probably always going out in a fight. Always happiest as a soldier, never content when she was a diplomat/working with vets etc. Riding a antimatter warhead down into an enemy mega ship is pretty class, TBF.

Amos getting shot surprised me. Although zombie Amos is pretty cool now. I can't imagine that he'll act much differently to before, he wasn't exactly empathetic then. :lol:

Have you read the novellas?
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Moving on to Hyperion now. Anyone else read it?
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Bindi
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Nolanator wrote:Moving on to Hyperion now. Anyone else read it?
First book is very good. Second OK. Third, not so much.
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PourSomeRuggerOnMe
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by PourSomeRuggerOnMe »

Nolanator wrote:Moving on to Hyperion now. Anyone else read it?
One of my favourites. Definitely the most 'literary' sci-fi book I've ever read.

Be aware that Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion are essentially one book split into two. Then there are the two Endymion books, which I haven't got around to yet, and they're set much later in the same universe, so not direct sequels.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Currently reading A city dreaming by Daniel Polansky. It's more fantasy than science fiction in truth but most enjoyable thus far.

I've transcribed a snippet from it in the Brexit thread...
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crash 669
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by crash 669 »

PourSomeRuggerOnMe wrote:
Nolanator wrote:Moving on to Hyperion now. Anyone else read it?
One of my favourites. Definitely the most 'literary' sci-fi book I've ever read.

Be aware that Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion are essentially one book split into two. Then there are the two Endymion books, which I haven't got around to yet, and they're set much later in the same universe, so not direct sequels.
I enjoyed all of them very much. The first one is definitely the best, but all of them are enjoyable. The stuff about being liquidised by faster than light travel in the third and fourth books is really interesting.
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Toulon's Not Toulouse
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Toulon's Not Toulouse »

Nolanator wrote:Moving on to Hyperion now. Anyone else read it?
Enjoyed them. Hyperion in itself is great. The rest of the books are good and introduce some great concepts, but they can't compete with the atmosphere of the first one. As others said, the two Hyperion books and the two Endymion books, while directly related, are separate stories, so that's a good place to stop if you feel like taking a break in-between.

And back to the expanse, no, haven't gone through the novellas yet, they're on the to-read list at some point.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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PourSomeRuggerOnMe wrote:
Nolanator wrote:Moving on to Hyperion now. Anyone else read it?
One of my favourites. Definitely the most 'literary' sci-fi book I've ever read.

Be aware that Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion are essentially one book split into two. Then there are the two Endymion books, which I haven't got around to yet, and they're set much later in the same universe, so not direct sequels.
Forgot there were actually 2 Endymion books. He really should have left it alone after the Hyperion ones.

The Shrike is one of the more awesome characters in sci-fi
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crash 669
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by crash 669 »

Bindi wrote:
PourSomeRuggerOnMe wrote:
Nolanator wrote:Moving on to Hyperion now. Anyone else read it?
One of my favourites. Definitely the most 'literary' sci-fi book I've ever read.

Be aware that Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion are essentially one book split into two. Then there are the two Endymion books, which I haven't got around to yet, and they're set much later in the same universe, so not direct sequels.
Forgot there were actually 2 Endymion books. He really should have left it alone after the Hyperion ones.

The Shrike is one of the more awesome characters in sci-fi
The Endymion books still add to that universe,
Spoiler: show
the expansion of the cruciform as a way to overcome the collapse of travel across the galaxy was good and some of the planets they went to were awesome, the ice cave stuff was tough to read.

The only downside to it for me was the sex scenes which felt really forced and since this is a character you've known since she was a little girl, it was a bit creepy.
But Hyperion is definitely the best.

Edited to hide spoilers - my bad!
Last edited by crash 669 on Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Nolanator »

Toulon's Not Toulouse wrote: And back to the expanse, no, haven't gone through the novellas yet, they're on the to-read list at some point.
Do. They add to the backgrounds of done of the more interesting characters. There's one about Amos before leaving earth, one about how Cortezar ever up working for Duarte after the events of Leviathan Wakes, one about Bobbie on Mars while the others are on Ilus, and one about settlers on Laconia.

The Bobbie one is probably the least interesting.

The last one is the one I read yesterday. It gives the back story to Cara and Xan end up as they are in the cage in Tiamat's Wrath. Pretty dark, but a good short story.
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Toulon's Not Toulouse
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Toulon's Not Toulouse »

Lads, go easy on the Hyperion/Endymion spoilers. You're throwing some major plot points there, Nolanator hasn't read the books yet!
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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If not already mentioned, get a read of Roadside Picnic by the Strugatskys. Cracking bit of 70s commie stuff, albeit quality dependent on the choice of translation (there are a few versions).
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Has the Three Body Problem been mentioned in this thread?

Listened to it on audible a while back but bought the trilogy on paperback and going to read it again and then through the series. It's brilliant.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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danthefan wrote:Has the Three Body Problem been mentioned in this thread?
Pretty sure a saw it mentioned a while ago. Absolutely fantastic trilogy. I'm a sucker for SciFi that touch the large scale/grand scope, and this series is quality and definitely up there. Also: Australia. :lol:
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Dark wrote:Haven't read the whole thread, but are we including Fantasy?

If so. Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

And I am a sucker for Wheel of time
Covenant is great - the first book is unsurpassed in fantasy.

Wheel of Time...meh. Read them all but the books in the middle are amongst the worst I've ever read all the way through, and the ending is double meh. Eye of the World is fantastic though.

On the subject of doomed fantasy heroes - anyone waiting for the third day of Kvothe's story or have you all given up on it ever being released?
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Pat the Ex Mat »

Bindi wrote:
PourSomeRuggerOnMe wrote:
Nolanator wrote:Moving on to Hyperion now. Anyone else read it?
One of my favourites. Definitely the most 'literary' sci-fi book I've ever read.

Be aware that Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion are essentially one book split into two. Then there are the two Endymion books, which I haven't got around to yet, and they're set much later in the same universe, so not direct sequels.
Forgot there were actually 2 Endymion books. He really should have left it alone after the Hyperion ones.

The Shrike is one of the more awesome characters in sci-fi
Are you Kid A?

:proud:
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Uncle Fester »

I liked Endymion but Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion are right up there at the top of sci fi writing.
Loved the hints of factions within the AI's.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by mikeyboy123 »

Yeah, Hyperion is better but the Endymion books are still well worth a read.

Hyperion is really incredible, amongst the best books I've read. Part of me would love for it to be made into a movie or series, but the other part of me can't help thinking I'd be disappointed with the end result. Rumours have been circulating for a few years about various directors being involved, and SYFY were supposed to do a series, but whatever was going on seems to have stalled.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by sorCrer »

mikeyboy123 wrote:Yeah, Hyperion is better but the Endymion books are still well worth a read.

Hyperion is really incredible, amongst the best books I've read. Part of me would love for it to be made into a movie or series, but the other part of me can't help thinking I'd be disappointed with the end result. Rumours have been circulating for a few years about various directors being involved, and SYFY were supposed to do a series, but whatever was going on seems to have stalled.
So very good. :nod:
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Nolanator »

I'm enjoying it. Love getting my teeth into something completely new that I really like.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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I thought the Hyperion 2-book series was excellent. The first book was very special with the way it emulated Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in science fiction format. I also really enjoyed the second book. The first book laid out all the groundwork for what was to come, and the second book was 'pedal to the metal' all the way through to the finish. Loved them both...

I was very lukewarm about Endymion as I thought the characters were nowhere near as compelling as the ones from the first series. I could easily have skipped those and not been worse off.

But both Hyperion books shouldn't be missed. They're amongst my all-time favorites.

As for The Expanse, I loved the first two books but found the third one terrible. I gave up on the series at that point.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Da iawn diolch wrote:If not already mentioned, get a read of Roadside Picnic by the Strugatskys. Cracking bit of 70s commie stuff, albeit quality dependent on the choice of translation (there are a few versions).
Is that the one that Stalker is based on?
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Bindi »

Just finished This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, and it is absolutely outstanding. Definitely on the literary end of sci-fi. Mainly lesbo romance through a series of letters. Very short, but just incredible world-building. Maybe slightly reminiscent of Iain M Banks' Transition.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Bindi wrote:Just finished This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, and it is absolutely outstanding. Definitely on the literary end of sci-fi. Mainly lesbo romance through a series of letters. Very short, but just incredible world-building. Maybe slightly reminiscent of Iain M Banks' Transition.
I'm in.
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crash 669
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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I just recently read Dangerous Visions edited by Harlan Ellison, which has some excellent stories in it, though some are quite dated as you'd expect. His Jack the Ripper story, as well as the one about the boredom of people the day after we encounter aliens stick in my mind.
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Da iawn diolch
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Da iawn diolch »

crash 669 wrote:
Da iawn diolch wrote:If not already mentioned, get a read of Roadside Picnic by the Strugatskys. Cracking bit of 70s commie stuff, albeit quality dependent on the choice of translation (there are a few versions).
Is that the one that Stalker is based on?
No idea, sorry...
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by happyhooker »

Da iawn diolch wrote:
crash 669 wrote:
Da iawn diolch wrote:If not already mentioned, get a read of Roadside Picnic by the Strugatskys. Cracking bit of 70s commie stuff, albeit quality dependent on the choice of translation (there are a few versions).
Is that the one that Stalker is based on?
No idea, sorry...
Loosely, yes.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by damagejackal »

Toulon's Not Toulouse wrote:
danthefan wrote:Has the Three Body Problem been mentioned in this thread?
Pretty sure a saw it mentioned a while ago. Absolutely fantastic trilogy. I'm a sucker for SciFi that touch the large scale/grand scope, and this series is quality and definitely up there. Also: Australia. :lol:


I found the writing style, very turgid and boring. It might sound more exciting in Chinese, but alas I can't speak Japanese!

The plot was very original tho.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by PourSomeRuggerOnMe »

A few I've read recently:

Annihilation - Jeff Vandermeer

I read this for my sci-fi book club (yes, I am a nerd) and I absolutely hated it. It's very short but I still really struggled to finish it, it was so dull and superficial. Some of the prose is nice but when you scratch under the surface of the rambling, dreamlike mood that it sets, there's just nothing there. There's no plot, no interesting characters, no meaningful conflict or resolution, and no interesting ideas. Awful.

Inversions - Iain M Banks

Wow. This is my fifth Culture book and it completely blew me away. Very subtle and cleverly put together, and almost more fantasy than sci-fi. The prose is sumptuous, with the royal court setting giving Banks a chance to throw around some seriously opulent descriptions. The dual narrators intertwine beautifully, and like all Culture books, the list of themes covered is incredibly broad and diverse. As the title suggests, it's all about opposites, juxtapositions, and conflicting ideas and ideologies. We get some powerful ideas on good and evil, war and peace, interference and non-interference, as well as a few beautifully told tales of unrequited love. A fantastic read.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by danthefan »

damagejackal wrote:
Toulon's Not Toulouse wrote:
danthefan wrote:Has the Three Body Problem been mentioned in this thread?
Pretty sure a saw it mentioned a while ago. Absolutely fantastic trilogy. I'm a sucker for SciFi that touch the large scale/grand scope, and this series is quality and definitely up there. Also: Australia. :lol:


I found the writing style, very turgid and boring. It might sound more exciting in Chinese, but alas I can't speak Japanese!

The plot was very original tho.
I'm half way through the second book now, The Dark Forest. The first third of it was bizarre and I'd agree it was fairly turgid. It has started to get going now and I'm fairly hooked again.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Nolanator »

I haven't read Inversions since I was a teenager. Must again.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by JM2K6 »

danthefan wrote:
damagejackal wrote:
Toulon's Not Toulouse wrote:
danthefan wrote:Has the Three Body Problem been mentioned in this thread?
Pretty sure a saw it mentioned a while ago. Absolutely fantastic trilogy. I'm a sucker for SciFi that touch the large scale/grand scope, and this series is quality and definitely up there. Also: Australia. :lol:


I found the writing style, very turgid and boring. It might sound more exciting in Chinese, but alas I can't speak Japanese!

The plot was very original tho.
I'm half way through the second book now, The Dark Forest. The first third of it was bizarre and I'd agree it was fairly turgid. It has started to get going now and I'm fairly hooked again.
Yeah... I hated the first book. It's "imaginitive" but it's essentially ridiculous fantasy written by someone with absolutely no idea how people work or how to write them.
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