Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Nolanator
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Nolanator »

Posted this in the TV series thread, but figured I'd C&P here, given the target audience. Some of the content is right up the alley of regulars on this thread.
Nolanator wrote:I stumbled across a series on Netflix called Love, Death, and Robots. A series of animated sci-fi shorts from last year. Each episode is done by a different studio, so they're all very different in style.
The episodes can be a bit hit and miss, but I found some of them to be really good. Proper old school sci-fi like you'd get in a magazine in the 70s or something. Most of them are about 15 minutes long, so you hardly invest much time watching the poorer ones, and they're still reasonably entertaining.

"Beyond the Aquila Rift" was brilliant. On looking it up, it's the title of a short story which is part of a collection of stories under the same name. Might have to get my hands on it.
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JM2K6
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Yeah, I can second that - great little series. A couple of them sucked, but most of them were good. Think my favourite was the arena monster one.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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That was class. Great animations, and a neat little twist. And tits.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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JM2K6 wrote:Yeah, I can second that - great little series. A couple of them sucked, but most of them were good. Think my favourite was the arena monster one.
Thirded. Also, on Beyond The Aquila Rift. Reynold's Revelation Space books are fantastic. For me, they're better than the Culture books.

*prepares for backlash*
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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flaggETERNAL wrote:
Reynold's Revelation Space books are fantastic. For me, they're better than the Culture books.

*prepares for backlash*

i find them difficult to compare re: world building... Banks gave himself a near eternal canvas on which to paint with the Culture, while Revelation Space is relatively confined

i give Reynold's the nod regarding moving things along... recently tried to re-read Excession and farkin hell he blabbers on

but Banks' force of imagination is something to behold
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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flaggETERNAL wrote:
JM2K6 wrote:Yeah, I can second that - great little series. A couple of them sucked, but most of them were good. Think my favourite was the arena monster one.
Thirded. Also, on Beyond The Aquila Rift. Reynold's Revelation Space books are fantastic. For me, they're better than the Culture books.

*prepares for backlash*
:shock:
Big words!
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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So, after watching LD&R and reading about it, I saw that it was inspired by a sci-fi anthology from teh 80s, Heavy Metal. Originally LD&R was envisaged as a remake, but it evolved into a miniseries of unconnected shorts.
I watched Heavy Metal there the other night. Holy shit, that involved a lot of drugs. :lol:
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crash 669
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Nolanator wrote:So, after watching LD&R and reading about it, I saw that it was inspired by a sci-fi anthology from teh 80s, Heavy Metal. Originally LD&R was envisaged as a remake, but it evolved into a miniseries of unconnected shorts.
I watched Heavy Metal there the other night. Holy shit, that involved a lot of drugs. :lol:
I've mentioned it before but Harlan Ellison's "I have no mouth but I must scream" and the collection of short stories he edited called Dangerous Visions are brilliant in that vein. Some of the shit people can come up with under the influence of acid (or with great imaginations and talent...) is amazing.
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Toulon's Not Toulouse
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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icon wrote:
flaggETERNAL wrote:
Reynold's Revelation Space books are fantastic. For me, they're better than the Culture books.

*prepares for backlash*

i find them difficult to compare re: world building... Banks gave himself a near eternal canvas on which to paint with the Culture, while Revelation Space is relatively confined

i give Reynold's the nod regarding moving things along... recently tried to re-read Excession and farkin hell he blabbers on

but Banks' force of imagination is something to behold
I'm the same. I pretty much worship both authors as far as SF is concerned, but would have a hard time comparing them. They're so very different...
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by A5D5E5 »

icon wrote:
flaggETERNAL wrote:
Reynold's Revelation Space books are fantastic. For me, they're better than the Culture books.

*prepares for backlash*

i find them difficult to compare re: world building... Banks gave himself a near eternal canvas on which to paint with the Culture, while Revelation Space is relatively confined

i give Reynold's the nod regarding moving things along... recently tried to re-read Excession and farkin hell he blabbers on

but Banks' force of imagination is something to behold
I love the Revelation space books. In particular, the fact that they don't have superluminal travel makes them very interesting in a "this is vaguely plausible in a far future" type of way that the culture books aren't. But the best culture books are a level above. Excession being my favourite.

The problem with the culture, despite the "near eternal canvas" is that they were too powerful - it seemed harder and harder for him to create a sense of jeopardy. After a few books, you always expected the culture agent/drone/mind/ship to have the answer to any problem. Having said that, I still loved them and the last couple were great so perhaps he could have carried on finding ways to create interesting situations.
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6.Jones
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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This isn't in the class of any of those, but I'd be pleased if any of you would read my book. It's free [just enter a zero price].

Feedback is welcome. I'm just gearing up to write the next in the series.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/959451
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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speaking of 'near eternal canvases' i can't help thinking how freaking awesome a big budget series based around Gurgeh from The Player of Games could be...
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6.Jones
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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icon wrote:speaking of 'near eternal canvases' i can't help thinking how freaking awesome a big budget series based around Gurgeh from The Player of Games could be...
Series are the way to go now. They leave movies in the dust for storytelling detail.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by A5D5E5 »

6.Jones wrote:This isn't in the class of any of those, but I'd be pleased if any of you would read my book. It's free [just enter a zero price].

Feedback is welcome. I'm just gearing up to write the next in the series.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/959451
Sounds like a really interesting idea. I will give it a read.

I wish I had the time, ability, imagination and dedication to attempt writing a book. I lose interest half way through writing a
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A5D5E5
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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icon wrote:speaking of 'near eternal canvases' i can't help thinking how freaking awesome a big budget series based around Gurgeh from The Player of Games could be...
Possibly. I've always imagined Consider Phlebas as the most obvious book to turn into a series and Use of Weapons as the most filmable.

But I want to see the ships brought to life, so just give me Excession.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by ChipSpike »

icon wrote:speaking of 'near eternal canvases' i can't help thinking how freaking awesome a big budget series based around Gurgeh from The Player of Games could be...
There's lots of classic books I would like Netflix/Amazon to have a stab at. Ringworld, The Mote in God's Eye, and maybe Jack Vance's Demon Prince series. I reckon I would hate them though :lol:

Having said that the Expanse is pretty good from Amazon.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Morgan14 »

JM2K6 wrote:Yeah, I can second that - great little series. A couple of them sucked, but most of them were good. Think my favourite was the arena monster one.

Yes, I enjoyed it as well. I think i liked the WWII soviet soldiers battling the demons the most, but others were excellent too.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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crash 669 wrote:
Nolanator wrote:So, after watching LD&R and reading about it, I saw that it was inspired by a sci-fi anthology from teh 80s, Heavy Metal. Originally LD&R was envisaged as a remake, but it evolved into a miniseries of unconnected shorts.
I watched Heavy Metal there the other night. Holy shit, that involved a lot of drugs. :lol:
I've mentioned it before but Harlan Ellison's "I have no mouth but I must scream" and the collection of short stories he edited called Dangerous Visions are brilliant in that vein. Some of the shit people can come up with under the influence of acid (or with great imaginations and talent...) is amazing.
Combination of the two, most likely.

There's one scene where a spaceship is flying away from earth into space and the alien pilots snort a load of drugs and the starscape in the background just morphs into a pile of cocaine. :lol:
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Excession was blabbering?? :shock: :shock: :shock:

It was always difficult to engineer jeopardy for the culture, hence the stories being set on the fringes where they interact with other civs. There was a lot of Mind ex machina, but I liked it.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Nolanator wrote:Excession was blabbering?? :shock: :shock: :shock:

It was always difficult to engineer jeopardy for the culture, hence the stories being set on the fringes where they interact with other civs. There was a lot of Mind ex machina, but I liked it.
Spoiler alert - spoiler gives away pretty much the whole plot of Look to Windward.
Spoiler: show
"Oh yes, that threat that had been a major concern for the whole book. No problem. I've dealt with it. Now what do you think of the concert?"
PS I will rain down fury like an angry ROU on anyone who considers Excession imperfect.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Spoiler: show
In Player of Games, SC had planned for Gurgeh to win the game and bring down the empire of Azad all along. The drone who blackmailed him to do them a favour was the same assistant drone that helped him all along.

In Surface Detail, Zakalwe has been doing SC's work in the War in Hell, despite the Culture claiming to not be involved.

The Mistake Not...* in the Hydrogen Sonata was the biggest bad ass warship the whole way through the book, but only reveals it in the climactic bits.

The Culture, and SC in particular, are always involved and more in control than you think. It's awesome.

*I still f**king love that part.

I'd love to see Excession done on screen with a big budget, but so much of it is quirky warship Minds talking to each other. It would take some work to translate that to the screen.
The Affront would be class, though.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Nolanator wrote:
Spoiler: show
In Player of Games, SC had planned for Gurgeh to win the game and bring down the empire of Azad all along. The drone who blackmailed him to do them a favour was the same assistant drone that helped him all along.

In Surface Detail, Zakalwe has been doing SC's work in the War in Hell, despite the Culture claiming to not be involved.

The Mistake Not...* in the Hydrogen Sonata was the biggest bad ass warship the whole way through the book, but only reveals it in the climactic bits.

The Culture, and SC in particular, are always involved and more in control than you think. It's awesome.

*I still f**king love that part.

I'd love to see Excession done on screen with a big budget, but so much of it is quirky warship Minds talking to each other. It would take some work to translate that to the screen.
The Affront would be class, though.
True in all cases, though I would see those mostly as example of how manipulative and duplicitous Contact and SC are. The example I gave always seemed to me the closest to Deus ex Hamilton's "and then the magic space alien made it all better". I still love them though.

The examples you gave are also the sort of point I was making above - after reading a few books, you just expect SC to be in control and the solution to be found whatever the situation.

Much as I might fantasize about seeing Excession adapted, I have to agree. I can't see how it could be adapted without losing the essence of why I love it. I also can't imagine the Affront would be approved of by Hollywood. And Genar-Hofoen would be entirely re-written in these post #metoo days.

Idirans would be great movie bad guys though.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Yeah, contemporary script writers would entirely miss the stuff about changing gender as you please, both parties in the relationship being female and pregnant at the same time, there be literally no barriers to identity or sexualities preference; and instead focus on how mean and nasty the Affront are. Which is the point of them, their society of reprehensible to the Culture's sensitivities and drives their underhanded efforts to contain and influence them.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Nolanator wrote:Yeah, contemporary script writers would entirely miss the stuff about changing gender as you please, both parties in the relationship being female and pregnant at the same time, there be literally no barriers to identity or sexualities preference; and instead focus on how mean and nasty the Affront are. Which is the point of them, their society of reprehensible to the Culture's sensitivities and drives their underhanded efforts to contain and influence them.
I'm sure I'm probably wrong, but I always imagined that Iain Banks thought of the Affront as being a bit well...English. And I don't believe anyone who wouldn't fancy doing what Genar does at the end - at least for a while.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Imagine the fun you could have? The really old chap does it as well in the H2 Sonata. Inhabits the body of some aquatic species for a few years while he's out experiencing the universe.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Nolanator wrote:Imagine the fun you could have? The really old chap does it as well in the H2 Sonata. Inhabits the body of some aquatic species for a few years while he's out experiencing the universe.
Isn't there a minor character who inhabits a potted plant in one of the books or am I confusing it with another series? I think on balance I would prefer being a (male) Affronter.

Edit to add - actually on further thinking, I think it is a bit of exposition explaining what was possible within the culture and an example was given of transferring a mind-state to a plant, rather than it being an actual plant character.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Excession is definitely my favourite of the seven Culture books I've read, I can't get enough of the Minds and their interactions, it's brilliant. It also contains one of my favourite Banks lines: “An Outside Context Problem was the sort of thing most civilisations encountered just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop.”

Haven't read Revelation Space, it's been sitting on my bookshelf for ages. Might read it next, I'm almost finished Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It's a good read but not a patch on Children of Time, which blew me away.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Love that line. :thumbup:
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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PourSomeRuggerOnMe wrote:Haven't read Revelation Space, it's been sitting on my bookshelf for ages. Might read it next, I'm almost finished Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It's a good read but not a patch on Children of Time, which blew me away.
Be aware that Revelation Space has a lot of books in the same universe, providing some context to each other. I first read the "main trilogy" (Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap), then the standalone novels and short stories, and a lot (most) of it takes place before the trilogy and explains a lot of stuff. Not sure what the recommended read order would be, and it's even a bit more complicated as the some novels jump forward through time, but maybe starting with the standalone would make the trilogy an easier read. It's a great universe, but it does take a while to get your head around it.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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I started the final Endymion/Hyperion book a few weeks ago and keep falling asleep the second I start reading it. :uhoh:
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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the southern reach trilogy is really good.

bio sci-fi horror thing.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by PourSomeRuggerOnMe »

Toulon's Not Toulouse wrote:Be aware that Revelation Space has a lot of books in the same universe, providing some context to each other. I first read the "main trilogy" (Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap), then the standalone novels and short stories, and a lot (most) of it takes place before the trilogy and explains a lot of stuff. Not sure what the recommended read order would be, and it's even a bit more complicated as the some novels jump forward through time, but maybe starting with the standalone would make the trilogy an easier read. It's a great universe, but it does take a while to get your head around it.
Cheers, I'll look into the recommended reading order :thumbup:
ukjim wrote:the southern reach trilogy is really good.

bio sci-fi horror thing.
God, I couldn't stand Annihilation, I think I posted about it a few pages back. Thought it was awful, but it has some great reviews so obviously just not for me.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Nolanator wrote:I started the final Endymion/Hyperion book a few weeks ago and keep falling asleep the second I start reading it. :uhoh:

I'm recently read another of his stories, Ilium, and am finishing the second in that series, Olympus. It's a strange story, but I'm enjoying it.

Also, it's probably been mentioned here, but I really enjoyed the Old Man's War series by John Scalzi. Some interesting ideas, and I like the way he tells a story. I've read most of his other books as well and have enjoyed them all.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Having just enjoyed Messia on Netflix brought back fond memories of Patrick Tilley ‘Mission’ and Morecocks ‘behold the man.’
Let’s not forget Tilleys ‘fade out’ a classic! I’m
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Fat Old Git wrote:
Nolanator wrote:I started the final Endymion/Hyperion book a few weeks ago and keep falling asleep the second I start reading it. :uhoh:

I'm recently read another of his stories, Ilium, and am finishing the second in that series, Olympus. It's a strange story, but I'm enjoying it.

Also, it's probably been mentioned here, but I really enjoyed the Old Man's War series by John Scalzi. Some interesting ideas, and I like the way he tells a story. I've read most of his other books as well and have enjoyed them all.
Scalzi's blog is good value as well
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Fat Old Git wrote:
Nolanator wrote:I started the final Endymion/Hyperion book a few weeks ago and keep falling asleep the second I start reading it. :uhoh:

I'm recently read another of his stories, Ilium, and am finishing the second in that series, Olympus. It's a strange story, but I'm enjoying it.

Also, it's probably been mentioned here, but I really enjoyed the Old Man's War series by John Scalzi. Some interesting ideas, and I like the way he tells a story. I've read most of his other books as well and have enjoyed them all.
Ilium/Olympus is super weird alright. Takes a while until he starts explaining wtf is going on. The setting is neatly unusual though.

Scalzi is entertaining in his writing. It's far more pulp-ish, but good fun, and he has some interesting premises. A standalone side read from him, Redshirts, is absolutely hilarious.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by crash 669 »

Toulon's Not Toulouse wrote:
Fat Old Git wrote:
Nolanator wrote:I started the final Endymion/Hyperion book a few weeks ago and keep falling asleep the second I start reading it. :uhoh:

I'm recently read another of his stories, Ilium, and am finishing the second in that series, Olympus. It's a strange story, but I'm enjoying it.

Also, it's probably been mentioned here, but I really enjoyed the Old Man's War series by John Scalzi. Some interesting ideas, and I like the way he tells a story. I've read most of his other books as well and have enjoyed them all.
Ilium/Olympus is super weird alright. Takes a while until he starts explaining wtf is going on. The setting is neatly unusual though.

Scalzi is entertaining in his writing. It's far more pulp-ish, but good fun, and he has some interesting premises. A standalone side read from him, Redshirts, is absolutely hilarious.
Noted, it's one of those I've had on my shelf and not got round to yet.

Also has anyone read diamond dogs, turquoise days? I'm just reading the Redemption Ark now, so not sure whether to finish the proper trilogy first before branching out.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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crash 669 wrote:Also has anyone read diamond dogs, turquoise days? I'm just reading the Redemption Ark now, so not sure whether to finish the proper trilogy first before branching out.
They're both side stories fleshing out the universe, so feel free to read them before finishing the trilogy if you want, it shouldn't spoil anything. Also, it's a good idea to read it before the Galactic North novels as it'll give you a little more context for a novel. To complicate things further though, you may want to read Chasm City before Galactic North as another one of the GN stories ties up with CC.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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I visited a house last week (deceased owner, we're dealing with the estate) and the owner had a lot of sci fi. It's interesting just how thick modern books are compared to the classics. I'm reading the Harry Harrison Deathworld series and they rattle along. In the time a modern book has taken to describe a sunrise, he's shifted three chapters and introduced five new major characters.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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The sleep thread reminded me of this.

I've completely stalled with Rise of Endymion. Mostly due to the fact that I only read in bed, and these days I'm asleep in minutes. Most of the time I'll get a maximum of one page done before I put it down or actually drop my Knidle onto my face.

Also, Anaea is really annoying. I don't care about her. She knows everything, everyone loves her, she's so fucking self assured. She's too in control. I have no invested interest in Raul's relationship with her. The bigger story is cool enough, in terms of the social evolution that humans go through, the weird and wonderful mad shit about the Ousters and how they live, a novel take on the whole machines VS humans story, etc.

I just have zero interest is the special one's superpowers.
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