Thursday, June 30, 2011

On the Look-Out for Some Good Sci-Fi

I finished my first (completed) novel a few weeks ago, and I'm brainstorming for the next one. The last one was urban fantasy. For the second novel I'm going to get back to my roots and write a science fiction story.

In addition to brainstorming, I'm doing market research and just getting a feel for what's out there. I'm trying to expose myself to as much good science fiction as possible.

If any of you have some good sci fi you'd be willing to recommend to me, please do so by leaving a comment. I'm looking for books, movies, television shows, etc. Please tell me why you like what you're recommending. Good story? Great characters? Cool ideas? Also, please tell me what sub-genre it is (if you know). Ie, space opera, hard sci-fi, military sci-fi, dystopian sci-fi, mundane sci-fi, etc.

I'm looking for not only books that are well-written, but also cool ideas--innovations you especially liked. For instance, I love the book Lady of Mazes by Karl Schroeder for his look at the future of the internet and virtual reality. 

Also, if there are any nonfiction books, etc. that you would recommend as a resource, lay it on me. For instance books by Stephen Hawking or Michio Kaku or Discovery Channel's How the Universe Works.

Thanks in advance. I know you guys have great taste!

Fly smart.


  1. Anything by Greg Bear, but particularly Forge of God/Anvil of Stars, Moving Mars, and Eon/Eternity.

    Anything by Michael P. Kube-McDowell, but particularly Alternities, Emprise/Enigma/Empery, Vectors, and The Trigger.

  2. Peter F Hamilton's "Night's Dawn" series. Reason: The ideas about genetic engineering both of humans and our machines.

    I also really like his "Commonwealth" duology (begins with Pandora's Star, iirc) for the ideas on wormholes making FTL ships unnecessary for the most part, at least until a star just "disappears" without going nova. . . . and all the social conventions and implanted weapons, memory storage/download/upload/re-life, the list actually goes on a long way. The Sylfen paths are facinating too.

    He follows that up with "The Void Trilogy" set in the same universe but later in time and introduces even more awesome ideas, like the gaiafield, uShadows, quantum buster weapons. . . .it's a real trip to read his stuff.

  3. The Psalms of Issac by Ken Scholes. The line between science fiction and fantasy is whether the science involved conforms to known laws of the universe, etc. By that definition this series is fantasy. So was Star Wars. However, the Psalms of Isaac is a post-apocalyptic fantasy set in a world where science was once master and no longer is. The strength of Ken Scholes' writing is in the vivid characters he creates, the past paced and exhilarating scenes he puts them through, and the vivid language he uses to paint a world on the brink of great change. I too have one completed Sci-Fi novel and this series is on my "must read" list. One warning though, only 3 of 5 books have been published by Tor to date. You will have to wait to find out what happens - just like the rest of us. *grin*

  4. John Scalzi's _Old Man's War_ is very good, as are the follow on's to that book to continue it's story. I find _Armor_ to be very good as well, but it's been a while since I've read the book.

    Can't think of anything else off the top of my head.

  5. most books by Peter f. hamilton. I particulaly like the Commenwealth books.
    Im not sure what subgenre they are but they are good.

  6. Charles Stross. Particularly the atrocity archives.
    Iain M Banks, all the "culture novels".
    The short stories of Ted Chiang.


  7. You probably know the books because they are classics nevertheless I want to mention them because they are awesome.

    Orson Scott Card - Ender's Game (Military sci-fi) great character, interesting story with a surprising turn in the end.

    Robert A. Heinlein - Starship Troopers, we all loved the movie and the book is even better.

  8. The reality Dysfunction, and following books are a great Sci-fi read.. not your standard either.

    I see lots of EvE similarities in that one..

  9. Glen Cook's _Dragon Never Sleeps_, and the Starfishers trilogy, might be interesting depending on if you like character-driven military science fiction (or space opera, depending on who you ask) with a heavy dose of social commentary.

    Pretty much anything by C.J. Cherryh is good, but again depends on your preferences. Her works are very much character-driven, but also deal with larger social issues. She is the only author I know who has treated cloning in an interesting and compelling fashion (_Cyteen_). Would definitely recommend _Cyteen_ and _Downbelow Station_.

  10. Saga of the seven suns.

  11. I realized last night that it wasn't until I became a writer that I learned what the subgenres are. I think only writers care about that! lol

    Just FYI, here's what some of them are. Not claiming these are the best definitions, just off the top of my head.

    Space Opera: "fantasy in space" Tech isn't explained or is "magical". Usually hero's journey, lots of exotic places & aliens, lots of travel & adventure. Ie Star Wars

    Hard Sci-Fi: sci-fi firmly routed in science. Physicists will argue over the details in these books. Very grounded in current understandings of physics, so no magical artificial gravity, FTL (other than warping space, wormholes, etc., none of which are truly FTL).

    Military Sci-Fi: a war movie in space. Lots of focus on military, infantry, military technology etc. I believe an example of this is Starship Troopers, but not sure because I've never read it.

    Mundane Sci-Fi: set in the near future (few hundred years or so) with tech that, although beyond our ability now, we understand how it would work. Examples are space elevators, nuclear rocket-powered ships, etc.

    Cyber Punk: lots of cybernetics, fantasy elements. I always think of Shadowrun, but I think The Matrix might fall into this too.

    Dystopian Sci-Fi: The future sucks. Earth destroyed by pollution, humans in state of anarchy, etc.

    Utopian Sci-Fi: the future is awesome! No war, no disease, etc. Star Trek would sorta fit in here, but not completely. In my mind utopian sci-fi would include a complete absence of religion, but I digress... ;)

  12. "A Fire Upon the Deep" by Vernor Vinge if you haven't read it. Pure, well-written science fiction adventure without a victorian or cyber-punk hipster in sight.

  13. Resource:

    Possible resources:
    I agree with the John Scalzi suggestion, _Old Man's War_ (own a signed copy ^_^). The entire series is excellent.

    Anything by Neal Asher, particularly _The Skinner_ and _Hilldiggers_

    Alastair Reynolds. _Revelation Space_ and _Redemption Ark_ are MUST reads, as are _Pushing Ice_ and _Century Rain_ (the last two are in my top 10 books ever.

  14. Just finished the post-cyberpunk WWW trilogy by Robert Sawyer. Pretty good reading, overall.

  15. Thank you everyone for your suggestions! I've got a great reading list now.