Good Modern Science Fiction

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Teetlebaum
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Teetlebaum » Thu Sep 11, 2014 10:45 am

I second the vote for Charles Stross. He has a blog and some of his stuff is available for free, online.

I also liked Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic (1971) and Tarkovsky's film version "Stalker"*

By far my favorite author is Stanisław Lem, although some of his stuff is just borderline science fiction:
Novels of his I particularly liked:
The Investigation (1959)
Return from the Stars (1961)
Solaris (1961) and Tarkovsky's film version*
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (1961)
The Invincible (1964)
His Master's Voice (1968)
The Futurological Congress (1971)
The Chain of Chance (1975)
Short stories:
The Star Diaries (1957)
The Cyberiad (1965)
Tales of Pirx the Pilot and More Tales of Pirx the Pilot (1966)

I don't suppose Terry Pratchett's discworld novels qualify as science fiction, but I like them so much I often re-read them.

*but I liked slow movies in those days.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Dickerson » Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:18 pm

Another one that is not great literature but fun to read is Live free or Die by John Ringo.
Similar to Gateway by Frederik Pohl in that a "little guy" rises to help mankind.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by S&L1940 » Thu Sep 11, 2014 3:16 pm

Teetlebaum wrote:I second the vote for Charles Stross. He has a blog and some of his stuff is available for free, online.

I also liked Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic (1971) and Tarkovsky's film version "Stalker"*

By far my favorite author is Stanisław Lem, although some of his stuff is just borderline science fiction:
Novels of his I particularly liked:
Solaris (1961) and Tarkovsky's film version*
was the Tarkovsky version the one where the protagonist arrives on board the spaceship wearing a leather jacket and carrying a garment bag?
Don't it always seem to go * That you don't know what you've got * Till it's gone

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by gerrym51 » Thu Sep 11, 2014 3:22 pm

Harry Dresden novels. I started number 1 2 months ago and know have completed all 15.


Harry dresden/detective/practicing wizzard.



The Dresden Files

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by technovelist » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:31 pm

Teetlebaum wrote:I second the vote for Charles Stross. He has a blog and some of his stuff is available for free, online.

I also liked Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic (1971) and Tarkovsky's film version "Stalker"*

By far my favorite author is Stanisław Lem, although some of his stuff is just borderline science fiction:
Novels of his I particularly liked:
The Investigation (1959)
Return from the Stars (1961)
Solaris (1961) and Tarkovsky's film version*
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (1961)
The Invincible (1964)
His Master's Voice (1968)
The Futurological Congress (1971)
The Chain of Chance (1975)
Short stories:
The Star Diaries (1957)
The Cyberiad (1965)
Tales of Pirx the Pilot and More Tales of Pirx the Pilot (1966)

I don't suppose Terry Pratchett's discworld novels qualify as science fiction, but I like them so much I often re-read them.

*but I liked slow movies in those days.
I found Lem unreadable but I second Terry Prachett, who is hilarious!
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by telemark » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:44 pm

Jozxyqk wrote:Jack Vance is not exactly "modern" -- though he was publishing into the 2000s when he was in his 90s. Still, I cannot recommend him highly enough. He's one of that rare cadre of science fiction writers who are remarkable for their writing ability as well as for their ideas. A unique English stylist that takes some getting used to, but a pleasure to read. If you're into more traditional sci-fi stuff (spaceships, etc), his Gaean Reach novels are good. The Tschai series too. Vance--in general--seems less interesting in concocting technological wonders (e.g., yet another explanation for warp speed) than in looking at how societies work and thinking about the diversity that would emerge if humankind were spread across the galaxy.

This is a nice writeup from the NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/magaz ... d=all&_r=0
One of my favorite authors. The science in his SF is anthropology. He also wrote mysteries under the name John Holbrook Vance, and those are supposed to be good, but I've never run across any of them.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by technovelist » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:48 pm

telemark wrote:
Jozxyqk wrote:Jack Vance is not exactly "modern" -- though he was publishing into the 2000s when he was in his 90s. Still, I cannot recommend him highly enough. He's one of that rare cadre of science fiction writers who are remarkable for their writing ability as well as for their ideas. A unique English stylist that takes some getting used to, but a pleasure to read. If you're into more traditional sci-fi stuff (spaceships, etc), his Gaean Reach novels are good. The Tschai series too. Vance--in general--seems less interesting in concocting technological wonders (e.g., yet another explanation for warp speed) than in looking at how societies work and thinking about the diversity that would emerge if humankind were spread across the galaxy.

This is a nice writeup from the NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/magaz ... d=all&_r=0
One of my favorite authors. The science in his SF is anthropology. He also wrote mysteries under the name John Holbrook Vance, and those are supposed to be good, but I've never run across any of them.
M. A. Foster is another very good sci-fi writer whose books don't depend very much on whiz-bang technology but are primarily explorations of human (and quasi-human) nature.
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Teetlebaum
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Teetlebaum » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:13 pm

technovelist wrote: I found Lem unreadable but I second Terry Prachett, who is hilarious!
Well, some of Lem's books aren't science fiction at all.
1530jesup wrote:was the Tarkovsky version the one where the protagonist arrives on board the spaceship wearing a leather jacket and carrying a garment bag?
It's been too many years since I've seen Tarkovsky's Solaris. The male lead in the version I saw was Donatas Banionis,
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by placeholder » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:19 pm

Teetlebaum wrote:I don't suppose Terry Pratchett's discworld novels qualify as science fiction, but I like them so much I often re-read them.
If you go with an alternate dimension approach (some of the supplementary books suggest that) then sort of however that's kind of hand waving but that being said even though I don't much like fantasy I found many of the Discworld books to be terrific.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Chin00k » Thu Sep 11, 2014 11:25 pm

Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch
1. Pines (2012)
2. Wayward (2013)
3. The Last Town (2014)

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by chickadee » Thu Sep 11, 2014 11:57 pm

I'd add Connie Willis. Loved most of her books, but especially To Say Nothing of the Dog, and Blackout/All Clear, which won the 1999 and 2011 Nebula Award for Best Novel, respectively. I'm a sucker for time travel and Blackout and All Clear take place back in WWII, which make them great historical fiction books as well as SciFi.

Really, now that I've Googled it, the Nebula Award winners over the years could make a nice reading list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebula_Awa ... Best_Novel

So many books, so little time...

Also, along the same lines of Terry Pratchett is a series I like by Jasper Fforde, the Thursday Next books. "Comic fantasy/alternate history."

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:22 am

technovelist wrote:
M. A. Foster is another very good sci-fi writer whose books don't depend very much on whiz-bang technology but are primarily explorations of human (and quasi-human) nature.
http://sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/foster_m_a stopped way too young. Unclear whether he died or what.

The Morphodite or the Genetic Time Bomb Person, I remember particularly well.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Teetlebaum » Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:43 am

chickadee wrote:Also, along the same lines of Terry Pratchett is a series I like by Jasper Fforde, the Thursday Next books. "Comic fantasy/alternate history."
That series isn't bad, but I really liked his Shades of Grey.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Jozxyqk » Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:48 am

telemark wrote:
Jozxyqk wrote:Jack Vance is not exactly "modern" -- though he was publishing into the 2000s when he was in his 90s. Still, I cannot recommend him highly enough. He's one of that rare cadre of science fiction writers who are remarkable for their writing ability as well as for their ideas. A unique English stylist that takes some getting used to, but a pleasure to read. If you're into more traditional sci-fi stuff (spaceships, etc), his Gaean Reach novels are good. The Tschai series too. Vance--in general--seems less interesting in concocting technological wonders (e.g., yet another explanation for warp speed) than in looking at how societies work and thinking about the diversity that would emerge if humankind were spread across the galaxy.

This is a nice writeup from the NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/magaz ... d=all&_r=0
One of my favorite authors. The science in his SF is anthropology. He also wrote mysteries under the name John Holbrook Vance, and those are supposed to be good, but I've never run across any of them.
I haven't read Vance's mysteries either, but I have them lined up on my ereader for when I have time. They are available in ebook form at http://www.jackvance.com, along with the rest of Vance's work. All DRM-free. I've never run across a physical copy of any of the mysteries. I think they're somewhat of a rarity.

OP should obviously track down a copy of the Vance Integral Edition, an amateur publishing effort that collects all of Vance in a high-quality 47 volume set. One just sold on ebay for more than $3300! http://www.ebay.com/itm/Jack-Vance-The- ... RTM1562569 :shock:

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by technovelist » Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:48 am

Valuethinker wrote:
technovelist wrote:
M. A. Foster is another very good sci-fi writer whose books don't depend very much on whiz-bang technology but are primarily explorations of human (and quasi-human) nature.
http://sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/foster_m_a stopped way too young. Unclear whether he died or what.

The Morphodite or the Genetic Time Bomb Person, I remember particularly well.
He is still alive, or at least he was the last time I spoke with him earlier this year. :mrgreen:
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:53 am

technovelist wrote:
Teetlebaum wrote:I .
I found Lem unreadable but I second Terry Prachett, who is hilarious!
The thing to understand about Stanislas Lem and even more so Boris & Arkday Strugatsky, is that they were writing under communist regimes-- censored.

It is never entirely clear whether the censors just didn't understand the allusions they were making OR they did understand them, and were fans of the literature, and so let them publish.

But the novels are coded, and in a very real sense satires of modern conditions in a socialist realist state.

In the same way that John Wyndham say, makes allusions to lesbian characters but can't say that (because it would have been banned in 1950s England) so too Lem and Strugatsky are leading merry chases.

Science Fiction was one of the few ways that one could get round censorship in literature under communism.

In the same way the 'Science Fiction defense' may have been how Philip Jose Farmer and Harlan Ellison broke the rules of publishing in the 1960s-- I am less clear on that. Heinlein certainly wrestled with censorship of his works (many of us would argue to their benefit-- old man Heinlein on sex was not, generally, an uplifting read).

Ursula Le Guin's pointed attack on the US in Vietnam (which I am sure formed the base material for Avatar - uncredited) '"The Word for World is Forest" did not go unnoticed.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Teetlebaum » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:11 pm

Valuethinker wrote:Heinlein certainly wrestled with censorship of his works (many of us would argue to their benefit-- old man Heinlein on sex was not, generally, an uplifting read).

Some of Stross' novels also have some sex, especially it would seem Saturn's Children: Stross's robopervy tribute to the late late Heinlein:
When Charlie Stross -- the mad, gonzo antipope of science fiction -- told me he was working on a Heinlein-esque novel, I wasn't surprised. Old Robert A. Heinlein's classic fiction was some of the best action-driven sf ever written. Then Charlie told me he was working a late Heinlein-esque novel and my eyes bugged out.

Towards the end of his career, RAH's novels got very long, very meandering, explicitly sexual, and very weird. Turned out, he had a tumor that was blocking the flow of blood to his brain (really!) and after it was removed, his fiction (and, reportedly, his personality) really changed again.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by gatorman » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:41 pm

Teetlebaum wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:Heinlein certainly wrestled with censorship of his works (many of us would argue to their benefit-- old man Heinlein on sex was not, generally, an uplifting read).

Some of Stross' novels also have some sex, especially it would seem Saturn's Children: Stross's robopervy tribute to the late late Heinlein:
When Charlie Stross -- the mad, gonzo antipope of science fiction -- told me he was working on a Heinlein-esque novel, I wasn't surprised. Old Robert A. Heinlein's classic fiction was some of the best action-driven sf ever written. Then Charlie told me he was working a late Heinlein-esque novel and my eyes bugged out.

Towards the end of his career, RAH's novels got very long, very meandering, explicitly sexual, and very weird. Turned out, he had a tumor that was blocking the flow of blood to his brain (really!) and after it was removed, his fiction (and, reportedly, his personality) really changed again.
Wow! That was something I did not know, explains a lot though. I suspected Alzheimer's but was never quite sure what the problem really was. There had to be something to cause such a radical change in style from the earlier Heinlein novels to the later works. Thanks for posting that!
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Sep 12, 2014 1:51 pm

gatorman wrote:
Teetlebaum wrote:
Towards the end of his career, RAH's novels got very long, very meandering, explicitly sexual, and very weird. Turned out, he had a tumor that was blocking the flow of blood to his brain (really!) and after it was removed, his fiction (and, reportedly, his personality) really changed again.
Wow! That was something I did not know, explains a lot though. I suspected Alzheimer's but was never quite sure what the problem really was. There had to be something to cause such a radical change in style from the earlier Heinlein novels to the later works. Thanks for posting that!
gatorman
Whilst it is definitely possible that RAH's illness affected his personality I am not convinced this is the whole story. He *was* ill and he did make a considerable recovery (laser used to burn out the clot, I think he was one of the first).

But I think RAH always wanted to write fiction with much more sex in it. And the omniscient character who tells us how the world works (RAH himself, in other words) is in many of his juveniles and in works like Starship Troopers-- his masterwork but we have 'History and Moral Philosophy' with Prof Dupuy to teach us about the militaristic paradise that has been created.

Or Stranger in a Strange Land. Or I will Fear No Evil. All 1960s works but with plenty of sex in them-- and in IWFNE kinky sex (of a fairly mild form).

So the seeds of the 'radical change' were already there. Time Enough for Love manages a couple of quite bad sex scenes. Heinlein was by all accounts a believer in nudism (and practicing) and in polyamory (perhaps not practicing, as he was devoted to his last wife).

If you meant the loss of his tense plotting? Yes,that's perfectly possible. Friday had glimmers of the old RAH, but only glimmers. So did parts of Number of the Beast (he anticipates steampunk in fact-- which leads me to wonder who did so first?). The whole pioneer sequence in Time Enough for Love is vintage Heinlein.

The multivolume biography of RAH is just coming out, so perhaps that will answer questions. But you could not write stuff like that in 1950s America and get published, and in late 1960s and onwards America, you could.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Sep 12, 2014 1:55 pm

Teetlebaum wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:Heinlein certainly wrestled with censorship of his works (many of us would argue to their benefit-- old man Heinlein on sex was not, generally, an uplifting read).

Some of Stross' novels also have some sex, especially it would seem Saturn's Children: Stross's robopervy tribute to the late late Heinlein:
When Charlie Stross -- the mad, gonzo antipope of science fiction -- told me he was working on a Heinlein-esque novel, I wasn't surprised. Old Robert A. Heinlein's classic fiction was some of the best action-driven sf ever written. Then Charlie told me he was working a late Heinlein-esque novel and my eyes bugged out.

Towards the end of his career, RAH's novels got very long, very meandering, explicitly sexual, and very weird. Turned out, he had a tumor that was blocking the flow of blood to his brain (really!) and after it was removed, his fiction (and, reportedly, his personality) really changed again.
I do love Stross but he is fond of the pastiche-- the whole Laundry series is based on Len Deighton, Ian Fleming, Antony Price, Modesty Blaise... in sequence of novels.

He has two homages to RAH (I have not read The Merchant Princes). One is in Singularity Sky-- the whole navy sequence is based on Heinlein (I am going by what Stross writes on his blog). The other is Saturn's Children.

In the 21st century it is unsurprising Stross throws in a fair bit of sex. From memory the heroine of Rule 34, the cop in the Republic of Scotland, is gay.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by gatorman » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:52 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
gatorman wrote:
Teetlebaum wrote:
Towards the end of his career, RAH's novels got very long, very meandering, explicitly sexual, and very weird. Turned out, he had a tumor that was blocking the flow of blood to his brain (really!) and after it was removed, his fiction (and, reportedly, his personality) really changed again.
Wow! That was something I did not know, explains a lot though. I suspected Alzheimer's but was never quite sure what the problem really was. There had to be something to cause such a radical change in style from the earlier Heinlein novels to the later works. Thanks for posting that!
gatorman
Whilst it is definitely possible that RAH's illness affected his personality I am not convinced this is the whole story. He *was* ill and he did make a considerable recovery (laser used to burn out the clot, I think he was one of the first).

But I think RAH always wanted to write fiction with much more sex in it. And the omniscient character who tells us how the world works (RAH himself, in other words) is in many of his juveniles and in works like Starship Troopers-- his masterwork but we have 'History and Moral Philosophy' with Prof Dupuy to teach us about the militaristic paradise that has been created.

Or Stranger in a Strange Land. Or I will Fear No Evil. All 1960s works but with plenty of sex in them-- and in IWFNE kinky sex (of a fairly mild form).

So the seeds of the 'radical change' were already there. Time Enough for Love manages a couple of quite bad sex scenes. Heinlein was by all accounts a believer in nudism (and practicing) and in polyamory (perhaps not practicing, as he was devoted to his last wife).

If you meant the loss of his tense plotting? Yes,that's perfectly possible. Friday had glimmers of the old RAH, but only glimmers. So did parts of Number of the Beast (he anticipates steampunk in fact-- which leads me to wonder who did so first?). The whole pioneer sequence in Time Enough for Love is vintage Heinlein.

The multivolume biography of RAH is just coming out, so perhaps that will answer questions. But you could not write stuff like that in 1950s America and get published, and in late 1960s and onwards America, you could.
It has been so long since I read any Heinlein that perhaps my recollection is flawed. But I do recall feeling that Stranger in a Strange Land marked the beginning of a decline in his ability to generate a tight plot line and in his overall creative ability. I think I read Time Enough for Love and thought it was just ok with a few good sections. I may have read some others after Stranger in a Strange Land, but none of them made enough of an impression on me that I can remember them today. At some point, I quit buying his books. That said, I think he was my introduction to science fiction and I thought at the time he was a great author. i don't know how his stuff would stand up to a re-reading. I was disappointed on re-reading a good bit of Andre Norton's work, but I recently enjoyed re-reading A. E. Van Vogt's The World of Null A. Right now I'm more focused on finding authors I've never read before. I enjoyed Old Man's War and three of the sequels. I just wish Mr. Scalzi hadn't left me hanging, I need some plot resolution. I'm hopeful he will release another sequel soon.
gatorman

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by rkhusky » Fri Sep 12, 2014 4:22 pm

I've also enjoyed reading the Well World books by Jack Chalker, as well as the Pip and Flinx books by Alan Dean Foster and also his Icerigger trilogy.

I much prefer Heinlein's early books to his more famous books, like Citizen of the Galaxy, Have Spacesuit Will Travel, Red Planet, Tunnel in the Sky, etc.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by BigFoot48 » Sat Sep 13, 2014 8:02 pm

Here's an interesting article on Stanisław Lem and his vision of the future. http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2014 ... islaw-lem/

I'm enjoying the Old Man's War series with its bizarre alien races in competition with each other for real estate.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:55 am

rkhusky wrote:I've also enjoyed reading the Well World books by Jack Chalker, as well as the Pip and Flinx books by Alan Dean Foster and also his Icerigger trilogy.
Icerigger is basically a western but none the poorer for it. Imaginative world.
I much prefer Heinlein's early books to his more famous books, like Citizen of the Galaxy, Have Spacesuit Will Travel, Red Planet, Tunnel in the Sky, etc.
Lady Geek and I had a long interchange re RAH on the books thread.

Basically there is the canon, which includes: Double Star, Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers and The Past Through Tomorrow (the whole collection, parts of which are good, parts are not, but taken as a whole)

And there are the 11 juveniles.

The 'problem' novels are Podkayne of Mars, Farnham's Freehold. I only recommend those to a completist: in both cases RAH had a message (as he did with Starship Troopers) but is is not necessarily a nice message.

There is Glory Road which some people like (I do not).

And then there is 'late Heinlein' starting with I will Fear No Evil/ Stranger in a Strange Land which many people would put in the canon (but I would not). And then basically novels which just don't stand up to the quality of the previous (Time Enough for Love and Friday both have flashes of the old master). There's a huge argument over whether Heinlein was going senile or whether this was how, unconstrained by marketability (all his new books made the New York Times bestseller list) he was just in a hurry and cut loose, aware of his own mortality.

The juveniles plus the 3 I named are, I think the ones that will be remembered*. Especially the juveniles. Many of us cut our teeth on Science Fiction on those (plus Asimov and Clarke)

* and Stranger in a Strange Land, which I think highly overrated. Again like TEFL though one has to remember that when it came out, this was a new and fresh way to write SF. TEFL is a near future dystopian world, which writes quite convincingly about the ultimate sex change, and at that time, well, that wasn't something SF had dealt with (let alone literature generally). SF was still 'that rocket ship stuff'.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:16 pm

gatorman wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:
gatorman wrote:
Teetlebaum wrote:
Towards the end of his career, RAH's novels got very long, very meandering, explicitly sexual, and very weird. Turned out, he had a tumor that was blocking the flow of blood to his brain (really!) and after it was removed, his fiction (and, reportedly, his personality) really changed again.
Wow! That was something I did not know, explains a lot though. I suspected Alzheimer's but was never quite sure what the problem really was. There had to be something to cause such a radical change in style from the earlier Heinlein novels to the later works. Thanks for posting that!
gatorman
Whilst it is definitely possible that RAH's illness affected his personality I am not convinced this is the whole story. He *was* ill and he did make a considerable recovery (laser used to burn out the clot, I think he was one of the first).

But I think RAH always wanted to write fiction with much more sex in it. And the omniscient character who tells us how the world works (RAH himself, in other words) is in many of his juveniles and in works like Starship Troopers-- his masterwork but we have 'History and Moral Philosophy' with Prof Dupuy to teach us about the militaristic paradise that has been created.

Or Stranger in a Strange Land. Or I will Fear No Evil. All 1960s works but with plenty of sex in them-- and in IWFNE kinky sex (of a fairly mild form).

So the seeds of the 'radical change' were already there. Time Enough for Love manages a couple of quite bad sex scenes. Heinlein was by all accounts a believer in nudism (and practicing) and in polyamory (perhaps not practicing, as he was devoted to his last wife).

If you meant the loss of his tense plotting? Yes,that's perfectly possible. Friday had glimmers of the old RAH, but only glimmers. So did parts of Number of the Beast (he anticipates steampunk in fact-- which leads me to wonder who did so first?). The whole pioneer sequence in Time Enough for Love is vintage Heinlein.

The multivolume biography of RAH is just coming out, so perhaps that will answer questions. But you could not write stuff like that in 1950s America and get published, and in late 1960s and onwards America, you could.
It has been so long since I read any Heinlein that perhaps my recollection is flawed. But I do recall feeling that Stranger in a Strange Land marked the beginning of a decline in his ability to generate a tight plot line and in his overall creative ability. I think I read Time Enough for Love and thought it was just ok with a few good sections. I may have read some others after Stranger in a Strange Land, but none of them made enough of an impression on me that I can remember them today. At some point, I quit buying his books. That said, I think he was my introduction to science fiction and I thought at the time he was a great author. i don't know how his stuff would stand up to a re-reading. I was disappointed on re-reading a good bit of Andre Norton's work, but I recently enjoyed re-reading A. E. Van Vogt's The World of Null A. Right now I'm more focused on finding authors I've never read before. I enjoyed Old Man's War and three of the sequels. I just wish Mr. Scalzi hadn't left me hanging, I need some plot resolution. I'm hopeful he will release another sequel soon.
gatorman
Really try Paul McCauley then, any of his Cool War series. He was a biology professor before he became a science fiction writer.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by technovelist » Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:27 pm

Valuethinker wrote: The multivolume biography of RAH is just coming out, so perhaps that will answer questions. But you could not write stuff like that in 1950s America and get published, and in late 1960s and onwards America, you could.
It's out and I've read it. Highly recommended.
Volume I: http://www.amazon.com/Robert-Heinlein-V ... n+dialogue
Volume II: http://www.amazon.com/Robert-A-Heinlein ... n+dialogue.

By the way, anyone interested in RAH who hasn't read "For Us the Living", should do so. It was his first written and last published work, and presaged virtually everything in his adult fiction.
And yes, he was polyamorous, including one planned encounter that was approved of by his last wife, Virginia, but which never took place due to other constraints (reported in volume II of the biography mentioned above).
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by technovelist » Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:33 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
rkhusky wrote:I've also enjoyed reading the Well World books by Jack Chalker, as well as the Pip and Flinx books by Alan Dean Foster and also his Icerigger trilogy.
Icerigger is basically a western but none the poorer for it. Imaginative world.
I much prefer Heinlein's early books to his more famous books, like Citizen of the Galaxy, Have Spacesuit Will Travel, Red Planet, Tunnel in the Sky, etc.
Lady Geek and I had a long interchange re RAH on the books thread.

Basically there is the canon, which includes: Double Star, Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers and The Past Through Tomorrow (the whole collection, parts of which are good, parts are not, but taken as a whole)

And there are the 11 juveniles.

The 'problem' novels are Podkayne of Mars, Farnham's Freehold. I only recommend those to a completist: in both cases RAH had a message (as he did with Starship Troopers) but is is not necessarily a nice message.

There is Glory Road which some people like (I do not).

And then there is 'late Heinlein' starting with I will Fear No Evil/ Stranger in a Strange Land which many people would put in the canon (but I would not). And then basically novels which just don't stand up to the quality of the previous (Time Enough for Love and Friday both have flashes of the old master). There's a huge argument over whether Heinlein was going senile or whether this was how, unconstrained by marketability (all his new books made the New York Times bestseller list) he was just in a hurry and cut loose, aware of his own mortality.

The juveniles plus the 3 I named are, I think the ones that will be remembered*. Especially the juveniles. Many of us cut our teeth on Science Fiction on those (plus Asimov and Clarke)

* and Stranger in a Strange Land, which I think highly overrated. Again like TEFL though one has to remember that when it came out, this was a new and fresh way to write SF. TEFL is a near future dystopian world, which writes quite convincingly about the ultimate sex change, and at that time, well, that wasn't something SF had dealt with (let alone literature generally). SF was still 'that rocket ship stuff'.
I think you have confused TEFL with IWFNE.
In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, they often differ.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Naismith » Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:04 pm

I agree with much of what has been mentioned (Scalzi, Bujold, Sanderson....) but want to give a shout-out to Nathan Lowell's tales of the solar clippers, beginning with Quarter Share.

BTW, they came about in a very novel publication model (sorry, bad pun): The guy has a wonderful deep and expressive voice and he recorded six books himself and gave them away as Podiobooks, for those who like an audio version. I went through them when I was doing a lot of wallpaper stripping, painting, etc.

They were so popular that they were picked up by a print publisher and available via Kindle as well. Interesting route into print.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by gatorman » Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:45 pm

rkhusky wrote:I've also enjoyed reading the Well World books by Jack Chalker, as well as the Pip and Flinx books by Alan Dean Foster and also his Icerigger trilogy.
I just finished the Icerigger trilogy, very enjoyable.
gatorman

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by rkhusky » Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:54 am

Just thought of another series that I've enjoyed: Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer. Which also brought to mind Ringworld by Larry Niven (more for the similarity in titles than in the subject matter or writing style).

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by bltkmt » Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:32 am

wageoghe wrote:I listened to The Martian audiobook recently and enjoyed it.

I am about 1/3 of the way through the audiobook now and am enjoying it. It took a bit to get used to as the initial narrative is very technical (good for engineers likely), but now the story is taking off. I like the reader too.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:41 am

technovelist wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:
* and Stranger in a Strange Land, which I think highly overrated. Again like TEFL though one has to remember that when it came out, this was a new and fresh way to write SF. TEFL is a near future dystopian world, which writes quite convincingly about the ultimate sex change, and at that time, well, that wasn't something SF had dealt with (let alone literature generally). SF was still 'that rocket ship stuff'.
I think you have confused TEFL with IWFNE.
You are right, in that afterpiece I did. I will fear no evil is the one about the sex change. Time Enough for Love is Lazarus Long, the man who lives forever.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by avmax8 » Thu Nov 13, 2014 12:36 am

Based on this thread I've now finished the following:

Snow Crash (OK)
Ready, Player One (Enjoyed it)
Old Man's War (Really enjoyed it)
I've also now read about 4-5 others from John Scalzi and have found those novels to be some really fun, easy reads.

Time to go back through the thread for a second time and pick out some others! :happy

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by skjoldur » Thu Nov 13, 2014 12:50 am

OK, here are a few that I haven't seen listed yet:

Margaret Atwood, the MaddAddam trilogy:
Oryx and Crake
The Year of the Flood
MaddAddam

Gary Shteyngart
Super Sad True Love Story

These are all perhaps on the 'literary' end of the spectrum for sci-fi. I loved them, YMMV.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:25 am

skjoldur wrote:OK, here are a few that I haven't seen listed yet:

Margaret Atwood, the MaddAddam trilogy:
Oryx and Crake
The Year of the Flood
MaddAddam

Gary Shteyngart
Super Sad True Love Story

These are all perhaps on the 'literary' end of the spectrum for sci-fi. I loved them, YMMV.
there is an ever growing list of SF by 'literary' writers that the critics and reviewers absolutely refuse to call 'Science Fiction' ('that Star Wars stuff'). It gets called 'Speculative Fiction'.

When JG Ballard died this got almost hysterically funny, because he is beloved of English modernists.

And when Ian Banks died 'and he wrote some science fiction novels, as Ian M Banks'. In fact his SF was better than his non SF and he will be remembered more for the former.

For a rich modern writer of SF/ Fantasy, try China Mieville eg The City and the City.

William Gibson has definitely crossed over into literature writing. But he is just a Science Fiction Author ;-). After all Neuromancer sold 6 million copies ;-).

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by bberris » Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:55 am

Oryx and Crake series by Margaret Atwood. She disclaims that they are sci fi, but I think she really means they are not space-opera.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by TomTX » Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:36 am

Poke around at the Baen Free Library for free (as in "free beer"), full-length, non DRM sci-fi books. Leans toward the military side of sci-fi. It's Baen after all...:

https://www.baenebooks.com/c-1-free-library.aspx

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by fandango » Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:58 am

I enjoy all the books by Hugh Howey: Wool, Shift, Dust, Sand, Molly Fryde series, etc.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by boro » Thu Nov 13, 2014 12:07 pm

Sorry if Ann Leckie's books have already been commented on here. I am not a scifi reader but read her two books recently and thoroughly enjoyed them. Ancillary Justice, her first book, won the Hugo, Nebula, BSF and the Locust awards this past year. Her second book Ancillary Sword came out last month. Her books reminded me of Assimov's robot series that I read when young.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by avenger » Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:45 pm

James2 wrote:I thought the Wool series was pretty good. He just wrote a new one called Sand which wasn't bad either.

The Martian was actually pretty well done.

You could try the short stories in the Analog magazine or grab one of the annual anthologies e.g. tor.com to find an author that you like.

James
Just finished The Martian tonight. Didn't love the writing. Concept kind of neat, though. Overall wouldn't recommend it.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Sand101 » Sat Jan 24, 2015 11:35 pm

Good, modern science fiction. I saw Wool mentioned more than once and that is a great choice no need to repeat.

Others:

Pines - Blake Crouch. Will be a TV show this fall and is a great set of books.

Leviathan Wakes - James S A Corey. For hard sci-fi this is the best thing written in the last long while. Really, really well done.

The Last Policeman - Ben Winters. What happens when everyone knows an earth destroying asteroid is coming?

Red Rising - Pierce Brown. Best book I read last year. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by BonesMcCoy » Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:22 am

I really enjoyed "Dark Eden," by Chris Beckett. The descendants of the people who crashed on an alien planet have developed a stilted culture based on waiting for Earth to rescue them. Everything seems fine until one of them decides to actually live, upsetting the whole apple cart.

The Guardian described it as "theologically nuanced science fiction." Great writing, and the setting is imaginative and beautifully described.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:36 am

I am not sure if we mentioned Kim Stanley Robinson on this thread, but we should

- the California trilogy

- the Mars trilogy


Him and China Mieiville

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by nisiprius » Sun Jan 25, 2015 2:26 pm

I think that what I liked was not "science fiction" as such, but the specific "school" of writers who called themselves "the Futurians" and the influential editors H. L. Gold and John W. Campbell, Jr. And the subculture that surrounded them. And fiction that was not really "about" the future, but was a fantasized riff on the events of World War II and its precursors and aftermath.

I read the short story "Wool" and it left me cold. It didn't make sense--why would the powers that be give the window-cleaners helmets with phony virtual images for any other reason than to produce an ironic ending? Not that there weren't plenty of 1960s stories like that, too.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by BigJohn » Sun Jan 25, 2015 6:06 pm

nisiprius wrote:I read the short story "Wool" and it left me cold. It didn't make sense--why would the powers that be give the window-cleaners helmets with phony virtual images for any other reason than to produce an ironic ending? Not that there weren't plenty of 1960s stories like that, too.
Read the entire trilogy (the "Wool" short story is just the first few chapters of the first book) and you'll understand. I found the books entertaining and the premise unlike anything else I've read.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by roymeo » Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:09 pm

nisiprius wrote:I read the short story "Wool" and it left me cold. It didn't make sense--why would the powers that be give the window-cleaners helmets with phony virtual images for any other reason than to produce an ironic ending? Not that there weren't plenty of 1960s stories like that, too.
Not too bad for the opening salvo by a self-publishing hobby-writer that piqued enough interest for him to continue and finish it off as a pretty good trilogy and a new full-time career.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by protagonist » Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:14 pm

You can't do much better than The Long Run by Daniel Keys Moran.

Check out the reviews on Amazon.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by FrogPrince » Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:20 pm

Does a TV series count? "Black Mirror" from the UK - outstanding extrapolations of current technologies and policies to the near future. I would classify it as dystopian science fiction.

It's now on Netflix. Caution: I ended up staying up most of the night watching back-to-back episodes. Could lead to temporary marital disharmony.

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by bungalow10 » Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:38 pm

Another vote for Wool, or any of Hugh Howey's books.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by auntJovie » Mon Jan 26, 2015 5:27 pm

Greg Egan's The Clockwork Rocket is fascinating sci-fi and a lot of math and physics fun included. It's part of a trilogy, I think, but I haven't got around to following it up.

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