Good Modern Science Fiction

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FreeAtLast
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by FreeAtLast »

"We Have Always Been Here", by Lena Nguyen (Daw Books Inc. 2021)

This novel is Nguyen's first and it appears to me that her MFA in fiction from Cornell has really paid off. She writes a tight, compelling narrative that holds your attention even when she has to shuffle back and forth in time to provide background information on the main protagonist and two other important secondary characters. The storyline is Sci-Fi classic: a team of exploration specialists is rushed to a recently discovered, far away planet. Data had been received from the planet that, to put it mildly, did not make a lot of sense. In a short period of time after they make planetfall, things begin to go wrong. Some crew members begin to act so bizarrely that they have to be placed in stasis. The remaining crew members become jittery and paranoid and tempers flare. The ship's assistant psychologist Dr. Grace Park is forced into trying to control the crew maelstrom when her boss becomes incapacitated.

So, we have seen this sort of story many times before; why is this tale different and why should you care? First, Nguyen is not throwing a replay of "The Thing From Another World" at us. No shape-shifting alien has snuck aboard the ship and is assimilating crew members one by one. Nor is any malignant "mind control" entity raising havoc with the psychological balance of the crew. Instead, the solution to the mystery lies in understanding the unique characteristics of the planet itself. As we watch the crew struggle to get to the heart of the conundrum, we begin to realize that some of the members may be following a very different agenda from their original mission statement. Eventually, Dr. Park finds herself performing extraordinary actions and taking wild risks that she could have never anticipated while day-dreaming in one of her graduate school seminars.

For some reason, the text of the book is written in 351 pages of very minuscule fonts. If your presbyopia is as bad as mine, make sure to keep your cheaters close at hand.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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Just finished The Untold Story by Genevieve Cogman the latest in the fantasy adventure series as intrepid librarian of the invisible library delves into not only the origins of the library her own as well.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Marseille07 »

ososnilknarf wrote: Sat Apr 24, 2021 1:23 pm
Iorek wrote: Sat Apr 24, 2021 1:07 pm I read the Three Body Problem (1st in a trilogy by a Chinese author) and thought it was very good. I think it's based on a lot of "real" physics-- I saw an afterword or an interview where the author said he thinks the world as it is is much more interesting that anything he could imagine.
I enjoyed the Three Body Problem trilogy too. Was hugely epic in scope, and unlike anything I'd ever read. It is being adapted into a TV series for Netflix, by the two showrunners who made Game of Thrones.
I liked the first book but not the 2nd or the 3rd. The scope got so detached from our reality and it became difficult to follow.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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Started Inhibitor Phase by Alastair Reynolds the latest in his Revelation Space series although he says it's written to be relatively stand alone but enjoying it so far as I usually do with his stuff.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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LadyGeek wrote: Wed Jan 05, 2022 8:41 pm Old Man's War, by John Scalzi. Book 1 of the Old Man's War series. This is a new author for me, but going by the mentions in this thread and other reviews, I decided to give it a try.

In fact, I bought the entire series on Kindle: Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, Zoe's Tale: An Old Man's War Novel, The Human Division, and The End of All Things.

I don't know how he comes up with this stuff, but I love his writing style and couldn't put it down. At least for the first book.
I finished the series. The last book, The End of All Things, was a series of short novellas, but it was an interesting way to follow the plot through different perspectives. I like this author, especially the creativity and low-key humor.
placeholder wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 9:51 pm
LadyGeek wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 6:17 pm
hilink73 wrote: Fri Aug 27, 2021 3:32 pm Reynolds is fantastic!

I'm on the last pages of "Bone Silence", third book of the Revenger trilogy.
Absolute pager turner! Having a blast.
I'm glad you like it and I agree he's an excellent writer. I just didn't like the cybergoth genre all that much.
The Revenger books aren't cybergoth or vampires or anything like rather it's space opera set in the far future where the solar system has been transformed into a large number of small habitats and people travel between wordlets in solar-sail ships.
Revenger, by Alastair Reynolds. The first of the 3-book Revenger series. I purchased all 3 books based on recommendations in this thread and online reviews. It looks promising and I want to keep reading.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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I finished all 3 books of the Revenger series and was not disappointed.

My late husband had purchased 8 of the 21 books in C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner series on Kindle, but not the first 10. (The rest were on paperback which I no longer have.)

Since I can't read just 1 book of a series, I purchased the first 5 and will see how it goes.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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LadyGeek wrote: Mon Apr 11, 2022 8:26 pm I finished all 3 books of the Revenger series and was not disappointed.
Glad that worked out.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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tooluser wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 11:43 pm
tooluser wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:58 pm "The Sparrow", Mary Doria Russell
and I just started the sequel, which I bought at the same time quite a ways back, based on some long-forgotten recommendation.

It gets better as you read it, but man that first 200 pages was difficult. Lots of cringey exposition and not-very-subtle foreshadowing and deliberate withholding by the author as to what may come later. It was much better once the characters actually started in pursuit of their goal. A slowly unfolding adventure mystery scifi horror tale.

It prominently features the Catholic religion and asks some deep questions but I don't think handles them any better than Dan Simmons' Hyperion series, which was also an adventure mystery scifi horror tale, and which was more consistently entertaining.

We'll see what the sequel brings.
Not done with the sequel "Children of God", but I am about 1/3 of the way in and it's quite a bit better than the first novel. Not much exposition except that which the author of a sequel is always obliged to provide for anyone who didn't read the first novel. A truly unique and in-depth exploration of the culture of alien species, which I have never encountered before. They are neither inferior nor superior to humans, and you learn their point of view. The author's writing and story-telling skills improved greatly between novels. I have no idea how it will end.
The sequel ends well. In the end-notes of the novel, the author states that 80% of the readers of both books thought the second book was better, and I agree. Again, if you can make it past the first 200 pages of the first book, it's a very good read thereafter. Kind of a shame.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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LadyGeek wrote: Mon Apr 11, 2022 8:26 pm I finished all 3 books of the Revenger series and was not disappointed.

My late husband had purchased 8 of the 21 books in C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner series on Kindle, but not the first 10. (The rest were on paperback which I no longer have.)

Since I can't read just 1 book of a series, I purchased the first 5 and will see how it goes.
I'm looking for a new series to start on.
I your opinion, which of the above did you like better? Why?

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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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I just started Foreigner, which is categorized as anthropological science fiction (human - alien interactions). I haven't formed enough of an opinion to compare this against other series. It does have a good plot and is keeping me interested.

The Revenger series is completely different. Space opera with a dark twist. Start with the prior series, Revelation Space, by Alastair Reynolds. I'm not a fan of the "skull" aspects, so to speak.

If you like space opera, I can recommend the Honor Harrington series (Honorverse) and the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Also, give Scalzi a try. I liked the Old Man's War series.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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1. I just watched the movie "Lucy" written and directed by Luc Bessen. Well worth the watch. If you use Comcast, it's available on-demand this weekend. Luc also did "The Fifth Element".

2. I finished the audio-book version of Revenger this week. Mixed feelings but I'll try the next.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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I'm reading Project Hail Mary right now. And it's really good.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by ByThePond »

Jodi Taylor's 'Chronicles of St. Mary's" series (13 books). About a historical research group in England who travel to notable times and places for research and usually end up in some kind of scrape. Caution: British humor on display.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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LadyGeek wrote: Thu Apr 14, 2022 2:49 pm I just started Foreigner, which is categorized as anthropological science fiction (human - alien interactions). I haven't formed enough of an opinion to compare this against other series. It does have a good plot and is keeping me interested.
I'm on Book 2 and have formed an opinion. It's definitely not space opera. C. J. Cherryh is known as a speculative fiction author and this series fits the description well. The plot, along with a good writing style, is more than enough to keep me going.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by heartwood »

I'm getting into Mickey7 by Edward Ashton.

https://www.amazon.com/Mickey7-Novel-Ed ... 792&sr=8-1

Mickey7 is an expendable, a disposable human employee used for dangerous or suicidal assignments. He's regenerated if he dies, with his memories up to the last backup intact.

Update:
Still "getting into" the story, such as it is. I'll probably finish it if something else doesn't pop up on my library lists. Readable, but I wouldn't strongly recommend it.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Dude2 »

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the following:

Star Wars: Thrawn
Thrawn: Alliances
Thrawn: Treason

This set of stories by Timothy Zahn set in the Star Wars universe is good. I am not particularly a Star Wars fan, and I was highly skeptical. I haven't read any other books in this universe by different authors, so I can't say how enjoyable they may be.

I feel like they could easily adapt this into some of their movies or mini-series in the coming years. I'd say this is just good sci fi.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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LadyGeek wrote: Mon Apr 11, 2022 8:26 pm I finished all 3 books of the Revenger series and was not disappointed.

My late husband had purchased 8 of the 21 books in C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner series on Kindle, but not the first 10. (The rest were on paperback which I no longer have.)

Since I can't read just 1 book of a series, I purchased the first 5 and will see how it goes.
It's going very well. I'm on Book 4 and can't put it down. Wikipedia describes this series as primarily anthropological science fiction (human to alien interface), but I think it's more of a political space opera. A very large political space opera. This is a well-written and complex world-building series.

The differences in the way each species thinks in terms of cultural background and behavior is intriguing. How C.J. Cherryh manages to convey these subtleties effectively to the readers, I have no idea.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by BrightEyes »

C. J. Cherryh is one of my favorite authors. She excels at the anthropological science fiction! Her writing seems more thoughtful/thought provoking to me than just action based. I think I’ve read every thing she’s written at least once, and own most of it. She gets deeply inside the thought processes of her characters, so they (at least the protagonists) have so much depth and you can see their doubts and hopes as well as what they do or say. I really like that, though I turn to simpler stories when I am tired or don’t want to think deeply about understanding what is going on. I’m so glad to hear that you are enjoying the series, Lady Geek! Once you are done with the current 21 books (and counting, I hope! The story is definitely not complete at the end of the currently available books) you are likely to enjoy exploring the Alliance- Reunion universe. She has some fantasy series as well, and other science fiction works.

I enjoy the work of Lois McMaster Bujold as well, which someone mentioned earlier. The Vorkosigan saga is especially delightful, faster paced and with some fun quips, but still has a lot of character development.

So many books, so little time…

Bright Eyes
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Barkingsparrow »

Reading an old 'classic', "The Riddle-Master of Hed" trilogy by Patricia McKillip. She just recently passed away and the memory of reading these books back in the early 80s prompted me to find the trilogy and re-read it.. I'm into the 2nd book and I'm not so sure so far that the trilogy holds up well, especially the first book, where it seems the writing is a bit disjointed at times. Still, it's maintaining my interest and I'll finish it.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by breakaway »

I have just started reading The Expanse series by James S. A Corey. Completed first book today, Leviathan wakes, and enjoyed it. Waiting for Caliban's war to arrive.

I also enjoyed Neal Stephenson's books
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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beernutz wrote: Wed Jan 05, 2022 8:53 pm I picked up Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky from the new releases table in the library on a whim.
appreciate this comes a bit late - you may have decided to read the book or return it to the shelf (or maybe the accrued library late fees are a significant item in the old asset allocation).


I found Children of Time, and the sequel, Children of Ruin, quite good fun, for the subgenre of science fiction that is more concerned with setting up a fun 'what if?" scenario and exploring the consequences as they play out, rather than, say, a space-flavoured book driven by pages of very witty dialogue, or a work of literature that happens to have some rockets and aliens as part of the background.

setup: Ambitious egotistical scientist leading a "what if we populated a fresh habitable planet with monkeys and exposed them to a custom accelerated evolution intelligence-uplift virus" + conflict throughout humanity's interstellar empire + misadventure + passage of time + human survivors limping through space in their rapidly degrading spacecraft, trying to find a new planet to call home = ????

Many people have a personal preference to avoid spiders. If you do not want to read a fictional story about a society of spiders, this series is perhaps not for you. The author, to his credit, manages to write in a way that it is possible to emphasize with spiders. The second book features some sections containing horror elements, which I enjoyed thoroughly, and I am not talking about the spiders. Again this might not be for everyone.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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BrightEyes wrote: Mon Jun 13, 2022 11:42 pm C. J. Cherryh is one of my favorite authors. She excels at the anthropological science fiction! Her writing seems more thoughtful/thought provoking to me than just action based. I think I’ve read every thing she’s written at least once, and own most of it. She gets deeply inside the thought processes of her characters, so they (at least the protagonists) have so much depth and you can see their doubts and hopes as well as what they do or say. I really like that, though I turn to simpler stories when I am tired or don’t want to think deeply about understanding what is going on. I’m so glad to hear that you are enjoying the series, Lady Geek! Once you are done with the current 21 books (and counting, I hope! The story is definitely not complete at the end of the currently available books) you are likely to enjoy exploring the Alliance- Reunion universe. She has some fantasy series as well, and other science fiction works.
Another hearty recommendation for Cherryh's work from me as well. I have read some of the Alliance-Union books and a few of the others. I thoroughly enjoyed Cherryh's Cyteen -- the background setting of the Union society -- with its reliance on an "azi" clone caste, who are designed, grown, conditioned and trained to take particular roles in Union society -- is itself fascinating. Then Cherryh layers on political intrigue, interesting characters, and it's all pretty well written. This book is definitely as you describe, driven by what the characters are thinking, with limited focus on action. I found Cyteen pretty slow going initially, but am so happy I stuck with it. It is fascinating and one of the better books I have read in years. Character-driven plotting, intrigue, paranoia, anxiety, conspiracies, mystery. There are some unpleasant aspects to the plot and the theme, around coercion, abuse, control. The "azi" caste are essentially custom built slaves, and most of book is set at the research centre responsible for designing and manufacturing these slaves.

I found it quite interesting to read some of Cherryh's earlier novel in the same fictional universe - e.g. "Forty Thousand in Gehenna". The same idea of the "azi" also feature, clones shipped to a planet alongside more traditionally produced humans to do much of the heavy lifting of attempting to build a colony, but the idea and treatment as characters is not as richly developed or nuanced as in Cyteen, which was published around 5 years later.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by frostyblue »

Dude2 wrote: Fri Jun 03, 2022 5:35 pm I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the following:

Star Wars: Thrawn
Thrawn: Alliances
Thrawn: Treason

This set of stories by Timothy Zahn set in the Star Wars universe is good. I am not particularly a Star Wars fan, and I was highly skeptical. I haven't read any other books in this universe by different authors, so I can't say how enjoyable they may be.

I feel like they could easily adapt this into some of their movies or mini-series in the coming years. I'd say this is just good sci fi.
thanks for these recommendations.. although I like many of the star wars movies, its not the kind of thing I would want to read in a book. I'm about halfway through Star Wars: Thrawn and thoroughly enjoying it. Put simply, its just a good story -- well paced, intriguing main character, keeps you guessing on what's next and wanting to read more. I've found that for my personal tastes, as much as I like the sci-fi genre, a lot of the highly acclaimed books are more oriented around the science, world building, character development, etc., etc., basically anything other than putting together a compelling, fast paced, and original storyline...thanks again!

my recommendations:
- Murderbot Diaries. The first few books were the most enjoyable, I found the later ones less so, maybe just got tired of the same theme.
- Asminov's Foundation series. Not the preludes, just from Foundation through to Foundation & Earth. Much better than the Apple TV series I thought. Doesn't have much actual action, but just a great story imho.
- Vinge's "A Deepness in the Sky." Was my introduction to what I would consider the "space opera" subgenre. Oddly enough, couldn't really get into any of his other books..
- Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" but, like with Vinge, couldn't really get too interested in his other stuff..
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

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frostyblue wrote: Fri Jun 24, 2022 10:03 pm
Dude2 wrote: Fri Jun 03, 2022 5:35 pm Star Wars: Thrawn
Thrawn: Alliances
Thrawn: Treason
thanks for these recommendations.. although I like many of the star wars movies, its not the kind of thing I would want to read in a book. I'm about halfway through Star Wars: Thrawn and thoroughly enjoying it. Put simply, its just a good story -- well paced, intriguing main character, keeps you guessing on what's next and wanting to read more. I've found that for my personal tastes, as much as I like the sci-fi genre, a lot of the highly acclaimed books are more oriented around the science, world building, character development, etc., etc., basically anything other than putting together a compelling, fast paced, and original storyline...thanks again!
I was always a skeptic with this because quite simply those Star Wars movies are particularly bad. This has given me a new motivation to go back and rewatch them. In many ways, it was as if the movies just didn't tell enough of a story for my mind to connect the dots. After reading these books, I can fill in the gaps and overlook the bad direction and production values of the movies -- sort of like where in comic books it is left to the reader to fill in everything that must be happening between/outside of the panels shown. I'm now able to just ignore the fact that the fight scenes aren't believable in any way (or the dialogue weak, acting bad) -- you just can't "make it happen" in real life on the screen like you can describe the battle sequence in a narrative format. This is something that Timothy Zahn has done very well.

Don't get me wrong, of late, there have been excellent series. John Favreau has really shown us something with the Mandalorian, etc.

Reminds me of an interview with Schwarzenegger in which a particular scene in one of the Terminator sequels where they had to flip a truck and bust through a wall was either going to be cut from the movie or Arnold himself would have to write a check for 20 million (something like this). The point being that the 20 second action sequence of flipping the truck in no way compensated for the bad story. That 20 million should have been spent on writers. There is much in the Star Wars genre that is similar. Glitz and prettiness don't make up for the inability to convey the story. Some of the movies do tell a cohesive story, and it is almost a shock to the system when you see one of those versus the others.

Anyway, don't give up, that third book is excellent too.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by LadyGeek »

BrightEyes wrote: Mon Jun 13, 2022 11:42 pm C. J. Cherryh is one of my favorite authors. She excels at the anthropological science fiction! Her writing seems more thoughtful/thought provoking to me than just action based. I think I’ve read every thing she’s written at least once, and own most of it. She gets deeply inside the thought processes of her characters, so they (at least the protagonists) have so much depth and you can see their doubts and hopes as well as what they do or say. I really like that, though I turn to simpler stories when I am tired or don’t want to think deeply about understanding what is going on. I’m so glad to hear that you are enjoying the series, Lady Geek! Once you are done with the current 21 books (and counting, I hope! The story is definitely not complete at the end of the currently available books) you are likely to enjoy exploring the Alliance- Reunion universe. She has some fantasy series as well, and other science fiction works.

I enjoy the work of Lois McMaster Bujold as well, which someone mentioned earlier. The Vorkosigan saga is especially delightful, faster paced and with some fun quips, but still has a lot of character development.

So many books, so little time…

Bright Eyes
I just finished Book 5 and want to keep going. Since my late husband had purchased about half the series (which I hadn't yet read but are on my Kindle), Amazon makes it far too easy to purchase the remaining 8 books. On my Kindle --> Library --> Purchase the remaining books in the series --> Done.

This is going to take a while. I could also take a break to read something else and return to it later.

I was one of those who mentioned the Vorkosigan saga - but in the older "What book are you currently reading?" threads (version 5 and 6). My first mention was in 2013. I also recommend the series.
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Re: Good Modern Science Fiction

Post by Dharma »

Try anything by Connie Willis.

The Doomsday Book, if you haven't read it, is a modern classic. Blackout/All Clear is great. To Say Nothing of the Dog is hilarious.
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