babble home
rabble.ca - news for the rest of us
today's active topics


Post New Topic  Post A Reply
FAQ | Forum Home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» babble   » rabble content   » babble book lounge   » Science fiction books -- rabble needs your recs

Email this thread to someone!    
Author Topic: Science fiction books -- rabble needs your recs
Rundler
editor
Babbler # 2699

posted 02 December 2005 09:42 AM      Profile for Rundler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hi All -- I want to try an experiment in group writing. Kinda like the magazine writer who posted his article to wikipedia and got the collective to write the piece they ended up publishing... Very cool.

So, here's our assignment, should you choose to accept it:

Next week in rabble reviews we'll be looking at different genres. Given that sci-fi has a lovely progressive history, I thought it would be fun to recommend a bunch. We can make that list right here. You just need to provide -- the full title; the author's full name; the publisher; and a full sentence or two describing why you'd recommend it. Try to keep these descriptions short.

Alright! I can't wait to see what we come up with.


From: the murky world of books books books | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Rundler
editor
Babbler # 2699

posted 02 December 2005 09:50 AM      Profile for Rundler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh yes, in order for me to use these in reviews, I'll need them by Wednesday (Dec 7) early in the day. Happy recommending! (I'm going to be offline soon until Monday so if there are any questions, I can answer them on Monday.)
From: the murky world of books books books | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Wayne MacPhail
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 119

posted 02 December 2005 10:00 AM      Profile for Wayne MacPhail   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Neuromancer
William Gibson
Ace Science Fiction

Gibson's 1984 novel introduced the cyberpunk genre and created a future landscape of digital decay, machine/body interface, cyberspace, microsurgery and macro crime. His Chiba City remains how I imagine the future will be for good and ill. Ironic from a guy who collects antique watches.


From: Hamilton | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tehanu
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9854

posted 02 December 2005 10:26 AM      Profile for Tehanu     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The Dispossessed
Ursula K. LeGuin
HarperCollins

Goes down as the best book I've ever read, and I've read quite a few! LeGuin frames an excellent and thought-provoking discussion of capitalism, socialism and anarchy with a very compelling scifi plot. Plus every sentence she writes is stunningly crafted. I have about six copies and they're all out on "loan" as I pass them from friend to friend.


From: Desperately trying to stop procrastinating | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4790

posted 02 December 2005 11:00 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Loved the Dispossessed. Almost as good as the Left Hand of Darkness, which is her best. Also the Lathe of Heaven, is good.

Consider Phlebus -- Iam m. Banks. Also, The Use of Weapons.

I hadn't read any sci fi for years, but reading Consider Phlebus brought the magic back.

For utopians I would say Shikasta by Doris Lessing is worhwhile. Though my mother thinks its vaguely facist, and she has a point.


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 02 December 2005 11:20 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Better than Shikasta (IMO) is one of its sequels, The Sirian Experiments.

I started a thread on China Miéville and his steam fantasy:

http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic&f=39&t=000042

Both of these should in theory be read after Perdido Street Station, but I didn't and believe I didn't miss any important details: they are standalone plots.

Short summaries:

THE SCAR
China Miéville
A librarian from the magical city of New Crobuzon is fleeing her past via ship to New Crobuzon's distant colony, when the ship is caught by pirates. These are no ordinary pirates: they drag the ship to their utopia, the Armada, a city/civilization of relative equality considered a myth, drifting on the ocean and made from the hulls of thousands of stolen vessels from which no one may ever leave. But the librarian cannot let go of her privileged past, while the Lovers, the bizarre leaders of the Armada, concoct a plan to alter reality itself.

Iron Council
China Miéville
An industrial fantasy centred around the magical city of New Crobuzon, a place of vast inequality. The exploited workers building the Trans-Continental Railway go on strike by stealing the railway and building it in the direction they choose. New Crobuzon starts losing a long, bizarre war against a city powered by a more spiritual magic, while the inhabitants of the city's slums awaken to revolution inspired by the escape of the railworkers, known as the Iron Council.

[ 02 December 2005: Message edited by: Mandos ]


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 02 December 2005 11:32 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Cordelia's Honor
Lois McMaster Bujold
A romance between an admiral of a patriarchally and technologically backwards but increasingly imperialistic planet and a soldier-scientist from a egalitarian and advanced enemy world. The scientist arrives at understanding about his society while realizing the limitations of her own. Her introduction to his world initiates a process of change and improvement for the women living there. The prologue to the Miles Vorkosigan series.

Foreigner
C. J. Cherryh
A lost colony of humans is stranded on a planet inhabited by a barely industrial humanoid race, the atevi, that is simultaneously very similar but profoundly different. Two hundred years later, a scion of the original colonists must deal with the fallout from the artificial advancement of atevi technology via human manipulation. A difficult situation: while the humans have altered atevi society to their own ends, the atevi have reached a level where the fate of the now-established humans is in their hands.


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 02 December 2005 11:39 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oryx and Crake
Margaret Atwood
A near-future dystopia in which the genetic manipulation of life has run amok, the privileged live in gated communities to protect themselves from genetic weapons, and education no longer encompasses human values. The story explores the relationship between creativity, inequality, and destruction in the relationship as a love triangle between the protagonist, his psychopathic genius friend, and a strange and insightful prostitute abducted from a poor family.

From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
jrootham
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 838

posted 02 December 2005 11:42 AM      Profile for jrootham     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth
Roger Zelazny
iBooks, Inc.

A short story collection. The key is "A Rose for Ecclesiastes", the story of a poet who triggers the will to live in a dying race of Martians. Utterly gorgeous writing.


From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 02 December 2005 11:53 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A Deepness in the Sky
Vernor Vinge
Only progressive (and very much so) in matters of race and gender, otherwise a rare and important example of a fanatically anarcho-capitalist book that is also very good reading. In a distant star system, two groups of humans, capitalists and perhaps rather caricatured socialists engage in a tight, clandestine conflict while the unsuspecting objects of their war, the recently-industrialed Spider race, engage in a passionate conflict over the role of religion in political life.

From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 02 December 2005 12:05 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The Currents of Space
Isaac Asimov
Bantam-Spectra or Doubleday

A man with amnesia must try to remember a dangerous secret he knew about the planet he lives on. He lives on Florina, a world governed by a planet, called Sark, in a solar system some parsecs away, so that it is twelve hours by space-ship and hyperspatial Jump.

Florina is deliberately kept poor and its people undereducated, while Sark hoards all the wealth that comes from the sale of Florina's crop, which can be used to make a unique material called kyrt. As a result the Sarkites are unimaginably powerful and wealthy, crushing any political movements on Florina as swiftly as possible.

And they certainly wouldn't like it if rumors of danger to Florina started getting about.

[ 02 December 2005: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
speechpoet
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3693

posted 02 December 2005 01:52 PM      Profile for speechpoet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sewer, Gas & Electric
by Matt Ruff
published by Grove Atlantic, January 1996

A romp set in New York City, 2023. From the publisher's blurb: "The year is 2023, and Ayn Rand has been resurrected and bottled in a hurricane lamp.... an eco-terrorist named Philo Dufrense travels in a pink-and-green submarine designed by Howard Hughes; a Volkswagen Beetle is possessed by the spirit of Abbie Hoffman; Meisterbrau, a mutant great white shark, is running loose in the sewers beneath Times Square; and a one-armed 181-year-old Civil War veteran.... are caught up in a vast conspiracy involving Walt Disney, J. Edgar Hoover, and a mob of homicidal robots."

Jennifer Government
by Max Barry
published by Doubleday, January 2003

From the author's web site:

"Welcome to paradise! The world is run by American corporations (except for a few deluded holdouts like the French); taxes are illegal; employees take the last names of the companies they work for; the Police and the NRA are publicly-traded security firms; and the U.S. government only investigates crimes it can bill for.

"Hack Nike is a Merchandising Officer who discovers an all-new way to sell sneakers. Buy Mitsui is a stockbroker with a death-wish. Billy NRA is finding out that life in a private army isn't all snappy uniforms and code names. And Jennifer Government, a legendary agent with a barcode tattoo, is the consumer watchdog from hell."


From: Sunny Vancouver | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
arborman
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4372

posted 02 December 2005 02:09 PM      Profile for arborman     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Some books I love are already on this list... How do people remember publishers?

The Player of Games
Iain M. Banks

The Man in the High Castle
Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Philip K. Dick

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town
Cory Doctorow

The Stars My Destination
?Alfred Bester?

Inversions
Iain M. Banks


From: I'm a solipsist - isn't everyone? | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Willowdale Wizard
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3674

posted 02 December 2005 04:26 PM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"pollen"
jeff noon
crown, 1996

though any one of his books is worth a look-see ("vurt", "automated alice", "needle in the groove").

==

"digital leatherette"
steve beard
codex, 1999

antarctica, modern-day voodoo priestess, drugged-out chatroom yakkers, queen elizabeth II is (perhaps) assasinated ... it's all good.

==

"ringworld"
larry niven
1970

just to attempt a believable novel about a thin slice of a dyson sphere takes some guts, not to mention the other ideas he throws off like a catherine wheel:

- General Products hulls
- the Slaver stasis field
- that luck is a genetic trait that can be favored by selective breeding
- [erotic quiver] the tasp [/erotic quiver]


From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
jrootham
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 838

posted 02 December 2005 04:31 PM      Profile for jrootham     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
How do people remember publishers?

Google


From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willowdale Wizard
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3674

posted 02 December 2005 04:32 PM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
i ... have ... the google!!

only three others share this secret ... WW, jrootham and audra, together ...


From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Willowdale Wizard
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3674

posted 02 December 2005 04:34 PM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
i really have to find out he-man's stylist ... how does he get his hair so perfectly orange?
From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Willowdale Wizard
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3674

posted 03 December 2005 07:01 AM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
(bump)
From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Agent 204
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4668

posted 03 December 2005 12:03 PM      Profile for Agent 204   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Pretty much anything by John Wyndham, from his apocalyptic classics like The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes, and The Chrysalids, to the social satire The Trouble with Lichen, to the bizzare short stories in Consider Her Ways and Others. The guy was amazing.

Other faves:

John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up- a fascinating look at a world where environmental problems are spiralling out of control.

John Christopher's No Blade of Grass (aka The Death of Grass)- a very dark look at ordinary people's response to a famine resulting from a crop disease. Even as the protagonists commit hideous acts in order to survive, you find yourself unable to blame them.

C. J. Cherryh's Heavy Time- a highly realistic-looking story about an asteroid-mining society.

Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy (though I've only just started the third in the series)- an extremely plausible account of the colonization and terraforming of Mars, with a lot of interesting political aspects.

James Blish's A Case of Conscience and Cities in Flight- scientific plausibility is a bit weak (flying cities? C'mon), but the humanistic aspects are great.

Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land- a classic. Enough said.

Walter Miller's A Canticle for Liebowitz- a rather pessimistic but extremely engaging account of the gradual rise of a new civilization after a nuclear war.

[ 03 December 2005: Message edited by: Agent 204 ]


From: home of the Guess Who | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Brett Mann
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6441

posted 03 December 2005 12:48 PM      Profile for Brett Mann        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'll throw another vote in for Shikasta by Doris Lessing. This book is remarkable in its scope, depicting the evolution of human civilization on earth, nurtured by the Empire in Canopus, a sort of enlightened cosmic federation. As always, Lessing is brilliantly accurate in her rendering of human experience and keenly aware of the the effects of the forces of history and politics. To say that the book has a slightly fascist tinge to it reminds me of a comment by Lessing herself about people who sometimes criticised her work. She simply noted that it is difficult for some people to understand that God doesn't think like a social worker.

Edited to add: this thread should "have legs". The times are very appropriate for contemplation and discussion of alternative future realities, utopian or dystopian.

[ 03 December 2005: Message edited by: looney ]


From: Prince Edward County ON | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Jimmy Brogan
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3290

posted 03 December 2005 01:05 PM      Profile for Jimmy Brogan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Titan Trilogy by John Varley

Titan, Wizard, and Demon

Ace, 1981

The star of the trilogy is Gaea a huge, ancient wheel, turning in space. Gaea is incredibly complex, with internal passageways, cables, spokes and dozens of separate ecologies in her various sections. Almost nothing there seems mechanical; a lot of Gaea is organic. It's lasted three million years, but it's not quite worn out. Malfunctioning a bit, but in the most interesting ways.

The Boat of a Million Years by Poul Anderson

Tor, 1989

The book follows the lives of a group of immortals through the ages. Written in a short story style, the chapters focus on how the characters deal with their condition, and on how the world reacts to them. Where the novel shines is in its depiction of ancient history as a living, breathing entity. In Europe the immortals, when discovered, are treated as evil, in the east, they can be accepted. Some overlooked cultures are shown as well, such as Pre-European Native Americans, and ancient Scandinavia. Historical figures are downplayed, but they are present. One chapter has a conversation with Cardinal Richelieu, and another has two characters who figure in Norse legends, one being Nornagest, although probably only one familiar with the names, or the myth, will catch it.

The book winds up far in the future, when the 'Survivors', those immortals who managed to live to the modern age, leave Earth. It is at this point that Anderson expounds, through the characters, what it means to be truly human.

Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson

Spectra 1989

The conclusion of the Neuromancer trilogy, MLO is Gibson at his best.


From: The right choice - Iggy Thumbscrews for Liberal leader | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4790

posted 04 December 2005 08:05 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Another one, aside from the P. K. Dick books mentioned, which are also classic:

Babel 17 by Samuel Delaney.

Have a robot that is on a suicide assassination mission. How to fix it? Change the meaning of the words in the language in which it was programmed

A Case of Conscience by James Blish.

God invents a planet to test man's faith in god. The space Jesuit's go to investigate. It's too good to be true.

Camp Concentration by Thomas Disch

Consiencious objectors are subjected to medical experiments instead of haveing to serve in the military, and are injected with refined strain of Syphilus, which enhances their intelligence to the extreme but will likely shorten their lives.

Also, the Sheep Look up by John Brunner, whom most of William Gibson's ideas are stolen from, IMHO.

A Scanner Darkly, my favourite Dick story, will be coming out as a movie in the new year.

[ 04 December 2005: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
jrootham
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 838

posted 04 December 2005 09:20 AM      Profile for jrootham     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Shockwave Rider
John Brunner
Del Ray

A most amazing book about what a data network would behave like written long before the internet came into being. How does control work in a connected society and how can it be challenged? It is the origin of the term "worm" for a class of noxious computer network pests.


From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4790

posted 04 December 2005 10:32 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

Great! But is is Sci fi?

[ 04 December 2005: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Nanuq
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8229

posted 04 December 2005 11:06 AM      Profile for Nanuq   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I can't believe that H.G. Wells has yet to be mntioned in this thread. The War of the Worlds, the Invisible Man, The Time Machine among others. Come on! How many of the classic themes of science fiction did he introduce?
From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Lard Tunderin' Jeezus
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1275

posted 04 December 2005 12:32 PM      Profile for Lard Tunderin' Jeezus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'll cast my votes for anything by Rudy Rucker or Russell Hoban. And Inferno by Niven & Pournelle is a perenial favorite of mine.
From: ... | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 04 December 2005 01:20 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Robert Sawyer's Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. It's good---with a number of problems, particularly towards the end. He's a Canadian writer and very self-consciously so.

Hominids
Robert Sawyer
In this first book of the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, a Neanderthal scientist from an alternate universe is accidentally cast into our world; the story takes place primarily in Toronto. This and the following books (Humans, Hybrids) explore themes of religion, privacy, affirmative action, and so on. Occasionally rather preachy, particularly towards the end.


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Contrarian
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6477

posted 04 December 2005 03:37 PM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
C.J. Cherryh is an excellent writer. Another of her classic books is Downbelow Station; the opening has several ships full of refugees landing at a space station, after travelling for weeks without enough food or water; think of the stadium at New Orleans after Katrina.

For a couple of old classics try Jules Verne's books, such as Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; written in old-fashioned styles but they still have things to tell us.

Oh yes, and Thea von Harbou's Metropolis; almost as much myth as science fiction.

[ 04 December 2005: Message edited by: Contrarian ]


From: pretty far west | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3308

posted 04 December 2005 06:56 PM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I would argue that the best books Cherryh ever wrote--not in some ways the most ambitious, but the best realized--were her Chanur series.

Pride of Chanur, Chanur's Venture, The Kif Strike Back, Chanur's Homecoming.

Fast pace, intricate but tight plot, excellent characterization, and enough but not too much of that patented Cherryh paranoid atmosphere form the glittering surface of these books. But there's more here--beautifully realized aliens who all think differently, have quite different social systems, and find it hard to deal with one another, an interesting inversion in which the only human is not a viewpoint character, a complex sexism (mainly against males) among the feline Hani, and the villains, the Kif, resembling dog-eat-dog capitalism taken to vicious extreme.


Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy has been mentioned. I agree that it's excellent.

Robinson (not to be confused with Spider Robinson) is a very intelligent, knowledgeable voice for the left in SF. His Mars trilogy starts slow and rather arid, but gathers momentum and personal depth as it progresses. The science is hard, the politics is progressive, the scope is vast.


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Boarsbreath
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9831

posted 04 December 2005 08:02 PM      Profile for Boarsbreath   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The only thing to compare with The Dispossessed (Ursula K Leguin, above, though it also got both the Nebula & Hugo Awards, which pretty much guarantees greatness) --

Floating Worlds
by Cecilia Holland
NY: Knopf, hardcover 1975
London & NY: Gollancz, 2002

It's an anarchy you can believe could exist, with a cradible plot and characters who are as real as history.

No coincidence...Holland's also a prolific and (seriously) brilliant historic novelist. This was her only SF, and unlike virtually anybody else dipping into SF (including Doris Lessing & Margaret Atwood, I'm afraid), she contributed.

But there's also Joe Haldeman's The Forever War...(St. Martin's Press, 1975) as technically fun as Larry Niven (the force-field that allows only slow-moving objects...), as charactered-thoughtful as Orson Scott Card (romance among soldiers when each mission distorts your relative ages by years).


From: South Seas, ex Montreal | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
anne cameron
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8045

posted 04 December 2005 08:12 PM      Profile for anne cameron     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
CJ Cherrys novel "The Saga of Arafel" still resonates for me. That and almost anything by Ray Bradbury.
From: tahsis, british columbia | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Américain Égalitaire
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7911

posted 04 December 2005 09:07 PM      Profile for Américain Égalitaire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Although its been typecast as a children's book, my all time favourite in this genre has been Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time." A group of children meet three witches who travel through time and space to a land not unlike what the USA may become if it doesn't watch itself. A classic with great political-social overtones and a moral lesson to boot.

I'm also hooked on Harry Turtledove's alternative history books. I could do without his awfully written sex scenes though.


From: Chardon, Ohio USA | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 04 December 2005 10:04 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm a big fan of Cherryh, but for everything BUT the asteroid colony stories. I didn't get into Downbelow Station either---but after a couple of tries, I loved Cyteen. Cherryh writes the best paranoid atmospheres in SF, bar none. Also the best human-alien contact stories: I own most of the ongoing Foreigner series.

I liked Arafel's Saga, but it wasn't my favorite Cherryh. Much better is the Faded Sun trilogy.


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rundler
editor
Babbler # 2699

posted 05 December 2005 12:12 PM      Profile for Rundler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hey! Wonderful stuff! Thank you everyone!
From: the murky world of books books books | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
rsfarrell
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7770

posted 05 December 2005 04:35 PM      Profile for rsfarrell        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Kurt Vonnegut, obviously. Faves include:

Galapagos (1985). Vonnegut's narrator explains, with a million years of hindsight, how the trouble with 20th-humans (who have now evolved into sleek fish-catching machines) was "their great gigantic brains."

Slaughterhouse-Five; or Children's Crusade, a Duty Dance with Death (1969). This great science-fiction novel is so great it is hardly ever remembered that it is science fiction. So it goes.

Cat's Cradle (1963) Too many fantastic things in this book to mention. One of the few science fiction novels to feature a conceit drawn, not from physics or biology, but from chemistry. And it's a good one.

No other writer mixes science like that, and sad and hilarious absurdities (Midget Communist ballet dancer spies), and words like those given to Ambassador Minton:

quote:
"In the same war in which the Hundred Martyrs of Democracy died, my own son died. My soul insists that I mourn not a man, but a child. I am not saying that children in war do not die like men; to their honor and to our everlasting shame they DO die like men. But rather than celebrating their deaths with patriotic holidays, perhaps we should spend our time despising what killed them; that is to say, the the stupidity and vicisiousness of all mankind."

From: Portland, Oregon | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4790

posted 05 December 2005 08:03 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Stanislaw Lem.
From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
LemonThriller
babbler
Babbler # 11085

posted 06 December 2005 02:52 PM      Profile for LemonThriller     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My all time favourite book is called Watchstar by Pamela Sargent. Sooooo good! They stopped printing it so I bought 8 copies in used bookstores (you never know when you might lose a copy.) And then they started reprinting...

It's a story about an ancient?/futuristic? civilization able to communicate through thought...everyone should read it!


From: Halifax, N.S. | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
obscurantist
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8238

posted 06 December 2005 05:45 PM      Profile for obscurantist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wyndham and Walter M. Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz are great, and Dick and Vonnegut are great if erratic.

I'd also include Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy -- although ostensibly for children, it contains at least as much thoughtful and provocative discussion of science, politics, religion and violence as did Vonnegut, Wyndham, Dick, and Miller, who wrote (write) for adults.

And I'd throw in Douglas Adams, who perhaps wasn't the greatest at constructing a novel, but did write tremendously entertaining science fiction. It may be classified more as comedy, but Adams was a layperson who was fascinated by the human implications of science and technology, and who in general liked bending peoples' minds until they were inside out.


From: an unweeded garden | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
person
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4695

posted 06 December 2005 11:53 PM      Profile for person     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
anything by

Octavia E. Butler


From: www.resist.ca | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Bobolink
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5909

posted 07 December 2005 11:10 AM      Profile for Bobolink   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mandos:
Cordelia's Honor
Lois McMaster Bujold
A romance between an admiral of a patriarchally and technologically backwards but increasingly imperialistic planet and a soldier-scientist from a egalitarian and advanced enemy world. The scientist arrives at understanding about his society while realizing the limitations of her own. Her introduction to his world initiates a process of change and improvement for the women living there. The prologue to the Miles Vorkosigan series.


For a brilliant analysis of Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, you couldn't do better than Sylvia Kelso's Loud Achievements.

Warning: Many spoilers for those unfamiliar with Bujold's work.


From: Stirling, ON | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tehanu
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9854

posted 07 December 2005 01:39 PM      Profile for Tehanu     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Can I cast another vote?

Sherri S. Tepper writes very interesting stuff, and is a strong feminist to boot. Probably her two most overtly political novels are Gibbon's Decline and Fall and The Gate to Women's Country (both Spectra).

I read the latter one quite a long time ago and cursed slightly because it was close to a plot that I had thought of. Had the same experience with a Connie Willis book. Bloody authors, stealing my as-yet-unwritten stuck-in-my-head too-lazy/unmotivated-to-write ideas! How dare they!


From: Desperately trying to stop procrastinating | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 07 December 2005 01:50 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I find Tepper's popularity somewhat surprising as she has an overtly essentialist view of feminism.

[ 07 December 2005: Message edited by: Mandos ]


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tehanu
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9854

posted 07 December 2005 03:09 PM      Profile for Tehanu     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mandos:
I find Tepper's popularity somewhat surprising as she has an overtly essentialist view of feminism.

Do you think so? Certainly Gate to Women's Country presents a society in which women are actively breeding out warlike aggressiveness, but a closer reading reveals that a) they're selecting among women as well as men and b) Tepper doesn't by any means present this as a utopia or as a solution.

I didn't find her other books essentialist, if by the term you mean a belief that women are biologically superior. I certainly don't ascribe to essentialist feminism and don't enjoy books that do.

I like Tepper's books because, like Atwood in
A Handmaid's Tale, although a little less overtly, she presents well-crafted and in most cases fascinating plots, that centre around women and women's struggles.


From: Desperately trying to stop procrastinating | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Rundler
editor
Babbler # 2699

posted 07 December 2005 03:17 PM      Profile for Rundler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hi! Since this thread is so RICH with recommendations! I've just chosen the first 5 to mention in Thursday's review section ( rabble.ca/reviews ) and then link to the thread for the rest. Thank you all for making this such a successful experiment.
From: the murky world of books books books | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Contrarian
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6477

posted 07 December 2005 03:20 PM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh yes, Connie Willis! She's written a great variety of short stories, and some fine books. I think her Doomsday Book is the best book so far; but To Say Nothing of the Dog is good and has more fun. I haven't read Passages yet.

And a favourite of mine, who was less well-known, is R.A. Lafferty, whose stories were described as "lafferties" because they were like no other stories on earth. Sometimes his stories leaked a little blood [his phrase], but they tended to make a person's jaw drop [in a good way].

Another good short story writer was Zenna Henderson. Stories from the heart.

[ 07 December 2005: Message edited by: Contrarian ]


From: pretty far west | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3308

posted 07 December 2005 03:30 PM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Passages isn't one of her best, IMO. I love To Say Nothing of the Dog. If you like science fiction, and you like P.G. Wodehouse, you absolutely must read it. I have no idea how many times in a row I could read that book without getting bored. Heck, it's worth a read almost for the dreaded Lady Schrapnell alone.
From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3308

posted 07 December 2005 03:49 PM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by obscurantist:

I'd also include Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy -- although ostensibly for children, it contains at least as much thoughtful and provocative discussion

Maybe I should give it another try. I know lots of people are totally enthusiastic about these books. Normally, when I start on reading something I finish it. This was one of the rare cases where I quit after one book. I found it oddly . . . annoying. It felt too much like allegory, which generally bugs me. The setting seemed so painted in, an atmosphere with a few props attached, apparently only there so that the wonderfulness of the superhuman everywoman waif main character wouldn't have to operate in a complete vacuum. Same goes for most of the characters--there was little excuse for their existence except to fill necessary positions and act as foils to the heroine. And I could tell there were lots of ideas happening because it seemed as if the plot was being totally manipulated around them. And talking of manipulation, I felt as if the ideas were being imposed on me through somewhat contrived emotional appeal. I felt like someone was trying to con me. The funny thing is, I may actually agree with many of the guy's ideas. But I can't abide the feel I got from his approach.


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
obscurantist
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8238

posted 07 December 2005 04:19 PM      Profile for obscurantist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wow - Rufus, your negative response to the first book in the Pullman trilogy kind of makes me want to go back and reread it, to see whether I can pick up on some of the things you mentioned.

I'm not saying it's a perfect story. Your reaction sounds a bit like the way I found 1984 -- with arresting ideas spilling out all over the place, but a bit of a dog's breakfast as a novel. And even in the second two books of Pullman's trilogy, I have to admit that he goes over the top sometimes, and he tends to fall into the "OMG CHRISTIANITY IS EVIL!!!111!1!!" trap that I've seen other good writers fall into, like John Wyndham, so that there's the distinct sound of an axe grinding.

But I'd suggest giving the second book a try. It's a change of pace. While the first one feels sort of like a supernatural parallel-universe version of the TV show 24, the second one manages to be a slower-moving exercise in psychological tension, at least up until the ending, which has a bunch more cliffhangers, Big Revelations and dramatic death scenes. I could've done with fewer of those -- they don't add much to the story. And I could read the books just for the ideas contained in them. But I think Pullman does a better job of portraying characters as the story progresses.


From: an unweeded garden | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 08 December 2005 04:38 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Do you think so? Certainly Gate to Women's Country presents a society in which women are actively breeding out warlike aggressiveness, but a closer reading reveals that a) they're selecting among women as well as men and b) Tepper doesn't by any means present this as a utopia or as a solution.
It's true that Tepper doesn't present it as a utopia but she still repeatedly presents in much of the work that I've read the notion of some form of "natural force" or characteristic being responsible for the dystopia or for the solution to that dystopia. My impression of the ending of Gibbon's Decline and Fall was that the magic potion options mostly included drastically changing human reproductive behaviours/characteristics, unless Tepper also meant that ironically, which is possibly quite true.

Tepper has this whole Revenge of Nature thing going as well, which is often well-integrated into her brand of feminism. I remember it being well integrated into Singer from the Sea. A lot of ecofeminism bothers me this way. Raising the Stones also seemed to be pretty blatant. But I find that she almost seems to wish nature's revenge on mankind---it's described with a kind of awe-imbued glee.

But it's been a while since I've read Tepper, though I did skim The Companions recently. Tepper is the anti-David Brin.


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gir Draxon
leftist-rightie and rightist-leftie
Babbler # 3804

posted 08 December 2005 04:51 AM      Profile for Gir Draxon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Treason, by Ann Coulter.
From: Arkham Asylum | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
ShyViolet
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6611

posted 08 December 2005 05:16 AM      Profile for ShyViolet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Gir Draxon:
Treason, by Ann Coulter.

Well, I can see how that'd be fiction.... but science????!


From: ~Love is like pi: natural, irrational, and very important~ | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
Rundler
editor
Babbler # 2699

posted 08 December 2005 10:38 AM      Profile for Rundler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Be sure to check out sci-fi writer A.M. Dellamonica's sci-fi round up at www.rabble.ca/reviews
From: the murky world of books books books | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3308

posted 08 December 2005 02:53 PM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mandos:
Tepper is the anti-David Brin.

Now there's a writer. I don't like his politics too much, but damn! The Uplift series is fun and big and full of ideas.


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
deBeauxOs
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 10099

posted 08 December 2005 03:32 PM      Profile for deBeauxOs     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Though the deadline is past, I cannot resist the impulse to add James Tiptree Jr, the pen name of Alice Sheldon, to this thread. Some of her short stories - "The Women Men Don’t See", “Your Haploid Heart”, “All the Kinds of Yes”, "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" - are classic explorations in gender-bender. If you find a used copy of her collections, grab it.

For more about this SF pioneer and innovator, see here or there.


From: missing in action | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 08 December 2005 03:34 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Uplift is great. I keep hoping Brin will eventually write about the other branch of the voyage of the Streaker, Tom/Creideiki/Hikahi's story. What they must have seen ought to be amazing.

Actually the whole pattern is one of my favorite patterns in fiction in general, the whole Les Miserables paradigm. The Streaker/Valjean is chased through the heavens, pursued to the death for a crime so trivial it hardly merits the angst. At each step of the chase, the world around it is profoundly transformed.


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Cartman
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7440

posted 14 December 2005 01:58 PM      Profile for Cartman        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The Liberal Red Book.

Sorry, ever post just to bump out a thread title that was irritating?


From: Bring back Audra!!!!! | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged

All times are Pacific Time  

Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | rabble.ca | Policy Statement

Copyright 2001-2008 rabble.ca