1. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Old sci-fi

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by CDRW, Apr 18, 2008.

    I've been thinking about the kind of books I like and something occurred to me. I haven't read very much good imagination building sci-fi that has been published recently. It seems to me like the old authors had the funniest, most imaginative, most emotionally grabbing stories, especially the short stories. People like Isaac Asimov, or Larry Niven had great stuff. Pate de Foi Groi (I hope I spelled that right) was extremely funny and Flowers for Algernon was the most emotionally gripping story I have ever read.

    My question. Do I just not know where to look for new good stuff, or is it not as good as it used to be?
     
  2. zconstantine
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    zconstantine New Member

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    I can't recommend Philip K. Dick highly enough - his short stories have been the basis for recent films like Minority Report, and his novels inspired Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly.

    Granted, Philip K. Dick isn't new, but he did write a wealth of great science fiction.

    For newer authors, I would recommend Neal Stephenson (his knack for deep, immersive descriptions brings a lot to Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon) and William Gibson (can't say I have read much of his work, however, Neuromancer is a defining cyberpunk epic).

    Check out a few recent Hugo Award Winners, Nebula Award Winners, and browse through other literary awards for different languages and genres - if they're winning awards, chances are that many of the writers you'll see listed are worth picking up.
     
  3. Mr Sci Fi
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    Mr Sci Fi Senior Member

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    I honestly can't recommend any new Sci-Fi authors either. Although Asimov just had his final collection published, so I'd check that out.

    Stick to the classics. Read as much Herbert, Heinlen, Asimov, Ellison, Dick, Gibson, and Bradbury as humanly possible.
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Iain M Banks' Culture series is pretty good. About as good as the new stuff gets, actually, from what I've read.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There are some authors from the modern era of Science Fiction whom I love dearly. My list of best of the best is usually nothing like the standard.

    Octavia Butler
    Sherri S. Tepper
    China Mieville

    I am forced to agree that the old guard had something that the new guard lacks.

    Innocence.

    The old school, golden age Science Fiction authors had yet to be jaded by technology that races faster and faster every day.

    Today, a brand spanking new lap top is state of the art for exactly ten minutes!

    Azimov and Clark had the beautifully sweet childhood perspective of what humanity might become as technology became more important. Today we practically wipe our rear ends with microchips. How much perspective can we have?
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have to admit a certain affinity toward the older SF writers. Larry Niven is probably my favorite in terms of the innovative ideas. I also like Heinlein, but less so when it appears they began paying him by the word (translation: he became incredibly long-winded). I also enjoyed E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensmen series, although it always seemed on the campy side to me. The rate of technological advancement was just not very credible.

    I also enjoy Anne McCaffery's work, although it's definitely a wholly different pace. Arthur C. Clarke wrote some truly beautiful, far-ranging stories.

    Ray Bradbury I like for the poetry of his writing more than the brilliance of his stories.

    James P. Hogan wrote several very interesting SF novels in the 1980s, even though the characters were somewhat on the shallow side. He had a bit of Niven's flair for tinkering with the science end of SF, and his background with DEC shows in some of his pieces about machine intelligence.

    Frederik Pohl's series with leftover tech from the Heechee race is another great series, especially Gateway and Beyond the Blue Event Horizon.

    I can't say I've stumbled across many new SF writers recently that have caught my attention, but I also haven't as eagerly mined the shelves of my local bookstores' SF collections as I used to. Too many of my speculative purchases have been bitterly disappointing. I'm sure the good writers are out there, but they seem to be harder to excavate from the mountains of mediocrity.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Now that you mention Larry Niven*, who's work should be essential reading to anyone wishing to write Science Fiction, I am come to realise something else about these authors.

    Both Niven and Clark made very rare use of techno-gloss in their early works. Instead of creating near-magical technologies to move thier plots forward (warpdrive, beam-me-up-Scotty) they made use of the very limitations of realworld technology as integral parts of the plot process. I think this lends their work an approachability that does not offend the reader's sensibilities and/or intelligence.

    *after reading World of Ptavs I found myself belting out the title at innapropriate moments like someone who had missed their lithium dosage! I just loved the sound of it! Never mind the fact that I can't look at sweet-potatos without getting the rediculous picture in my head of someone going hog-wild over the smell of Tree-of-Life.*
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I yam what I yam! :)

    Still, I don't care as much for the way the Pak suddenly became a part of every subsequent Known Space novel. I'd much have preferred that the Ringworld builders remain an extinct race, but with tantalyzing clues to their nature. The Pak are just too convenient.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, there's a part of me than can respect that. It did become a bit of a crutch at times.

    In his book Protector, he describes the continuous wars between Pak protectors attempting to insure that only their own little batch of breeders survived. I think he fell short of the mark in mentioning that the effects of nuclear weapons would sometimes cause the breeders to smell wrong to their own protector. From what we’ve seen of nuclear fallout and its affects on higher orders of biological life (which would already have been known to Niven at the time he wrote Protector,) I think it was overly underplayed. Never mind the fact that he also describes the Pak homeworld as having been a dry, desert, crater-ridden, husk of a planet because of said warring.

    Where would the breeders be kept?
     
  10. Aurora_Black
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    Aurora_Black Contributing Member

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    Well, i guess it's mostly right that new sci-fi is a LOT more different than before like if read 2001: A Space Odyssey you'd laugh your organ's out because it's 2008 and we still don't have HAL in real life! :mad:.. Just kidding.

    So far all the sci-fi iv'e been reading to his day have been of merciless bloodbath wars fought over some-overextended galaxy and such, but thats only because I love the military and war in the future is cool.

    Laser gun battle *pieew**pieew* lol :D :cool:
    ^
    ||
    Bad sound effects
     

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