What SF books have you read recently?

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This topic contains 36 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Patrick Mahon 4 years ago.

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  • #7586

    Patrick Mahon
    Participant

    A place for general discussion about SF books

    #7587

    Patrick Mahon
    Participant

    OK, that first post looks silly. So let’s try a more sensible one now. It would be good to get this Forum up and running again, following the recent redesign, so my starter for ten is starting up this topic as a place to discuss the books you’ve read recently.

    I’m just finishing off Peter F. Hamilton’s ‘The Naked God’, the final part of his ‘Night’s Dawn’ Trilogy. I put off reading any of his books for years, because they are all so long. But I must say that I’ve really enjoyed all three books in this trilogy, even if it has taken me a long time to read each one! There are lots of well-drawn characters, the plot is complex but still comprehensible, and the breadth of vision is astounding. Thoroughly recommended to anyone who hasn’t read Hamilton’s stuff before.

    Anyone else read ‘The Naked God’, or any other Hamilton books, and want to give their views?

    Cheers, Patrick.

    #7593

    Patrick Mahon
    Participant

    Another book I’ve read recently is Iain M. Banks’ “The Player of Games”, which I’m lucky enough to be giving out tomorrow (Mon 23 April) on World Book Night. Must admit I hadn’t read it previously (though I have read other books by him), but really enjoyed the playfulness of his style throughout the book. Anyone else read it, and want to give their views?

    #7618

    George Berger
    Participant

    I am about 50 pages into Embassytown and enjoying it. I am struck by its successful combination of easily flowing text and difficult subject matter.

    #7628

    Patrick Mahon
    Participant

    Hi George – great to hear from you. I read Embassytown last year, and enjoyed it very much. It’s interesting that it seems to have got quite mixed reviews: some people felt that it was a bold experiment in using SF themes to interrogate the nature of language, whilst others appear to have found it slow and/or impenetrable. I’ll be interested in your views as you make your way through the book.

    #7655

    Daniel Carter
    Participant

    Hi guys. I’ve just joined up today, so I thought I’d get involved.

    In response to Patrick, I haven’t read ‘The Player of Games’ yet (I have the book, I just haven’t gotten around to reading it), but I’ve read ‘Consider Phlebas’ and I thought it was great! There were some really original and interesting ideas going on and Banks’ writing style kept me interested even through all the complex stuff. Hopefully I’ll get around to reading more of his work soon.

    I have to admit I’m still fairly new to SF, having spent a lot of my time reading fantasy, but I’m definitely enjoying what I’ve read so far. Actually, that’s not totally true; I’ve recently been reading ‘Intrusion’ by Ken MacLeod and I really couldn’t stick with it, which is a shame because I don’t like ‘giving up’ on books. It quickly became stale and the story only moved forward when focused on one of the three main characters; when focused on the other two it seemed to slow right down and made it very hard for me to stay interested.

    What to read next? There’s so much choice! I’ve got quite a few lined up, but at the moment it looks like the new forthcoming David Brin book ‘Existence’ is the most likely choice for me.

    #7656

    Andrew Kouzoukis
    Participant

    Oh hai, I’m new here too. Just signed up for BSFA too.
    I’m a big Banks fan and would recommend giving Excession a read. It takes the ships themselves as the central characters which, whilst it can be confusing at times, makes for a fun read.
    I’ve recently started Absolution Gap, the third in Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space series and tbh it’s pretty slow compared to the previous two novels. I’m going to stick with it anyway as I’m sure it will pick up. I only started reading the first one as it featured archaeologists and, being an archaeology student, archaeology and sci-fi sounded like a match made in heaven. 😀

    Speaking of which, archaeology and sci-fi, I have to recommend Dan Worth’s Progenitor trilogy. It’s a self published Kindle series but it is just fantastic. He’s still working on the third one but hopefully it will be out soon. It’s epic space opera with ancient aliens seeking to wipe out intelligent life, galaxy spanning chases and a couple of archaeologists stuck in the middle of it all. No bullwhips and fedoras though. 😀

    Book 1-Exiles

    Book 2-Renegades

    #7657

    Patrick Mahon
    Participant

    Hi Daniel and Andrew – welcome to you both. Hope you enjoy your membership of the BSFA!

    Daniel – I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the Brin book. And please don’t give up on Ken MacLeod on the basis of ‘Intrusion’. I’ve not read it, but I read his previous book, ‘The Restoration Game’, and enjoyed that, so it may be worth trying something else he’s written, perhaps?

    Andrew – thanks for the info on Dan Worth’s trilogy; I may have a look at that. In the meantime, have you seen Alastair Reynolds’ latest novel, ‘Blue Remembered Earth’? It has had pretty good reviews, so may be worth looking at once you’re done with ‘Absolution Gap’.

    #7659

    Daniel Carter
    Participant

    Hi Patrick. I’ll keep in mind what you have said about Ken MacLeod. I wouldn’t want to discount the rest of the authors work based on one disappointment. I’ve heard that people rate his ‘Fall Revolutions’ series very highly so I may look into those as well. Have you read any of those?

    Another book I’ve read recently (and it was the cause of much debate amongst colleagues of mine) is ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline. It’s set in the near future where ‘The real world is an ugly place’. Oil has run out, the climate is wrecked and there is widespread poverty, famine and disease. People escape this horrible reality by logging into the OASIS, a virtual reality world (a lot like an RPG) where you can be anyone you want and do whatever you want. The OASIS founder/creator, has left riddles (mostly based on computer games and 80’s pop culture) throughout the OASIS, and whoever solves all the riddles and reaches the end wins control of the OASIS and his vast fortune.

    I liked this book a lot but I think that’s because I’m a big fan of computer games, and I really enjoyed the epic ‘quest’ element of the story. A lot of people didn’t like it due to that same fact; it seems to be one of those ‘Marmite’ books. I guess it has a very particular audience, though whether the author intended this I don’t know. This story also has a strong message; the planet is wrecked, yet no one does anything about it. Everyone avoids all responsibility and escapes reality by spending nearly every waking hour in the OASIS. How is the planet going to recover? How long can humanity continue like this?

    I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of the David Brin book. Hopefully I’ll get around to it soon, though I’m still in the early stages of another book so it could be a few weeks at least (I’m not a very fast reader).

    #7753

    Patrick Mahon
    Participant

    Has anyone read Kim Stanley Robinson’s new novel, ‘2312’, yet? I’ve just picked up a copy from the library, but not yet started on it. If anyone out there has read it already, what did you think?

    #7803

    GeoffNelder
    Participant

    The Chester SFF Book Group last night discussed The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross. I’d not been to such a polarised meeting. Most agreed that the book was a kind of British version of MIB come The Office come The IT Crowd. Luckily I and another member have degrees in Maths and appreciated the (probably tongue in cheek) in-jokes, and the IT stuff, even though much of it was blatant fun. Some of the others didn’t understand any of that – didn’t get the Mandelbrot set mapping lark, or that Beowolf Clusters are real, but knew well the Lovecraftian refs and basilisk threat. I felt there were plot holes and a cop out ending but love Charlie’s books including this one. A great evening even though I had to be on Becks Blue cos for once I was driving.

    #7809

    Patrick Mahon
    Participant

    Thanks Geoff – I’ve been meaning to read something by Charles Stross for a while, so I’d be interested in your recommendation for which of his books would be a good introduction. I’m also a former maths student (well maths and physics in reality, but what the heck), so hope I’ll enjoy the in-jokes too.

    #7827

    George Berger
    Participant

    I am presently reading The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, by Professor Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr. The book is an attempt to systematise seven aspects of the “science fictionality” of contemporary SF considered as a complex of activities of many kinds, not just novels and stories. I think the book is an update of Darko Suvin’s classic, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction (1979). The first Part of Professor Suvin’s work is a brilliantly analytical development of (in ordinary language) the effect of introducing a new natural or psychological phenomenon into what might start out as a mainstream work. The reader experiences a cognitive distancing between what he or she is reading about and the actual world as the reader understands it. The personal value to the reader is a broader or newer view on the normal world, which can lead to social innovation.
    I was amazed at how precise the above notions were described. During conversations with the author and an SF scholar here in Uppsala though, it became clear to me that this notion should be one item on a list of features at work in an SF production. Professor Csicsery-Ronay Jr has chosen seven items that contribute to the total science-fictionality of a work. He makes no claim that the list is complete, or that all seven (at least) must be present in a work if it is to be considered SF. This promises to be an interesting reading experience, especially since I am reading it together with two other lovers of effective, quasi-formal analyses of literature.

    #7828

    George Berger
    Participant

    @Patrick I just noticed your reply to me about ‘Embassytown.’ I am reading some stuff on linguistics and philosophy that I need to write a note on the book. I have no idea what I will ultimately write. Maybe nothing, if I realise I have nothing to say!

    #7829

    Patrick Mahon
    Participant

    Thanks George – great to hear from you. ‘The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction’ sounds very interesting! Is it in English? Who is it published by? I’m tempted to try and get hold of it, if I can.

    Turning to ‘Embassytown’, I’d love to hear your views on it, if you get a chance to put them down on paper/computer.

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