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I'd like to recommend four of my favorite SF books, a 4-part series by Dan Simmons:



If you like anything by:


  • Isaac Asimov (esp. the Galactic Empire/Foundation series)

  • Anne McCaffrey (esp. the Pegasus/Talents series)

  • Orson Scott Card (esp. the Ender Quartet)

  • Neal Stephenson (esp. Cryptonomicon)

  • William Gibson (esp. Neuromancer)

  • Julian May (esp. Diamond Mask)



this will almost certainly rock your socks.

Anyone who's read these - opinions?
(Please tag spoilers in your comment title - everyone who hasn't read the books, please watch your step.)

--
Banazîr

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
erebrandir
Dec. 17th, 2003 05:50 am (UTC)
I've heard of those. I'll have to check them out sometime.
banazir
Dec. 17th, 2003 06:16 am (UTC)
Yes, do!
I read Endymion and The Rise of Endymion from Dec 1999 - Jan 2000, and the Hyperion Cantos a year later.

I'd go so far as to call the series "life-changing SF", though I've heard this applied (deservedly) only to Lewis's Narnia and Tolkien's LoTR. One of my friends once called Lackey's books life-changing, but I wouldn't go that far.

--
Banazir
(Deleted comment)
banazir
Dec. 18th, 2003 01:31 am (UTC)
Allegory and LoTR
Odd that in the same sentence, the Amazon editor compares it The Stone and The Flute to Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and calls it a "would-be German LoTR".

So, wot is it? :-)

Confuzzled,
Banazir
(Deleted comment)
banazir
Dec. 18th, 2003 07:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Allegory and LoTR
The Stone and The Flute: LoTR-like?
Yes, I read that one. Wondered what book he'd read. I've stated in the past that I love S&F exactly because it is the most un-Tolkien-like book of all the classic fantasy I'd read.

The finest thing about it is the subtly familiar feeling of European cultures in their essence, not a copy&paste technique like the late 18th ct. rural England of the Shire. I'm not trying to boo Tolkien here, just giving one of the reasons why S&F is different and, I dare say so, more successful in some facets.
/me nods
A gril I had a crush on once convinced me to read The Hero and The Crown. (It toonk me a while to memember the title.) Boy, did I have a hard time finishing it - epople kept telling my I was nuts - but yernow, it kinda grows on you.

As for Pilgrim's Process - again, the reviewer must have read a different Bunyan book than I. *shakes head in wonder*
Pilgrim's Process? :-D

/me can't stop shouting oat:
Soylent Gween is pilgrims!

--
Banazir
(Deleted comment)
banazir
Dec. 19th, 2003 06:16 am (UTC)
Re: Wooooooooops.
Using PGP in non-prescribed ways can lead one into a state of embarazssment, is wot. ;-)

--
Banazir
("nobbudy expects the Spanglish impregnation")
f00dave
Dec. 17th, 2003 07:42 am (UTC)
Read the first two, didn't get that much out of it (then again, I've read countless variations of the Wandering Jew). I've got "Prayers to Broken Stones" on the to-read shelf, as a sort of second-chance ... but so far I'm not terribly impressed with Simmons.

Maybe it's just an acquired thing?

(Personal favorites: Larry Niven, Frank Herbert, Isaac Asmiov, Stephen R. Donaldson, Neal Stephenson, etcetera)
banazir
Dec. 17th, 2003 07:19 pm (UTC)
Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion (no/mild spoilers so far)
Read the first two, didn't get that much out of it (then again, I've read countless variations of the Wandering Jew).
Fair enough, but:
Are you referring to Dure's story?
Silenus?
Merin?
Something else?

I've got "Prayers to Broken Stones" on the to-read shelf, as a sort of second-chance ... but so far I'm not terribly impressed with Simmons.
Try Endymion from your local library or Half.com. It's a bit less epic and action-oriented and more thought-provoking in the theological sense. (Laso very, very high on the pathos factor, which is a good thing in my boonk, but YMMV.)

Maybe it's just an acquired thing?
Well, tell me more about what you did and didn't like about the first book (Hyperion) and maybe I can answer that.

(Personal favorites: Larry Niven, Frank Herbert, Isaac Asmiov, Stephen R. Donaldson, Neal Stephenson, etcetera)
OK, so what do you think of:

Man-Kzin Wars (Niven/Pournelle)
Dune (F. Herbert, esp. after the first book)
Robots and Empire (Asimov)
Cryptonomicon (Stephenson, the only one I've read, so no Snow Crash or The Diamond Age spoilers, lpease)

--
Banazir
f00dave
Dec. 20th, 2003 07:12 pm (UTC)
Story Spoilers?
Fair enough, but:
Are you referring to Dure's story? Silenus? Merin? Something else?


Nothing in particular. And I slightly misspoke myself: in retrospect, I remember having a discussion about the Hyperion Canticles with Shan (my wife), wherein she persuaded me that it was merely a retelling of Chaucher's Canterbury Tales. I'm with her on that one (not having read TCT, though, only a synopsis of that work).


Try Endymion from your local library or Half.com. It's a bit less epic and action-oriented and more thought-provoking in the theological sense. (Laso very, very high on the pathos factor, which is a good thing in my boonk, but YMMV.)

The problem is that I've basically sworn off fiction since starting my graduate studies. I "celebrated" my anniversary by reading a space opera, cover-to-cover. :-)

Too many books, not enough time, and I *still* haven't even really scratched my area readings. Woe....


Well, tell me more about what you did and didn't like about the first book (Hyperion) and maybe I can answer that.

You're asking me to delve back nearly a decade into the past, into a dusty part of my memory, littered with thousands of SciFi, SF, Fantasy and other authors. That's a tall order.

What I remember enjoying was the disjointedness, the deviation from formula, the Shrike, the people-farms, etcetera. A precursor to the Matrix, yes, but well-done. I remember something about a "reversal of time", however, and a feeling of irritation about that. It's wrapped up in a pearlescent coating now, though, the details are cloudy, soft, and out of focus.

I remember a sense of futility (from one character), that suited a mood I held, at the time, though the extreme subjectivity of this memory -- or it's personal specificity -- renders this point worthless in discussion.

Yes, I should probably just shut up, now. ;-)


OK, so what do you think of:
Man-Kzin Wars (Niven/Pournelle)


AIEEEEE!!!!!!!! Spare me! While reading Lucifer's Hammer (I think it was, anyway: the one with italicized segments heading the first dozen chapters), I realized why I both loved and hated Niven books. The realization is that Niven is a strong writer, who is also a scientist. Pournell is not a strong writer. Those sections in italics were clearly written by Larry, with the body of the work written by Jerry. I loved the precise, epic, objective way Larry wrote ... and hated the fucking goddamned politics, flirting, dialogue and all the rest that Jerry wrote. In short, the Niven books I've hated weren't actually written by him, but in collaboration with a decidedly inferior author.

The Man/Kzin wars weren't written by him, but were inspired by some of his works. Those works, I enjoy. In fact, his strongest stories (in my mind) are the short stories set in Known Space (with a close runner up being the one set in a billion-year future history). I enjoyed his Magician works, because of the way his scientific mind dealt with magic. But I could talk all day about Niven. So I won't. ;-)

In short, the Man/Kzin wars piss me off, and I consider them about on par with, oh, Remo Williams or Wing Commander or Fred Saberhagen or anything else written for people with too much testosterone and insufficient intellectual development. (With all due apologies to Berzerker fans out there. =] )

Dune (F. Herbert, esp. after the first book)

I rather enjoy the Dune books, though the second was weak and the third was weaker still. God Emporer, however, is where he hit his stride (even if, as Shan suggests, it's a porn story about a giant moving phallus that impregnates the planet ["Fish Speakers, get it? Huh? Huh?!!" - Shan]). I have a weakeness for future histories, social machinations and (unrelatedly) post-apocalyptic re-discovery stories....
f00dave
Dec. 20th, 2003 07:12 pm (UTC)
Part ][
Robots and Empire (Asimov)

I adored the Foundation trilogy, and seperately, the Robot books. When he merged the two, it fell apart (his later writing wasn't nearly as inspired as his earlier work: as his stories became technically better ... they lost whatever it was that made his works compelling, for me).


Cryptonomicon (Stephenson, the only one I've read, so no Snow Crash or The Diamond Age spoilers, lpease)

I've not read this, though Shan insists that I'll love it. Snow Crash is among my favorite SF books, partially because of it's sense of humour.

In general, I enjoy books that don't follow any fixed formula, that are thought-provoking, and that don't always tie up the loose ends (or are obviously left open for sequels). I also tend not to enjoy books written as trilogies (except when I'm in one of my rare fantasy moods: Eddings, anyone?)....
(Deleted comment)
banazir
Dec. 18th, 2003 02:02 am (UTC)
Re: Read everyone except Stephenson
Will get to it!
Cllo! It's epic, like May, wihtout the "downhill effect" cf. the end of Magnificat (that's an understatement for Endymion...)

Asimov and Card are my kind of writers.
They don't have so much in common, though - epic plotical machinations, believably weak pluto/autocrats, a sense of intellectual wonder and navel-gazing that I found fascinating as a child, and an almost journalistic storytelling style in places. Asimov goes for the triumph of plot over character development, though, whereas Card really goes all out for making you identify by turns with his various characters, sometimes in dizzy-making succession. When reading the Ender Saga I often found myself debating with myself out loud. ("Go away and never come bax!")

I read McCaffrey a long time ago and loved Pern, but I really cannot say what I'd think of it now. Should read it again.
I couldn't get into Dragonriders (Dragonflight, Dragonquest, The White Dragon), but I really liked The Harper Hall of Pern (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums) even though it's MUSHy (meta-MUSHy, even) - couldn't put it down, in fact. It's that youngling or young adult POV, I think, that gets me - ataleast it did when I was a teen. My reading ages - Narnia (10), Prydain (11), DoP (15), HHoP (16), Queen's Own (19) are probably a large determinant. I consider All The Weyrs of Pern the definitive Pern, though I know some would disagree.

I only read one Gibson (Virtual Light) and thought it okay, but there is a faintly similar (in setting) yet much better book by Michael Marshall Smith, called "Spares". I read that one by chance and was stunned. Put that on your list, too!
OK! I still have to get through Varley's trio, which I bought at your recommendation but didn't crack after Ender because I got pulled in several directions at once (pulp cf. Saberhagen and E.E. Smith; Austen; and t***** ;-)).

May I read because of you, and I thank you for it.
You're most welcome!

I loved the daring spaceoperaticity ;) of the Pliocene Exile
Well, yes! There's a lille Aiken Drum in us lal (Arkysome more than others).
Now you know why I have so much weaponry and teunce around trasking Sith Drols with CE hemlets.

the mastery of Intervention (IMO the best of the series)
Oh, yes...
though I place Diamond Mask highest (2nd of all my SF books, between The Silmarillion and The Lord of The Rings, in fact) and Jack the Bodiless second (prolly 6th on my list, after the Endymions).

only I didn't think much of the other Milieu books --- no, they were actually cool, except for the last.
Yee, zigzackly.

"Magnificat" - bha. Shame, but at least that's only one book.
I agree with your review of Magnificat, but it has value as part of the canon. 4.8, 5.0, 2.9 (out of 5) in my book.

--
Banazir
(Deleted comment)
banazir
Dec. 18th, 2003 06:12 pm (UTC)
Gaea and Gaia
I still have to get through Varley's trio, which I bought at your recommendation
Hee! :D
To be more accurate, I should say I still have to start.

Beware though, Gaea might not be everyone's cup of tea, so you don't have to say that you enjoyed it so that you wouldn't hurt my enthusiasm for the trilogy, ;) but do give it a shot.
I'll give it a Fair and BalancedTM review, or rather, my genuine undutlerated one. :-)

When you do get to it, please describe Gaea to me. Despite the drawings and maps of the 'wheel', I never succeeded in visualising it correctly.
Hokaz. While we're at it, can someone describe the Keeper in OSC's Harmony series to me (yes, I realize it's YHWH cf. the Mormon conception, but there was a buncha Gaia wibble at the end of Homecoming: Earth that I couldn't quite picture).

--
Banazir
twinbee
Dec. 19th, 2003 08:41 pm (UTC)
looking over your tastes, you may also want to check out books by Philip K. Dick. Man in the high castle is good historical scifi. Also, a lot of people like "do androids dream of electric sheep," bc they based blade runner loosely on that book, but I think his paranoia/reality-bending fiction like Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Ubik, and Eye in the Sky is much more thrilling.

Also, if you want some pure nerd fiction, check out Rudy Rucker. His stuff is whimsical, nonsensical (and sometimes mediocre) scifi from the viewpoint of a computer scientist and mathematician.
banazir
Dec. 19th, 2003 10:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the recommendations!
looking over your tastes, you may also want to check out books by Philip K. Dick. Man in the high castle is good historical scifi.
Ah, yes. Heinlein first, though.
A friend of mine is a senior faculty member in physics, and when I told him about this quiz in my blog, he answered "bha" to Hawking and recommended Time Enough for Love isntead. Yeah, physicists are odd epople. :-)

Also, a lot of people like "do androids dream of electric sheep," bc they based blade runner loosely on that book
So I recall (AFT thread, 22 Nov 1999):


(ARAGORN sits, exhausted, on the battlefield of the Morannon, as GANDALF approaches)
GANDALF: You've done a man's job, sir!
ARAGORN nods.
GANDALF: It's too bad she won't live forever - but then again, who does?

-Varnast

Aw, MAN! This was in my Part II, but you beat me to it! "Do Elf-Maids Dream of Immortal Sheep", more popularly known as "Blade-That-Was-Broken-Runner"...
-banazir

... and there you go.
We teuncs think of a lont of things, is wot. :-)

but I think his paranoia/reality-bending fiction like Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Ubik, and Eye in the Sky is much more thrilling.
Thanks - I'll take those under advisement.

--
Banazir
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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