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Author Topic: Sci-fi books  (Read 16030 times)
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FreakAnimalFinland
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« on: January 17, 2011, 09:13:27 AM »

When I was kid, I read more. Nowadays don't seem to have much time. And even less patience. Over-powered brain will start to think other things than what I was actually reading, and often have to go back in beginning of page even when I just finished it. Nevertheless, when attention span occasionally gets longer, my recent habit has been basically re-reading old books I have read before, yet know they will be now probably different than at age of.. 15?

1984 re-read slightly over year ago (which made me choose the avatar I'm using). Make Room, Make Room! (suom: Tilaa! Tilaa! Harry Harrison) of The Brave New World (uusi uljas maailma) is still half way done, yet I think I hardly remembered the details of the story.
The same was with Make Room, Make Room. It's the book where movie Soilent Green is very loosely based on, but in this book, matter of food made out of humans is hardly covered.
To me, these 3 classics has been kind of "cornerstones" and one could say utmost obvious choices for anyone who reads books of some sort.

Christopher Priest "fugue for the darkening island". Been ages since I read it. Atomic war in africa, millions of refugees come to europe. England turns into civil war and its the survival story in "post-apocalyptic" times. Turner Diaries of course very intense survivalist book, hardly science fiction, but I guess could be mentioned, heh..

Piles of books in shelves, what would have to be re-read to really give any sort of comment. But in recent discussion with Polish friend, Stanislaw Lem came up. I have hard time figuring out what exactly I may have read. Don't count the solaris movie, but I see that some essential books were never translated to Finnish. Golem XIV was something I would be after, but I don't know is publishing sci-fi in Finnish at the moment as popular as it was in 80's and 90's? I still subscribe to one perhaps biggest profile sci-fi magazine and gave pretty complete collection of issues since mid 80's till today, but whole genre has been infested with links to manga and other things. When you see the books referred, one probably sees what type of sci-fi I mean.
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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2011, 11:11:07 AM »

Anything by Ballard and Philip Dick. Although Ballard is a bit above orthodox SCI-FI.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2011, 11:52:02 AM by tiny_tove » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2011, 11:26:02 AM »

I just finished swan song by robert r mccammon. kind of girly and upbeat look of the end of the world but still pretty neat. there were a lot of fine mental imagery and scenes: satan or whatever it was riding through the wasteland on a bicycle with a pack of mutant wolves following him.

this genre is a little difficult to get in to, alot of the books are really thick and ive started a few which were just utter shit and theres so many books too. id sure want to read the turner diaries.

im also working my way through the dune but its not going as fast as ive thought.
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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2011, 01:38:05 PM »

Used to be a huge fan when in high school but now I'm hard pressed to think of any that really interest me right now. Apart from Black Easter and it's sequel, The Day After Judgement, both by James Blish. Rich arms dealer convinces black magician to loosen a host of deamons onto the world and inadvertently begins Armageddon. Extremely well written with a lot of very good background knowledge.

I've always loved Dune (Mr. Penttinen, you'll need to bare with it; it's a very wordy book with a lot of dialogue and has a great many ideas and concepts in it. One of the reasons I like it is because I found it so challenging) but have never liked any of the sequels, and I wont even bother with the prequels. I did meet Frank Herbert, very briefly, at a book signing in Frankston one time. Got him to sign a copy of The Green Brain, an extremely prescient book about environmental destruction. I asked him what he thought of Iron Maiden's song "To Tame A Land", based on his books, and he said he "considers it better music". I suspect he was being polite.

There was a book called The Free, can't remember the name of the author but it was basically the anarchist version of the Turner Diaries; anarcho revolution smashes capitalism, etc. The Turner diaries is a lot grimmer, of course, but a lot more obvious as propaganda. The Free works more as an actual novel. Not sure which came first. I would class neither as science fiction, more as fantasy.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2011, 01:47:34 PM by Andrew McIntosh » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2011, 04:38:08 PM »

1984 re-read slightly over year ago (which made me choose the avatar I'm using).

I re-visited 1984 myself last summer. It was funny to see that quite a few people around me (in subways + buses etc) actually reacted when they saw the book. Some nodded their approval, others even started conversations on what a great book it is. Sometimes I wanted to say that I have read it before, I know it's a good one, but I just smiled and gave them the thumbs up. Normally noone ever gives a damn about what the person next to you on the subway is reading, but 1984 definitely gave people the urge to let me know they approved of my reading...

Last time I read the book was when I was 14, so it was definitely time to re-read the book with a slightly more adult brain. Like the saying goes, Orwell got everything right but the year. With social control and surveillance being in an all-time high in Sweden (it has escalated like crazy both under social democratic rule, and for the last 5 years under the right-wing government), you can certainly feel like you're living in a nascent Soviet-type control state, especially when you're reading 1984.
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FreakAnimalFinland
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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2011, 08:01:15 PM »

Like the saying goes, Orwell got everything right but the year. With social control and surveillance being in an all-time high in Sweden (it has escalated like crazy both under social democratic rule, and for the last 5 years under the right-wing government), you can certainly feel like you're living in a nascent Soviet-type control state, especially when you're reading 1984.

Perhaps, but I think society is more complex than that, and I guess it has been described, that it's nearly useless to discuss which, 1984 or Brave New World would be better description of modern times, when they both pretty much hit the spot, at the same time:

Quote
Social critic Neil Postman contrasts the worlds of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World in the foreword of his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death. He writes:
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that our desire will ruin us.

And what you can really ad? Well, simply, that anyone, who feels anywhere close to "industrial" or "subcultural" themes, should have these books in the shelves.

And now when we're talking, damn, how could I forget Fahrenheit 451? Ray Bradbury's masterpiece. But that could be pretty nicely connected to Brave New World:

Quote
Bradbury still has a lot to say, especially about how people do not understand his most famous literary work, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953... Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature. Bradbury went even further to elaborate his meaning, saying specifically that the culprit in Fahrenheit 451 is not the state—it is the people
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FreakAnimalFinland
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2011, 08:30:26 PM »

This also reminds me of something, what the famous cat killing artist Teemu Mäki argued in one article*, that simply concluded fuck the newspapers. Of course, I cancelled my subscriptions to daily paper long ago, simply not having time to read it. His argument was, that there was always time to read some decent things from the paper, while actually relevant books waited years, collecting dust.
And I can see it. The time you accidentally spend on casually browsing newspaper at lunch or being lured by some "shocking" headlines, and there is absolutely zero information that you need. The voted news happening of 2010 over here miners of Peru... WTF?!? I mean, we're living in countries on the edge of collapse, and what is the most interesting happening in the world is bunch of guys in almost reality tv settings. And what did we learn? What did it tell about the world we live in? Of course, in a way, it told a lot. But how sad state of affairs it is! I recall recent study tells, people now actually read more than ever. Yes. But I would like to believe, there is slight difference with facebook, twitter and some of the milestones of mankinds creations...

The newspapers. You may read endless news about some guy being stabbed, some car crashing the other car. Someone drowning. Someone... well, whatever. And in the end, what you will do with these news? I mean, surely people will cry of misfortune when they hear Haiti was destroyed by earthquake. And they cried enough, so I had print myself "FUCK HAITI" t-shirt. That tells probably more than most of headlines or even full articles. One would have to know (=read?) about history of this country, about where it has ended up, and what would be the possibilities of even relatively tolerable survival in this god forsaken island. I will spare you of my opinion, hehe, since it's not the time and place to say it.

But while writing this text, it basically reminds me about many things. I guess, maybe I should modify topic as "dystopian sci-fi"? And perhaps there should be topic of dystopian movies separately? I'm in no way expert in any field. Any advice, any suggestion, I'll take!


*This teemu mäki article, to be found for finns, on the notorious Voima pinko newspaper site, hehe...: http://fifi.voima.fi/voima-artikkeli/Lue-vähemmän/1909
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2011, 08:39:23 PM »

Never read much sci-fi but K.W. Jeter's DR. ADDER is sort of sci-fi, like Blade Runner. I remember liking it but can't remember much else. I've got an old paperback by JG Ballard that is sci-fi from what I remember from the cover.

I've read SWAN SONG too but prefer his horror novels. Ddin't really think of SS as sci-fi but it's been awhile since I've read it.

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FreakAnimalFinland
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2011, 09:03:03 PM »

I guess like I mentioned, maybe rather focus on the "soft sci-fi" than space opera or hard sci-fi.

I guess soft sci-fi, or like the "experts" today seems to often refer spe-fi (speculative fiction), which seemed to be pretty unknown term in Finnish genre magazine until lately. Now books which used to be "sci-fi" suddenly are called "spe-fi", as if it would make more sense to use even broader umbrella term.

I recall early 90's was the arrival of translated cyberpunk, and that was a big thing. Now, haven't read any books on topic, but more the movies. Blade Runner box-set I bough couple years ago, still one of very best dvd investments. Gibson's Neuromancer would be probably worth to re-read...?

My personal all time favorite, would be Hitch-hiker's Guide to galaxy, which is more of humor, but not book I would discuss in this topic.
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2011, 09:52:27 PM »

I've read NEUROMANCER. I think I have a graphic novel of it too. For some reason, I've never been able to really like BLADE RUNNER. I seem to lose interest about half way through every time I sit down to watch it. I remember seeing it in the theater when it was originally released.

DR. ADDER is more horror fiction set in the future whchi is what I prefer. Like ALIEN. I vaguely remember amputated limbs in Dr. Adder; sexual fetish..

No idea what space opera is.
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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2011, 11:00:24 PM »

I've read SWAN SONG too but prefer his horror novels. Ddin't really think of SS as sci-fi but it's been awhile since I've read it.



I guess its that distopian shit.  postapocalyptic is cool>I am legend was good. im glad it didnt have "hardly" anything to do with the movie since I saw it before reading.

grom cyperpunk, I tried my cousin, the gastroenterologist.shit, it was like naked lunch expept I wasnt intrested. I might try to get through it entirely some day but not at all what I expected.

without looking too hard, I admit. I havent found anything brutal in this genre. explicit and well written.  I dont know the exact meaning of dystopian but I think some of de sades things ive read would fit in , in miniatyre form atleast.

the moderator needs to stop looking at iltalehti headlines and read some real morining rags. they are less agrivating.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 12:07:42 AM by niko penttinen » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2011, 01:50:51 AM »

Old swedish book, usualy read in school like Orwell, Kallocain by Karin Boye actually is very good. Quite similar in vision as 1984. A.E. van Vogt wrote some rather bizarre sci-fi books that can be fun to read, timemachines, paradoxes, future societies, space travell and stuff like that. Robert A. Heinlein also has some good books, maybe a bit heavy on the gung-ho side from time to time. Can also recommend the recent Russian author Vladimir Sorokin, he does the classic thing, exaggerate things in todays world for a satirical view of the future, with a lot of madness, sex and litterature jokes.

Also should mention Ernst Jünger´s Heliopolis and Eumeswil. Both are pretty heavy with philosophical expositions of, to me at least, a bit tiresome kind, not as powerful and captivating as his earlier war books, but still worth reading. The settings are like a mix of roman/ancient greek times and the future, a nostalgic thing maybe, almost bordering on fantasy...
« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 02:25:07 AM by magnus » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2011, 04:09:06 AM »

I second Phillip K Dick. He grapples with drug addiction, psychosis and the unbearable stress of living in modern times like no one else. Just read Martian Time-Slip and Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, both are excellent. I have yet to read a novel by him I haven't liked and I find that re-reading them provides even more insight than reading them the first time.

I've always found Neuromancer to be a poorly written mess but it does have some interesting ideas. I think the real hero of cyber sci-fi type writing is Neal Stephenson. Stephenson is influenced by cyberpunk but his books have a much more developed and interesting style and his a much better writer than Gibson. Snow Crash focuses on the dystopian future of hyper-consumerism but also explores the duality of real and cyber existence. That's probably the book to start on by him but Cryptonomicon and The Diamond Age are also very good. His books are long and dense as hell though. Be warned.

« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 05:22:56 AM by ConcreteMascara » Logged

Gape Arson
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2011, 05:11:12 AM »

I am a big fan of Asimov and Heinlein, but one of my favorite stories of all time is Hell's Pavement (also published as The Analogue Men) by Damon Knight. I also enjoy the old science fiction digest size magazines like Galaxy a lot, as well as most space oriented non-fantasy golden age science fiction.

Recently I have read some Doc EE Smith (Skylark Of Space) and look forward to reading more of his work. Also read some AE Van Vogt compilations, and can say for certain that I detest his later works after he became a fruitcake, but want to read more of his earlier material.

I enjoyed William Gibson's hits, but am not too interested in reading anything newer. I liked the Phillip K. Dick short stories I have read, and own some of the books but haven't read them yet. I'm not too into comical science fiction, but have enjoyed the bits of Rudy Rucker and Douglas Adams that I've read, may read more in the future. I do love Stanislaw Lem's comedies.

Currently I am reading Space Cadet by Heinlein and Earth Abides by George Stewart.
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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2011, 08:34:39 AM »

No idea what space opera is.

Space opera
Space opera is adventure science fiction set in outer space or on distant planets, where the emphasis is on action rather than either science or characterization. The conflict is heroic, and typically on a large scale. The best-selling science fiction book of all time[63] (with 12 million copies) is a space opera: Frank Herbert's Dune (1966), which sprawls over thousands of years, a multitude of planets in and beyond an Imperium, and themes as diverse as environmentalism and ecology, empires, religion and jihad, gender issues, and heroism.
Space opera is sometimes used pejoratively, to describe improbable plots, absurd science, and cardboard characters. But it is also used nostalgically, and modern space opera may be an attempt to recapture the sense of wonder of the golden age of science fiction. The pioneer of this subgenre is generally recognized to be Edward E. (Doc) Smith, with his Skylark and Lensman series. Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space series, Peter F. Hamilton The Dreaming Void, The Night's Dawn and Pandora's Star series, and the immensely popular Star Wars trilogies are newer examples of this genre.

Hard SF
Hard science fiction, or "hard SF", is characterized by rigorous attention to accurate detail in quantitative sciences, especially physics, astrophysics, and chemistry, or on accurately depicting worlds that more advanced technology may make possible. Many accurate predictions of the future come from the hard science fiction subgenre, but numerous inaccurate predictions have emerged as well. Some hard SF authors have distinguished themselves as working scientists, including Gregory Benford, Geoffrey A. Landis and David Brin,[49][50] while mathematician authors include Rudy Rucker and Vernor Vinge. Other noteworthy hard SF authors include Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Hal Clement, Isaac Asimov, Greg Bear, Larry Niven, Robert J. Sawyer, Stephen Baxter, Alastair Reynolds, Charles Sheffield, Ben Bova, and Greg Egan.

Soft and social SF
The description "soft" science fiction may describe works based on social sciences such as psychology, economics, political science, sociology, and anthropology. Noteworthy writers in this category include Ursula K. Le Guin and Philip K. Dick. The term can describe stories focused primarily on character and emotion; SFWA Grand Master Ray Bradbury is an acknowledged master of this art. The Soviet Union produced a quantity of social science fiction, including works by the Strugatsky brothers, Kir Bulychov and Ivan Yefremov. Some writers blur the boundary between hard and soft science fiction.
Related to Social SF and Soft SF are the speculative fiction branches of utopian or dystopian stories; George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, are examples.

and so on...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dystopian
The negative pair of utopian, or world that is clearly fucked up.
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