Have you read this book...?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Diziet Sma, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I have come across a wonderful bookstore with many English tittles.
    Before getting carried away and risking paying for extra luggage at the airport, I thought I would ask: Have you read any of these:

    Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy: Hominids, Humans and Hybrids by Robert J. Sawyer

    I have also found several books by Orson Scott Card, amongst which:

    Wyrms, Enders Saga collection and Tales of Alvin Maker

    Should I get any?
  2. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Ooh, I believe @R-Hat had a lot to say about this trilogy, and I think it was in the negative. Although, I've been wanting to try out Robert J. Sawyer for a long while.
    Yes. Get Ender's Game and especially Speaker for the Dead. The only thing is that if you get SftD, then you'll also have to read Xenocide and Children of the Mind to finish the story, so if you don't mind, then get them all. Ender's Game is very good, but Speaker for the Dead is absolutely fantastic. The first is faster-paced military SF (it's on the U.S. Marine Corps recommended reading list for leadership training) with a fair bit of stressful action and a couple moments of shocking violence. The second, in large part, is a slower-paced psychological drama, where the relationships of a dysfunctional family is partly examined around a mystery concerning humans and the native, sapient life-forms of the colony they're on. SftD, X and CotM are sort of a sequel to EG. The strange thing is that it was really SftD that Card wanted to write, but decided to expand one of his short stories (also titled "Ender's Game") to first set the stage. Both EG and SftD won Hugo Awards back-to-back. I also remember liking Wyrms, but honestly can't remember much about it except for it being set on another planet with a strange society, having a female protagonist, and having a very surreal, fantasy-like quality to it even though it was SF and had to do with biology or breeding or something. I do remember enjoying it, but it's hard for me to recommend with my memory of it being so hazy.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
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  3. R-Hat

    R-Hat Well-Known Member

    You definitely should not get Robert J Sawyer's Neanderthal Parallax. Not unless you're a self-hating masochist. The writing style, science and and quality is OK, it's just written to propagate terrible and ugly things. It's a book with values for social justice warriors, eco-terrorists, feminists, transgender activists, Antifa rioters... very very R-selected, if you know what I mean.
    You can skip the books, you can read them for cringe value, or you can read my spoiler of the worst stuff in it.

    Wyrms is a decent read - Card is as naturalistic as he ever gets, expect Treason levels of weirdness, but that's why he is a good author. Communism-defending author, but I didn't know that when I read his books (it's completely unrelated to his books I think, if I didn't read his interview on Salon, I wouldn't know). Ender's saga starts well, ends well, but there are in the middle some more contemplative books such as Speaker for the Dead, which contain a bit too many of Portugese farmers. Yes, I've read it all, didn't regret it. And Alvin Maker, that's a very balanced good reading. I like to read about magic-like activities, I just don't want to put up with all the medievalish politics and intrigues and technical limitations of the usual fantasy literature. So I enjoyed Alvin Maker, even though probably I have one or two last books unread.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
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  4. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Thank you @Boreas and @R-Hat!
    I will definitely skip Sawyer. His name rang a bell when I saw his books at the store, but couldn't remember it was because of R-Hat's negative review.
    Regarding Card, I'll get back to the bookstore later today and see how many of his books I can squeeze in my luggage.
  5. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    I've re-read Ender's Game more than any other science fiction book. Somehow I don't remember Speaker at all though. I need to re-read it someday. Sort of funny, Ender's Game is either the number one or two science fiction book ever depending on the list you read, but everyone says Speaker is even better.
  6. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I finally bought the Ender Saga tetralogy. I could have bought half a shop but behaved myself.
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  7. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    That's funny, because many people I've come across who've read both have generally preferred Ender's Game. I usually have to defend Speaker for the Dead. I think it's because EG makes for more exciting and faster reading, whereas SftD deals more with relationships between family and moral (and ethical) dilemmas, and it's consequently a slower read. Not that EG is without its own moral conundrums, or SftD is without any action. In some ways, the themes in SftD are the same as in EG, but logically extended out and given a more mature treatment. Similar dilemmas concerning the use of violence occur in both books but in different forms. And similar attempts to deal with guilt are present also - in EG it's at a nascent level and rears up really only towards the end as a coda, but in SftD it's a lingering thread throughout.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017
  8. Kanly

    Kanly Well-Known Member

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  9. Kanly

    Kanly Well-Known Member

    I liked them a lot, too. But I think the last two got a bit iffy. I can't remember if I thought so because of the actual plot or because I just found the form it took to be too strange for my liking. I mean, some seriously weird sh** that went down at the end.
  10. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I'm intrigued!
  11. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Well-Known Member

    Card's short fiction collection, Maps in a Mirror, is ace, btw
  12. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Neverness (A Requiem for Homo Sapiens) by David Zindell

    I find the premise of this book very appealing, however, I have read several comments regarding its Order of Mystic Mathematicians with its obvious mathematical content. Now, for someone like me whose academic background is purely humanities, would Neverness be out of my reach? Could I still enjoy it without understanding its mathematical language?
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
  13. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Hell yes! Get the book! Neverness and the sequel trilogy (which can even be read first) titled A Requiem for Homo Sapiens are fantastic. The sequel trilogy is one of the few science fiction works with a solid grounding in and a bona fide exploration of ethics (from the Jain and Vedanta traditions). The protagonist for the trilogy is a proper non-violent pacifist following the Jain edict of ahimsa, the same concept that Gandhi applied during his political activism against the British and whose example Martin Luther King, Jr. later followed.

    The main mathematics principle for space travel is illustrated on a purely intuitive level, so absolutely no science-y background required. Imagine the mutated 3rd level Guild Navigators from Dune, now just imagine getting into their heads to see what they do to fold space. That's kind of what Neverness briefly gets into with its pilots & light ships, although Zindell doesn't use Herbert's method of instantaneous travel from one space-time location to another. If you liked Dune, then you will like Neverness. There was a related short story by Zindell shared on the FB page sometime last year.

    I know @R-Hat has read and loved the sequel trilogy, but I don't think he ever read the initial Neverness. These four are epic works of planetary romance and space opera.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017
  14. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    The other beautifully written exploration of ethics in a unique society with very scarce resources is Donald Kingsbury's Courtship Rite. I had the paperback titled as Geta. Get it, too! I discovered Attanasio, Zindell and Kingsbury during the same period in my favourite used bookshop I used to frequent on Charing Cross Road during the late 90's. All three gems. Also discovered John Varley there.
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  15. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Thank you, @Boreas! This is great!
    On a different note and, considering my very limited knowledge of Jain philosophy, I was wondering about a possible connection between O Butler’s work and Jainism...
  16. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Weaveworld by C. Barker.
    I have dipped into this story, and I feel it it is deflating very rapidly. I'm at the point the Fugue awakes, and Cal starts to explore it (the 30% mark)
    Is it worth continuing with it? Does it pick it up?

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