Looking for Sci-fi's on Philosophy, Spirituality, Alien Ideologies. Not alpha males and pretty girls

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by DigiDave, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. DigiDave

    DigiDave New Member

    Maybe it’s just me and how old I am, but over the decades I’ve grown tired of reading things like “Standing 6 feet tall as he gently caresses her and bla bla bla.” Add to that the constant warring factions of planet XY&Z with soldiers left right and centre. It really has become ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz for me. Of course if that rocks your boat ... more's that power to you. ; )

    Now I understand the need for conflict and a bit of cheek to create the drama that sells so well on Netflix. Sadly, I feel most of that sci-fi only serves to make me sick bar a few exceptions.

    BEST SCI-FI? Not sure what the standard are here, but I can outline what is important to me and perhaps one or two of you could refer me to a good read.

    I prefer stories that contain alien ideologies. That is to say concepts and philosophies far removed from what we know of today. I don’t mean just extra-terrestrials either. I’m talking like earthlings far in the future living lives completely different life styles with values and economy nothing like that of today. Not your atypical X and Y faction with the main characters all hot and sweaty.

    I know there are bugger all stories without military might and hot and sweaty scenes. It’s more about the way it’s done and how much is lathered throughout the story I am more meaning. Like the story; ‘Contact’ by Carl Segan. Sci-fi’s with deeper meaning. Some with spiritual origins yet ‘different’ from an atypical earthling’s perspective. Sure throw in a little neurotypical mindsets to help earthling readers have some kind of grasp via familiarity to their sub culture – I just thought of a genre called teenybopper Sci-fi.

    The latter reminds me that the term BEST is rather subjective.

    I wonder if there are any older folk out there that may get where I am coming from with regards to what I consider trash.
    If so … Can you recommend any tittles that deal more on philosophy, spirituality, alien ideologies far removed from those on earth; where it’s not all about alpha males or good looking gals.

    Thanking you for your time.
    Much appreciated.
  2. Safari Bob

    Safari Bob Well-Known Member

    Try Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky.
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  3. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Hi @DigiDave,
    From the top of my head, have you read any of the following?
    • Octavia Butler, in particular, Lilith's Brood trilogy. This is the link to some discussion we had about it. Her Patternist series is also worth considering.
    • The Faded Sun Trilogy by C. J. Cherryh. You will find some comments about this books on this page.
    • The Forge of God and Anvil of Stars by Greg Bear, in particular, the later one although The Forge of God is an excellent read. Some comments about these.
  4. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I forgot The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin.
  5. Dtyler99

    Dtyler99 Well-Known Member

    I like China Mieville's Embassytown. It is, as with most things Mieville, weird.
  6. Safari Bob

    Safari Bob Well-Known Member

    I also enjoyed A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
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  7. DigiDave

    DigiDave New Member

    Thanks ever so much. : ) I can't say I have read any of those titles Diziet Sma but after googling and doing a super quick skim I have to say I am very pleased I came here to ask for assistance in finding a good read for my likes. Thx all.

    There is one thing I have to admit. I live in Australia and when I read books that mention Australia and Australians I find it very off putting for some reason. I find it too close to home. It feels like finger nails on a chalk board to me. I guess it's a conditioning thing having grown up with america always having the lime light. Hard to explain. I can't stand to even hear our own accent even. It feels B grade. It sounds Bogan/Uncultured. It's overdone, off the charts, misses the mark - even when done by the locals themselves. Whatever this abnormal idiosyncrasy is, I generally put down books that are too close to home ... too common to me. (With regard to Sci-fi ... this quirk also includes the wider community of Earth) I think this is very much like how I am put off with all the things I raised in my opening post. Once again ... too close to home and overdone. Sheepish ideals and as above.

    Books with Earth in them I much prefer eons in the future completely different to our current culture. I get really bored reading stereotyped classifications of today's world as I see things completely differently to the averages Joe and tired of the same old thing. In that way I am rather alienated myself.

    Forgive me for going on. I talk too much. : )

    I mean no disrespect to the authors of such great works. It's just a thing I have.

    I will go through all those titles above in more detail when I have time. Clearly you guys know a thing or two about real science fiction.

    I have more than I need for now.

    Thanks again. :)
  8. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

  9. DigiDave

    DigiDave New Member

    Nice one. TY. Excellent discussion. Reminds me why I like robot stories so much.

    Will do ... it will take me some time as I am a slow reader. :)
  10. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    A Fire Upon The Deep and the sequel A Deepness In The Sky by Vernor Vinge. are perfect for what you want.
  11. DigiDave

    DigiDave New Member

    Waring factions is kind of old school thought for me. If I had the energy, I would do well to try and write my own stories. Looking to evolved beyond conflict. I don't required conflict in order to be entertained ... I'm not looking to really be entertained but more for an experience where I am observing alien races content with just being. Emotion is not required to the degree often expected of with everyday drama.

    Is OK ... I think I just discovered I am in the wrong genre.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  12. Dtyler99

    Dtyler99 Well-Known Member

    I don't think genre is the problem; rather, it's the fundamental nature of storytelling. There are four unalterable components thereof: character, character's goal, conflict in achieving goal, and stakes if character fails to achieve said goal. Of course, how those components are presented is up to the writer and their skill as a storyteller, but it sounds to me like you want vignettes, not stories. Publishers do not publish vignettes.

    Having said that, there are stories out there that CONTAIN the kind of vignettes of the type I believe you seek, usually through long passages of exposition (often uncharitably labeled "data dumps" in the SFF genre). Diziet Sma's recommendation of The Left Hand of Darkness comes immediately to mind, particularly because Ursula K. LeGuin was born into a family of renowned archeologists. Speaking of which, that brings to mind her overlooked volume, Always Coming Home, which is not much more that a collection of archaeological field notes on a post-apocalyptic race in Northern California, and describes their social structure, spirituality, and way of life from a dispassionate observer's viewpoint (with a small amount of dramatic thread to bind it all). It's not terribly alien, as the race is loosely based on the Coast Miwok/Ohlone Native American traditions of the 15th-19th century, but in my reading experience it's closest to the FORM I believe you're looking for.

    I wish you well in your search for pleasurable reading!
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  13. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I think another way to label this might be the Novel of Manners or Costumbrismo although in a fictional science set.
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  14. Dtyler99

    Dtyler99 Well-Known Member

    Well, I imagine with the profusion of writers coming out of the woodwork because of self-publishing, we'll have Jane Austen in space someday!
  15. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Ha! All in good time...:p
  16. Dtyler99

    Dtyler99 Well-Known Member

    One of my favorite SFF tropes is a riff on Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. The original, however, can't be beat.
  17. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Riff as in quote? Perhaps, God will give me justice?
  18. Dtyler99

    Dtyler99 Well-Known Member

    Having been a jazz musician in a way earlier part of my life, I use "riff" in its most attenuated definition, according to Webster's:

    Definition of riff
    1 : an ostinato phrase (as in jazz) typically supporting a solo improvisation; also : a piece based on such a phrase
    2 : a rapid energetic often improvised verbal outpouring; especially : one that is part of a comic performance
    3 : a succinct usually witty comment
    4 : a distinct variation : take
    • a disturbing … riff on the Cinderella story
    • —Daria Donnelly
    Or, I like anything that resembles the arc of The Count of Monte Cristo. The last one I remember was the second book of the Locke Lamora series.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
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  19. Christian

    Christian New Member

    Alastair Reynolds - Revelation Sky?
    Greg Bear - Eon
    Isaac Asimov's foundation ( a bit simple compared to the other two )
    And to keep it light, i did like the fun techno militairy stuff that David Weber provided
    Or the Anime Macross Frontier if you don't mind that genre
    Have some heavy uncompleted hardcore tehnco sf series lying around in the basement which was very intelligent written... lets see if i can dig that title up...

    I'm currently reading atleast i was reading a collection ( The Fallen Empire ) written by Lindsay Buroker which sums up all the earlier mentioned 'sf-problems' quite nicely...
    Broke off on a part where the main character starts to fall in love with a very muscular cyborg...
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  20. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Hi @DigiDave. Suggestions from FB and Twitter:

    "The one series that comes to mind is Clarke’s Rama series. However, all of the elements that are not wanted are amplified over the top in the third novel. But spiritually is an ever present theme, The ever driving desire to show humanity a better, more enlightened way to rise above our primitive nature. And there is an alien perspective but I must not ruin the mysteries that await humanity."

    "For far-future earthlings, Marina Lostetter's Noumenon comes to mind."

    "The Sparrow? The Book of Strange New Things?"

    "The Foundation series. starts off new guy joining the lower level of the mathematician futuristic society. They have predicted accurately that human civilization will kill itself within 100ish [sic] years. The Foundation is about the new beginnings, each book everyone fvcks [sic] it all up."

    And I'll add Christopher Priest, whose many works have a strong philosophical basis. For example, the underlying premise in Inverted World adopts Berkley's thesis: that the 'esse' of sensible things is 'percepi', where changes in objective truth = changes in perception. The whole novel is one of conceptual breakthrough, both of inner and outer realities. My favourites of his works that I've read are The Affirmation and The Separation.

    I'll second the previous recommendations for Vernor Vinge and especially Alastair Reynolds' various works, those books in his fantastic Revelation Space milieu and also many of his independent novels such as Pushing Ice or House of Suns. The RS novels are particularly concept-ridden, and the original trilogy is vast in scope despite slower-than-light limitations and the relative nearness of the settled stellar neighbourhood around Sol.

    For good explorations of alien perspectives, Stanislaw Lem is the man with his novels like The Invincible and Fiasco. Peter Watts' Blindsight is a great modern iteration of many of the themes that Lem dealt with, and it even comes with an appendix of academic sources for many of the concepts discussed. I've heard Blindsight mentioned as the first great hard SF novel of the 21st century. I'd also include Asimov's only real work of hard SF: The Gods Themselves.

    And if you want another excellent SF novel centred around philosophy - centred around a very simple premise from which complex consequences are extrapolated - then Neal Stephenson's Anathem would be the ideal choice! Such a well-executed and fully immersive novel with deep world-building and a very satisfying conclusion.
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