SF/F reading in August 2017

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Safari Bob, Jul 27, 2017.

  1. Safari Bob

    Safari Bob Well-Known Member

    I ordered The Engines of God, by McDevitt, which should arrive August 1. I am so looking forward to it that I started this thread in anticipation.

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  2. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Ha, nice!

    I've read it, but not the others in the series. I've read many of McDevitt's stand-alone novels. Archaeology themed SF is great. He also wrote a post-apocalyptic/semi-archaeological work that I really liked - Eternity Road - and which takes place on Earth rather than being one of his many space-based mysteries.
     
  3. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    I think his Priscilla Hutchins books are his best works.
     
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  4. irrlicht

    irrlicht Regular Member

    Great choice. I love his books as well, read about half of the Priscilla Hutchins ones and some others. I finally need to get around to getting the whole series.
     
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  5. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I'm now back on Reamde after my hiatus.
     
  6. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I'm reading 20 000 Leagues under the Sea by Vernes.
    Also, The Man who Went Up in Smoke by M. S. Jöwall-P. Wahlöö, because I'm in Stockholm at the moment and this novels brings you to the heart of it, although in a very noir way.
     
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  7. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    You're in for a treat! This was my absolute favourite book when I was around 10-12, and read it many times + watched the film with Kirk Douglas again and again! Of the Verne books I've read, this is unquestionably his best.
     
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  8. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    I'm reading Outriders by Jay Posey, the author of the excellent Three/Legends of the Duskwalker series.
     
  9. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    @Boreas, I figured I'd ask you this rather than checking on google, because I think it's the kind of question you'd like to answer. What came first, Fall of Hyperion or Consider Phlebas?

    I'm definitely sensing similarities between the two during my reread of FoH, especially given I hadn't read any Culture books before my first read through. The AI elements in particular. Not suggesting there is any plagiarism, but I can definitely see how one may have been influenced by the other!
     
  10. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Well, if it's just a question of checking dates, Google would have told you. CP was published first. What else besides the AI elements do you think are similar?

    Also, Banks basically borrowed from everyone. A lot of the major ideas in his books are not unique and can be found in various books as far back as Asimov (e.g. the all-knowing AI). I think how Banks combined a lot of the tropes is what actually made him so unique; he brought all of those disparate elements together and basically made it an everyday feature. Brought exotic post-humanity down to a mundane level.

    I think Simmons and Banks are fundamentally different. Simmons seems religious, or at least has respect for the religious/mystical. Banks is a complete materialist through and through.
     
  11. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    I'm no way near as well read as most on here, so can't draw comparison with other works, but the AI elements, which form big parts of both books (/series) do show big similarities. I'm not comparing anything else, certainly not the motivations or influences of either author. Thought I'd ask, nevermind ...
     
  12. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Yeah, the AIs are definitely super-manipulative in both books. But were you thinking of Excession instead of Consider Phlebas by any chance? The AIs have a more prominent role in E compared to CP. Remember in E where the discovery of the out-of-context object led the AIs to speculate that
    if they could have the same level of control as the Excession event, then they could conceivably travel not just to other universes, but even to the very early beginnings of their own universe. In that case, they could control and manipulate the expansion of the universe. Bloody audacious, and also typical of them...
    When it comes to the level of sheer audacity, the AIs in Simmons' books are similar. But their goal is different.
    Simmons' AIs want to create a potential God, while Banks' AIs want to be able to control the entire universe and make everything and everyone like the Culture.
    It's possible that Banks could have had a direct influence on Simmons' books, but somehow I don't feel it. Simmons seems much more influenced by older classics and 19th century literature in his books. But I remember him paying homage to some past SF authors in the Hyperion novels. The one I remember most clearly is a tribute to Asimov and his Robots.

    Edit: Ah, but Excession was published after the Hyperion books, but there's more similarity between Hyperion/Fall of Hyperion and E than with CP, I think. Especially concerning their respective AIs.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
  13. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry, wasn't necessarily considering CP when looking at comparisons to FoH, I was just looking at dates of when the concepts may have first come about, irrespective of when the first books in the respective series may have been published. These are the best portrayals of AI I've come across in SF, and to be honest i have only come across AI in a handful of other books, so was just exploring comparisons between the two in my own mind. I guess you've answered my original question though, the answer being a big fat NO. :)
     
  14. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    So, how are you finding The Engines of God?
     
  15. Kanly

    Kanly Regular Member

    Early self-aware AI was already around with Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and his name was Mike. And in the 80s William Gibson had fully self-aware AIs who were living in cyberspace as gods and demons. I can't think of any AIs that were almost on the god-like level like with the Culture's Minds. Oh, there is a really famous story by Asimov called The Last Question which you should read. One of the best!
     
  16. Kanly

    Kanly Regular Member

    I was watching more TV the last few days than reading, but today I finally got to the part in Seveneves when the whole world and all 7 billion people are dying, and those few people lucky enough to be on the expanded ISS in orbit take a few minutes from their busy survival schedule to watch the end of the human species! Man, that was kinda emotional even though it's told in this distant almost matter of fact tone. By the way, this was not a spoiler.
     
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  17. Kanly

    Kanly Regular Member

    I forgot about Clarke's The City and the STars. That has a god-like AI in it, and that's from the 1950s.
     
  18. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I second this.
    True, but that particular artificial intelligence is
    not computer-based.
     
  19. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I have started Hospital Station by James White. A very exciting beginning!

    I have also read about 50% of 20 000 Leagues under the Sea and I'm admiring Vernes for all the physical sciences content that he has managed to include without dulling the story. All of the technologies and the devices are wonderful concepts of what was about to come. Well, most of them I think...
     
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  20. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Have you read Bear's The Forge of God? Impacting. And very emotional.
     

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