Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Boreas, May 2, 2018.
What SF/F books are you reading at the moment?
Still pushing through trying to finish The Crippled God, 10th and last book in my re-read of Steven Erikson's main Malazan Book of the Fallen series. When the damn books are 1100+ pages each, it takes a while! tCG is one of the very best series-ending books I have read. Next up is Joseph Brassey's Skyfarer, the first of The Drifting Lands series from, of course, Angry Robot books. Think Final Fantasy meets Firefly. After Malazan, I need some good, light, rock 'em, sock 'em material.
Fresh out of Alastair Reynolds's "Pushing Ice" which is definitely the best book I read this year. And now bracing myself for "Beyond the Aquila Rift". I honestly don't know if I ever get tired of this guy's writing
I finished and enjoyed The Madness Season. It was fun until the end. Alas, I guessed the ending. I'm afraid, I have read too many crime novels.
I have been thinking of reading Reynold's Chasm City or Watt's Blindsight, but then I have read some rather good references about Sunshine by Robin McKinley. I know: A vampire romance? Seriously? It seems this is a good one. According to Neil Gaiman, "It is pretty much perfect" Has anyone read it? I doubt it, but I have to ask...
I haven't read this vampire romance and I can't say I feel particularly tempted. But I can definitely recommend Chasm City. It's an awkward story to me, but the very picture of Chasm City totally blows my mind. Wish someone had done any fanart based on this book
@Diziet Sma, I was interested in checking out Robin McKinley some years back and bought a couple of her books, but I can't remember if Sunshine was one of them.
@Gabriela, love Reynolds. Haven't read his more recent books, but I hope to get at them soon. Chasm City was great, and it has that unreliable narrator quality which makes it strange, but you're right...the descriptions of CC itself under the grip of the Melding Plague were surreal, beautiful and grotesque all at once. Some fantastic imagery there. I've also searched for Revealtion Space related artwork before but do not remember finding anything worthwhile. Although I found one guy who made a series of three illustrations for "Nostalgia for Infinity" and then made a gif out of it. Those were great, and based on Reynolds' own sketches of the ship.
I've wanted sequels to Pushing Ice and also Terminal World, but I highly doubt that Reynolds will ever write follow-ups for those books.
I'm reading Elysium Fire, the sequel to Reynold's The Prefect. Also Off Armageddon Reef, the first of David Weber's Safehold series, has been marked down to $2.99 and that is next.
Bandwidth by Eliot Peper.
It was free.
It is early days as I have only read about 100 pages. So far, Sunshine is offering me an uncomplicated plot but with very intricated characters and an engaging urban, magical system.
I finished Asher's Prador Moon a couple of days ago. Like all of Asher's works, it was good fun. The work contained multiple points of view and was fast-paced. There was also plenty of action, some macabre and even some meta-level humour, and some great battle sequences, both the boots-on-the-ground variety and with hyper-kinetic exchanges and stand-offs in space.
The opening of the novel with its first two chapters is actually pretty damn brilliant. There's this sequence when a highly-trained Polity technician augments herself with, what is in effect, a miniature computer...but that's an over simplification. If anyone's read Asher's novels, you'll be familiar with the ubiquitous 'aug' that many citizens wear on the side of their heads behind the ear - a device that's attached by coring through the skull and its nanofilaments then spread throughout the cerebellum. The resulting cognitive enhancements are insane. Many SF works mention the advantages to such enhancements with some descriptions, but few take you on such a detailed tour on what the individual is actually capable of (in this case, in relation to the character's technical area of expertise). The descriptions of the individual able to perform modelling experiments are amazing - essentially constructing miniature universes inside their heads like an A.I. might. The possibilities seem endless. That was actually kind of mind-blowing.
The other plus points of the book include the Prador. Oh, I love those absolutely nasty, amoral, hyper-intelligent Prador. They're like something out of a 1950's horror B-flick but they're anything but cheesy. This book gives you some great insight on the Prador and provides just one episode of the initial conflict between the human Polity and the Prador Second Kingdom. This is neither a complete nor even a sizable account of the conflict, but just follows one extended skirmish out of probably many hundreds taking place simultaneously along the entire Line of Polity.
Another interesting point to note is some brief commentary on motivations which makes the reader contrast the Polity with Banks' Culture. But despite the fun reading this novel makes, it's not an essential Polity work. It's also completely plot-centric and with near zero characterisation. All of Asher's novels so far have been plot-centric, but the length of other novels have allowed for character development. This book at just a little over 200 pages necessarily focuses purely on plot. Some people recommend PM as a good intro to the Polity works because it's earliest by internal chronology, but I would disagree. I say start either with The Skinner or with Gridlinked. PM will be more fun after having read either the Spatterjay or Ian Cormac books.
Because of this, I have just bumped Prador Moon up on my 2018 reading list.
By the way, did you complete the Spatterjay series: The Voyage of the Sable Keech and Orbus?
On second thoughts, not sure whether I would prefer to complete the trilogy before reading PM...
It's a very short book, more like an extended short story than an actual, complete novel. A quick story just to give some background information. I've got to say that the initial meeting of the Prador and the Polity was pretty damn funny (in that ultra violent, macabre way). Just don't expect any character development, although you do get some development of the Prador, which is what I really wanted anyway.
Yes, I finished the Spatterjay trilogy. I absolutely loved Orbus. One of the most crazy fun, action-packed and expansive finales to a trilogy. Remember that Prador you read about in The Skinner? Vrell, who's sent by his father Ebulan on a suicide mission to the Skinner's island? He just gets better and better in each volume, and he's just too mind-blowingly awesome in Orbus. Out of the 9 Polity works I've now read, Orbus and Brass Man are my two favourites: for the super-intelligent and unkillable crab in one, and the schizophrenic A.I. in the other. So much damn fun.
For my next SF/F read, I'm debating whether I should pick up Stone of Farewell, the second instalment of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn fantasy trilogy, or something else.
I am embarrassed to say that I read Shadowdale and Tantris last night. I love trashy D&D novels.
Nothing wrong with some trashy D&D...!
I finished Sunshine, and I found it to be a very enjoyable book. I'm relieved to confirm this story will remind you of Twilight as much as an egg to a chestnut.
I wouldn't categorise Sunshine as a romantic tale, but rather a thriller with dark undertones.
McKinley can write good fantasy and create, with a somewhat simple plot, an excellent tale. Besides, her choice of secondary characters is wonderfully entertaining.
I would criticise though her choice of the first-person narrator. Although it allows you into the main character's mind, it also delivers far too many internal dialogues, too many sentences beginning with "I", as well as leaving little to the reader's imagination regarding the main character motivations and intricacies.
Regardless, if vampires don't do it for you but, on the other hand, you enjoy baking, Sunshine should be on your reading list.
Blindsight by Peter Watts. I have read about 15% and I'm enjoying myself. Confirmed my inability to visualize complex descriptions of spaceships. I have therefore decided to translate the info and create my own. I guess Watts would feel rather annoyed by my creation.
Are you artistic? You should try drawing whatever you're visualising. Glad you're enjoying it, as I've come across many who complained of it being too "dry".
Well, my youngest students think I can draw wonderfully. I will spare you the trauma of posting one of my doodles.
I don't find Blindsight dry. There is a definite interaction amongst the characters. Sure, the communication is somewhat unique due to the singularity of the characters, but I think one has to contextualize the story, in order to enter Theseus and participate in the developments.
Now, there are some scientific descriptions of processes, which make me crossed-eye, but I just let them go over my head.
. I'm at that point the crew has discovered that Rorschach is the mother of all nightmares.
Today I had to drive for a considerable time, and I decided to try to listen to Foundation I by Asimov. The recording is somewhat wonderfully dated with haughty BBC narrators and psychedelic electric piano music. Surprisingly, it does help to imbue the listener into a strange sense of futuristic doom.
I'm enjoying the story so far, but I'm old fashion and still prefer paper to recordings.
I've never heard the BBC dramatisation of Foundation, but I definitely think you should read the entire Foundation sequence. One of the greatest SF series, despite the slight continuity problems as Asimov wrote further books and incorporated his Robot and Empire novels to make it one grand future history. I've always like the second instalment, Foundation and Empire, and one of the prequel volumes, Prelude to Foundation, the best. But they're all good, and I'd give the series an overall 5/5. Asimov's Robot novels are also great, a wonderful meld of science fiction with classic detective fiction. And also pick up his End of Eternity, probably one of his single best books, and with a slight connection to Foundation. All are easy and fast reads.
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