What SF book are you currently reading? (2015-16)

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by TomTB, Apr 24, 2015.

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  1. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Well, Kindle makes it possible, and it's a luxury I think I'm owed for all those years of buying expensive hard covers after interminable waits and HAVING to finish them even if they stunk because that's all there was and I was out the money.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2016
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  2. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    I'm finally almost done with Red Mars. Whilst I've enjoyed it well enough, I'm not sure if I'll read the sequels (unless someone tells me I absolutely need to!). My interest has waned a little towards the end, although it's setting up nicely for the last 50 or so pages. I adored the colonisation element of the book the most, and I'm presuming the sequels won't have this element in such abundance, hence my reluctance to continue on with the series.
     
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  3. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Please, do go ahead and tell me whether they are worth reading...:)
     
  4. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    I started Seveneves yesterday and can't put it down, although there isn't anything happening through the first 15% except a huge scientific mistake by Neal Stephenson upon which the entire premise depends, requiring the most suspension of disbelief ever. But still I'm curious how they will manage.

    This is my first book by Stephenson and he's not difficult to read at all, a misapprehension I've been laboring under for a long time. It seems like a screenplay.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
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  5. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Give me a while .. I may head back to Mars at some point, but just not right now! :)
     
  6. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    I'm reading The Android's Dream by John Scalzi. About 1/5 in and it's great so far, really funny.
     
  7. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson is one of my favorite books of all time... Seveneves is perhaps the very worst SF book, and biggest waste of 31 hours listening that I could ever imagine. So you're curious what comes next?.. hour after hour after bloody hour of exposition, and very little in way of story. The old golden rule of storytelling, "show, don't tell", was completely dropped by Neal.
    I could quite literally summarize the entire 31 hours audiobook in one neat paragraph. That's how bereft of plot Seveneves is.
    My recommendation to you, is return the book and demand your money back. Seveneves was so bad, I will likely never read anything that Stephenson puts out.
     
  8. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    @kenubrion, my opinion is the opposite of @Sparrow's. It's definitely not Stephenson's best from what I've read of his works, but it was still very good and full of some great ideas. The "show don't tell" rule is overrated and propped up unnecessarily. There have been many good books which utilise the show method, and Stephenson is great at exposition, very fluid, entertaining and edifying. It's true, though, he does go to more extreme lengths with this book. I think reading vs. listening might have made a difference. I've been told by others that the audiobook wasn't good and the accents were done terribly.

    There's a lot of exposition, but there's also a lot of drama, some fantastically thrilling moments, many great [and understated] acts of heroism and sacrifice with moments of narcissism that make you cringe. All of these had me absolutely hooked and ripping through the pages. There's also some brilliant anthropological and sociological speculations on a variety of subjects including evolution (via epigenetics and heterozygosity) and the escalating, evolutionary path of conflict and weaponry (loved it). Stephenson isn't quite as funny as he has been in some other works, but the book is still full of ironic and pithy observations.

    I love reading about orbital mechanics, path corrections, innovative and hypothetical tech solutions to problems, etc., so I definitely enjoyed it for that. This is a book for orbital mechanics geeks, but it's also written so that someone who's not into it can skip over such sections and still get a lot out of the story. Anyway, Stephenson writes about topics he's interested in, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
     
  9. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Me too, I want to be an orbital mechanic when I grow up. The science stuff is just right for me too. I'm only just starting to see the exposition build up at 25%, mostly Doob.

    Glad you mentioned his humor Boreas, as I read about the first 20 pages of Anathem yesterday because I saw you rave about it in the past. That initial conversation with the Artisan is hilarious. Does it keep being funny?
     
  10. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Hey Boreas, you were right, it's all orbital mechanics all the time, and a very realistic portrayal of trying to turn the international space station into a generation ship. How did you know it was all orbital mechanics, all the time if you haven't read it? I'm at 52%, can't put it down.
     
  11. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I did read it last year! Here's the Seveneves thread. Just don't read my last post because of a few spoilers, but the first line of my last post contains a link to a spoiler free write-up. I'm really glad you're enjoying it!

    Stephenson is rarely 'haha' funny. It's the droll style of some brilliant observations that are so good. And as for Anathem, it's possibly my favourite work of SF of the last ten years that I've managed to read. It's like Umberto Eco and Walter M Miller, Jr. all rolled into one and grounded on a foundation informed by Julian Barbour.
     
  12. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    No kidding?

    Who are they anyway? JK.

    Anathem is sci-fi? In what sense? The product description doesn't mention that. Now I will definity read it as soon as I finish Seveneves.
     
  13. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    You'll just have to find out as you read it! But my recommendation is that you take a break from Stephenson after Seveneves. Unless you can easily handle two massive, nearly 1000-page tomes back-to-back. Anathem has a slow pace in the beginning as it sets the stage with world building + terminology (there's a much needed glossary at the back) + discussions on basic philosophical concepts and logic and even some maths. World building and setting are awesome. Had me hooked from the start.

    If you definitely want to read more Stephenson after Seveneves, maybe you could try his Snow Crash, a more zany, action-packed, cyber dystopia with a pizza delivery, Katana wielding protagonist. Or his Victorian-era flavoured nanotech future that is The Diamond Age (great book, was probably my favourite Stephenson until Anathem). These are both shorter and faster paced reads.

    The next Stephenson I'll be reading will be Reamde. Stephenson said that he needed a break from the heavier books he was writing, so wrote this one to be a thriller.
     
  14. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    OK thanks, I really appreciate the help. Probably Diamond Age or Snow Crash, although I already own Crypto... and Anathem.

    Man, I'm so emotionally invested in this book, I shouted YES when...hmmm, how to convey without spoilage. The Hammerhead down, torus up place. Finally.
     
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  15. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I'm very sluggish at the moment and not reading much at all. Back in Zurich and back at work. Really busy right now and the little time I have left, I don't seem to find the peace of mind to dive into my books. I'm halfway through Forging Zero and They Were Counted. My left eye keeps looking at my TBR pile of books, and for my next read, I dithering between Startide Rising by David Brin or N. Asher The Skinner...
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2016
  16. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    And @kenubrion, I see you've listed yourself as an orbital mechanic now!

    If you pick The Skinner, I'll join you. And lately, I've been the same as you. Not finding the peace of mind to dive into my reading even when my evenings are free to do so. I've been quite scatter-brained and have three books on pause at the moment.
     
  17. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Just a word of warning for you two about The Skinner, and I thought of this earlier when I read Elvira's post. If you're so busy, maybe you shouldn't read it. You may not surface again until you finish Orbus, the last book of the trilogy.

    "I see you've listed yourself as an orbital mechanic now!" Yes, I used to be an amateur gynecologist but I'm feeling much better now.
     
  18. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Three books on the go! I wouldn’t know what to do with myself…
    I’m in for The Skinner. Can we set a time when you are done with your three books and I with my two? A week, two..?
    @kenubrion. You know when you say to a child “don’t touch it” Wait... I bet you did it on purpose!

    Your multitasking skills are kind of frightening… Original, varied, puzzling but definitely frightening...;)
     
  19. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Cool, give me two weeks. So, basically by the beginning of next month. I'll try my hardest to get myself motivated to finish off those three books by then.
    Amen. Especially as he's a Golden Retriever puppy.
     
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  20. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Will be starting Excession by Banks next. Not sure when, but it's next up! This is my make it or break it Culture book I think, if I don't get on with this one I might stop my culture journey here.

    Oh, and finished The Android's Dream by Scalzi. It was fun. Will Wheaton is a good narrator!
     
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