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Every time I see a bad piece of science fiction I need to purge the memory by reading something good. Any recommendations?

I am currently reading Edding's Belgariad based on Stephen's (I think) recommendation and am trying to track down local copies of the The Golden Age trilogy. Any other recommendations?

I have read all the standards (Orson Scott Card, Tolkien, Herbert, Simmons, Asimov, Anthony) and am looking to branch out.

Thanks!

(also any worthwhile mystery recommendations would be appreciated)

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have you read Ray Bradbury? if not i recommend him very much. also i recommend a writer named Aldous Huxley, specifically a book named Brave New World. i don't read much sci-fi so thats all i can recommend to you.

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I have read all the standards (Orson Scott Card, Tolkien, Herbert, Simmons, Asimov, Anthony) and am looking to branch out.

I don't know if you would consider Lois McMaster Bujold a "standard", but you didn't mention her so I will.

Vernor Vinge's last couple of novels (A Fire Upon The Deep and A Deepness In The Sky) are both excellent.

Neal Stephenson is also worth reading. His "Baroque Cycle" is a fascinating melding of historical fiction with subtle science-fictional themes. It does suffer a bit from wandering plot, and could probably be better edited, so be warned.

Moving well down the ladder of literary ambitiousness, I also got a kick out of Michael Z. Williamson's Freehold; it's about the only modern literary presentation of a frontier/free society that isn't crushed by didactic speechifying I can think of.

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Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders trilogy ... not only are the characters larger-than-life and the plot very intelligent, the ideas in the book are great. It's pro-individual rights in its condemnations, both implicit and explicit, of slavery and gender inequality; and its pro-free trade stance.

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Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" Series is great!

The first book is Wizard's First Rule and you can find it in bookstores everywhere.

+ nice bonus: Mr. Goodkind is an Objectivist as well as a New York Times bestselling author!!

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Anything by Neal Stephenson. That man has the coolest brain on the planet. I especially recommend Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon. Just read the first few pages of Snow Crash and you will be hooked.

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Anything by Neal Stephenson.  That man has the coolest brain on the planet.  I especially recommend Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon.  Just read the first few pages of Snow Crash and you will be hooked.

I have read the Diamond Age, Quicksilver and The Confusion. I never really got into Cyrptonomicon. He tends wander off a bit too frequently, as khaight indicated.

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My offerings would better be described as speculative fiction as opposed to hard science fiction. Nonetheless, I enjoyed them.

L. Neil Smith's "The Probability Broach" recently entertained me. Set in the late 70's/early 80's, it's about a Denver police detective who accidentally gets himself transferred into a parallel reality where the Articles of Confederation were never superceded by the Constitution. Very memorable characters -- Smith has written at least two other books with the same characters, but I haven't read them yet.

Although I suspect I might disagree with his politics, I've also been hugely entertained by all the works of Robert *Charles* Wilson. "Mysterium" and "The Harvest" were my personal favorites.

Also Paul Park's "Celestis" earlier this summer. The setting is a planet colonized by American and British explorers where the natives have been made more human-like, often against their will, through pharmaceuticals.

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I recommend an author by the name of Mervyn Peake, specifically the Gormenhast Novels. These novels are an unfinished trilogy (unfininshed due to the author's death in 1968). His work certainly qualifies as fantasy, but not science fiction. These novels are brilliant works of imagination and some of the most thoroughly detailed fiction I have ever read. His writings have a strange way of lingering with you for weeks and months.

Interestingly, I've never actually spoken to anyone who has read any of his works and I would love to hear others' opinions.

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I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Heinlein. I especially like Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. (Don't judge Starship Troopers by the movie, which seriously warped the society portrayed in the book.)

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I recommend an author by the name of Mervyn Peake, specifically the Gormenhast Novels.  These novels are an unfinished trilogy (unfininshed due to the author's death in 1968).  His work certainly qualifies as fantasy, but not science fiction.  These novels are brilliant works of imagination and some of the most thoroughly detailed fiction I have ever read.  His writings have a strange way of lingering with you for weeks and months.

Interestingly, I've never actually spoken to anyone who has read any of his works and I would love to hear others' opinions.

I watched the BBC mini-series Gorhmenghast and it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Still, ever the optimist, I did go out and buy the 3 books, thinking I would find that experience better but the first few chapters were so dense with description and adjectives that found myself a bored. It's on my "second chance" list, right next to Umberto Eco's The Island of the Day Before.

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...the first few chapters were so dense with description and adjectives that found myself a bored.

Actually, I struggled through the beginning but later came to appreciate the vivid descriptions. When I finished the first book of the trilogy, I set it aside but found myself thinking about the characters often. I think the overabundance of detail contributed to the story persisting in my mind as long as it did. Eventually, I read the whole trilogy, starting at the first book again.

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(Don't judge Starship Troopers by the movie, which seriously warped the society portrayed in the book.)

This is an understatement! The movie didn't just warp things, it had almost no significant relationship to the book except for the title and the names of a few characters.

I second the recommendation for Heinlein, but be prepared for assorted looniness in his later works. He mentions John Galt in "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress," and he once expressed a desire to write something akin to the Fountainhead but with modern art as his target.

For science fiction, I also like Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Charles Sheffield. Pournelle's stories of Falkenberg's Legion and The Mote in God's Eye by Niven and Pournelle would be especially good if you happen to enjoy military-oriented fiction.

-- Chumley

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For science fiction, I also like Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Charles Sheffield. Pournelle's stories of Falkenberg's Legion and The Mote in God's Eye by Niven and Pournelle would be especially good if you happen to enjoy military-oriented fiction.-- Chumley

I loved The Mote in God's Eye. Niven and Pournelle's other great collaboration, Lucifer's Hammer, about a comet strike on earth, is also outstanding.

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Niven and Pournelle's other great collaboration, Lucifer's Hammer, about a comet strike on earth, is also outstanding.

Indeed.

What's not to like about a book whose climax involves a pitched battle to protect a nuclear power plant (explicitly held up as a symbol of civilization) against a ravening horde of cannibalistic environmentalists?

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Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" Series is great!

The first book is Wizard's First Rule and you can find it in bookstores everywhere.

+ nice bonus: Mr. Goodkind is an Objectivist as well as a New York Times bestselling author!!

You beat me to it.

I second this recommendation. Terry Goodkind is great.

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Vernor Vinge's last couple of novels (A Fire Upon The Deep and A Deepness In The Sky) are both excellent.

I second that recommendation. I read those two earlier this year and they were great!

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Normally I wouldn't go out of my way to shoot down someone else's recommendation, but sometimes decency demands it...

If you enjoy plot, characterization, style, depth, plausibility, or anything else that normally characterizes mediocre-or-better writing, I recommend not reading anything by L. Neil Smith. (Actually, I'm tempted to recommend burning anything by him, but I'll try to restrain myself.) He is quite possibly the worst science fiction writer I have read. His only claim to distinction is that the worlds he constructs are amalgams of Libertarian fetishes taken to their extremes: societies in which, for example, children of single-digit ages carry a knife on one hip and a gun on the other.

As I recall, the plot of The Probability Broach consists of a guy transported into Smith's utopia, followed by a bunch of grindingly didactic scenes of "culture shock" -- picture a lobotomized Robert Heinlein expanding his most pedantic passages to the length of a novel. In Smith's alternate history, George Washington was lynched and hung as a traitor for imposing a tax, leading to Ayn Rand's later presidency and... well, 8 year old kids with guns, I suppose.

Might as well end on a good note. Speaking of Heinlein, I recently read Podkayne of Mars... a nice quickie. I'm more & more in agreement with those who have said that his juveniles are his best works.

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Every time I see a bad piece of science fiction I need to purge the memory by reading something good.  Any recommendations?

I am currently reading Edding's Belgariad based on Stephen's (I think) recommendation and am trying to track down local copies of the The Golden Age trilogy.  Any other recommendations?

I have read all the standards (Orson Scott Card, Tolkien, Herbert, Simmons, Asimov, Anthony) and am looking to branch out.

Thanks!

(also any worthwhile mystery recommendations would be appreciated)

I've read recently Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Telling" and now I'm purging my memory by reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle "The Best of Sherlock Holmes". Croatia doesn't have Sci-Fi authors of its own at all and there are very few books that can be bought here. However, I found George R. R. Martin to be a good storyteller as he makes a very good, complex and branched out plot. How his characters act on an ethical level is, however, not too pleasing, but the books have potential of making some good characters later in the plot (I haven't read all the books yet, and not all are written -- I'm talking here of "The Song of Ice and Fire").

I've also read Peter F. Hamilton's "Reality Dysfunction", which isn't good at all. Characters are all complete nonentities and the plot is boring.

So consider this a warning about what you shouldn't read if you don't want to purge your memory again.

Believe it or not, I haven't read the standards yet, with the exception of Tolkien and Asimov's "Prelude to Foundation" but I'm working on it.

George Martin's books are similar to Tolkiens - they're somewhat epic, only the way he tells the story is much more interesting to me than how Tolkien did it. Maybe the fact that I read Tolkien in Croatian and that I'm reading Martin in original english has something to do with it. I like Martin's style better.

Another author I've read a long time ago is John Varley. I forgot much about the plot of his trilogy "Titan" "Wizard" and "Demon," but as much as I remember, I enjoyed them.

Also, there is me. I'm making notes about the sci-fi novel I plan to write one day, so look out for my name on Amazon. :o

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This is an understatement! The movie didn't just warp things, it had almost no significant relationship to the book except for the title and the names of a few characters.

-- Chumley

I wouldn't go that far. The basic plot outline is pretty much the same. I actually rather enjoyed it purely as an action movie. (I am really hoping that eventually someone will do a decent remake.)

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I wouldn't go that far. The basic plot outline is pretty much the same. I actually rather enjoyed it purely as an action movie. (I am really hoping that eventually someone will do a decent remake.)

I see your point about the plot outline. I think that the similarities are fairly superficial because much of the content was left out - especially discussions from the classes on "History and Moral Philosophy ," and Johnny Rico's thoughts on the meaning of his service in the Mobile Infantry. I don't think it would be necessary to cover these in as much depth as the book, but I would have liked the movie better if at least tried to develop them.

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I agree. But part of the point of the movie was to portray Heinlein's society as a sort of ant-like fascism (much like the bugs they were fighting) so presenting Heinlein's actual ideas and society would have made that impossible.

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