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Hazel

Sci-Fi for those who hate Sci-Fi

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2013/jun/28/science-fiction-novels-hate-sf

 

5 Science fiction novels for those that hate sci-fi apparently. I consider myself indifferent to sci-fi. There's a delicate balance between what I hate and what I'll like. I love Battlestar Galactica which seems to be the main argument against me hating sci-fi - but I maintain that I like the drama, characters, relationships and the sci-fi elements are largely just setting. But none of these book recommendations are making me head for Amazon. I can't imagine reading a sci-fi book despite me loving comics which often contain sci-fi elements.

 

Any sci-fi fanatics - or anyone read any of these books?

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Hats off to the sub at Guardian online who knows the word "rebarbative" :)

 

Was impressed, now I just have to look it up so that I know what it means.

:rolleyes:

 

I made a list of the sci/fi books, haven't read any of them as I don't seek out sci/fi but maybe have a look at the library. It's a long time since I read Heinlein's "In A Strange Land".

 

Looked up the rebarb word - will have to remember it so that I can slip it into a conversation sometime and dazzle my friends. :D

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As the site's resident sci-fi fan/apologist, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I've not read any of the five books the article offers up :o, although The Left Hand of Darkness is on Mount TBR. Le Guin's book was published in the late 1960s, I think, and I'm as likely to read sci-fi novels published 50 years ago in what I think was the genre's heyday as I am ones that came out last year.

 

In fact, the only author on the list I've read a complete novel by is William Gibson, whose 1982 novel Neuromancer is generally credited with giving the world the term "cyberspace". I did try the late Iain M Banks's Consider Phlebas many years ago and didn't get on with it, and, despite being a massive fan of his non-sci-fi work, I've never been back.

 

These all sound interesting and I might need to explore further.

 

I'm also a firm believer that a lot of us spend a lot of time reading books that could be considered sci-fi that, because that's not where they're located in the bookshop or library, aren't considered part of the genre. Nineteen Eighty Four, Metamorphosis, The Handmaid's Tale, Brave New World and Slaughterhouse Five, to pick five off the top of my head, are all considered literary classics but all could, just as easily, be considered to be science fiction.

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2013/jun/28/science-fiction-novels-hate-sf

 

5 Science fiction novels for those that hate sci-fi apparently.

Interesting list. Haven't read any of the five, tempted to try one or two though.

 

...I maintain that I like the drama, characters, relationships and the sci-fi elements are largely just setting.
Lots of stories commonly called sci-fi are really westerns that just happen to be set in space...a certain trilogy of well-known films for example...

 

I made a list of the sci/fi books, haven't read any of them as I don't seek out sci/fi but maybe have a look at the library. It's a long time since I read Heinlein's "In A Strange Land".
Yeah, me too, have read some (what would now be called) "old school sci-fi" I guess, Bradbury, Heinlein again, Clarke and so on.

 

Looked up the rebarb word - will have to remember it so that I can slip it into a conversation sometime and dazzle my friends.
:)

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I've recently finished "The Player of Games."

 

It is the least sci-fi of Iain M Banks's novels. It is a pwoerful, confusing and clever exploration of one man's career as a general for hire.

 

It is not a typical "Culture" (Iain M Banks's main society for his novels) novel but is one of his best.

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I've recently finished "The Player of Games."

 

It is the least sci-fi of Iain M Banks's novels. It is a pwoerful, confusing and clever exploration of one man's career as a general for hire.

 

This is the only Iain (with or without the 'M') Banks novel I've read (although I am a few chapters into Excession at the moment). It has a futuristic setting but that doesn't dominate the story, indeed it hardly figures other than to provide a backdrop. So, as a sci-fi novel for people that don't like sci-fi, it could work.

 

The only other one I've read is Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. I wouldn't even class this as science fiction. Aside from the strange ability of the central character there's nothing out of the ordinary, it is much more a contemporary thriller with a significant emphasis on new technology. Gibson's novels are basically thrillers at heart, even Neuromancer, which was visionary in sci-fi terms in its day.

 

Science fiction doesn't have to be about big ideas, an awful lot of it is stories about people and their interactions, albeit in a futuristic setting. At its best it allows consideration of how the big scientific ideas will affect those people and how they interact, which is something a novel in a contemporary setting cannot do.

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I've not read any of the five, either!

 

I'd recommend Isaac Asimov's Foundation series and Frank Herbert's Dune to anyone wanting to dip their toes into sci-fi. The Dune saga is (in my view) a political drama, full of intrigue, double-dealing and a huge variety of characters. Go on, Hazel, give it a try!

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The Dune saga is (in my view) a political drama, full of intrigue, double-dealing and a huge variety of characters. Go on, Hazel, give it a try!
:D Have you seen the size of that thing?! The dent it would make on my wall!

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I don't particularly seek out sci-fi but I do enjoy it when I read it. As Gram points out I have diffculty with the classification so may be reading sci-fi without knowing it. The five classic novels by H G Wells that I read coud be classed as sci-fi and I loved them all. I loved The City & The City by China Mielville too and enjoyed the group read of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I haven't heard of the books mentioned in the Guardian's article let alone read them, but I wouldn't be against it either, TBR permitting.

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:D Have you seen the size of that thing?! The dent it would make on my wall!
I managed to finish the original Dune on audiobook a few weeks ago after it had defeated me some years ago.

 

I can't say I'm as enthusiastic about it as MFJ is, but I can see its importance in the development of sci-fi. Essentially, it is the first in the sub-genre often known as space opera, with complex imagined future or alien societies, political intrigues and battles. The amount of exposition needed to set the scene for these does tend to mean they need to be weighty volumes.

 

Basically, no Dune, no Star Wars.

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Isn't Sting in the film? That alone is a reason not to read the book!

The film is one of my favourites (Sting is very bad).

I've never managed to read the books. They have been on Mount TBR for nearly 30 years now...

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The film is one of my favourites (Sting is very bad).

I've never managed to read the books. They have been on Mount TBR for nearly 30 years now...

 

Blimey, you are the first person I've come across who enjoyed the film without having read the book! Most people couldn't make head nor tail of it.

 

I have the DVD set of the TV mini-series which I really must get around to watching one day.

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I have the DVD set of the TV mini-series which I really must get around to watching one day.
I've seen that it's not too bad. I've also seen the fan made version of the film with missing scenes which isn't as good as the original film. It is slow and loses a lot of the artiness of the film.

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I've not read any of the five, either!

 

I'd recommend Isaac Asimov's Foundation series and Frank Herbert's Dune to anyone wanting to dip their toes into sci-fi. The Dune saga is (in my view) a political drama, full of intrigue, double-dealing and a huge variety of characters. Go on, Hazel, give it a try!

 

I just finished re reading the first of the Dune books a few weeks ago. I first read it when I was a teenager and my room had just been re painted so whilst I read the book the smell of paint implanted itself as the smell of the spice world and for years after I only had to walk into a newly painted room to be transported back to the book.

 

I enjoyed it second time round as well and intend to try and read the whole series eventually.

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Ah, yes, the "whole series." That's become a rather more daunting prospect that it used to be. The original book (1965) was followed by two sequels (early 1970s), and then 3 more (1980s). Following Frank Herbert's death in 1986, a variety of prequels and further sequels were written with his son as a co-author with Kevin J Anderson. I reckon there are now 18 novels in the "whole series."

 

I've lost track of how many I've read, but I think I've read the original 3 books twice each, the next 3 at least one but probably twice, and the first 3 prequels once each. I then started on the Butlerian Jihad, which went way back to events thousands of years earlier, and that's where I stopped. Frank Herbert had a particular style of writing, which - how can I say this? - made his books more difficult to read, but more rewarding. The immediate prequels co-authored by his son were easy reads, and set the scene for what followed rather effectively but - although the Butlerian Jihad was often mentioned in the original books - I couldn't escape the feeling that it was all unnecessary. A bit like describing the invention of electricity in the story of the Beatles, because the Beatles used electric guitars!

 

Once I've finished the Robert Jordan books, I might have a go at reading the full 18 Dune books, although I'm not sure whether to read them in chronological order of events or published dates!

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Yes 18 does seem a bit daunting MFJ but I'll see how far I get. Having just/only read the original Dune, should I go to the prequels next and get the full history or go the next published book? What would you recommend?

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A long time ago we went as a family to see Dune, one of our sons was really excited about seeing it, and we went, it was long and boring, even the boys didn't want to stay to see it finish. So don't know what the book(s) are like but the movie was daunting.

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Yes 18 does seem a bit daunting MFJ but I'll see how far I get. Having just/only read the original Dune, should I go to the prequels next and get the full history or go the next published book? What would you recommend?

 

Don't know, I was hoping someone else would have a view! However, I realised some years ago that sci-fi isn't among the favoured genres on BGO, so the chances of anyone having an opinion are scant. I'd be inclined to read the 6 Frank Herbert books, then start on the later books and read them in published order... in other words, read the whole lot in published order.

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I realised some years ago that sci-fi isn't among the favoured genres on BGO, so the chances of anyone having an opinion are scant.
You'll need to set yourself up as the BGO Sci-Fi Go To Guy just like I have done for the comic book area!

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Gram likes sci-fi...
True, I do. I read a lot of sci-fi in my teens, but I'm quite picky these days.

 

A lot of what I read is sometimes excused as "speculative fiction", a term often applied to the more literary end of sci-fi i.e. it's the stuff that doesn't have aliens and spaceships in. As I said upthread, what can get my goat is the snobbery associated with the label "science fiction".

 

In the past year, for example, I've read and enjoyed Jane Rogers' superb The Testament of Jessie Lamb, which is set on a near future Earth where a virus kills women who fall pregnant, and Karen Thompson Walker's rather less good The Age of Miracles, set on an Earth where the days are lengthening due to slowing rotation. Both of these, I imagine, would sound like science fiction to most people from those descriptions, but neither Amazon nor Waterstones would ever sell them as such. The former book, however, received the Arthur C. Clarke award for the year's best science fiction novel from those in the know.

 

I also find appealing the surrealism of China Mieville's work and JG Ballard's early books. These, again, don't fit in with the standard cliches associated with the genre.

 

There's a place for space opera like Dune and the work of more modern writers like Peter F. Hamilton, but this takes up much less of my bookshelf space.

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Don't know, I was hoping someone else would have a view! However, I realised some years ago that sci-fi isn't among the favoured genres on BGO, so the chances of anyone having an opinion are scant. I'd be inclined to read the 6 Frank Herbert books, then start on the later books and read them in published order... in other words, read the whole lot in published order.

 

Thanks MFJ, that sounds like the best option.

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Looked up the rebarb word - will have to remember it so that I can slip it into a conversation sometime and dazzle my friends. :D

Idly checking for a thread on Isaac Asimov's Foundation series (there's not one yet) when I came across this little gem. So, Momac, have you ever managed to slip the word 'rebarbative' into casual conversation?

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