It's November 2017: What SF books are you reading?

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#2
Listening to Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel currently.

This is absolutely brilliant. There's a fantastic cast of narrators which really adds to the experience. Great characters, exciting plot, highly recommended.
 

GiovanniDeFeo

Has Danced with Dragons
#4
I could not recommend Ted Chiang's a History of your Life highly enough.
They are novellas, but they are all amazing.
The one that gives the title to the anthology is the story where the film The Arrival comes from.
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#5
Just over halfway into Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel, the sequel to Sleeping Giants. This is absolutely stunning. Without a shadow of a doubt the best narration I've come across in an audiobook. I implore everyone to listen to these books, they really are superb. Book 1 is to do with the discovery of ancient alien technology and the efforts to learn more about it. Not a lot I can say about book 2 which won't act as a bit of a spoiler, but it's even better than book 1! There's Hard SF in here, excitement, suspense, great characters, and did I mention the narration? Just wow!
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#6
Started reading (listening to) Dune for the first time today. 2 hours in, and liking it. Great narration, and it's got that 'epic' feel to it.
 

Bill Door

Killed a Balrog
#8
I just started Glen Cook's - Passage at Arms.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#10
been thick into early sci-i books lately.

utopia~ Thomas more
battle of dorking
the coming race (aka vril)~ Edward B. L. 6/10
we ~ yevgeny zamaytin 9/10
anthem~Ayn rand 4/10
Franz Kafka~ the trial (reread) 8/10

overview. these are very political books, but a lot of the politics is pretty out of date, but at the same time some of the dystopian fears have already been realized.

vril, and we. both demonstrate a society which has condemned recreational poisons (alcohol and tobacco). [but wait doesn't the current story state that we didn't know tobacco was bad for you until 1965? time traveling authors..lol] both (plus anthem) represent a future dystopia where the common good and the "we" is more important than the individual to a point that in anthem they don't understand "my" or "i" , and in we that they all have numbers instead of names and cant' comprehend doing anything wasting energy for yourself.

WE . a pure math world where each lift of your spoon from breakfast is timed precisely, and synchronised throughout the country. where each person is fully equal to all others they've even figured out how to make love fair for everyone (by letting everyone have anyone, through specific schedules) . cold emotionless, calculated. except people keep spawning emotions, and getting into inspired messy romantic jealous love that must be eradicated.

Trial. clearly inspiration for Tom Wolfe ~ bonfire of the vanities as this concept of the overly bureauratic endless string of court dates, starring professional defendants.

anthem. more a cheer on the high achieving individuals being held back and forced to live a mundane existence without excellence, to achieve as less as the least of society for the greater good. so everyone is truly equal..
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#11
still mid reading it cant happen here and 1984

also "we" spoiler
to fix love forever, a new machine removes imagination. the love interest describes having to strap down and force the kids in her class to remove their imaginations.
 
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GiovanniDeFeo

Has Danced with Dragons
#12
We is a fucking masterpiece. If anything, it is even better than 1984, more poetic, more insightful. And more depressing.
There is a very high chance Orwell read it before writing his novel, as it was published in England way before it was published in Russian. Something I think happened 20 years after the author's death.

(Zamyatin is one of the real few heroes of literature. Because of that book he spent all the last years of his life in exhile.)
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#13
We is a fucking masterpiece. If anything, it is even better than 1984, more poetic, more insightful. And more depressing.
There is a very high chance Orwell read it before writing his novel, as it was published in England way before it was published in Russian. Something I think happened 20 years after the author's death.

(Zamyatin is one of the real few heroes of literature. Because of that book he spent all the last years of his life in exhile.)
100% chance Orwell read we. he wrote the first english review .
so great insight.

The forward to the copy I read, said that a small number of russian copies started showing up in Russia, and zamaytin had to go to court and prove the copies were translated back into russian from the French translation and not copied from his original manuscript.
but the copies were not well distributed and essentially disappeared anyway.

I agree, this is by a wide margin the best sci-i book I've read in my chronological sci-i reading.
 

Bill Door

Killed a Balrog
#14
I've got that on my phone but I haven't read it yet. Let me know what you think.
I ended up being so distracted this last week or so that I only ended up reading 10 pages before 'To Green Angel Tower' arrived, so I'm just going to put off 'Passage to Arms' for another time.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#15
Just finished All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells and it was so enjoyable. I'm sad it wasn't a full book instead of novella. I highly recommend this. It has a great characterisation, pace and topic.

Here's a short paragraph from the summary

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.”
Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

And you know what it does when it has alone time? Hours and hours of watching TV shows, murder mysteries and soap operas! Brilliant!
This is the kind of characterisation that I absolutely love seeing in fantasy books, but I so rarely find in SF. Wells has managed to make such a relatable character out of what is essentially AI.


I started reading Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer, and I think it's SF. Haven't gotten really far, but what I did read is very weird. I know they are making a movie based on this, and the trailer feels just as weird as the book does (so far anyway!).

 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#16
Just finished listening to Dune. Started out alright, then became a bit of a chore for around 3/4 of the book, then ended up decently. This is a solid 5/10 book for me, i.e. it's ok, but not one that I'll think about much longer than it takes me to finish writing this post. I can fully understand why this sits at the top of many sf best of lists. It just wasn't really for me. What was I saying?
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#17
I started reading Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer, and I think it's SF. Haven't gotten really far, but what I did read is very weird. I know they are making a movie based on this, and the trailer feels just as weird as the book does (so far anyway!).
Definitely SF.

I liked the first book a lot. The 2nd and 3rd ones pissed me off for various reasons but it is also not necessary to read them as the first book is, I feel, more self-contained than the series as a whole, if that makes sense.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#18
Thanks Sneaky. These books are very short, almost novellas not novels, so even if they are bad I wouldn't be wasting a lot of time.
Can I ask what pissed you off about the second and third? Was it liberally used science facts? You talked before how that can bug you.

Few days ago I picked up Artemis by Andy Weir. I loved Martian a lot (never saw the movie - should I?), but Artemis is very different to it.
It's ok, nothing is blowing my mind and I miss the humour sorely. The book is not even trying to be funny.
The main character is Jazz Bashara. She's a young woman living on this Moon base. She's ethnically an Arab from Saudi Arabia, but she came to Artemis when she was 6 yo with her father.
After a strain of bad life decisions stemming from typical teenage rebellion from rejecting her father's culture & religion and to a big degree rejecting her father as well, as well as seeking dead end relationship, she's at a low point in her life.
Working as a delivery person, she has failed at getting any education despite being talented at math and science. So she gets by with low level smuggling, while she lives in a capsule hotel (these things exists in Japan in real life), trying to save every penny of Artemis currency.
So, she takes one job that requires her to sabotage some vehicles of some big Artemis company. Of course things go wrong and she's in trouble.


I can't say it's a bad book. I'm getting pretty strong YA vibes with it, which is not bad as I read YA. It's just kind of underwhelming. It's like every story about a small time thief only set on a moon base.

In any case I'm ok with it, but Martian is a better book imo.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#19
Can I ask what pissed you off about the second and third? Was it liberally used science facts? You talked before how that can bug you.
No, actually. There were just absolutely a ton of things that didn't get resolved (I would hardly call the ending of the series an ending, almost like the author didn't know where things should go so he just stopped writing). Things that seemed like clues dropped early on went nowhere. Certain characters were given a lot of authority even though they seemed quite mentally unstable. Other characters' actions didn't really make sense. I just really think this would've worked well as a standalone (first book only). I don't have as many expectations for resolution with those, plus quite a few of the characters I had problems with weren't introduced until later books.