What Sci-Fi Book Are You Reading?

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fbones24

Journeyed there and back again
I'm thinking about reading Dune after finishing Tyrant's Law. I know that it is widely considered to be THE SF novel. Just curious what others in this community think of Dune.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
Read what Ben has to say about Red Rising before making that decision.
I have read what Ben has had to say about it. If I let Ben's opinion dictate all my reading choices then there are a lot of wonderful reads that would and will slip by me.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
I'm thinking about reading Dune after finishing Tyrant's Law. I know that it is widely considered to be THE SF novel. Just curious what others in this community think of Dune.
A long time ago there was discussion about Dune and they all seemed unanimous in their prosaic hatred for it. I don't know.... I've never read it. You might want to ask @Amaryllis though.
 

ofer

Journeyed there and back again
I'm thinking about reading Dune after finishing Tyrant's Law. I know that it is widely considered to be THE SF novel. Just curious what others in this community think of Dune.
Good book. I wouldn't put it at the top of my personal list like Ben did (my trophy goes to Hyperion, with Foundation as the best classic SF), but it has a place in my private SF top ten.
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
How much do you like good prose as opposed to decent story? Because you're not getting both.

Dune is an action book whose action progresses at the speed of Robert Jordan's dress descriptions, a philosophy book whose philosophy is both senseless and senselessly abstract, a 'science fiction' book whose science is that it's really far in the future, so blah blah handwave space magic (I personally don't mind this aspect, because I've rarely cared about the science in sci-fi unless they take pains to explain it and it is insultingly dumb, but I know some people do). The plot is contrived, immature, initially pretty intelligent, but seemingly dedicated to constantly undoing itself. The prose is bad, and I don't just mean not as advanced as a modern writer (I like plenty of old books whose writing 'sucks' compared to writers now). It reads like Herbert wrote the whole thing in one draft when he was still in school. Events of the book are foreshadowed to the point that they could almost have ended the book before the Atreides family leaves their home planet, and you would have been pretty up to speed on everything that was going to happen (this is a little bit of an exaggeration, of course, but not much).

In terms of storyline, themes, description, 'imaginativeness,' Dune is actually very good if you boil everything down to concepts. But in the writing, it fails to resonate in any meaningful way. The book is supposed to be some commentary on the intersect of religion, politics and power, except the politics are insipid and about as clever as a kid playing hide-and-seek who thinks that he's invisible if he simply crouches down. This goes back to foreshadowing; events are foreshadowed not by metaphors, by snippets of history, by subtle turns in conversation, or even by allusions in philosophy that make up the book's themes (think of Cersei telling Eddard that in the game of thrones, you win or die), but by some character literally telling you what will happen, generally bellowing it out in dialogue. Within like the first ten pages, Baron Harkonnen will be talking about his clever scheme to kill Duke Leto and how impossible it is to get out of. Duke Leto will then talk about how he suspects that this is some plot and that he's probably going to die. His wife will then talk about how she fears some scheme is afoot, and her husband is going to be killed. They will take measures to help prevent Duke Leto dying, and then the book will cut to Baron Harkonnen again, laughing about how he knows the measures they are taking, and how they totally aren't going to work, and no, Duke Leto is definitely going to die. Spoiler alert: Duke Leto dies. Surprise! And this happens constantly. Now, I get that this works into another one of the book's major themes, which are that you can't defy fate no matter what, but a freshman in high school taking his first creative writing class almost certainly could have come up with a more subtle and satisfying way of communicating this theme to you. Herbert just staples it to your forehead and punches the shit out of it.

I know this book has a lot of fans, and I'm not really trying to piss in anybody's cheerios. I watched the sci-fi channel miniseries before reading the book, and I liked it (the follow up Children of Dune, however, I thought was basically crap, aside from it's AMAZING MUSIC ). I read the book, and...well, it doesn't really hold up. I can't say for sure that this wasn't a relic of the times, because I wasn't alive when it came out to have the exposure to everything else that was FRESH and NEW at the time. But I can say that I can read all the Foundation novels, many of which were written years before Dune, without issue. I can read Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Larry Niven, even the dude who wrote the Riverworld books (I always forget his name). So my conclusion is that the book's writing is bad independently of the era when it was written. So in case I'm simply some plebeian who cannot appreciate classics and art, my boorishness seems to be extremely specific.

I also know that the book is considered 'iconic,' but I honestly still haven't figured out why.
 
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kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
I have read what Ben has had to say about it. If I let Ben's opinion dictate all my reading choices then there are a lot of wonderful reads that would and will slip by me.
Oh, OK. When you said "I'm not sure I even want to read this now" based on what one other person said I got the impression other's opinions carried some weight with you..
 

ofer

Journeyed there and back again
I know this book has a lot of fans, and I'm not really trying to piss in anybody's cheerios.
It never pisses me off when other people have different opinions than mine about books. I liked the book. You didn't, and provided a very good explanation as to why. I respect that. It's not as if any of us is getting royalties from the Herbert estate. More's the pity :)

BTW, you might want to put some of your post in spoiler tags.
 

fbones24

Journeyed there and back again
How much do you like good prose as opposed to decent story? Because you're not getting both.

Dune is an action book whose action progresses at the speed of Robert Jordan's dress descriptions, a philosophy book whose philosophy is both senseless and senselessly abstract, a 'science fiction' book whose science is that it's really far in the future, so blah blah handwave space magic (I personally don't mind this aspect, because I've rarely cared about the science in sci-fi unless they take pains to explain it and it is insultingly dumb, but I know some people do). The plot is contrived, immature, initially pretty intelligent, but seemingly dedicated to constantly undoing itself. The prose is bad, and I don't just mean not as advanced as a modern writer (I like plenty of old books whose writing 'sucks' compared to writers now). It reads like Herbert wrote the whole thing in one draft when he was still in school. Events of the book are foreshadowed to the point that they could almost have ended the book before the Atreides family leaves their home planet, and you would have been pretty up to speed on everything that was going to happen (this is a little bit of an exaggeration, of course, but not much).

In terms of storyline, themes, description, 'imaginativeness,' Dune is actually very good if you boil everything down to concepts. But in the writing, it fails to resonate in any meaningful way. The book is supposed to be some commentary on the intersect of religion, politics and power, except the politics are insipid and about as clever as a kid playing hide-and-seek who thinks that he's invisible if he simply crouches down. This goes back to foreshadowing; events are foreshadowed not by metaphors, by snippets of history, by subtle turns in conversation, or even by allusions in philosophy that make up the book's themes (think of Cersei telling Eddard that in the game of thrones, you win or die), but by some character literally telling you what will happen, generally bellowing it out in dialogue. Within like the first ten pages, Baron Harkonnen will be talking about his clever scheme to kill Duke Leto and how impossible it is to get out of. Duke Leto will then talk about how he suspects that this is some plot and that he's probably going to die. His wife will then talk about how she fears some scheme is afoot, and her husband is going to be killed. They will take measures to help prevent Duke Leto dying, and then the book will cut to Baron Harkonnen again, laughing about how he knows the measures they are taking, and how they totally aren't going to work, and no, Duke Leto is definitely going to die. Spoiler alert: Duke Leto dies. Surprise! And this happens constantly. Now, I get that this works into another one of the book's major themes, which are that you can't defy fate no matter what, but a freshman in high school taking his first creative writing class almost certainly could have come up with a more subtle and satisfying way of communicating this theme to you. Herbert just staples it to your forehead and punches the shit out of it.

I know this book has a lot of fans, and I'm not really trying to piss in anybody's cheerios. I watched the sci-fi channel miniseries before reading the book, and I liked it (the follow up Children of Dune, however, I thought was basically crap, aside from it's AMAZING MUSIC ). I read the book, and...well, it doesn't really hold up. I can't say for sure that this wasn't a relic of the times, because I wasn't alive when it came out to have the exposure to everything else that was FRESH and NEW at the time. But I can say that I can read all the Foundation novels, many of which were written years before Dune, without issue. I can read Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Larry Niven, even the dude who wrote the Riverworld books (I always forget his name). So my conclusion is that the book's writing is bad independently of the era when it was written. So in case I'm simply some plebeian who cannot appreciate classics and art, my boorishness seems to be extremely specific.

I also know that the book is considered 'iconic,' but I honestly still haven't figured out why.
Thank you for this thought out and deep reply. I have been alternating one fantasy novel with one sci-fi novel. I find myself always trudging through sci-fi to get back to Fantasy. I may put Dune off for now not because of your comments but because I may need to give sci-fi a break. I know this is not typical sci fi, but I really like swords and feasts and princes and etc.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
Last 4th of July I finished Starship Trooper which was a complete coincidence. It was okay but not my cup of tee. Even though I actually agreed with most of what the author had to stay, I found that the political philosophizing was a distraction from the story. I don't have a problem with an authors opinion showing through in the writing but at the same time fiction shouldn't be used as a framework for an author to spout their views which is the case here; that's what nonfiction is for. If an author is trying to make an argument then their views should be evident within the story alone. If you look at the Forever War for example, the author is obviously trying to warn the readers of the control that authority is able to exert on its citizens when the state is perpetually at war but he doesn't explicitly discuss these views; the theme of the novel becomes evident as the novel progresses. Fiction that tries to make an explicit argument to me is second rate fiction and Starship Trooper belongs in that category.
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
Also avoid The Martian, boring boring book.
Just read a review for this over on Fantasy Faction. It got 9.5 / 10. Hhhhmmm
Have you read any of his work? I was thinking of starting his Broken Empire trilogy next myself.
On the second book now SA ... Really good, I'd recommend. The second book is definitely better than the first so far!
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
Is it genre sacrilege to say I found Journey to the Center of the Earth terribly boring and couldn't wait to finish it? Until the 64% mark virtually nothing interesting happened.

Even Jules Verne's wonderful dry sense of humor which forever permeates can't save it. The book is one huge grueling lecture on every "ology" imaginable. Both main characters are flat sheets of paper and the third is nearly invisible.

I've recently completed the classics Lost World (Doyle) and the Time Machine (Wells) and both were absolute joys throughout. But this one seemed so old. I won't be reading any more Verne books (20,000 Leagues, Mysterious Island, and 80 Days) because I understand they either fall into the same lecture trap, dullness trap, or both. I'm sure his ideas were exciting over a century ago but not today, IMO. It's a shame because I was really looking forward to his books.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
Just read a review for this over on Fantasy Faction. It got 9.5 / 10. Hhhhmmm
I wouldn't trust what most of those fantasy websites have to say on the quality of writing. Fantasy Faction certainly isn't the worst but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of shit opinion going around just like with other fantasy websites. If you want to know if a book is for you then look at the aggregate opinion at Amazon or Goodreads or see what a blogger whose opinion you trust has to say on the book or even better read a sample of the writing on Googlebooks to see what the style is like but DO NOT trust the opinion of randoms on the internet whose fictional tastes you don't know and thus can't judge.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
If you want to know if a book is for you, read it yourself. No excuse with samples available for all books. If you don't have a Kindle, you still shouldn't rely on another's opinion that may prevent you from the reading the best book you've ever read.

As to the thread topic, I'm 60% through Sand by Hugh Howey, started it last night and could not put it down. I read the first installment of Wool and wondered what all the fuss was about with Howey, and with the story. Turns out Howey is a superb writer, and his prose in Sand is nothing short of magnificent. Due to the nature of the story, there is a lot of internal dialogue by the main characters when they are alone, which is often. Unlike Weber's interminable and boring internal monologues, Howey's not only add immensely to the story but actually outshine the slam-bang action sequences. He's not a one-hit wonder by any measure, he's a brilliant author. Now I'm going to have to give Wool a second chance, or maybe his Molly Fyde series.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
TomTheBeliever maybe it just wasn't my type of book, if you do read it let my know what you thought of it.
Hey Hand. I read The Martian right after it came out, posted a review when there were about 20 of them at the time. I thought it was brilliant, but I have a science background, and what he accomplished made sense and was beyond ingenuous in some instances. Andy Weir's science holds up and many are convinced he must have been in the space program to write of it so accurately. Now, if you're not interested in the science, I think it would be a hard slog. Did you laugh? I thought it was the funniest dialogue I've ever read.
 

Hand of Fear

Journeyed there and back again
Now, if you're not interested in the science, I think it would be a hard slog. Did you laugh? I thought it was the funniest dialogue I've ever read.
I'm a little bit interested in science but a lot of it went over my head so perhaps this is a reason why I didn't like it that much, as for laughing there were a few funny bits in it but not enough to make me like the book any better.
 

fbones24

Journeyed there and back again
I decided to skip Dune. Reading Leviathan Wakes and loving it so far. I have been reading more SF lately. I definitely love fantasy a lot more. Leviathan Wakes is good because it's not as grand in scope as some SF I've read. Takes place in our solar system and is sort of intimate in the way the story is told.
 

Jon Snow

No Power in the Verse can stop me
Staff member
I decided to skip Dune. Reading Leviathan Wakes and loving it so far. I have been reading more SF lately. I definitely love fantasy a lot more. Leviathan Wakes is good because it's not as grand in scope as some SF I've read. Takes place in our solar system and is sort of intimate in the way the story is told.
Let me know how it goes. I have that on my shelf....I wish someone would pay me to read ^_^
 
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