What SF are you reading in May?

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#41
Dropped Raymond Weil's Galactic Empire Wars and started Line of Polity, thereby skipping Gridlinked in that series, and it's working out fine. I swear, sometimes I think I'm reading Iain M. Banks when I'm reading Neal Asher's Polity books.
 

fbones24

Journeyed there and back again
#42
I'm currently reading Pushing Ice and wow, what a ride this book has been for me. I read House of Suns prior to this and that seems to be regarded as Reynolds best. I think Pushing Ice is much better and with only 10% to go, I think it is one of the better books I have read. Great characterization in this one. There is not much action so maybe that is why it seems to get mixed reviews but there is an intimacy to this book which I really like. I feel like I am engulfed in not only the story, but that I know the characters and can feel their surroundings. REally good stuff and I'm glad I discovered Reynolds. I may move on to Revelation Space next or maybe jump back to fantasy for a bit.
 

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#43
I'm currently reading Pushing Ice and wow, what a ride this book has been for me. I read House of Suns prior to this and that seems to be regarded as Reynolds best. I think Pushing Ice is much better and with only 10% to go, I think it is one of the better books I have read. Great characterization in this one. There is not much action so maybe that is why it seems to get mixed reviews but there is an intimacy to this book which I really like. I feel like I am engulfed in not only the story, but that I know the characters and can feel their surroundings. REally good stuff and I'm glad I discovered Reynolds. I may move on to Revelation Space next or maybe jump back to fantasy for a bit.
Ah, a Reynolds convert. Excellent!

There is no regarded best, I think. I've come across too many people with too many different favourites to come to any leading consensus. I love all his books and pretty much all his short stories, too. The only books of his I haven't gotten to yet is the current trilogy (the last book is supposed to come out anytime now) and a stand-alone, "Century Rain", that I kind of avoided because I thought it was an alternate history type novel (which I'm not a huge fan of). I'll have to get around to it. The last novel in the "Revelation Space" trilogy is probably his weakest. To some extent, "Terminal World", too.

If you want to try out his Revelation Space books, then you have quite a few options. First off, he wrote his trilogy in such a way so that you can pick up any of the three novels first (even though the stories are not just thematically linked, but make up one cohesive tale) - I think the best starting points would be either the first or the second volumes (I know, for most fantasy readers this is unusual since the majority of trilogies are to be read in a strictly chronological order - though Dave Duncan also does this with his first three King's Blades books...sort of). Then you have his two independent RS novels, "Chasm City" and the "The Prefect". You can start with either one of these, too. CC is a convoluted noir tale and TP is sort of a hard-boiled detective story set during the 'golden age' of the Yellowstone civilisation before the onset of the Melding Plague that is a core feature of the other RS books, the trilogy and CC, and makes them quite dystopian. And finally there is the collection of RS-related short stories in his collection "Galactic North". I think GN is probably an excellent place to start because the various stories give background information on the RS-setting, specifically on the schism between the Conjoiner and Demarchist societies and also other, various aspects. He wrote some of these stories before the trilogy, I believe. The most important story in there is 'The Great Wall of Mars', which also introduces Clavain, a central [badass] character (strategist AND tactician) in the second and third volumes of the RS trilogy.

My personal favourites...hmm...I'd have to say a toss up between "House of Suns" and "Pushing Ice" and "Chasm City" depending on my mood. But I like them all. Reynolds is definitely one of my favourites. He writes very smart books and while his ideas are seriously far out, I love that he mostly stays grounded with his characters and science. How did you come across Alastair Reynolds?

EDIT: Three of my favourite characters that Reynolds has created all appear in the RS trilogy.
 
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Hand of Fear

Journeyed there and back again
#44
@Boreas I enjoyed Revelation Space and will be reading more of his books.

Does he tend to kill off a lot of the cast, as hardly anyone was left at the end of that book !?
 

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#45
@Boreas I enjoyed Revelation Space and will be reading more of his books.

Does he tend to kill off a lot of the cast, as hardly anyone was left at the end of that book !?
Now that would be telling. You'll just have to find out. "Redemption Ark" is an excellent sequel. I think you'll like it even more than "Revelation Space".
 

fbones24

Journeyed there and back again
#46
@Boreas Thanks for that detail. I'm going to be finishing Pushing Ice tonight and it has been an incredible ride. The thing I'm really enjoying about reading Reynolds is his character dialogue. I find that many authors write their dialogue as if it is being projected into a Hollywood movie screen. Reynold's character dialogue is real and raw. I feel like the conversations are real and that adds to the character development.

I may start on Gallactic North tonight after I finish PI. I was going to jump back to fantasy and continue with Well of Ascension (Mistborn) but have enjoyed reading Reynolds so much.

I really have no idea how I stumbled on him as an author? I think I might have just googled "best modern sci fi authors." :wacky:
 

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#47
I'm happy to see you enjoying Mr. Reynolds' work so much. Next you'll have to read Iain M. Banks and Neal Asher. Then you will be well versed in the three best British authors dealing in big-canvas science fiction that make essential space opera reading. Read Neal Asher last, as he borrows much from both Reynolds and Banks, especially Banks.
 

fbones24

Journeyed there and back again
#48
I'm happy to see you enjoying Mr. Reynolds' work so much. Next you'll have to read Iain M. Banks and Neal Asher. Then you will be well versed in the three best British authors dealing in big-canvas science fiction that make essential space opera reading. Read Neal Asher last, as he borrows much from both Reynolds and Banks, especially Banks.
I was reading about Banks and REynolds writing a while back and I think it sounds like I would like Reynolds more. I think that's why I started with him. I'm so confused as to whether to read the first book of revelation space before he stories in Gallactic North? I read some stuff online that Gallactic North should be read before the second book. Does it matter?
 

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#49
@fbones24, I say start with the "Galactic North" collection. Even though it was published in 2006 as a collection, some of the stories were published earlier. Two minor stories were published in the 1990s, well before "Revelation Space" (2000) came out, but the most important story (novelette) in relation to the RS trilogy (2000-2003), "Great Wall of Mars", came out just a couple of months before "Revelation Space" was published. Most of the other stories were written after the RS trilogy and expand on the setting. I think reading it first is a good idea, though it isn't strictly necessary. It is a very strong collection, though. The titular story was written in 2006, features a character from the trilogy and is a doozy.

As for Banks, he is the best author of the three: his craftsmanship of prose, the stylistic verve, the irony, the tongue-in-cheek black humour, etc. Compared to Reynolds, though, his stories are pure fantasy. Reynolds is much more grounded and I can imagine some elements from his novels as possibilities in the mid-to-far-future (say, between 300-1000 years from now). Obviously, since Reynolds himself writes mostly space opera (a subgenre infamous for keeping faith with inexactitude and outlandish zest), he takes many liberties with his concepts, but he tries to keep in chime with the political, cultural and technological vicissitudes of humanity, and so it's quite a bit more believable. Banks writes pure fantasy, ideals that outline the best we as a species can aspire to. They are totally outlandish, push the limits on that supposed ideal and present a vision, a new mythos. The thing is, anyone can write a dystopian story. It's a part of our psychological makeup. But how many can make 'heaven' interesting? Now, that's a skillful writer. Banks starts with a premise that is already as ideal as any smoothly functioning society can get. If all your needs are catered to and you live your life in materialistic abandon, indulging in whatever fancy takes you, then what? There's nothing interesting about that. Banks makes it interesting.

They both offer different things and I love both authors. Where Banks is a little special is the vision - a supremely optimistic vision despite most of his stories being very dark. Most futures are usually Dystopian from a lesser to a greater degree. His is almost Utopian (as realistic as one can get in a fantasy).

Neal Asher is neither as good a writer, nor are many of his concepts wholly unique. Like I said, he's borrowed a lot from both Reynolds and Banks, but where he excels is over-the-top, blistering, "balls-to-the-walls", no nonsense action. His Polity is modeled a bit on Banks' Culture (if you can imagine Banks' society at it's very early stages, before it becomes anything really recognisable as the Culture), but he takes a 180 degree turn from Banks and shows a very heavy handedness in the political control of his society (Banks' society is quite anarchic - no laws, no money, "just good manners"). He also focuses a lot more on high-tech gadgets, descriptions that can be very splatter-/gore-prone (can be fun), some of the best, most dangerous fauna you can imagine and insane death counts. Reading Neal Asher is a blast!

EDIT: As for the specific point of reading "Galactic North" before the second book in the trilogy, that also works. Clavain enters the trilogy only in the second book. But you can also read it before the first. Up to you.
 
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ofer

Journeyed there and back again
#50
Finished Leviathan Wakes by James Corey (Aka Daniel Abraham) which was a fun, highly enjoyable read - action-packed and well-written. The pace was relentless - things just kept on happening throughout the entire book. Now that I read it I'm not surprised that it's being turned into a TV series - I swear that I could practically hear someone shouting "Action" at the beginning of most chapters.
 

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#51
Finished Leviathan Wakes by James Corey (Aka Daniel Abraham) which was a fun, highly enjoyable read - action-packed and well-written. The pace was relentless - things just kept on happening throughout the entire book. Now that I read it I'm not surprised that it's being turned into a TV series - I swear that I could practically hear someone shouting "Action" at the beginning of most chapters.
I liked the action in "Leviathan Wakes", too, but I've been a little hesitant picking up the sequel (even though I bought the first three books together) because it seems to focus on Holden, and I didn't feel much sympathy for him. When I do get around to it, I hope there will be other characters I liked as much as Miller. I am looking forward to the TV show.
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#52
I liked the action in "Leviathan Wakes", too, but I've been a little hesitant picking up the sequel (even though I bought the first three books together) because it seems to focus on Holden, and I didn't feel much sympathy for him. When I do get around to it, I hope there will be other characters I liked as much as Miller. I am looking forward to the TV show.
You'll meet Bobbie - one of my favourite characters in the series. She's basically a hard-ass marine type, with a great go-getter attitude!

I'm getting quite excited about Nemesis Games, that should be winging it's way into my kindle in the next few days! I didn't see the point of the 4th book, it didn't particularly add to the first three (which could quite easily be viewed as a standalone trilogy), but it was still great, and I'm expecting much of the same with NG.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#53
Ah, a Reynolds convert. Excellent!

There is no regarded best, I think. I've come across too many people with too many different favourites to come to any leading consensus. I love all his books and pretty much all his short stories, too. The only books of his I haven't gotten to yet is the current trilogy (the last book is supposed to come out anytime now) and a stand-alone, "Century Rain", that I kind of avoided because I thought it was an alternate history type novel (which I'm not a huge fan of). I'll have to get around to it. The last novel in the "Revelation Space" trilogy is probably his weakest. To some extent, "Terminal World", too.

If you want to try out his Revelation Space books, then you have quite a few options. First off, he wrote his trilogy in such a way so that you can pick up any of the three novels first (even though the stories are not just thematically linked, but make up one cohesive tale) - I think the best starting points would be either the first or the second volumes (I know, for most fantasy readers this is unusual since the majority of trilogies are to be read in a strictly chronological order - though Dave Duncan also does this with his first three King's Blades books...sort of). Then you have his two independent RS novels, "Chasm City" and the "The Prefect". You can start with either one of these, too. CC is a convoluted noir tale and TP is sort of a hard-boiled detective story set during the 'golden age' of the Yellowstone civilisation before the onset of the Melding Plague that is a core feature of the other RS books, the trilogy and CC, and makes them quite dystopian. And finally there is the collection of RS-related short stories in his collection "Galactic North". I think GN is probably an excellent place to start because the various stories give background information on the RS-setting, specifically on the schism between the Conjoiner and Demarchist societies and also other, various aspects. He wrote some of these stories before the trilogy, I believe. The most important story in there is 'The Great Wall of Mars', which also introduces Clavain, a central [badass] character (strategist AND tactician) in the second and third volumes of the RS trilogy.

My personal favourites...hmm...I'd have to say a toss up between "House of Suns" and "Pushing Ice" and "Chasm City" depending on my mood. But I like them all. Reynolds is definitely one of my favourites. He writes very smart books and while his ideas are seriously far out, I love that he mostly stays grounded with his characters and science. How did you come across Alastair Reynolds?

EDIT: Three of my favourite characters that Reynolds has created all appear in the RS trilogy.
Boreas, I bought Galactic North per your comments and am loving it. I've tried a couple times to read Revelation Space but it didn't move at the pace I liked, but after I'm done with GN I'll be picking it up again knowing what's going on and I'm sure it will be a totally different read this time. So thanks for all the info and a solid gold rec of Galactic North. This brings so many new books to read in sci-fi.
 

Axcellence

A farm boy with a sword
#54
More of a 2015 than may -

I finished the gentleman thief series (not to be confused with gentleman bastards by scott lynch).

The author is Hannu Rajaniemi and story is set in a post human world. Ultra complex world setting - reminds me of Hyperion.

It took me halfway to the first book to make sense of what the hell was going on.

But overall, the 3 book series ended up neatly.

Overall, it was good, albeit it it was a very unconventional ending - to go with a very unconventional setting.