recommend me some books

I'm out of books to read. Please recommend something.

I pretty much only read science fiction, because I'm intellectual like that.

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77 Responses:

  1. nategodin says:

    There's a really good local author up here in Bangor, lives in a nice house over on West Broadway... maybe you've heard of Stephen King? He's best known for his horror novels, but I think some of his best books have more of a post-apocalyptic science fiction feel to them. I'd highly recommend The Stand and Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger.

    • g_na says:

      I'm not a fan at all of Stephen King. I do, however, really like Clive Barker. (I've been told that people either like one author or the other, but not both.) Barker's short stories, while not SciFi, are *excellent* horror stories. He has a lot of unique ideas, and the plots twist and turn and leave you someplace you never would have expected.

      Anyway, lemme know if you'd like to borrow something.

  2. vordark says:

    You've probably already read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, but if not your life is incomplete.

    Also Lightening by Dean Koontz is good in a mainstream sort of way. Non-traditional take on time travel with an interesting idea regarding destiny. Time has an inertia and all that.

  3. kju says:

    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.

    • ivorjawa says:

      I just inhaled two that I really, really liked.

      The first is "The Cabinet of Curiosities", by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, the writing team behind "The Relic". It's about a serial killer who has apparently been in operation for 130 years, in New York City. Lots of nifty science and archeaology.
      I haven't read a single Preston and Child book that I've disliked. They're always very intelligently written, with some kind of scientists or engineers as the protagonists.

      The second is "Hominids", by Robert Sawyer. It involves a parallel universe in which Neanderthals became the only surviving human species, and a Neanderthal physicist who is transported to our world during a quantum computing experiment gone awry. I read about this one in a Slashdot book review in June, put it on my wishlist, and finally got it a few days ago. I was absolutely enthralled, I snarfed it in two days.

  4. ladysisyphus says:

    It's out of print, but if you can get your hands on Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel R. Delaney, go for it; you can find it sometimes in used booksellers' places, or online through Amazon's used book sellers. This one's particularly good if you're in the mood for some serious genderfuck.

    And, yeah, anything by Neil Stephenson is worth a read.

  5. jerronimo says:

    not quite science fiction but...

    Carl Sagan - "Pale Blue Dot"
    Richard Feynman - "Surely you're joking"

    and for a more philosophical aspect;
    Julian Jaynes - "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind"

  6. pjammer says:

    You've probably already heard of them, but my faves:

    The Forever War - Don't know the author

    Pastwatch - low-profile but extremely thought-provoking speculative fiction by scifi legend Orson Scott Card

    • amcmillan says:

      The Forever War - Don't know the author

      Joe Haldeman. Read it a few years ago when it was re-released in the UK as part of the SF Masterworks series. Very good.

      Also Greg Bear's "Darwin's Radio". Just finished it and highly recommend it.

    • kalischild says:

      The author's name is Joeseph Hadleman.

      There's a semi-sequel to it called 'Forever Peace'. It isn't as good, but it's still worth a read.

  7. badger says:

    I'm going to limit my recommendations to a) authors and works I think are very good, and b) that for one reason or another are rare/uncommon/obscure enough almost no one I ever mention them to has ever heard of them, and I think that should be different :).
    1) Daniel Keys Moran's Continuing Time stories: _Emerald Eyes_, _The Long Run_, _The Last Dancer_, etc.
    2) John Barnes: _Mother of Storms_, _Orbital Resonance_, _A Million Open Doors_ and its sequel _Earth Made of Glass_, and his grimmsfairytales re/deconstruction _One for the Morning Glory_.
    3) Jack Womack's dystopian Ambient stories: _Ambient_, _Terraplane_, _Heathern_, _Elvissey_.
    4) M.A. Foster: his stuff's all out of print these days but findable (DAW paperbacks). _The Gameplayers of Zan_ & 2 sequels, _The Morphodite_ & 2 more sequels, his novella collection _Owl Time_ and a standalone novel _Waves_.

    • cadmus says:

      I second Moran and Womack though Moran's work is hard to find.

      • badger says:

        I have a tendency to pick up Moran's stuff in used bookstores so I can loan/give it out to people, if they ever come back into print I'll be able to stop :). And if you think Moran's hard to find, I have to do the same with M.A. Foster's work too.

  8. chrisg says:

    Anything by Ben Bova or Stephen Baxter. Both are great writers, if you like hard sci-fi (but not too crazy). Baxter tends to get a little weird at the end of most of his books, but that's fine.

    I'm currently reading The Rock Rats by Bova, the second part in a series - The Precipice being the first. Both are in the same universe as Moonrise, Moonwar, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn (the books I've read have all been great). Mars and Return to Mars are also good, but I can't remember if they are in the same universe or not.

    Philip José Farmer's Riverworld series is pretty good as well.

  9. j_v_lynch says:

    Only Forward -- Michale Marshal Smith
    The Land of Laughs -- Jonathan Carroll (more speculative than science but really really good)
    The Eyre Affair -- Jasper Fforde
    Strata -- Terry Pratchett
    In the Garden of Iden -- Kage Baker

    So, will you review the ones you choose to read?

  10. communista says:

    Richard Preston's The Cobra Event which is about bioterrorism in New York. Fiction, but damn near plausible enough to happen. Preston also wrote The Hot Zone which I also read, about 6 years ago. Both great books, but the former is much better.

    Then there's Speed Tribes by Karl Taro Greenfield. There's not much of a 'plot' per se, however I believe it is non-fiction. It deals with different areas of Japan's modern culture such as the Otaku. Great book.

    Both books were very hard to put down.

  11. psymbiotic says:

    Ender's Shadow was a good read (especially if you enjoyed Ender's Game). Also Armor by John Steakley (it's a bit of an old one, but enjoyable none the less). Last, I'd recommend Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

    Egan >:>

  12. andrewducker says:

    Roger Zelazny's "Lord of Light" Absolute Classic.

  13. Have you read anything by Cordwainer Smith, Henry Kuttner or Murray Leinster? I can lend you some interesting hard to find books if you'd like.

    I kind of interested in what your reading list is. Why don't you write about it?

    Best Sci-Fi You Haven't Read Part I or Psywarrior

    Best Sci-fi You Haven't Read Part II or Yes, Virginia There Is Synergy

    Best Sci-fi You Haven't Read Part III or Call Time Police - We've Got a Time Traveler

    From modern stuff I highly recommend "The Golden Age" by John C. Wright.

  14. confuseme says:

    Have you read everything by Stanislaw Lem? The Cyberiad and The Futurological Congress were both really great.

    What about Jeff Noon? Vurt is the first one.

    I think the last vaguely science fiction book I read was Bellwether by Connie Willis, which was pretty fun.

    I'm looking forward to finding time for Cory Doctorow's novel, and William Gibson's new one. I've also heard good reviews of Rudy Rucker's latest, so I'll probably get to that at some point.

  15. greyhame says:

    I realize you said you mostly only read science fiction, but I'm going to go out on a limb and recommend some good books anyway.

    If you haven't already read them:

    Less well known but equally worth reading:

    • king_mob says:

      He could also read Dead Babies by Martin Amis, which would technically be science fiction. It's not his best work(I like Money and London Fields), but it has the best literary description of a hangover ever.

  16. iamblue says:

    Best sci-fi I have ever read is Hyperion and it's sequel, Fall of Hyperion. They will literally blow you away. I highly recommend them if you haven't read them already.

  17. sbisson says:

    Take your pick from this lot:

    I'm reviewing every bit of fiction I read. But seeing as you know Cory, you should probably look out for some of Charlie Stross' stuff.

  18. kyronfive says:

    the man in the high castle -philip k dick.
    vurt - jeff noon.

    ...if you haven't read either.

  19. cadmus says:

    Any of Bruce Sterling's novels in recent years. I'm partial to "Distraction" and "Holy Fire."

    Most of the other good stuff coming out is from the U.K. Alastair Reynold's "Revelation Space" and its (sort of) sequels, especially "Chasm City" are quite good. Ken MacLeod's "The Stone Canal", "Cassini Division" and books from his first weirdly interconnected series are quite good. John Meaney (another Brit) wrote "Paradox" and has a couple of other good novels.

    From the Australian front, check out Greg Egan's books. I'm partial to "Schild's Ladder" and "Diaspora."

  20. inoshiro says:

    Peter F. Hamilton who wrote the Night's Dawn Trilogy, as well as many other great SF reads. His books are also of decent length (the trlilogy is 3,000 pages; most books of his are ~500 pages).

    Another good author is Charles Sheffield, who of cancer died recently. "Borderlands of Science" while not being SF per se, is very a rational book about what science can and can't do for aspiring authors and other people interested in science. His other works (Godspeed, The Compleat McAndrew, Proteus in the Underworld, My Brother's Keeper -- all read on a trip last year) are also excellent :)

    Then there's Greg Egan, a computer programmer/sci-fi author. I draw my nickname from one of the characters in Diasporo which talks of humanity spreading through the stars in many different, non-biological ways.

  21. injector says:

    William Gibson's new book, Pattern Recognition, will be out in February.

  22. ciphergoth says:

    I'm partial to Greg Egan. Mostly, his books are just about ideas, but with Teranesia, he discovered characterisation. All of them are quite brain-bending. There are samples on his web site:

  23. king_mob says:

    I must plug my friends.

    Nalo Hopkinson(actually a friend of a friend) writes odd, cool Carribean-themed science fiction. Her stuff is mostly in print and easy to find; I recommend starting with Midnight Robber. She was shortlisted for the Hugo two years ago, and was denied only by Harry Potter.

    Gary Braunbeck writes mostly horror, and hasn't had the kind of attention he deserves. Which I suppose is why his brilliant, disturbing novel The Indifference of Heaven has been so ill-distributed, but you can get copies directly from the publisher. (He, or rather his agent, is in negotiation about a mass-market paperback release.) Yes, it's worth the trouble. He's also done some work-for-hire series novels; they're entertaining enough, but I doubt you'd care for them.

    Moving on to people I didn't help move last week, I think the Titan series by John Varley is very underrated and great fun. Also, I know you've talked about the Ringworld books, but have you ever read The Mote In God's Eye by Niven and Pournelle? I thought that was great.

  24. eqe says:

    If you haven't read Stanislaw Lem, it's highly recommended. Solaris is mostly psychological, while his other books tend to be more rollicking and futuristic. (The new movie Solaris is pretty damn good, too.)

    Presumably you've already read everything by Iain Banks and Vernor Vinge; if not, every word they've published is great. (Vinge has a new short story collection out last summer with a bunch of material I hadn't seen.) Banks publishes genre science fiction under the name "Iain M. Banks" and more mainstream fiction under the name "Iain Banks", but in my opinion all his work is interesting. (I came to the genre stuff first then expanded to the mainstream; The Business is one of the more entertaining of his mainstream works.) For a prime Banks experience, start with Excession then read Player of Games, Look to Windward, and Consider Phlebas.

    Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace is not precisely science fiction, and it's in large part insufferable, but I still enjoyed reading it.

    You might note a definite lack of cyberpunk in the above commentary. This makes me sad. Isn't there anyone out there writing in the vein of Neuromancer and Snow Crash? I certainly can't find anyone.

  25. chanson says:

    Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson.

    Queen City Jazz, Mississippi Blues, Crescent City Rhapsody, and Light Music by Kathleen Ann Goonan.

    Lots of stuff by Stephen Baxter, both his Manifold series and his earlier stuff. I'm partial to Ring and Timelike Infinity. Are you a friend of Eugene W.?

    Michael Flynn, Firestar, Rogue Star, Lode Star, and Falling Stars. A little bit of cheesy libertarian wish-fulfillment, but fun.

    You might get a kick out of the Wizardry series by Rick Cook.

  26. fresch says:

    henry de montherlant's novels...

  27. jette says:

    Rebecca Ore, Gaia's Toys

    Most anything by Octavia Butler.

  28. thesliver says:

    If you haven't read everything by Robert Sheckley, then find something you haven't and read that. There's a five book edition of his science fiction short stories. I have the 5 volume collection but not the 300 limited signed edition, I have the limited unsigned edition in paperback, I pretend that they'll be more valuable in 2056.

    Also, Samuel R. Delany, particularly Dhalgren.
    If you're in the mood for 50's paranoia then Phillip K. Dick's collected short stories, in I think 3 volumes.

    This drifts more into fantasy but the first two novels by China Mieville are worthwhile.

  29. susano_otter says:

    Iain M. Banks (any of the Culture novels, also Feersum Endjinn--that'll get you started, anyway)
    Jeff Noon (Vurt, but also Nymphomation)
    Jonathan Lethem (Gun, With Occasional Music)
    David Weber (the Honor Harrington series, but I hear all his stuff is good)
    Bernard Cornwell (lots of fun technological porn about the science of 19th-century warfighting)

    • baconmonkey says:

      Iain M. Banks (any of the Culture novels, also Feersum Endjinn--that'll get you started, anyway)

      I love Banks, but do NOT, under any circumstances, start out with "Feersum Endjin". you will want to stab out your brains with an icepick. it's a great book, but a very difficult read because half of the book is a first person perspective from someone who is a bit... wrong in the head, and those sections are all written phonetically - from the standpoint of the wrong-int-the-head kid.

      Start with:
      The Wasp Factory or Excession, Consider Phleabas or The Player of Games.

      I have all those, and could bring one with me tonight to psypulcre at Studio Z.

  30. hfx_ben says:

    All Consuming is right up to speed. Let us know what you find!

  31. caged_admin says:

    Pretty much everything I've read by James Alan Gardner has been great. His work is funny and captivating, and I hadn't heard of him before I picked up one of his books at a we-have-more-books-than-we-need library sale. So far, I've read:


    All five are set in the same universe, but only two (Expendable, Ascending) relate to each other in any especially large way. I haven't read Commitment Hour yet, but my fiancee reports that it started off by annoying her with heavily two-dimensional characters. She further reports that the two-dimensional characters later turned out to be 3-D characters after all, and she enjoyed the book quite a bit.

  32. fieldsnyc says:

    Third vote for Hyperion. Good stuff.

    Also, I think you'll really like the Gap series by Stephen Donaldson. The first one is "The Real Story". This is solid, dark sf with very deep characterizations and a very tight plot. Damn, now I have to go dig my copy out and read it again.

    There's a detailed review here (with minor spoilers):

    Or you could just trust me. It's short, but you'll want to read the next four as well.

  33. phreddiva says:

    Confederacy of Dunces.
    Not sci-fi, but quite good & I've just finished it so I'm enthusiastic.

  34. atakra says:

    Brian Lumley's "Necroscope" series was entertaining on the sci-fi front.

    In the "It might be true" category...
    "Please Kill Me"
    "Lexicon Devil: the Life and Times of Darby Crash"
    "We've got the Neutron Bomb"

  35. andr00 says:

    It is sci-fi "steampunk": Perdido Street Station by China Mieville.
    It can also be considered fantasy, but I promise there's no elves or dwarves in it. I'd go out of my way to recommend this book, and I'm not usually the recommendy kind of guy. Best book I read last year.

  36. waider says:

    Seconding, thirding or fourthing other posts:

    I've not yet read an Iain M. Banks book I did't like.

    Jeff Noon is not of this earth, but his writing is, so that's good. Vurt, Nymphomation, Pixel Juice. Automated Alice is in another sphere entirely.

    I read Hyperion. I don't recall it being the world-changing book I see mentioned above, but it was definitely a good read. It obviously had some effect on me since I can still remember a principle character name from it despite it being a decade since I read it.

    Stephen Bury, being a nom de plume for Neal Stephenson and his uncle, is pretty good; think Stephenson's writing, but with actual endings to the stories as opposed to sudden stops. Obviously Stephenson gets a recommendation too, but the "Bury" novels (The Cobweb, Interface) are punchier.

    Greg Egan tends to rotate random parts of my brain through imaginary axes (the square root of minus one kind of imaginary). Mind-bending stuff, also very fun and entertaining.

    The only problems I've ever encountered with Rudy Rucker books is availability and the fact that my copy of White Light got lost in a pub excursion. Damn you, beer! Rudy's an interesting sort, being a mathematician and sometime geek who has collaborated with John Walker of Autodesk on some software stuff which you can find out more about on Fourmilab, where you'll also find a neat-o short story in the Sci-Fi section called The Message or similar.

    Michael Marshal Smith and Ken McLeod are both authors whose books I borrowed and felt I could have satisfactorily bought without feeling cheated. Spares and Only Forward by Smith, and I can't recall the title of McLeod's book. Hmm. That hardly commends it, does it?

    On no account should you even pick up "The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age" by Pekka Himanen. Even for the prologue by Linus Torvalds. It's terrible. Even "The Macdonaldization Of Society" is a better read, and that's saying a lot. Other books to avoid include Virtual Reality by Howard Rheingold (aside from the endless trivia you can get out of it) and A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius by Dave Eggers, which is like an overlong version of a joke that was only marginally funny the first time you heard it.

    • waider says:

      Oh yeah. Bruce Bethke's "Headcrash" is worth reading solely for the Star Trek pisstake in chapter two-ish, especially the deflation of said pisstake right at the end.

  37. firelegend says:

    Have you read this? - excelellent though I admit I havn't finished it yet. I have lots of books I very badly want to finish though.

  38. zackbishop says:

    I feel like I'd be taking a shot in the dark without knowing more about what you've enjoyed reading previously, or perhaps what you're hoping for (or trying to avoid) the next time you pick up a book.

    That having been said, I'm in agreement with several of the earlier postings. Iain Banks is one, although since you mentioned science fiction, look for "Iain M. Banks." He uses the middle initial for science fiction, and no middle initial for plain old fiction fiction. I've liked his work either way, though.

    Neal Stephenson has never disappointed me, and Quicksilver, his latest, should be out this Spring. The publisher swears that they really really mean it this time, and even went so far as to put the first chapter in the back of Cryptonomicon's mass-market edition. Stephenson, too, blurs the line between literature and science fiction. The novels he wrote as Stephen Bury were mentioned (Interface and The Cobweb), and I thought they were great. They're like what Tom Clancy-style technothrillers would all be in a perfect world: literate, innovative, witty, and slyly subversive.

    If someone were to ask you the same question, what would you recommend?

  39. cdr says:

    You should consider really old sci-fi... Frankenstein, Gulliver's Travels, that kind of thing. Frankenstein especially is very, very good.

  40. bitwise says:

    Easy way to pick science fiction books: keep a list of Nebula and Hugo award winners:

    Nebula winners
    2001 Catherine Asaro The Quantum Rose
    2000 Greg Bear, Darwin's Radio*
    1999 Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents
    1998 Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman*
    1997 The Moon and the Sun by Vonda McIntyre
    1996 Slow River by Nicola Griffith
    1995 The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer
    1994 Moving Mars by Greg Bear*
    1993 Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson*
    1992 Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

    Hugo winners:
    2000 A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge
    1999 To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
    1998 Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman*
    1997 Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
    1996 The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
    1995 Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
    1994 Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson* (sequel to Red Mars)
    1993 A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge*
    1993 Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
    1992 Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
    1991 The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold

    *My recommendations

  41. jwz says:

    That's a hell of a lot of responses! Here are some totally unstructured comments, as one big reply instead of a dozen one liners:

    • John Varley -- one of my favorite authors ever, ever, ever. I like the Titan series, but I think everything else he's done has been way better. "Steel Beach" and "The Golden Globe" are particularly brilliant.
    • Red Mars -- I fucking hate this book. It's just horrible. I'm almost done with it now, and the only reason I'm still reading it is that sometimes it helps me fall asleep, as it's as boring as reading licenses or material data sheets. I also read Antarctica, which I dissed here.
    • Hyperion -- I liked Hyperion a lot, but Fall of Hyperion did nothing for me, so I stopped there.
    • Bellwether -- absolutely great. Everything by Connie Willis is great. Especially liked "Doomsday Book" and "To Say Nothing of the Dog".
    • Stephen King -- as far as I can remember, I've never actually read one of King's novels, though I've read a bunch of his short stories in various places; they didn't do much for me, so the sheer size of his novels intimidated me away.
    • Clive Barker -- absolutely loved his early short stories (Books of Blood, Cabal, etc); didn't like his longer novels as much; when he switched to those weird magical/fantasy stories, I gave up.
    • Vernor Vinge -- love his stuff; I actually just picked up his recent short stories comp, but I haven't read it yet, mostly because it's a really big book, and thus hard to read in bed...
    • Brian Lumley -- I've never picked up any of his novels because he was a regular fixture with short stories in in Weird Tales magazine for a while, and I didn't really like them much. (Or maybe I have read his novels, but just can't remember them.)
    • Stephen Bury -- yes, good stuff!
    • Bruce Bethke -- "Headcrash" was amusing fluff; his next one wasn't very good (I realized after I'd bought it that it was actually some kind of video game tie-in, ugh.)
    • Greg Egan -- I've read "Quarantine", which was ok (not great); I think I've read something else by him, but I don't remember.
    • Riverworld -- loved it when I was 14. wonder if it stands up...
    • Forever War -- remember liking it a lot, but don't remember it very well any more
    • Mote in God's Eye -- read it long ago, remember liking it, barely remember it.
    • What about Kuttner, Cordwainer Smith and Leinster?

    • cryllius says:

      Greg Egan -- I've read "Quarantine", which was ok (not great); I think I've read something else by him, but I don't remember.

      That's exactly what I thought, but it was good enough for me to check out his other novels. Quarantine was one of his first, and he's improved considerably.

      It lead to Diaspora, which is my favorite book, period.

      Someone else mentioned his web page, and there are a few short stories available there -- Planck Dive is set in the same universe as Diaspora, although without having been introduced to it, the details might come a little fast and dense.

      In any case, if you liked Quarantine, I don't see how you can't love his more recent work. Schild's Ladder and Distress are both masterpieces as well. Distress in particular drastically one-ups Quarantine while still maintaining the same feel.

  42. billyjoeray says:

    Heres a few of the good sci-fi I've read in the past 12 months:

    Melissa Scott - Trouble And Her Friends
    Robert J. Sawyer - Calculating God
    China Mieville - Perdido Street Station
    Peter F. Hamilton - Fallen Dragon
    Greg Bear - Darwin's Radio

  43. moof says:

    Since nobody else has mentioned him yet: Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination, and The Demolished Man. Both are seminal to modern SF, and really really good.

    I'm also partial to Iain M Banks's Culture novels: Excession, The Player of Games, and Use of Weapons in particular.

  44. forthdude says:

    • "Inherit the Stars" - James P. Hogan
    • "Shockwave Rider" - John Brunner; Cyberpunk from 1975
    • "Ringworld" - Larry Niven

    Yeah, I realize those all a bit long in the tooth. But they're still very cool.

    An interesting retrocomputing flavored book is "The Victorian Internet" by Tom Standage. Talks about the telegraph system of the 1800's comparing it to the internet. They had "routers" (humans relaying messages to other lines), registered nicknames, crackers, etc.

    • injector says:

      Yes, indeed, Inherit the Stars, I've read everything James P. Hogan has written. The Giant's series (of which Inherit... is book one) are my favorites. He says on his site that he's working on a fifth book in the series.

      You should be able to find Inherit the Stars, The Gentle Giants of Ganymede, and Giants' Star together in one book called, The Giants Novels. Entoverse you'll probably have to get separately.

  45. novalis says:

    A few people have recommended Robert J. Sawyer. Beware: His religion (xtianity) leaks into everything he writes (at least, according to everyone I've talked to). If you don't like that, you might want to avoid him.

    I'm pasting from a list I've started, and adding notes:

    _The Sparrow_, by Mary Doria Russell
    Makes religious people more certain in their faith and atheists more certain
    in their unbelief
    Very painful
    Has a sequel, which asserts the existence of God (the first book leaves this open)

    _The Iron Dragon's Daughter_, by Michael Swanwick
    The whole book is one giant set-piece
    A fresh perspective on fantasy
    Very painful
    The ending is not as good as the rest of the book
    Readers are expected to already know the mechanics of Faerie
    (jwz: this is on the border of SF and fantasy)

    _Blindness_, by Jose Saramago
    Unusual writing style
    Too allegorical
    (jwz: this is only vaguely SF)

    _Ficciones_, by Jorge Luis Borges (short stories)
    Many stories are like science fiction without the fiction -- stories
    of pure idea
    Too short
    (jwz: this is only vaguely SF)

    _The Wasp Factory_, by Iain Banks
    Totally distrurbing
    Sometimes silly
    (jwz: this is only vaguely SF)

    _The Book Of The New Sun_, by Gene Wolfe

    Amazing world, Severian is fascinating.
    Wonderful style. "Almost I tumbled into an ocean of air"
    Tyrian, lazaret, bartizan, omophagist, .... I had to look up lots of
    words while reading it.

    I still don't understand it.
    (jwz: this is on the border between SF and fantasy)

    _Perdido Street Station_, by China Mie`ville
    Dark, gritty, realistic world
    Very cinematic
    Somewhat cheesy plot
    (jwz: this is on the border between SF and fantasy)
    The sort-of-sequel, The Scar, is just as good -- the plot is much better, but the main character is fairly unsympathetic.

    _Life During Wartime_, by Lucius Shepard
    Very disturbing
    Fascinating writing style
    Sometimes too clever

    Hm, clearly, I like books which hover between SF and fantasy. I think this is mostly because they're sui generis, while most SF and fantasy (and probably everything else) seems to be cast from a mold.

  46. poopsmoothie says:

    Spider Robinson is good for nice warm fuzzy SF.

  47. nerpdawg says:




  48. asperityq says:

    Your local public library probably subscribes to one of the popular reader advisory databases, NoveList or What Do I Read Next? Check their website for information about accessing them -- usually you don't need to be in the library to use them.

    My library uses NoveList, so it's what I'm most familiar with (I understand WDIRN has similar features.) Most recent books and a whole lot of older ones have all sorts of fun subject headings assigned to them. This allows you to search for, say, books most similar to a book you liked based on which aspects you thought were important. It's also got a lot of the good features of print reader advisory tools, like annotated lists of books organized by different themes and appeal elements. (You could try those, too; there's probably a whole table of them at your library, and they can be great fun to browse through. Ask your friendly neighborhood librarian which of them are most useful.)

  49. jcurious says:

    Yes.. it's out of print.. (look for it at your local used book store)... Ira Levin's "this perfect day"

  50. eqe says:

    Ah, one last suggestion -- Karl Schroeder's Permanence is a fine plot set in a very nice world with useful science, and even the politics mostly make sense. Highly recommended.

  51. osmosys says:

    hehe everyone's like: READ MY BOOK... no no READ MY book!

    no I want to be able to say to people that you liked MY book!

    God damn it! Read my book!


  52. tbye says:

    Orson Scott Card's Tales of Alvin Maker are pretty interesting. It's funny, every other one is only so so... but I read them to get on to the next one.

    He's obviously the Ender's Game author... Can't wait for the movie.

    But peculiarly decent for a contemporary book... The Lost Boys was different... which may be why I enjoyed it so much.

  53. bassfingers says:

    Matt Ruff's "Sewer Gas & Electric" and "Fool on the Hill" are great.
    "Glimpses" and "Slam" by Lewis Shiner

  54. If you like science fiction, a very interesting read is New Atlantis by Sir Francis Bacon. It is (arguably) the first science fiction novel written by one of the first people to articulate systematic theories about the scientific method. I've always been intrigued by the fact that science and science fiction started hand in hand ...


  55. mcneight says:

    "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Dystopian before dystopian was cool. Written in 1920, it's widely acknoledged as an influence on both "1984" and "Brave New World". Although he was a Bolshevik for many years prior to writing this, his bitter view of the of the Bolshevik Revolution is rampant, but not without humor. Look for his emotional poetry on the multiplication tables.

  56. shaver says:

    Anything by Robert Sawyer, with the possible exception of the Quintaglio trilogy (they're out of print, so you'd have to work at it). "Calculating God" is what gets most people hooked, but they're all pretty great.

    I enjoyed Tad Williams' "Otherland" series, though I wasn't blown away by it. David Brin's "Uplift" books are great.

  57. paul_191 says:

    John Varley's Gaea trilogy, voted best writer in America by Tom Clancy. If you are down for a completely mind-blowing experience that will stretch the outer boundaries of your imagination, I highly suggest reading Titan, Wizard and Demon.