Discussion in 'Discussions' started by Createx, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. Createx

    Createx Member

    Seeing as we have movies and music already and games are out of the question (I mean, there is only one answer to favourite game here ;)), we need a book topic.

    So, let's just share some favourite books that got you thinking/touched you/are just awesome!

    Snow Crash
    by Neal Stephenson. Yes, the guy who is trying to raise 500k for a motion controller :)
    I choose this because it makes you think about language, religion and technology. It's also a very good read, perfect pace, very funny and with good internal logic. Read if you have any interest in cyberpunk, religion, language or the internet, or if you like samurais. Hell, just read it.

    Perdido Street Station
    by China Mieville. Most impressive Steampunk with a lot of horror elements. Death, love, monsters, despair, steampunk and a wonderful world. I love the setting, the plot is more on the classical side. Also interesting for the political commentary that this has, but mostly a very good read.

    Economics are boring? Wrong. Helps you understand the world better and is super fun. If you like this kind of stuff, "Undercover Economist" is less humorous and more economics, and with a more economic world view :D

    Set This House In Order
    by Matt Ruff. Less anarchic than most of his other stuff, this is a tale about people with split personalities. Moving, funny and telling a good story, this is a mustread for anyone who remotely likes Matt Ruff or stories of different people in the normal world.

    by Sheri S. Tepper. This. I love this book, I really do. It's a family heirloom and falling apart, but oh god I love this book. Science Fiction at its best, with no technobabble (though I enjoy that as well :)), but a strange and alien world, and real humans tossed into it trying to figure out what the fuck is happening. I have read this book quite a few times and always find something new. The Family Tree by the same author is nearly as awesome.

    I could go on and on and on, if you like any of the above give me a call and I'll provide more in the same vein.
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  2. Mr_Strange

    Mr_Strange Member

    Second on Snow Crash! Loved that book.

    I've just recently read The Name of the Wind and it's sequel - The Wise Man's Fear. Astoundingly good, though it might be good to wait for the third, because the suspense is KILLING ME!

    A classic you can find most anywhere is the Science Fiction hall of fame. When SF authors started voting on Nebula awards for the best stories of each year, they put this collection together of all the best SF stories written to that date. It's pretty awesome, and includes my favorite short story of all time "Microcosmic God"

    If you're a serious reader, Riddley Walker by Russel Hoban is a fantastic book. It's written in about 20% made-up language, which is introduced slowly. The premise... would be a spoiler. A hard read, but really cool.

    And my favorite book of all time? Titus Groan - by Mervyn Peake. The richest English language book ever. I can only read a few pages a day - because it only takes a few pages to exhaust and thrill me. If you enjoy reading Ulysses, you should check this one out. Not for the timid!

    Another really good one-shot is the Masters of Solitude - co-authored by Peake Goodwin and Marvin Kaye.
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  3. LionsDen

    LionsDen Member

    I really like Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. It's a real fun read. It's a paranormal/vampire/were(whatever) series.

    I also really like Honor Harrington series by David Weber. It's a space opera with a lot of battles.
  4. Createx

    Createx Member

    Oh, the Name of the Wind. I thoroughly loved the first one and the second one was great too, but it ...ambled along. It went nowhere. It's a fantastic book and Rothfuss can write, but please get some line into it!
    I've shied away from really hard reads until now, I've made the transition from SciFi and Fantasy to stuff without that only a year or so ago, but I'm slowly working myself up to hard literature :p
  5. TheJadedMieu

    TheJadedMieu Member

    For a lighthearted read, I recommend Mogworld by famous Internet guy Yahtzee Croshaw.
  6. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I loved the beginning of Snow Crash, but I think it devolved into something a lot more conventional towards the middle and end of the book, so I found it kind of disappointing after all.

    Some of my favorite all-time books are the following:
    1. Hyperion series (collected in "Hyperion Cantos" by Dan Simmons -- I read the books as they came out. The first book in the series, "Hyperion" is kind of like "Canterbury Tales" -- several people are on a pilgrimage and they each have a story to tell. The stories turn out to be linked in various ways. The series develops in a way that keeps pulling the rug out from under you as you progress through the books. Also, it contains one of the scariest creatures ever invented in a science fiction novel, "The Shrike", a creature who seems to appear out of nowhere, moves with incredible speed, kills without apparent purpose, and is capable of time travel, so that he can appear simultaneously in many places at once.

    2. "Blood Music" by Greg Bear -- It starts with kind of a science fiction cliche where a scientist who's research project is shut down, decides to continue his research on his own outside of the lab. But it's a lot more than that. It's kind of like "Childhood's End" in a way, but better, yet very disturbing at the same time.

    3. "A Fire upon the Deep" and "A Deepness in the Sky" by Vernor Vinge -- if you like space opera and hard science fiction, these combines the two. There's a third novel out now also which I have not yet read: "The Children of the Sky" so I cannot say yet if it's as good as the previous two books.

    4. David Brin's Uplift series (particularly "Sundiver", "Startide Rising" and "The Uplift War" (I like the following books in the series, but these are the best of them). "The Postman" (not part of that series) is also a pretty good book, though with a not so great ending (much much much better than the movie, btw).

    5. Riverworld series by Phillip Jose Farmer (primarily "To your Scattered Bodies Go", and "The Fabulous Riverboat") -- you may have seen the various dramatizations of the series done for television -- they were not at all faithful to the books which were primarily about Sir Richard Burton (the explorer, not the actor) and Samuel Clemmens. The later books were not as good, but the first two are classics.

    6. The second Ender book "Speaker for the Dead" by Orson Scott Card. The first book is very good as well, but at some point Card decided to use a more democratic method of writing, having, and that clearly ruined the third book "Xenocide" which was bad enough to put me off the rest of the series. But "Speaker for the Dead" is one of my favorite all-time Science Fiction novels. "Ender's Game" is good, but I think it's not nearly as good as some Card disciples believe it to be. I'm probably one of the few people who feels that Speaker for the Dead" should have ended the Ender series.

    Card also wrote one other masterpiece, imho, "Lost Boys" (no relation to the movie of the same name).

    7. "The Mote in God's Eye" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle -- Niven alone, and with his frequent collaborator, Mr. Pournelle, has written many excellent novels and short stories, and this happens to be one of my favorites of his. The sequel, "The Gripping Hand" is not especially good, though. It's space opera with some hard science fiction mixed in, about human's first contact with a most unusual alien race with a rather extreme problem, something which us humans know something about but not to the ridiculous extremes that the Moties experience it. Niven has probably created some of the best aliens in any science fiction ever (though Brin is pretty good as well).

    Other Niven and Niven/Pournelle books to look for include: "Protector", "Ringworld", "Ringworld Engineers", "World of Ptavvs", "Tales of Known Space", "Neutron Star", "Lucifer's Hammer", etc.

    8. Wild Cards series edited by George R. R. Martin -- years ago, there was a fad in science fiction and fantasy writing known as the 'shared' universe, where many different authors would contribute novels and/or stories that took place within the same universe as all the other stories and novels. Wild Cards happens to be the only one which has survived to the present day, mostly because of the quality of the writing, but also because George R. R. Martin's guardianship and overarching control.

    The first three books in the series are classics and form a trilogy: "Wild Cards". "Aces High", and "Jokers Wild", but you really ought to keep reading, at least the next three books).

    The premise of the books is that it is an alternate history of the U.S. and the world, where in 1946, an alien virus is unleashed on earth that rewrites human DNA. For 90% of those infected, the virus is deadly. Of those not killed outright, 90% are deformed in some way. And if you beat those odds, you may gain some unusual ability. It's called the Wild Card virus because it affects each person in a different way.

    People who gain superhuman abilities from the virus become known as 'Aces'. Those who are deformed become known as "Jokers", and if you die from the virus, it is known as "Drawing the Black Queen".

    Writers in the series have included Roger Zelazny, Melinda Snodgrass, and of course, Martin himself.

    9. "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman -- I've liked Neil Gaiman since he wrote the Sandman series, but who knew that he could write a great novel? Well certainly I suspected...

    Imho, this is the best thing that Gaiman has ever written, and that's saying a lot, considering Sandman. His other novels are worth reading as well, but this one is clearly heads and shoulders above the rest.
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  7. Lorrelian

    Lorrelian Member

    This is tough for me because, as a writer, I read constantly. Yet, by the same token, I've become more and more jaded, and am no longer greatly impressed by most of what I read. I enjoy it, yeah, but not as much sticks in my mind. I think I'd recommend books based on the following strong suits.

    World Building -

    Runner Up - Into The Storm and the rest of the Destroyermen series, by Taylor Anderson - These are books about two "four stacker" destroyers, built in 1918 and serving in the Asiatic Fleet at the opening of World War II. During the Battle of the Java Sea, USSWalker (DD-163) and USS Mahan (DD-102) and IJN Amagi clash in the midst of a strange rainstorm. The US destroyers, hoping to shelter in the storm and evade the cruiser's guns, sink torpedoes into the Japanese cruiser and run.

    They emerge from the rain in a world where dinosaurs still rule the earth.

    In addition to being well thought out, Anderson draws heavily on reality. He's a forensic ballistics expert, a civil war reenactor and a bunch of other things, so he knows his guns and his machines. Perhaps more impressive, the Walker, the Mahan, the Amagi, and the handful of other ships that make the transition from one world to another over the course of the story are all actual ships. In the case of the three "core" ships that make the first transition, ships that were scrapped before the war started, which Anderson has given fictional histories and crews.

    Anderson's one weakness, rampant in alternate history and military sci-fi authors, is a tendency to ramble for pages about authentic but boring minutia that is only interesting to the true enthusiast. A direct contrast to...

    Best I've Seen - Night Train to Rigel and the rest of the Quadrail series, by Timothy Zahn - OK, if you're like most sci-fi fans you hear that name and immediately think of Star Wars. It's true, far and away his most successful works were written for that franchise. But there's a lot more to him than that, and the Quadrail series proves it. (So does the Cobra series, but that's a little more dated. Because trains in space is totally not dated.)

    The real reason to read Zahn is for the complex plots and believable aliens. Some sci-fi writers subscribe to the school that aliens should be actually alien, acting and behaving in zany ways just 'cause they're aliens. Zahn isn't one of them.

    All his alien species have recognizable social structures, habits, etiquette, ect, all of which the reader is slowly introduced to as it becomes relevant. Example - Bellidos are giant chipmunks. Chipmunks that believe carrying a handgun is the best way to show your social status. Not important? Carry a single semi-automatic. Really important? Carry four fully automatic guns, even though you only have two arms. Except no one tells the reader that, you simply watch the main character identify people based on such minor factors.

    Add in a precarious political situation and a method of interstellar transit that makes open warfare between races impossible and a growing menace that the protagonist doesn't even know exists, and you have one crackerjack setting, explained to you not in huge text dumps (outside of the very biggest conceits, like the Quadrail itself) but little hints scattered here and there. It's good stuff.

    Character Development -

    Runner Up - Madhouse, by Rob Thurman - Caliban Leandros is twisted, pragmatic and selfish, but its fun to watch him being twisted, pragmatic and selfish. And, in spite of how cliched and one dimensional he could easily become, Thurman has managed to keep his character evolving and growing over a considerable number of books. That said, his epic clash against fellow madman Sawney Bean really shows him at his most dynamic. Note that Madhouse isn't the first book in the series, and its worth it to read the first two if you're going to read Madhouse for the plot, or just Nightlife if you want to understand Cal's character arc.

    Best I've Seen - Irredeemable, by Mark Waid - Do comic books count? Because this series is frankly amazing. Just. Freaking. Amazing. The characters grow and surprise you, turning into things you really weren't expecting but totally understand, while trying to adapt to impossible circumstances.

    I can't really say any more about this series without wasting hours of everyone's time, so I'll leave it be.

    Satire -

    The Court of the Air, by Stephen Hunt - I'm not a real fan of satire, and I really feel this is the only good one I've read. Maybe because it's a Steampunk satire of British politics, and it has Lovecraftian overtones.

    Yeah, I think that makes it about 77% better than most satires all on its own.

    But it's also got action, a rip-roaring pace that makes it seem much shorter than it actually is (really long) and characters that are fun, sympathetic and believable. Oh, and Jared Black? Watch that man. He's pretty cool.

    Epic (this genre to be acknowledged by Libraries everywhere soon) -

    Runner Up - Whitechapel Gods, by S.M. Peters - For starters, look at that cover art:
    Add in deities like Mamma Engine and Grandfather Clock imprisoning an entire district of London under their sway, and quotes from the Summa Machina, telling you things about them, like, "I know not how many worlds they have ravaged and left empty. I know only that they are machines. And machines are designed to do one thing, over and over again."

    Season with underground resistance leaders, hookers with hearts of gold and cyberpunk battles of pure thought to taste.

    Oh, and did I mention John Scared? His last name is totally epic all by itself.

    Other Runner Up - The Troy Rising series, by John Ringo - It has a space station that's nearly ten miles wide. How is that not epic?

    Best I've Seen - Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, by James D. Hornfischer - The only nonfiction book on this list.

    The Battle of Leyte Gulf (23-26 October, 1944) was the largest in history, in terms of ocean covered and ships, personnel and tonnage involved. It took four days and saw the death of one of the largest warships ever built, IJN Musashi. It's frequently divided into five or more separate naval battles when analyzed, and was the first recorded use of Kamikaze attacks.

    Out of the 96 hours of off-and-on combat, three hours stand out.

    On 25 October, a miscommunication allowed one of the largest surface fleets in history to approach the Gulf from the north, threatening to destroy MacArthur's transports and shell his invasion force unopposed. The only naval forces between the Japanese and the Gulf was a tiny group of destroyers and carriers, too slow to run and optimized for anti-submarine and close ground support missions. The combined tonnage of the American forces was barely the equal of IJN Yamato, which was leading the Japanese fleet. And there were twenty two other ships to back it up.

    Admiral Sprauge and his men fought the Japanese and became heroes in the only way men really can. By dying.

    And winning.

    Oddly enough, this is the only book I've seen dedicated to telling their story. And that alone makes it worth reading.
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  8. Createx

    Createx Member

    I'm not a huge fan of Simmons, he has fun ideas, but the execution tends to be flawed and he's pretty predictable mostly, at least what I have read of his. That is Drood and the Ilium-series.

    Vernor Vinge is definitely one of my all-time favourites in hard fiction, he also wrote a decent cyberpunk (kinda) novel called "Rainbow's End". I heard Sky Children or whatever it is called is pretty bad and people suspect he didn't even write it himself. It's an adventure novel set on the Tine's World, no SciFi at all afaik.

    I've read one book by David Brin which was Copy, wonderful idea, flawed execution. Predictable, too action centric and he doesn't build on the idea enough, it's just a plot device.

    I definitely want to check out Wild Cards, sounds good :)

    I'll try to give the rest a shot once I get ordering used books from the US sorted out :)
    Thanks for extending my library, there is a lot to read here and I still want more!
    I read way to fast, books in English (not my mother tongue) usually take me a few hours to finish at most. It's super annoying.
  9. OmniaNigrum

    OmniaNigrum Member

    Any and all books written by Hunter Thompson are excellent.

    Most if not all of them have been revised by people other than himself though. He had the policy that errors made while writing should be left in. His editors disagreed strongly.

    Chuck Palahnuik is a good writer as well. But some hate his books because they are "Depressing" and such.
  10. Warlock

    Warlock Member

    Everything by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson after him), George R.R. Martin, Tolkien, and his ilk. I enjoy fantasy, and I'm also partial to historical fiction like what Wilbur Smith wrote, plus Paul Doherty's books and others in that category.

    I love reading. I read anything I can get my hands on. If I like a book, I often read it through from cover to cover at a single sitting. We have somewhere around 50,000 or so books in our house piled up all over the place, not counting comics and the like. Our family are VORACIOUS readers. The only things we don't like reading are school books. I'll also let in that I never liked to read my designated textbooks either at one point of my medical education, but they got interesting too along the line (seriously, when you have to memorize umpteen things on a single page, interesting books can become very boring very fast.) I looked forward to the morning and evening lab sessions the most in any day. The three hours of lectures in the afternoon and mid-morning? not so much. I perfected the art of sleeping with my eyes open during the most boring ones, in addition.

    Back on topic: I really adore reading, if you haven't figured that out by now. :)
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  11. klaymen_sk

    klaymen_sk Member

    I'm seconding Warlock's mention of Martin and Tolkien.
    And I am really enjoying Pratchett's Discworld books, even though the English sometimes causes me problems (non-native speaker and all that stuff). Some of them are weaker in my opinion, but they are excellent anyways.
    Other than that I like the Horus Heresy series, though it is about a specific setting (Warhammer 40k) and therefore it may not be for everybody.
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  12. OmniaNigrum

    OmniaNigrum Member

    Tolkien is hit and miss. Some of the books are great. Then there is The Silmarillion... Yuck.
  13. Warlock

    Warlock Member

    In Tolkien's defense, it wasn't quite finished when he died; wasn't it Chris Tolkien who compiled JRR's notes to make the Sillibillion, oops, the Silmarillion?
  14. OmniaNigrum

    OmniaNigrum Member

    Yep. His son finished it. I wish I never read it. There is actually quite a bit of doubt that Tolkien intended to ever publish that mess.
  15. Lorrelian

    Lorrelian Member

    Like a lot of authors, Tolkien spent a lot of time working out backstory that, in all honesty, is necessary but not interesting. A lot of the Silmarillion fell into that category. So yeah, it's entirely possible it was never meant for publication, or even to be "finished".
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  16. Warlock

    Warlock Member

    I like backstory, especially if it's in the vein of Martin's or Jordan's works. Sue me, I really enjoy worlds with a rich backstory and real history instead of paper constructs of little worth, like a lot of one-shot books set in a fantasy world.
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  17. LionsDen

    LionsDen Member

    The early ones were great. The later ones just don't seem to be as much fun. There was a period of 10 to 20 years where there were no books published in that series. When they came back, for the most part they just weren't the same. Though it could be me because I started the series when I was a teenager and was a lot older when they finally started publishing them again.
  18. Createx

    Createx Member

    Discworld has on average an outstanding quality for having 30+ books. I've read most of them and none failed to amuse me. Pratchett tends to repeat motives and structures, but it's always fun :)

    Martin... I know the Song Of Ice And Fire obviously, been reading that since I was 13. I waited 5 damn years for DoD! I also really like Armageddon Rag, an earlier work of him. The problem is that I don't see him ever ending the series, he spread out way too far. When reading DoD I was like: Another completely new plotline? That guy was supposed to be dead! New setting, etc... Dude needs more focus, especially since he'll probably fall dead in 5-10 years.

    Jordan: Dunno, never got into it. Read the first 3 or 4 of the Wheel of Time, and it was like one cliche after the other. Sure, he invented many of those, but they're still cliches. Probably too High Fantasy for me.

    Of Sanderson, I've only read the Mistborn trilogy. I really liked the first book, but not the second and especially not the third. It lacked internal consistency, author broke all the rules he had set earlier and just added more fights. If you like that, you might check out "The Way of the Shadows" which is in the same vein.

    Sadly. I have only a small part of my books here, I've got a flat of my own and most of my books (and those of other family members) are 500 km away :(
  19. Lorrelian

    Lorrelian Member

    I tend to agree with you. I'm working on a novelish kind of thing right now that begins with the premise that the US has been using metahuman individuals in an off and on fashion since the Civil War. While it's set in the near future I have a rough timeline of everything done by US metahumans, or "talents", from Corporal Sumter from the Union and his three Confederate opposites and the obligatory WW2 ubermensch duels through the Cold War and on to the formal sanctioning of a secret metahuman law enforcement division.

    However, not all of that is going into the first story. In fact, the Corporal and his adventures are probably a couple of books all by their lonesome.

    My point is, if its not relevant to a story, and its not a self contained story, its probably not going to make for a good book all by its lonesome, not unless you have a large enough fanbase that the minorty of it that enjoys nearly encyclopedic or history textbook style information is large enough to give you success. And even then, you'll have limited appeal. There was a market for the Silmarillion because Tolkien had just defined two whole generations (or more) of fantasy literature. But he'd never anticiapted anything that big, so it was never put in anything like a publishable form.

    I was basically just saying, yeah, it's not great but that's no surprise.
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  20. Daynab

    Daynab Community Moderator Staff Member

    As a huge fan of Tolkien and a LOTR nerd in general, I tend to agree The Silmarillion is, as a whole, hard to read and scattered. I enjoyed it, but I recommend reading the smaller books that use the stories from The Silmarillion separately. Such as The Children of Hurin, The Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-Earth (series of 12 books.)
    That will cover most of what The Silmarillion covers, but be a lot easier to read.

    There was also an illustrated encyclopedia that was very good to read but I don't remember the name of it.
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