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I've just finished Ender's Game for the first time (I wish I'd read it as a kid, it would have blown my mind) but I've heard mixed things from people about the subsequent books. Are they worth a read, or do they spoil things a bit?

Personally I thought Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide were at least as good as Ender's Game, if not better. They're very different from the original though so I'm probably in a minority with this opinion.

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I've only read Ender's Game myself but the general consensus seems to be as above from reading round on the Internet - the first couple of sequels are good but after that it's all downhill.

The Ender's Shadow series is written alongside Ender's Game but follows Bean who was only a minor character so it might be worth checking that out.

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Thanks, I'll avoid them then. Already had my fingers burned by reading The Year of the Flood which took some of the magic away from Oryx & Crake, so I don't want to repeat the experience!

I'd totally forgotten about Oryx and Crake!! I read it years ago, however i finished it when i was admitted to a psychiatric ward of the hospital so dont have any fond memories of that time, it was a great book though :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just back from holiday where I finally got round to reading Lord of Light. It's a superb book that totally justified the positive comments in here. Loved the character of Sam (and Yama; the dialogue between the two is great), and also the structure, which initially confuses but pays of hugely in the end.

Having loved this and The Stars My Destination, I thought I'd stick with some sci fi (although I'm not entirely sure I'd categorise LOL as sci fi, but anyway), and am now half way through Hyperion.. again after comments in here. I wasn't overly hopeful, but have been really suprised by it. Just finished the Poet's tale, which I felt was weaker than the first two tales, but I'm liking where this is going.

Great recommendations in here. :)

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Interzone has gone handbag sized :coffee: I was wondering what had happened to the September issue.

Enjoying Peter Hamiltons latest doorstop The great North road - its a good page turner and, when he can tear himself away from nubile wealthy 20 something sex, he has a lot of fun with the idea of multiple clones.

Prior to that, I read Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler - possibly the least science fictiony of any of the SF masterworks series to date. A woman stumbles into a logging camp in NW US in 1873. Various people treat her as they want to see her - as a loony, a freak show exhibit, an escaped (justified) manslaughterer and so on, and the only two characters who take her for what she is are a Chinaman who is, at best, invisible in society at that time, and a man who escapes from the insane asylum and has severe self-perception issues. Interesting stuff.

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Nah, it doesn't.

I wasn't that crazy about Hyperion though... thought it started well but the stories became less and less interesting and the ending was a bit let-down, as the book is pretty much all set-up. Got about of a quarter of the way through the sequel before giving up. I can see the appeal but it just wasn't for me.

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When I say sequels, I'm specifically referring Endymion and Rise of Endymion. When I read Hyperion it was in the Hyperion Cantos edition that contains Fall of Hyperion.

Interesting to note that in recent years Dan Simmons has transformed into a Frank Miller-esque right-wing nutjob.

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Yes, there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion are amongst the best sci fi I've ever read, and without this thread I would never even have knowed they existed, dangnabbit. God bless you, one and all.

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Just back from holiday where I finally got round to reading Lord of Light. It's a superb book that totally justified the positive comments in here. Loved the character of Sam (and Yama; the dialogue between the two is great), and also the structure, which initially confuses but pays of hugely in the end.

Ah, fantastic. I love it when someone else appreciates one of my all-time favourite books. Zelazny doesn't always pull it off, but he does here, in style. Like you say, confusing at first (but what an opening scene), but then you get it and the nature of the book completely changes.

Blow me down; I just checked the Wikipedia entry, and I just found this out about my single favourite line in the whole book. I'm gobsmacked:

George R. R. Martin describes in his afterword to Lord of Light how Zelazny once told him that the entire novel sprang from a single pun: the fit hit the Shan.

(To anyone else, I recommend not reading the synopsis on Wikipedia if you want to read the book, spoilers).

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I keep meaning to go back and finish EON, for some reason stopped reading about 25% of the way in.

The October SF masterwork, The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe by D G Compton is a very strange book. It brings to mind the song "TV Eye" by the Stooges although that was written before the book. Part of the challenge of reading SF from 40 years ago is trying to put yourself in the author's position at the time, although in that regard I'm old enough to have memories of the early '70s.

Next month's selection is Doomsday book by Connie Willis which won both the Hugo and Nebula in 1993.

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Wasn't sure whether to start a whole new thread, or tag on to the end of this one, chose the latter. (3rd option would have been to read through this whole thread, which I couldn't be bothered to do, sorry)

I don't think I've ever read any science fiction books. Well not as an adult. Well, I suppose 'Never Let Me Go' is technically science fiction, but that's about as far as I've gone.

I kind of always claim that I don't like Science Fiction, but I actually do, I really love good science fiction. Some of my most favourite films of recent years fall into the Sci-Fi genre: Moon, Source Code, Another Earth, Monsters, Star Trek, District 9, The Avengers, Wall-E, ...

I'm also quite into comics, mostly the X-Men family of comics, but other Marvel stuff too, and a few non-Marvel ones (but not DC).

Umm, so yeah, what's a good starting point, really?

Could be something classic, could be something modern.

I'd prefer something that is a one off, rather than part of a multi-book series, as the latter always feels like a bit of a commitment.

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As far as one offs go, The Forever War by Joe Halderman is pretty great, and is nice and light read. Not too challenging for an SF newbie, but also very trad sci fi.

Alternatively, if you want to get a window on what SF is now rather than what it was, read Neuromancer by William Gibson. It's unquestionably the greatest SF novel ever written, and if you find you like Cyberpunk after that then it opens up a far more interesting seam (imho) than the space opera and aliens field that people normally associate with SF.

Or if you feel space opera is more your bag, read Consider Phlebas, and become an Iain M Banks addict.

Both Neuromancer and Consider Phlebas are part of a series, but are also stand alone novels in their own right.

One of the best ways to get into SF though is with a good short story collection, as you'll find many things to suit your taste, whatever it turns out to be. Something like any of these Best of New SF books edited by Gardner Dozois are ideal: http://www.amazon.co...&qid=1350566922

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Gulp!

The Forever War is a good choice. Some others from days gone by would be

Gateway - Fredrick Pohl

Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes

The stars my destination - Alfred Bester

Maybe to get an intro into contemporary authors you could pick up a collection of short stories and follow up those you enjoyed - most if not current novelists write short stories as well as novels. There are a couple published regularly every year and IIRC a Penguin compilation of older stories too.

Yes, A Science Fiction omnibus edited by Brian Aldiss which a Penguin Modern classic.

Edited by Cosmic_Guru
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I don't think I'd recommend Flowers for Algernon for someone wanting to dip their toe into SF. I mean, recommend it because it's flipping brilliant, but I don't think it fits Lukens' brief in any way.

On that, has anyone ever seen the FFA movie? It's a bit nuts really.

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The film was called Charly wasn't it? Vague memories here.

Quite possibly not the best starting point, but short and self-contained.

But then, what is the best starting point? On a whim I have just checked back to my records and it seems the first ever SF I read in 1976, amongst all the Ellery Queen and other murder mystery stuff I was partial to at that time, was "Who?" by Algis Budrys. I should look up a copy again now.

Well, whaddya know, if I had a Kindle I could download it again now

"Until K-eighty-eighty blew him into little pieces Martino had been one of the West's greatest physicists. The Russians spent four months putting him together again and when they finally handed him back to the Americans he was as good as new - apart from the gleaming steel head they'd stuck on his shoulders. That was where the trouble began. How could they be sure that this ball-bearing on legs was the old Martino? How could he go back to work on top-secret projects when, for all they knew, he might be a spy with a hot-line straight to the Kremlin? Algis Budrys weaves a brilliant mystery around the half-metal man with the world's biggest identity crisis"

Edited by Cosmic_Guru
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I think it's a partly because they tend to lack depth, but mainly because they're always over just as I get into them, and then I need to get into the next one, and just as I do, that one is over, and so on. I just end up getting more frustration than enjoyment out of them.

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When I say sequels, I'm specifically referring Endymion and Rise of Endymion. When I read Hyperion it was in the Hyperion Cantos edition that contains Fall of Hyperion.

Interesting to note that in recent years Dan Simmons has transformed into a Frank Miller-esque right-wing nutjob.

Oh yeah. I read his latest book Flashback and it's basically a novel length version of that blog post he put up back in 2005 where he was visited by his time-travelling grandson to warn him that if America didn't stay the course in Afghanistan and Iraq, the world was fucked. Actually, that might have been a better story because every time there was a decent moment in the book, the main character's English Lit professor father would reappear, pondering over how the Democrats ruined America and let the terrorists in.

Seriously, don't even read it for the lols, because there are none. Proper shit and no mistake.

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I think it's a partly because they tend to lack depth, but mainly because they're always over just as I get into them, and then I need to get into the next one, and just as I do, that one is over, and so on. I just end up getting more frustration than enjoyment out of them.

Lukens, your other points are totally fair enough, but I can't let that one go. A well written short story is as deep as the author intends.

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My go-to recommendation for SF newbies is Lord Valentine's Castle, but not to bother with the sequels.

Although a daunting tome, it's very readable - possibly a little too 'soft' SF, the episodic travelog format is easy to get into. And Valentine's a lovely protagonist, easy to sympathise with.

With regard to short stories, SF's a little different - as a form often driven by ideas, short stories give authors the chance to explore a neat 'what if' idea in a capsule form. Especially in the early days, when plot and characterization occasionally played second fiddle. Some of the best classic SF is to be found in short stories.

@Cosmic_Guru: I like Budrys - and really liked Who? back in the day. I think I once got him to sign a tatty old paperback copy I had!

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I think my main problem with short stories is that I struggle to get started at anything (not just books, pretty much anything). With a book of short stories I'll probably read the first one or two, but then lose interest, as I'll need the motivation to start another, but just won't have it. Ideally I'd like one big story that just keeps going forever (which is probably why I like comics, as though there are story arcs, each edition tends to lead into the next, even at the end of an arc, so it's like a continuation, rather than having to start again). Doesn't matter how great the short story is, it's over before you know it, and I have to motivate myself to start the next. It's too easy to be distracted by something else, rather than starting on the next story.

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