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#51
Old 05-18-2018, 08:09 PM
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I read Clarke's A Fall of Moondust about once a year.
#52
Old 05-18-2018, 09:10 PM
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I read most Hugo and Nebula nominees, and I enjoy them for the most part. Since most folks are naming classics, I'll name the best one I've read in the past decade--and I'm limiting to the pleasures best given by hard science-fiction.

It'd be The Three Body Problem, a helluva novel that has enough jawdroppingly cool ideas in it to populate any three lesser novels. It's well worth your read if you enjoy traditional science fiction.
#53
Old 05-18-2018, 09:33 PM
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I'm going to say my favourite sci fi novel is Slaughterhouse 5, though I don't really categorise it as sci fi in my head. It has aliens and time travel, so it has to count. But it just doesn't feel like it is.

Still, it's my answer. I'm sticking to it.
#54
Old 05-18-2018, 11:28 PM
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The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
#55
Old Yesterday, 12:14 AM
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I'm reading this thread because I know essentially nothing about the genre. I don't understand what belongs and what doesn't, but I do have sort of an idea that seems to resemble something that's lurking in this thread: the relationship of the story's characters with the story's science. It feels to me as if - for a rough example - if the characters ride somewhere in a spacecraft but we don't see them interact with or refer to the science behind that craft, then they might as well be riding in a K-car.

Similar to if there was a sports movie where all the action took place inside the locker room, or an action movie that only showed a narrator sitting in a rocking chair explaining what happened.
#56
Old Yesterday, 12:15 AM
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The Left Hand of Darkness.
#57
Old Yesterday, 05:42 AM
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Player of Games by Banks is my favourite (today).
#58
Old Yesterday, 07:17 AM
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So hard to choose, but I think for me it's a tie between two Heinlein novels, Double Star, or The Moon is a Harch Mistress.

For short stories it would be a tie between Heinlein's The Man Who Traveled in Elephants" or Spider Robinson's True Minds.
#59
Old Yesterday, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
Which leads me to wonder if A Princess of Mars is science fiction or fantasy. John Carter doesn't get to Mars any more realistically than the travelers in the earlier works, but what he finds there is a bit more plausible given the science of the day. If he went by rocket, and everything else was the same, would it be more like science fiction?
Which is precisely the issue when you separate science fiction from fantasy. I argue they are essentially the same, except that the fantastic events in SF have a "scientific" cause (and thee quotes are deliberate).

Samuel R. Delany has pointed out it's impossible to come up with a definition that includes all cases that the definer considers science fiction but excludes all cases that the definer does not.
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#60
Old Yesterday, 09:24 AM
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I would certainly argue that at least some parts of Gulliver's Travels are science fiction. Lilliput and Brobdingnag are pure fantasy, to be sure, but Laputa is a society distinguished from ours by their significantly greater level of technological advancement. What's more SF than visiting a land of high technology? He even meets my personal criterion of "hard science fiction", that is, that the author needed to do calculations to write the book: He tells of the Laputan scientists having discovered moons of Mars (then unknown to real science), and correctly uses Kepler's Third Law to describe their motions.

Quote:
Quoth Left Hand of Dorkness:

It'd be The Three Body Problem, a helluva novel that has enough jawdroppingly cool ideas in it to populate any three lesser novels. It's well worth your read if you enjoy traditional science fiction.
Isn't that the one that has robots powered by generators in their own joints, so they can keep running indefinitely as long as they keep moving? If you're going to stick a perpetual motion machine into a science fiction story, you had darned well better make that machine the main focus of the story, and explore the implications in considerable depth, if you expect me to take the story seriously.
#61
Old Yesterday, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Single favorite, read it more often than any other is hands-down Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.
Without question, this is my pick and my favorite Science Fiction author.



It is a great book and great read.
#62
Old Yesterday, 10:07 AM
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There is also Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s L’An 2440 (The Year 2440), published in 1770, in which the author imagines Paris in the far future. It's introduced as a dream, but this is just a convention, it's an attempt to describe a future society.

There's an 18th century English translation on Google Books under the title Memoirs of the year two thousand five hundred.

But I would say that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is probably the first work that can really be classified as SF in the modern sense. The idea of reanimating a dead person was already being discussed in the decades before Mary Shelly wrote, so the idea wasn’t original, but her treatment of it was.


In modern SF, I think C.J. Cherryh is underrated. Her books are intelligent, well-written hard SF, with three-dimensional characters, and realistic space combat.

I like Downbelow Station, and Pride of Chanur.
#63
Old Yesterday, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
Which is precisely the issue when you separate science fiction from fantasy. I argue they are essentially the same, except that the fantastic events in SF have a "scientific" cause (and thee quotes are deliberate).

Samuel R. Delany has pointed out it's impossible to come up with a definition that includes all cases that the definer considers science fiction but excludes all cases that the definer does not.
My Favorite Martian, Mork and Mindy, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie are exactly the same show. But the first two justify the premise by aliens, i.e. science fiction, and the latter two justify it by magic, i.e. fantasy.

SF and Fantasy are far better used as marketing devices, and the "I know it when I see it" test works in 90+% of cases. I also know cheap and lazy writing when I see it, and using technology as magic was all too prevalent in the field even, perhaps especially, in the so-called Golden Age.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Isn't that the one that has robots powered by generators in their own joints, so they can keep running indefinitely as long as they keep moving? If you're going to stick a perpetual motion machine into a science fiction story, you had darned well better make that machine the main focus of the story, and explore the implications in considerable depth, if you expect me to take the story seriously.
I don't remember any robots at all in The Three-Body Problem and a search on the book using "robots" doesn't bring up any hits. You're thinking of some other book, is my guess.
#64
Old Yesterday, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Isn't that the one that has robots powered by generators in their own joints, so they can keep running indefinitely as long as they keep moving? If you're going to stick a perpetual motion machine into a science fiction story, you had darned well better make that machine the main focus of the story, and explore the implications in considerable depth, if you expect me to take the story seriously.
That is A Closed and Common Orbit, first mentioned in post #62 in this thread. Three Body Problem was terrible for other reasons.
#65
Old Yesterday, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post


Isn't that the one that has robots powered by generators in their own joints, so they can keep running indefinitely as long as they keep moving? If you're going to stick a perpetual motion machine into a science fiction story, you had darned well better make that machine the main focus of the story, and explore the implications in considerable depth, if you expect me to take the story seriously.
I enjoyed Closed and Common Orbit enough to come up with an (unlikely) fan fix for power supply issue (just as I enjoy the Expanse books in spite of their scientific errors (for which I didn't even bother to come up with a fan fix).
#66
Old Yesterday, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidwithanR View Post
I'm reading this thread because I know essentially nothing about the genre. I don't understand what belongs and what doesn't, but I do have sort of an idea that seems to resemble something that's lurking in this thread: the relationship of the story's characters with the story's science. It feels to me as if - for a rough example - if the characters ride somewhere in a spacecraft but we don't see them interact with or refer to the science behind that craft, then they might as well be riding in a K-car.

Similar to if there was a sports movie where all the action took place inside the locker room, or an action movie that only showed a narrator sitting in a rocking chair explaining what happened.
There are definitely genre blurring series. I consider both the Darkhold novels and The Pern novels as fantasy although there are references to the humans arriving on those planets on spaceships.
#67
Old Yesterday, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by furryman View Post
There are definitely genre blurring series. I consider both the Darkhold novels and The Pern novels as fantasy although there are references to the humans arriving on those planets on spaceships.
Pern is closer to Sci-Fi. The Science is Fantastical and the most important plot devices are effectively dragons, but it is really Sci-Fi at its heart.
#68
Old Yesterday, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
My Favorite Martian, Mork and Mindy, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie are exactly the same show. But the first two justify the premise by aliens, i.e. science fiction, and the latter two justify it by magic, i.e. fantasy.

SF and Fantasy are far better used as marketing devices, and the "I know it when I see it" test works in 90+% of cases. I also know cheap and lazy writing when I see it, and using technology as magic was all too prevalent in the field even, perhaps especially, in the so-called Golden Age.
Good examples. And a lot of stories in Unknown used magic as technology, and did it in a more logical and worked out way than the use of "science" in lots of science fiction.
#69
Old Yesterday, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
That is A Closed and Common Orbit, first mentioned in post #62 in this thread. Three Body Problem was terrible for other reasons.
The first part was pretty good. But I had seen the problem motivating the very last bit before it came up and wondered how he was going to solve it. I wasn't expecting such a load of unscientific nonsense. It's like the Chinese government blocked access to physics sites for some reason.
Not to mention not having an exact solution to the problem doesn't mean that planets and stars bounce around.
I was very disappointed, and am not planning on reading the sequels unless I really have a lot of spare time on my hands.
#70
Old Yesterday, 02:38 PM
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Ah, my mistake, then, as I haven't read either.

And I think with Pern, what happened was that McCaffery wanted to write fantasy, but science fiction was considered more respectable at the time, so she had to toss in a few spaceships so she could pretend it was sci-fi and sell it. For fantasy that's "science fiction at its heart", I would instead nominate something like Hardy's Master of the Five Magics.
#71
Old Yesterday, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
I was very disappointed, and am not planning on reading the sequels unless I really have a lot of spare time on my hands.
Yes, I skipped them, too. It was a real test of will to finish the first one.
#72
Old Yesterday, 02:41 PM
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I am going to go with the Foundation trilogy (surprise!), but I think the bible is the first science-fiction--at least if we include fantasy (which we must unless we exclude any story with FTL drives, telepathy, time travel, and other standard memes. For best short, I'll stick with Nightfall.
#73
Old Yesterday, 02:47 PM
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If we include Fantasy then I would put the Lord of the Rings above all others.



However, these are two different but close genres and not the same. The Odyssey otherwise would be an early Sci-Fi story and perhaps even Gilgamesh.
#74
Old Yesterday, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Ah, my mistake, then, as I haven't read either.
The biggest technology stupid in 3BP is
SPOILER:
Advanced aliens "unfolding" a proton through several dimensions until it is a sheet millions of square miles in area, etching circuits into its surface, and folding it back down again into a subatomic mega-supercomputer, which is sent to Earth to do things like give people visions by bouncing around on their retinas, screw around with physics experiments, and--once--unfold itself and surround the Earth to make it appear like the cosmic microwave background of the whole universe itself was being modulated to deliver a message to a specific scientist on Earth.
#75
Old Yesterday, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
The biggest technology stupid in 3BP is
SPOILER:
Advanced aliens "unfolding" a proton through several dimensions until it is a sheet millions of square miles in area, etching circuits into its surface, and folding it back down again into a subatomic mega-supercomputer, which is sent to Earth to do things like give people visions by bouncing around on their retinas, screw around with physics experiments, and--once--unfold itself and surround the Earth to make it appear like the cosmic microwave background of the whole universe itself was being modulated to deliver a message to a specific scientist on Earth.
That's just a variation of Eric Frank Russell's Sinister Barrier plot (except he did it with
SPOILER:
invisible alien emotional vampires
).

Last edited by Andy L; Yesterday at 04:46 PM.
#76
Old Yesterday, 05:37 PM
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I'm not actually all that bothered by that. If you're going to try to depict an insanely-advanced alien race, then their technology is going to be insane. And almost certainly wrong, but what can you do?
#77
Old Yesterday, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I'm not actually all that bothered by that. If you're going to try to depict an insanely-advanced alien race, then their technology is going to be insane. And almost certainly wrong, but what can you do?
Yup. I find it baffling that folks object to stuff like that in science fiction--that's exactly the sort of bonkers stuff that I adore--but no accounting for taste and all.
#78
Old Yesterday, 08:01 PM
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So--perpetual motion machine is bad, but acting like a cluster of sea quarks, valence quarks, and force carriers are a single solid object is okay?
#79
Old Yesterday, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
So--perpetual motion machine is bad, but acting like a cluster of sea quarks, valence quarks, and force carriers are a single solid object is okay?
It's almost insanely stupid, and yet it makes a kind of sense. Some magic has to be allowed through the door to have a genre at all. Aliens, space battles, time travel. A lot of people can't accept this and can't get into sf as a genre at all. I think that's one reason why fantasy has an easier path to grab people. Call magic magic and people understand how the rules are suspended. Call magic quarks and it's a reminder of a failed test in science class.

I personally can't think of anything in sf that's stupider than zombies and vampires, but millions of people run to embrace those stories. We all have doors that are only partially ajar. (Well, some of us have fully open doors. You've seen what happens when they post here. They don't last very long.) I hated The Three Body Problem, but it wasn't the science that did me in. (Well, the magic monofiliment ending....) Lots of people will read for magic technology and be fulfilled in ways that no longer work for me, but I get what they're seeing in a way I'll never get zombies.
#80
Old Yesterday, 10:56 PM
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I believe it was Clarke who said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

I'm not sure I could pick a favorite SF anymore. Dune is one that I've reread the most, so maybe that. But I've also reread Passage at Arms by Glen Cook umpty times, and the characters are certainly more relatable than anyone in Dune.
#81
Old Today, 07:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
So--perpetual motion machine is bad, but acting like a cluster of sea quarks, valence quarks, and force carriers are a single solid object is okay?
I think the objection was to an author inadvertently introducing a perpetual motion machine into a story without apparently realizing it (like in "Closed and Common Orbit" or like Frank Herbert did in Dune). 3BP explicitly introduces bizarre future physics with the full expectation that both the characters and the readers will see it as bizarre and new (kind of like the "electron psychology" that Van Vogt introduces in "Far Centaurus").
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