Favorite fantasy/sci-fi literature other than Tolkien
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Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2010 1:21 pm 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:

I enjoy surreal as well as funky philosophy if it is done well. You should try Tim Powers and Blaylock (if you haven't already) or Neal Gaimen who should never have wasted time on comics (which were good) because he is much, much better with his novels (American Gods and Anansi Boys are two of his best).

It has been a long time since Ive read Sturgeon and while I liked some of his ideas and the way he said them his stories didnt stay with me. Disch I tried and didnt like and Phillip K. Dick, I've read more about him than I've read of his writing. What I did read I didn't care for, which is sad because from what I understand he was truly insane and that can result in some memorable writing (or not in the case of Heinlein and his descent into madness and bad fiction).

For funky and surreal I like a number of non-sf/fantasy writers. Hesse, Pynchon, Salinger, Kerouac, Kesey. Huxley, Dalmas (though he also writes SF) Shea & Wilson, Kafka, Dusty-Evsky the Russian cowboy...

I do think you are giving Foster a bad rap. He can be a decent writer, but he also writes for the bucks sometimes, especially novelizations. I found Splinter of the Minds Eye (the first Star Wars novel, and one that took a completely different spin on the first movie) to be a good book, and some of his other novels are decent as well, Icerigger comes to mind, and in the same setting Mission to Moulekon (sp). I think he is worlds better than Anderson  could ever hope to be, though not what I'd call a great writer by any means.


I've read American Gods, and thought it was pretty good, though maybe a little bit like a reworking of concepts already mined by previous authors; I kept thinking to myself, "Zelazny could have written this," and such. I guess all authors do this to some extent, but I find Gaiman more derivative than most.

Tim Powers' name keeps coming to my attention; I think I need to check him out.

I do need to broaden my horizons outside of the genre, too. Not that I haven't read anything outside of SF, but not much.


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Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2010 2:31 pm 
 

There's a reason so many PKDick novels have been made into movies lately, I suspect a lot of screenwriters now got their SF starts on some of the seminal PKD novels of the 60s.  In some cases the movies are better than the source material, especially when they take the core idea and update it (Minority Report being one of them, despite the excreable presence of Tom Cruise), but most of the time the books have to be read to get the full effect. The Man in the High Castle, Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, A Scanner Darkly are simply brilliant. The fact PKD, even though he was totally bonkers, was held in such high esteem by fellow writers goes to show the force he was in SF. His short stories a still ahead of their time, and "Upon the Dull Earth" has been called by no less an authority as Ramsey Campbell as the one of the greatest horror stories ever written (it is certainly one of the bleakest end of the world story ever told).

Anything by Al Bester is worth a read, not just his two classics (The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination) but some of his later works.  The later stuff (The Computer Connection, The Deceivers and Golem 100) are IMO very good, but suffer next to the brilliance of his two classic novels.

I always enjoyed John Varley, but felt his short stories were far superior to his novels. Some of the concepts in his stories are amazing. He's won a ton of awards (although not recently). His Gaea trilogy (Titan, Wizard, Demon) is a good source to mine for D&D adventure settings. The stories take place on a satellite world revolving around Saturn, ruled by a mad goddess, with lots of interesting creatures, concepts, and locales.

Harlan Ellison, in case you haven't yet.

Connie Willis gets a thumbs up. Why "Firewatch" hasn't been made into a motion picture yet I don't know.  The Domesday Book very successfully blends time travel and historical novels.

Looking through my books I'm actually surprised to see how little SF I read nowadays.....

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Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2010 5:27 pm 
 

PKD - Yeah, there's a reason Dick was once widely referred to as, "the best science fiction author on any planet." His best stuff is truly great. His worst stuff is so crazy that it's still worth reading just because only he could have written it. Try Counter-clock World (You're full of food!) or Clans of the Alphane Moon sometime, preferably while on something psychedelic.

Bester's The Stars my Destination is hands-down the best standalone SF novel ever written, IMO. I still try slogging through The Demolished Man once in a while, but for whatever reason it hasn't grabbed me yet; maybe I'm just not giving it enough of a chance. I haven't given his later work a chance, yet, mostly from reputation (the story being he was so deep into his alcoholism at that point that they're total trash--evidently not completely true).

Varley's another name I've seen and heard often, and should try out.

Oh yeah, I'm all over Ellison; small doses are best, though. Bad things could happen if one read too many of Harlan's tales in too short a time-frame. Almost everything is depressing, but almost everything is brilliant, too.


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Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2010 5:31 pm 
 

Anybody read any James Tiptree, Jr. (aka Alice B. Sheldon)? I just started his/her collection Her Smoke Rose up Forever. Good stuff so far.


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Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2010 5:36 pm 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:PKD - Yeah, there's a reason Dick was once widely referred to as, "the best science fiction author on any planet." His best stuff is truly great. His worst stuff is so crazy that it's still worth reading just because only he could have written it. Try Counter-clock World (You're full of food!) or Clans of the Alphane Moon sometime, preferably while on something psychedelic.

Bester's The Stars my Destination is hands-down the best standalone SF novel ever written, IMO. I still try slogging through The Demolished Man once in a while, but for whatever reason it hasn't grabbed me yet; maybe I'm just not giving it enough of a chance. I haven't given his later work a chance, yet, mostly from reputation (the story being he was so deep into his alcoholism at that point that they're total trash--evidently not completely true).

Varley's another name I've seen and heard often, and should try out.

Oh yeah, I'm all over Ellison; small doses are best, though. Bad things could happen if one read too many of Harlan's tales in too short a time-frame. Almost everything is depressing, but almost everything is brilliant, too.


It is amazing the difference in tastes. I read Bester and will have to reread him, but I barely remember the story, so I couldn't call him memorable let alone great. PKD did absolutely nothing for me. I found his writing to be fragmented and his storys unlikeable. Ellison falls into the unlikeable story category for me as well. I have a couple of his Ive been moving around my shelf avoiding, I will have to give these guys another try (though I sold off most of my PKD when he was hot (he went cold on ebay a few months back). I still have a few left.

I cant stand Pohl, so if it turns out we have fairly opposite tastes you may want to give him a try.

Did not care for Varley's trilogy either.

Currently the best SF writer I've come across is Lois Bujold. Her break into fantasy is mixed. Hallowed Hunt is an amazing book. She has created an incredible fantasy setting with Chalion series. Curse of Chalion is good, Hallowed Hunt is fantastic, Paladin of Souls is very good.

  

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Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2010 6:02 pm 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:Anybody read any James Tiptree, Jr. (aka Alice B. Sheldon)? I just started his/her collection Her Smoke Rose up Forever. Good stuff so far.


Think I've read some short stories but nothing comes to mind.

Anyone read Cherryh? Her gate series is pretty good. Paladin is one of my favorite novels.

Elizabeth Moon's Deeds of Paksinarion is fun since it is basicly a AD&D campaign novelized. Not to fond of her SF.

Weber's Mutineers Moon series is a lot of fun, though his Honor Harrington stories are inexcusably bad.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, or Darkover, Pern and Witch World are classics but they aren't on my reread list or my bookshelf. Coludn't stand Kurtz's Dernyi novels.

Tried rereading the Thieves World series which I loved as a teenager, but became distratced after the third book and set it down and forgot to pick it up. I will have to make another go.

Robert Adams' Horseclan books are okay, as are his two other series, both much shorter, only he gets crazy and fixated at certain points (and his fixation which partly has to do with evil lesbians [and not in a good way] grows more and more pronounced in his later books).

Arthur Landis wrote a fun trilogy A World called Camelot (first book in the trilogy) and a single novel whose name escapes me, which are all fun sf/fantasy books.

Have to take a tour of my bookshelves tonight and think of some more.

  

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Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2010 6:23 pm 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:It is amazing the difference in tastes. I read Bester and will have to reread him, but I barely remember the story, so I couldn't call him memorable let alone great. PKD did absolutely nothing for me. I found his writing to be fragmented and his storys unlikeable. Ellison falls into the unlikeable story category for me as well. I have a couple of his Ive been moving around my shelf avoiding, I will have to give these guys another try (though I sold off most of my PKD when he was hot (he went cold on ebay a few months back). I still have a few left.


Ah, there's no accounting for taste. Part of it is probably political orientation, general worldview, etc. (one can't help but be drawn to writers that echo one's own standpoint, or are at least convincing). I'm sure there are a number of other authors we would agree on. Tolkien, Lovecraft?

Ellison is supposed to be unlikeable. I'm pretty certain he tries to be unlikeable. I don't like him as a person, just as an author. Whatever else you can say about his stories, one thing is for sure..he bleeds himself dry into them.

Contrariwise, I'm sure Heinlein was a stand up guy, and from all accounts he was a generous and caring human being (he once gave PKD a large sum of money with no strings attached, because he heard Dick needed it, wasn't even asked)... but a close reading of his fiction makes him look like a total douche... at least to me.

I cant stand Pohl, so if it turns out we have fairly opposite tastes you may want to give him a try.


I've been considering it for some time :).

Did not care for Varley's trilogy either.


I have to admit I've never been drawn to them by the covers or the blurbs on the backs of the paperbacks. But I've passed by a lot of other authors I've later come to like, so who knows.

Currently the best SF writer I've come across is Lois Bujold. Her break into fantasy is mixed. Hallowed Hunt is an amazing book. She has created an incredible fantasy setting with Chalion series. Curse of Chalion is good, Hallowed Hunt is fantastic, Paladin of Souls is very good.


Ugh. I'm not feeling very Vorkosigan today. Whatever that might mean.


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Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2010 6:28 pm 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:
Think I've read some short stories but nothing comes to mind.

Anyone read Cherryh? Her gate series is pretty good. Paladin is one of my favorite novels.

Elizabeth Moon's Deeds of Paksinarion is fun since it is basicly a AD&D campaign novelized. Not to fond of her SF.

Weber's Mutineers Moon series is a lot of fun, though his Honor Harrington stories are inexcusably bad.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, or Darkover, Pern and Witch World are classics but they aren't on my reread list or my bookshelf. Coludn't stand Kurtz's Dernyi novels.

Tried rereading the Thieves World series which I loved as a teenager, but became distratced after the third book and set it down and forgot to pick it up. I will have to make another go.

Robert Adams' Horseclan books are okay, as are his two other series, both much shorter, only he gets crazy and fixated at certain points (and his fixation which partly has to do with evil lesbians [and not in a good way] grows more and more pronounced in his later books).

Arthur Landis wrote a fun trilogy A World called Camelot (first book in the trilogy) and a single novel whose name escapes me, which are all fun sf/fantasy books.

Have to take a tour of my bookshelves tonight and think of some more.


I'm ashamed to say that Tiptree is the first female SF/F author I've ever even tried. Oh, except for LeGuin, whose Earthsea bored me to tears, and whose Left Hand of Darkness I pretended to read for an English course in college.


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Post Posted: Sun Jun 27, 2010 10:26 am 
 

Zenopus wrote:Just started "The Night of Madness" which is the seventh book in Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethshar series. Each is a stand alone story, but the setting is the same. The first, "The Misenchanted Sword", is the most well known - I remember the Darell Sweet cover from Waldenbooks back in the 80s. Never read it until last summer, but it's very D&D inspired (apparently the setting was originally created for RPGing in the late 70s). The only monsters are dragons and demons. The most interesting theme is the magic system: there are wizards, warlocks, witches, sorcerers, demonologists, theurgists (sort-of clerics) and more, each with their different spells/powers. Most of the stories revolve around problems created by the different types of magic. These are quick, easy reads.


Lawrence Watt-Evans has recently started writing the 11th novel in the Ethshar series. Due to lack of interest by major publishers, the previous two novels were written as reader supported serials, and then published by a smaller press after being finished. The new novel is being written in the same manner:

http://www.ethshar.com/TheFinalCalling01.html

I also started a discussion thread for this over on DF:
http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewt ... 11&t=43668

(I've finished the seventh book in the series, and am now reading the 8th, Ithanalin's Restoration).

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:35 pm 
 

Harlan Ellison says the best fantasy ever published was Dr. Seuss.
He may be right :-)


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Post Posted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:57 am 
 

Fletcher Pratt and L Sprague de Camp 'Incomplete Enchanter ' series

Lloyd Alexander "Prydain' series

James Blish 'Cities in Flight'

Steven Brust 'Taltos' series

Donald Aamodt - While I thought "A Name to Conjure With" was only fair, I found the sequel "A Troubling Along the Border" way more enjoyable

Jo Clayton "Bait of Dreams"

Glen Cook "Garrett" series

John Dechancie "Castle" series

Gordon Dickson "Dragon and the George" but not the rest of the series

Dave Duncan "Seventh Sword" trilogy

Craig Shaw Gardner "Wuntvor" , "Ebenezum", and "Other Sinbad" series

Simon Green "Hawk and Fisher" series

Barbara Hambly "Darwath" series

Robert Don Hughes "Pelman" trilogy

Sterling Lanier "Hiero's Journey"

Patricia McKillip "Riddlemaster" trilogy

Martin Scott "Thraxas" series

Brad Strickland "Moondreams" trilogy

Lampoon "Bored of the Rings" and Zelazny "Damnation Alley" - read these in school and for some reason, to this day, the only books I enjoyed enough to read twice in the same day.

  


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Post Posted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:27 am 
 

Wyndham's Day of the Triffids is a quick read, clocking in at around 200 pages. It's one of my faves, and his best IMO. Funny, I noticed some elements showing up in DCC #10 Sunless Garden.
Ellison's I Have No Mouth and I must Scream is his best-known story. It's about an all-knowing, all-capable computer--with vengence on its mind. Another fave.
Salvatore's Homeland (Drizzt series) explores gender relations (among other things) in drow--and our own--culture. Interesting power reversals.
Other SF favorites:
Who Goes There?  
Nightfall
Flowers for Algernon
Dragon Masters

  


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Post Posted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:18 pm 
 

1. E.R. Eddison, The Worm Ouroboros, Mistress of Mistresses, and A Fish Dinner in Memison

2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Book of Lost Tales and The Hobbit

3. C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia and the Ransome Trilogy

4. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Mars Series

5. Robert E. Howard, Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane, etc.

6. Pratt & de Camp, Harold Shea series

7. Jack Vance, Dying Earth series

8. Poul Anderson, The High Crusade and The Broken Sword

9. George R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire 1-3

10. H.P. Lovecraft, all but especially Dreamlands stories

11. Clark Ashton Smith, Zothique and Hyperborea

12. Weis & Hickman, Dragonlance Chronicles & Legends, Rose of the Prophet

13. Gary Gygax, Gord the Rogue 1-4

14. Raymond Feist, Riftwar Trilogy, Empire Trilogy, others up to #3 of Serpentwar

15. L. Frank Baum, Oz series

16. Jeff Grubb, Lord Toede and Finder's Stone Trilogy


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Post Posted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 8:31 pm 
 

FANTASY --

1. J.R.R. Tolkien -- The Hobbit

2. H.P. Lovecraft -- Everything

3. Edgar Rice Burroughs -- Mars Series, Books 1-3

4. Robert E. Howard -- Solomon Kane

5. George R.R. Martin -- A Game of Thrones



Guilty Pleasure: Terry Brooks -- The Sword of Shannara


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Post Posted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 8:46 pm 
 

SCIENCE FICTION --

1. Dan Simmons -- The Hyperion Cantos

2. Isaac Asimov -- The Foundation Trilogy

3. Neal Stephenson --  Cryptonomicon

4. Kurt Vonnegut -- Slaughterhouse Five

5.  Robert J. Sawyer -- Calculating God

Guilty
Pleasure: Lester del Rey -- The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol I


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:18 am 
 

Bumpity Bump Bump.......

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Post Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:35 am 
 

I just finished reading Robert E. Howard's Almuric on my Nook Color.  It's a nice piece of escapist fun.

I am currently reading The Well at World's End on my Nook.  It is a bit long in parts, but it is keeping me interested.  Tolkien's footprints are all over the place.  He clearly read it.


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:00 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:I just finished reading Robert E. Howard's Almuric on my Nook Color.  It's a nice piece of escapist fun.

I am currently reading The Well at World's End on my Nook.  It is a bit long in parts, but it is keeping me interested.  Tolkien's footprints are all over the place.  He clearly read it.


I picked up a ton of William Morris on my kindle for free from Amazon and need to sit down with it. For $1.99 I bought the Robert E. Howard Omnibus (after picking up a number of the recent trade sized Howard collections). I just finished Gods of the North and Queen of the Black Coast.

For $1.99 the Howard Omnibus has 99 Howard stories, but only 12 of the Conan stories (I think there were 16 or 18) but I saw another collection for .99c that has the complete Conan.

The amount of material available for free on these ereaders is amazing (I have 780 stories and collections on mine right now).

I've been reading through some of the authors that inspired Lovecraft, just finished a few Algernon Blackwood, namely the Wendigo which is very Lovecraftian.

I'm going to start on Howard's Shadows in the Moonlight.


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