Author Topic: What genre reading do I need to do?  (Read 6772 times)

Russell Nash

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What genre reading do I need to do?
« on: March 05, 2007, 04:07:49 PM »
I was responding to the Which story first turned you on to SF when I decided I finally had to ask this question:

What SF, fantasy,and horror books do I need to read?

I've always read what was around. Then later I read whatever people gave me when they cleared out their paperbacks. After I had boxes and boxes of books, I found a second hand store where I could turn these books in for credit.

At the store I pretty much finished off the collections of authors I had already read. Finally after discovering a new friend's bookshelf I got my first real exposure to good written SF and fantasy. I got all the good stuff the second hand store had, which wasn't much.

I've read everything I could get from Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Stephen King, Thomas Tryon, Orson Scott Card, David Eddings, and others plus a few anthologies–most notably the first ten or so Thieve's Worlds.

There are so many references in the forums to authors I don't know, but everyone else seems to. I need some genre specific help here. I know I can count on all of you.

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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2007, 04:12:18 PM »
Is there a specific kind of sci-fi/fantasy/horror niche you're looking for, or just good genre in general?

SFEley

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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2007, 06:30:53 PM »
I was responding to the Which story first turned you on to SF when I decided I finally had to ask this question:

What SF, fantasy,and horror books do I need to read?

I have to respond with another question: out of everything you have read, what did you enjoy most? 

Any group list of "You have to read this" works is likely to be too long for anyone to complete in one average lifetime.  It's easier to be well-read in works that fit your tastes.  I personally don't think anyone should ever read anything because someone else tells them they have to.  (Not outside of school, anyway.)  You should read things you consider fun and rewarding.
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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2007, 08:36:05 PM »
I have to respond with another question: out of everything you have read, what did you enjoy most? 

Whoa.  Steve's applying sekrit librarian skillz.  He may have to be taken out. Unless of course, he's a librarian, and didn't present his union card.

He's right, though.  The best way to find books you need to read (that you would enjoy) is to enumerate some of your favorites.  If you can say why they were your favorites, that would be even better, but just knowing your favorites is a good lead for reader's advisory services, which is what we'd be providing if we give you recommendations of what to read.

That said, there's classic stuff you can't really go wrong with : Canticle for Leibowitz if you like post-apocalyptic, for example.  You can't go wrong with Bradbury either, if you haven't read any, particularly The Martian Chronicles.  If epic is more your style you might try Frank Herbert's Dune.  Louis McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan stories are quick, plot-filled, fun reads.  They move like action fluff but they never are quite just fluff.  There's Philip K. Dick if you like the paranoid, surreal, what does it mean to be human themes.  I'd steer you to that if you liked the flavor of the Eekhout story Authorwerx.  For the brainier, stretch your mind, make you think, side of the sf spectrum there's no one better than Ursula K. Le Guin.  I also never hesitate to recommend Gene Wolfe to anyone who likes to have to pay attention while they read. 

And that's all I can really offer you without a better sense of what you really like.
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Russell Nash

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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2007, 05:36:23 AM »
I deserved all of that for being so vague to start with.

I've always just liked I good story that doesn't insult my intelligence. This is why Crichten(sp?) is only good for one or two stories then you notice that he is just constantly recycling his plot line.

I was really after the list of ultimate classics. The best novels from the greatest writers.
Examples I have read so far:

Asimov: Foundation series; I, Robot
Heinlein: Starship Troopers, The Cat That can Walk Through Walls
Herbert: Dune (first 2.6 books)
Stephen King: The Stand, Tommyknockers, many others
Eddings: The Belgariad (I don't think it counts as classic, but a friend said I had to read it and it was fun)
Philip K. Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game, The Abyss (I put this in only because, it's the only novel from a movie that was actually a good read. They are normally so so so bad)
Terry Pratchett: Starting Discworld series

Quote
For the brainier, stretch your mind, make you think, side of the sf spectrum there's no one better than Ursula K. Le Guin.
Earthsea is already on my list.


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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2007, 06:10:21 AM »
I would suggest in no particular order

Thomas Covenant series by Stephen Donaldson A classic tale of Fantasy. 

the Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead--Deals with the Arthurian legend from Merlin's history and point of view.  I love all the King Arthur stories I have read.

H. P. Lovecraft Dark Moody, a classic author of alienation, horror mixed with Sci-Fi. One of the Masters, and influenced so many authors etc.including but not limited to, Stephen King,  Brian Lumley, Robert Bloch (truly was a mentor and the first to encourage him as a young writer), Robert E. Howard. H. R. Geiger, John Carpenter, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman.

Caverns of Socrates by Dennis L McKiernan, which ties AI, MMORPGs, Fantasy, etc. together, an excellent read.  Was gifted this novel by a friend I met playing Everquest. 

Elric novels, or others by Michael Moorcock

Fafhnerd and the Gray Mouser series by Fritz Leiber.

Thieve's World collections.

Slob and Chaingang both by Rex Miller--Serial Killer type horror.

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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2007, 06:31:34 AM »
Ok Russell..  Fortunately for you this problem has already been solved:

Gollancz's SF Masterworks Range: http://www.sfsite.com/lists/orion01.htm

There... I've been meaning to post a piece on here about The Masterworks for a while.  In all honesty I think they are just about the best thing to hit SF in decades, because Gollancz have honestly sifted SF since The Pulps and gone for the gold.  They have made a couple of notable decisions:

1) There is more PKD in this range than can possibly be justified by the relative importance of his work, it was clearly a marketing decision.
2) It is American Pulps biased, there is too little British stuff and The Strugatsky Brothers should be in there.
3) It mostly pre-'75, with a couple of weird exceptions (On what planet is Eon by Bear better than Brin's and Card's best work?)

I've found it's completely revolutionised my SF reading:  In general I think I know all the main canonical writers, but there are a few major figures who only published 1 or 2 classics.  If I find a writer with only 1 work on the Masterworks list, it usually means I missed something wonderful and important (I Am Legend by Richard Matheson and Earth Abides by George Stewart are good examples).

Actually the Masterworks should have it's own thread on here, because I would be fascinated to see what other people think of them, they've completely changed the way I read SF - their choices are THAT good.

Russell Nash

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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2007, 08:12:32 AM »
the Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead--Deals with the Arthurian legend from Merlin's history and point of view.  I love all the King Arthur stories I have read.

Thieve's World collections.

I have already read many of these, but I would like to know what everyone else thought of the rest of the list

Quote
Gollancz's SF Masterworks Range: http://www.sfsite.com/lists/orion01.htm

I'll check this out soon.

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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2007, 12:21:45 PM »
the Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead--Deals with the Arthurian legend from Merlin's history and point of view.  I love all the King Arthur stories I have read.

Thieve's World collections.

I have already read many of these, but I would like to know what everyone else thought of the rest of the list

Quote
Gollancz's SF Masterworks Range: http://www.sfsite.com/lists/orion01.htm

I'll check this out soon.


Pendragon or Thieve's World?  I tried Talesin because I had a lot of fun reading another book he did and some kids at the missionary school I was working at told me the Pendragon Cycle was AWESOME.  But Taliesin didn't really do much for me, though.  I may read one of the other books sometime.

Russell Nash

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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2007, 12:27:20 PM »
the Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead--Deals with the Arthurian legend from Merlin's history and point of view.  I love all the King Arthur stories I have read.

Thieve's World collections.

I have already read many of these, but I would like to know what everyone else thought of the rest of the list

Quote
Gollancz's SF Masterworks Range: http://www.sfsite.com/lists/orion01.htm

I'll check this out soon.


Pendragon or Thieve's World?  I tried Talesin because I had a lot of fun reading another book he did and some kids at the missionary school I was working at told me the Pendragon Cycle was AWESOME.  But Taliesin didn't really do much for me, though.  I may read one of the other books sometime.

I need to learn to not write when I don't have the time to be clear.

I've read about ten of the Thieves' World books and three (I think) of the Pendragon books. I was interested in what people thought of all of the other suggestions.

Quote
Thomas Covenant series by Stephen Donaldson A classic tale of Fantasy. 

H. P. Lovecraft Dark Moody, a classic author of alienation, horror mixed with Sci-Fi. One of the Masters, and influenced so many authors etc.including but not limited to, Stephen King,  Brian Lumley, Robert Bloch (truly was a mentor and the first to encourage him as a young writer), Robert E. Howard. H. R. Geiger, John Carpenter, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman.

Caverns of Socrates by Dennis L McKiernan, which ties AI, MMORPGs, Fantasy, etc. together, an excellent read.  Was gifted this novel by a friend I met playing Everquest. 

Elric novels, or others by Michael Moorcock

Fafhnerd and the Gray Mouser series by Fritz Leiber.

Slob and Chaingang both by Rex Miller--Serial Killer type horror.

Calahan's Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson

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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2007, 12:33:11 PM »
Classics and epics.  Hmmm.  

You mentioned PKD, so if you haven't read The Man in the High Castle, I highly recommend it.  It's all about what happened after the Nazis won World War II.

I don't think you can go wrong with Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light.

I'm a big fan of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series.  I wouldn't call it an easy read by any means, though.  Sometime soon, I need to go back and reread those books.

William Gibson's Nueromancer is a lot of fun and possibly the most famous cyberpunk book ever written.

Then there's some more contemporary picks for you.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  A lot of people consider this his best novel.  Road trip through America with all the forgotten foreign gods along for the ride.

China Mieville's Perdido Street Station rocked my world and upset a lot of my perceptions about fantasy and the epic quest.  The ending still stings (in the best way possible) to this day.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.  It reads like Jane Austen and has magic in it.  

Anyway, hope some of this helps.  I'm sure I'm missing a bunch.

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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2007, 04:42:14 PM »
Classics and epics.  Hmmm. 


I'm a big fan of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series.  I wouldn't call it an easy read by any means, though.  Sometime soon, I need to go back and reread those books.

I liked the first one, but didn't get into the rest as much.  Should give it another try sometime.

Quote
Then there's some more contemporary picks for you.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  A lot of people consider this his best novel.  Road trip through America with all the forgotten foreign gods along for the ride.
  Excellent read, only other one that comes close to it is Ananzi's Boys for fun read about mythology.  Neil is very good at mythology, as evidenced by his sandman series, American Gods, Ananzi Boys, etc.  Neverwhere is worth checking out as well, both as dvd's available from BBC Television as well as in print.  (was tv miniseries originally, I read it before I saw it though, so book is virtually identical to tv series since that was what it was originally)



Quote
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.  It reads like Jane Austen and has magic in it.

I was very interested in this from reviews etc., still haven't finished it almost a year later, parts of it move real fast, parts of it dragged too much for me.  Again I should give it a try again.

While not truly sci-fi fantasy, an excellent satirical author, who does write about Vampires, Djinn, Deathmerchants, Angels, Christ as a teenager/young adult, Whales, etc. is Christopher Moore.  Favorites include Bloodsucking Fiends: a love story, Dirty Job, You Suck: a love story.  You Suck tied in to events in Dirty Job and was the sequel to Bloods.  Alot of recurring characters in his stories, but I would still say they pretty much stand alone with possible exception of You Suck.



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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2007, 10:46:34 PM »
I'm a big fan of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series.  I wouldn't call it an easy read by any means, though.  Sometime soon, I need to go back and reread those books.

I've read Book of the New Sun (including Urth of the New Sun) twice, and Book of the Long Sun and Book of the Short Sun once each.

I love them.  But I would not recommend them to someone who is just beginning to survey the genre.  If most SF adventure novels are a quick swim in the pond, Wolfe's "Sun" series are a multi-day cave diving expedition.  With an undersized flashlight.  And a dive buddy who likes to untie your line and retie it to a different entrance every time you've stopped to get your bearings.

They really are books that you can find more in every time you read them -- but that's because nothing in them is what the prose says it is.  There are some amazing characters (and the coolest sword in all of genre literature, Terminus Est) >8-> but the stuff they're doing is, on the highest surface level, utterly confusing.

Wolfe's written other novels that are far more accessible to start with.  I quite enjoyed Soldier of the Mist.  Think of the film Memento, only in ancient Greece, and the gods really do talk to this guy.  >8->


Quote
William Gibson's Nueromancer is a lot of fun and possibly the most famous cyberpunk book ever written.

True.  Then read Snow Crash for its evil (and funnier) opposite.


Quote
China Mieville's Perdido Street Station rocked my world and upset a lot of my perceptions about fantasy and the epic quest.  The ending still stings (in the best way possible) to this day.

I just finished this about a week ago.  I loved it.  My wife hasn't gotten into it.  Something about Miéville's style just doesn't do it for her.
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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2007, 11:38:01 PM »
I'm a big fan of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series.  I wouldn't call it an easy read by any means, though.  Sometime soon, I need to go back and reread those books.

I've read Book of the New Sun (including Urth of the New Sun) twice, and Book of the Long Sun and Book of the Short Sun once each.

I love them.  But I would not recommend them to someone who is just beginning to survey the genre.  If most SF adventure novels are a quick swim in the pond, Wolfe's "Sun" series are a multi-day cave diving expedition.  With an undersized flashlight.  And a dive buddy who likes to untie your line and retie it to a different entrance every time you've stopped to get your bearings.

They really are books that you can find more in every time you read them -- but that's because nothing in them is what the prose says it is.  There are some amazing characters (and the coolest sword in all of genre literature, Terminus Est) >8-> but the stuff they're doing is, on the highest surface level, utterly confusing.

Wolfe's written other novels that are far more accessible to start with.  I quite enjoyed Soldier of the Mist.  Think of the film Memento, only in ancient Greece, and the gods really do talk to this guy.  >8->

Wolfe has a ton of stuff out there that I'd love to read.  I'll definitely check out Soldier of the Mist sometime soon.  And I completely agree about the difficulty of his Book Of the New Sun.  I wish there was some kind of companion that I could read along with it -- or some kind of lit course I could take.  I know there's a ton of stuff in those books I'm missing.

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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2007, 01:20:15 PM »
I love them.  But I would not recommend them to someone who is just beginning to survey the genre.  If most SF adventure novels are a quick swim in the pond, Wolfe's "Sun" series are a multi-day cave diving expedition.  With an undersized flashlight.  And a dive buddy who likes to untie your line and retie it to a different entrance every time you've stopped to get your bearings.

Hehehehehehe.  What an apt, and funny, description of Wolfe's work.  Yes, my line has been retied to a different entrance in many a book of Wolfe's.  Trust the text, dear reader.  No, wait, you can't trust the text!  Doubt the text!  Relax, reader, trust the text, doubt the omissions.

However, for just a taste of the intense concentration required to read many of Wolfe's longer works, I would most definitely recommend some of Wolfe's short stories, especially the "Island/Death" tryptich ("The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories", "The Death of Dr. Island" and "The Doctor of Death Island").  They're hard, but so rewarding, and will take less of your time than jumping into the whole series of New Sun or Long Sun books.

Also if anyone here has a solid understanding of "Seven American Nights", I have questions for you, stuff I did not get, but I'm sure is there, somewhere (trust the text! No, wait...)
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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2007, 10:17:10 PM »
For Hard SF (with a leaning towards Space Operas):
  • Larry Niven: several of his "Known Space" novels and short story collections.
  • Robert L. Forward: Dragon's Egg and Rocheworld and Timemaster (which, by the way, is the only story I've ever read that deals with the issues of time travel in a sensible fashion).
  • Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) - of particular interest is the way he fairly accurately predicts the capabilities of future computers, in the character of "Mike" the computer.
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Re: What genre reading do I need to do?
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2007, 11:58:58 PM »
May I suggest:

Old Man's War- John Scalzi
Revelation Space Trilogy (only read the first 200 pages of the third book)- Alistair Reynold
Ringworld- Lary Niven