Author Topic: Let's Talk about Sci Fi  (Read 592 times)

ergative

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #45 on: January 25, 2023, 02:54:14 AM »
What do we think of Neil Gaiman? All I've read of his fiction (currently reading the View from the Cheap Seats) is American Gods. Thinking of purchasing the Sandman collection.

I love him though if I focus I can see numerous reasons other people might find him annoying. I choose not to do that as it would interfere with the “I love him” part. But while most of his work falls in the broad speculative fiction category, I would say very little of it is strictly sci fi.

That said I have liked all versions of Sandman (graphic novels, audio performances and Netflix series). I also quite like Anansi Boys and Neverwhere.

I tried to read Gaiman's American Gods once, but couldn't get into it. Stardust is really good though.

The first two volumes of Sandman were really disappointing. I think Gaiman was still finding his feet. Everyone keeps raving about them, so maybe it's like ST:DS9, which took four seasons to get good.


Anyone else out there reading much of the current stuff?

I pretty much only read the new stuff--don't have the patience for the bad science and misogyny of the old. Like you, I quite like Mira Grant (although, really, Feed was far and away her best--I'm glad someone else connected her to the pandemic, though. It seemed oddly absent from discussions I've seen!) and Becky Chambers.

My current overall contemporary favourite is probably Adrian Tchaikovsky. In terms of great contemporary female scifi writers, I'd add Sue Burke and Ann Leckie. N.K. Jemisin, too, although her work often has a foot firmly planted in fantasy  (she's really, really, really good, though).

What do the two of you consider current? 1980s and on?

I would say aughts-on, I think.

Yes to all of this. Current = aughts-on to me, and all the authors named above are some of my favourites. Also Martha Wells, whose Murderbot books are just so much fun.



Wahoo Redux

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #46 on: January 25, 2023, 07:32:13 AM »
My students loved Murderbot.  We only read the first one, but several students told me they immediately bought the entire series on Kindle.  I thought it was okay.

I regard to how sci fi has evolved, Murderbot is far more sophisticated in how it frames and portrays its first-person narrator (the killer / guard robot him/her/itself----gender is one of the very interesting debate points about the narrator) but I gotta say, here we have the same old story----technology on the verge of being out of control (the humanoid Bot has already killed a host of people and has to figure out why not to kill more) and so a little technophobia and horror (the uncanny valley for sure), alien planet, space ships, and scientists who are not entirely sure what is going on ever.  Throw in our contemporary paranoia about corporations and a specific techoparanoia about AI and we have our formula.

The coolest thing about Murderbot is that Wells declined nomination to the Nebula Awards because she felt that the Murderbot series had received enough attention already and she wanted some other writer to get their share of the limelight.  She must be an extraordinary person.
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Juvenal

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #47 on: January 25, 2023, 09:00:09 AM »
I read above, from more than one, about a distaste for "golden age classic SF."  As you see, I'm a cranky septuagenarian (and only a handful of months from octogenarian crankiness).  I think I might have bought my first SF paperback about 1957 (I believe it was Clarke's Sands of Mars).  High school, college, and some years after I read on and on.  As I said above, I've hundreds of pbs moldering in the basement, many of which I have no memory of reading, nor much desire to do so again.

But some remain green in memory and have been read again, and more than once.  So, just one recommendation: Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination (1956) considered, here and there, as one of the best SF novels.  It's actually a kind of play on The Count of Monte Cristo.  A story of revenge and transformation.

Stephen King must have liked it.  He used a trope from the novel in one of his short stories.
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ergative

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #48 on: January 25, 2023, 09:06:18 AM »
I read above, from more than one, about a distaste for "golden age classic SF."  As you see, I'm a cranky septuagenarian (and only a handful of months from octogenarian crankiness).  I think I might have bought my first SF paperback about 1957 (I believe it was Clarke's Sands of Mars).  High school, college, and some years after I read on and on.  As I said above, I've hundreds of pbs moldering in the basement, many of which I have no memory of reading, nor much desire to do so again.

But some remain green in memory and have been read again, and more than once.  So, just one recommendation: Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination (1956) considered, here and there, as one of the best SF novels.  It's actually a kind of play on The Count of Monte Cristo.  A story of revenge and transformation.

Stephen King must have liked it.  He used a trope from the novel in one of his short stories.


Sorry, Juvenal, I noped out of that one when I got to the bit about the woman so traumatized by witnessing a murder that she reverts to infancy (complete with goo-goo ga-ga speech patterns), but inside, underneath the trauma, you understand, she's actually in love with the investigator.

Edit--Oh, woops, I think that was actually The Demolished Man, by the same author. The point stands; I don't want anything to do with him. I'm glad it worked for you, though. There is a lot of good stuff in the old sci-fi, and it's important for people to recognize what worked, even if it's not for me.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2023, 09:08:21 AM by ergative »

Parasaurolophus

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #49 on: January 25, 2023, 01:46:58 PM »
What do we think of Neil Gaiman? All I've read of his fiction (currently reading the View from the Cheap Seats) is American Gods. Thinking of purchasing the Sandman collection.

I think his children's novels are fantastic. I don't much care for his adult stuff. (I don't actively hate it, I just think it's kind of 'meh'.) American Gods annoys me because its fanbase seems blithely unaware of what it owes to Terry Pratchett (but that's a problem with them, not the book).




I think trying to define science fiction is futile.

I dunno about that. Philosophers have made good progress on definitions of 'art', 'game', and 'knowledge', and I know that philosophers of literature have done some work on 'fiction', 'non-fiction', 'genre', and 'fantasy', at least. (The SEP is down at the moment, so I'll edit links in later.) I even know of two preliminary stabs at 'scifi': 1, 2.

So, I'm optimistic. At the very least, we should be able to give a pretty robust sketch of what such a definition might look like, even if the conventions underpinning it are constantly shifting. But a philosopher's patience for this sort of thing is, if note infinite, tolerably close to it!

On 'speculative fiction', I tend to agree with Peter Watts.
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Wahoo Redux

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #50 on: January 25, 2023, 01:57:47 PM »
Suvim's "novum" is the result of pseudoscience in the sci fi novel, from Frankenstein's monster to the Murderbot.
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Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
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Puget

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #51 on: January 25, 2023, 06:06:35 PM »
What do we think of Neil Gaiman? All I've read of his fiction (currently reading the View from the Cheap Seats) is American Gods. Thinking of purchasing the Sandman collection.

One of my favorites. I second the votes for Neverwhere and Anansi Boys. The audio books are excellent.  I wouldn't call any of it sci-fi however (more fantasy, but really doesn't fit neatly into any genre),  but what does it really matter?
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apl68

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #52 on: January 26, 2023, 07:24:41 AM »
What do we think of Neil Gaiman? All I've read of his fiction (currently reading the View from the Cheap Seats) is American Gods. Thinking of purchasing the Sandman collection.

I tried Sandman and some of his other comics back in the day, and found them massively overpraised in my opinion.  I decided I wouldn't even try any of his novels.
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Hegemony

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #53 on: January 26, 2023, 01:13:52 PM »
I used to work in science fiction publishing (one of the Big Five in New York), and still work in it part time. And my husband was a science fiction novelist. And many of my friends are SF novelists. So this is all very interesting to me, but many of my opinions would out me and are unwise ("So-and-so wrote a great first book, but then had a life crisis and wrote garbage again until Such-and-Such, and also he is a bastard"). But there is some great stuff out there, both old and contemporary.  Incidentally I do love The Stars My Destination. People are big on Becky Chambers right now, but although I acknowledge she has a gift, it's a little too quiet for my taste. I have been trying for some time to get in to Leviathan Wakes (late to the party), but I am just chronically distracted — no fault of the writing.

ergative

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #54 on: January 27, 2023, 02:37:10 PM »
I used to work in science fiction publishing (one of the Big Five in New York), and still work in it part time. And my husband was a science fiction novelist. And many of my friends are SF novelists.

!!!!

You're very cool.