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  1. #1
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    Default Big Weird Science Fiction / Fantasy

    Greetings, Earth-Nerds!

    I'm after recommendations for interesting science fiction or fantasy books for some escapist fun. Mystery, suspense, plots within plots, unspeakable secrets lurking in decaying space stations, dark rituals in underground temples, planet-sized alien intelligences orbiting neutron stars. The weirder the better, preferably not a total misery-fest, decent writing and non-awful politics would be nice.

    Any suggestions? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Good starts that I've already read:
    Iain M Banks' Culture novels
    various Warren Ellis comics
    some of China Mieville's stuff

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    Have you read Peter Watts? Blindsight and the sequel are great.

    Empire games & the sequel by Stross are decent escapist multiverse tomes.

    'Years of rice and salt' is my go to alternate history book, exceptional writing. Also recommend Aurora, beautiful AI/Colony ship tale, anything by Kim Robinson is worthy.

    The Joe Abercrombie first law trilogy is decent hard nosed fantasy, the spin off books are good too.

    Highly recommend Claire North. The first 15 lives of Harry August, touch, 84k, Gameshouse trilogy, all excellent.

    Standout books from this year are Smythe's 'I Still dream' and Harkaway's 'Gnomon'.

    Adam Roberts is a perennial favourite. You'd love 'the thing itself', bizarre high concept Kantian sci fi with a touch of urban realism, 'New model army' and 'Jack Glass' are also great.

    The Europe series by Dave Hutchinson, just finished this year, really excellent.

    Ive been reading a fair bit of Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree Jr. One of the finest short story writers in sci fi, any collection will do.

    Enough for now?

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  5. #4
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    Thanks, yeah - lots to be getting on with there!

    Although as it goes I got M John Harrison's collected Viriconium stories for Christmas, which also seems fairly well on-target so far.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slothrop View Post
    Thanks, yeah - lots to be getting on with there!
    Although as it goes I got M John Harrison's collected Viriconium stories for Christmas, which also seems fairly well on-target so far.
    I read those a few years ago. Some kind of weird sideways look at fantasy going on there, I dunno if that cleverness makes it better or simply unsatisfactory. I read his real-world books too - great writing but... I dunno.

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    I'm enjoying it so far - it seems to fit into the Dunsanian conception of fantasy as a series of arresting vignettes, possibly threaded together into a fairly loose narrative, rather than the post-Tolkein approach of an painstakingly constructed world where a tightly worked-out but fundamentally fairly mechanical plot takes place. I know he's written in the past about his hostility to "worldbuilding" as a practice. It reminds me a bit of Gene Wolf's New Sun stories in that respect, too.

    But I'm only just starting the second novel, which I gather is where it really takes a swerve into the left-field. So we'll see.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slothrop View Post
    Thanks, yeah - lots to be getting on with there!

    Although as it goes I got M John Harrison's collected Viriconium stories for Christmas, which also seems fairly well on-target so far.
    MJ Harrision's Light is firrrrryyyah btw. An amazing book. i've got my own reading of it which I won't share 'cos spoilers but it's got the lot - grotty occult serial killers, sentient space ships, an unfathomable graveyard of lost alien technologies.... and it's decidedly optimistic to boot. And he writes beautiful as well as I'm sure you know. Should really read him some more.
    Last edited by DannyL; 07-01-2019 at 11:31 AM.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannyL View Post
    MJ Harrision's Light is firrrrryyyah btw. An amazing book. i've got my own reading of it which I won't share 'cos spoilers but it's got the lot - grotty occult serial killers, sentient space ships, an unfathomable graveyard of lost alien technologies.... and it's decidedly optimistic to boot. And he writes beautiful as well as I'm sure you know. Should really read him some more.
    Light is the one I haven't read - which is a bit annoying cos everyone says it's the best one.

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    Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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    Adam Roberts is a perennial favourite. You'd love 'the thing itself', bizarre high concept Kantian sci fi with a touch of urban realism
    I've read that one. Pretty good considering it must have been inspired by him loving the joke created by combining "The Thing"
    (as in a film about a shape-changing alien at the north pole) with the Kantian phrase. It reminded me of a weird book I picked up in a charity shop which combined philosophy and time travel using homeopathy (which, in the book, worked - in a sense at least) - does anyone know the thing I'm on about? It was surprisingly interesting for a random find.

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    Bruce Sterling's Schizmatrix is one of the best SF books I've ever read. It's set in our solar system and is all from the point of view of a single protagonist as we spread out and evolve new ways of living - the backdrop is an ongoing cultural war between "Mechs" and "Shapers" i.e tech/gear heads vs a psychedelia-inspired controlled mutation and bio-hacking. It's from very early on in his career and it's kinda like a first album - loads of fantastic ideas and flash, and no flab. He has a real futurist's concern with how technologies are applied so there's all this kinda strange detail, and he allows that to map out into sociological concerns as well, in a way that a lot of SF writers just can't do i.e. rather than just writing "Cops in Space", he's asking how might these new social formations actually function, once technology starts to reshape things and he has the imaginative ability to follow through. The ideas pop off every page. Highest recommendation.

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