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Help me find some new books to read please

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Showing 1-25 of 142 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Jun 2013 11:27:38 BDT
D. Adams says:
I have been reading science fiction for about twenty years now and it feels like its getting harder and harder for me to find good science fiction to read. I'm starting to think that I've exhausted the genre and there's nothing good out there that I haven't already read which is kind of depressing, so can anyone suggest some more obscure good books to read please? My likes and dislikes:

- Great, unsual one-off stories with original ideas (eg "Inverted World" by Christopher Priest, ""Roadside Picnic" by the Strugatskys, "The Broken God" by David Zindell, "Non-Stop" by Aldiss, "Tau Zero" by Anderson)
- Proper science fiction, with amazing ideas
- Great space opera and world-building (eg "Fire Upon the Deep" by Vernor Vinge, anything Culture by Iain Banks)
- Literary science fiction
- Poignant storylines (eg "Gateway", "Flowers for Algenon"
- Niven, Strugatskys, Banks, Priest, Dick, Haldeman, Simak, Pohl, Atwood

- overlong "series" where publishers milk one idea out for 12 books
- Bad military science fiction or Young Adult science fiction
- "Science fiction" that is actually fantasy
- Bad/copycat space opera, alternative world etc
- Bad writing
- Self-published/e-books of a low standard
- Heinlein, Gibson, Simmons,

I've read most of the hugo, nebula, clarke award winners etc, and most of the standard recommendations seen on "top 100 sci-fi books" lists. I'm looking for some fresh ideas for books, quirky one-offs that are slightly obscure but earnestly loved as favourite books by individuals. Can anyone help with some recommendations? If you suggest some shonky e-book that you wrote and self-published, I will hunt you down and kill you.

Posted on 9 Jun 2013 15:15:36 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jun 2013 15:30:07 BDT
. says:
Salt (Gollancz S.F.)
Dragon's Egg (Del Rey Impact)
Looking Through Lace

Posted on 9 Jun 2013 15:44:56 BDT
John Varley' s short works. Spider Robinson's earlier stuff. Most of Alfred Bester, Philip K. Dick, Hal Clement, John Brunner.

Posted on 9 Jun 2013 17:21:46 BDT
Ted Chiang: Stories of your Life... Alistair Reynolds... Greg Egan... The City and the City by Mievelle...

Posted on 9 Jun 2013 17:40:19 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jun 2013 17:44:20 BDT
S.F.)]]Some of my old favourites:
The Last Legends of Earth - A Radix Tetrad Novel.


The Prefect (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
House of Suns (GOLLANCZ S.F.)

Altered Carbon (GOLLANCZ S.F.)[[ASIN:0575081244 Altered Carbon (GOLLANCZ

And if you are in the mood for a easy read space opera, that may not be that original, but is well written with believable characters than the expanse series by James S.A. Corey starting with
Leviathan Wakes: Book 1 of the Expanse

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jun 2013 17:40:40 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jun 2013 18:49:19 BDT
Anita says:
[Edit]: for some obscure reason the "Insert link" sometimes doesn't work, but the copy/pasted link seems to be right.

If you don't mind me repeating the recommendations I've posted on threads and threads... :)

I think I'll try according to this line of yours: "...slightly obscure but earnestly loved as favourite books by individuals..."

Between the Strokes of Night

The Sardonyx Net (For some reason I can't give a link to the edition I've actually read: The Sardonyx Net

*Anything* by Barrington Bayley, eg
The Pillars of Eternity

The Dispossessed (okay, that's not obscure)

Hmm... no link again:


Not obscure again, but as one of favourites:

Ken MacLeod? Charless Stross? Neal Asher?

Has Greg Bear been mentioned?
Eon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Eternity (But I'd suggest to not read Legacy)

Blood Music (S.F. Masterworks)

My apologies to all those I forgot :)

[Edit 2] Of course I didn't mean Char*less* Stross, but Charles Stross :) Sorry (a genuine typo)

Posted on 9 Jun 2013 17:46:42 BDT
S. Cole says:
A book I love, and have read over and over.
Pure sci-fi, completely original story, epic in scope, plenty of twists and a pleasure to read (just never watch the awful movie).
Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jun 2013 17:53:12 BDT
M. Jolliff says:
You realise with that final line you have damaged any defence you may have had in court.

If you have a kindle might I suggest a subscription to one of the e-zines like Clarkesworld Magazine, Asimov's Science Fiction, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Extended Edition and othere are other's out there still publishing new and interesting stuff. They are the best thing about owning a kindle.

Posted on 9 Jun 2013 18:04:20 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 11 Jun 2013 18:28:45 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jun 2013 18:04:37 BDT
Anita says:
May I offer him some support a priori? :)

For some reason seeing your name reminded me of a *really* obscure (I think) book:

The Lucifer Comet

Posted on 9 Jun 2013 18:37:11 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jun 2013 08:12:19 BDT
D. Adams says:
Thanks all. Taking a look at all these recommendations now, will reply shortly on which ones look to be on the nose.


Wayfarer says:
"Adam Roberts: Salt" - I see this gets good reviews but I think I will pass on this one, not because I think its a bad book but just because I think I recognise that its not my cup of tea. Unless politics is handled with an extremely light touch its not for me, especially if I believe I am seeing the *author*'s politics/author's voice, rather than the protagonist's politics being expressed. I've just learned over time that books with political themes, unless treated incredibly carefully, just irritate me.
"Robert L Forward: Dragon's Egg" - Actually already on my wishlist, thank you
"Ruth Nestvold: Looking Through Lace" - Looks really interesting and I've not come across the author before. I'll definitely be giving it a read, thanks.

S. Cole says:
"L. Ron Hubbard: Battlefield Earth" - I'm not sure whether you are trolling or not. This seems like a real marmite book, with lots of people loving it and a lot of other people just not understanding why. From the description of it, I'd say probably not one for me.

Mr. A. J. Fisher says:
"Ted Chiang: Stories of your Life" - looks really interesting, one of my favourite short story collections is "Gene Wolfe: Endagnered Species", which is a real mixed bag but with some absolute gems
"Alistair Reynolds: [?]" - Tried a few of them, not really for me on the whole. I definitely liked "Century Rain", less so the rest of them that I have read to date.
"Greg Egan: [?]" - Some coincidence, but I actually bought "The Clockwork Rocket" earlier this weekend. I haven't had a change to read it yet, but it sounds really intriguing.
"Mievelle: The City and the City" - This does sound intriguing. I have read and liked (if not loved) his "Perdido Street Station", and this looks like it might cross some of his writing style with the kind of noirish overtones I liked in "Century Rain". Probably on the edge of what I like in terms of having enough of a science fiction element, but I'll definitely give it a go based on the intriguing description/synopsis.

Vic Serotonin says:
"A A Attansio - The Last Legends of Earth - A Radix Tetrad Novel" - This isn't for me. I can't define exactly why, except that the other books reviewers liken it to("Hyperion", "One Hundred Years of Solitude", "Lord of Light") are also not for me. I need to be able to engage with and follow a book and, as loved as these books are for many people, they just didn't do it for me.
"Peter Watts: Blindsight" - I have read this in the past, and it wasn't for me, characters and plot really didn't hold my interest. This was a bit buffy the vampire slayer for my tastes.
"Alastair Reynolds: The Prefect" - I'm afraid this wasn't quite right for me either. I do like the author's Century Rain (I appreciate this is the one most people least favour), but none of his other works particularly. It was a story that could have been told anywhere, told in space, rather than a science fiction story, for me.
"Alastair Reynolds: House of Suns" - As above I don't really rate Alastair Reynolds but something about the scope of this does appeal to me. I might give this a go. I doubt it would be on my top ten list ever, but hopefully a solid read.
"Richard Morgan: Altered Carbon" - Without wishing t denigrate it, this looks a bit pulpy for my tastes. I've come across it before and avoided it.
"James Corey: Leviathan Wakes" - Near-earth space opera I always find a bit hackneyed in that the conflicts of earth vs asteroid belt are always a bit predictable and the technology gap is never really gee-whiz enough to have any big ideas. It always seems to me like a Cold Cold War or Vietnam conflict mapped onto the solar system. This one is also not for me I'm afraid.

Anita says:
"Ian Wallace: The Lucifer Comet" - I can't really find out any information about this one. Can you give me a basic rundown on the plot and what about it you love please?
"Charles Sheffield: Between the Strokes of Night" - I actually have a moth-eared old Tor edition of his "Dark as Day" that I've not read in a long while but obviously enjoyed enough to hang on to, so I will give this a go, thanks.
"Elizabth Lynn: The Sardonyx Net" - The synopsis never appeals but enough people have recommended this to me that it is already on my wishlist/backlog to read.
"Barrington Bayley, :The Pillars of Eternity" - can't find much on it in the way of synopsis and reviews etc but from what I can find, it does sound of interest, thanks, not sure why I have never stumbled across this author before.
"Ursula Le Guin: The Dispossessed" - Read it, was a bit underwhelmed, didn't get what others rave about.
"Philip Farmer: The Unreasoning Mask Farmer" - Looks interesting, will give it a shot
"Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon" - Read it and enjoyed it about 6 months back, slightly dated but a good solid read
"Stanislaw Lem: Fiasco" - I'm bot sure if Lem misses the mark sometimes, or if translations are a disservice to his writing, but I rarely find his stories satisfying.
"Ken MacLeod: [?]" - Read one of his, was very disappointed, not for me
"Charless Stross: [?]" - Underwhelmed
"Neal Asher: [?]" - Good but not great for me. I've read his "Down the Bright Way", which I enjoyed the basic premise of and "Sister Alice", that I thought was solidly different. If you reckon his best is not one of these, let me know which one you rate and I'll give it a go
"Greg Bear: Eon/Eternity" - I own four of Bear's books - both these two recommended, plus "Slant" and "Queen of Angles". I found them OK, but not on my favourites list.

John Derderian says:
(You don't mention specific works by each writer so I'll mention only one or two works of each I'm familiar with)
"John Varley: [?]" - Nothing I can find immediately of his grabs me, I don't see any exciting/new ideas but maybe you can recommend a favourite?
"Spider Robinson: [?]" - I've come across a recommendation for "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" previously from someone else, but I generally prefer my fiction a little bit drier.
"Alfred Bester: [?]" - "The Stars My destination" I've read and quite enjoyed, and "The Demolished Man" was even better, not far outside my favourites list.
"Philip K. Dick: [?]" - I think I might have ready everything by Dick ever written, and almost universally loved it.
"Hal Clement: [?]" - Not come across anything of his, I will have a look into his output.
"John Brunner: [?]" - "Stand on Zanzibar" never appealed from reviews or jacket cover descriptions

Posted on 9 Jun 2013 18:46:02 BDT
Anita says:
Not really obscure, and not really a personal favourite, but some people like it - author trying to couple human characters/relationships with an interesting scientific idea (more successful with the latter):
SPIN [Spin ] BY Wilson, Robert Charles(Author)Mass Market Paperbound 07-Feb-2006

Not perfect, but the "unpredictable mistake on alien planet/in alien culture" is interesting:
The Sparrow

And how could I forget not obscure, but so much loved Davin Brin???
Uplift: The Complete Original Trilogy (Uplift Omnibus Book 1)
Exiles: The Uplift Storm Trilogy (Uplift Omnibus Book 2)

Games - a hint of history - "big dumb objects" (and quite obscure, I think):
Alexandrian Ring (Gamestar Wars, Book 1)
The Assassin Gambit (Gamester Wars, Book 2)
The Napoleon Wager (The Gamester Wars, No 3)

More like fun, but a good one:
Knights Of The Black Earth
Robot Blues: Hung Out (HB): Robot Blues v. 2 (Knights of the Black Earth)

And for sheer fun there's always Harry Harrison and his Stainless Steel Rat...

Hopefully you'll find at least something unread (and to enjoy)

Posted on 9 Jun 2013 19:27:33 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 10 Jun 2013 19:13:54 BDT]

Posted on 9 Jun 2013 19:40:00 BDT
Anita says:
Well well well, a Redman trying to push a book by another Redman.

So if it's not a SP e-book, but an overpriced and still SP paperback, it's okay?

(If anyone willing to google AuthorHouseUK, help yourselves)

Posted on 9 Jun 2013 20:19:00 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 10 Jun 2013 20:05:38 BDT]

Posted on 9 Jun 2013 23:47:06 BDT
Each to their own, D. Adams. When I answer a post such as yours; requesting recommendations, for a sci-fi literature I try to provide a broad selection of books to a fellow enthusiast and also to get ideas from the OP and other contributors. I usually love sharing ideas on sci-fi, unfortunately not this time. I did not need your critique of my personal taste any more than you need one from me on yours.
We get enough negativity on these forums as it is. Why don't we try to be a little thoughtful on how we reply to each other?
That excludes the spammers of course.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2013 00:18:35 BDT
Anita says:
D. Adams,

it so happened that a while ago I tried recommending "The Lucifer Comet" to M. Jolliff here on another thread (and hence remembered the book seeing his post), and it was then I realised I don't remember it well enough to give an appropriate synopsis. Whatever I can think of seems somehow off-putting, and that's unfair (like two beings trapped in an ice comet, instantaneous travel along a gradient, alien civilization in a deep shaft). What I do remember about this book, and what makes it interesting (and, probably, obscure too) is it's difference. It's not a book along traditional lines, it's not really "adventurous". It's hard to think even of possible sub-genre (apart from just being science fiction), and it's quite original. No guessing if you would like it.

And *that* reminds me of a book that M. Jolliff would disagree with me about, but well, you may want to have a look:
Midnight at Well of Souls #01

NB: do ignore the sequels. Originally it had to be a stand alone book. But I did find the idea of transformation rather interesting. However, if you have read something by Chalker, the idea eventually may get a bit tedious. However - for fun have a look at this:
And the Devil Will Drag You Under
(How do you torture a secret out of a masochist? :) Just a detail.)

Barrington Bayley. A *very* underrated author in my opinion, and very interesting. About that particular book - I feel compelled to say: read it first, kill me next (but maybe you won't). Let me just say that it's rather dark and cruel, not exactly optimistic. And, again, quite different. You may want to try Bayley's short stories too:
The Knights of the Limits

Neal Asher Try The Skinner (Spatterjay) of Spatterjay series (can be read as stand alone).

"The Sardonyx Net" - what I loved about this book most is the opposite of cliches. ***possible spoilers*** (Slaves - no revolution, he and she - no love story, baddie - no repentance.)

Charles Sheffield. I recommended you a stand alone book. However, I'd happily recommend a series of five also, the Heritage universe:
Transvergence (Heritage Universe)
***NB: that's an omnibus of books 3 and 4 Transcendence and Convergence - you WOULD NOT need them separately (it's a bit confusing actually)

And as a bonus - this one is interesting too:
Raising the Stones

My apologies for an excessive post, it's been so quiet on this forum for a long time :)

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2013 00:30:37 BDT
Anita says:
Vic Serotonin - sorry, none of my business, but I don't think D. Adams gave any critique of your taste. I think he just reacted to the recommendations you gave him according to his own. The world would be a very boring place if everybody liked the same books. Someone else may well find something interesting in your list, why not?

Say, I *love* Le Guin... :)

Also, I can happily second Altered Carbon and House of Suns, if that makes you feel better. :) Just none of those is an obscure book and I tend to dislike repeating recommendations, once a book is already recommended by someone else

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2013 00:47:32 BDT
Anita says:
P.S. And once recommended Altered Carbon, what's wrong with adding Broken Angels (GOLLANCZ S.F.) and Woken Furies (GOLLANCZ S.F.) ?

Posted on 10 Jun 2013 07:44:56 BDT
Well I like Anita's selections and I will add them to my own list. Also anything by Iain Banks or David Brin could be worth a read.

I also like Dark Space by Jasper Scott - Dark Space

Disclaimer/Duty of care:
I am David Buck, and I wrote Traders Scourge and Admirals Fury in the Carinae sector series. My own writing is influenced by Banks, Bear, Brin etc

Posted on 10 Jun 2013 08:08:26 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 10 Jun 2013 20:05:48 BDT]

Posted on 10 Jun 2013 09:05:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jun 2013 12:35:16 BDT
D Adams:
Of course you are right to give an opinion on any recommendations on your thread. However, rightly or wrongly, at the time I felt your opinion was based on a rushed skim through of the books' product overview. I was annoyed because I felt your remarks to be unfair and inaccurate. Be that as it may, I was wrong to take it personally for that I apologies. In fact I should not have been replying at all due to the mood I was in after just reading about the sad news of the death of Ian M Banks.

Always a pleasure to read your input. You are right of course, diversity in all things makes a more interesting World. Yes to all of Richard Morgan's back catalogue I only wish he would go back to sci-fi after his dalliance with fantasy. Thank you for caring about someone else's feelings by the way. That's pretty rare on these forums. If I can return the favour, I second your recommendations, especially for David Brin's The Uplift war, a real classic.

Posted on 10 Jun 2013 18:53:17 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jun 2013 22:43:08 BDT
D. Adams says:
Thanks for the further recommendations, Anita:

"William R. Forstchen: Alexandrian Ring (Gamestar Wars, Book 1)...etc" - Not even heard of this author. THink it must be pretty obscure, can't find much even by googling. How woud you describe this one/ parallels to any other authors at all?

"Perrin & Weis: Knights Of The Black Earth" - I'm sure its fun but not what I'm after! :-P

"Jack Chalker - Midnight at Well of Souls" - When I saw this title it reminded me of a book I read years ago and I couldn't figure out why I didn't recognise the plot description given until I realised I was confusing it with Brunner's "In the Season of the Dressing of the wells", an old short story. But I don't think I've read it before and I'm going to give it a go based on the number of number of positive reviews.

"Barrington Bayley: The Knights of the Limits" - One review of this says "combines the social concerns of Dick, Bester, Sheckley, and Frederik Pohl with some of the more philosophical issues of 'hard' SF writers such as Heinlein and Poul Anderson." Wow. Given that Dick, Pohl and Anderson are some of my favourites, and I quite like Bester, I'm absolutely going to have to give this a go, thanks!

"David Brin: Uplift: The Complete Original Trilogy (Uplift Omnibus Book 1)" - Read it and it annoyed me, there was a bit too much moralising in it for me.

"Neal Asher: The Skinner" - I have read this as well as his "Gridlinked". I found them both not quite meaty enough. There were some good ideas in both but he chose to go for something between pulp and cyberpunk in Gridlinked and for something a bit too action-oriented in "The Skinner". I'm not sure why, but very few people other than Banks write good action-based space opera that I enjoy. "The Skinner" was a bit like a Culture novel for me, only without whatever special magic of Banks it is that grabs me. I think maybe an element of sadness or beauty somewhere in there.

"Jack Chalker: And the Devil Will Drag You Under" - I'm not a fan of fantasy generally and I've had a few bad experiences with comic fantasy and fantasy based on christian demonology for want of a better word - I love Niven for instance but just couldn't grok his "Inferno" despite its favourable reviews and my love of this other work. If I have a book with demons in, I want it to terrify me. It doesn't look horrible but I think I'll pass on this on this one for now.

"Maria Russell: The Sparrow" - I've read it and liked it but wasn't blown away by it. From all the positive reviews of it that I had come across I think I was expecting something a bit more. It had some interesting plot devices and ideas and revelations but it didnt truly blow me away as some books do. I think the reveals (especially the big reveal) didn't really shock or surprise me as I think the book was based on it doing and I felt it needed to be darker and more alien, or with a less expected reveal if that was what it was going to rely on. Just a bit underwhelmed.

"Charles Sheffield: [several]" - since I liked his "Dark as Day" I am going to give his "Between the Strokes of Night" that you recommended a go and see how I go from there, I can't remember the plotline from Dark as Day so I don't think I was blown away by it, but equally I didn't pass it on so I must have considered it worth a reread in future.

David M. Buck says:
"Jasper Scott: Dark Space" - This looks to be self-published, influences cited as "Battlestar Galactica, Stargate Atlantis, The Heir to the Empire Trilogy from Star Wars", several reviewers refer to it as juvenile. This also is just not my cup of tea and doesn't seem to match the criteria I gave for what I was looking for. I'm not convinced you actually ready my criteria given that I gave Banks as someone I liked and knew already and yet you recommended him. I don't dislike space opera per se if it is original and well-written but this would appear a little bit too derivative for me, sorry, I just don't think I would enjoy it.

I realise that I'm grumpy and difficult to please with scifi recommendations. I think what I'm finding is that good or even very good books even aren't what I'm after - specifically I think I only like to read science fiction books now that may be only moderately good but have a real sense of beauty, subtlety and pathos.

Posted on 10 Jun 2013 18:58:05 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 10 Jun 2013 20:04:20 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2013 19:00:49 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 10 Jun 2013 19:08:54 BDT]
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