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    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2008
    So I used to read a LOT of sf and fantasy but have grown increasingly disillusioned with the contemporary work in the genres.

    There's a relatively small number of writers I still follow - Brin, Vinge, Robinson, Stross, Mieville etc.

    I wish there were more so I just scanned the last decades worth or Nebula and Hugo nominees for authors I'm unfamiliar with.

    Can anyway here comment on the following:

    The Last Colony by John Scalzi
    His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
    Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
    Ragamuffin by Tobias Buckell
    The Privilege of the Sword, by Ellen Kushner
    The Girl in the Glass, by Jeffrey Ford
    Farthing, by Jo Walton
    From the Files of the Time Rangers, by Richard Bowes
    To Crush the Moon, by Wil McCarthy
    Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright
    Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell
    Perfect Circle by Sean Stewart
    The Mount by Carol Emshwiller
    The Quantum Rose by Catherine Asaro
  1.  (2588.2)
    Start with Scalzi, but read Old Man's War. Probably the best space opera since Forever War, and those 2 being the best since the 50s. A very unique voice, all of his books thus far have been worth reading, but definitely start with Old Man. On the others, I am less than no help.

    • CommentAuthorKradlum
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2008
    I haven't read it, but everyone raves about Cloud Atlas.
    • CommentAuthorWakefield
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2008
    Cloud Atlas is good. Mitchell is fascinated by structure and how it affects modes of storytelling. Each vignette in Cloud Atlas, for instance, is told in a different style (ie epistolary, bodice ripper, airplane novel, fantasy, etc). Another thing about Mitchell is that many of his characters recur in his other novels. For instance, a chapter in his latest novel, a coming-of-age story called Black Swan Green, actually functions as a sort of afterward to one of the threads in Cloud Atlas--even though they're completely different books. It's a neat trick that some might call gimmicky, but I always eat that sort of shit up.

    Anyway, Cloud Atlas is inspired by Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler, which I'd also recommend. Also, pick up Cosmicomics.
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2008 edited
    Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell

    I wasn't as impressed as twicetold, or most other people, to be honest. The structure of the book is a revelation when you first realise what he's doing -- unfortunately, you've then got half the book to go, and you also realise how everything's going to play out. It didn't help that I found the middle of the book impenetrably dull.
  2.  (2588.6)
    The Last Colony by John Scalzi

    I don't generally go in for space opera kind of sci-fi stuff, but Scalzi does a damn fine job. He's tight on the characters and how they react to the craziness around them. He doesn't go in for the kind of soul-annhilitingly long-winded "world-building" stuff. Tells a good yarn.
    • CommentAuthorWakefield
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2008
    Re: Cloud Atlas

    I agree that some of the vignettes are better than others but I was fascinated by what Mitchell was doing structurally all the way through, even as the novel looped back on itself. I knew that Mitchell was going to wrap things up--that's his MO (also, his complaint w/ If on a winter's night was that it was truncated and he felt, in the end, cheated)--but I didn't know how, and that was what fascinated me: watching the pieces come together.
    • CommentAuthorSteerpike
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2008
    You'll get more out of The Privilege of the Sword if you've read Swordspoint, but for the most part it's an interesting read apart from the ending. No fantastic elements in it.

    The Leviathan anthologies are a good source of fantasy material beyond 'generic Western European setting boy/girl and his/her sword' stuff, as was (is?) Year's Best Fantasy & Horror.
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2008
    His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik is quite good and entertaining. The idea of dragons in the Napoleonic wars is just awesome, in my opinion. The latter books are also very good.
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2008 edited
    The Last Colony by John Scalzi—Though I haven't read this one, I'm going to agree with everyone that Old Man's War was totally boss, and as The Last Colony seems to be the third book in a series starting with Old Man's War, then it's kind of logical to begin there. I'm a complete sucker for high body count space opera with war, smash-bang and inventive weapons (including the soldiers themselves as such), so I'm biased, but it's pretty lovely. And the characters aren't perfect, always nice.

    Farthing by Jo Walton—Very English Detective Story kind of feel, but darker. Family dynamics, racial tension, who killed who, etc. If you didn't know it was sf or from Tor it takes a bit to realise that it's an alternate-history bit, some subtle changes and one smashing big one.

    Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright—I'm a terrible addict and the combination godly mythos (heavy emphasis on Greek and Roman), Titans, math, science, time, dimensions, magic, smart but stupid (in a normal, not movie-stupid) characters, no clear black and white, and that the damn book ends a third of the way along an epic story line made me go buy the next two books. A surprising bonus: up until the very last two pages of the third book, it is reasonably unclear which of the two romantic interests the main character will choose. It was a nice change.

    This is the first time in years I have read modern sf (thanks to Tor's free weekly downloads), so I'm surprised I can actually comment on some of these.
  3.  (2588.11)
    Old Man's War was amazing, and the sequel was just kind of dull. I liked the basic idea of the second book but it just wasn't done in a way I cared about until it reached the final chapter or two. That's a long time to wait to get interesting. Is The Last Colony any better?
    • CommentAuthorrough night
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2008 edited
    I've heard good things from many smart folks about "His Majesty's Dragon."

    Also, since you didn't mention her as someone you follow, you might want to check out Lois Bujold's books - in particular the Vorkosigan series (start with "Young Miles" but read "Cordelia's Honor," the compilation of the two prequels, before getting too far in the series). It begins as Space Opera and evolves over time. She's won several awards, and it's good stuff.

    disclaimer: The only reason I say to start with Miles is because that way you won't expect Cordelia to be the main character of the series, not because they are worse books.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2008
    I've read all the Vorkosigan novels. I'm much more into sf than fantasy so I haven't read any of her fantasy novels yet except The Spirit Knife.
  4.  (2588.14)
    Ah, sorry to be little help, then. I'll leave it up, though, in case other folks in the thread haven't heard of them and want a good series.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2008
    Please keep the comments coming - and looks like I need to order a copy of The Old Man's War.