View Full Version : Can any one recommend a good space sci fi book?

08-31-2012, 01:44 AM
Looking for a space page turning Sci fi book that has plenty of rich vocabulary and is eloquently written with obsorbing characters. "Rich vocabulary" > the type you need a dictionary as a companion. Blessings!

08-31-2012, 12:56 PM
hehe *evil* w.s. burroughs "place of dead roads" *evil*

norman spinrad "child of fortune"

scuese me for suggesting finding blake's 7 on youtube :D

08-31-2012, 04:55 PM
'Dune' is the first one that springs to mind if you want something that gives you good writing and absorbing characters, although it only has a Fog index of 7.9 according to Amazon, so I doubt you will be reaching for your dictionary (depending on you level of vocab of course). It's funny, but for SF set in space although there's a ton of books out there which are very well written and which have great characters, I can't think of a one which has had me reaching for a dictionary more than once or twice.

I would be interested to see if anyone knows an SF novel set in space which has a fog index of 12 or over.

08-31-2012, 08:13 PM
Asimov. 'nuff said :)
Well most of the writing is pretty accessible. But if you read all the Robot books and Foundation novels (in order) it's a pretty epic journey.

David drake is good (Hammer's Slammers and series)

I'll second Dune and sequels for lots of detail :)

08-31-2012, 11:50 PM
Popular books tend not to have lots of big words in them, most likely because people seem to want to enjoy reading their books, not expending a lot of effort studying them like a textbook. http://xkcd.com/483/ sums up a related problem nicely, I think.

For story and characterization, I find the Vor stories by Bujold to be good, as is her Falling Free. For well-written stories with a humanist slant, I like stories by Spider Robinson. I'd have to go visit my local library (half of which is down the hall, half upstairs, and half in the garage) for much more in the way of recommendations, though.

I haven't been overly impressed with Asimov's or Heinlein's characters. They are both excellent authors in the SF genre; their stories are well-done and engaging, but I find their characters a bit flat and 2-dimensional. I also think that Frank Herbert was hitting the hallucinogens just a wee bit too too hard when he wrote Dune, but that may just be personal problems on my part. Then again, I liked the characters in Stasheff's The Warlock in Spite of Himself, so take my recommendations with a pound of salt.

09-01-2012, 04:15 AM
Cool, thanks Waldronate, I might look up some of those. I'm reading 'The Last Ringbearer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Ringbearer)' at the moment which is clever and funny (if a bit flabby in the middle).

09-01-2012, 05:38 AM
I'm a fan of Ian M. Banks books though some are more accessible than others. My favourite is Use of Weapons, which has a really unusual narrative structure. I like the Player of Games too. Matter was a bit of a heavier read. I'm pretty sure that's the one with the Shell Worlds (?) which would be a great concept for a map maker :) It's full of concepts that haven't got great references to real things, so they're difficult to visualise, but that can be the best part.

09-19-2012, 10:04 PM
Try David Webber. His Honor Harrington books are good and he has several other sci-fi books as well. Path of the Fury is one of my favorites.

09-19-2012, 10:07 PM
Kim Stanley Robinson Mars Trilogy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_trilogy) for sure.

09-19-2012, 10:37 PM
Try David Webber. His Honor Harrington books are good and he has several other sci-fi books as well. Path of the Fury is one of my favorites.

I enjoy the HH books (well, most of them), but I wouldn't at all call Weber's writing "eloquent" or his characters "engaging". His strength is more in just coming up with lots and lots if interesting details for his settings, and then blowing it all up, with equal attention to detail. He's at his weakest when his characters need to be "real people" and engage in conversation with each other. It's a valid way to go, and like I said, I enjoy the books, but I don't think they match what Oliviev asked for.

The best match among the authors that I read are Douglas Adams (The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy), Iain Banks (The Culture), and Timothy Zahn (The Thrawn Trilogy, Angelmass)

Dropping the space requirement, I'd add Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash, The Diamond Age)

09-22-2012, 12:02 AM
I'll second Neal Stephenson. Snow Crash is one of my favourites of all time. I will say I had no idea what I was getting into with Cryptonomicon, but I do not regret a moment of reading it.

09-22-2012, 07:12 AM
Agreed: Snow Crash is superb.

Hungry Donner
09-22-2012, 11:24 PM
Robert L. Forward for hardcore science fiction. He did an excellent job of combining interesting science with interesting narratives and characters.

James Alan Gardner for more traditional science fiction. The second book in his League of Peoples series is a bit weak in my opinion, but even so it's my favorite science fiction series.

I don't know if either will cause you to run for a dictionary, but Forward's novels may cause you to flip through some science text books, and I greatly enjoyed the manner that Gardner put forward many of his "big ideas."

09-23-2012, 12:27 AM
Orson Scott Card. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ender's_Game_(series)

09-23-2012, 02:39 AM
Alistair Reynolds - House of Suns - I can't recommend this one enough.

Dan Simmons - Illium duology & the Endymion & Hyperion books - massive, sprawling, full of dictionaria, though I prefer Illium.

Olaf Stapledon - Last and First Men - an epic, massive work, now almost forgotten.

Philip K. Dick - Valis - this one is whacked out, but Philip K. Dick is quite a classic.

John Scalzi - Old Man's War - an accessible but interesting series. Fuzzy Nation is also fun.

That's all from me for now :).

Greason Wolfe
11-12-2012, 07:00 PM
How about Frederick Pohl's Gateway/Heechee series. There's also James Hogans Giantstar series, though that one isn't particularly "star spanning" in nature. Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant, again, not "star spanning" but still a pretty good read. Recently I read Leviathan Wakes (James Corey), which wasn't too bad, and started reading Paul McAuley' Quiet War series, but I'm not too far along in that one, so can't say for certain how good it is just yet.


EDIT > Oh, joy, my evil 666th post here. Maybe I better stay in bed tomorrow. :o

11-14-2012, 12:15 AM
Peter F. Hamilton has written some pretty good sci-fi epics recently, and quite a few of them include some reasonably detailed worldbuilding. It would be fun to make maps of some of his worlds.

11-14-2012, 09:43 AM
Id second Datoria's comment on #7. Both my fav Banks novels too tho the others have individual items in them that are awesome as well.

White Raven
12-08-2012, 03:52 PM
Most books won't have you reaching for a dictionary, unless you are new to the Engish language. Most writers are too obtuse to attempt stretching their vocabulary.

12-08-2012, 10:49 PM
Check out Baen Books' catalog - they frequently have teaser chapters and indeed entire free books to sample. Travis Taylor does excellent science, and doesn't dumb down the vocabulary too much. I like Zahn's people and his gadgetry, and his plots work.

12-09-2012, 09:16 PM
I just read the first three books in C.J. Cherryh's Chanur series. Well-written, with interesting aliens. It's a good one. Heinlein is always a good one: Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Friday...just about anything, really.

12-09-2012, 09:35 PM
A saga that I have really enjoyed to read is the Seafort Saga. Written by David Feintuch (i think i have the ei around the right way). The first book is called Midshipman's Hope, I highly recommend it. If you enjoy it, there are 6 more following it.

01-08-2013, 11:36 AM
Neal Stephenson has been mentioned already but I'll mention him again because he's awesome. My screen name is from the first book of his History of the World trilogy.

William Gibson is also pretty amazing. Nueromancer is a good one to start with. I believe he was the first to ever use the term cyberspace.

The most recent thing I've read that's relevant to this thread is Deep Six by Jack McDevitt. No dictionary needed, but some great characters and the science aspects, while basic, are still pretty neat. It's even got a map!

01-26-2013, 08:42 AM
As reccomended by Lukc, the Dan Simmons' books are awesome. Hyperion / Endymion, that's my Sci-fi bible.

05-06-2013, 10:40 AM
The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven is an excellent work of "Hard" Sci-Fi that incorporates quite a few concepts together; religion, xenophobia, warfare, classes.

12-11-2013, 03:31 PM
Depends on what type or era you're interested in. Having grown up in the 60s and 70s I have always had a preference for the modern masters; Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, P.K. Dick, Niven and Bradbury. Some of my favorites are 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' and 'Starship Troopers' by Heinlein but forget that movie its about social ethic and civic responsibility. '2001', 'Rendezvous with Rama' or almost anything by Clarke or Asimov is a good read. The first two in Niven's 'Ringworld' series are good but the last was a bit too odd.
Enjoy I know I did.

12-13-2013, 09:41 AM
An interesting sci-fi-so-far-out-there-it-seems-to-start-as-fantasy read is the Jacob's Ladder Trilogy by Elizabeth Bear (Dust, Chill and Grail). I found them last year and enjoyed each book more than the previous one.

(As a caution there are some less then mainstream concepts on gender roles and sexuality in the books that some may not appreciate.)

-Rob A>

12-17-2013, 08:00 AM
If I may add a vote for my favorite sci-fi series: The Vorkosigan saga books by Lois McMaster Bujold. A believable and relatable setting, engaging stories and fantastically written characters.

And for those not so much into sci-fi... she did a number of great fantasy novels as well.

04-14-2014, 03:41 PM
My first thought is that you NEED to read Dune. It's exactly what you're looking for. My next thought is to try to convince you the check out my book, but I've got nothing on Frank Herbert so read Dune.

04-14-2014, 05:06 PM
I agree with most of the above, particularly the five Foundation novels. Also on my must read list:

Anne McCaffrey (and later son Todd McCaffrey): Dragonriders of Pern, The Ship Who Sang et al, The Tower and Hive series (The Rowan, etc. - named my daughter after the main character), Doona and much more.

Ursula K. Le Guin: Earthsea, Hainish Cycle (particularly The Left Hand of Darkness).

Andre Norton: Beast Master (the movies were a joke), The Solar Queen series, The Time Traders & Witch World series, Voodoo World, and a quirky little surprise called The Sioux Spaceman (trust me...).

Marion Zimmer Bradley: Yeah, she writes sci-fi - The Darkover series, for one. But don't skip the Avalon Series - or you'll kick yourself.

...and if I were king, NOT reading The Martian Chronicles and Stranger in a Strange Land would be punishable by 20 slaps with a wet cod.