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Recommend Contemporary Sci-Fi and Fantasy

(15 posts)
  • Started 4 years ago by ThatJoshJerez
  • Latest reply from ThatJoshJerez

  1. ThatJoshJerez

    I'm looking to explore more recent (say post 1980s) science fiction and fantasy novels, so I would love some reccomendations from you folks! :)

    I don't really have any preferences, I'm open to all sub-genres. I'm mostly looking for novels outside of Heinlein and Asimov but I would love books that have that intensive vibe and adventurous feel that those gentlemen deliver. Generally, something that makes you feel whole once you have finished it!

    Thank you!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. robertbrown

    Check out the "What SF/Fantasy novel Are You Reading" thread. It's not all recent, but its so colossal, surely you can find something promising there.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  3. geoffhart1962

    One suggestion would be to hit the library or bookstore and check out or buy a few recent anthologies -- ones that have been published in the last 10 to 20 years. There have been several "movements" since the so-called new wave, including "new weird", "new space opera", "mundane manifesto", several "-punks" (e.g.,steampunk and genepunk) that followed the Gibson/Sterling cyberpunk, and the usual collection of theme anthologies. Similarly, there are several "years best" anthologies being published by editors with often very different tastes.

    Reading such anthologies will expose you to a wide range of authors you've never heard of before, while also providing a snapshot of the state of our genre or some corner of that genre.

    Although there are no guarantees (some authors work best at a certain range of story lengths), odds are good that if you like an author's short work, you'll like their longer work too. And as Robert noted, there are capsule book reviews scattered throughout the "what are you reading" thread that may point you towards interesting stuff.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. LukeJackson

    I wouldn't recommend checking out short stories to get a good idea of the recent novels out there. Usually the short stories try to be too fancy for their own good and when those same writers drag it out to novel length, you get execrable tedium.

    It'd be better to plug in your favorite SF writers into a search engine like Amazon's and see what they claim are similar, or use something like this thing:

    Posted 4 years ago #
  5. geoffhart1962

    Just to clarify a point in response to Luke's comment: don't look for short stories that have been expanded into novels. That's a very small subset of the larger group of short fiction. My point is that if you like an author's style and themes in a short story, you'll probably like different uses of that style for related or different themes that are more suitably handled at novel length.

    There are occasional exceptions to this advice. For example, I think Elizabeth Bear writes brilliant short stories, but her novels work far less well for me. They still show many of the strengths of her short story work, but something about that approach doesn't work for me at novel length. It's not because the novels feel padded -- closest I can come to describing this while I wait for the coffee to restart my brain is that it's too much of a muchness.

    Two counterexamples: Neil Gaiman's stories work for me at both short story and novel length, though I have to be in the right mood to truly enjoy them. ("American Gods" didn't work for me the first time, but I loved it the second time.) Charles Stross rocks my world at all lengths from short to novel, but again, I have to be in the right mood for his kind of tech-heavy description. Sometimes I just want some Patricia McKillip to wallow in. *G*

    Luke also noted: "Usually the short stories try to be too fancy for their own good."

    That's not true of all or even most short stories; it's true of *bad* short stories. But that's a tautology, so it's not really a helpful comment. If you like the way an author constructs a short story, you'll probably (but not certainly, as the abovementioned examples indicate) enjoy their novel-length work too.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  6. J-Sun

    Agreed - there are quite a few novelists who can't write short fiction and a few short fiction writers who can't write novels but I've gotten most of my authors from short fiction initially. Magazines and anthologies are the best way to go.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. Marian

    I just want to agree with Geoff and J-Sun. Explore authors through anthologies and magazines. If you find a perfectly crafted short story, do not read a novelization of it because it almost always fails. However, if you enjoy an author's stories as a whole, then check out the novels. Another thing I do before reading a novel is go to Amazon and look at the reviews (or any review site). Ignore the extremes that sound like they were written by an adoring mother or worst enemy. Look for the serious reviews and you'll often get a good "feel" for the novel that will tell you either to rush out and read it or to not waste your time.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. geoffhart1962

    Since the "what novels am I reading" thread seems to have scrolled off into oblivion, I'll add my latest here.

    I just finished (re)reading Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book". I picked it up gently used at a bookstore a couple weeks ago, and finally had time to read it. Took a couple chapters before I realized I'd already read it 5 years ago when it came out. From that statement, you can tell that it didn't leave much impression on me at the time.

    From paying closer attention this time, I figured out what the problem was -- and what has been the problem for me with most of the Gaiman novels I've read. He starts slow, and it can take time to really get the story rolling. There is much beauty along the way, with many subtle and sometimes funny passages. But the first time I read his stuff, I can appreciate the quality of the writing, but usually don't "get" what's so special about the story. I have the same problem, only worse, with Gene Wolfe; I barely made it through "Pirate Freedom", which is skilfully written, but somehow just bored me to tears.

    Pondering this, I realized a whisk(e)y analogy might be appropriate for Gaiman's writing: Even if it's a brand you will eventually come to like very much, you probably won't like it the first time you try a sip. But if you're willing to keep sipping, the subtlety and beauty of the flavor start to come through. And after a few mouthfuls, you relax and go with the flow and something magical happens. (Of course, you may also love it from the first sip, as I discovered with a 10-year-old Jura Legacy.)

    ("So, Geoff, you're saying that Gaiman is best appreciated while drunk?" "Well... maybe...")

    This was very true of "The Graveyard Book", which has the strike against it (based on my reading preferences) that it seems like a young adult novel at first. "Bod" (short for "Nobody") is a toddler when he escapes the execution of the rest of his family, and wanders into the local (English, probably London based on the author's afterword) graveyard. There, he's adopted by the local ghosts and raised by them, very much like Mowgli in "The Jungle Book", which Gaiman acknowledges as inspiration, though there's also a touch of Tarzan being raised by the great apes. The rest of the story is his maturation into young adulthood over the next dozen or so years under the guardianship and tutelage of the residents of the cemetery.

    Along the way, deep and sinister plots (and graves) are revealed, until Bod eventually reaches a promising conclusion... though it's probably not the one you were expecting, since several "tidy" but predictable happy endings are neatly avoided. It took me about halfway into the book before the "whisk(e)y" really kicked in, but once it did, I was hooked.

    Highly recommended, though with the caveat that this is a "sipping" book, not a "quaffing" book, and that depending on your reading preferences, it may take some time to get fully drawn in. Might even take a second read, as it did with me.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. Marian

    Thanks, Geoff. I'm going to have to reread it one of these days. Like you, I read it and it didn't make much of an impression even though I like Gaiman. But you're right about the buildup through the novel and the avoidance of some obvious and clich├ęd happy endings.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. ThatJoshJerez

    thank you folks! I appreciate it!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. geoffhart1962

    Event Horizon 2018 (stories published in 2017 by 2018 Campbell Award nominees) is now available for free download:

    Or you could buy a printed version at Amazon. Great way to check out the new generation of writers and see whose books you'll want to buy!

    Posted 1 week ago #
  12. geoffhart1962

    Thought this might be of interest:

    Sign up for their newsletter and you'll get regular updates on free books.

    Posted 5 days ago #
  13. geoffhart1962

    For fans of steampunk, an attractive bundle:

    There's also an LGBT bundle:

    Your Kindle floweth over!

    Posted 4 days ago #
  14. ThatJoshJerez

    the OP was 4 years ago! Wow! I can't believe it's been about that long since I have been posting here (although not very often). Thanks for dropping some links guys, I appreciate it.

    Posted 8 hours ago #
  15. ThatJoshJerez

    I am reading through all the posts again, and it's funny that you say not all authors can traverse from short fiction to novel fiction well Geoff. I have recently been reading Neil Gaiman and I find that I enjoy his novels far more than his short fiction.

    That is not to say that I do not think Gaiman's short fiction is lackluster or that they are poorly written, but rather most of his shorts leave me with something to be desired.

    Posted 7 hours ago #

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