What SF book are you currently reading? (2015-16)

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by TomTB, Apr 24, 2015.

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  1. moonspawn

    moonspawn Full Member

    Currently I'm reading the Faded Sun Trilogy by C.J. Cherryh. This is the kind of sci fi I like, soft and character oriented. No long winded descriptions of technology and scientific processes here. It's essentially a series about the genocide of an alien species and the two last survivors of that species going on a journey through all the world's their species have been, tracing back all the way to their original home world in a journey to find the last remnants of their species. There is also a human companion with them whose trust they gain and for all intents and purposes becomes one of them (though I still have yet to see what becomes of this).

    One thing C.J. Cherryh does really well is create tension. When aliens of different species are conversing I can just feel the tension pouring off the page. She also gets the dialect of the alien species down very well as well. This series is slow and plodding and introspective. It's not exactly what I would call an exciting series but it is well written and it's insightful. I'm nearly done with the second book. They shouldn't even call this a trilogy. It seems to me like it's all just one long story. I mean if I didn't know it was split into three books I wouldn't have been able to tell the first chapter of the second book wasn't apart of the same book as the last chapter to the first.
     
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  2. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Don't worry, you've made one of the best of all possible choices by picking Banks! This is science fiction (or fantasy) of the highest calibre. Murky, sophisticated, divisive, tongue-in-cheek, delineating the role and effects of materialism and the mechanistic universe with ironic subtlety. You've raved about Simmons' Hyperion duology recently, and much as I like those books (and I loved them when I first read them in my early 20's), the Culture will offer you solid nourishment and entertainment for the rest of your life because they will constantly morph. They are absolutely fun, kick-ass romances if you only want to look at the surface. Scratch it, and you'll find yourself falling down that rabbit hole, probably glanding some DMT in the process. It's political SF at it's best, the core of it being the paradox of determinism as Sparrow says contrasted with individual human agency (or the loss of it). The Culture is bloody seductive, more seductive than almost anything else I've come across. It's the kind of seduction that might beckon you to sign a pact in that "very special fluid" as Mephistopheles proclaimed with all seriousness in the first act. Because it all sounds too good to be true, and it is. You have to have your guard up.

    You've chosen the most complex of the Culture novels to start with (esp. structure-wise), but that's perfectly fine. And wise move not listening to the audiobooks. Much better to read them, in my opinion, and try listening to them after. BBC 4 Radio did a short 40 minute dramatisation with multiple cast members of the story "The State of the Art". You might enjoy listening to that. It's essentially the Culture's manifesto in brief.

    I've not read this and it's on my tbr. Cherryh is one of my favourites though. I love her Alliance-Union future history, one of the best such I've read.
     
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  3. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    Cherryh is hit and miss with me.
    I really enjoyed Downbelow Station and Rimrunners, but found her epic Cyteen to be rather tedious. I actually have a signed Easton leather-bound edition of Downbelow Station... it's on a bookshelf next to Dune.:) I have yet to try her fantasy work, though I've heard good things about it.
     
  4. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    The other thing that the Culture books do for me, on another deeper level... is the Scottishness of the story. In some ways it reminds me of the tone and scope of Robert Louis Stevenson.

    "Of Silver we have heard no more. That formidable seafaring man with one leg has at last gone clean out of my life; but I dare say he met his old Negress, and perhaps still lives in comfort with her. It is to be hoped so, I suppose, for his chances of comfort in another world are very small."
    - Treasure Island
     
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  5. R-Hat

    R-Hat Well-Known Member

    I really like the sound of this. This is THE Cherryh series I should've been reading all along! I tried the Chanur series and it seemed a bit dated. I liked Cuckoo's Egg though.
    I also got into the Foreigner universe books... I mean, have you ever been sick recently? You must lie in bed all day and you need something calm and boring to read, nothing too exciting, you need to fall asleep as often as you can. The Foreigner series are excellent for that. There are like 8 books or so, the first 4 were even translated to Czech, but I only got through 2,5 or 3 of them, I think. I must be disgustingly healthy.
    These books have a lot of wasted potential. The first book would have an interesting first contact scenario, but CJ skips over it entirely to the 100 years after the first contact. There are some interesting psychological, social and linguistic parts, but 95 % of the books are politics, bureaucracy, tradition, nature-watching, assassinations, plotting, fighting, intrigues, diplomacy and more politics. It's hardly sci-fi, you might as well read some 19th century novel. If reading the Bible thoroughly turns people into atheists, is the thing to read if you want to convince your friends to join you as anarchists.
     
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  6. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Well, I'm all set up for the challenge and to be seduced by Banks' wickedness, although not sure whether I'm ready to bargain with Mephistopheles yet...

    I have looked into CJ Cherryh but her bibliography is so vast, that I have not thoroughly looked into where to start. This trilogy appeals to me so it is bookmarked!
     
  7. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Bought Consider Phlebas for a reread since I originally bought the paperback back in the pre-Kindle days. Funny though, like most of my reread attempts, knowing seems to dull the experience. Still, it's better than anything else except maybe the Doctor Who book by Douglas Adams. And the one by Alastair Reynolds. And the other one by Douglas Adams. And the one by Stephen Baxter. And...New member BeeFarseer turned us on to these over at bfb.com. She's my favorite human now.

    Boreas, question about CP.
    I know it's referred to as the bad old days in the other Culture books, but what was the final score of the Idiran/Culture matchup? A tie or did they wipe out the Idiran species? As I'm reading CP I find I need to know now.

    Edit to illustrate some Banks subtlety: "That was how divorced from the human scale modern warfare had become. You could smash and destroy from unthinkable distances, obliterate planets from beyond their own system and provoke stars into novae from light-years off...and still have no good idea why you were really fighting." CP pg 32

    Another amusing thing is how he insisted that he was a champion for the individual, something those who shared his far left opinions are not usually associated with. Because he wrote the best books in sci-fi, I couldn't care less about his opinions on politics and governance.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2016
  8. moonspawn

    moonspawn Full Member

    I'm glad to see my reading the Faded Sun Trilogy is getting people interested. For me its OK. I don't love it. But its interesting enough to keep me interested. I've been wanting to read C.J. Cherryh for a long time but I've held it off, mainly as @Elvira pointed out, her bibliography is vast and can be intimidating to readers who are unfamiliar. I actually did check out Cyteen from the library a long time ago but stopped a few pages in when I realized it doesn't stand well on its own and that there are sequels I probably should have read first. Over the years I have done some research on what book/series by C.J. Cherryh I should start with and the Faded Sun Trilogy sounded the most promising. It also helps that its a self contained trilogy (unlike a lot of her work) and that its among her earliest work in the alliance-union universe. I've also received a few signs over several months that told me I should read it. For one this guy whose opinion I trust somewhat rated it highly https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1131308641?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1 and then I also came across the trilogy browsing the shelves at Goodwill but decided to pass it up because the book wasn't exactly in good conditions. So I had good reasons to finally read it.
     
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  9. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Yeah I'm one you have inspired, moon. Downloaded the sample anyway, and I'm a sucker for a reasonably priced omnibus. I started Down Below Station instead of Cyteen but had similar results. The aliens just didn't appeal and neither did the humans. But like you I'm trying to find that hook for Cherryh. At the least how to pronounce that name.
     
  10. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks for the tip @kenubrion I have just bought the Faded Sun Trilogy omnibus too!
     
  11. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    @Elvira, @kenubrion and @R-Hat, you guys should do one of those book-club type sessions where you read them together and discuss.
     
  12. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I’m OK with it and it can be really interesting. I guess It would be more of a question agreeing to the when...
     
  13. ecgordon

    ecgordon Well-Known Member

    I'm reading Supernova by C. A. Higgins. It's a sequel to last year's Lightless, which I didn't like as much as some, although it's possible the ARC I received from NetGalley was to blame, as far as editing and typos are concerned. The only reason I'm bothering with this one is I also got it free from NetGalley, and I was curious if she had improved. I'm about 15% into it, and so far my judgement is that she hasn't.
     
  14. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Five books, five weeks. I’m a happy bunny!:)
    Just started Use of Weapons.
    FullSizeRender.jpg
     
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  15. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Nice! 4 solid choices (can't speak for Sara King since I haven't read). Can't wait to hear what you think of them all.
     
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  16. moonspawn

    moonspawn Full Member

    I think that's a great idea. I just finished the Faded Sun the other day and man I really could of benefited from doing a book club, especially for the last book. I'm really looking forward to hear what people think! Since you haven't read it maybe you should jump into the book club to Boreas!
     
  17. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I always think it's a good idea, but I never end up doing it because either I can't align my reading habits or choices with the particular work that has been selected, or my tastes usually differ. On BFB, I was almost never interested in any of the books that were selected. But you're right, I should make the effort. If any of Elvira or kenubrion or R-Hat are willing to do it and decide on a time, then I'll join. I haven't done a read/discuss session like this since high school! How did you find The Faded Sun?
     
  18. moonspawn

    moonspawn Full Member

    Library website.
     
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  19. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Ha, I meant your opinion after you read it!
     
  20. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    There's also a C. J. Cherryh section under 'Featured Authors' and you can be the first person to post something in it, if you're inclined.
     
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