The Post Picture Of Fictional Science Review;
Part 2 Of 2.
Science’s Fictional Hall Of Fame “The Greats”.
*See Novel; Old Man’s War (Cold Fire Trilogy) (John Scalzi),
*Review; A recent work that’s undoubtedly destined to be a classic. This is one of the best science fictions to come out the past decade.
With a strong homage to classic Heinlein but with its own personality, Old Man’s War is a refreshing mix of the old and the new.
The bare-bones premise of the story is that humans have found a means to travel between stars. They also find we are not alone and that valuable planets are a very rare and sought-after commodity.
Space, it turns out, is not bright world where a collective of Star-Trek like evolved races work together for the good of the galaxy.
Rather it’s a dog-eat-dog world where stronger races prey on weaker ones as a matter of principal. And there are several unfriendly races in the human neck of the woods.
To help protect Earth’s colony’s against invasions, the Colonial Defence Force enlists everyone, including elderly citizens. The hero of the story happens to be one of these “elderlies”.
*See Novel; Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs Novels) (Richard Morgan),
*Review; Part Film-Noir mystery, part cyberpunk, all goodness.
Altered Carbon made a big splash when released.
Combining gritty detective noir and cyberpunk, this novel is one hell of a thrill ride from start to end.
While there is a strong cyberpunk element to it, you could class this directly in the future noir / science fiction aubgenre.
The premise is simple, but unique: death has been conquered and humans wear different bodies, called sleeves.
The Hero, Kovacs, an ex-member of the UN Envoys, a feared international killing squad sent out to do the UN’s dirty work, is brought in to investigate why Bancroft, one of the wealthiest men on Earth, was murdered.
Bancroft, brought back from a digital copy rejects the explanation of his death by suicide.
Kovacs, brought back in the body that all too well known, and with both the underworld and police gunning for him, a simple investigation will pit Kovacs against a conspiracy.
*See Novel; Book of the New Sun (Gene Wolfe),
*Review; A critically acclaimed science fantasy – a thoroughly extraordinary series that’s set far far into the distant future. This is an epic that’s set in the distant future – millions of years into the future to be precise – when the world is now old yet startlingly new in other ways.
The protagonist, Severian, lives a secluded life as a torturer until he’s exiled from his guild after falling in love with a woman he tortures.
As he journeys out from a familiar world into the unfamiliar, seeking the far city of Thrax, we the audience are taken along with him and exposed to an exciting and distant world that’s as alien as it is familiar.
At times the world evokes similarities to Vance’s Dying Earth and Peak’s Gormenghast – both worlds that are a labyrinth of possibility that seem made almost from a half remembered dream.
This is a book that straddles both science fiction and fantasy.
I would readily award this novel the greatest literary science fiction book out there on par with Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series.
Often described as a literary science fiction epic. Immense futurity, travel through space and time, palaces within palaces, swordplay, wordplay, mercy that kills, lies becoming truths with the passing of time, etc.
*See Novel; Player of Games (Culture) (Ian M. Banks),
*Review; Probably the best of Ian Bank’s Culture novels. Strong characters and a light-hearted tone to the novel despite the “seriousness” of the actual plot make this an easy, addicting read.
Come on people, as much as we like reading about world-shattering ideas, end of the universe problems, and defeat impossible alien invader odds, sometimes you just want to a fast read that doesn’t require too much commitment on your part.
Player of Games is just that type of novel – you can jump into a rich world without committing to too much, and despite how easy it is to read, it’s a pretty damn good read to boot.
The Culture novels are about a Galactic spanning empire of hedonistic evolved humans where all supposed problems have been solved.
This society and the workings of it are highly detailed by Banks.
*See Novel; The Night’s Dawn (Peter F. Hamilton),
*Review; Hamilton’s best work – a magnificent space opera that’s as expansively epic as it is exciting. Hamilton’s later works are perhaps more refined and writing better, but this is his best work still.
This is not a work of grand ideas along the lines of Foundation or Dune (though Hamilton creates a compelling vision of a humanity who’s conquered to void of space yet finds it is not the master after all) but it’s one hell of an adventure that tackles the death, the afterlife, and man’s primal fears.
On a distant planet humans find a mysterious device of potentially alien origin.
Things go wrong when humans tinkering with it unleashes man’s darkest nightmare on the galaxy. Man though he conquered the void, but now the void is conquering back.
*See Novel; Gateway (HeeChee Saga) ( Frederick Pohl),
*Review; For a superb science fiction tale that straddles the perfect mix between hard and soft science fiction, Gateway take the cake.
Gateway is a real page turner – something that many science fictions novels fail at. This is one of them more accessible science fiction reads out there; no need to wade through staggering concepts or follow along with dull characters and thin plot threads. The critics loved it too; Gateway won the Nebula, Hugo, Locus, and Campbell awards in 1977/78.
Gateway features an every man character you can relate to, plenty of humour, and healthy dose of suspense that keeps the suspense up throughout the whole story. The prose too is good; concise and easy to read.
*See Novel; Spin (Robert Charles Wilson),
*Review; A novel of characters and ideas, one that melds to two together fluidly. It’s one of the best science fiction novels written in the “2000’s” and while it’s not yet a “classic”, it’s probably destined for classic status. Overall, this a wonderful read for those who want science fiction that not only tugs forth novel ideas but tugs on your emotions too.
This Hugo award winner poses the question if the earth remained static while the universe around it aged 100 million years for each earth year that passes.
This is the premise of the story with a mysterious shield that suddenly surrounds the earth, while the universe “spins” through time around it.
It’s a grand concept that brings with it a number of smaller issues such as with each passing year the chances of earth being destroyed by an outside force increases.
The human drama created by this Spin results from the motivations of the powers who installed the shield and the ultimate purpose of it. Then there is the rich emotional drama of how the ultimate End will impact humanity.
*See Novel; The Windup Girl (Paolo Bacigalupi),
*Review; This might not have the seminal influence that some of the “classics’ have on this list, but it’s a damn impressive novel – rich and atmospheric.
The setting is a near future dystopia.
All those bad things that you’ve heard can happen to the environment have happened and the world has been shaken up and new rules are in place.
The setting is unique and evocative, a futuristic Bangkok.
The world is post-oil where there is very little petroleum and energy is provided by using genetically modified animals to wind up springs which are then used to power an array of machines.
It’s a sort of steampunkish look at a future of sorts, but completely different than the usual blade-runnerish, vertical cities, flying cars, media-everywhere visions of the future present in most future-looking science fiction.
*See Novel; Anathem (Neal Stephenson),
*Review; Wow, what a ride from beginning to end.
True to a Neal Stephenson tradition, it ties a number of completely different ideas and themes together into a (somehow) working thread.
Stephenson returns to the science fiction genre after nearly 13 years and manages to reinvent the old wheel, but improve on it in many ways.
I know Stephenson has been mentioned on this list already with Snow Crash and there are a LOT of classics that could take this place; but Anathem was one of the best recent science fiction releases and because of that is on this list. Science Fiction is not interested with extrapolation, but variation on existing ideas.
Big Object hurtling towards earth. Parallel universes. Artificial Intelligence.
That’s not to say contemporary science fiction hasn’t produced some outstanding works that explore these ideas more fully than the pioneers of the genre did, but the fact remains that very few “new” concepts are being explored.
*See Novel; Blindsight (Peter Watts),
*Review; Nominated for Hugo award, this is a “First Contact” novel that focuses just as much on a cast of troubled, flawed characters as it does on the alien contact premise.
It’s a wonderful read and should be read if you want a different sort of First Contact story than the usual Science Fiction.
This is one of the best Hard Science fiction novels of the past decade.
The story centers on Siri Keaton, a human with half a brain. He’s a member of the Theseus, a research vessel crewed by a number of superhuman misfits – all genetically and technologically modified to work in deep space. The crew quite accidentally encounter an alien lie form during a routine trip.
It’s a novel of first contact that calls into question not the otherness of something not human, but the inhumanity that lies in a human. Watt’s gives a cold clinical view of the universe, yet at the same time breathes a deep life into his wounded characters.
*See Novel; Miles Vorkosigan Saga (Lois McMaster Bujold),
There’s a time for everything.
There’s a time to read heavy novels filled with grand ideas and space, the universe, and the destiny of mankind through Hard Science Fiction.
There’s a time to read meaningful discourse on the human condition through Soft Science Fiction.
Then there’s just a time to sit back and read something that’s just pretty damn fun without having to think complex thoughts.
Miles Vorkosigan is that read.
This is heroic, romantic space opera that has the best character writing and development in the entire genre.
The series follows the rise of prodigy Miles Vorkosigan, a young man with a crippled body but a brilliant mind, through his rise in the ranks as he takes on and conquers impossible odds with genius strategy.
This is character-driven Space Opera that mixes in humour, comedy, tragedy and loss, politics,, military, and romance in various proportions.
Lots of action, lots of adventure, and always fun, this is one of science fiction’s most endearing and enduring series. The first book was published in 1986 and the most recent in 2012.
We hope you enjoyed part 2 & you may view part one by clicking the following link here, after all these are the top 25 greatest science fictional novels of all time!!!.