Sci-Fi / Fantasy book reviews
#1
As a bunch of people interested in science and a group that can tell the difference between fantasy and reality, I thought this would be a wonderful place to share sci-fi / fantasy book reviews.

Anyone interested? smile
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#2
(06-Oct-2010, 03:52 PM)mohankarthik Wrote: As a bunch of people interested in science and a group that can tell the difference between fantasy and reality, I thought this would be a wonderful place to share sci-fi / fantasy book reviews.

Anyone interested? smile

Sure. Before I get into books, I'll start off with a few short stories that are available online (with permission from the authors, I guess):

The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin - Whatever I say about this story will most probably spoil the experience. So mum is the word.

The Last Question by Asimov - Beautiful story on the second law of thermodynamics.

They're made out of Meat by Terry Bison - A very short and funny story.

The Nine Billion Names of God by Clarke - Did the Universe write down its own destruction?
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#3
Nice start Lije! I'll go through them! They sound really interesting! smile

Whenever I think of Sci-Fi, the first book that pops into my head is Ender's Saga.
Ender's Game was written by Orsan Scott Card and won both the Nebula and the Hugo awards for two consecutive years, making him the only author to do so.

The book is based in the far future, where mankind is left devasted with an alien invasion and finds itself in the small gap between two large wars! The story involves quite a good amount of theology, evolution, genetics and philosophy. But I've never analysed it rationally, prefering to just enjoy the story and the characters as I read the book! I hope you guys give it a shot smile.

The first two books (Ender's game and Speaker for the dead) are fantastic IMO, and then kind of trails off as is generally the case with sequels. But the first two are a must read IMO.
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#4
(08-Oct-2010, 12:03 PM)mohankarthik Wrote: Whenever I think of Sci-Fi, the first book that pops into my head is Ender's Saga.
Ender's Game was written by Orsan Scott Card and won both the Nebula and the Hugo awards for two consecutive years, making him the only author to do so.

Ender's Game is a nice book. Has a fast pace and at the same also manages to raise some deep questions. I've read the Speaker for The Dead as well and liked it. Haven't read the other parts though.

Quote:But I've never analysed it rationally, prefering to just enjoy the story and the characters as I read the book!

Suspension of disbelief is a pre-requisite for enjoying works of fiction. But being a rationalist, at times I find that the amount of disbelief needed is too much and end up not enjoying the story as well as I would have liked to. That's also why I take extra pleasure in reading books by authors who are also rationalists/atheists, like Asimov or Clarke.
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#5
(07-Oct-2010, 03:31 AM)Lije Wrote: The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin - Whatever I say about this story will most probably spoil the experience. So mum is the word.

I just read this one, and you said it. Mum's the word, but its very good. I loved it!

Have any of you read Asimov's short story, Nightfall? I read it recently, and its pretty cool. It was the story that got him a job at a publishing company as a writer and changed the history of modern science fiction! PM me if you want it. I think I might have it.
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#6
Nightfall is a lovely read. Asimov really shines at writing short stories. I especially love the short stories from I, Robot (which has very little in common with the Will Smith movie). They are all about - given the three laws of Robotics, what are the interesting behaviors Robots can exhibit? Robot Dreams is another good collection of his robot short stories.

While we are on Asimov, I'll mention some of his novels I liked. The original Foundation trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation) is one my favorite sci-fi books. Based on the fall of the Roman empire, the trilogy tells the story of the fall of a galactic empire and the rise of new one - The Foundation. The part "The Mule" from Foundation and Empire is Asimov's story telling at its best. The sequels Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth are decent and can be read for the sake of completeness. There are two prequels which were written after the sequels, but I haven't read them.

His other novel series - the Robot Series (The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn) are detective fiction which follow the adventures of one Lije Baley and his robot partner. The last book in the series - Robots and Empire will be of interest only if you have read the Foundation and the Empire series as it tries to tie together all the three series. I consider the Empire series as Asimov's weakest work.

The Gods Themselves is another good novel by Asimov. He usually doesn't write about aliens, but this book deals extensively with aliens who live in a parallel universe.
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#7
With our busy schedules these days, audiobooks are becoming a popular alternative. One of my favorite open-source projects is librivox. They have a decent sci-fi collection. For example, check these out.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#8
My favorite sci-fi author was Philip K Dick. His "Beyond Lies the Wub" is a set of very good sci-fi short stories. I read a couple of "Foundation" series books by Asimov and loved them too.

In fantasy I liked Robert Jordan before I became an atheist.
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#9
Ender's Game has quite a bit of Mormon belief in it, apart from other things.

http://www.motleyvision.org/2004/elsewhe...ders-game/

It isn't very obvious to people unfamiliar with Mormonism, and I had to re-read it to understand. There might even be subtler references that one can miss.
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#10
Speaking of philip.k.dick - do androids dream of electic sheep, minority report, sound of thunder a short story that brings a whole new dimension to the butterfly effect, among many others fantastic author with scarily accurate portrayals of the future.

Stranger in a strangeland - Robert Heinlen, the lead character starts a cult and analyses religion as a concept.

Will post more as and when they pop into my head.

Do try frank herbert and his dune series fabulous read which is a satire of the human dependence on oil amongst other things.
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#11
(07-Jun-2011, 11:14 PM)preshanth Wrote: Do try frank herbert and his dune series fabulous read which is a satire of the human dependence on oil amongst other things.

I knew that the arabs were the inspiration for fremen, but I never thought of spice as a proxy for oil. I'm a die hard fan of the Dune novel and have read it several times, but never made that connection. Thanks for bringing it up!

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#12
Well there is more. The fremen control the desert and hence the spice. Spice in turn controls trade across the empire and hence a very valued entity. A prophet( Has more than one wife, a man of noble household, an ambassador of his realms) returns from the sands of the desert enlightened. An all seeing prophet. Those are definite religious connotations. Aside from the obvious fact that the empire is a clear euphemism for a modern day nation. For he who controls the spice controls the world.

If house artreides and the fremen rise, what chance do the others stand. Prophetic ?
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