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Top 10 New Sci-Fi/SF Authors? 1259

Posted by Cliff
from the rate-the-new-talent dept.
Dukebytes asks: "I am looking for the new RAH/Piers Anthony/Roger Zelazny/Weis & Hickman etc..., of the world. I have read just about everything I could find on King Aurthur, all of the Dragon Lance stuff, and all or most of the 'old school' hardcore. I don't know, I have maybe 4000 books at home, most of them Scifi/SF. I am looking for some new stuff. I haven't bought any kind of book other than techie for more than 2 years. I just keep reading the ones that I have over and over and over. What are you guys reading? If it is a series, please list ALL of the books in it!"
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Top 10 New Sci-Fi/SF Authors?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:19PM (#5120544)
    Why would we need another Piers Anthony? He shits out more crap ion one year than any 8 other authors!
    • by cosmosis (221542) on Monday January 20, 2003 @04:12PM (#5121079) Homepage
      Banks isn't entirely new, but he remains largely and undeservedly undiscovered. You can read all about him on my Iain Banks website [floatingplanet.net].

      I would also say that if you have not already read Greg Egan, especially his book, Diaspora, do so. This is first-rank hard sf at its best!

      Planet P Blog [planetp.cc] - Liberty with Technology
      • Can't say enough good things about Iain Banks. There are some really dark ovetones to his books, sci-fi and non-sci-fi.

        I was turned on to Banks by one of British friends. Ended up in London at Foyles in Charing Cross. While picking up all of Banks books (about 9 or ten) one of the staff asked me about my selection. Told him I'd read a couple of his books and was hooked. All the books were signed by the author too.

        The Brits definitely have a much better selection of Sci-Fi / Fantasy than most US bookstores. Plus, it doesn't seem to be such a "geeky" thing to read the genre.
    • by yossie (93792)
      My favorite authors, in no particular order, of recent years:

      Greg Egan - well, OK, he is my FAVORITE, by far, of the lot. Permutation City is incredible, Diaspora is fantastic too. Of the lot, Distress is the least well done (only relatively so).

      Wil McCarthy - only read one of his, The Collapsium, but already bought two more - expect them to be equally fun.

      David Brin

      Greg Bear

      Gregory Benford

      Vernor Vinge - A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky are both great - incredible alians

      Paul J. McAuley - the Confluence trillogy is wonderfully fun to read

      Stephen Baxter - The Time Ships, Ring, etc.. All good

      Enjoy - Yossie
  • by kbs (70631) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:19PM (#5120546)
    I've found a rather good liking for some of Gregory Benford's work. If I'm not mistaken, he's a Physicist, so he approaches his work in the same sort of manner. The characters might not be all that great, and his main characters are almost always University professors who end up facing tenure issues, but it's an interesting read.

    I've also found, for things that are sort of out there philosophically, that Greg Egan is pretty cool. I haven't seen any new books by him recently, but I'd suggest Permutation City, Diaspora, and Quarantine as some interesting things to check out.
    • by Bondolo (14225)
      Benford's endings are horrible. Often it seems that things are moving along with the plot and then suddenly the writer hit a deadline so wrote 5 more pages to conclude the book.

      In one case, after 3 books of a series he introduced a tie-in to his other series in the last 2 pages.

      But then again, a good book with a bad ending is better than a bad book any day.
    • Benford is new? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Paulo (3416)
      Gregory Benford has been around since at least the early 80s. "Timescape", his most famous novel, is from 1980.

      I'll second the recommendation about Greg Egan, though. The guy is wicked cool. You can read some of his short stories in his web page (don't have the link handy, just google).

    • by Ray Dassen (3291) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:42PM (#5120832) Homepage

      I've also found, for things that are sort of out there philosophically, that Greg Egan is pretty cool


      AOL on that. On the hard SF front, I also enjoy
      Alastair Reynolds [tripod.com]'s work (e.g. Revelation space). Other writers I'd recommend are Peter F. Hamilton (in particular the Night's Dawn [tripod.com] series - wide-vista space opera with a touch of horror), Allen Steele [sfwa.org] (Clarke-esque near-future SF), Robert Charles Wilson [robertcharleswilson.com] and on the more slipstreamy side, Michael Marshall Smith [michaelmarshallsmith.com] and Jeff Noon [jeffnoon.com].

      • > AOL on that

        cute. Took me a while to get.

        Anyways. Jeff Noon is one of those fantastic authors who resists classification into either fiction, SF, or just plain enjoyable. Highly recommended.

        For a more litterate approach, I'd recommend some Borges. John Brunner can often be found in bargain bins. Get "Stand on Zanzibar" and "Squares of the City". Both good. I've read "The Infinitive of Go", but couldn't tell you what it was about. Forgettable.

        I'd like to unrecommend Baxter, whose superb Xeelee series lured me into buying the deplorable Manifold series. Titan also blew. These books are bad enough to have me contemplating demanding a refund. Yes, I do have a bone to pick with him.

        Similarly Greg Bear started very strongly with two or three Eon books, the great children-revenging-earth series, and some really good near-future detective stories, but recently has severely dissapointed with both "Darwin's Radio" and "Vitals". He has yet to earn a blanket disrecommendation: two duds out of 10 odd books ain't bad, but it is worrying that both duds were in a row. This suggests that like Baxter he may be searching for a new twist/style , and is not finding one.

        Perennial favorites (by virtue of liking all their books) are Ken Mcleod and Iain Banks. Both write fairly unchallenging, but very fun, space opera. Watch out for Mr. Bank's non-SF output, which is not up to the level of his SF (IMHO).
        • jovlinger's recommendations are on target. (Though I can't say I've heard of McLeod.)

          Ley me also say that I just finished, and pretty well enjoyed David Brin's Kiln People, despite its flirtations with Dr. Roger Penrose's "quantum mind" silliness. (No, I'm usually far to respectful of hard-science Ph.D.s to call their theories "silly", but for Penrose's speculations outside his own field, I'll make an exception.)

          I'd mod jovlinger's post up, except I wanna make my own recommendations too. (Sorry. It's not all about Karma, is it? Oh.)
    • by Mandi Walls (6721) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:38PM (#5122307) Homepage Journal
      To the "hard sci-fi" list i'd like to add

      Peter Watts - Starfish and Maelstrom

      Eric S. Nylund - Signal to Noise and A Signal Shattered

      Someone else in reply to this post suggested Noon, but I just can't get through his stuff. Anybody wants my mostly unread copy of Vurt, you're welcome to it.

      --mandi

      • Nylund was more enjoyable than well written. Ie, the story is strong enough to overcome the sometimes stilted writing. If you buy those books, buy both (they are really one book published in two volumes), and force yourself to finish the first one (the second is significantly better written than the first -- with any luck his next books will be even better written with the same strong plots). But well worth the read, all in all.

        I don't know Watts. What sort of writing is it?

        On a completely different note, If you like the Asimov style SF, you may want to pick up some Charles Sheffield. Be somewhat careful about what you buy as the same book (or at least same plot) has been published under two different titles (forget which tho. Sorry). In particular, I recommend "The compleat McAndrew" for well done Engineer-as-hero shorts. His "The Web between Worlds" is remarkable for being accused of plagarising Clarke's space elevators (Sheffield's book takes the concept in a very different direction, and since Clarke had no problem with it, neither do I). I suspect that Baxter is a fan of this book, as "Manifold:Space"'s super-smart-squid and protagonist Malenfant have clear counterparts in Web.

        Lastly, (and then I promise to stop), on the cyberpunk level, I'd recommend Alex Effinger's (RIP) Marid series. Arab cyberpunk kicks ass! Also (if only because I can't seem to find these books anywhere) Walter Jon Williams' "Hardwired" (strong recommend) was probably the first cyberpunk I'd ever read. "Days of Atonement" (recommend) is good Twilight-Zone-meets-detective , while "Aristoi" is almost Piers Anthonyesq (that's not a Good Thing, IMHO). A brief web search indicates that he's now writing Star Wars novellas, which I am having a hard time reconciling with the style of what I've read, but there you go.
  • Doh! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:19PM (#5120547)


    > What are you guys reading?

    Slashdot.

  • J.R.R. Tolkien! I mean, look, he has like 3 movies out right now! He's gotta be good or sumptin... ;)
  • Too obvious? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dmah (90927) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:20PM (#5120563) Homepage
    Neal Stephenson: Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash, Diamond Age.
    • Too many goofs (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mangu (126918)
      In Cryptonomicon there's a point when someone lost at sea gets oriented by stars that weren't visible from the place where he was. That's something a true SF author would always check, *very* carefully, because it's the obvious thing to verify...
      • by Wonko42 (29194) <ryan+slashdot@@@wonko...com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:49PM (#5121842) Homepage
        Yeah, that totally ruined it for me. After I read that bit, I threw the book at the wall and grabbed the phone to warn my friends not to read it. I bought "cryptonomiconsucks.com" and called in sick to work the next day so I could spend the day putting together a website warning the rest of the world not to read the book as well.

        That weekend, I went to the local Barnes and Noble and picketed in front of the "S" section. I posted several scathing reviews on Amazon.com under various pseudonyms and spent most of Sunday digging up Neal Stephenson's home phone number, after which I prank-called him for a good six hours straight.

        I wrote a letter to my congressman as well, and I strongly urge you to do the same! If we don't fight the rising tide of inaccurate astronomical navigation references in modern science fiction, then who will?

    • Re:Too obvious? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rossifer (581396)
      "Zodiac", "Snow Crash" and "The Diamond Age" were well written, fun reads, but "Cryptonomicon" was a painful waste of money (I bought the hardback). I must be the only /. reader who doesn't like it though...

      His exposition was painful and labored, trying to explain modern "hacker-ware" to the non-elite. Linux and PGP have never been more painful to hear about than in that book. And then on top of that the ending was such a total and complete non-event, I have never been so completely underwhelmed.

      I like Stephenson, but "Cryptonomicon" simply sucked and I'm desperately hoping the next one is a return to the wonderful storytelling of his earlier works.

      Regards,
      Ross
      • Re:Too obvious? (Score:3, Informative)

        by billstewart (78916)
        Cryptonomicon was more fun if you knew half the people in it :-) The "Secret Admirers", the small company offices in Los Altos, an awful lot of inside jokes. Some of the jokes were inside for a much broader Silicon Valley audience ("Enhancing Shareholder Value....") and people who live near leftie-academia ("War As Text"). And, ok, Stephenson's never been that good at endings.
      • Re:Too obvious? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ajs (35943)
        So, I gotta get this straight.... You read Zodiac, Snow Crash and Diamond Age and you were stunned that Cryptonomicon had a non-ending?!

        You must have stopped 10-pages short of the end of Diamond Age then!

        Stephenson has a wonderful ability to write about technological concepts in a way that is interesting and informative to the casual reader while (at least to me) engrossing for the long-time professional as well. I read Cryptonomicon and Applied Cryptography back-to-back and I have to say that he did a good job of capturing the really interesting parts of cryptography.

        The end was standard Stephenson drop-off. He's turned on by the IDEA, not the story. To him, it seems, the idea is all that's worth writing about, and when he's done, the rest is a chore. I'm just guessing, as I don't know the man, but that's the way Diamond Age came off to me, and Cryptonomicon to a lesser extent.

        I still find his idead compelling enough to keep reading. I see him as sort of the Arthur C. Clarke of this generation. A friend pointed out that while many engineers in the 50s would have said that Clarke didn't know "enough" about their field, he knew enough about several and had the vision to put them together in a way that told the story that the engineers could not.

        I don't know that any of us in the trenches are telling the story that Cryptonomicon told in a way that will ever get to as many people. It's not a hugely important story, but certainly one that I think should be told.
    • Reading List (Score:4, Informative)

      by VoidEngineer (633446) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:08PM (#5121960)
      So, here's my 2 cents worth:

      Jordan, Robert
      Wheel of Time Series
      Books: Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadows Rising, The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords

      Herbert, Frank
      The Dune Series
      Books: Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emporer of Dune, Heritics of Dune, Chapterhouse: Dune, Dune: House Atraides, Dune: House Harkonen, Dune: House Coronin

      Gaiman, Neil
      The Sandman Series
      Preludes and Nocturnes, The Dolls House, Dream Country, Seasons of Mist, A Game of You, Brief Lives, Fables and Reflection, World's End, The Kindly Ones, The Wake

      Rice, Anne
      The Vampire Chronicles
      Books: Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the Body Thief, Memnoch the Devil, The Vampire Armand, Merrick, Blood & Gold, Blackwood Farm

      King, Stephen
      The Dark Tower Series
      Books: The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass

      Rollings, JK
      Harry Potter Series
      Books: Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Pheonix

      Stephenson, Neal
      Books: Snow Crash, Diamond Age, Cryptonomicon

      Dick, Philip
      Books: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The Man in the High Castle, The Dark Haired Girl, Confessions of a Crap Artist, Divine Invasion, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Galactic Pot-Healer, The Game-Players of Titan, Martian Time-Slip, A Maze of Death, Radio Free Albemuth, A Scanner Darkly, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, We Can Build You, The World Jones Made

      OLDER / HARDCORE

      Gibson, William
      Books: Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive

      Brooks, Terry
      The Shannara Series
      Books: The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara, The Wishsong of Shannara, The Scions of Shannara, The Druid of Shannara, The Elf Queen of Shannara, The Talismans of Shannara
      The Landover Series
      Books: Magic Kingdom For Sale -- Sold! The Black Unicorn, Wizard At Large, The Tangle Box, Witches' Brew

      Tolkein, J.R.R.
      Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, The Book of Lost Tales

      Hubbard, L. Ron
      The Mission: Earth Series
      Books: The Invaders Plan, Black Genesis, The Enemy Within, An Alien Affair, Fortune Of Fear, Death Quest, Voyage Of Vengeance, Disaster, Villainy Victorious, The Doomed Planet
      Also: Battlefield Earth, Dianetics

      Asimov, Isaac
      The Foundation Series
      1600+ other books and articles.

      Wells, H.G.
      The Time Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Monroe, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds

      Verne, Jules
      20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in 80 Days

      OTHER

      White Wolf Publishers
      Mage: The Ascension, Vampire: The Masquarade, Wraith: The Oblivion, Werewolf: The Apacolypse, Hunter: The Reckoning
      (I figure that if you're reading DragonLance, that you're also probably playing some D&D or AD&D. If so, you may want to consider switching from TSR to WhiteWolf. I only suggest this because you've asked slashdot for some new reading.)
      • Re:Reading List (Score:3, Interesting)

        by swv3752 (187722)
        Many of your recommendations are older but still good.

        Some others:

        Stephen R Donaldson: Very good writing with anti-typical protagonists- Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series, The Gap Series, The Mirror of her dreams, Many short stories.

        Alan Dean Foster: Mostly Humourous but some serious- Spellsinger, Dinotopia, Maori, Quozl, The Last Starfighter, Flinx, and many more

        Glen Cook: Military Fantasy and Detective Fantasy- his novels of the Black Company and Garret typify his work
        If anyone can recommend someone similiar to Glan Cook, I would be grateful.

        Marion Zimmer Bradley: Darkover- I think she has written more Darkover novels than there exist Dragon Lance novels. Or maybe I should append that- good Dragon Lance novels.

        Brian Lumley- Necronomicon and new Cthulu mythos books. A note, you will probably find his works in horror not SF/Fantasy.

        My other suggestion is to google your favorite TSR Authors, and check out thier other works. And your local used book store is a treasure trove. I have found many Authors this way by picking books I would not normally read.

      • Re:Reading List (Score:4, Insightful)

        by G-funk (22712) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @10:53PM (#5124091) Homepage Journal
        Jordan, Robert
        Wheel of Time Series
        Books: Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadows Rising, The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords


        I'm a huge fan of the WOT story and universe, but apart from the last few pages of winter's heart, the last 3 or so books have sucked. It's slow, and has diversified into too many different tales all at once... It's become a soap with magic. Kind of like Night's Dawn but not done as well. The next one is out in a few weeks I think, I hope it picks up the pace.
      • Simmons, Dan
        Hyperion
  • Saturated? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:21PM (#5120568)
    I have maybe 4000 books at home ...I just keep reading the ones that I have over and over and over.

    If you've read that many books then maybe you've hit the saturation point for that particular genre. Perhaps you should consider branching out? There are plenty of other good books out there that don't fall into the Fantasy / Sci-Fi genre. Philosophy books can be a good read, if a bit wordy. Failing that, I'd suggest Neal Stephenson (but you've probably already read his books). Cryptonomicon is pure gold
    • Gene Wolfe (Score:5, Informative)

      by devphil (51341) on Monday January 20, 2003 @04:17PM (#5121103) Homepage


      Is one of the absolute best SF authors currently writing, and one of the reasons is that his longer works (the multi-volume The Book of the {New,Long,Short} Sun series, to throw a little shell expansion into the discussion) do not follow anything like what people usually think of when they think "SF".

      Also, Wolfe isn't like the current crop of writers that assume you have no imagination nor brain. Or rather, he doesn't write for the current crop of readers who have to have everything spelled out for them. Your brain will be required to work to understand what's happening in his books, and you will love it.

      I recommend The Book of the Long Sun if you're new to Wolfe. He's more famous for New Sun, but that one can be a hard introduction for new Wolfe readers (i.e., people whose brains are still mush from reading Robart Jordan).

      Here [clara.net] is an essay he wrote on Tolkien. Here [op.net] is a randomly-chosen Gene Wolfe page with links to other GW pages, but with spoilers for the books, grrrrr. Turn your brain on and have some fun. :-)

    • Re:Saturated? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Reziac (43301)
      I found it worked the other way around. I've been a heavy reader all my life (going on 48), and I used to read practically anything that came to hand, in any genre. Eventually I realised that the books I really *enjoyed* were all SF/F, and that I really was no longer interested in other genres (nor in short stories of any genre). As a result, I gradually stopped reading anything outside of SF/F, except for a special few (frex, Craig Thomas' espionage novels).

      A couple decades later (not coincidentally, about the time I began writing myself, therefore viewing all written material with a more-critical eye) I realised that a great deal of SF/F didn't interest me anymore either -- mainly because a lot of the "classic" authors really were frankly not as good as they'd *seemed* when I was younger, and hungrier for new material. As a result, I've become much more selective about what I read, and more prone to *re-read* those that I still find really good and truly interesting.

  • My Scifi picks (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:21PM (#5120569)
    Here are my picks. I'm sure you already have most of the books if not all.
    TV Series

    Babylon 5: The best TV series ever
    Futurama: Eat Bender's shiny a.. FOX!!!!

    Books

    Asimov's any book, but especially Nightfall
    Tolkien's "The lord of the Rings"
    David Brin's Uplift series
    Frank Herbert's Dune series
    C.J. Cherryh's "Finity's End"
    Catherine Asaro's Skolian universe
    Orson S. Card's "Ender's Game"
    Dan Simmons' "Endymion" and "The Rise of Endymion"
    Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series (especially Watch series)
    Ursula K. LeGuin's "A Wizard of Earthsea"
    Roger Zelazny's "The Chronicles of Amber"
    Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee's "Rama" series
    Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon the Deep"
  • Try New Genres (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tealover (187148) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:21PM (#5120575)
    You remind me of a friend. The only books he ever read were fantasy books. That's it. He had no other books in his book shelves. As you can guess, he wasn't exactly the most open minded person in the world (not that I'm calling you close minded). He had the same thing with music. Only listened to heav metal. Wouldn't let anyone play any other type of music.

    But I think you deny yourself some of life's pleasures by narrowly defining your interests. It's ok to like reading Sci-Fi books, but I can tell you that you are missing out on a lot if that's all you read. I don't consider Tech books to be "reading" books so I won't address that.

    • by Interrobang (245315) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:48PM (#5120886) Journal
      I know how you feel. I own about 2000 books, so there are a lot of times when I go into my local second-hand bookstore and don't find anything I want to read at all. The posters who suggest you branch out have a good point, and I can provide some input as to "Mainstream for Science Fiction Fans" (remember that anthology, "Science Fiction for People Who Don't Like Science Fiction"?)

      Note that some of these authors are not new, but you may not have gotten around to them (or heard of them) yet:

      W.P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe Comes to Iowa, The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, and If Wishes Were Horses, which are sort of "magic realism" fantasy (no orcs, elves, or swords to be seen!).

      Stephen King, (bear with me!) The Dark Tower series, which is sort of dark, parallel-world fantasy drawn from contemporary popular culture, and not really like anything else King's ever written.

      Tom Holt, Only Human, Snow White and the Seven Samurai, and Ye Gods!, which is sort of similar to Douglas Adams, only with less philosophy and more social skills.

      Douglas Coupland, Girlfriend In A Coma, which is a complete departure from Microserfs.

      Donald J. Skal, Antibodies, a very overlooked little tome on people who want to become machines.

      Frank Norris, McTeague, written in 1899 and has probably one of the scariest endings ever written. Ok, so it's not SF, but it might count as horror, and it's definitely a classic book. I love this book and think it's a really great read. Norris doesn't pull any punches, so it's really gritty without any flowery phrases to be found. :)

      Theme anthologies are also a great way of discovering "new" authors, as are subscribing to SF magazines. But I'm sure you knew that already.

      Adviso: Keep in mind that I'm heavily into Harlan Ellison, Norman Spinrad, Norris, Theodore Dreiser, Stephen King, and Cordwainer Smith (among others), and I despise Tolkien and all the other sappy fantasists who take themselves seriously, so take with the appropriately-sized grain of salt.
  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:22PM (#5120581)
    I used to dabble in scifi until I started hitting the general fiction/nonfiction shelves and found that in general, the quality of writing is much higher when there isn't a pixie or a dragon or a robot on the book's cover.

    Whatgever genre, you can always hit the Amazon editor's picks list (avoid the topsellers lists, its filled with pedestrian crap) or the NY Times book reviews.

    The first step to enlightenment is to be a book snob. Stay away from airport crap (John Grisham, Michael Crichton), and try batting out of your league a bit...you might just expand and learn something.

    • by Xtifr (1323)
      J. Random Passerby: "Gee, Mr. Sturgeon, you write scifi? I've read some of this scifi stuff, and honestly, most of it is crud!"

      Ted Sturgeon: "Indeed, about 90% of all science fiction is crud, but then 90% of everything, roughly speaking, is crud."

      And thus was born Sturgeon's Law [tuxedo.org].

      I used to dabble in scifi

      I used to "dabble" in mainstream fiction, and found that most of it was crap. And what do we learn from this? Sturgeon was right.

      Actually, I would argue that today, the meta-category of "speculative fiction" has, overall, a higher percentage of good stuff because it simply give the author more scope. All of time and space, all the lands of the imagination, up to and including the real world here-and-now. How can someone who is truly creative and inventive resist this wider scope? I think this is a fairly minor factor, and is partially offset by the stigma of being a "genre author", but I nevertheless think it's a factor.

      avoid the topsellers lists, its filled with pedestrian crap

      Here I strongly disagree. Sure, 90% of the bestsellers are crap, but remember Sturgeon's law. Throughout history, most of the great writers have been popular writers, at least as far back as Shakespeare. If you're not writing to entertain, then why the hell are you writing? I'd much rather have a novel written by someone who has worked for years to learn how to write an entertaining, popular novel, than by someone who has spent years trying to prove to the world how much smarter he is than the average joe.

      The first step to enlightenment is to be a book snob.

      Yeah, I tried that back when I was a young student, a couple of decades ago. Now, looking back, I realize what a pretentious young idiot I was. Back then, I thought James Joyce was the height to which literature could and should aspire. Now I realize that it's simply an interesting side-branch of literature. Worth investigating, but no better in any absolute sense than the best of the popular best-selling authors.

      As for learning something, I think that in general, you'll do better to read some non-fiction. I read fiction for entertainment, and thus, I expect it to be entertaining. If it isn't, it's probably just a waste of my time.
  • Neil Gaiman (Score:5, Informative)

    by demi (17616) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:23PM (#5120590) Homepage Journal

    His books are better than they have a right to be. Don't know about series, but I really enjoyed American Gods [amazon.com], Stardust [amazon.com] is a great adult fairy tale, and Neverwhere [amazon.com] was the book that got me reading fantasy again after a decade-long break.

    • Re:Neil Gaiman (Score:5, Informative)

      by swordgeek (112599) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:26PM (#5120633) Journal
      Damn! As soon as I saw the subject, I was going to jump in and recommend Neil Gaiman. However, SOMEONE beat me to it!

      So the best I can do is second it. I'm reading American Gods right now, have read Neverwhere, and have the entire Sandman series of comics. (As a friend said, Gaiman disproves the statement that all 'adult comics/graphic novels' are written by (and for) horny 20-year-olds who never got laid. Neil is simply one of the best authors alive today.
  • by backlonthethird (470424) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:23PM (#5120593)
    Tad Williams "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn" trilogy is probalby the best fantasy I've read, period (apologies to J.R.R.). Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, To Green Angel Tower are the book titles.

    He also is writing an epic sci-fi cycle called "Otherland." A cross between the Matrix, classic cyberpunk, and Alice in Wonderland. High, High quality.

    more info on his website [tadwilliams.com]
  • Define "new" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:23PM (#5120594) Homepage Journal
    For me Orson Card, Terry Pratchett or Dan Simmons are "new" authors, even if the books I like from them have 10-20 years. You can even discover Isaac Asimov, and like their stuff, and being "new" for you.
  • It surpaseth the hype.

    Be sure to read them in order - there's a huge spoiler in book three (The best one as far as I'm concerned.)

  • Dozois anthologies (Score:5, Informative)

    by Onan The Librarian (126666) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:25PM (#5120609)
    Gardner Dozois edits a yearly anthology of science fiction that has turned me on to a variety of excellent new (and not-so-new) authors. To name a few whose work I'll read anytime: Lucius Shepard, William Sanders, Michael Swanwick, Robert Reed, Howard Waldrop, Terry Bisson, Ursula LeGuin, Mike Resnick, Kathryn Rusch, Karen Fowler... well, just about anyone he selects. I know there are other interesting yearly anthologies out there, and occasionally I buy one, but I've been purchasing Dozois's every year for the past 8 years. Worth checking out, might even be at your local library.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:25PM (#5120611)
    Vernor Vinge rocks:
    A Fire Upon the Deep
    Deepness in the Sky
    (loosely related)

    Dan Simmon's Hyperion/Endymion series (4 books) is excellent.

    Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon.
  • by chandoni (28843) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:25PM (#5120613) Homepage
    As much as I hate to do this to the site, check out the Internet Top 100 list [geocities.com]. Google it if it's slashdotted.
  • Check out China Mieville [panmacmillan.com].

    I haven't read his first novel, King Rat [barnesandnoble.com], yet, but the reviews are good.

    I can say, however, that Perdido Street Station [barnesandnoble.com] and The Scar [barnesandnoble.com], both set in the world of Bas-Lag, are incredibly good reads.

    Mieville's writing has been described as slipstream - a new genre that incorporates steampunk, SF, and gothic horror. I'm not sure about the classification, but I'm eagerly awaiting his next book.
  • He's been around a while, but since you didn't list him, I thought I'd throw the name out there.
    Specifically the Wheel of Time series... There are currently 10 released books, and even though the last few actually seemed like one book split into two, it's still really good (Am I the only one who thought the ending of Crossroads of Twilight (The recently released book) was lame?).

    • There is no beginning or ending to the Wheel of Time.
    • by djohnsto (133220)
      I was introduced to WOT in the summer of '01 by a friend who happened to have the first 9 books. I ended up reading all of them in about 2 months; I just couldn't put them down! So, it was with great anticipation that I received Crossroads of Twilight. I finally get to find out what happens with about 3 plot lines that have been leading up to something great. Then, I read the book.

      Damn Jordan to Hell! I read the book and ... NOTHING HAPPENS!!! He spends 700 pages going over a month or so time frame from 3-4 different plot lines and creeping them all just a little bit closer to where something will actually occur. I'm tempted to just forget this series. I've read that he plans 3 more books, but if they're exciting as Crossroads, I think I'll just pass.

    • Re:Robert Jordan (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sjbrown (9382)
      I didn't mind the ending, seeing as the last 4 or 5 chapters were the only chapters where something actually happened. Up until that point, Jordan basically reiterated stuff we already knew and described how about 20 Aes Sedai looked or held themselves. It was my least favourite book of the ten.

      Note to Jordan: Your fans would appreciate it if, in the future:
      • stuff actually happens
      • you include glossary entries for minor characters (how am I supposed to remember the difference between Reene, Renna, and Reine, when they were last mentioned in 2 paragraphs 4 books ago?)
      • you wrote faster. Maybe consider hand steriods

      Of course, for all the criticism, I highly enjoy the Wheel Of Time series and would reccommend it.
  • Some Recommendations (Score:3, Informative)

    by haplo21112 (184264) <haplo@epithnaERDOS.com minus math_god> on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:25PM (#5120620) Homepage
    1. Elizabeth Haydon
    2. David Drake
    3. Terry Goodkind(although perhaps not exactly new)
    4. George RR Martin(again not exactly new but you didn't mention him)
    5. Tim Zahn
    6. Brian Herbert - son of Frank
  • My Sugestions (Score:2, Informative)

    by Thauma (35771)
    One good way to find new Sci-Fi and fiction authors is to follow the awards. I generaly like many of the Hugo and Nebula canidates... (The winners are not always the best of the bunch imho)

    You can also try short fiction available electronicly, FictionWise.com generaly has free stories available as well as a good selection of new authors as well as classics.
  • Terry Pratchet (Score:2, Informative)

    by dubbreak (623656)
    I love douglas adams and this guys writing style is very similar (very humorous yet full of amazing inovations). His big book "Theif of time". Of course if you haven't read every Isaac Asimov book yet that could keep you busy for a few years.
    • Re:Terry Pratchet (Score:5, Insightful)

      by happyhippy (526970) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:33PM (#5120714)
      He has almost 30 books. And there are better ones than the Thief of Time.

      I wouldnt recommend which ones to read, as although most can be read without reading any previous ones, its better to read them in order of they were made. Theres some jokes that you will only get if you read them in a previous book first

  • Given your library you've probably read John Dalmas (The Regiment, The Three Cornered War), but if you haven't you may wish to check out his writing.

    How about Terry Goodkind (Wizard's First Rule...)- though, heh in both cases sometimes it *seems* like they are new - but then I realize I've actually been reading them for 5-10 years - ugh time flies too fast...

    I'm interested to see what people come up with though - I walk into Chapters and they have 4 or 5 shelves of Sci-Fi and Fantasy - not that I'm complaining mind you, but my eyes sort of glaze over as I try to pull out one book out of thousands - shamefully cover art is hard to ignore (but I do try and lead the synopsis and flip through a few pages to gauge style).

    Hmmm, how about Christian Jacq's Ramses series? It's somewhat interesting - it's not really new, although it's somewhat new to North America being a French book originally.
  • Only read two of his books but they are very good. I dont think its a series as they were totally different SF eras.

    One is called Bloom and is about people living on some moon around Jupiter or Saturn after Earth was 'consumed' by nanomite weapon and is spitting out nanomites which occasionally hits them.

    Coliseium is another and is about the harnessing of blackholes to form 'space highways' that all quick travel.

  • What about that R. A. Salvatore fellow? I hear people like his crap for some god-forsaken reason.
  • by dmah (90927)
    Simon Singh (http://www.simonsingh.net/)

    Code Book - history of cryptograhy.
    Fermat's Enigma - solving Fermat's last theorem.
  • by caesar-auf-nihil (513828) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:29PM (#5120666)
    If you're looking for the best new SciFi authors, check out Analog. It's a paperback magazine, published monthly (www.analogsf.com), with lots of great SciFi and science fact articles. Sometimes its just a selection of short stores, but you'll also find novellas and serials, some of which have been turned into full published novels. Lots of new authors, as well as few older ones, publish great Science Fiction.
  • by pogen (303331) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:29PM (#5120668) Homepage
    EuroSeti [ufomag.co.uk].
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:31PM (#5120687) Homepage Journal
    Or at least new to me, was Storm Constantine. At the time I had no idea who she was and I dropped like twenty or thirty bucks on a single-volume trilogy called Wraethu. I think the first book is called something like The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, or maybe that's me somehow combining more than one title from the series... Anyway, quite a good read but the characters are a sort of new transhuman third gender so if you're squeamish about that sort of thing, try something else she's written. It's brilliantly depicted and has a lot of depth and is really quite entertaining.

    A Sci-Fi author people tend to miss somehow who I really like is C.J. Cherryh, she's amazingly prolific and has quite a large body of interconnected work. Much like most of the works of McCaffrey, everything takes place in the same slice of reality, which is something I've always enjoyed in a sci-fi author. I started with The Pride of Chanur (first of four? books in a series) and I think the next series I read was Cyteen (a trilogy). 40,000 in Gehenna would be a good step after cyteen... Then run around and fill in with other books :)

    As for people who you shouldn't have missed, and probably didn't, but really ought not: Vernor Vinge, and Walter Jon Williams. WJW has written some fairly trashy cyberpunk (Hardwired) which is basically a stroke-piece in the same way as Snow Crash (but also entertaining in many of the same ways - WJW isn't NEARLY as flowery as Stephenson, which is frequently a good thing) and also a fairly thought-provoking novel called Aristoi which is heavy on the nanotech, and far future. Vernor Vinge is amazing, the first book of his I read was a fire upon the deep; also check out a deepness in the sky.

    Hopefully you've already read everything here; If not, hope this helps. Regardless, for everyone else and posterity, my statements stand.

  • How about... (Score:3, Informative)

    by metlin (258108) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:34PM (#5120727) Journal
    ...David Zindell?

    I'm surprised that I've not seen any Slashdotters mention Zindell at all.

    He has written a really wonderful series, which stemmed out of Shanidar [infinityplus.co.uk] - an award winning short story of his.

    Then came Neverness [deepamber.com] , which was truly breathtaking. Splendid mix of story telling, science, philosophy and strong character portrayal with a touch of sarcastic humour. Truly amazing SF.

    After Neverness came a series of 3 books under the series called Requiem for Homo Sapiens, following the storyline of Neverness.

    This contains The Broken God [deepamber.com] , The Wild [deepamber.com] and War in Heaven [deepamber.com] .

    You might just want to try a few sample Epigraphs [aol.com] from his book as well as visit this fan site [deepamber.com].

    Truly awesome, truly inspiring.
  • Joseph Haldeman (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FortKnox (169099) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:35PM (#5120738) Homepage Journal
    Start with "The Forever War" and go from there. By far, my favorite book.
  • by smoon (16873) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:36PM (#5120757) Homepage
    Pliocene Exile series:
    The Many Coloured Land
    The Golden Torc
    The Nonborn King
    The Adversary

    The Surveilance series (extension of above):
    The surveilance
    The Metaconcert

    The Galactic milieu series (more of above):
    Jack the bodiless
    Diamond mask
    One or two others...

    Good writer, good series. These are from the 80's and (very) early 90's. Many are hard to find right now, but maybe there will be another reprint...
  • David Weber (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lechter (205925) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:39PM (#5120793)

    I wouldn't call him a "new" author, but he seldom seems to be in the traditional top-10 or 20. Even so, Weber writes excellent books in the military-sci-fi vein. They're seldom "high art" or particularly thought provoking, but the characters are generally pretty good and the stories themselves are fun reads largely due to Weber's approchable style.

    Of his books, I'd recommend the trilogy that begins with The Armageddon Inheritance [amazon.com] is a lot of fun. If you like that then you should check out his Honor Harrington Series [amazon.com], which is also excellent

  • by Malc (1751) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:41PM (#5120819)
    Not quite in your list of genre's. I couldn't put the book down, with at least one work night reading until 5am. Other people have told me of similar experiences. Based on heresay, you might like Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series too.
  • by pogle (71293) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:43PM (#5120836) Homepage
    -Peter F Hamilton's Nights Dawn Trilogy

    -George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series (book 4 coming soon!)

    -Jack Whyte's Camulod Chronicles (Historical fiction on King Arthur's grandparents, very very good)

    -Tom Clancy's Red Rabbit (been reading bits and pieces for months)

    -Robert Jordan's WOT #10, Crossroads of Twilight (his slowest read ever though, and not too good IMO)

    -Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series

    -Orson Scott Card's Shadow Puppets, the latest book in the Bean series (Enders Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon preceeding)
    -Also the rest of Card's Ender series (Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the mind)

    -Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash

    -Search for an online book, The Heretic. Got it from a friend, he said there was free downloads--very cool hacker type book, equates it to spellcasting and such

    -Tolkien's LotR, Silmarillion, etc

    -Anything by Robert Ludlum

    -Clive Cussler novels

    Some of these are oldies, but still good. Not all are fantasy or scifi. I've got a ton of others, but these are all the more recent ones (although in most cases it was re-reading them for the millionth time).
  • good, recent SF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gribbly (39555) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:43PM (#5120839)
    Didn't we have a question like this not so long ago...?
    Anyway:
    • Greg Egan - Permutation City, Diaspora
    • Steven Baxter - Manifold:Time, Manifold:Space
    • David Marusek - check his site [marusek.com]
    • Iain M. Banks - Culture series (you want me list them all? What the hell!? You haven't heard of google [google.com]?

    • There you go!
      grib
  • Lois McMaster Bujold (Score:5, Informative)

    by gorilla (36491) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:43PM (#5120841)
    Winner of 4 Hugo's, 2 Nebulas, and oodles of nominations.
    • by Animats (122034)
      Bujold is unique in that she sets stories of different genres in the same universe. "The Warrior's Apprentice" is space opera. "Ceteganda" is a detective novel. "A Civil Campaign" is a comedy of manners. "Barrayar" is a war novel. "Cordeila's Honor" is a romance.
  • Encyclopedias... (Score:3, Informative)

    by RedWizzard (192002) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:44PM (#5120844)
    You should consider checking out the Encyclopedia of Fantasy [amazon.com], and the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction [amazon.com], both edited by John Clute. They won't get you onto the very newest stuff (check out the SF magazines and awards for that), but you're bound to find some good older authors you haven't read.
  • by TrebleJunkie (208060) <ezahurak@a[ ]nticbb.net ['tla' in gap]> on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:45PM (#5120852) Homepage Journal
    James P. Hogan [jamesphogan.com], James P. Hogan [jamesphogan.com], James P. Hogan [jamesphogan.com]. Great hardcore SF. Might not be new to you, but if you've been out of it for a while, you've missed a few books.

    If you want to try some stuff that isn't SF, try Andrew Vachss [vachss.com] for some really dark, hard crime stories with a message (more on the web site). I recommend his Burke series (too many books to list) or Graphic novels (if you can find them) to anyone. He's done a Batman or two, too, I think.

    Harry Turtledove's Colonization series (I don't remember the names) -- taking place after his "WorldWar" series, are very good reading, but the series kinda "ends" leaving too much hanging, IMHO. Again, not completely new, but if you haven't read it, you might like to.

    I'm probably the only one that will tell you this, but I tried reading Neal Stephenson/Stevenson/However you spell it, and threw it out less than 100 pages in. Not just put it away, THREW IT OUT. Neal is apparently the James Joyce of SF, That is to say, he uses too many freaking words and doesn't really ever gets to the damn point, nor does he tell all that great a story. It's an "emperors new clothes" kind of book. The sophists will tell you it's great, but only because they think they *have* to in order to stay in the "in" sophist crowd. Well, I'm that little boy telling his daddy that the king is walking around naked. Not a good book.
  • by Doktor Memory (237313) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:46PM (#5120861) Journal
    I couldn't tell you who the top ten "new" science fiction authors are, but I can tell you one thing: you've been cheating yourself by consuming a lot of churned-out-by-committee crap, one identical "novel" after the other.

    Instead of looking for the next endless, pandering "series" a la Weis & Hickman or (shudder) Piers Anthony, why not investigate some of the actual artists in the field? As about a dozen people above have already pointed out, we have these things called the Hugo and Nebula awards -- we give 'em out every year, and it's usually a safe bet that at least a few of the winners are worth your time to read.

    A few authors and books you owe it to yourself to check out if you actually think you like this genre:

    "A Fire Upon the Deep" by Vernor Vinge
    "White Light" by Rudy Rucker
    "Gun, with Occasional Music" by Johnathan Lethem
    "The Book of the New Sun" by Gene Wolfe (this one's actually part of a "series", but Wolfe is a strong enough writer to make me forgive that)
    "The Shockwave Rider" by John Brunner
    "Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by Haruki Murikami
    Any of Harlan Ellison's mid-to-late 1970s short story collections. "Shatterday" is probably the strongest.
    Anything by Thomas Disch (start with "Camp Concentration")
    Everything by Alfred Bester.

    And, god forbid, you could consider reading something other than SF&F occasionally. Non-genre "literature" needn't be a soul-crushing Lit 101 experience: grab a copy of "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez or "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter Thompson and go to town...
  • Where to start? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nicholas Schumacher (21495) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:46PM (#5120866) Homepage
    Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash, Cyrptonomicon, The Diamond Age)
    Guy Gavreil Key (The Fionavar Tapestry)
    Lois McMaster Bujold (the Vorkosigan books)
    Mercedes Lackey (the Valdemar novels)
    Michael A. Stackpole (Dragoncrown cycle)
    Spider Robinson (the early Callahan books)

    and a must read:
    Terry Pratchett (Diskworld novels)

    Those should keep you busy for a while :-)
  • by yawble (181792) <whitney&luna,tk> on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:47PM (#5120873) Homepage Journal
    I am also a big sci-fi buff, end up reading about one book/week. My personal favorite is Nancy Kress, she has a serious on geneticlly altered children and how they cope. VERY good stuff.
    Also if you like sci-fi w/ a good sense of humor, try Steven Brust. He has a "Taltos" series thats kinda fantasy, but still damn good. Brust also has some more hard core sci-fi titles, but i'll let you find those on your own ;)

    Robert Asprin is pretty good, but again, hes more of a fantasy tilt. The best place to find new good sci-fi IMHO would be the Issac Asimovs monthly magazine [asimovs.com]. They have short stories, novellas, and novellettes. Thats where i've found most of the outstanding authors i've come across.
    Happy hunting!
  • Two more (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nidhogg (161640) <shr.thanatos@ g m a il.com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:49PM (#5120895) Journal
    Two come to mind for me.

    Peter F. Hamilton [virgin.net]. I really enjoyed his Confederate Universe series. Looking at your list above you probably would too.

    John Varley [geocities.com]. Very entertaining. Also notice my sig. :)
  • by millia (35740) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:49PM (#5120896) Homepage
    Two names there that don't get enough credit. Both will stretch your mind, and both do stuff that runs along the border of SF & Literature.
    Morrow is the most savagely satiric writer i've ever read. His Godhead trilogy (google for it) is so full of humanity, that summarizing it (what happens after god's body crashes to earth) is trivializing to the nth degree. Although I would say that any of his stuff is brilliant, good starting points are the trilogy and the book of short stories, "Bible Stories for Adults"
    Michael Bishop's work encompasses both straight and SF subjects. My favorite is entitled "Brittle Innings" and is about minor league baseball during WW II- but there's a twist. "Close Encounters with the Deity" is a book of short stories all dealing with religion in SF.
    Finally, for pure humorous writing, do check out Chris Moore. While it's not SF, or even really fantasy, it's absolutely hilarious stuff with a touch of the fantastic. "Practical Demonkeeping" is a great starting point.
  • SF is not Fantasy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andy Social (19242) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:53PM (#5120932) Homepage
    If you're using "SF" to refer to Science Fiction, which is the most common breakout, rather than Speculative Fiction, you're missing the boat entirely with the books you have mentioned. Sounds like you want FANTASY books.

    If you are looking for unusual well-written fantasy, check out Storm Constantine. The Wraethu omnibus edition is usually available, and it's a stunning piece of gothic fantasy alternate-reality post-apocalyptic gender-bending writing. Can't get enough hyphens.

    For science fiction work, of course there's Neal Stephenson, and the recently feted Cory Doctorow. You can't go wrong with the classics of Heinlein and Asimov, of course.

    Beyond that, as others have said, try something outside the F&SF realm. Or, if you can't bring yourself to do that, subscribe to Analog, Asimov's or F&SF to get a taste of new authors. Short fiction is like the snack before you dig into a big meaty novel.
  • Spider Robinson (Score:3, Informative)

    by kent_eh (543303) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:55PM (#5120949)
    For light, fun reading: any of the Calahan's books.
    I also enjoyed the Lifehouse/Deathkiller/Time Pressure series. An intersting, if optomistic future view.
    And finally, Stardancer, co-written with Jeanne Robinson was good for a bit of a mind bending.
    Oh, here's his web site [spiderrobinson.com]
  • by Reinout (4282) <reinout@vanrees. o r g> on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:56PM (#5120973) Homepage
    A different style of fantasy hit my bookshelf a year ago. David (and Leigh) Eddings are the authors. The fun thing about their books is that it doesn't start out all-hopeless for the main character set.

    You know, LotR. Nice army Rohan 's got, as does Gondor. But a wee bit underpowered when you look at all those nice, huge armies Sauron has got. Basically hopeless from the beginning.

    Many other books keep averting disaster throughout a book by having the main wizard drown the enemy in avelanges, fires and steaming lakes. But without him/her they would be done for.

    In come the series by the Eddingses. Especially in their 3-book Tamuli series the good guys have some 100,000 heavily armed knights at their disposal. And a little girl of course :-) Enough to competently trample the opposition. There's some damage, but two chapters later they're back in the saddle.

    It is eneourmously refreshing compared to the rest of the genre.

    If you want to try something of Eddings, beware. There are two 5-piece series and two 3-piece series. The last two belonging together. The most recent book stands on itself though, so that's your best bet. It's called "the redemption of Althalus". It's typical of their genre and mayor fun to read.

    Reinout
  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:57PM (#5120980)
    ...is dear Roger Zelazny twirling about beneath the ground as a result of being separated by a mere comma from Weiss & Hickman.

    That being said, allow me to throw my support behind the Tad Williams fantasy and SF, mentioned elsewhere, as well as the standalone books by Guy Gavriel Kay: "Tigana," "A Song for Arbonne," and "The Lions of Al-Rassan." These are all self-contained, yet have the "epic" feel that most authors only achieve in trilogies or better. (If I'm not mistaken, it was Kay that was tapped to finished off some Tolkien fragments prior to their posthumous publication; when you read his stuff, you'll understand how he got that gig.) Kay also wrote something called "The Fionavar Trilogy" which I tried and couldn't get through, but which the reviewers said was a modern re-mixing of Arthuriana, so maybe you read it and are familiar with him...

    Even though cyberpunk is so-o-o-o-o 1994, you should probably hit up the Gibson 'Sprawl Trilogy," or at least "Neuromancer."

    Baen Books has just released David Weber's newest Honor Harrington book, "War of Honor," and for the price of the hardback you get the print version, and the entire rest of the series that preceded it on CD-ROM, along with artwork and a bunch of maps and stuff. I highly recommend the series, and supporting Baen's brave and innovative efforts in digital distribution.

    The Goerge R R Martin trilogy (kings... thrones... swords... sump'n like that) is better than most (I've only read the first one so far).

    Look, we could be here for days. "Fantasy and SF" covers a lot of ground. You want to narrow it down to Sword&Sorcery, Cyberpunk, Empowered Lesbian Telepaths, Space Opera, or some other popular sub-niche, we can really get down to brass tacks...
  • by alen (225700) on Monday January 20, 2003 @03:58PM (#5120987)
    I remember I read them in 6th grade. Now that I'm a little older I realize that it's nothing more than a Tolkien rip off. At least JRR was educated in various mythologies, languages and Christianity. That is what gave LOTR it's staying power. Tolkien rewrote the essence of Christianity for the 20th century.

    If you want something else to read you can always try autobiographies. Learn how people overcame challenges in their lives. I also like philosophy. Try John Milton's Paradise Lost, Dante's Divine Comedy, The Prince by Michiavelli or any thing else you can find other than sci fi.
  • by Dr. Smoe (18220) on Monday January 20, 2003 @04:07PM (#5121055)

    There have been plenty of good suggestions (like Gaiman and Stephenson), but here are some less obvious ones:

    1. Syne Mitchell - There's a reason she won the
    Compton Crook Award for her debut novel.
    2. China Meiville - "Urban" fantasy may be the
    best term for it, but the writing is simply
    brilliant
    3. Susan R. Matthews - an exceedingly talented
    SF author
    4. Kristine Smith - another great new SF writer
    5. P.C. Hodgell - the best fantasy writer you
    never heard of

    And, while I think the anti-SF people who tell you to dump the genre are insufferable snobs, I do think that doing some reading outside of the genre stuff is a good idea.

    Good luck.....
  • by Xeger (20906) <slashdotNO@SPAMtracker.xeger.net> on Monday January 20, 2003 @04:08PM (#5121060) Homepage

    MODS AND READERS: Please note that this comment is a duplicate -- the original appears somewhere below, and was posted without formatting because of a slip of the mouse. In that state it was unreadable, so I had no choice but to repost. (When, oh when, will we be able to edit our posts?)

    Despite his wacky first name (just say "Ian"), Banks is really worth a try. He isn't originally a sci-fi author by trade; his first book (The Wasp Factory) was a contemporary novel, but we've seen some of his very best work since he started writing his Culture series of novels. And Iain Banks, even at his worst, is better with prose and with ideas than many sci-fi authors at their best.

    His primary science fiction offering is a series of novels set in the distant future (perhaps 10,000 years from now), chronicling the adventures of humanity's descendents. The Culture is a vast interstellar civilization, a pseudo-anarchic meritocracy comprised of dozens of humanoid and nonhumanoid races -- it's unclear whether homo sapiens were founding members of the Culture, or if they joined the Culture sometime after its development, or even if they exist at all. Members of the Culture are referred to as "human" throughout the books, but Banks follows the panspermia hypothesis, so many of his races share the same basic biochemical and physiological traits.

    The Culture has spread to perhaps 10,000 systems, filling space with planets, starships and Orbitals -- immense, ringworld-like structures that house as many as 100 billion people. In all, the population of the Culture is probably around 500 trillion (that's 5.0x10^14) souls. Of these, a sizeable fraction are plain old biological humans, and the rest of them are digitized people, Minds, or group minds.

    The lifespan of a human is somewhere from 200 to 500 years; Culture citizens, the result of thousands of years of genetic tinkering, could conceivably extend their lives indefinitely. But human existence is seen as a sort of gestation period, and after a few hundred years of life, most biologicals get bored and euthanize. After death, they are converted into electronic form and continue to pursue an active and vigorous life in the collective virtual reality that forms the real meat-and-bones of the Culture.

    Many of the Culture's most powerful citizens are Minds, vast, artificially-created intelligent constructs with dozens or hundreds of threads of consciousness. Typically, any structure or vehicle larger than a personal transport is inhabited by a Mind.

    The Mind doesn't merely control the machine, the Mind is the machine, able to interact with the physical world using its "body" which is the ship, or house, or city, or Orbital, or whatever. Of course, a Mind could also be simultaneously inhabiting a dozen different android "avatars," manifesting itself as a holograph in front of an audience, and corresponding with other Minds in a virtual reality.

    OK, all this is well and good -- but what can you expect from a Banks novel?

    • No strife. Material wealth is meaningless when resources are unlimited. In the Culture, social reputation counts more than money. There is no standard form of money; rather, Minds operate factories in every habitat to provide (quite extensive) basic goods and services for free, and luxuries are traded through the social network.
    • No death. People (and other entities) die in Banks novels, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Despite the fact that nobody is ever in any danger, and would just end up being restored from backup if he were to die, there is still plenty of suspense in a Banks novel -- I can't describe it; you'll just have to read and find out for yourself.
    • Fantastic combat. Banks has a magnificent style when it comes to combat, both space- and ground-based. He runs the whole gamut, from exotic antimatter weapons and computer metaviruses, to simple bladed combat and projectile weapons.
    • Intensely cerebral discourse. Because so many of Banks' characters are hyper-intelligent Minds, you'll often find a few paragraphs of calm discussion between Minds in the middle of an intense combat sequence.
    • Great human characters. Whenever Banks introduces a character, you come to care about the person, his likes and dislikes, his motivations -- even if he's only a minor character. Banks' characters really come alive like no other.
  • by Samrobb (12731) on Monday January 20, 2003 @04:10PM (#5121074) Homepage Journal

    Suprised no one's mentioned them yet...

    Sarah Zettel:

    • Fool's War
    • Playing God
    • Kingdom of Cages

    Highly recommended: Fool's War.

    James Alan Gardner:

    • Expendable
    • Vigilant
    • Ascending
    • Trapped

    Highly recommended: Expendable, Trapped.

    C. S. Friedman:

    • Black Sun Rising (Coldfire book #1)
    • When True Night Falls (Coldfire book #2)
    • Crown of Shadows (Coldfire book #3)
    • In Conquest Born
    • Madness Season
    • This Alien Shore

    Highly recommended: The Coldfire trillogy (fantasy), This Alien Shore (SF).

  • by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Monday January 20, 2003 @04:11PM (#5121076) Homepage

    I'm not sure if you've read them, but you might try reading something really old instead. Pick up some Jules Verne or Edgar Allen Poe, or some old classics like Frankenstein or Dracula, both of which have been very badly treated by the movies. You could even go back to some much older stuff like Gulliver's Travels, Beowulf (supposedly there's going to be a newly discovered translation by Tolkein published soon), The Illiad, The Epic of Gilgamesh, or the like. Many of the ideas being used by modern writers were first expressed in those classics, and they're very worth a read.

  • New authors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrbill (4993) <mrbill@mrbill.net> on Monday January 20, 2003 @04:28PM (#5121180) Homepage
    I've been reading lately:

    by John Ringo (in order):
    "A Hymn Before Battle"
    "When the Devil Dances"
    "Gust Front"

    and by Kage Baker (again, in order):
    "In the Garden of Iden"
    "Sky Coyote"
    "Mendoza in Hollywood"
    (unfortunately, the fourth, "Graveyard Game", is
    out of print; I'd kill for a copy!)

    I'm also reading Cory Doctorow's stuff.

    Last night, I read (online) "The Metamorphasis of
    Prime Intellect", by Roger Williams. <a href="http://www.kuro5hin.org/prime-intellect/">yo u can find it here.</a>.
  • Sci-Fi (Score:3, Interesting)

    by superdan2k (135614) on Monday January 20, 2003 @04:41PM (#5121286) Homepage Journal
    Lately, I've really enjoyed Wil McCarthy's The Collapsium -- it has the grand-ideas of Clarke but it's somehow more riveting and more real. I'm working on reading Empire of Dreams and Miracles a collection of short stories edited by Orson Scott Card and Keith Olexa -- normally, I enjoy anthologies but skip a few stories...thus far, it's been one of the best I've come across. Haven't skipped a single story.

    It's worth branching out if you've read that much sci-fi -- both because it's important to be well-rounded and because it'll make your reading of sci-fi that much more rich an experience. You'll understand more, you'll have things to compare it to outside of the genre. In the past couple of years, I've started venturing strongly outside the genre -- literary fiction, biographies, history, the sciences, etc. I find that doing this has not only enriched my reading of science fiction but it has re-started my "idea engine" for my own writing. (I hold a degree in English-Creative Writing.) And my ideas are my own, are more fresh than they once were, and I find that I'm much more satisfied with what I have produced.
  • Mostly Non-SF (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kalidasa (577403) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:08PM (#5121521) Journal

    Once in a while, if an SF book has a very good reputation, I'll pick it up, but for the most part I finished my SF reading days when I got out of college. Too much crap to wade through to find the real gems. That said, the only newer books (the former is what, 10 years old?) I've read and liked were Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman's *Good Omens* and Gaiman's *American Gods*.

    Non SF: I'd suggest weaning youself from SF with Jorge Luis Borges, *Collected Fictions*, which is top-flight 20th c. lit with some of the same tone you'd find in good SF (though it is more fantastic). If you have the wits to handle really complex narratives, try Rushdie's *Ground Beneath Her Feet*, which has some SF-like elements (alternate universes, e.g.) but is unassailably good lit. Also worth reading would be Eco's *Foucault's Pendulum*, about a group of editors becoming too involved with the occultists they're trying to exploit.

    This is all rather difficult prose, but it is worth the effort. And if you have 4,000 books and have nothing but SF + technical books, frankly you're wasting 2/3 of your money, because there's probably no more than a few hundred SF books that are really worth owning (and I have about 600 myself, including most of the great ones except the cyperpunks, which are a little after my time.). [Apply a good filter like a book review to Sturgeon's Law and you just might get down to 66% of everything being crap.]

    If you like fantasy, you really ought to look into things like the Chinese novel published in the US as "Monkey" (there was a god-awful adaptation of it on NBC about a year ago whose title escapes me), or some of the Norse sagas, which mix mythology and history. Maybe try Ovid's Metamorphoses (get the Indiana translation by Humphries, it's far and away the most readable; or try Ted Hughes' *Tales from Ovid*).

    Too much SF limits you to talking about nothing but ... SF. Not a good way to relate to possible future employers (the more sophisticated your small talk, the more impressive you are in such extra-curricular things as business lunches) and dates (You: 'Hey, have you read the latest Star Wars: New Jedi Order book?' Date: 'Oh, look at the time, I've got to go') - that way even if you don't know anything about the books she's read, you'll at least have a broader range of things to compare what she says about them too (I imagine if you have 4,000 books your probably past this sort of worry, but there are others on slashdot who might not be and might not realize this).

  • by Xtifr (1323) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:48PM (#5121826) Homepage
    Why "ask slashdot"? Wouldn't it make more sense to check out some SF related web sites for information and suggestions about SF?

    Now I have an unfair advantage in that I live near not one, but two, high quality stores specializing in SF (Other Change of Hobbit and Dark Carnival, both in Berkeley CA), and I get a lot of recommendations by going in there and looking at their recommended shelves, or asking people who work there what's new and good.

    If you aren't lucky enough to have a good SF bookstore nearby, then you might want to try some SF websites. This year's Hugo voting included the category of web site (a "one-shot" category that I hope will become permanent in future).Locus Online [locusmag.com], the Hugo winner, and SF Site [sfsite.com], which came in third, are my two favorites. Both are full of book reviews (and author interviews, and links to other interesting sites. (The second place Hugo vote went to the SciFi Channel's [scifi.com] website, which is more oriented towards TV and movies than written SF, but still might be worth a look).

    And speaking of awards, the various SF & Fantasy awards are a great place to look for recommendations. Check out the nominee list, not just the winners (it really is an honor just to be nominated), and don't forget to check out other works by the same authors. If you don't like short stories, you should still check out the winners (and nominees) in the short-story categories; they may have written some good novels too. Locus Online (link above) has extensive listings of the major SF awards.

    That said, here's a few authors who have been high on my must-read list recently: Lois McMaster Bujold, David Brin, Orson Scott Card, C. J. Cherryh, Greg Egan, Tom Holt, Guy Gavriel Kay, Nancy Kress, Jane Lindskold[1], Ken McLeod[2], Wil McCarthy (yes, one 'l'), Jack McDevitt, Patricia A. McKillip, Robert Rankin, Allen Steele, Neal Stephenson, and Connie Willis. I probably included a few that qualify as "old school", there, and left out a few thinking they were "old school" that you may never have heard of, but such is life.

    HTH

    [1] Lindskold is an associate of, and collaborated with Zelazny, and is well worth checking out if you like Zelazny, IMO.

    [2] MacLeod is the only SF writer I know of who has mentioned Linux in his SF. Others, most notably Stephenson, have mentioned it in non-fiction writings, but only MacLeod so far has embedded it in his fictional future.
  • by Matrix2110 (190829) on Tuesday January 21, 2003 @04:50AM (#5125523) Journal
    No particular order.

    Neil Stephenson (any book)

    Leo Frankowski (Adventures of Conrad Stargard series)

    Terry Pratchett (Discworld series)

    Simon R. Green (Deathstalker series)

    L.E. Modesitt Jr.(most any book)

    C.S. Friedman (Coldfire Trilogy)

    Laurell K. Hamilton (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series)

    Steve Perry (Matador series)

    Orson Scott Card (Ender series)

    Terry Brooks (Sword series)

    Robert Jordan (Wheel of time series)

    Terry Goodkind (Sword of truth series)

    Alan Dean Foster (most any book)

    Eric Frank Russell (most any book)

    Keith Laumer (Retief series)

    Glen Cook (Black company series, Garret, P.I. series)

    Pick up most any book by these authors and you are in for a treat! I included the "old school" authors Russell and Laumer because they tend to get overlooked. I promise you that Hamilton and Goodkind books are almost impossible to put down.

    Cory Doctorow is an impressive newcomer as well with "Down and out at Disneyworld" Located here: (for free!) http://www.boingboing.net/

    Enjoy!

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