Author Topic: Science Fiction That Made You Think  (Read 4096 times)  

Offline KelliWolfe

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Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
« Reply #75 on: August 21, 2018, 07:11:03 pm »
I read the first of the Foundation trilogy a while back.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but were there ANY women at all in that book?  I am far from PC, but still, y'know, if there are no women, then where did all the men come from?!

The only other SF novel with no women I can think of off-hand is Spinrad's "The Iron Dream", but that was deliberate!
I don't believe there were any in the first book, but one of the main characters in Foundation and Empire was a woman, and a girl was the main character in Second Foundation.

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    Offline alawston

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #76 on: August 22, 2018, 03:59:14 am »
    I don't believe there were any in the first book, but one of the main characters in Foundation and Empire was a woman, and a girl was the main character in Second Foundation.

    I think there's one female "character" in the first book, a wife of another character, who demands some jewellery or something. And there's a classy line about causing social unrest on another planet with a trade blockade because "women will nag their husbands about not being able to get a new washing machine". I'm paraphrasing, but seriously I'm not far off.

    Voyage of the Space Beagle has its entirely male crew chemically castrated in order to relieve their, ah, inevitable "frustrations". That little workaround was how far AE van Vogt was prepared to go in order to avoid the outrageous option of sending women into space ;)


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    Offline PaulJWhite

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #77 on: August 22, 2018, 05:50:03 am »
    Awesome thread, for me Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation (haven't read the two sequels yet) was fascinating. Not only in how we perceive life but also time and space, cool stuff. Hadn't ever heard of China Mieville but his books sound very different so I'll be checking them out.

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #78 on: August 22, 2018, 05:59:49 pm »
    Under The Skin is great. man I loved that book! His other SF one about the priest was a major disappointment but I still remember some bits from it word for word, so it can't have been all bad. The same goes for Aurora actually. It certainly did grab my attention and make me think, and then hurl my Kindle across the room. I guess I don't see the role of SF as to "question and challenge our assumptions." I see it as literature that's supposed to inspire us about the future, with either optimistic or dystopian scenarios. But both types of scenario rest on the premise that space colonization will be *possible." Aurora systematically and purposefully cut the legs right out from under that premise. That's why I see it as anti-SF. It's a real shame as KSR is so good at depicting space travel. To give the book its due, that last extended scene of the ship slingshotting around the planets in the solar system was freaking awesome.

    Respectfully, I think that's an odd definition of sci-fi. There's plenty of sci-fi, both utopian and dystopian, which confines itself to earth, the near-future, etc.

    Aurora interestingly picks apart the viability of a generational ship with things like island isolation (bacteria out-evolving the larger organisms, for example) and stuff about energy and power required for launch or whatever. I disagree that it's impossible to colonise the wider galaxy (and I think KSR's not 100% on that either; there's the dude at the conference at the end who maintains that even if many of the ships fail, they'll keep sending them and some will flourish.) But the more interesting aspect of it for me was the fundamental philosophical purpose of it: they keep coming back to "wherever you go, there you are." It makes us question as a species what the meaning of life is and what the purpose of us as a species is, and posits that expansionism is not a valuable goal in and of itself. You can disagree with that (I think on the whole, I probably do too) but you can't deny it's a valuable and interesting opinion and I think it's weird to characterise that as "anti-SF."

    That final scene with the ship, though, is definitely one of the most affecting things I've ever read in SF - "meaning is the hard problem," which is a great shout-out to The Hard Equations, and the ship being proud of keeping its people alive and getting them home safely. And then... :(

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    Offline robert eggleton

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #79 on: August 22, 2018, 07:17:18 pm »
    The Big Short by Michael Lewis
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    Offline alawston

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #80 on: August 23, 2018, 01:18:24 am »
    I love Ballard. The Drowned World and also The Crystal World, are among my favourites, though the weird bits about jewels and crystals in the latter book frankly pass straight through SF and into fantasy.


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    Offline robert eggleton

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #81 on: August 23, 2018, 09:49:08 am »
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    Offline wearywanderer64

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #82 on: August 24, 2018, 04:36:47 am »
    The HItchiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

    It's like a kind of gentrification system whereby one lot get rid of another lot who are considered inferior and get in the road of grand plans, in this case, a hyperspace bypass.

    And it's fun!



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    Offline Ted Cross

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #83 on: August 24, 2018, 07:12:29 am »
    i always liked Bank's idea where ship minds were so above us they ferried us all over known space in part simply because they found us (with our political intrigues, wars and petty petulances ) entertaining  :)

    So we are like the 'reality tv' for the ships? Funny. I've only read Use of Weapons so far--need to find time to read the rest.

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    Offline Herefortheride

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #84 on: August 24, 2018, 07:17:55 am »
    ???

    You say that to me, someone you know nothing about? Such condescension, completely based on a false premise.

    I was born and grew up in a poor developing country (children don't kill each other for food there either), and have lived in the US, Europe and Africa. I have also travelled widely in Europe, Latin America and Africa.

    No, children are not killing each other for food every day in Venezuela or the Gambia. That is a gross exaggeration. Knowing of people hungry in the slums of Venezuela decades(?) ago does not justify characterizing the entire nation as some kind of Hunger Games proximate with children killing each other daily for food. That is false, and dehumanizing.

    As for the Gambia, you did not offer any evidence whatsoever of this taking place. FYI, Bombay is in India, and is not in the Gambia. (sarcasm). Developing countries are not interchangeable. And even there, I saw no evidence of what you claimed. (Yes, I am fully aware of the deplorable conditions experienced by slum children in some countries, including garbage scavenging.)

    This too is the Gambia. https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/10-reasons-why-you-should-visit-the-gambia-in-2017-a3577391.html

    You don't get to just throw out the name of a random South American country and a random African country and characterise them as you wish.

    I suggest you watch on Youtube a talk by Chimamanda Adichie called "The Danger of the Single Story".

    Agreed!

    The idea some westerners have that just because a place is very poor that children are killing each other for food is SO far from reality it drives me crazy.

    Offline electricsheep

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #85 on: August 24, 2018, 08:32:29 am »
    So we are like the 'reality tv' for the ships? Funny. I've only read Use of Weapons so far--need to find time to read the rest.
    "Consider Phlebas" and "The Player of Games" are his two first Culture novels, and the best.  Highly recommended.  By the time of "Excession", I thought he was just retreading old ground (although that one does have its moments -- I LOVED the Affront, is that so wrong?!), so I never bothered with the rest.

    Offline KelliWolfe

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #86 on: August 24, 2018, 09:11:36 am »
    Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought books (A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky) are two of my favorites that seem to get overlooked a lot these days. The premise is that the speed of light isn't actually constant but changes depending on where you are in the galaxy, which puts hard limits on the types of civilization and technologies that can occur at different distances from the center. The further out you go, the higher the tech levels possible, while the closer to the center and the slower the speed of light, tech and intelligence aren't even possible. His alien races are very well thought out as well, especially the spider creatures. Totally alien, but still very sympathetic.

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    Offline Ted Cross

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #87 on: August 24, 2018, 10:15:41 am »
    Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought books (A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky) are two of my favorites that seem to get overlooked a lot these days. The premise is that the speed of light isn't actually constant but changes depending on where you are in the galaxy, which puts hard limits on the types of civilization and technologies that can occur at different distances from the center. The further out you go, the higher the tech levels possible, while the closer to the center and the slower the speed of light, tech and intelligence aren't even possible. His alien races are very well thought out as well, especially the spider creatures. Totally alien, but still very sympathetic.

    I've only read A Fire Upon the Deep so far, but it was spectacular. It is strange that it doesn't get more attention from sci-fi fans. It's the same way I feel about other great ones that I hear little about, such as Chasm City by Alistair Reynolds or the Succession duology by Scott Westerfeld.

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    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #88 on: August 24, 2018, 10:27:06 pm »
    I think Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the best and most important science fiction writers of all time - certainly the most important one working today. Aurora is one of the best sci-fi novels of this century: taking a topic which is considered gospel among science fiction fans (that it's both necessary and desirable for humankind to colonise the galaxy) and slowly dismantling it.

    Aurora will stay with me a long time. KSR is one of the most thoughtful science fiction authors alive.

    Offline robert eggleton

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #89 on: August 25, 2018, 08:25:23 am »
    James Cameron's Avatar was kinda a novelization, most impressive for its special effects, but what got to me was the analogy to U.S. exploitation of the world.
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    Offline C. Gockel

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #90 on: August 25, 2018, 11:44:32 am »
    Speaking from a writerly perspective, I think if you have a deep theme that makes people think, it can help make up for weaknesses in other areas.


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    Offline Rafael Pombo

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #91 on: August 25, 2018, 12:56:59 pm »
    Children being forced to murder each other for the entertainment of a corrupt government doesn't give you any food for thought?

    Yeah, Battle Royale is great.

    ...Wait, what? The Hunger Games? Never heard of it! ;D

    Joking aside, I don't really read a lot of sci-fi, but I remember when I read Clarke's The City and the Stars many years ago and was flabbergasted by how someone writing a book in the '40s or '50s could have notions of virtual reality, supercomputers, consciousness traveling through outer space, and things like that.

    Then again, maybe that's to be expected from a person whose knowledge of the extent of sci-fi is mediocre.


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    Offline Gus Flory

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #92 on: August 27, 2018, 01:17:09 pm »
    I just finished "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes. It was published in 1966.

    In the book, you follow Charlie Gordon's journey from idiocy to normal intelligence to genius and back down to idiocy again.

    It's a brilliant book, in my opinion. It made me think about what it is to be mentally retarded compared to average and what it must be like to be a genius and to be alienated in a world of normal intelligence where others can't see the world and its patterns as clearly as you do.

    Sad in many ways. As I read it, long forgotten memories from my childhood kept resurfacing.

    It's easily one of the best books I've read.

    Offline Carleton Chinner

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #93 on: August 27, 2018, 05:45:38 pm »
    Plenty of people dislike the casual sexism of "Flowers for Algernon", but like a lot of older science fiction, it needs to be read within the context of its times.
    I still rank it as one of my all time favourite books. The scene with the flowers is easily one of the saddest things I have every read; rife with the cutting irony of still being smart enough to know you are regressing.

    Offline mike h

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #94 on: August 28, 2018, 12:42:05 pm »
    I went through this entire thread and saw no mention of Michael Crichton. Makes no sense. He is one of the Godfathers of incredibly well researched sci-fi. No one has had success or has been as well received as him in modern times. (Just on sheer volume) The amount of research work that went into the background science behind his novels was immense. Take a look at the bibliographies at the end of his books. Who writes like that these days? No one I can think of.
    Maybe people don't consider his works science fiction but they most surely are.
    He was and still is an all time great.
    (Just my humble opinion)

    Online ShaneCarrow

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #95 on: August 28, 2018, 05:04:15 pm »
    Yeah, Battle Royale is great.

    ...Wait, what? The Hunger Games? Never heard of it! ;D

    Joking aside, I don't really read a lot of sci-fi, but I remember when I read Clarke's The City and the Stars many years ago and was flabbergasted by how someone writing a book in the '40s or '50s could have notions of virtual reality, supercomputers, consciousness traveling through outer space, and things like that.

    Then again, maybe that's to be expected from a person whose knowledge of the extent of sci-fi is mediocre.

    Fun fact: Clarke was a major contributor to the invention of communications satellites.

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    Offline German_Translator

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #96 on: August 28, 2018, 06:14:43 pm »
    Quote
    I went through this entire thread and saw no mention of Michael Crichton. Makes no sense. He is one of the Godfathers of incredibly well researched sci-fi.

    Just so. I remember reading The Andromeda Strain way back when. Great book!


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    Offline German_Translator

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #97 on: August 28, 2018, 06:52:04 pm »
    Of course E. M. Forster foresaw the internet already in 1909 in his story "The Machine Stops". In the future, people live in tiny cells and only communicate through viewscreens linked to the all-encompasisng machine.


    Quote
    Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. There are no musical instruments, and yet, at the moment that my meditation opens, this room is throbbing with melodious sounds. An armchair is in the centre, by its side a reading-desk-that is all the furniture. And in the armchair there sits a swaddled lump of flesh-a woman, about five feet high, with a face as white as a fungus. It is to her that the little room belongs.

    An electric bell rang.

    The woman touched a switch and the music was silent.

    "I suppose I must see who it is", she thought, and set her chair in motion. The chair, like the music, was worked by machinery and it rolled her to the other side of the room where the bell still rang importunately.

    "Who is it?" she called. Her voice was irritable, for she had been interrupted often since the music began. She knew several thousand people, in certain directions human intercourse had advanced enormously.

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    Offline Rafael Pombo

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    Re: Science Fiction That Made You Think
    « Reply #98 on: August 28, 2018, 11:50:28 pm »
    Fun fact: Clarke was a major contributor to the invention of communications satellites.

    Amazed but not surprised! :D

    In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of the SF writers of that era is that most or all of them overestimated progress in spaceflight and underestimated progress in computing.

    Ha ha. Maybe it wasn't that they thought we'd be living in such a world, but that traveling through space to other planets was way cooler to them than quick access to information on a device. It wasn't them making predictions: it was them having fun.


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