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If you read futuristic fiction, what elements do you like best?  Novels set in a distant, almost-unrecognizable future? Do you prefer a dystopian element? What about fiction set in the near future? How much and what kind of social/technical change do you like to see?

I've enjoyed books with various settings (Dune, The Tomorrow File, The Handmaid's Tale), but I think I prefer fiction set in the near future, with radical social changes.

What are your preferences?

L.J.
 

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I love near future SF and thrillers--particularly interested in things like cyberwarfare, nanotech, orbiting stations, ultrafast transportation, future agriculture and aquaculture, and what's required by them, or what changes these bring to society, rural areas, national boundaries, the spread of ideas or disease.

I'm about 50k words into an SF thriller at the moment, planning to finish up by August.

Chris
 

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It's not so much how far into the future that matters to me, as how compelling the idea being explored is. Good sf, to me, is about What If? I don't like it if a book introduces a new tech or situation (global plague or whatever) and doesn't really think through the consequences and chain reactions. Too often all dystopias end up looking alike because authors are too quick to jump from "bad thing happens" to "all civilization breaks down." That's a cop out.
 

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L.J. Sellers said:
but I think I prefer fiction set in the near future, with radical social changes
Stories based on ill-conceived/poorly designed social or technological changes that depict all the unintended consequences of those changes are interesting to me. And if it's about something that could likely happen in the near future - that would make it all the more fascinating.
 

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Hi all. I'm new here, so I hope you don't mind me jumping into the conversation.

Jack McDevitt has a great line of books set far enough into the future to create an exciting new world, but also not so far that the culture and technology has become totally unrecognizable. And speaking of Culture ... Iain M. Banks, Consider Phlebas on the other hand, for me at least, is so disconnected from our own time, so alien to me, that I've tried two or three times to read it, and just haven't been able to get past the first few chapters -- the bond between me as the reader and the protag just isn't there. Of course, that's not a comment on Banks'ability as a writer, that particular style of writing is just not my cup of Darjeeling (and possibly more of an observation on my attention span, these days).

If you haven't read anything by McDevitt, consider this my first official recommendation :)
 

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L.J. Sellers said:
If you read futuristic fiction, what elements do you like best? Novels set in a distant, almost-unrecognizable future? Do you prefer a dystopian element? What about fiction set in the near future? How much and what kind of social/technical change do you like to see?

I've enjoyed books with various settings (Dune, The Tomorrow File, The Handmaid's Tale), but I think I prefer fiction set in the near future, with radical social changes.

What are your preferences?

L.J.
I'm tired of dystopian. I'm tired of dark and bleak. I prefer the old-school SF that was optimistic in tone. I like space opera, discovering alien planets, military SF, etc.
 

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I like far future Space Opera style books as well as near-future thriller style.

I really liked the Peter Hamilton books, particularly Pandora's star which I thought had a good extrapolation of how wormholes would affect society AND a very neatly developed (and dangerous) alien race.

Mike
 

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Science fiction has been my favorite for decades now (before that I read virtually everything that I encountered).

I prefer 'hard' sci fi (scientifically plausible). I also prefer deep future and/or off-Earth tableaus (and usually dislike time travel stories where everyone travels into the past rather than the future; yuck!).

I love most of Vernor Vinge's major works. Had loads of fun with Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. But I've also enjoyed many past classics, like from Larry Niven, Frederick Pohl, and Robert Heinlein.

So when I wrote my own sci fi, I made it an involuntary tourist trek through several far future periods, and included space battles, glimpses of future history, wondrous tech toys, and the complexities of relationships forged between a 20th century primitive, and people centuries further evolved.
 

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I enjoy the space operas of Dan Simmons and Peter F. Hamilton, which are set in a distant yet still recognizable future, but I also like more offbeat stuff by people like China Mieville and Neal Stephenson. I concur with the general disdain for dystopian works and I'd include post-apocalyptic novels in that too.

The problem with stories set in near future is that they become dated so quickly. Then again, we have to bear in mind that when Lawrence Sanders wrote The Tomorrow File in the late '70s he was just trying to be entertaining, not posing as a prophet.
 

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Straker said:
I enjoy the space operas of Dan Simmons and Peter F. Hamilton, which are set in a distant yet still recognizable future, but I also like more offbeat stuff by people like China Mieville and Neal Stephenson. I concur with the general disdain for dystopian works and I'd include post-apocalyptic novels in that too.
The problem with dystopian and apocalyptic fiction is there is so much written by amateurs. I love dystopian and apocalyptic fiction but I have to be choosy as so much of it is so much poorly disguised political rhetoric with more focus on the ideology than on the story. For example, at the moment the fashions are post-economic collapses and zombie apocalypses ... and most are awful. To be enjoyable, it doesn't have to be of a particular political bent - it just has to be well conceived and well written. I have read great zombie novels (think World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War) but that's the exception not the norm ....

... as for the rest, I love near future science fiction as well as space opera; hard science and science fantasy; Alternate Histories and Time Travel; Star Trek and the Emberverse .... I really like it all - so long as it's well written and entertaining.
 

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I'm with L.J.; I dig near-future, huge social or technological changes. I tend to like writing that stuff too. Huh, come to think of it, I haven't written anything in present time ;)! lol! Couldn't get enough of the Hunger Games. Also really liked the Uglies Series as well. :) But, interestingly enough, "Ender's Game," didn't "do it" for me...

 

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I guess my problem is that I find it hard to reconcile "near future" with "huge social and technological changes." As Straker said, this is so easy to do badly. Too often, I find it hard to believe that the proposed changes could have happened in the proposed time period or for the proposed reasons. For instance, often nation-states as we understand them no longer exist, yet the story is set fairly near in the future. Hm, we've had nation states for over a 1000 years (in some cases, longer) and we've gone through many huge social and technological changes. Stuff like that. It's not that I can't read and enjoy such books for other strengths, but that's a pet peeve.
 

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I like a variety. So reading too much of a style tends to bore me.  It is more about the writing though.  I am beginning to tire of series fiction because the books are usually so uneven.  And really, how much can you really add after 5 books.  (Obviously there are lots of exceptions, but most series are very uneven.)
 

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I like Neal Asher's Polity books. The AIs that inhabit the warships and drones are often entertaining characters, especially the slightly mental war drones and the crablike, cannibal Prador aliens are excellent villains. He's also very good at building nasty ecosystems on his planets. In The Skinner he builds a foodchain of monsters from bottom to top and really gets his groove on with the drones.

I had a little trouble with the first book, Gridlinked, but once I read The Skinner I was hooked. It's great space opera. After that and Banks' Culture novels, I have trouble imagining space opera without AIs.
 
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