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oakwood said:
Anyway, kids kill each other for food everyday in the slums of Venezuela, Gambia and anywhere else where life or death is routine.
Name your source for these "facts". Or is it just some nebulous idea of the dark unknown savage lands out there...
 

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For the life of me, I'm trying to finish the original "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson, but I suppose the movies (especially the Will Smith one) have made me jaded.

All that action.

The book is a bit more subtle, and I suppose that subtlety just isn't firing all eight cylinders for me.
 

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jb1111 said:
For the life of me, I'm trying to finish the original "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson, but I suppose the movies (especially the Will Smith one) have made me jaded.

All that action.

The book is a bit more subtle, and I suppose that subtlety just isn't firing all eight cylinders for me.
The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price actually stayed pretty close to the book. I'd still rather watch Omega Man, though.
 

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oakwood said:
With all due respect, I think its important to travel more, or seek out news from hard-life regions where life has almost no value, and see for ourselves. Reality is many times worse than fiction.
???

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".
 

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The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
 

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Even relatively recent novels can be quite thought-provoking:



Over the centuries, one small town in Germany has disappeared and never been resettled. Tom, a historian, and his theoretical physicist girlfriend Sharon, become interested. By all logic, the town should have survived. What's so special about Eifelheim?

Father Dietrich is the village priest of Eifelheim, in the year 1348, when the Black Death is gathering strength but is still not nearby. Dietrich is an educated man, and to his astonishment becomes the first contact person between humanity and an alien race from a distant star, when their ship crashes in the nearby forest. It is a time of wonders, in the shadow of the plague. Flynn gives us the full richness and strangeness of medieval life, as well as some terrific aliens.
 

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German_Translator said:
Even relatively recent novels can be quite thought-provoking:



Over the centuries, one small town in Germany has disappeared and never been resettled. Tom, a historian, and his theoretical physicist girlfriend Sharon, become interested. By all logic, the town should have survived. What's so special about Eifelheim?

Father Dietrich is the village priest of Eifelheim, in the year 1348, when the Black Death is gathering strength but is still not nearby. Dietrich is an educated man, and to his astonishment becomes the first contact person between humanity and an alien race from a distant star, when their ship crashes in the nearby forest. It is a time of wonders, in the shadow of the plague. Flynn gives us the full richness and strangeness of medieval life, as well as some terrific aliens.
+1 for Eifelheim. Terrific book.
 

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Kelli Wolf's comment re: the end of Heinlein's PODKAYNE OF MARS is spot on, as is her point on some of Heinlein's other work; I'd throw in DOUBLE STAR as another that holds up well, and for my money THE PUPPET MASTERS is the best invasion-from-space story anyone ever wrote.

A few names I'm surprised haven't been mentioned yet (or maybe in my encroaching senility I just missed 'em...): Theodore Sturgeon, Fritz Leiber, Algis Budrys, Norman Spinrad, Barry Malzberg.

 

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"A Canticle for Leibowitz", by Walter M. Miller Jr.  One might not agree with the morality being preached (Catholic), but it certainly does make one think about it.
 

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KelliWolfe said:
Asimov? I reread The Foundation Trilogy a couple of months back and was saddened by what those books could have been if they'd been written by someone with Heinlein's grasp of dialog and character. Asimov was very much an idea person, and his non-fiction is much better than his fiction. I feel much the same way about Clarke. If someone with different fiction skills had written Childhood's End or Rendezvous with Rama they'd probably be outselling Dune today.
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!
 

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electricsheep said:
I am far from PC, but still, y'know, if there are no women, then where did all the men come from?!
Sex-bots.

More seriously, many of the 'golden age' SF writers were notorious for being unable to write convincing female characters, so the books without female characters would probably have been far worse if they had felt a desire to stuff some in. I think they were writing against their weaknesses by keeping most of the characters male.
 

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The Bolo series is one of my favorites. The idea that reducing human casualties on the battlefield could come in the form of artificially-intelligent tanks with human commanders is actually pretty relevant to today's issues with a fully-automated military vs. the need for human presence in wars.
 

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electricsheep said:
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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KelliWolfe said:
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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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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Felix R. Savage said:
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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The Big Short by Michael Lewis
 
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