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Sci-fi for someone who doesn't like sci-fi

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Posts

  • JHunzJHunz Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Peter F. Hamilton is best known for his very hard sci-fi series, but I think his first trilogy fits what you're looking for. The books start with Mindstar Rising, and are about a psychic ex-resistance fighter working as a detective. The setting is a dystopian future England after a communist party was voted into office and ran it into the ground.

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  • cytorakcytorak Registered User
    edited June 2009
    The Time-Traveler's Wife is a pretty good sci-fi/romance novel.

  • QuothQuoth the Raven Miami, FL FOR REALRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I haven't seen anyone mention I, Robot yet so I figured I would throw that out there. I'm not big on hard sci-fi myself, and I found that accessible and interesting, and probably appealing to mystery fans. Fahrenheit 451 might also be good for her, and maybe Cat's Cradle or Player Piano by Vonnegut. The Farthing series by Jo Walton is also cool, if you think she might like the alternate history brand of sci-fi.

    “Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.”
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  • GoodKingJayIIIGoodKingJayIII Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Definitely The Yiddish Policeman's Union

    I have a hard time calling it SF, but it is a damn awesome book. On top of writing a compelling story with excellent characters, Chabon is one of those authors that makes you go "Damn, that guy can write a sentence."

    But it does have that whole speculative, Jews-relocated-to-Alaska-after-WWII-instead-of-what-really-happened thing. I suppose that counts.

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  • XyzedXyzed Registered User
    edited June 2009
    The Damned Trilogy by Alan Dean Foster
    A Call to Arms
    The False Mirror
    The Spoils of War
    This series is a good platform to jump into the sci-fi genre.

    Which also reminds me, Alan Dean Foster' Pip and Flinx charachter novels are pretty popular and easily picked up by non sci-fi readers and loved.

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  • RedDawnRedDawn Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Hypatia wrote: »
    Erm, I'm surprised no one has mentioned it but my stock sci-fi recommendation for people who don't like sci-fi:

    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

    While a lot of other sci-fi books are great, the ramp up to speed on some of them (Gibson, for example) can be pretty daunting to non sci-fi readers. I've actually recommended/had about 8 friends who don't read much or don't read sci-fi at all read Ender's Game and say that they were surprised to find that they really liked it. Just don't let her read any of his other books.

    I was going to come in an suggest this. I'm not huge into Sci-Fi, but this is one of my favorite books of all time.

  • LacroixLacroix Registered User
    edited June 2009
    I don't know how were defining Sci-Fi here but, would Frankenstein count?

  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Lacroix wrote: »
    I don't know how were defining Sci-Fi here but, would Frankenstein count?

    Probably, isn't it pretty regularly referred to as one of the original sci-fi books?

  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    A lot of Bradbury's stuff is more about characters and ideas than about sci fi. I mean, "All Summer in a Day" is technically sci fi, but the kind of story that you don't need to really understand any science or be "into" sci fi to enjoy (or at least "get," as it's rather depressing ;D).

    Not to mention that short stories are typically one of the best ways to introduce someone to a new genre/style/author.

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  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    There are only two recommendations so far in this thread that I'd lime(for a person who does not like sci-fi) and those are Kazuo Ishiguro and Michael Chabon, but we can barely claim the first in the genre and both authors really, really are more fiction(even if superb fiction), than science.
    A Canticle for Leibowitz, while ancient, is a book that a lot of people having reservations about the genre end up enjoying.
    'Hard' sci-fi is right out for now.
    There are two writers who write decent science fiction with enough of an element of (pseudo)science in it and still have works accessible to non-sci-fi fans - Robert J Sawyer and Greg Bear. I'd recommend the Hominids trilogy by the former and the Darwin books by Bear(stay away from Eon!), but it's worth reading through a detailed bibliography of Sawyer(hit wikipedia) as there may be something different that she'd enjoy more and most of his books are also right up there in the thriller/mystery genres.

    PS: Also, yeah, the more I think about it "Never let me go" is terrific and she'd like it if she isn't a terrible, terrible person, but she'd just tell you "That's not sci-fi!" in the end.

  • msmyamsmya Totally Fabulous Errday Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I also recommend the Ender's Game series! They are good. ^_^

  • ceresceres Love is in the battlecry Nevada, USASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited June 2009
    The Hyperion Cantos. Has that been said yet? Because that.

    As a relatively hardcore Star Trek fan in my youth, I grew really really bored with the scifi setting (I agree with you, by the way), and somewhere along the way decided that I wasn't interested in reading anything sci fi pretty much ever again.

    Then my husband told me a little about the Hyperion books. They sounded neat, so I read them. Four books: Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and The Rise of Endymion. Yes, they take place like 400 years in the future, but they're not really about that. They're about poetry, and religion, and perspective, and the crazy-ass places people go and how they get there. They're beautifully written. I'm on the last one now.

    And this coming from the person who was *really* disinterested in sci fi.

    edit: oh yeah, by Dan Simmons. That might be important.

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  • Helix09Helix09 Registered User
    edited June 2009
    Asimov

    The Caves of Steel

    The Naked Sun

    In the latter its a question of how did a man die when he's surrounded by robots who cannot under any circumstances cause an individual harm? Both are pretty much detective stories in space.

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  • EchoEcho very gravitas Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited June 2009
    Lacroix wrote: »
    I don't know how were defining Sci-Fi here but, would Frankenstein count?

    Absolutely! That's sci-fi from before the term was invented.

    And YES to Darwin's Radio. I like contemporary speculative stuff.

    In that vein: FLOOD by Stephen (Steven?) Baxter. It's massively depressing though.

    Oh yeah, more Greg Bear: Anvil of God. Equally depressing. :P I think it should be light enough.

    And I love the Hyperion Cantos.

  • ElinElin Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    The Gate to Women's County is a good post apocalyptic novel. It's a tad feminist, but very good.

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  • JansonJanson Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Going for something that tackles time travel is tempting. It's an area that she's always asking me to clarify when we watch films and TV shows that deal with it and the different time paradoxes that time travel fiction tends to result in. A novel written by someone like Asimov could help clarify some of the 'theories' of time travel. On the other hand, it might just put her off before we even get the ball rolling.

    Oooh if you want to give her a book that tackles time travel and she likes crime fiction (like me) and generally isn't a sci-fi fan (like me) you have to get her To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.

    Feral bought me a couple of Connie Willis books for a secret satan present and I really enjoyed them; they're very accessible to non sci-fi fans and are very well written.

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  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I don't think I saw a mention of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency? I think it qualifies as sci-fi. Umm, Kop by Warren Hammond is a sci-fi noir book you could check out.

  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I can highly recommend any Connie Willis books. Start her off on something humorous and simple like "Bellwether".

    Ender's Game is probably a better bet, though, if you want to start her off on sci-fi. Dirk Gently's was mentioned on the first page already, but of course, anything by Douglas Adams will be amusing. Heck, just toss a copy of Hitchhiker's at her. Ray Bradbury short stories are great because they aren't necessarily science-fiction... just imaginative writing, and it's all easy to read. Try "Dandelion Wine" and "R is for Rocket".

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  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    The Forever War (Joe Haldeman) is light on technobabble, heavy on fast, exciting story with strong male and female leads, and has some interesting philosophical threads as well.

    Also, Cat - have you ever considered that you might be a prick? Both me and my girlfriend loved Altered Carbon. It's just a fucking book. Entertainment. Not a lecture in morality.

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  • AegisAegis Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Perdido Street Station. It's not traditional sci-fi, but the author, China Meville, is downright amazing.

    And it'll make you cry :(

  • QuothQuoth the Raven Miami, FL FOR REALRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Just to throw this in, not wanting to start an argument (PLEASE don't make this an argument), but depending on where she is as a reader, she might not like Ender's Game. I think most of the people who love it first read it as kids, and so it occupies a special fuzzy place in their hearts. I read it recently and I thought it was, well, most appropriate for kids in middle school at that special time when everyone seems to be persecuting them. Obviously I am in the minority, and so I could be totally wrong, but I would hate to see her abandon sci-fi because she has the same reaction I did. On the other hand, she might love it and it could have the opposite effect. Given that she prefers mystery and thriller books, I worry that this won't be the case.

    “Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.”
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  • EchoEcho very gravitas Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited June 2009
    Aegis wrote: »
    Perdido Street Station. It's not traditional sci-fi, but the author, China Meville, is downright amazing.

    And it'll make you cry :(

    This is a great book. I love the world he created - he pilfers shamelessly from real-world mythologies and fables, strips the stuff of its religious/mythical context, and just throws it into the world. And it's great!

  • CroakerBCCroakerBC YorkRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Flatlander by Larry Niven is a collection of short sci-fi detective stories, each based around a mystery (often a murder), investigated by a detective with a psychic 'arm'. Despite Niven's reputation for hard sci-fi, I found them very accessible, and the mysteries themselves were fascinating (if occasionally disturbing.

    Another alternative, with more of a P.G. Wodehouse feel, is Asimov's Azazel short stories, again available as a single collection.

    The Robot stories mentioned above are also a good place to start, if a bit dry.
    Hamilton's work, mentioned above, is also good, but does come with 'adult themes'. Fair warning.

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  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited June 2009
    Quoth wrote: »
    Just to throw this in, not wanting to start an argument (PLEASE don't make this an argument), but depending on where she is as a reader, she might not like Ender's Game. I think most of the people who love it first read it as kids, and so it occupies a special fuzzy place in their hearts. I read it recently and I thought it was, well, most appropriate for kids in middle school at that special time when everyone seems to be persecuting them. Obviously I am in the minority, and so I could be totally wrong, but I would hate to see her abandon sci-fi because she has the same reaction I did. On the other hand, she might love it and it could have the opposite effect. Given that she prefers mystery and thriller books, I worry that this won't be the case.

    Well, I read it when I was about 25 and still thought it was one of the best sci-fi books I've ever read. Plus, she enjoyed Harry Potter and the more I think about it, Enders' Game is basically 'Harry Potter in SPAaAaAaAaCE!'

    I'm beginning to regret mentioning detective novels, although I appreciate the suggestions. She reads a lot of other genres, including stuff like Khaled Hosseini, Bret Easton Elis and period fiction. Besides which, I think sci-fi can offer better than 'Hard-boiled dick WITH LASERS!'. I think something like Ender's Game, a classic like Farenheit 451 or something highly emotive like Don't Let Me Go or just something balls-out like The Hyperion Cantos are possibly the strongest ideas. Partly I want to impress on her the variety present in sci-fi, dispel some preconceptions she has about the genre and present her with an exceptional example of the genre.

  • AresProphetAresProphet everyone into position Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I'll recommend some of Gibson's stuff despite reservations about it. Neuromancer pretty much is a detective story, it's got all the film noir elements and the writing is just brilliant. Plus, the rest of the Sprawl trilogy is so very bizarre and unique and all around awesome. Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive get sadly overlooked.

    Gibson is far superior to Richard Morgan in every way. Altered Carbon is only entertaining if you love cyberpunk, in which case it's really fun to read. Completely self-indulgent brain candy. I wouldn't recommend it to a newcomar to sci-fi.

    If you still think Neuromancer is too inaccessible, Gibson's Idoru is much easier to get into because it's a near-future sci-fi, and a lot of the ideas brought up in it are strikingly similar to the way we use technology today (it was published in what, 96?). Nowhere near as ambiguous as Neuromancer and it's still got his trademark prose, with which I am madly in love.

    I'll second A Canticle for Leibowitz. I finished it recently and it's really something. An excellent example of not letting the sci-fi get in the way of a great story. Extremely low levels of technobabble and unexplained futuristic concepts, and it's just an easy read all around. But it's very poignant, too.

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