Anyone else finding it hard to get into old(ish) sci-fi? Page 2

  • UncleLou Moderator 13 Jul 2015 08:31:40 40,158 posts
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    brigadier wrote:
    Aside from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, I really struggled to keep going through Philip K. Dick's other works. I'm not even sure why to be honest.
    Dick was a much better short story writer than novelist, imo. I struggle to make it through his longer works, but the short story collections (The Father-Thing, We Can Remember it for you Wholesale, etc.) are still marvelous,
  • skuzzbag 13 Jul 2015 08:34:51 5,950 posts
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    Couldn't get into Slaughterhouse Five myself but it's still there on my list. Loved Hothouse & Flowers for Algernon. Also enjoyed reading Rendezvous with Rama but that's one that seems like it's written in an old style.

    I struggle to find many books that hold my interest after the first few pages, which is my problem rather than the books.
  • ModoX 13 Jul 2015 08:56:04 3,480 posts
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    Some older sci fi is not terribly well written, even some of the revered stuff, and it's probably because the genre wasn't taken seriously. Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein were not top tier writers (they do have their moments of course), but they're good enough to let their strengths show through most of the time.

    There's plenty of great writing being mentioned here though - Flowers for Algernon, I Am Legend, The Stars My Destination etc. I think when the book is good enough the problems of dated views of future technology and so on don't have such an impact.

    Also it's difficult to read older books as they would have been read at the time. I read War of the Worlds for the first time recently and wasn't a massive fan - I can imagine how incredible it was to read at the time, but the same concepts have been done a million times since, and done better. Not HG Wells' fault, but I can't help the fact that I had already read the stuff that relies on his foundations.
  • You-can-call-me-kal 13 Jul 2015 09:04:09 20,038 posts
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    nickthegun wrote:
    Kind of the opposite. I find older, harder sci-fi much easier to read than newer, more esoteric stuff
    Older yes but don't think any "hard" sci-fi is my kind of thing, old or new.

    I love that kind of paranoid horror sci-fi stuff. Richard Matheson, Ira Levin, John Wyndham etc. That's my favourite type of sci-fi (makes good films too).
  • THFourteen 13 Jul 2015 09:22:28 53,819 posts
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    Legacy_System wrote:
    Foundation series by Asimov was really good I thought. The first dune book was good, but aside from that, try Julian May and the many coloured land.
    Found (lol) the first foundation book really hard to get into. Started it twice, gave up twice.
  • anephric 13 Jul 2015 10:18:28 4,185 posts
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    @ModoX I wouldn't necessarily agree about Clarke - Childhood's End has some great prose in it, particularly (unusually for Clarke) when it gets all metaphysical at the end. Heinlein was a warhorse who fell back on a lot of the same devices and phraseology, although he went a bit more mental at the end of his career.

    Asimov, though, I always thought a terribly turgid writer. I always hated his style and never got through much of Foundation because of it.

    Edited by anephric at 11:33:36 13-07-2015
  • ModoX 13 Jul 2015 12:16:58 3,480 posts
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    @anephric Yeah Clarke is by far the best writer of the three, The City and The Stars really wowed me in that respect. But I've just come off reading 2001 and it's very dry and uninteresting in its style (and content, frankly).

    Heinlein I've actually only read Double Star but it was very mediocre. I really enjoy Asimov, but then he was the first sci fi author I read when I was young, and I think his style manages to be at least good enough to disappear and let his incredible ideas flourish and carry the story.
  • You-can-call-me-kal 13 Jul 2015 12:21:29 20,038 posts
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    I find Dick relatively easy to read tbh, surprised he's getting brought up in here. Most of his stories have lots of interesting ideas and are fairly action packed. He's not the best writer from a technical point of view but he's rarely dull. Ubik is my personal fav.

    Edited by Gus at 12:22:18 13-07-2015
  • disusedgenius 13 Jul 2015 12:24:32 10,545 posts
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    Gus wrote:
    I find Dick relatively easy to read tbh, surprised he's getting brought up in here. Most of his stories have lots of interesting ideas and are fairly action packed. He's not the best writer from a technical point of view but he's rarely dull. Ubik is my personal fav.
    Every time I've read one of his novels (High Castle and Electric Sheep are the two I've read) it's taken me 3 goes to click with it. Once I'm in it's great and flows well but I have absolutely no idea why I find it such a tough nut to crack difficult. I'd love to work it out one day.
  • You-can-call-me-kal 13 Jul 2015 12:27:22 20,038 posts
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    High Castle isn't a particularly good example of Dick tbh. It's a great book in itself, possibly his best in fact, but not that typical of his other stories or writing style.
  • senso-ji 13 Jul 2015 12:35:34 10,088 posts
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    I recommend 'The Man who Fell to Earth' by Walter Tevis if anyone is interested in some good old sci-fi. Very easy to read prose and Tevis keeps the science relevant to the technology that was present at the time.

    I think one of the problems of older sci-fi is that some authours couldn't articulate the scientific knowledge of the time into a well paced story, but Tevis pulls it off well IMO.
  • You-can-call-me-kal 13 Jul 2015 12:36:42 20,038 posts
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    Another great film as well.
  • ModoX 13 Jul 2015 12:46:21 3,480 posts
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    senso-ji wrote:
    I recommend 'The Man who Fell to Earth' by Walter Tevis if anyone is interested in some good old sci-fi. Very easy to read prose and Tevis keeps the science relevant to the technology that was present at the time.

    I think one of the problems of older sci-fi is that some authours couldn't articulate the scientific knowledge of the time into a well paced story, but Tevis pulls it off well IMO.
    I haven't read that one, but his Mockingbird is fantastic and very well written, so I can imagine it's good.
  • hedben2013 13 Jul 2015 12:53:21 1,604 posts
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    The Lathe Of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin (1971) blew my mind when I read it as a teen- I'm not sure how it would be to revisit it now, but it certainly didn't seem dated in the late 90s. And Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1931) holds up surprisingly well for a book written between the world wars.

    I'd second the John Wyndham recommendations as well. The Chrysalids in particular is a fantastic read, and it brings post-apocalypse fundamentalism and paranoia to life brilliantly- I wonder if any of the Fallout writers were fans...
  • You-can-call-me-kal 13 Jul 2015 12:53:42 20,038 posts
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    I think I like older sci-fi because it tends to be set on earth, with some interesting tweak (alien landing, bit in the future etc).

    The sci-fi I struggle with is when it's all alien worlds and politics and heavy spacey science type stuff,
  • anephric 13 Jul 2015 13:00:34 4,185 posts
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    I completely forgot to mention my favourite author of all time, Ray Bradbury.

    A brilliant example of an SF writer whose every line reads almost like poetry, and whose descriptions of technology never get any more technical than 'The rocket smelt of space and time and distance and went boooooom.'
  • glaeken 13 Jul 2015 13:09:11 12,070 posts
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    Older Sci-Fi tends to be less concerned with how things work and more about telling "what if" stories. You just have to take a particular premise as a given and then see what a story would be with that premise. I think we have kind of lost that to an extent with lots of authors wanting to try and make their science plausible which never used to really matter.
  • faux-C 13 Jul 2015 13:12:45 11,204 posts
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    I've found a pretty great hit rate of quality with the SF Masterworks series.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SF_Masterworks
  • ModoX 13 Jul 2015 17:56:43 3,480 posts
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    faux-C wrote:
    I've found a pretty great hit rate of quality with the SF Masterworks series.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SF_Masterworks
    Yep, great series. Don't think I've been disappointed yet with one of those.
  • Stoatboy 13 Jul 2015 19:19:24 116 posts
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    Definitely stick with Sirens of Titan. I found it a hard read, but it's also one of my favourite books ever. The sheer enormity of what he achieves blew my tiny mind.

    It's been mentioned before but Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man is a cracker. I ripped through it in one sitting.

    Another good oldie is Cities in Flight by James Blish. It's got a nice scale to it - humanity flying cities around the universe, but I also seem to recall it had likeable characters, which is often where sci-fi falls down for me.

    The SF masterworks series is indeed great. One proviso - if you're finding it hard to get into some, maybe steer clear of Olaf Stapledon's Starmaker and First and Last Men, for now. They're both amazing books that I'm really glad I read, but I struggled like hell with them.
  • Deleted user 13 July 2015 19:33:19
    glaeken wrote:
    Older Sci-Fi tends to be less concerned with how things work and more about telling "what if" stories. You just have to take a particular premise as a given and then see what a story would be with that premise. I think we have kind of lost that to an extent with lots of authors wanting to try and make their science plausible which never used to really matter.
    Maybe in terms of novels, but I've got a Kindle sub to Asimov's SF magazine and it's full of those "what if" stories. Well worth a look if that's your bag.

    Apologies for going slightly off topic.
  • mothercruncher 13 Jul 2015 19:34:01 17,828 posts
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    Last lot I read successfully, enjoyed and finished were Arthur C Clarke's Rama series. Genuinely rapt by the out-there-but-still-scientifically-sound stuff in them. Solve the problem of zero gravity and cart large amounts of people across space? No problem- create a 50 fucking kilometre diameter cylinder and lay towns and cities out on the inside. Cruise through space and enjoy the low but workable gravity and gaze up at the weather tumbling around the centre of the cylinder. The guy is a bit of a finker.
  • munki83 7 Aug 2015 19:41:20 1,853 posts
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    Tried reading ringworld recently and struggled to finish it. Was really looking forward to it. Ah well after this book and the last patchett book I'm going to finish the nights dawn trilogy by Peter f Hamilton not hard sci fi but great space opera
  • MrFlay 7 Aug 2015 20:10:21 4,505 posts
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    I'd recommend getting Dangerous Visions and using that as a sampler. It's an anthology edited by the ever litigious Harlan Ellison featuring most of the great sci-fi writers of the sixties. It's quite big too. Someone already recommended it here.
  • ModoX 8 Aug 2015 08:06:19 3,480 posts
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    munki83 wrote:
    Tried reading ringworld recently and struggled to finish it. Was really looking forward to it. Ah well after this book and the last patchett book I'm going to finish the nights dawn trilogy by Peter f Hamilton not hard sci fi but great space opera
    I enjoyed the first Ringworld, but the sequels are absolutely awful.

    Peter F Hamilton though... the only book I've ever given up on halfway through was one of his, hate the guy.
  • ZuluHero 8 Aug 2015 09:08:36 8,925 posts
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    munki83 wrote:
    Tried reading ringworld recently and struggled to finish it. Was really looking forward to it. Ah well after this book and the last patchett book I'm going to finish the nights dawn trilogy by Peter f Hamilton not hard sci fi but great space opera
    Am I the only one who finds this really ironic? :)

    What was it about Ringworld that caused you to struggle?
  • phAge 8 Aug 2015 10:07:06 25,487 posts
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    ModoX wrote:
    munki83 wrote:
    Tried reading ringworld recently and struggled to finish it. Was really looking forward to it. Ah well after this book and the last patchett book I'm going to finish the nights dawn trilogy by Peter f Hamilton not hard sci fi but great space opera
    I enjoyed the first Ringworld, but the sequels are absolutely awful.

    Peter F Hamilton though... the only book I've ever given up on halfway through was one of his, hate the guy.
    Even with all the massive teenage tits and zero-g secks?

    To be fair I found the ND trilogy fairly entertaining. And full of tits.
  • ModoX 8 Aug 2015 11:12:44 3,480 posts
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    phAge wrote:
    ModoX wrote:
    munki83 wrote:
    Tried reading ringworld recently and struggled to finish it. Was really looking forward to it. Ah well after this book and the last patchett book I'm going to finish the nights dawn trilogy by Peter f Hamilton not hard sci fi but great space opera
    I enjoyed the first Ringworld, but the sequels are absolutely awful.

    Peter F Hamilton though... the only book I've ever given up on halfway through was one of his, hate the guy.
    Even with all the massive teenage tits and zero-g secks?

    To be fair I found the ND trilogy fairly entertaining. And full of tits.
    I think it was Reality Dysfunction I attempted. I got three or four hundred pages in before I gave up. Hadn't made it far enough for any sexy time I don't think, just lots of boring descriptions of places and following a million different characters, none of which were at all interesting.
  • munki83 8 Aug 2015 11:29:33 1,853 posts
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    @ModoX Ahhh thats the problem its on page 405 that shit kicks off :p The books do take me an age to read and I remember taking a month or so off when I got half way through the second book

    As for Ringworld, I just found it dull and kinda offensive. Its old school sexist. I know it comes with the territory of reading old sci-fi but I found it off putting.

    I'd recommend The City and the Stars by Arthur C Clark, reminds me I must read more of his works...also the first three Dune books before they start getting too crazy.

    Oh the Demolished man by Alfred Bester, unfortunately its not anything to do with Demolition Man.
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