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Please recommend Meaningful Sci-Fi
#1  curtw 02-26-2021, 10:22 AM
I enjoy a good space opera as much as the next human, but I'm getting tired of the same, shallow genre stories. I'm looking for something that will seriously challenge my world view, or give me insight into myself. I'm looking to you all for some good recommendations.

The "classics" certainly don't do that. Dune, Foundation, Rama. Sure, they're complex. But certainly not enlightening.

The most recent example that was held out to me as "groundbreaking" was Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice. What a yawn. Just a gender gimmick, nowhere near as intelligent as Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness.

My favorites, and why?

Gateway, by Frederik Pohl. The narrator's mental instability seems explainable enough, until you realize that
Spoiler Warning below






by abandoning her at the event horizon of a black hole, he didn't just leave his lover to die, he is STILL KILLING HER, every single day

Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban. Aside from the challenge of getting into the language, it truly picks up where books like A Canticle For Leibiwitz leave off--not just supposing that if humanity finds a way to destroy itself once, it will likely do so again, by exposing
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what it is about Man that makes that part of our nature.

The Fifth Head of Cerberus, by Gene Wolfe. There's a whole other layer to the story, "hidden" in plain sight.

The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick. Almost 60 years ago, Dick tried to warn us how dangerously close America can be to sliding into fascism. Those who didn't "get it" actually went ahead in 2016 and put a candidate who could demonstrate it into the White House.

(You can safely assume that I've read most of the bibliography of these four authors.)

Some that have touched me because they touch on things that I've daydreamed about myself were Ken Grimwood's Replay and Lewis Shiner's Glimpses.

What have you got?
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#2  RowdyRuff 02-26-2021, 11:20 AM
A Deepness in the Sky?
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#3  Apache 02-26-2021, 12:04 PM
Joshua Son of None by Nancy Freedman.
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Her book Joshua Son of None (1973) was a political thriller about the clandestine cloning of a young assassinated President (strongly implied to be, although never actually named as, John F. Kennedy).
I remember reading this back in 1973. Not sure if it holds up or is as meaningful now.
I see it is available as an eBook.
Apache
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#4  JSWolf 02-26-2021, 12:24 PM
I suggest reading Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/589250207?book_show_action=false&from_review_page= 1
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It follows a small group of characters, and each of their stories is different. What's more, they're all told in a different tone of voice so they're unique.

This is a book I think a lot about even though I read it some time ago. The character that ages backwards, the crazy drugged-up writer with the space-hopping doors, and of course the Shrike. This mysterious creature lurks in the background of the novel, and Simmons does a good job keeping our hair on edge with him.
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#5  j.p.s 02-26-2021, 12:50 PM
Quote Apache
Joshua Son of None by Nancy Freedman.

I remember reading this back in 1973. Not sure if it holds up or is as meaningful now.
I see it is available as an eBook.
Apache
I read it in the mid 70s as an admirer of Kennedy and not yet aware of his policy and behavior shortcomings. Even then, I thought it over the top in its idolization.

As to holding up, it was pretty extreme in its assumption that DNA is destiny.
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#6  hildea 02-26-2021, 01:20 PM
Do you include alternative history in scifi? I just finished Jo Walton's triology starting with "Farthing", in a UK which negotiated a peace with Nazi Germany in 1940, and slides slowly but surely into fascism. Chilling.

Some classics:
Margaret Atwood's "Handmaid's Tale"
Karel Čapek's "War With the Newts" (both chilling and hilarious)
and of course George Orwell's "1984"
Octavia Butler's "Kindred" (time travel, so may or may not fit your definition of scifi)
I've also seen a lot of recommendations of Butler's "Parable of the Sower". I started reading it, but I found it too heavy for my mood mid-pandemic.
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#7  JSWolf 02-26-2021, 02:27 PM
Quote hildea
Do you include alternative history in scifi? I just finished Jo Walton's triology starting with "Farthing", in a UK which negotiated a peace with Nazi Germany in 1940, and slides slowly but surely into fascism. Chilling.

Some classics:
Margaret Atwood's "Handmaid's Tale"
Octavia Butler's "Kindred" (time travel, so may or may not fit your definition of scifi)
I second these two books. Well worth reading.
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#8  Apache 02-26-2021, 02:54 PM
Quote j.p.s
I read it in the mid 70s as an admirer of Kennedy and not yet aware of his policy and behavior shortcomings. Even then, I thought it over the top in its idolization.

As to holding up, it was pretty extreme in its assumption that DNA is destiny.
You are correct. I had forgotten about the idolization of Kennedy and at the time did not know about his behavior.
Apache
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#9  curtw 02-26-2021, 09:38 PM
Quote JSWolf
I suggest reading Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/589250207?book_show_action=false&from_review_page= 1
I have read that, and itÂ’s sequel. Enjoyed those too. Simmons is very good.
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#10  Pajamaman 02-26-2021, 11:47 PM
Solaris Stanislas lem
Roadside picnic strugatsky
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