Sunday, November 5, 2017

SF authors

For some science-fiction authors I plan to read as many of their books and their short stories as I can. Below are those who have achieved this elevated rank. I'm sure I've forgotten some people, so I will probably add to this post in the future (I tried adding to it in the past but it didn't work out too well).

Charles Sheffield -- I started with The Ganymede Club and this led to other books in that sorta series, Cold as Ice and Dark as Day. Rustam Battacharyia is one of my heroes. I've also read Mind Pool, Summertide, and Web Between the Worlds.

Robert Charles Wilson -- I first read his short story "Utriusque Cosmi" which may be the best thing I've ever read. I've since read ChronolithsDarwinia, and Blind Lake, all of which are well-worth the reading.

Liu Cixin -- I've only read his Three Body Problem trilogy, but it's enough to hook me.

Tim Powers -- This one's funny because a lot of his books aren't even sci-fi, they're often more like supernatural thrillers. The only thing I can compare them to is the novels of Charles Williams, except Williams is much drier. Powers also packs a lot of information into his stories. The Anubis Gates would have been a 1,000-page book for anyone else, he manages it in less than 400. I've also read Declare and Three Days to Never.

In addition,there are some authors who I will read many books of, but probably not all.

Fredric Brown -- He should probably go in the previous list because I will read all of his sci-fi. But he also wrote mystery/detective stories and novels, and I doubt I'll read any of those. A lot of his fiction is in the short story format, very short stories. He wrote flash fiction before flash fiction was cool.

Michael Flynn -- This one I recently switched from the first category to this one. And it's not because I don't like his writing, it's just that, of all the sci-fi authors I've read, Flynn strikes me as honest-to-God literature. It's too deep for me. It took me months to read The Wreck of the River of Stars which is a beautiful character study, but I just couldn't take too much of it in one sitting. I've also read Eifelheim, In the Country of the Blind, the Firestar tetralogy, and his short story collection The Forest of Time and Other Stories. Not to mention a book he wrote with Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven, Fallen Angels. Speaking of which...

Larry Niven -- I've liked Niven's stuff, but most of what I read was what he wrote with Pournelle. I'm just recently getting into his solo writings (although I read Ringworld years ago). So far, everything I've read by him is great, but not all of his books appeal to me, so I put him on this list instead of the first one.

Robert Heinlein -- This one's easy. I love Heinlein's stuff, but starting in the 1960s his books started becoming more about evangelizing his particular political views rather than the story. Stranger in a Strange Land is a case in point. The stories in question are still outstanding, but I just dislike being preached to. I'm very much a pot calling the kettle black here, because I occasionally write sci-fi as an expression of my religious and philosophical ideas. My motive for doing so is that's just how the stories come to me, through contemplation of the religious and philosophical ideas. And, of course, that may well be how it is for others, but I still don't like it when other people do to me what I do to them -- or at least would do to them since I am unpublished and unread.

Kim Stanley Robinson -- I've mentioned before that I have a love/hate relationship with Robinson's writings. The only other author who has given me as much of a sense of place is Charles Dickens. But then a) Robinson also gets preachy, b) he can be pretty anti-Christian, and c) sometimes it seems like he's just trying to show off how much he knows. None of this is to say that I won't read his stuff, but not all of it. His novel Shaman holds no attraction to me. I first read his Mars trilogy, along with the short story companion book The Martians, the latter of which has the novella "Green Mars", a different story from the novel of the same name, and which is the best thing of Robinson's I've read. I've also read Icehenge, Years of Rice and Salt, Antarctica2312, and Memory of Whiteness. When I was living in Belgium the local library only had the first of his California trilogy in English, so I got that, and to my surprise, loved it. So I got the rest of that trilogy although I haven't read it yet. I may someday check out his trilogy on global warming, but I'm avoiding it because of his preachiness.

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