PDA

View Full Version : Sating a craving



Mr.Silver
2009-05-10, 12:14 PM
It's been about a month since I last read a proper novel (the book club I normally attend being on hiatus) and frankly what I really want now is a decent piece of written work to sink my teeth into. Unfortunately I'm not sure what to go for. I usually aim to try things which are new to me so unfortunately this means I don't really know where to start. So, in the efforts of reaching a (hopefully) wide range of opinion I'm wondering if any of you have any recomendations.

First though, a few qualifiers. Since, as mentioned, I'm going for something new there are few authors I'm going to ignore (on account of being pretty familiar with them). In no particular order:
Terry Pratchett
Douglas Adams
Lian Hearn
Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm
George RR Martin
JRR Tolkein
HG Wells
Arthur Conan Doyle
Edgar Allen Poe
George Orwell
Isaac Asimov
Frank Herbert

I'm open to just about any genre. There are however two exceptions.
First: no 'pulp fantasy'. By that, I mean nothing that uses a lot of RPG-esque cliches whether in world building or storytelling. For the sake of simplicity, I'm including David Eddings and Robert Jordan here, regardless of whether they would technically qualify as I'm not interested at the moment.
Second: No EU stuff. I don't care what universe it's from, I'm not interested in it.

Finally, when I say novels I mean written ones. I have nothing against graphic novels, they're just not what I'm looking for right now.


So yeah. If anyone has any suggestions I'd appreciate it.

Tengu_temp
2009-05-10, 12:30 PM
May I suggest Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita? The book is both smart and funny, and provides good insight into both the nature of man and the realities of life in 1920s' Soviet Russia.

Fri
2009-05-10, 12:54 PM
You like conan doyle, and you like fantasy, so have you read the amazing, nine hundred pages novel (i think) titled Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell?

Often described as "Arthur Conan Doyle meet Jane Austen meet Neil Gaiman" It chronicled the life of two magician from an alternate victorian age where magic was abound... at the past. In this setting, magicians in the 19th century are reduced to 'theoritical magician' that's basically something like ineffectual magic historian, and usually consisted of rich people without better things to do.

The two titular magicians were magicians who were propechied to bring magic back.

It's written in the style of Jane Austen novel, with you know, magic. Full of charm, wit, parody and humor, beside its smart idea and writing. And it's supposed to be a real historical book, so it's filled with footnotes (sometimes even filling 3/4 of a page).

And by the way, I realized the distinct lack of neil gaiman in your list. Do you dislike him, or just never had the chance to read his book.

Because, you know. I kinda worship neil gaiman.

warty goblin
2009-05-10, 01:12 PM
You also should read Heinlein and Azimov. Some of their stuff are not just classics of the genre, but really should be considered honest to gods classics in general.

Horatio@Bridge
2009-05-10, 02:51 PM
The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher. Maybe not "high literature" but extremely good nonetheless.

World War Z by Max Brooks. A historical look at a hypothetical zombie apocalypse. Might be a bit too fantastic for your tastes, but has a fairly clever method of storytelling which I think elevates it somewhat.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson. A cornerstone of modern fantasy, very smartly written (it will eat your dictionary), and he's writing a new series as we speak.

Watchmen, Maus, and the Sandman are outside of what you're looking for right now since they're graphic novels, but once you've gotten a good novel down I cannot recommend these highly enough. You really should read these if you have any interest in modern quality literature at all.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Or anything by him, really. Oddly enough, this novel bolstered my faith in mankind. It's a good response to The Lord of the Flies and Nietzche's Ubermensch.

Anything by Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke.

Happy reading!

Voidhawk
2009-05-10, 04:09 PM
If you're in the mood for SciFi, I can't recomend heartly enough Peter F. Hamilton, specifically the "Night's Dawn" trilogy and its prequel of short stories "A Second Chance at Eden".

Though if you're looking for something less massive, then the Greg Mandel books ("Mindstar Rising", "A Quantum Murder", and "The Nano-Flower") are some of my favoirites: a great blend of near future, mild scifi, and detective story. "Fallen Dragon" is also quite good, and unlike most of his stuff is completely stand-alone.

What I personally love about his writing is the way it weaves: he sets all the characters and setting up in a believable way, so they're all distinct people as opposed to mere method's of moving the plot, and they still manage to bump back and forth and come together at the end in a way that I've only ever seen Terry Pratchett pull off better. It just seems Real. [/rabidfan]

Ashtar
2009-05-10, 04:32 PM
I finished reading Temeraire from Naomi Novik. A different take on Napoleonic wars, with dragons added to the mix. And that makes all the difference! :smallbiggrin:



Soar on the wings of adventure

Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old. Rising on merit to captain his own vessel, Laurence has earned himself a beautiful financée, society's esteem and a golden future. But the war is not going well. It seems Britain can only wait as Napoleon plans to invade.

After a skirmish with a French ship, Laurence finds himself in charge of a rare cargo: a dragon egg bound for the Emperor himself. Dragons are much prized: properly trained, they can mount a fearsome attack from the skies. One of Laurence's men must take the beast in hand and join the aviators' cause, thus relenquishing all hope of a normal life.

But when ...

:smalltongue: If that hooks you, I recommend you pick up the book. It does branch out into a series, but the first book is self contained.

Yulian
2009-05-10, 05:37 PM
You ever read Ringworld? Heck, hit anything by Larry Niven and/or Jerry Pournelle.

They do hard(ish) sci-fi from way in the future spacewars to more realistic alien invasion tales to global disaster books to amazing first-contact stories.

It would be hard for me to recommend just one.

Okay, forced to choose one, I'd say The Mote in God's Eye. You will never read such realistic-seeming aliens while still maintaining a plot with action and intrigue.

- Yulian

Mr.Silver
2009-05-10, 06:05 PM
And by the way, I realized the distinct lack of neil gaiman in your list. Do you dislike him, or just never had the chance to read his book.
I have read American Gods and was left very unimpressed. I have little desire to read any more of his so please don't suggest them.


Watchmen, Maus, and the Sandman are outside of what you're looking for right now since they're graphic novels, but once you've gotten a good novel down I cannot recommend these highly enough. You really should read these if you have any interest in modern quality literature at all.
Currently coming out of an Alan Moore binge. Comics are not an issue and I would ask you all not to bother recomending them.


Anything by Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke.
Read quite a lot of Asimov already. I'll go back and re-edit the list (and add Frank Herbet before someone mentions Dune).

Some interesting suggestions so far though.

chiasaur11
2009-05-10, 06:40 PM
Read any PG Wodehouse?

He's pretty good. Idiot plots at their finest.

Chesterton's mystery novels are alright too.

Mr.Silver
2009-05-10, 06:49 PM
Read any PG Wodehouse?

Yes. Found them a bit overrated. Mildly amusing, but not really anything special.

Poison_Fish
2009-05-10, 06:57 PM
You ever read Ringworld? Heck, hit anything by Larry Niven and/or Jerry Pournelle.

They do hard(ish) sci-fi from way in the future spacewars to more realistic alien invasion tales to global disaster books to amazing first-contact stories.

It would be hard for me to recommend just one.

I will second anything by Larry Niven. I love his writing.

Graymayre
2009-05-10, 07:19 PM
There is always the works of Orson Scott Card.

Personally, I've only ever read the Ender and Shadow series (both == great), but I've heard good things about several others he has made, particularly his Alvin Maker set "Alternate magical American revolution history!"

Arthur C. Clarke is ama-zah-zing as well.

Further, I highly recommend the following:

-The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. The heart-wrenching story of father and son as they make there way west in a post apocolyptic America. It was put on Oprah Winfrey's book list if that matters to you. :smalltongue:

-I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. The movie is a permanent crap stain on my heart (particularly with the ending). It has nothing to do with the novel. Which, I have found, is amazing and deep.

Fri
2009-05-10, 10:04 PM
You ever read Ringworld? Heck, hit anything by Larry Niven and/or Jerry Pournelle.

They do hard(ish) sci-fi from way in the future spacewars to more realistic alien invasion tales to global disaster books to amazing first-contact stories.

It would be hard for me to recommend just one.

Okay, forced to choose one, I'd say The Mote in God's Eye. You will never read such realistic-seeming aliens while still maintaining a plot with action and intrigue.

- Coeloptera

Yeah, Niven is one of my favourite sci fi writer, I also recommend everything from him.

And... well, even if you dislike neil gaiman, if you're interested to see some alternate victorian age with magic (and it's really historical, the only alternate element there is magic and fairy) you still need to read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell. It got Duke of Wellington defeating Napoleon using strategically/logistically used magic!

chiasaur11
2009-05-10, 10:22 PM
-I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. The movie is a permanent crap stain on my heart (particularly with the ending). It has nothing to do with the novel. Which, I have found, is amazing and deep.

Seconded.

Short but sweet.

Finn Solomon
2009-05-10, 10:52 PM
How about some of Conn Iggulden's work? He writes historical fiction, and I've really been enjoying his Emperor Series on the life of Julius Caesar. His Conqueror Series detailing the life of Genghis Khan is excellent as well.

bosssmiley
2009-05-11, 05:23 AM
I'm open to just about any genre. There are however two exceptions.
First: no 'pulp fantasy'. By that, I mean nothing that uses a lot of RPG-esque clichés whether in world building or storytelling. For the sake of simplicity, I'm including David Eddings and Robert Jordan here, regardless of whether they would technically qualify as I'm not interested at the moment.

Read some *proper* pulp: R.E.Howard, K.E.Wagner, C.R.Saunders, C.L.Moore, E.R.Burroughs, Fritz Leiber, etc.

Grognardia's pulp fantasy library (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/search/label/pulp%20fantasy%20library) has an entire "learn your andecedents" reading list.

Evrine
2009-05-11, 06:33 AM
I have a few things to recommend.

Donnerjack by Roger Zelazny (finished by Jane Lindskold after he died). It's a very interesting blend of sci fi and fantasy and a pretty incredible story.

Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Great alien invasion story.

The Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell. Really deep and good sci fi space battles and fleet actions.

The Last Legion series by Chris Bunch. Pretty good military sci fi with good action, but the plots are a little simplistic.

The Firekeeper Saga by Jane Lindskold. Really good fantasy. Overall, it doesn't rely on the usual fantasy cliches, except maybe the ancient magic fell into disuse and is now being brought back by evildoers one.

The Interstellar Patrol and The Interstellar Patrol II by Christopher Anvil. These are collections of sci fi short stories with a unique flavour to them that I've not seen anywhere else.

endoperez
2009-05-11, 08:09 AM
I have read American Gods and was left very unimpressed. I have little desire to read any more of his so please don't suggest them.

"Mrs Whitaker found the Holy Grail; it was under a fur coat."
My favourite opening to a short story. Can't recommend his longer works if you didn't like American Gods, though.

Gene Wolfe: Wizard Knight. It's a story of a knight going around slaying monsters, loving a queen, trying to find a magic sword and always keeping his word. The thing is, it's not a fairy tale, it's just a world with monsters. The serious tone brings the fantasy close to horror, at parts, because all those fantastic things really would be horrible for anyone having to actually face them, and we're shown them from the point of view of the person who always will face them, even if he knows he's dying.

Bhu
2009-05-12, 05:56 AM
Have you tried American Gods and the sequel by Neil Gaiman?

Satyr
2009-05-12, 09:00 AM
When you are more interested in a bit more ...intellectual reading, try Umberto Eco. There is not one book of him i didn't like, and at least three I completely adore (Foucault's Pendulum, Baudolino and, yes, The Name of the Rose). Yes, this is slightly more demanding to read, but that is part of the reason they are so recommendable. The rules for the categorization of idiots in the Pendulum should be common knowledge.

If you long for an easy digestable fantasy novel, there is the Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, which is above average, and The First Law trilogy (the blade itself, when they are hanged, last arguement of kings) by Joe Abercrombie.

Mordar
2009-05-12, 12:49 PM
It's been about a month since I last read a proper novel (the book club I normally attend being on hiatus) and frankly what I really want now is a decent piece of written work to sink my teeth into.

Okay, since you said "sink my teeth into" I get to respond with one of my favorite answers - Dracula, by Bram Stoker. Its good for a lot of reasons, bad for a couple (and good for being bad for those reasons!) and very worthwhile as an addition to a summer reading list.

Then, since it is one of my favorites, though I sure any number of literati will be beating on my gate with torches and pitchforks, I will recommend following it up with Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Its a very important book to me for a number of reasons, but I leave those aside and say that its fun/engaging/important to read.

Then, after that...go rent the DVDs of all the classic horror films and watch them into the wee hours of the night away from anyone that might point out that they haven't all aged well, so you can just soak them in.

Hrm, on a related note...now that I think about it, maybe I'll try to go through an LXG-themed reading and viewing list for myself this summer...that should be fun!

- M

PS: Loathe though I am to admit it, I have no idea what "EU stuff" is in this context, so if I have somehow violated that criteria, I apologize

raitalin
2009-05-12, 02:04 PM
Oh, oh! Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! Trilogy.

I think it qualifies as "New and Different" in anyone's book. Science fiction, mysticism,humor, politics, mystery, conspiracy and introductions to dozens of geeky inside jokes, it's got it all. The common complaint against it is an occasional "stream of consciousness" style that can make it a little hard to follow at times. The trick is to just keep reading, and all will become clear.

Also, if you've haven't read much Kurt Vonnegut, any of his works are wonderful, light reads. Especially Cat's Cradle or Sirens of Titan if you like Science Fiction.

If you haven't read Stephen King's Dark Tower Series, its amazing. Incredibly creative and genre-spanning with unforgettable characters. Leave all your pre-conceived notions of King at the door.

T.H. White's The Once and Future King: Truly Classic fantasy

Any and all of the works of Mark Twain, though A Connecticut Yankee might be my favorite of his fiction.

If you're down for something a little more substantial Herman Hesse's Beneath the Wheel and Narcissus and Goldmund are excellent. I liked them much more than Siddhartha.

I enjoy Terry Brooks' Magic Kingdom of Landover series more than anything else he's done, its great fun.

And I heartily recommend giving Gaiman a second chance, though his best work is in Sandman and his short stories.

Mr.Silver
2009-05-12, 02:30 PM
Then, since it is one of my favorites, though I sure any number of literati will be beating on my gate with torches and pitchforks, I will recommend following it up with Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Its a very important book to me for a number of reasons, but I leave those aside and say that its fun/engaging/important to read.
Done so already. Quite liked it.



PS: Loathe though I am to admit it, I have no idea what "EU stuff" is in this context, so if I have somehow violated that criteria, I apologize
EU = Expanded Universe. Basically, books set in the same 'universe' as a film/game series or franchise. Never really saw the point of them to be honest (even when they were from franchises I was particularly into).



T.H. White's The Once and Future King: Truly Classic fantasy
Indeed it is. I'm actually quite a fan of the series, I just didn't put White in since few people seem to know anything about the series.


Oh yes, and if I could make one last statement to everyone:
Stop recomending Neil Gaiman!
Thank you.

WalkingTarget
2009-05-12, 04:10 PM
Many good suggestions already (Eco, the Illuminatus! stuff, etc).

Easy-going fantasy: Steven Brust. There's the books featuring Vlad Taltos which operate in a wise-cracking mode with Zelazny-ish delivery and the Khaavren Romances in the same setting but in the style of The Three Musketeers set hundreds of years earlier.

Modern thriller (well, "modern" being back in the 1960's): The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. About a man hired to assassinate Charles de Gaulle and the man trying to track him down and stop him. For a plot involving an assassin hired to kill a real historical figure who was not assassinated I thought it does an amazing job with the suspense.

Just plain weird: anything by Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves in particular. Not everybody's cup of tea, but I find them interesting.

Edit @ V - I'm just now getting started on the Dresden books (about 120 pages into book 2). They mix modern fantasy with hard-boiled pulp fiction, but aren't what I think the OP was referring to by pulp fantasy. It's modern Chicago, only magic really exists. I think my suggestion of Brust's books might be pushing it, honestly, but Butcher's work is probably safe.

KnightDisciple
2009-05-12, 04:17 PM
For something that's got hints of fantasy, hints of science fiction, and hints of lots of other things, I'd recommend the Safehold Series by David Weber. Currently consists of two books: Off Armageddon Reef and By Schism Rent Asunder.
I rather enjoyed the Honor Harrington series he wrote as well, but it's more of a "typical" science fiction series.

Jim Butcher's great fun (at least the Dresden Files and Codex Alera are). But he might be too "pulpy" or not "intellectual" enough, not sure on your criteria.

Finn Solomon
2009-05-13, 06:43 AM
Oh yes, and if I could make one last statement to everyone:
Stop recomending Neil Gaiman!
Thank you.

There's no need to shout. If you don't like Neil, you should have included his name in your list in your first post.

Mr.Silver
2009-05-13, 07:25 AM
There's no need to shout. If you don't like Neil, you should have included his name in your list in your first post.

List is for authors I've read a lot of, rather than those I simply don't like (as otherwise it would be about 4 times as long and would probably have sparked more than a couple of arguments). I have mentioned I'm not interested in Gaiman in this thread, and I was kind of hoping it wouldn't be expecting too much for people to read the thread before posting (espeically since we still haven't got past the first page).

endoperez
2009-05-14, 06:35 PM
I was kind of hoping it wouldn't be expecting too much for people to read the thread before posting (espeically since we still haven't got past the first page).

I have to agree with Silver here, even though I too mentioned Gaiman after he voiced his distaste. This is a nice thread, and will stay more useful to everyone if it doesn't devolve into arguing about a single author.

warty goblin
2009-05-14, 08:41 PM
I'm reading Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles at the moment, and enjoying it immensely. It's very weird, and doesn't seem to do continuity in the ordinary sense of the word, but the writing style is fantastic, and I'm genuinely curious to see what happens next.

chiasaur11
2009-05-14, 08:46 PM
I'm reading Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles at the moment, and enjoying it immensely. It's very weird, and doesn't seem to do continuity in the ordinary sense of the word, but the writing style is fantastic, and I'm genuinely curious to see what happens next.

I liked that too, except for the wartime bits. The near total ditching bugged the heck out of me. Especially with the whole towns that left together to go to Mars in the first place. Why'd they ditch the one safe place there was? Just minor nitpicking.

warty goblin
2009-05-14, 09:24 PM
I liked that too, except for the wartime bits. The near total ditching bugged the heck out of me. Especially with the whole towns that left together to go to Mars in the first place. Why'd they ditch the one safe place there was? Just minor nitpicking.

Yeah, it doesn't make all that much sense. But then, it has a gun that shoots bees. It doesn't need to make sense.

More seriously, I get the impression that it's more about the emotion and idea of the events portrayed than neccessarily being realistic.

chiasaur11
2009-05-14, 09:30 PM
Yeah, it doesn't make all that much sense. But then, it has a gun that shoots bees. It doesn't need to make sense.

More seriously, I get the impression that it's more about the emotion and idea of the events portrayed than neccessarily being realistic.

True enough.

But the gun that shoots bees is totally justified in the logic dept on grounds of awesomeness.

warty goblin
2009-05-14, 09:35 PM
True enough.

But the gun that shoots bees is totally justified in the logic dept on grounds of awesomeness.

Agreed there. Now somebody needs to make a bullet-fu, slow motion western with bee guns. I'm thinking the climatic fight scene will feature our hero. Max McAwesome, running out of bees for his gun halfway through the fight with the evil Mr. Stinger, then using his awesome bee-fu skills to catch Mr. Stinger's shot in his guns while jumping through the air and screaming. Max McAwesome then lands in a cinimatic cloud of slow motion dust, shoots Mr. Stinger, then stands up, examines a scrape on his elbow and says:

"I'll be gosh-darned. That did sting a bit."