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Looking for Good and Recent Sci-Fi Books
Been occasionally wondering about this, but a post about an upcoming book called Lockstep over on the facebook group made me think to actually ask.

I want to read some good, recent sci-fi by authors I haven't already read. I've lots of Iain M Banks, Larry Niven, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, some Greg Gear and the like, but don't really know where to start elsewhere.

I like the sound of Lockstep, I've made a note of its author in case it turns out to be good. I also noticed the review in this section about Charles Stross, who sounds interesting, but who else is out there that is more recent? I'm thinking 3rd millennium authors who lean toward hard sci-fi.

Karl Schroeder has inspired several aspects of the OA scenario. The Beamrider Network is at least partly based on his work, and the Snarks are inspired by his novel Permanence. Schroeder's Sun of Suns appears to have at least partly inspired the Gravity Balloon concept, which I intend to add to the scenario at some point, if no-one else does it first.

I'm not sure that Lockstep is as practical as some of his other work - there seems to be little advantage to this use of cryosleep, but perhaps something similar might be useful.
windup girl by paolo bacigalupi (biotech struggles in 2300 a.d. thailand) is really good. great language and characters and very good sense of setting.

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood is her third book in the Oryx and Crake series. There's more biotech disaster, posthumans, and great characters and plot.

The Grand Tour series by Ben Bova.. Farside and New Earth are his most recent books.. the characters and their interactions aren't as good as his older books but the setting is good and they're nice, quick reads. They're hard science fiction popcorn. The descriptions of nanotech are pretty in line with OA's ideas.

Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie is really good. Posthuman setting, hive mind spacecraft, military drama.. Great characters and alien perspective.
(03-15-2014, 07:25 AM)stevebowers Wrote: I'm not sure that Lockstep is as practical as some of his other work - there seems to be little advantage to this use of cryosleep, but perhaps something similar might be useful.

While I haven't read it yet, Lockstep was serialized in Analog magazine and in the latest issue Schroeder lays out his case for why this application is so useful as well as some of the tech used in the story (not cryosleep per se but some of the other stuff). I've only skimmed the article at this point, but it sounds interesting.

As far as recommended books:

Reality 36 and Omega Point, both by Guy Haley - Set in the next couple hundred years, there's AIs, wild tech, cyborgs and virtual realities, not to mention an attempt to create an Omega Point of sorts. Not post-singularity fiction, more like 'the singularity is going to arrive any day now' fiction.

The Quantum Thief and The Fractal Prince, both by Hannu Rajaniemi - A post-singularity future in which Jupiter was imploded into a black hole at the moment of Singularity (yes, it's a double-entendre in this future world) apparently to be turned into some sort of ultimate computer substrate. Meanwhile the Founders create a solar system spanning empire by copying themselves millions of times and sharing memories between the copies while they seek to defeat quantum uncertainty or the like using their moon sized ISOs. And a giant walking city strides across the surface of Mars.

The books are billed as hard science by Charles Stross, although there's nanotech and femtotech both (and in the past he's not said great things about nanotech - perhaps another indication that 'hard science' is often in the eye of the beholder..). Anyway - a really good read. Interesting enough in one book there is a brief mention of an 'angelnet' which is basically just like ours. I rather wonder if the author has been reading OA...

A little older, but definitely worth the getting are The New Space Opera vol 1 and 2. Two whole collections of big thinking SF, much of it what we would deem OA relevant, or into transhumanism/post humanism themes.

Hope this helps,

Some very interesting-looking stuff here. I suspect I'll have reading material for many months just from what's been said here so far.

I've enjoyed Charles Stross for his "Laundry File" series. His Saturn's Children series is much more OA-like material, Interplanetary Age stuff filled with synthetics, AIs, and solar system development, but I didn't get hooked into the plotline. I read his 6-book (now consolidated to 3) series, "Merchant Princes," but they ran on a bit long. The ending had an amusing amount of nuclear fun, though. Of his works, I look forward to more "Laundry Files" sequels.

S. Andrew Swann has written three series in an OA-like setting, covering about 5 centuries of advancement.

His Moreau series looks at near-future Earth, following several characters (two engineered animals, one engineered human) as they gradually discover manipulation of Earth's society into a state of conflict and regressed technology by aliens. The aliens are waging very successful memetic warfare to eliminate their rival: humanity. There is an assessment of the impact of future technology and bigotry against engineered animals and humans.

The follow-up Hostile Takeover trilogy is set several centuries later and looks an early interstellar human civilization that features wormholes (somewhat different than OA), faster-than-light drives, and the continued work of alien AIs attempting to destabilize human civilization even after the defeat of their masters. A continued background element is bigotry toward the products of genetic engineering, AIs, and nanotech. It is not a happy Star Trekkian future, but one of mixed dictatorships, authoritarian governments, and violent anarchies.

Finally, the Apotheosis Trilogy moves a couple of centuries further forward after the collapse of humanity's central interstellar government. It is dominated by a battle against a transapient blight (in OA terms), one of the alien AIs from the prior series that got ahold of human nanotech and is now running wild, guided by an insane AI.

Swann's books are great reading for Orion's Arm inspiration.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

"Everbody's always in favor of saving Hitler's brain, but when you put it in the body of a great white shark, oh, suddenly you've gone too far." -- Professor Farnsworth, Futurama
Stross is probably my favourite author, in so much as one can have one. I enjoy pretty much all his works. Accelerando is a great book, if you like OA you'd like it.

I'm reading Old Man's War at the moment and really enjoying it. The basic premise is that the universe is a harsh place and although there are many sentient races habitable planets are rare and lead to constant fighting for their control. The main character is a geriatric who is recruited into the Colonial Defence Force, given a hell of a lot of upgrades negating his age and thrown into dangerous situation after dangerous situation. It's not strictly hard science fiction but it's well written, full of great ideas and has really good pacing. No chapter is drags on too long or goes by too quick.

Edit: incidentally there's a great description of getting a DNI in OMW. When first activated it talks to the protagonist in natural language, stimulating the auditory nerves so he actually hears a voice. To respond the protagonist has to speak out loud. Over time the DNI maps more of the brain so this becomes less necessary, effectively it learns the protag's brain (as well as his mind/personality). After a short while to command the DNI he just has to subvocalise and eventually the DNI gets so good at reading his brain state it can predict his needs and provide info, overlays, translations etc at the exact same moment the protag realises he needs it. Like a perfect personal assistant.
Definitely thinking Stross is first on my list once I'm done with my current reading.


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