June Book of the Month Suggestions
What book are you reading currently? What's your favourite book of all time? Suggest books for us to read this month and maybe a short blurb as to why we should read it.
I'm currently reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, a book that is widely regarded as one of the best recently-released motivational tools for cleaning up and sorting your life and living areas. Ms Kondo puts forward a method of sorting possessions to keep vs ones to discard, one that appears to work for a decent number of people based on discussions I've seen.
My suggestion would have to be Leviathan Wakes by James SA Corey. It's the first book in The Expanse series and given the recent hype in regards to the TV series based on the book series I think it's a solid recommendation. I'm also starting a re-read myself and would love to discuss it here if anyone is up to it.
The Expanse is a hard sci-fi series that takes place in the near future. Humanity has colonized the solar system and is divided into 3 factions; Earth, Mars and the belt. Earth and Mars have been at a standoff for some time and a few skirmishes have happened in the past. Their relationship is very reminiscent of USA and USSR during the cold war. The belters live mostly on and around the various planetary bodies in the outer solar system and have been exploited by the "Inners" for years.
The story follows the crew of the Rocinante as they inadvertently find themselves in the middle of events that will change humanity forever.
That sounds right up my alley!
Definitely going to check it out.
Awesome, be sure to check back to discuss when you do
I'm going to repeat what I said on a thread the other day - The Expanse books are not great. They're not terrible, but they are fairly derivative and predictable. They're not hard enough sci-fi to satisfy my desire for hard sci fi - unlike, say, Egan or Baxter. They're not operatic enough to satisfy my love of space opera - unlike Banks, Leckie or Reynolds. They're not doing anything new or interesting like Watts or Tchaikovsky, nor are they asking interesting philosophical/social/political questions like Asimov, Dick or Herbert.
So in a way they're perfect for TV. They're not particularly challenging in any way, but the story chugs along quickly and there's a big spooky ticking clock (literally) floating around. There's not too much to lose (and something is always lost turning a book into a show) so they transition well to screen. They read like a screen treatment - I'm not sure this is an accident, I'm fairly sure they were written to be sold to TV. I'm not necessarily saying these are bad things per se, but I am saying there are probably better books to read.
I read five of them and then just couldn't muster the interest to read any more.
I do not disagree with you except maybe about the predictable part. Personally, I think they are great but I totally see why some readers might not agree with me. I would not necessarily recommend them to an established sci-fi reader unless I knew his/her taste. The Expanse is not groundbreaking in any way as a book series but they are very enjoyable and fun. I have no problem recommending it here in a general book thread where I don't know the audience at all.
In what way are they not hard enough for you? Is it the whole protomolecule stuff or the Epstein drive? Or the fact that they don't go into details about the science of everything?
So what I would call "hard" sci-fi is where the science (or at least the hypothesised future-science) is a significant part of the story, either explicitly like in Diaspora or in shaping the story-world like in Flux. In all honesty, those books are pretty full on. Diaspora especially. There's a LOT of complicated physics in there. It's not a book for everyone, Egan doesn't fuck around on the hardness front!
The Expanse books absolutely qualify as "proper" sci-fi because Corey only takes a few liberties with established science rather than just making up stuff out of the air. The Expanse world is "real" and believable in that sense, and I think that's the difference between "proper" sci-fi and science-fantasy. I can always forgive a high-speed (or even FTL) drive because otherwise all space-based stories are just people travelling alone in silence for years/centuries/etc on end - and a self-replicating nanotech threat is at least fairly plausible. But I don't think they're hard sci-fi.
I don't disagree that they're fun books - at least the first few are, they do get a bit tired later on - and while they might be a good gateway for someone who hasn't read much sci-fi, I don't think they'd be my choice as a recommendation. I haven't thought a huge amount about what I might recommend, if I'm honest - how about Ann Leckie's wonderful Anicillary Justice?
That's a great explanation and I tend to agree. I would still categorize The Expans as hard sci-fi.
Ancillary Justice is on my list to read so I'll have to get back to you on that one. I'm adding Diaspora to that list, thanks for recommendation. Been looking for something along those lines.
I tend to think that discussions about genre - especially subgenres - can get a bit bogged down in definitions and everyone has their own so ultimately I don't think I'm any more right than you are about exactly which shelf Leviathan Wakes goes on. :)
I hope you like Ancillary Justice. It starts a little bit slow but it really comes together as it goes along - Leckie is definitely one of my favourite still-living authors (unfun fact: every famous author I've ever met in person has died young - both Iain Banks and Terry Pratchett). Diaspora is wonderful, the opening sequence is a particular favourite of mine.
I am currently reading Neal Asher's The Soldier which is so far excellent, like almost everything else he's written. Decent quality space opera although not quite in the same league as the giant Iain M Banks, but frankly few hold a candle to him - Hamilton and Leckie are the only people I can think of.
My favourite book of all time is China Meiville's Embassytown which probably falls under Meiville's sometime genre of Weird but as that came up on another thread recently I'm going to go for another from my all-time favourites list, Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller which is kind of hard to talk about. It's a postmodernist frame story (or 'trap novel') which you'll probably either love or hate and likely not much in between.
For those who are into scifi, there are two short story collections that I've really liked. Its Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang, and Axiomatic by Greg Egan. They're chock-full of very interesting ideas.
I recently read Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King and it was honestly a great book. I mean, I like to read books, but there was never any book that made me want to actively carry it around wherever I go just to read it if I have the chance.
The setting is great, the characters have several layers that take a long time to unpack, the concept is incredibly unsettling yet performed fantastically, and the basic storytelling abilities of the book are off the charts. It also highlights some important social issues in a very unconventional yet very interesting way.
I would recommend everyone read it if they have the time.
Just finished Alastair Reynolds - Blue Remembered Earth, first book in the Poseidon's Children trilogy. Set in the 2100s it's an optimistic look at future where Africa is the economical powerhouse of Earth, solar system's been colonized, brain-computer interfaces, augmentations and biohacking are prevalent. The matriarch of Akinya Aerospace family company dies and her grandchildren discover her true legacy through hints scattered across the system.
Such a good series. I love Reynolds and I enjoyed Poseidon's Children a great deal. The rest of the books are well worth a read.
That sounds like a wonderful read, and right up my alley. I'll have to give it a try when I'm done.
The premise somewhat reminds me of the Altered Carbon series of books. I assume that the Netflix version was released recently enough that it doesn't need a blurb, but I'd recommend it.
The Altered Carbon series was really good, although I didn't like the TV version so much, but Reynolds is (imo) a much better writer. His other books are well worth checking out too, I'm particularly a fan of House of Suns.
Fun fact - I used to live in the same village as Richard Morgan. At the time I was sharing a house with an unrelated guy also called Richard Morgan. A friend of mine still lives in that village so I'm there fairly often, but I haven't seen the writer Richard Morgan around. I do still see the other guy Richard Morgan.
That is a delightfully fun fact! You should take a copy of the book to the (wrong) Richard Morgan and ask him to sign it.
Hehe, the Wrong Richard Morgan is a good mate, he's declared The Writer Richard Morgan his mortal enemy and has vowed to strike him down if ever they meet in person.
You definitely need to bring him a copy of the book, then. Get a signature and show it off for a ton of imaginary internet points!