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    Default Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

    After discovering the Vorkosigan Saga, Snow Crash, The Culture Series and rereading The Forever War I'm trying to find more Science Fiction novels that combine exciting action with smart/smartly executed story telling. Now to clear things up, by "action" I don't necessarily mean Military Sci-Fi(although those shouldn't be excluded) I'd like more variety like cyberpunk or present based science fiction.

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    For straightforward space opera action, I'm liking the "Expanse" series by James Corey (AKA Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). Starting with Leviathan Wakes. Nothing revolutionary, but solid and well-executed.

    For a more cerebral approach, Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief is a great post-human heist novel.

    For a reasonably clever Heinlein riff, John Scalzi's "Old Man's War" series is a lot of fun. His metafictional quasi-Star Trek novel Redshirts is also well worth a look.
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    Gene Wolfe. Start with the New Sun series
    http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Claw-Fi...rds=gene+wolfe

    Amazon.com Review
    One of the most acclaimed "science fantasies" ever, Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun is a long, magical novel in four volumes. Shadow & Claw contains the first two: The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator, which respectively won the World Fantasy and Nebula Awards.

    This is the first-person narrative of Severian, a lowly apprentice torturer blessed and cursed with a photographic memory, whose travels lead him through the marvels of far-future Urth, and who--as revealed near the beginning--eventually becomes his land's sole ruler or Autarch. On the surface it's a colorful story with all the classic ingredients: growing up, adventure, sex, betrayal, murder, exile, battle, monsters, and mysteries to be solved. (Only well into book 2 do we realize what saved Severian's life in chapter 1.) For lovers of literary allusions, they are plenty here: a Dickensian cemetery scene, a torture-engine from Kafka, a wonderful library out of Borges, and familiar fables changed by eons of retelling. Wolfe evokes a chilly sense of time's vastness, with an age-old, much-restored painting of a golden-visored "knight," really an astronaut standing on the moon, and an ancient citadel of metal towers, actually grounded spacecraft. Even the sun is senile and dying, and so Urth needs a new sun.

    The Book of the New Sun is almost heartbreakingly good, full of riches and subtleties that improve with each rereading. It is Gene Wolfe's masterpiece. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk
    Review
    "The Book of the New Sun establishes [Wolfe's] pre-eminence, pure and simple....The Book of the New Sun contains elements of Spenserian allegory, Swiftian satire, Dickensian social consciousness and Wagnerian mythology. Wolfe creates a truly alien social order that the reader comes to experience from within...once into it, there is no stopping." --The New York Times Book Review

    "Magic stuff...a masterpiece...the best science fiction I've read in years!" --Ursula K. Le Guin

    "Arguably the best piece of literature American science fiction has yet produced." --Chicago Sun-Times

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    Star Trek; DTI Watching the Clock.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryantherebel View Post
    After discovering the Vorkosigan Saga, Snow Crash, The Culture Series and rereading The Forever War I'm trying to find more Science Fiction novels that combine exciting action with smart/smartly executed story telling. Now to clear things up, by "action" I don't necessarily mean Military Sci-Fi(although those shouldn't be excluded) I'd like more variety like cyberpunk or present based science fiction.
    Vernor Vinge's a fire upon the deep has enough cool concepts for three books. Likewise, Dan Simmons Hyperion and the fall of Hyperion. I was also very impressed by the original and awesome use of relative time in the novel Spin by Robert Charles Wilson. Less action in that one, but it's a hell of a ride nevertheless.
    People in white coats (science cartoons, updated daily) | Art Blog

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    Shazam! Panic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryantherebel View Post
    After discovering the Vorkosigan Saga, Snow Crash, The Culture Series and rereading The Forever War I'm trying to find more Science Fiction novels that combine exciting action with smart/smartly executed story telling. Now to clear things up, by "action" I don't necessarily mean Military Sci-Fi(although those shouldn't be excluded) I'd like more variety like cyberpunk or present based science fiction.


    Coils by Roger Zelazny and Fred Saberhagen: A man begins to realise he isn't who he thinks he is and his memories are implants. From there on in he's drawn into a cyberpunk-style thriller (though this novel predates Neuromancer by two years) involving shady corporations and mutant super-powers. I'm sad to say I lost my copy ages ago, but I remember it was pretty good and most reviewers on Amazon seem to agree with me. This is probably out of print but you should be able to find it easily enough on Amazon's 2nd hand books.

    This Immortal by Roger Zelazny: A post-apocalyptic adventure story as an immortal mutant gets stuck with the job of babysitting a V.I.P. on a road-trip traversing the radioactive ruins of Earth. Throw in cannibals, mutants, and the world's oldest and deadliest assassin and you've got a fun Hugo-award-winning book.

    The Stainless-Steel Rat Saves the World by Harry Harrison: The best of the Rat books ,imo, and one of the more serious. Basically a former criminal, now a special agent of an interplanetary law-enforcement agency, must travel back in time to fight a time-traveling menace who threatens the future.

  7. #7

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    Here are some of my all-time favorites (some of which are short stories or novellas).

    • Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany
    • Ultimate World by Hugo Gernsback
    • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
    • The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov
    • At the Earth's Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs
    • The War Against the Rull by A.E. van Vogt
    • Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell
    • Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates
    • A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison
    • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
    • Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman by Harlan Ellison
    • Solaris by Stanisław Lem
    • The Alien Machine by Raymond F. Jones
    • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    • Logan's Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson
    • Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny




    Quote Originally Posted by Panic View Post
    Coils by Roger Zelazny and Fred Saberhagen: A man begins to realise he isn't who he thinks he is and his memories are implants. From there on in he's drawn into a cyberpunk-style thriller (though this novel predates Neuromancer by two years) involving shady corporations and mutant super-powers. I'm sad to say I lost my copy ages ago, but I remember it was pretty good and most reviewers on Amazon seem to agree with me. This is probably out of print but you should be able to find it easily enough on Amazon's 2nd hand books.

    This Immortal by Roger Zelazny: A post-apocalyptic adventure story as an immortal mutant gets stuck with the job of babysitting a V.I.P. on a road-trip traversing the radioactive ruins of Earth. Throw in cannibals, mutants, and the world's oldest and deadliest assassin and you've got a fun Hugo-award-winning book.
    I'm just starting to discover Zelazny's work. I'm currently reading the anthology Last Defender Of Camelot and it's pretty enjoyable. I was given some of his other books but haven't had the time to read them yet. Would you happen to know if any of these are worth reading?

    • Roadmarks
    • The Changing Land
    • Creatures Of Light And Darkness
    • Changeling
    • Madward
    • The Black Throne
    • The Mask Of Loki
    "It is wrong to assume that art needs the spectator in order to be. The film runs on without any eyes. The spectator cannot exist without it. It ensures his existence." -- James Douglas Morrison

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    Shazam! Panic's Avatar
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    Ood Omega, I'm a little surprised that I don't recognise some of those books as I was a huge Zelazny fan when I was young (but then there was no internet, so if they weren't in the bookshops...). However, of those I have read:

    Roadmarks is good, though it's got a funny structure as all of its chapters are labeled either "one" or "two"... confusing. I actually really like this book

    Changeling and Madwand are pretty good, though not his best; I have to admit I've not reread them in perhaps twenty years.

    The Mask of Loki is good. I reread it a few years ago and I enjoyed it again.

    The Best Zelaznys, to my mind, are:Lord of Light, This Immortal, and the first Amber series comprising of Nine Princes in Amber, the Guns of Avalon, Sign of the Unicorn, The Hand of Oberon, and The Courts of Chaos.

    I hope that's useful to you.

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    I'm a big fan of Zelazny, but in response to the OP's request, I would recommend the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy from Richard K. Morgan. Altered Carbon is the first, Broken Angels is the best, and Awakened Furies is the last and most ambitious of the trilogy. Zelazny says a lot in few words, but his best stories were more fantasy than science-fiction.

    For some great older cyberpunk plus some science-fiction that is closer to our modern world, try older stuff by William Gibson, and then the more recent books.

    Bruce Sterling wrote several very good books that fall somewhere between now and cyberpunk, especially Islands in the Net, Holy Fire, and Heavy Weather.

    My favorite cyberpunk books were written by George Alec Effinger, starting with When Gravity Fails. Hard-boiled detective story in a tough Mideast ghetto of the future.
    "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
    Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

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    Yeah, Zelazny's one of the best (everyone should read Lord of Light), but he's not really all that action-heavy.

    I'll toss in Warren Hammond's "Kop" series (Kop, Ex-Kop, Kop Killer), hard-boiled noirs set on a grimy colony planet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ood Omega View Post
    I'm just starting to discover Zelazny's work. I'm currently reading the anthology Last Defender Of Camelot and it's pretty enjoyable. I was given some of his other books but haven't had the time to read them yet. Would you happen to know if any of these are worth reading?

    • Roadmarks
    • The Changing Land
    • Creatures Of Light And Darkness
    • Changeling
    • Madward
    • The Black Throne
    • The Mask Of Loki
    The ones from this list that I've read:

    Roadmarks - yes, very enjoyable book. I consider it lighter Zelazny, but well worth a read.

    Creatures Of Light And Darkness - This is a strange book that is not to everyone's taste, but I consider it his masterpiece, which is saying something when you look at how much first rate work he did.

    Changeling - not that great. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood when I read it but I rank it amongst the least interesting Zelazny I've come across.

    Haven't tried the sequel to Changeling, Madwand, or the others on your list. I'm curious myself about the Mask of Loki and The Black Throne, though a bit leery about collaborations - how much Zealzny is really in there?

    Other than Creatures, most people would probably pick Lord of Light and the first Amber series, starting with Nine Princes in Amber, as his best, and I'd probably agree. After those, I think This Immortal, Isle of the Dead, and perhaps Jack of Shadows might fill the next rank. Doorways in the Sand is often mentioned as one of his better novels, but it never really grabbed me personally. I might have to revisit it one of these days.
    Last edited by berk; 07-08-2013 at 08:28 PM.

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    Senior Member Hamdinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panic View Post
    Coils by Roger Zelazny and Fred Saberhagen: A man begins to realise he isn't who he thinks he is and his memories are implants. From there on in he's drawn into a cyberpunk-style thriller (though this novel predates Neuromancer by two years) involving shady corporations and mutant super-powers. I'm sad to say I lost my copy ages ago, but I remember it was pretty good and most reviewers on Amazon seem to agree with me. This is probably out of print but you should be able to find it easily enough on Amazon's 2nd hand books.

    This Immortal by Roger Zelazny: A post-apocalyptic adventure story as an immortal mutant gets stuck with the job of babysitting a V.I.P. on a road-trip traversing the radioactive ruins of Earth. Throw in cannibals, mutants, and the world's oldest and deadliest assassin and you've got a fun Hugo-award-winning book.

    The Stainless-Steel Rat Saves the World by Harry Harrison: The best of the Rat books ,imo, and one of the more serious. Basically a former criminal, now a special agent of an interplanetary law-enforcement agency, must travel back in time to fight a time-traveling menace who threatens the future.
    The Stainless Steel Rat is one of my favorites, highly recommended!

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    The Vorkosigan Saga is one of my favorite series. You might like Bujold's fantasy series as well (Sharing Knife and Chalion)

    Since you mentioned Snow Crash (another of my favorites), I would recommend:

    Head Crash by Bruce Bethke
    Slum Online by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

    I enjoyed both of those books quite a bit.


    Other science fiction books/series worth a look include:

    Chanur series by CJ Cherryh (5 books)
    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (there are other books in the series, but this one is the best - some people object to reading Card because of his views on homosexuals)
    The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pornelle
    The Empire of Man series by David Weber and John Ringo (4 books so far)
    Dread Empire's Fall by Walter Jon Williams (3 books)
    The Sunspacer Trilogy by George Zebrowski
    In Fury Born by David Weber
    Empire from the Ashes by David Weber (collects a trilogy)

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    Senior Member passer-by's Avatar
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    Reading the thread I was just starting to wonder why no one recommended Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, since the OP mentioned action cyberpunk and Shellhead did it.

    So another voice for Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Awakened Furies.
    I don't know what to consider canon anymore :(
    Comicmofo
    http://forums.comicbookresources.com...1#post17765682

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    A fire upon the deep by Vernor Vinge
    Mass Effect by Drew Karpyshyn
    It made this noise as it descended, sounded like the shriek of the damned, we all danced to it.

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