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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Discussing Published Hooks & Books » Need non-techy SF recommendations

   
Author Topic: Need non-techy SF recommendations
Foste
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I want to raise my SF mojo and since I am not much into nuts and bolts and physics...

Can someone recommend some SF that focuses on human relationships?

Things I liked so far include George R.R. Martin's short stories, Ray Bradbury and Ursula K. Leguin.

EDITED TO ADD:
I am also a fan of lyrical prose.

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RLKnight
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The book, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep." by Philip K. Dick, deals with the question of what is humanity. Even though it is highly technical, the technology could be downgraded and the central qist of the story would remain. Basically, the protagonist is forced to deal with a simple question: What constitutes Humanity... is is just the physical and mental attributes of humans or is there something more.
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LDWriter2
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David Weber deals with relationships between humans and even some non-humans. His characters are doing more than just fighting the bad guys. They grow together, have lovers, give birth, loose limbs, morn the lost of friends, hate, etc.

I say fight the bad guys because he writes Space Opera. His Honer Harrington series and the new one-Safehold I think-- have all types of interpersonal relationships. In fact one of the few criticisms I have of the Honer Harrington series is some of his later relationships. Too Soap Opera-ish for me. Even though at the same time they are well written.

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Meredith
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Lois McMaster Bujold's VORKOSIGAN SAGA. SHARDS OF HONOR and BARRAYAR are virtually an sf romance. WARRIORS APPRENTICE, "Mountains of Morning", and THE VOR GAME (all to be found in the omnibus edition YOUNG MILES) are about Miles finding his place in the world. BROTHERS IN ARMS and MIRROR DANCE are about Miles and his clone twin learning to be brothers. There are several more.

Some of Anne McCaffrey's early science fiction, if you can find it. The Brain and Brawn series, the Crystal Singer Series, the Talents series. Later works with other authors: the Freedom series and the Petaybee series.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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CJ Cherryh's science fiction is very alien-human relations oriented. Her latest series, especially so.
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annepin
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I am a huge fan of William Barton III's work--When We Were Real, Acts of Conscience, When Heaven Fell. Huge emphasis on human relationships. Sex is a front-and-center theme in these works, though, so if that kind of thing bothers you, you might find them intolerable.
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redux
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STARS MY DESTINATION aka TIGER! TIGER! by Alfred Bester gets my recommendation. It's essentially "The Count of Monte Cristo" in a sci-fi setting and quite entertaining. I guess it's about human relationships insofar it deals with the human desire for revenge.
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History
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I'll suggest Ursula K LeGuin's THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS and THE DISPOSSESSED. They are two novels with the rare distinction of winning both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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LDWriter2
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I thought about adding Seanan McGuire to that list but she writes Urban Fantasy not SF.

Tanya Huff's SF series- she also has a UF and I think a vampire series- deals with interpersonal relationships in a SF setting. Come to think of it it's Space Opera too.

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MartinV
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quote:
I'll suggest Ursula K LeGuin's THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS and THE DISPOSSESSED.
I'll second that.
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Wordcaster
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I forget who wrote it, but I think there is a YA SF series about someone named Ender?

I thought it was a prereq to get access to the forums.

If we're talking near future, PKD is good, I'll third the Ursula K LeGuin selections, and I really liked the Windup Girl.

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Robert Nowall
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Frederik Pohl's Gateway series, at least the first volume thereof, is essentially about relationships---sure, the science is as hard-science as anything by Clement or Niven, but it's the people who stay with you.
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telflonmail
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Try the latest by Connie Willis : Blackout & All Clear. (Must read Blackout before All Clear)

Winner of Hugo Award 2011.

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MartinV
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I assumed no one mentioned Ender's and Bean's trilogies (or are they quadrilogies?) because they are a given here. OTherwise that would be my first choice.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Connie Willis' work is a good choice anyway, not just her latest stuff.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Just remembered a series that I strongly recommend. Karen Traviss' WESS'HAR WARS series, which starts with CITY OF PEARL. Only techie in an ecological sense. Wonderful aliens.
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EVOC
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HAZE by L. E. Modesitt Jr. is a good one.
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Foste
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An embarrassment of riches! Thank you guys! [Smile]
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KayTi
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Some classics that got me hooked long ago - Heinlein's anything. Asimov is more of a technical writer but even he doesn't go too far off the deep end. Plausible, not actual. At least as far as the details go. I thought the first two or three books of the Foundation series were excellent.

I really enjoyed Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series.

Of course there's Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Anything sciency in there is usually asburdist, not meant to be actual. But very funny and thought provoking in its own way.

I'm reading a lot of contemporary YA sci-fi these days (written recently) if you want more recent/current recommendations (but pretty much only YA.)

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Robert Nowall
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I found the Foundation series somewhat weaker than I remembered when I reread it a few years ago...I think I've been exposed to more history, and maybe better writing on history in fiction. But I thought Asimov got better as a writer later on.

Next time The Caves of Steel turns up in a reprint, I'll have to reread it again...till then, I'll recommend that one as an Asimov to start with...

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Treamayne
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
I found the Foundation series somewhat weaker than I remembered when I reread it a few years ago...I think I've been exposed to more history, and maybe better writing on history in fiction. But I thought Asimov got better as a writer later on.

Next time The Caves of Steel turns up in a reprint, I'll have to reread it again...till then, I'll recommend that one as an Asimov to start with...

The whole Robot Trilogy (Caves of Steel, Naked Sun, Robots of Dawn) is good stuff - with interesting character interdevelopement between Elijah and Daneel. I enjoyed the Foundation series as well (all seven) and how Robots and Empire tied everything together.

Octavia Butler's Wild Seed is great for character relationships and depicting how the mind and heart don't always agree in their assessment of someone.

Though Crichton is more often found in the regular Fiction category of a bookstore; many of his novels are good SF with interesting Character Relationships. Sphere was one of my favorites by him - and seeing how a confined environment effects the interpersonal relationships was interesting. I seem to recall Timeline, Terminal Man and Prey being decent at this as well.

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Brendan
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Most of the genuine masters do character's well, but some of the above (especially Asimov) are primarily idea oriented, not character oriented. So, it seems that you want stories that explore human inter-personal relationships or how societies work together. Here are a couple

Societies:
A Million Open Doors - John Barnes
Glory Season, and The Practice Effect - David Brin (A little tech)
Where the Late Sweet Birds Sang - Kate Wilhelm (M warning)

Interpersonal Relationships:
Catherine Asaro - Almost anything of her's is science fiction romance, although there is some tech
Mirror Dance - Lois McMaster Bujold
More than Human - Theodore Sturgeon

Idea stories with strong societal concepts
Hyperion - Dan Simmons
Anything from John Wyndham (particularly his "cosy catastrophies" such as The Crysilids, The Midwitch Cookoos, Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes)
The White Mountains Trilogy - John Christopher (YA, a little tech)
The Peace War - Vernor Vinge (significant tech, but it is the effect on society that is interesting)

[ December 26, 2011, 05:30 AM: Message edited by: Brendan ]

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rcmann
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You might not expect it, but David Drake writes some fairly complex character interactions. His books are action oriented, but the characters are by no means mindless killing machines.
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LDWriter2
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I've noticed that about the one series of his I read but come to think of it. The same could be said about David Weber and Ian Douglas and maybe one or two other SO writers I read.
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Smaug
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Dan Abnett's Ravenor series.
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piratequeen65
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If I may, Linnea Sinclair does a nice job as well. She has several that run in a connected but not required to read all of-series. I think 'Gabriel's Ghost' is the first. For more you might try http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net/
Heather Massey's site, she always has interesting posts and reviews along with a list of must reads.

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wise
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I would recommend the "Kinsman Saga" by Ben Bova. Kinsman is a great character and the books contain some surprisingly still relevant political scenarios. He was one of my early-discovered SF authors I loved (outside of Asimov, Heinlein, Tolkien).

I also enjoyed "The Postman" book by David Brin (the movie was very so-so).

If you like women protagonists, "The Shore of Women" by Pamela Sargent is a great post-apocalyptic world with lots of human interaction and characters that come to life.

I also recommend "The Snow Queen" series by Joan D Vinge. These books are outstanding and very "Dune"-like in that the world is so detailed, complete, and complex. The main characters are very compelling.

And no one writes characters better than Orson Scott Card!

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aspirit
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So many good recommendations here. All I can think to suggest is Warren Hammond's ongoing KOP series, but that's arguably more crime noir than sci-fi and was written in a straight-forward style suitable for its heavy-fisted detective MC.

Brendan suggested Dan Simmons' Hyperion, and I'll second both that novel and its sequel, Fall of Hyperion. In these, characterization, relationship development, and sociological forces are as strong as the milieu and idea elements. Also, Foste, the language used by the better educated narrators might suit your tastes.

To add to Wordcaster's post--
quote:
If we're talking near future, PKD is good, I'll third the Ursula K LeGuin selections, and I really liked the Windup Girl.
--The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi, is techie but mainly in regards to energy springs. The title character is treated by Bacigalupi as a human, with identifiable emotions and understandable desires. However, I consider the novel to be more about self-identity and politics than about (individual) human relationships.
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