Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.

What Should I Read? - Cephus' Corner

What Should I Read?

June 21st, 2014

stack-of-books2I’ve been reading science fiction, in particular, for a long, long time and based on when I started, in the late 70s and early 80s, has generally influenced how I look at science fiction writing overall.

I bring this up because recently, I’ve been cataloging my books after a couple of my older paperbacks were damaged and I really wanted to know what I had, where I had it and in what format I had it in.  It also got me wondering if anyone wrote the kind of books that I loved and that’s why I’m turning to you, my loyal readers, to see if anyone has any good suggestions.

I used to be a paper purist, I’d only read physical books but, as every rabid reader knows, you very quickly run out of room that way.  I have covered the house with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in several rooms and they are all, without exception, full.  They have been for years.  In the past, I’d take series I was unlikely to read again, pack them into air-tight plastic boxes and stack them in the garage.  I have many such boxes, taped tightly closed to keep moisture or insects out, and as such, many, many thousands of books.  I still love to read though and even though I was very opposed to digital books, now I’ve entirely embraced them.  You could fit my entire collection on one or two DVDs for easy storage, I could almost certainly fit the entire thing on a single SD card for my tablet and read any book I wanted, any time I wanted.

However, I’ve recognized that new authors, people who haven’t been writing for decades like my favorites, have not been writing books that I enjoy and since a lot of my favorite authors are dropping dead, I’m eventually going to have to find someone new to follow and that’s not been easy.  I’ve sampled popular sci-fi authors today and they just don’t write what I want to read.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, at least from my perspective, science fiction was generally positive. The future was a place you’d want to live in general, sure there were wars and conflicts and bad things happening, but overall, the future was bright for most people and that’s where I got my views about science fiction.  However, once you get into the 90s, with the advent of cyberpunk and other dark and dystopian views, I pretty much checked out of new authors.  These were futures that I had no interest in, I didn’t want to “experience” and even at their best, they were far too dark for my tastes.

Now while it’s been a while since I’ve bought any books by new authors and the older authors I do follow, most of whom I am friends with anyhow and they generally keep me supplied with books, I’m starting to look at the current market again and wondering if anyone writes for me.  I came up with a short list of criteria, things that I want in a book, to see if anyone could suggest something for me to look at.

  1. It must be science fiction. Fantasy need not apply.  That also goes for books where it’s just fantasy beneath a thin veneer of science.  While Arthur C. Clarke was right, sufficiently advanced technology might be indistinguishable from magic, I want technology that is technology first, not just prettied up magic.
  2. The future needs to be bright, I want it to be somewhere I’d like to live, not somewhere I’d dread visiting.  There can be wars, there can be bad things going on, but in the background, I want to be impressed by the universe.
  3. Now some might suggest that the hard-sci-fi authors might do the trick but unfortunately no.  They tend to write love stories to technology to the detriment of everything else and I really want to read about people.  Or aliens. I’m easy.  I want the characters to matter and usually, at least in the books I’ve read out of that sub-genre, the characters are only in the story to point out the technology and move the plot along so we can see more technology.  I want good characterization.
  4. I really do want authors who have solidly thought through their technology and understand the ramifications of what it can do.  I know I’ve written before about authors who never consider how various technologies might intermix and ruin their stories.  After all, if you can take machine X and combine it with machine Y and it easily solves the mystery or problem of the plot in 5 minutes, why bother?  I want authors who really understand the futures that they create, it’s not just a space they put together in 10 minutes to have an adventure in.

Those four points shouldn’t be too much, should they?  Positive futures where character-based dramas take place, where authors have really put the time and effort into building a well-established, interesting and bright world that’s worth looking forward to.  That’s what I write, that’s what I want to read.  Does anyone have any of that?  Let me know if any authors you know of fit the bill!

Comments

2 Comments

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  • jeepwonder says on: July 20, 2014 at 9:28 am

     

    Cephus,

    I have a serious question.

    I’m working on my third book in a series. It’s not serious just sci-fi. But it has fictional religions in it, and that has raised questions in my mind.
    How should I treat religions in a fictional setting? In our world for those that are for, or against religion it is an integral part of most societies, to portray any fictional society without religion seems rather two dimensional. Even if religion isn’t part of the plot it needs to be in the background to explain motivations and character mindset, or it’s absence needs to be explained.

    I’ve tried not to sell it as a positive or negative but just a fact in the setting. Would that be offensive to atheists? Or would I need to have someone as a non-believer worked into the plot to be truly balanced?

    Roger

    • Cephus says on: July 20, 2014 at 10:56 am

       

      Honestly, it depends on a lot of factors. If it has no impact on the plot or any of the characters, then just mentioning it in passing is about as much as you need to do. Stuffing in a bunch of extraneous information, just for the sake of a data drop, doesn’t really do you any good, it might make the setting a little richer but it’s also wasted exposition, it’s there just for the sake of being there.

      In my own fictional universe, I explained why religion is largely irrelevant and where it failed, I went into it here if you’re interested.

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Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.