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Is Cory Doctorow Worth a damn?
April 13, 2008 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Who to read besides Coupland, Stephenson, Gibson, and Sterling?

I need an informational intake of this sort of highly-regarded (speculative? cyber?) fiction on a regular basis, or else I become irritable.

One other thing, I prefer contemporary writers who have produced notable work post-'01.
posted by humannaire to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
 
Richard K. Morgan: Altered Carbon, Broken Angels.
posted by moonlet at 8:47 PM on April 13, 2008


Charles Stross - bonus, he's on Mefi.
Neal Gaiman
posted by bystander at 8:50 PM on April 13, 2008




george saunders seems to be exactly what you're looking for.
posted by ncc1701d at 8:59 PM on April 13, 2008


humannaire, the best answer is: Greg Egan. And the best answer is Ted Chiang. And the best answer is Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy (despite kindall's opinion—and kindall's views usually are in line with mine).
posted by cgc373 at 9:02 PM on April 13, 2008


To answer your title....Cory is a great guy and I love Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and I enjoy his other work but I don't really see him in the same vein as Sterling.

I know you say you like contemporary, but if you ever want to try older stuff, George Alec Effinger is good stuff.

Wen Spencer's Tinker is sort of what you are looking for.

Seconding Stross and Hamilton
posted by legotech at 9:06 PM on April 13, 2008


Try Doctorow for free and find out: Eastern Standard Tribe
And you HAVE read Accelerando, right? (free ebook link)
Effinger's Marid Audran books were pretty awesome.
And check out this thread from earlier today about 40 questions down. Not Cyber-specific, but you might find something there.
posted by bartleby at 9:23 PM on April 13, 2008


Oh. I'm an idiot. The best answer is Peter Watts, of course. (The link to the streaming Vampire Domestication video only sort of works. You have to download it to watch it.)
posted by cgc373 at 9:39 PM on April 13, 2008


Ian MacDonald
posted by tomble at 9:43 PM on April 13, 2008


Try John M Harrison. Viriconium and Light in particular. Also, have you completely exhausted Gibson and Stephenson? Gibson has a large catalog and Stephenson's Baroque cycle isn't sci-fi but it is definitely worth slaving through the entire enormous thing. He isn't new, but Orson Scott Card is another writer whose collection is extensive, just when I thought I had read everything I stumble across something in another used book store from the days of yore.
posted by sophist at 9:48 PM on April 13, 2008


Your front-page question made me wonder if I hadn't made this post last night and forgotten about it....

Anway, the John Birmigham Axis of Time trilogy will stave off the irritability for a while.

I'd also second Nail Gaiman. Ian M Banks is probably worth a look too.
posted by pompomtom at 9:53 PM on April 13, 2008


Vernor Vinge and Iain M. Banks are baoth amazing and deep writers. they can both skew a bit towards Space opera ...but are well worth it . I would start with Rainbow's End by Vinge .
posted by grex at 10:02 PM on April 13, 2008


No no, here is what you need: Steve Erickson.
posted by apostrophe at 10:14 PM on April 13, 2008


In case you don't click my link I will tantalize you with quotes from Wikipedia:

"Most of Erickson's novels can be described as apocalyptic. They present the slow obliteration of the world in which his characters live. Often it is nature that turns against people (the long winter in Paris, disappearance of water in Venice and the Mediterranean region, and sand storms in L.A. in Days Between Stations; the earthquake in Amnesiascope; the lake that floods L.A. in both Rubicon Beach and Our Ecstatic Days). The characters of the novels usually live in big metropolises like L.A., New York, Berlin, Paris or Tokyo in which the unexpected natural phenomena cause chaos and show how brittle civilization actually is. Erickson makes occasional use of somewhat supernatural elements, the extraordinary gifts of some of his characters (Catherine from Rubicon Beach), bizarre artifacts (a bottle with human eyes from Days Between Stations). The most powerful force of Erickson’s universe is love, often passionate, sensual, overpowering, unstoppable. Lovers hurt each other but at the same time cannot live without each other. When the love is lost, people become empty, bitter or full of hatred. The affection is almost like possession."
posted by apostrophe at 10:16 PM on April 13, 2008


If you want deep technology stories with lots of verisimilitude, Philip K. Dick's short story Autofac is a great story about technology and debugging, and I don't think he was even aware of the concept of debugging!
posted by ignignokt at 10:27 PM on April 13, 2008


Just read everything by Dick. He's at least as good as Coupland... if not a million times better in his best moments.
posted by GuyZero at 10:45 PM on April 13, 2008


nthing Charlie Stross. I loved the first half of Accelerando especially. You might also consider giving Iain M Banks a try, his books are more of speculative fiction than cyberpunk, but from all I've been hearing, they're supposed to be pretty awesome.
posted by arungoodboy at 10:58 PM on April 13, 2008


Is Cory Doctorow Worth a damn?

Yes. I quite like his fiction, and I've already read most of the authors people in this thread have recommended (although I appreciate the mentions of names I haven't heard of yet).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:05 AM on April 14, 2008


Another vote for Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy.
posted by PenDevil at 2:16 AM on April 14, 2008


Jeff Noon. (Link is to a comic made from a short section of his book "Vurt").
posted by Drexen at 2:47 AM on April 14, 2008


I'd recommend any or all of the following:

Vacuum Flowers Michael Swanwick
A Splendid Chaos John Shirley
Life During Wartime Lucius Shepard
Good News From Outer Space John Kessel
posted by aperture_priority at 4:59 AM on April 14, 2008


Seconding Jeff Noon. Vurt and Pollen are both very good. Pixel Juice is next on my list. Automated Alice is also good, but probably not quite what you're after.
posted by Ritchie at 5:33 AM on April 14, 2008


Looking for Cyberpunk Novels has some good post-'01 recommendations, if you haven't seen it.
posted by mediareport at 6:05 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd recommend Paul Di Filippo. His collection Ribofunk should be up your alley. He's got some stories at Free Speculative Fiction Online (and so does pretty much everyone mentioned in the thread so far).
posted by Kattullus at 6:26 AM on April 14, 2008


Seconding Richard K. Morgan, Vernor Vinge, Charles Stross, Neil Gaiman.

Couldn't get into anything Doctorow though. Probably because the guy annoys the shit out of me and fully expect his writing to do the same.
posted by schwa at 6:38 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Given the four authors you originally cited, I would strongly suggest Jonathan Lethem, David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten), Geoff Ryman (particularly Was, Air, 334, and The Child Garden), Maureen McHugh's China Mountain Zhang, Christopher Priest (maybe start with The Extremes, or The Prestige), Haruki Murakami (start with Hard-Boiled Wonderland..., or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle), and Steve Erickson (not to be confused with fantasy writer Stephen Erikson; start with Arc d'X or Days Between Stations).

Particular seconds to recent Ian McDonald novels (River of Gods and Brasyl), which are great. Going farther afield you might also like Damien Broderick (the recent Godplayers books), Wil McCarthy (series starting with Collapsium), Justina Robson (Mappa Mundi and Natural History), Vernor Vinge's latest, Rainbows End, and Adam Roberts, whose novels I think just keep getting more and more interesting (start with Gradisil or On).
posted by aught at 6:48 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


My initial three thoughts have already been recommened: Anything by Greg Egan is simply brilliant, heavily thought-provoking stuff, true science fiction. Jeff Noon's Vurt novel is dark like the world Gibson sees but using a very unique style.
Iain Banks Culture books simply have to be read-- Got the latest one "Matter" sitting in my bag for reading at lunch.

China Mieville might also be a good match, it's more fantasy fiction then science fiction, but Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council are dark, detailed books that bring you into the world he's created. I guess you could call it steam-punkish, flesh mixing with machine.
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:35 AM on April 14, 2008


Seconding Mieville . Even if you normally lean towards science fiction over fantasy, give Perdido Street Station a try. You'll have to trust us on this. I'm a pretty strong sci-fi leaner too, and yet PSS is the first book I throw at people.
posted by DoubleMark at 7:49 AM on April 14, 2008


John Brunner has been dead for awhile, but his works still feel very current. You should definitely check him out, especially The Sheep Look Up and Stand on Zanzibar
posted by hydropsyche at 8:31 AM on April 14, 2008


2nding Effinger, Egan & Stross. Richard Morgan, too, but he's got bunches of pulpy violence (which I love, but may not be everyone's cup of tea).

David Mitchell & Iain Banks don't exactly fit your requirements but they're totally awesome and everyone should read them anyways.
posted by juv3nal at 12:04 PM on April 14, 2008


BTW, if you like Effinger, you may like the Effendi, Pashazade, Felaheen trilogy by Jon Courtenay Grimwood.
posted by juv3nal at 1:03 PM on April 14, 2008


Elizabeth Bear. New author, prolific. Good punky stuff: Hammered series, Carnival, Undertow. All published by Bantam Spectra.

Disclaimer: She's a friend. But I read her stuff with as much passion as authors I don't know at all.

Also, one I like for a similar feel to some of the other authors you've mentioned: C.J. Cherryh, either the Cyteen book that used to be a trilogy and is now a single 900 page book or the Foreigner series, which is I think 9 books.

Cherryh's really good, I think, at portraying the psyches of really intelligent people in really high-stress situations, which can be good reading, especially in cultures where sociology/psychology are hard, not soft, sciences.

Finally, Iain M. Banks, and any book in the Culture series.
posted by kalessin at 1:41 PM on April 14, 2008


Oooh ooh!

Jeff Noon did a bunch of cool stuff with something called Vurt. Which is the first book's name in the series. It's cool in a .hack/Neomancer sort of way.
posted by kalessin at 2:28 PM on April 14, 2008


In the realm of "mainstream" fiction, but nominally SF and with over-the-top gonzo style and satire:

Martin Amis (anything before 2001, when 9/11 ate his brain)
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (1996) Set in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment (Y.D.A.U.) -- approximately now -- and in an America that has exported toxically polluted upstate New York / Vermont to Canada. A plot element is a BLIT-like video. However, most of the book is not SF any more than Cryptonomicon is.
posted by bad grammar at 4:58 PM on April 14, 2008


About John Brunner: Don't forget The Shockwave Rider.

Out of curiosity, has anyone else read John C. Wright's "The Golden Age" trilogy? I thought it had its charms.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:00 AM on April 15, 2008


nthing Kim Stanley Robinson and China Mieville. Also Marge Piercy and Octavia Butler. And for a really good time, Nalo Hopkinson and Karen Tei Yamashita.
posted by billtron at 7:35 AM on April 15, 2008


I read Asimov's which publishes short SF stories monthly. It's all new, and a lot of the writers mentioned above have stories in the magazine.
posted by garlic at 10:34 AM on April 15, 2008


[By order of suggestion]

Charles Stross—I just got Accelerando.
Neil Gaiman—mind candy. Finished.
Peter F. Hamilton—space opera.
George Saunders—[bides time].
Greg Egan—[considered].
Ted Chiang—[strongly considering].
Kim Stanley Robinson—space opera (although good). Finished
Wen Spencer—caution: werewolf/vampire.
George Alec Effinger—1987; series.
Peter Watts—caution: zombie/vampire.
John M Harrison—PRESENTLY READING/Light.
Orson Scott Card—great for kids. Finished.
John Birmingham—caution: alternative history.
Ian M Banks—[hmmm.....I have been wondering about Banks for three years, perhaps....]
Vernor Vinge—no.
Steve Erickson—see Neil Gaiman.
Philip K. Dick—dead (way) pre-2001; not in the running. Besides, finished.
Jeff Noon—Sadly, I read Automated Alice.
Michael Swanwick—noted.
John Shirley—caution: horror.
Lucius Shepard—hmmm....
John Kessel—mostly pre-2001.
Paul Di Filippo—noted.
Jonathan Lethem—noted/interesting.
David Mitchell—noted.
Geoff Ryman—noted.
Maureen McHugh—mostly pre-2001.
Christopher Priest—noted.
Haruki Murakami—noted/?.
Damien Broderick—hmmm....
Wil McCarthy—hmmm....
Justina Robson—no.
Adam Roberts—maybe later.
China Mieville—I THINK SO!
John Brunner—pre-2001. Finished.
Jon Courtenay Grimwood—neat, noted.
Elizabeth Bear—tough call, I hadn't hear of, but looks fun.
C.J. Cherryh—space opera.
Martin Amis—not post-2001.
David Foster Wallace—ha ha.
John C. Wright—space opera etc.
Marge Piercy—no.
Octavia Butler—finished.
Nalo Hopkinson—hmmm....
Karen Tei Yamashita—Oh yeah, I haven't read the latest.

[....so, Richard K Morgan, Ian McDonald, and China Mieville it is! Thanks all!]
posted by humannaire at 8:46 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jeff Noon—Sadly, I read Automated Alice.

You really, really need to read his earlier stuff, before he became a bit of a cock.
posted by Artw at 8:08 PM on April 19, 2008


Oh, and I'd also recommend Ken MacLeod, especially the Fall Revolution books.
posted by Artw at 8:13 PM on April 19, 2008


Also Alastair Reynolds, though he's a bit of a gloomy bugger and his characters are faintly cardboardy.
posted by Artw at 8:16 PM on April 19, 2008


Try John M Harrison. Viriconium and Light in particular.

Wow. Light took some time, but what an epic! And a grand tale, indeed! I stuck with the characters all the way through, and it felt as if they stuck with me.

[Mmm. Good literature.] Ah! I feel so refreshed!
posted by humannaire at 12:27 PM on April 30, 2008


Charles Stross - bonus, he's on Mefi.

Oh gee, I am in the mid of Accelerando and it is everything I ever wanted in a book.
posted by humannaire at 1:05 PM on May 26, 2008


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