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Other Like Hiro to Help Me Lose Weight
June 3, 2008 10:07 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for Sci-Fi while on the Treadmill?

I managed to lose a fair amount of weight about 18 months ago thanks largely in part to listening to Snow Crash while on the Treadmill. I found that it gave me something to look forward to at the gym and kept me distracted from how much I wanted to quit after 15 min. of jogging. Needless to say I've slacked off in recent months and have put some of that weight back on.
I'd love some recommendations for medium-to-fast paced sci-fi that I could get onto my iPod and hit the treadmill with again. Snow Crash is an excellent example of the type of pace of story I'm looking for. Something I'd consider not such a good choice would be Cryptonomicon. While still an awesome book by the same author, its lengthy descriptions about code breaking and math would bore me in about 3 seconds at the gym (however on the bus I eat that stuff up). I also tried using Gibson's Spook Country, and that too failed miserably (although worked great on a 7 hour car ride). If I hadn't already read Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive I'd probably be using those.

I've heard good things about Richard K Morgan's Altered Carbon.

Reading over this I've clearly used cyber-punk almost exclusively as examples, but I enjoy all the sub-genres inside Sci-Fi so whatever is action packed/funny/witty/ etc. I'm willing to try.
posted by Smarson to Writing & Language (25 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have you thought about trying Stephenson's first major work, Zodiac? Very fast-paced, pretty amusing. You can see where a lot of his ideas are incubating in it.

Alternatively, Karl Schroeder's Sun of Suns / Queen of Candesce (sp?) has a rating of 5 sbpm (swashes buckled per minute), could go well. Different subgenres, so hopefully you'll like one of them.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:25 AM on June 3, 2008


Peter F. Hamilton - The Commonwealth Saga, The Nights Dawn Trilogy

If you can get George RR Martin's a Song of Ice and Fire series it would be worth giving that a listen too as well.
posted by iamabot at 10:26 AM on June 3, 2008


anything by charles stross.

he's also a mefite, btw, so that's a plus.
posted by shmegegge at 10:29 AM on June 3, 2008


Nows a great time to start on Iain M Banks, as his works are jsut being publuished properly in the US. Previous post.
posted by Artw at 10:41 AM on June 3, 2008


John Scalzi is a good writer and the pace of his books seems to be right what you are looking for.

I also really enjoy Robert Sawyer and his books are generally pretty fast paced and interesting.
posted by bove at 11:12 AM on June 3, 2008


Check out Escape Pod, a weekly science fiction short story podcast. It's well produced and the stories tend to be pretty good.
posted by knave at 11:17 AM on June 3, 2008


GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire series is on Audible (and I don't think you can get it anywhere else except P2P). It's awesome - like really really great. It'll keep you busy for months and months. Roy Dotrice is the voice and he does an amazing job with the material. It's easily the best audiobook experience I've had.

Altered Carbon kicks ass too. Even if you don't listen to the audio version you should read it at some point if you like cyberpunk.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 11:28 AM on June 3, 2008


Thanks all for the suggestions. Lots of stuff that up until now hasn't been on my radar.

I was going ask as a follow-up, where are the best sources to get audiobooks? Up 'till now I've been buying the CD's on Amazon, but that gets spendy quick. Seems like Audible is the way to go if I'm going to be doing this regularly. Not a huge fan of the DRM restrictions, but I've got no plans to pass the stuff around so maybe I should just go legit.
posted by Smarson at 12:03 PM on June 3, 2008


Audible is good.

If you're willing to go a bit more old school, I've found the local library to be a wealth of audio books.

Ebay is great for "lots" of several like-audio books together but then you'd have to convert them via tape deck or ripping the CDs

But yeah the audible subscription service is the easiest choice
posted by arniec at 12:13 PM on June 3, 2008


As you don't mention them, I think Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" and Gibson's Bridge Trilogy (Virtual Light, Idoru, All Tomorrow's Parties) are more of the pace of the examples you like. Two other, very dissimilar examples of similar-feeling pacing (to me) that others might totally disagree about are the Illuminatus! Trilogy and Niven's Ringworld series. Really I feel like Stephenson's more sci-fi work has a kind of classic post-sixties hard SF pace and feel, so digging around that genre might be useful. If cyberpunk is really your genre don't forget Bruce Sterling, maybe not as action packed but I think his pacing is comparable to Gibson's.
posted by nanojath at 12:28 PM on June 3, 2008


How about Brin's Startide Rising?

Also, I just finished Elizabeth Bear's Trilogy about Jenny Casey.

Dunno if either are on audiobook, but they are fast paced and well-written.
posted by Gorgik at 12:38 PM on June 3, 2008


if you can, asimov's first foundation trilogy might be a good find.
posted by Large Marge at 12:42 PM on June 3, 2008


I absolutely love reading Phillip K Dick at the gym. Very accessible, very engrossing. I imagine you can get a lot of it in audio format as well.
posted by my homunculus is drowning at 12:42 PM on June 3, 2008


I'm in the middle of reading Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. This has been advertised as a YA novel, but trust me, this has action and pacing enough for adults. There's an audio version available on the website for USD 20.00
posted by Fferret at 12:47 PM on June 3, 2008


Dune! Unabridged!
posted by willmize at 12:53 PM on June 3, 2008


Seems like Audible is the way to go if I'm going to be doing this regularly. Not a huge fan of the DRM restrictions

You can convert to mp3. Just google it. That's what happens when they don't support players outside of iPod.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 1:25 PM on June 3, 2008


Neal Asher would be right up your alley. I've read Cowl, Gridlinked, The Line of Polity, The Skinner and The Voyage of the Sable Keech so far. All fast-paced, all well realized, all slam-bang. He gets dissed a bit around here by the Banksoids (love ya, guys!), but I find his stuff very enjoyable.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:29 PM on June 3, 2008


Terry Pratchett! All of his books exists as audio, and the two people who read them generally (Nigel Planer and Stephen Briggs) are stellar. I am re-listening to them all right now as I commute.
posted by Ponderance at 1:30 PM on June 3, 2008


Sorry, I just double checked, and I can't find audiobook versions of Asher's stuff. Fortunately for you, I will record auidobook versions for your ears only, for a nominal fee. I've been told both that I have a very sexy voice and that I sound just like Steve Stone. I don't know if those are mutually exclusive.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:34 PM on June 3, 2008


Not sci-fi, but yes, Stephenson -- Zodiac. Ah, Lemurrhea beat me to it. Anyway, definitely fast-paced. The main character is very much like the two main characters in Snow Crash.

Also: American Gods (fast paced, visualize-able), much Phillip K Dick stuff (lots of plot twists, good short stories), and The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy (the radio broadcast version I heard of this was even funnier to me than reading it on paper).

If you're willing to broaden your genre, you might look up the old AskMe asking for books to read at the bar. Lots of fast-paced stuff there.
posted by salvia at 2:17 PM on June 3, 2008


Only marginally SciFi, but try the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. Almost all are available in unabridged audio format (your Library should stock these - Pratchett has long been one of the UK's biggest selling authors and is now becoming something of a cult author in the US). These books incorporate themes from quantum theory and different physical laws to have some fun with the nature of reality and our own universe. They are full of off-the-wall British humor and weird characters. The books are fascinating, thought-provoking, and make you laugh out loud, so you'll get a really good workout ... :-)
You could also try Neil Gaiman -- strange, mystical, but oddly compelling. My favorite is Neverwhere, but American Gods is a book that you can't forget (whoops - I see that salvia beat me to that one!). So listening to it on the treadmill will probably become an obsession - sufficiently diverting that you may not want to stop.
I just finished listening to the BBC radio recording of Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency -- a great laugh and very weird. That one should keep you entertained, if you can find a recording out there.
posted by Susurration at 3:08 PM on June 3, 2008


Awesome suggestions all around. God I love askme.
posted by Smarson at 4:01 PM on June 3, 2008


Morgans books, starting with Altered carbon, are good reads if you were already thinking of giving them a try. I've only read that one and Broken Angels so far, but it's very gritty with a lot of action and neat technology.
posted by monocultured at 10:19 PM on June 3, 2008


2nding the Morgan. I haven't read Black Man/Thirteen (same book, 2 titles depending on where you get it) but I've heard it's good. The rest I've read and Market Forces is kind of weak, but I like the others. Altered Carbon is the best of the lot though.
posted by juv3nal at 10:21 AM on June 4, 2008


I was going ask as a follow-up, where are the best sources to get audiobooks?

As a fellow Puget Sound resident, I highly recommend your local Half-Price Books. Both the Capitol Hill and Roosevelt locations have great audio book collections, I've picked up some good deals there.
posted by rdhatt at 3:31 PM on June 4, 2008


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