Scifi recommendations
March 22, 2010 2:03 AM   Subscribe

Help me find freely available online science fiction, preferably involving people who are totally badass in very quiet, restrained ways that involve mental abilities more than just being Superman, and also explores the consequences of making the human body a bit malleable. Examples inside.

All recommendations for free online scifi welcomed, but stuff I've liked previously in the vein of quietly badass characters:

Return by Eric Vogt: follows a single father, member of a marginalized group of repatriated veterans courted by two governments for some spooky military "Overtraining" that lets him read and manipulate people.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: protagonist is mostly a very smart teenager who plays a lute. Probably the most kick-ass scene involves him improvising the end to a difficult ballad after losing a string off his lute. Although that's really unfair to all the other kick-ass scenes.

This Alien Shore by CS Friedman: protagonist is a collection of personalities in a single runaway girl amid a very post/transhuman crowd. Implanted computers with direct mental interfaces are common and involved in several plot points.

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan: has a fair amount of violence, but is mostly memorable for its exploration of a world where people can upload their minds into new bodies or transmit them between planets, thus leading to people like the protagonist whose military training is primarily mental (the only kind that he'd take with him to a new planet).

Glasshouse by Charles Stross: protagonist is uploaded into a housewife's body in a simulated society that turns out to be a big social-engineering experiment.

Return, The Name of the Wind, and This Alien Shore stand out for having characters who, despite their talents, are very recognizably human. The first two, in particular, feature strong relationships (with a daughter and a not-quite-girlfriend, respectively).
posted by d. z. wang to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Baen Free Library. Go nuts.
posted by smoke at 3:44 AM on March 22, 2010

Response by poster: Already have!
posted by d. z. wang at 4:19 AM on March 22, 2010

I haven't read it yet, but Blindsight by Peter Watts (of recent notoriety) may be of interest. Here is the actual book.
posted by lilac girl at 4:41 AM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yes, lilac girl is right: Blindsight fits the bill.
posted by handee at 5:51 AM on March 22, 2010

Response by poster: Yes. I'm reading it right now and it's awesome!
posted by d. z. wang at 6:18 AM on March 22, 2010

Shadow Unit?

I downloaded the ebook versions (which are classed as "in beta" as some of the extra links don't work - this doesn't matter). It's been going for a while now across the web: blogs, blogs by the characters, emails from the characters, blog comments from the characters, etc. Almost more an ARG really.

If that sounds too overwhelming for you - it was for me - then just download the ebook versions. I did, really enjoying them so far. Structured (purposefully) like a TV show with "episodes" and "seasons". This way, just like reading a "normal book"!
posted by blue funk at 1:30 PM on March 22, 2010

Seconding Shadow Unit!
posted by lilac girl at 8:43 PM on March 22, 2010

You might like the short story Linkworlds by Will McIntosh (published in Strange Horizons in 2008). There's not much about modifying the human body, but the protagonist has some badass mental talents, while being far from Superman. He's kind of weird, and the setting is weird, but it feels like the characters have some real humanity nonetheless.

Part 1
Part 2
posted by creepygirl at 8:51 PM on March 22, 2010

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