What are some good sci-fi omnibuses?
February 3, 2011 6:47 AM   Subscribe

Sci-fi omnibus recommendations?

I'm a fan of omnibuses. It's nice to be able to purchase an entire set of books contained in a single volume rather than having to hunt for each individual title.

I'm in the mood for sci-fi, so recommend me some great sci-fi omnibuses.

My next book purchases will be omnibuses by Jack Vance (The Demon Princes, Planet of Adventure, Alastor). Since I'm getting stuff by Vance, could someone recommend omnibuses by sci-fi authors who're on par and/or similar to Vance? People who like Vance seem to really love him. I've yet to read anything by him, but from the small amounts of text I've read from my recently-acquiredThe Complete Lyonesse (which comprises the entire Lyonesse Trilogy), all I can say is that I'm quite certain Vance will appeal to me.
posted by GlassHeart to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
The Lyonesse trilogy is brilliant. You should also read the Dying Earth books, although they make a slightly odd omnibus due to being composed of individual short stories and a couple of 'fix-ups'. Still, very much worth your time.

Gene Wolfe is an obvious choice, given that his New Sun books were influenced by Vance. His work requires a bit more effort, but tends to inspire repeated reading, which is never a bad sign.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:02 AM on February 3, 2011

I doubt you will find a bigger Vance enthusiast on MetaFilter than me, and I noted with some amusement six months ago while talking about an FPP plotting sf authors with similar styles that there is officially No One Like Jack Vance.

Anyway, I think your very best bet for an omnibus with Vancian feel is a tribute volume released last year called Songs of the Dying Earth. Nowehere else will you find Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick and Neil Gaiman emulating Vance.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:21 AM on February 3, 2011

(Sorry, that is an anthology, not an omnibus, but when people post AskMe questions about Jack Vance I get all excited.)
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:23 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Robert Heinlein, Future History.
posted by timsteil at 7:46 AM on February 3, 2011

I think I may have to fight ricochet biscuit for the title of biggest Vance fan on MetaFilter. I would advise you to start with the Demon Princes stories-- they are a little more accessible, more traditional, and feature only Vance's trademark exotic human cultures. Then move on to the planet of Adventure stories, which are really fantastic, but veer into Vance's alien (really alien!) cultures. Not an omnibus, but also really fun Vance and good for a beginner is Blue Planet (aka The Kragen)-- a simple adventure story but one of my favorites. Also, the Dragon Masters. Oh heck, please stop me now or I'll go on all day. Get a grip, seasparrow....

As for other omnibus editions, I've recently been reading Glen Cook's Black Company Northern Trilogy, in a convienient omnibus edition. Nothing at all like Jack Vance, though. It's more as if Ernest Hemingway (or Ernie Pyle) had written Vietnam War fiction in a completely believable Tolkien-esque fantasy world. People have been raving about this to me for years, always saying "It's great military fiction, as a veteran you will love it," which frankly made me stubbornly avoid Glen Cook for decades. Turns out they were actually right, and I am really enjoying the books. A similar thing occured with me and Terry Pratchet. I came 20 years late to that party as well just because I was so put off by his rabid fans gushing. Turns out I'm one of those fans now.

Jumping down the scale a little into merely good adventure is Drake and Flint's Belisaurius books, which are now being reissued in omnibus editions. Short form on this is that some sort of Artificial Intelligence gets sent back in time to try and change history by preventing a brutal empire from arising on the Indian Subcontinent. It chooses a Byzantine-era Cavalry Officer to fight the evil Malwas or something like that. I've only read the first book, because I couldn't find any more of them, but the new omnibus editions will solve that problem.

Also, if you can afford it, there are some pricey omnibus editions of Alan Burt Akers's Dray Prescott series available. Outwardly simple pulp adventure in the "Sword and Planet" style, I'm a great fan of Akers (real name Kenneth Bulmer), who was a very under-appreciated stylist and world-builder. Even if you don't feel like spring for the $60 edition omnibus, if you like Demon Princes or John Carter of Mars, then at least spring the $2-3 for a used copy of the first Dray Prescott Book, Transit to Scorpio, also available in Kindle. Then be happy to know there are another fifty books after that.

posted by seasparrow at 8:39 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I remember really enjoying C.J. Cherryh's Faded Sun trilogy. I haven't read any Vance, though, so I don't know how they'd compare. The Faded Sun trilogy is basically a "man goes native among an alien culture and helps save them from extinction" story.
posted by Lifeson at 8:55 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

10 Amber novels in one volume. Of course, it's pretty widely regarded that only the first 5 of them are the good Amber novels, and you could probably get the 2-volume SFBC omnibuses comprising those 5 novels fairly cheaply. Zelazny and Vance are certainly distinct authors, but lots of people love both.
posted by Zed at 9:18 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry guys, I am metafilter's biggest Jack Vance fan (and I agree with all the suggestions there).

Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun is indeed superb, and there appears to be an omnibus of all four books, although I don't know how easy it is to find. (There are also omnibuses of each half.)

More recently, Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet is outstanding (although fantasy, not science fiction), and available in two omnibuses (1 2 - UK only).
posted by dfan at 10:45 AM on February 3, 2011

The Ballantine "Best Of" paperbacks from the mid-70s are wonderful. Let me recommend The Best of C. L. Moore and The Best of Leigh Brackett as two to pick up.

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr. is a well-curated collection of stories.

The Compleat Boucher from the NESFA Press is a fascinating collection of all the SF stories by the writer better known for his achievements in the mystery arena. NESFA also has some nicely done collections of all the works of Hal Clement.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:16 PM on February 3, 2011

Entities: The Selected Novels of Eric Frank Russell, also from the NESFA Press, is not to be missed.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:18 PM on February 3, 2011

I've not read it, but I picked up a bargain recently with Jon Courtney Grimwood's Arabesk trilogy.

Given you've enjoyed aprts of Lyonesse, and it's not sci fi, I'm going to recommend The Black Company books also.

Other omnibi I've enjoyed include Seeker's Bane by PC Hodgell, the fantasy masterworks Books of Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber (the first is stronger than the second). The Mabinogion trilogy by Evangeline Walton, The Complete Works of Conan the Barbarian.

I also asked a very similar question to this a while ago. Hopefully you will get more omnibus reccies than I did! Like a lot of book threads on mefi it kinda devolved into a lot of people just recommending books they liked, rather than what I was asking for, but I never would have discovered the Black Company books without so I remain very grateful!
posted by smoke at 2:06 PM on February 3, 2011

Late to the party...

Dan Abnett writes for the Black Library, the novel arm of the Games Workshop Warhammer 40k universe. He's written what is, quite frankly, some of the best stuff the BL has put out. He's got a long-standing series called Gaunt's Ghosts that has three Omnibus books -- The Founding, The Saint, and The Lost, which hold the first eleven books in the series. He also has two other omnibus books, Eisenhorn and Ravenor. You don't need to know a whole lot about the setting to get involved in the books; what you don't know, you'll pick up over time.

The BL also tends to put a lot of their novels into omnibus form once enough have come out (reference Hero/Defender of the Imperium by Sandy Mitchell, and Enforcer by Matt Farrer for other amazingly good things).
posted by Heretical at 6:25 PM on February 3, 2011

« Older Should my art museum put some of our collection on...   |   Fall back plans Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.