SF Filter: Where can I find more SF in the vein of Peter Watt's "The Island"?
April 25, 2011 2:45 PM   Subscribe

SF Filter: Where can I find more science fiction in the vein of Peter Watt's "The Island"?

Inspired by this post, I read "The Island" by Peter Watts and loved it!

I haven't read a lot of SF, but would like to get some recommendations on other works with similar themes and ideas. Any suggestions mefites?
posted by jjonajason to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
If you liked the science fictional aspect that directly engaged with the idea of things being smarter than us in an unimaginable way, then Mefi's own Charlie Stross wrote Accelerando, which is also quite good (as well as many others, all of which I really liked). Iain M Banks' stuff about "The Culture" is also in a similar vein (I recently read Matter and liked it, but there are many other good ones). Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon The Deep and A Deepness in the Sky may also be to your liking. Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space may also tickle your interest centers. (Stross and Banks being the most recommended in this list.)

If what you were responding to was the unrelentingly bleak tone and steely eyed glare into the world, regardless of the consequences, then maybe you would like the works of China Mieville, which do a similar thing, but are fantasy. Other bleak nihilist fantasy includes the A Game of Thrones series, but I am loathe to recommend an unfinished series after turning friends on to the still-unfinished "The Eye of the World" series many many years ago.

If you want unimaginable inscrutable smart things as well as grim steely-eyed bleakness, then, well, you've pretty much got Peter Watt's other books, which are released under a creative commons license. I recommend buying them, however, as the man could use the money, what with being beaten and pepper-sprayed by US border patrol and currently dealing with the flesh eating disease.
posted by pmb at 3:28 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Stross, Vinge and Reynolds are all good solid recommends, as are Watt's other works. I;d add Paul McAuley to that.

Engineering Infinity is a collection of what sounds like the sort of thing you want. I've not read it, but it's getting some good press. You may also want to check out The Mammoth Book of Mind-Blowing SF.
posted by Artw at 4:01 PM on April 25, 2011

Hannu Rajaniemi is another young upandcomer you may be interested in - check out the story in this post.

If the alien contact aspect of The Island is what impresses you you should go back to the classics and check out Stanislaw Lem, especially Solaris. Yes, even if people moan about the translation and the movie put you to sleep. His Masters Voice is anopther you should try (another HMV!).
posted by Artw at 4:09 PM on April 25, 2011

You might like Michael Crichton's Sphere. It reminds me of "The Island" in a lot of ways -- a crew of broken, mistrustful people, living in an isolated artificial habitat, and contending with a vast alien intelligence they can't understand.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:47 PM on April 25, 2011

I am going to be slightly orthogonal and suggest Kurt Vonnegut's more sciencefictiony stuff, which is similarly pessimistic and apocalyptic yet compassionate: The Sirens of Titan, Cat's Cradle, Galapagos and the underrated Slapstick may satisfy your fix.
posted by speicus at 5:31 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Under the Lem banner, also see "Fiasco!"
posted by stratastar at 7:55 PM on April 25, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - these look great!
posted by jjonajason at 7:45 AM on April 26, 2011

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