New Sci Fi Book Club that doesn't suck?
March 29, 2012 6:46 AM   Subscribe

Is there a science fiction book club with really good (nebula, hugo, clarke award quality) books? I love Stross, Schroeder, Vinge, Bacigalupi, Chiang, Stephenson, Reynolds & Mieville ...but I've already read everything they've written. How can I separate the wheat from the chaff with new or unknown authors?
posted by leotrotsky to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
It's not a book club per se, but I like to look at readers on Goodreads that have similar tastes in books as me, I've found some great books this way. Incidentally, if you like Vernor Vinge like I do; you may really enjoy Iain Banks.
posted by machinecraig at 7:03 AM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

I haven't heard of one that is in line with what you like.

Book group podcasts aren't my thing, but I know there's good people like Sword & Laser and The Incomparable that get into good stuff regularly. I've only listened to one of Science Fiction Book Review Podcast but he was great on discussing Children of the Sky.

At the risk of turning this into a suggestion thread, I second the Iain Banks Culture series and suggest the John Varley 'Eight Worlds' stuff (The Ophiuchi Hotline, Steel Beach, The Golden Globe) and Peter Hamilton's Commonwealth and Void series.
posted by Argyle at 7:32 AM on March 29, 2012

By reading the magazines (Asimov's, Clarkesworld, F&SF, whatever). They're a great way of discovering new writers through their short fiction. It's how I discovered Bacigalupi, Chiang and many others.

By subscribing to Locus, which is full of interviews with said new writers and reviews of their books.

Your tastes overlap considerably with mine. Based on the authors you list, I suggest you track down Hannu Rajaniemi (The Quantum Thief) and Peter Watts, to start with.
posted by mcwetboy at 7:32 AM on March 29, 2012

I get all my scifi rec's from a thread on the Something Awful Dot Com forums, and they've been as reliable or more so than any book reviewer or award group.

p.s. If you haven't already, but I suspect you have, read Watts, Banks and Hamilton.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:40 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Computer guru Steve Gibson did a Sci-Fi special podcast where he listed off all of his favorite authors that he's mentioned over the years. Scroll down about halfway in this transcript to episode 333 to where he and Leo Laporte start talking sci-fi. Or download the mp3 to really get a taste of their enthusiasm :)
posted by jacobsee at 8:21 AM on March 29, 2012

Here is a great (slightly old) list by famous internet dude pmarca (Marc Andreessen)
posted by shothotbot at 8:24 AM on March 29, 2012

Do you mean, like, the kind of book club where you pay a membership fee and they send you a book every month and if you like it you keep it and pay for it, and if not you send it back?

If so, sorry, I got nothin'.

If you're open to a more generic "how do y'all find new books & authors that you like?" kind of answer, MeFi's own jscalzi has a blog (Whatever) and his "Big Idea" posts are about new books or new writers.

Also, personally, thanks to public libraries, I just take a shot at random stuff that looks like it might be good. If I don't like it, well, I'm not out anything but maybe a few cents in late fees and a little time. Although I think I might have a certain advantage because I actually have three really good library systems close to me.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:36 AM on March 29, 2012

I'd 2nd the Sword and Laser podcast.
posted by richmondparker at 9:42 AM on March 29, 2012

How can I separate the wheat from the chaff with new or unknown authors?

Short story anthologies. You only invest a small amount of time in each story.

Those Year's best anthologies usually are a good place to start. I also recommend anything edited by either Vandermeer. Rewired, and Metatropolis, are two other anthologies that are worth checking out.
posted by Gygesringtone at 10:04 AM on March 29, 2012

I get a lot of good book recommendations from John Scalzi's blog - he runs a piece called "Big Idea" where he invites authors to talk about the ideas behind their books. He has talked about plans to spin it off into its own site eventually.

I've never been disappointed in the quality of books, although sometimes they're not my genre. The pieces themselves are fascinating too.
posted by bookdragoness at 12:04 PM on March 29, 2012

I agree with McWetboy. Magazines give you leads. Also check out anthologies at your bookstore or library: you will find lots of appealing authors, many of whom have won prizes.
posted by PickeringPete at 2:45 PM on March 29, 2012

I also check out short stories - and EscapePod has short stories in audio format so you can listen while you commute, do chores, or whatever.
posted by SarahbytheSea at 8:15 PM on March 29, 2012

Best answer: ClassicSci-Fi Book Club ~ "This is a science fiction reading and discussion group that will concentrate on the "classic" novels of the genre. Generally speaking this includes novels written more than 30 years ago."

ClassicScienceFiction Book Club ~ "Classic Science Fiction is a book club for people who love to read science fiction. We discuss two novels each month." One modern and one classic.

Hard SF Book Club ~ "This is a group for discussion of hard SF, such as books by Greg Benford, Greg Bear, Stephen Baxter, Larry Niven, Alastair Reynolds, Vernor Vinge and so on."

io9 Book Club

Science Fiction Book Club on Reddit ~ "every month we pick a book, classic or new and discuss it"

Science Fiction Groups on Goodreads

SF Book Club on Reddit ~ "We read books about ideas and talk about them"

Sword and Laser - Standalone but soon to be on Geek and Sundry.
posted by dgeiser13 at 6:02 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

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