Help me find the best strange science fiction novels.
April 20, 2012 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Help me find more speculative/science fiction novels like Geoff Ryman's The Child Garden and Michael Swanwick's Stations of the Tide!

I've read a lot of science fiction, and I've found that my favorites are those stories that feel really strange and innovative. And that, at the same time, have compelling and relatable characters with interesting emotional arcs. I love discovering new ideas and worlds that are like nothing I could have imagined on my own--and also the aspect of having a bunch of interesting cultural, technological, etc. changes stuffed into one well-constructed framework. Some other novels that have met this need for me are: Engine Summer by John Crowley and The Fortunate Fall by Raphael Carter. Oh, and The Last Green Tree by Jim Grimsley (which blends in some fantasy, which is totally okay with me!)

I'm especially interested in recommendations from folks who have read some or all of these novels and loved them too. Suggestions for short stories and collections and graphic novels also welcome.
posted by overglow to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Maureen McHugh's Mission Child fits the bill, I think.

Also, definitely check out:

David Marusek's Counting Heads, and

Samuel R. Delaney's Dhalgren, which, while dated and a bit difficult, is an absolute classic; see this askme for further discussion.

and maybe:

Paul Park's Celestis, and

Christopher Priest's Inverted World.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:22 PM on April 20, 2012

Jonathan Carroll should surely be on your list somewhere. Outside the Dog Museum is one of my favourites.

Ian MacDonald too: The Dervish House was one of the best of 2010.
posted by bonehead at 2:33 PM on April 20, 2012

Ian MacDonald's "Evolution's Shore," (US title-- elsewhere titled "Chaga,") was interesting as all hell; I would also add the very recent Hannu Rajaniemi's "The Quantum Thief." It borrows a few concepts I've seen before, but makes most of them its own. Also Charles Stross' "Accelerando." He has, at times if not still, made that one freely available online.

I hope these are what you're looking for; to be honest I don't recognize any of the books above except Dhalgren, but I had read that MacDonald book and it seems to be right. I'll have to save this thread for the leads.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:54 PM on April 20, 2012

Thanks for the answers so far!

palmcorder_yajna, I recently read David Marusek's short story The Wedding Album and loved it and it was very much in the vein I'm talking about. I'm excited to read a novel by him too!

Sunburnt, I also read and very much enjoyed a short story by Hannu Rajaniemi (I think set in the same world as The Quantum Thief) and have been meaning to read his novel.
posted by overglow at 5:04 PM on April 20, 2012

Liz Williams' Winterstrike features "haunt-tech" -- technology that pretty casually bends the space time continuum to bind ghosts to surveillance technology for guarding the homes of the rich.

I'm wondering if you've read The Iron Dragon's Daughter, also by Swanwick; the dragons are actually malevolent, intelligent fighter jets who corrupt their pilots.

Dawn by Octavia Butler is absolutely wild.
posted by spunweb at 5:17 PM on April 20, 2012

Gene Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus.

Stepan Chapman's The Troika.

Miyazaki Hayao's NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind (the manga since you mention graphic novels, though I certainly wouldn't tell you not to watch the film).
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:39 PM on April 20, 2012

Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun and Book of the Long Sun series; Brian Aldiss's Hothouse; Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker; and Walter Jon William's Aristoi and Metropolitan (which are not related). Also the Swanwick that people have mentioned, as well as his Vacuum Flowers. (That Priest suggestion is good, too.)

Also, Jack Vance! His classic short story "The Moon Moth" should give you a feel for how he rolls.
posted by snarkout at 9:15 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

"The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fforde is definitely weird and interesting, as is the stuff by China MiƩville, especially "Perdido Street Station". Another very inventive classic is "House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski. Then there is of course Haruki Murakami, I especially liked "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle"

Books I recently read that have a very unique style and at least for me brought something new to the table, are for example:

"The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox" by Barry Hughart
"The Sirens of Titan" by Kurt Vonnegut
"Vellum: The Book of all hours" by Hal Duncan
"Ilium" by Dan Simmons
posted by SweetLiesOfBokonon at 3:36 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Walter Jon Williams, maybe starting with Metropolitan (& City On Fire) and Implied Spaces if you are coming from Stations On The Tide, etc.

Also try Paul McAuley; Fairyland is a wonderful book that gives me the same sense of excellent worldbuilding and characters that live and grow as Swanwick.
posted by N-stoff at 11:32 AM on April 21, 2012

Oh, god, Vellum! Yes! It's freaking extraordinary! And as an added bonus, the author did one of the very best of the It Gets Better videos. Check it out here.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:27 PM on April 21, 2012

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