Sci-fi about ancient aliens/technolgy for a 14-year-old?
July 25, 2012 10:36 PM   Subscribe

Help me find more great sci-fi about ancient aliens / ancient technologies for my favorite 14-year-old avid reader.

I work in the sci-fi/fantasy section of a bookstore and am visited about once a month by a 14-year-old kid who is always dying for new recommendations. Because I love seeing kids enthusiastic about reading, and because I love matching people up with books they will ultimately adore, I would like to make up a big list of to-reads for him.

Here are things that he likes:
* ancient aliens
* ancient technologies
* zombies ("World War Z")
* the Halo video game series
* the Alien movie series
* Clive Cussler's stuff that takes place in outer space
* The Hunger Games series, but he's already far beyond that reading level
* Caroline Stevermer's "River Rats" - this is one of his all-time favorites

Here are things that he doesn't like:
* Vernor Vinge (the universe was too vast I think - he couldn't get into it)
* romance

Last time I suggested:
* Colson Whitehead's "Zone One" (he seemed pretty stoked)
posted by wintersonata9 to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: the mote in god's eye has ancient aliens and a gripping story.
posted by bruceo at 11:01 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Alan Dean Foster, The Tar-Aiym Krang and many novels in the same universe.
Larry Niven, Neutron Star, Ringworld, and other Known Space books.

Both series are rife with alien mysteries, and they're pitched a little above young adult, but not by far.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:02 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Possibly Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke?
posted by HeroZero at 11:03 PM on July 25, 2012

Best answer: He'd probably like Pete Hautman's The Obsidian Blade quite a bit. It's quiet, spooky sci-fi with ancient aliens. YA, and slim, but with some adult complexity.

(I actually run a YA sci-fi review blog, but none of the other titles I've reviewed this year jump out at me for him. Maybe Ashfall, A Confusion of Princes, Planesrunner, Insignia, Alien Invasions and Other Inconveniences, or Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars. Maybe.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:08 PM on July 25, 2012

Best answer: Perhaps Timothy Zahn's Conquerors trilogy - Conquerors' Pride, Conquerors' Heritage, and Conquerors' Legacy. It's basically a first contact story told from both sides, but not really a philosophical think-piece, more action oriented.

This is a future-Earth meets aliens story, though, so no ancient aliens.
posted by clerestory at 11:49 PM on July 25, 2012

Best answer: The Heechee Saga by Frederick Pohl. Starts with Gateway.
posted by likeso at 12:15 AM on July 26, 2012

posted by likeso at 12:16 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: CS Friedman is awesome for that kind of thing. Her worlds feel like they have tons of history.

Both Pern and Darkover may fit as well; they "feel" like fantasy, but are really the decline and rise of lost Earth colonies. The Ship Who... series (also by McCaffery) is more of the same.

CJ Cherryh (particularly Cyteen) might work as well.

Re: Zombies!!! <-- I just finished Chuck Wendig's Double Dead, and it's SUPER fun. It's about a vampire who's trying to survive the zombie apocalypse.
posted by spunweb at 12:16 AM on July 26, 2012

And, time for Dune?
posted by likeso at 12:17 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, and Pamela Sargeant Seed Seeker series is pretty fab too. You know, I'm wondering how he'd feel about the whole genre of generation ships/lost colonies? I really enjoyed Elizabeth Bear's Jacob's LAdder series (as well as her Ragnorak series, but that might be too hard for him). Nancy Kress has some good stuff dealing with that as well, particularly Alien Light.

I'm also wondering if he'd dig The Conqueror's Child/The Furies by Suzy Charnas? It's a nice intro to feminist SF, really readable, and offers a really interesting perspective on the return to civilization motif you see in a lot of that type of post apocalyptic SF/F.
posted by spunweb at 12:21 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. Part of the plot concerns archeology of an extinct alien race, and the overall trilogy of novels concerns an even more ancient {SPOILERS} race of semi-sentient machines using ancient weapons on incredible power.

Does he know about the Halo Forerunner book series that started not to long ago? It tells the stories of the Forerunners (ancient aliens from the Halo games) and their fight with the Flood (not read them myself so can't vouch for their quality).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:38 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: I recently read Confusion of Princes and it was excellent.

How about Jack McDevitt's Engines of God? The plot has a group of archaeologists on another planet digging up artifacts from another culture that has since disappeared from the universe and becomes a detective story that hops around in space as they try to uncover what happened. There are other books in the series, of varying strengths, but this one is very gripping and well written.

I was never able to really get into the mote in god's eye- it just kept coming across as too dated for me.
posted by lyra4 at 3:46 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: Arthur C. Clarke: 2001 and Rendevous With Rama are both good as well as any number of his short stories.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:50 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: The Dying of the Light by George R. R. Martin
posted by loosemouth at 5:37 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: The Legacy of Heorot (1987) by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes. A book which screamed "this would make an excellent movie" to me.
posted by dgeiser13 at 6:25 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: Vinge is definitive of this genre :(

Ringworld works though, especially if he liked Halo
Same w/ Rendesvous w/ Rama
posted by MangyCarface at 6:48 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: I've suggested it on AskMeta before, but the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness is amazing. The first book is The Knife of Never Letting Go, and there are two more after that. It's got lots of aliens, it's incredibly well written, and it's very deliciously complex.
posted by itsamermaid at 7:22 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: Seconding Jack McDevit. Also his Alex Benedict books, starting with A Talent For War.

Not sci-fi, but he should probably be reading the Dresden Files.

Maybe the good Star Wars books? (Ie, Rogue Squadron)

Ready Player One, maybe maybe. Though most of the 80's nostalga will maybe/probably fly past him.
posted by Jacen at 7:49 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: Seconding Niven's Ringworld and Revelation Space by Alistair Reynolds.
posted by vkxmai at 8:07 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: Julian May's Saga of Pliocene Exile series. The first book is The Many Colored Land. Human undesirables are banished back in time to Earth's primevil history, where they become pawns in a an ongoing conflict between two offshoots of an alien species.

I read and loved this series when I was right around his age.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:31 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: The Ringworld and Rama books are basically the bibles of ancient alien sci-fi. I mean, Halo, come on.

I'd also add in Greg Bear's The Way series.
posted by CaseyB at 9:29 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: Oh, any of Alan Dean Foster's non-adaptation work. (Not that his adaptations are bad, but his original work is great.) It's all fun stuff and perfect for teens; I wish I could go back and read it all as a teenager again.
posted by CaseyB at 9:33 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: maybe the Foundation Trilogy? not focused on technology, but driven by it (one that foresees the future of the species and plans periodic interventions)...
posted by acm at 9:55 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer:
  • H.P. Lovecraft wrote about ancient aliens for sure. If nothing else, he should check out At the Mountains of Madness. Caveat: Many (most?) of Lovecraft's stories are tinged with racism and/or xenophobia.
  • He *might* be interested in China MiĆ©ville's "Bas Lag" books, starting with Perdido Street Station. It's not outer-space Sci-Fi, but is set in a rich world with interesting technology, (and a locale in The Scar which hints at very old, abandoned tech.)
  • Stephen King's Dark Tower saga is set in an intriguingly post-apocalyptic world with traces of old tech that's still functioning. Caveat: profanity, sex.
  • The Lotus Caves by John Christopher might be a little below his level, but features an ancient alien. It made quite an impression on me around that age.
  • When I was 14 I devoured Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Robots novels, which he began to intertwine in the sequels that he wrote in the 1980's. The early Foundation books are set after the collapse of a galactic empire, in an interstellar dark ages where old tech is still around but nobody knows how to repair it. The last Foundation book (in terms of chronology, not publication), set some tens of thousands of years in the future, deals with the fate of Earth (which by that time is widely accepted as nothing more than a creation myth).
  • nthing Rendezvous with Rama and Ringworld. Ringworld caveat: Awkwardly written ritual alien sex.
Finally, in a slightly different vein:
posted by usonian at 9:56 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: I read Zelazny's 'Lord Of Light' and 'Creatures Of Light And Darkness' around that age and loved them. They're both about sci-fi recreations of classic mythologies.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:47 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: It's pseudoscience rather than sci-fi, but it sounds like this kid would be fascinated: Fingerprints of the Gods.
posted by Specklet at 11:32 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: When I was his age in the mid 90s, I'll add I enjoyed:

The Giants Series - James P. Hogan

The first one was published in '77, so it was a little dated then. The cover had a skeleton in a space suit on the moon. How could I pass that up?

A little later it was the Heritage Trilogy by Ian Douglas. Military Sci-Fi, a bit Gung Ho at that, so might twang a few strings for him (HALO-ish Space Marines, Ancient Aliens, etc).
posted by PlutoniumX at 12:42 PM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: Sorry, also forgot the Orion Series by Ben Bova.
posted by PlutoniumX at 1:05 PM on July 26, 2012

Response by poster: Wow, everyone! Thanks for all of the great suggestions. I will just print this thread for him to read through. :) And now I want to read a lot of these as well, haha.

I'll let you know which ones he likes.
posted by wintersonata9 at 9:20 PM on July 26, 2012

Two that come to mind: Slow Train to Arcturus by Eric Flint and Dave Freer and The Companions by Sheri Tepper.
posted by Lexica at 6:07 PM on July 28, 2012

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