Looking for Books of the Ancients
March 3, 2013 1:43 AM   Subscribe

So I'm jonesing for some science fiction of a particular nature. Specifically stories that deal in the Precursors trope.

I'm a big fan of stories where the 'Precursors, 'Ancients', 'Priors', 'Forerunner' or similarly-named race are an incredibly more advanced yet suspiciously absent people who's leavings protagonists stumble over. Videogames like the Halo or MassEffect series, shows like the Stargate series, books like Alistair Reynold's 'House of Suns' I really love.

I would be ecstatic if any Mefites could suggest some more reading material along these lines. Other types of media would not go unwelcome!
posted by SilverTail to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Requim for a Ruler of Worlds - The Precursors are a backdrop and not the central point of the books, but they are just so wonderfully fun that they need reading regardless..
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:46 AM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love this trope, too!

Robert Silverberg's novel 'Across a Billion Years'.

The movie 'Prometheus' is a natural fit for this category too, I guess.
posted by meronym at 1:52 AM on March 3, 2013

And I of course just now realize that the trope link itself contains a list of related literature.. but, please, keep them coming!
posted by SilverTail at 2:02 AM on March 3, 2013

I like these too, and I think David Brin's Uplift books (the two Hugo winners from the 80s, Startide Rising and The Uplift War, not the later trilogy) are generally considered high points of the form.

Brin is listed on the Tropes page, of course. Another example is Silverberg's The Man in the Maze, which I liked a lot, but you do kind of have to be into the weird knot SF tied itself into in the 70s.
posted by escabeche at 5:03 AM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Stephen King's Dark Tower cycle seems to be set in our own world but far in the future - where "the world has moved on" after further technological advances and a subsequent unexplained collapse. The characters are constantly stumbling upon relics and ruins.
posted by usonian at 5:47 AM on March 3, 2013

Halo's world is of course unashamedly lifted from Larry Niven's Ringworld stories. I believe they're somewhat lacking in gender equality, but if you can overlook that, they're a fun read.
posted by fearnothing at 5:49 AM on March 3, 2013

Larry Niven's Protector is an interesting take on it.
posted by DigDoug at 6:02 AM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mass effect
posted by empath at 6:12 AM on March 3, 2013

Iain M Banks' recent Matter.
posted by nicwolff at 6:20 AM on March 3, 2013

Seconding Protector by Niven.

Also, Ursula K Le Guin's Hainish emissaries visit The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed and a number of short stories.

Frederick Pohl's HeeChee
posted by infini at 6:33 AM on March 3, 2013

To add the obvious, the series Babylon 5.
posted by MinusCelsius at 6:42 AM on March 3, 2013

Jack McDevitt's series that begins with "The Engines of God" is all about alien archaeology and lost civilizations and is fantastic. I think you'd enjoy it tremendously.
posted by Slinga at 7:19 AM on March 3, 2013

Sheri S. Tepper's Grass.
posted by Lexica at 10:26 AM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Nonfiction:" Fingerprints of the Gods.
posted by salvia at 10:31 AM on March 3, 2013

Gateway by Frederik Pohl is exactly this. infini said it first, but it bears repeating.
posted by Brody's chum at 4:54 PM on March 3, 2013

Altered Carbon is good.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:50 PM on March 3, 2013

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