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Decent Book Clubs for Sci-Fi Fans?

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the signal-to-noise dept.

Sci-Fi 406

willyhill writes "I'm a Sci-Fi and Fantasy book nut, but in the last few years I've found it more and more difficult to find the time to read. Contrary to what most people would think, I actually have a hard time finding books, rather than cuddling up with them. In reality, I don't have time to mess around at my local Barnes & Noble and browse books, and I find it dicey and expensive to do the same at Amazon or other online retailers. I was looking at a magazine the other day and I found an advert for the Science Fiction Book Club. While my experience with CD clubs and the like in the past has not been entirely positive, I was prepared to give it a shot given the fact that it would be less expensive than Amazon in the long run. The problem was that their selection is not exactly grand. Having read the Simmons Hyperion Cantos, for example, I was ready to give Ilium a go, but I could only find its sequel. How do other readers get their hands on Sci-Fi books? I tried Googling for book clubs and the like, but there's too much static out there, mostly caused by Oprah. Any suggestions would be appreciated!"

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The library. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430606)

Check your city library. I know, it's not as fancy as a book club or a CD, but that's where most people used to go to find books.

Re:The library. (4, Informative)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430668)

I'd second (or third) the library idea and join a SF community forum to ask for book recommendations (eg [] ).

What is the real reason for this question? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430988)

Nerd, do you envision that there are lots of sci fi book clubs out there with women in them that will become yours ? THINK AGAIN! I assure you this will not work.

For you, there is only the internet, your basement, and torrent porn.

Re:The library. (4, Funny)

maceilean (892229) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431228)

The only problem I have with libraries is that they expect you to actually RETURN the books.

yahoo, orkut (3, Informative)

William Robinson (875390) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430616)

Dunno whether it is useful or not, why not join some online groups (yahoo?) or some special communities in Orkut? Orkut there is a community for Sci-Fi book club []

Orkut has recently added some features related to reviews on books and you could find some leads.


Do NOT read this (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430622)

Very important to not corrupt your mind DO NOT READ THIS

And for christs sake stay OUT OF LIBRARIES unless you want ANOTHER DISEASE

If you don't mind Audio books (4, Informative)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430630)

I'd recommend Audible.

They have a decent selection of SF books (including some first rate cast based unabridged versions of the Dune books that I'm currently enjoying).

I've been using it for about eight months, and I like it.

Also, they let you convert the books to mp3. It's a bit long winded, you have to export to cd/virtual cd using a version of nero they supply, then convert them. I use mediamonkey to do that, then mp3 tag tools to sort out the tags/rename the files.

Or you can leave them as .aa files.

Re:If you don't mind Audio books (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430674)

Yeah, if he's too cheap to buy books or library membership, he's surely going to pay Audible's prices. Great thinking there.

Library (4, Insightful)

SomethingOrOther (521702) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430636)

Join a bloody library!
Most (free!) librarys have a decent SF section and will cary SF periodicals if you ask nicely.
Lots of fellow geeks will be hovering around the Fantesy/SF section also, so you can meet a few people.

It isn't rocket science dude.

Re:Library (1)

Armakuni (1091299) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431222)

In my experience, this only applies if you are in the US. In many other countries, decent sci-fi can be hard to come by in shops, let alone in libraries.

Re:Library (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431336)

I second this comment... Get a library card!

    The library I live near has something on the order of 10,000 SF books in their collection and is always adding them. Not to mention any book they don't have, but is located at some other library, I can request and get in under a week.

Also, the library system I use has a rating/commenting system that I've found very helpful. In general, you don't have to worry about astroturfing and the like.

Hugo Awards (4, Insightful)

Misanthrope (49269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430648)

This might seem obvious, but the yearly Hugo awards usually give a good selection of new books. Even the runners up are usually worthwhile.

Re:Hugo Awards (3, Informative)

halifamous (1142139) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430998)

I wanted to agree with you, but after checking their list of winners I found they completely missed some of the best books from the last five years: Oryx and Crake, by M Atwood; Never Let Me Go, by K Ishiguro; The Time Traveler's Wife, A Niffenegger; The Book of Dave, by W Self. The Book of Dave is only tangentially sci-fi, I admit. The Nebula Awards overlooked these, too.

I recognize that these are not hard sci-fi/tech driven stories, of course, so I think I want to restate the question: Where do you find good sci-fi that's also a good book?

Re:Hugo Awards (2, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431094)

Where do you find good sci-fi that's also a good book?

Kurt Vonnegut. [] *

Re:Hugo Awards ... and the Nebulas (4, Informative)

zoward (188110) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431288)

The Hugos [] are voted on by SF readers. The Nebulas [] are voted by SF authors. Occasionally the same title will win both honors.

Nebula awards too (1)

ecotax (303198) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431302)

This might seem obvious, but the yearly Hugo awards usually give a good selection of new books. Even the runners up are usually worthwhile.
This worked for me the last time. Same goes for the Nebula award.

Very vague terms (4, Informative)

IICV (652597) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430652)

I looked through the website, and they're very, very vague about what you really have to pay. For one thing, it's 5 books for a dollar each (and one free), but you also pay $13.70 in S&H. That's a pretty good price for six hardcover books, but then you're committed to buying four books from them - and it seems like the books they have mostly aren't new. I tried looking some of them up on Amazon for comparison with their "member prices", but most of the ones I chose apparently weren't for sale any more - except Spook Country, which I knew was new. It's about a dollar more expensive there. The one thing I can't seem to find without becoming a member is the S&H on the further books you purchase. I wouldn't be surprised if that's a ripoff. Anyway, it seems like their strategy is to get various interesting-sounding novels for cheap when they stop selling well, and then seed somewhat slightly more popular books in to that.

Re:Very vague terms (1)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430680)

The original post looks a bit like a stealth ad for the SF Book club TBH. And Ilium isn't exactly hard to find.

Quality on the decline (2, Insightful)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430660)

Personally, i think the quality of sci fi works has declined rather steeply in the past 20 years. My guess is this has a lot to do with the rise of multiplayer video games and the like. Alternately, it could just be me getting old.

I'd recommend going to a good used book store and looking for some older titles. Should be cheaper, and you'll probably find better quality too.

Re:Quality on the decline (1)

wobbelyheadbob (886026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430872)

maybe the sci fi has but i think theres more kids getting interested in fantasy after harry potter and eragon, and there's some good writers out there to like trudi cannavan [] she's very easy to read but very enjoyable!

Re:Quality on the decline (1)

Capitalisten (102859) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430898)

You really have got to be kidding.

Of course it may depend on your personal taste in sci-fi but I never had read anything that could match the extremely well written "Nights Dawn Trilogy" by Peter F. Hamilton (published in 1996-1198-2000), so good sci-fi is still being written and published.

Re:Quality on the decline (1)

ozbon (99708) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430966)

+1 for Peter F Hamilton.

  As for "nothing good in the last twenty years" have you tried *any* of the following?

    Peter F Hamilton
    Alastair Reynolds
    Charles Stross
    Neal Stephenson (Partic. Snow Crash and Diamond Age)

  Just to name four off the top of my head - I know there's plenty of others as well.

Re:Quality on the decline (2, Interesting)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431316)

I'd like to add:

          Peter Watts (Rifters Triology, dark, twisted, but quite good)
          Scott Westerfeld (Risen Empire was a great space opera, but he seems to have abandoned it for his more lucrative juvenile line)

I've noticed that the preponderance of decent, new, SF is coming from British authors.
Perhaps growing up with the longest running SF serial on the planet [] helps inspire them.

Re:Quality on the decline (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431328)

Neal Asher *needs* to be added to that list - some of the best SciFi I have read in a while.

Re:Quality on the decline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431188)

Also try "Pandora's Star" and "Judas unchained" (series)

and "Fallen Dragon" (standalone). Both by Hamilton.

The man is a genius at creating worlds.

Re:Quality on the decline (2, Interesting)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431332)

Just go for the classics...Philip K. Dick, Issac Asimov, etc.

I know it's in the fantasy genre, but A Song of Ice and Fire has been holding my interests for a while.

Shelfari (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430662)

An ideal tool for literature fanatics.

I saw different sci-fi threads & groups there.
But if you manage to find some time, you can put some of your favourite books "on the virtual shelf" and find some people with the same interests, plus recommendations.

google minus oprah (5, Interesting)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430690)

> too much static out there, mostly caused by Oprah. []

Re:google minus oprah (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431082)

Would you consider the inclusion of the Pulitzer-Prize winning book The Road [] as static? Are you sure you aren't conflating Oprah's fanbase with her booklist choices?

Re:google minus oprah (0)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431226)

Uhh, you do realize that Oprah has actually picked some amazing books for her book club, don't you? Not everything that gets that bigass sticker is great, but there have been some absolute classics in there. Although, they usually end up on her list several years after I've read them. And besides, I thought we were talking about scifi here....

Look to the british... (3, Informative)

tcdk (173945) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430744)

Firstly, let me warn you about the Illum books. The first one is okay, but the last one is really bad. Simmons gets lost in the quantum magic of the story and never really finds his way back again...

I can't tell you about SFBC as they don't do the rest of the world outside of the US...

Amazons recommendation system seems to work okay.

Looking at who wins the Hugo or Nebula, can work, but should be taken without a grain of salt.

Forums and news groups like rec.arts.sf.written can be a really good source of inspiration, but can consume so much time that you will not have time to read books.

But if you are ready for something different I'll recommend you the "new" wave of authors from Britain. People like Charles Stross (he has a few free e-books out), Peter F. Hamilton (Nights Dawns trilogy is not a good place to start), Ken MacLeod.

Read up on them on wikipedia.

Re:Look to the british... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431026)

Regarding Peter F H - I would recommend starting with the Greg Mandel series - these are very good and also fairly topical. Also includes much more in the way of a regional touch.

You may find an element of convergence after reading a few collections of his books but they are all good page turners.

Alastair Reynolds is another author I would recommend, who likes to include some *science* in his SF. No faster than light there.

If you want anything > 10 years old (and there is a *lot* of really great stuff out there from 60's, 70's) then I would say trawling charity shops / car boot sales / garage sales is the way forward.

Re:Look to the british... (1)

The_reformant (777653) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431032)

I thought both were weaker than the hyperion cantos tbh. His Songs of Kali isnt sci-fi but was a very good read. Just after discovering Simmons I got hooked on Alistair Reynolds I thoroughly recomment his booker (read them in order starting with Revelation Space). Im assuming you've already exhausted Ian M Banks of course. I found Peter F Hamilton pretty weak tbh but only tried one of his books (Mindstar Rising). I would consider it as "hard sci-fi or as space opera" as the other authors mentioned. It reads very much like a tv script.

Re:Look to the british... (1)

tcdk (173945) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431070)

I've read all Banks except Matter, which I hope to get around to after I finish Toast by Stross. Never got started on Reynolds, but one of his books are on my to-read-stack.

Mindstar Rising is one of Hamiltons first books and is rather weak compared to his later books.

Re:Look to the british... (1)

Magycian (121354) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431118)

As for British writers....

Look for a little series by M.K. Wren. She's normally a mystery writer but way back when in the 80's she did a remarkable trilogy called the Phoenix Legacy.

I've since burned through a couple of editions of each and I know a score of people I've turned on to these books loved them as well.

Re:Look to the british... (1)

The_reformant (777653) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431334)

I might give him a 2nd shot then, is there a stand-out book that might restore my faith?

Re:Look to the british... (1)

tcdk (173945) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431366)

I would say Fallen Dragon. It's the first one he did after Nights Dawn, and it's also his only standalone novel.

Re:Look to the british... (1)

ozbon (99708) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431364)

Mindstar Rising was Hamilton's first book - and while it's weak compared to the later epics, IMHO it's still highly readable, and with more ideas in it than you'd expect.

Actually, that's one of the main reasons I like Hamilton's stuff - he'll throw in so many ideas in a book that you end up going with it all and just having to accept them - then afterwards it comes back and you think "Actually, that's really pretty cool"

No Time? (3, Insightful)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430754)

"I don't have time to mess around at my local Barnes & Noble and browse books..."

I suggest you re-prioritize your life if your life doesnt allow an hour or so spent in a bookstore, then worry about finding books.

Re:No Time? (4, Insightful)

jdawgnoonan (718294) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430986)

I was going to comment about that same line: "I don't have time to mess around at my local Barnes & Noble and browse books..." It sounds like you need to fix your life first if you can't make an hour sometime during the course of your week to go to the bookstore. It doesn't take any more time than does Amazon. You have time to read magazines, make time for the bookstore. I also do not understand: "Less expensive than Amazon in the long run." The clubs are only less expensive for a short while. They give you free books and then require that you buy their more expensive and generally cut-rate, cheaply bound editions. Book club books are not built of the same quality as what are at the store and they charge you the same or more. Also, last time that I checked Amazon is pretty cheap. You are a whiner.

I want to recommend a book about a distant future (1)

lawnsprinkler (1012271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430780)

where the characters download free books from a network of technologically advanced computers but I forget what it's called.

Trade em' or visit a used book store (2, Insightful)

stupidflanders (1230894) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430790)

I have seen some forums where fantasy readers will trade/share their used copies of books (eg, The Dragonlance [] forums, among others). This could help you track down copies, plus would be another good resource for asking that specific group of fans where to find more of them.

I have had some luck increasing my fantasy library through used bookstores such as Half Price Books [] .

Locus Magazine (4, Informative)

jhoug (514751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430812)

Locus Magazine [] is a real magazine put together by Science Fiction Fans (notably Charlie Brown who has received many Hugo awards for it). Contains lots of reviews, you'll learn which reviewers have the same taste as you. Yeah, it's not a book club.
The Young Adult section of the library (don't sneer - the quality of the Science Fiction there is very high) shouldn't be forgotten. Cory's Little Brother [] is a must-read, and is a YA novel.

Re:Locus Magazine (1)

BlueRockGirl (960387) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430990)

The Young Adult section of the library (don't sneer - the quality of the Science Fiction there is very high) shouldn't be forgotten.
I second that. Even the older stuff ('A Wrinkle in Time', 'A Wizard of Earthsea') is worth re-reading.

Tor Books (5, Informative)

bball99 (232214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430814)

Tor regular sends me free SciFi/Fantasy books for free (you have to register but Tor doesn't spam you)...

kudos to another /. poster for cluing me in on this deal...

Marc Andreessen (5, Informative)

buccaneer9 (848820) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430818)

The best list I've seen in the past year was the one published by Marc Andreessen. I've worked my way through almost all of these now and, aside from one or two clunkers, its a stellar list of books and authors I had not heard of. []

The ABC (3, Interesting)

johannesg (664142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430820)

I visit the American Book Centre in either The Hague or Amsterdam. Either one is a comfortable half hour by train from my house, and it has the widest selection of F&SF books you will encounter anywhere in the world - including the large bookshops in the US.

Online here: []

And before you protest that travelling to the Netherlands might not be any easier or cheaper than joining an online club, you never mentioned what country you were in so I have no reason to assume you are an american ;-)

oddin85 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430830)

I go to my local library to check out sci fi books. no money involved (unless you keep the book for too long). if you don't like the book, you return it earlier. also, if they don't have the book you want they can usually get it for you from another library in a few days.

Have someone else pick your books? (1)

usasma (1278674) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430836)

If you let someone else select your books, you'll get books that are to someone else's taste. That being said, I'd have to agree with bball99 - Tor has sent me about 10 books for free and so far I've read (and liked) the first 3.

Re:Have someone else pick your books? (2, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430980)

If you let someone else select your books, you'll get books that are to someone else's taste.

Yes, but if you find somebody whose taste overlaps yours well enough, this isn't an issue. The problem is finding that person.

That being said, I'd have to agree with bball99 - Tor has sent me about 10 books for free and so far I've read (and liked) the first 3.

From what I've read about the offer, I suspect those books are being picked by Patrick Nielsen Hayden [] . Just so you know. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430844) for all my buying needs.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430848)

My girlfriend and I use the Sci-Fi Book Club regularly. I've replaced most of my paperbacks from it, and picked up the entire Dune series for much cheaper than it would be in a regular store. It also carries the occasional graphic novel, and I find the prices cheaper than the storefront.

I know it sounds like an ad, but they are fairly good, and I'd give them a try first. :-)

Amazon is expensive? (2, Interesting)

Bashae (1250564) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430852)

Here in Portugal it's next to impossible to find good sci-fi. My local bookstore (which is pretty big) has had practically the same books for years. They're hidden under a shelf, less than 30 books and many are sequels without first volumes. I think I'm one of the few people who ever bought from that shelf. However, fortunately, I can order from Amazon UK. Not only are they cheap (certainly cheaper than local retailers), and have second-hand books for sale, but they're also REALLY fast - books arrive in a couple of days through the normal, inexpensive shipping method, and no customs to pay since they're within the EU. Also, I know there are many horror stories about Amazon going around, but whenever I had trouble, I was always treated with courtesy and my problem solved in a manner satisfactory to me, even when that resulted in a loss for Amazon. I'm not affiliated with Amazon in any way. I don't work for them, none of my relatives of friends works for them, I have no reason to be defending them here other than my own experience as a customer. Buying from them has never been dicey or expensive to me.

When will it stop ? (2, Insightful)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430856)

I absolutely hate it that Science Fiction and Fantasy are lumped together.. now although a reader of one or the other may have the imagination to appreciate the other genera why are they so intertwined ?.. You don't find Mysteries and Westerns mixed in the bookstore like Sci-Fi and Fantasy are... They are different things !!!

Re:When will it stop ? (2, Insightful)

zoney_ie (740061) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430984)

Perhaps, although there is plenty of "sci-fi" that in reality is just fantasy in a futuristic setting (or galaxy far far away etc.). Probably hard-core sci-fi fans have the most to grumble about. Apart from finding some pure sci-fi tough going, I think the mixed shelving arrangement probably suits fantasy fans.

Re:When will it stop ? (1)

caffeined (150240) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431146)

Actually, I agree with the original poster, more or less. I read a fair amount of fantasy but find that sci-fi leaves me cold. The difference (at least for me)? Basically, fantasy does a better job with characters - for whatever reason the characters in sf novels tend to be paper thin. My personal theory is that this is because sf by its nature focuses on science, etc., rather than individuals per se, whereas fantasy is often about a quest or something, which is much more personal.

I do agree, though, that there's lots of sf which is basically a fantasy-type story in an advanced setting. However, even there I tend to find that the characters are poorly done.

Re:When will it stop ? (1)

ThomsonsPier (988872) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431160)

I find it generally happens to quell arguments; it's unbelievable how many people complain when their precious favourites are placed in SF or fantasy when it clearly should be in the other section. Of course, when it's moved there someone else will whinge until it's moved back.

By bundling them together, people unfamiliar with the genres aren't made to spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out what goes where. I'm sure you can think of several titles where affiliation is contested.

Re:When will it stop ? (1)

Sol_Web_Dude (889149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431168)

I think it's all about money$$$$. Fantasy sells more than pure Sci-Fi. You see a lot of Sci-Fi writers cross over to Fantasy to make a living so they are lumped together. But I agree they are 2 different things.

I've been a member of SFBC before (get the intial deal and then quit!) and while you can get new books for less, you only have whatever selections they are offering at the time. And of course more Fantasy then Sci-Fi.

Lately I just use the local library. You already pay for that and they will usually get a book when I request it.

Re:When will it stop ? (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431278)

although a reader of one or the other may have the imagination to appreciate the other genera why are they so intertwined

Because they're pretty close to just being sub-genres of a bigger genre?

Call it "speculative fiction": fiction set within an reality that has in some small way been altered to be different from the one that we live in.

Consider also:
1) The "tech" in sci-fi generally isn't possible. It's essentially magic whose origin is the extrapolation of current technology given a different set of circumstances (and hand-waving).
2) Most of the "magic" of fantasy, if not all, comes from some place's mythology. Most of mythology fit the definition of #1 when it was written.

If Sci-Fi was essentially fictional novels about things that actual scientists could do, then I could see your point. However, that would end up quite boring. I prefer my sci-fi to be a dressed up form of fantasy.

SFNovelists (1)

Spacejock (727523) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430858)

Worth a look. Features a group blog by established authors and up-and-comers in the SF field: SF Novelists [] . You'll find links to new and previous releases, and the sidebar contains sample chapters and so on.

(Disclaimer: I'm a member of the group, but firmly in the up-and-coming category. So to speak.)

Ask Shashdot! (4, Insightful)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430864)

I think it is obvious. Just make bi-monthly "What new SF/F book do you recommend"

I am sure a LOT of people would find that useful. (hint: not a sarcasm)

Tapping large geek pool of shashdot should be enough to get good recommendations.

Other than that, geeky literature majoring friends are great source of recommendations, i suggest making one!

Re:Ask Shashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431346)

Dupe. +5 Cowboyneal's Wet and Wild Adventure.

Rely on Sci-fi magazine review section (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430876)

I rely on the book review section of either Analog Science Fiction or Asimov magazines (and the stories are usually a good read too). They give brief summaries and impressions of new releases. Once you have a "kick-start" on an author, it's easy and fast to find other books. I'm not sure where to look for fantasy books.

Got Friends? (1)

kninja (121603) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430886)

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this. Ask your friends. I have to ward off my friends' unsolicited Sci-Fi recommendations with a hockey stick.

Also, ask older readers, there are a lot of older books that are very good reads, and will turn up in used bookstores.

Finding good books of a genre (1)

Oligarcamel (1271258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430890)

Try amazoning a bit more. I've found a lot of good reviews and then followed the recommended book lists for those good reviewers and usually find a wide selection of the theme that reader is interested in.

My way (1)

AlmondMan (1163229) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430894)

Personally I walk in the local bookstores when ever I pass by. Write down names of interesting books, go home and order them online at as they're much cheaper than the bookstores here with books in English.

Mysterious Galaxy (2, Informative)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430902)

I love Mysterious Galaxy ( The staff there are awesome, and can find books for whatever your personal tastes are.

They're great people, and I think F&SF specialty stores like that deserve our support.

Book sale at local libraries? (3, Informative)

Two99Point80 (542678) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430948)

My wife works at a county library branch, where the vast majority of donated books are sold very cheaply for fundraising (only a few are suitable for adding to the library's collection). She recently snagged two SF anthologies for a total of forty US cents.

Browse Amazon - shop IRC (0)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430952)

Most of my favorite writers are dead anyway - me reading a .TXT copy on my PDA is hurting no one important.
Being that I pay (almost) nothing for my first read - Amazon's recommendations and user/reader reviews are more than OK for seeking out new material.
Not much different (from the author's perspective) than me reading those books in my local library.
Only that by the time THEY get to introduce me to the "new" material - those writers will be dead too.

Seriously... I very rarely buy books for myself lately.
Instead, when I bump into something that sounds interesting - I seek out the .TXT versions on the internet.
If it turns out to be good - I will end up buying hard copies for my friends or even myself.
If it turns out to be great - I will go for exclusive hardbacks for myself.
They look better on the shelve. I will still read my .TXT copies without fear of tearing them or spilling coffee on them.

Also, English NOT being my first language, I gave up on waiting for translations years ago.
They are slow to come out, sometimes really badly translated, and the printing quality is declining with publishers looking to save on printing costs.

Same goes for comics.
Browse, download, read. If any good - buy TPBs. If not... well... its their own fault for writing trash, right?
Still... I feel like I still owe a couple of hundreds in beers or money to Warren Ellis.

Yep.. (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430954)

"I actually have a hard time finding books, rather than cuddling up with them."

Let me guess...Not married?

Its because you exhausted the pool of good books (5, Insightful)

mcdg (1213760) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430972)

Imagine a pile of 100 best sci-fi books ever, and a new one is out once every 3 years or so. When you are just getting into sci-fi as a teenager, you can be assured to have a big pile of great sci-fi to read ahead of you.

As you finish it all, it becomes harder and harder to find new good ones, which gives the impression that "today sci-fi is not as good as the years past". Its only the impression, because you wen't thru 50 years best sci-fi in maybe 5-6 years.

Now you have to wait 2-3 years to discover another gem, while before you could have just went to any "best 100 list" and picked any one up.

My recent great finds: The bright of the sky: Entire and the Rose (can't even begin to describe it), Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space universe, Commonwealth Saga + Dreaming Void by Peter Hamilton.

My recent disappointments: Neal Asher. Tried to read Gridlinked, could not even finish.

Baen (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430978)

Don't forget the Baen Free Library - they also sell ebooks with NO drm.

Re:Baen (1)

^Bobby^ (10366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431194)

I'm an avid reader of Baen e-books; faster cheaper and more convenient then physical books

Why Amazon? (2, Informative)

maceilean (892229) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431006)

Once you've found the authors and/or titles you want to read (google 'top 10 SF 2008' or something) head on over to or Not only will these sites show you the amazon and b&n books but they will also lead you to the independent book search services like and There is no reason why anyone should pay retail for mass market paperbacks. There are also many more out-of-print SF books than in-print.

How about decent SF? (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431010)

I have all but given up on science fiction and fantasy - it is as if all you can find is interminable series of massproduced soap-operas. Everybody tries to be 'Epic', but nobody has quite what it takes to pull it off. Maybe I am just getting too old, though I also find that authors like Asimov and Niven are strangely shallo, too much children of their time.

Perhaps it is because the newer authors have run out of visions - in the last century science seemed to be roaring forward; new, mindblowing discoveries were reported, technology and living standards were improving fast, and maybe science fiction was easier to write. But what can you write about now: Physics seems to have run up against a wall as far as the big discoveries go, and the future looks increasingly grim, what with climate change and the impending collapse of the global eco-system; and we just can't seem to imagine a solution any more. And that is what science fiction has traditionally been about: our glorious future, and how we the problems against all odds.

But enough of that - maybe I am just getting too old. Is there any good science fiction out there?

Re:How about decent SF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431150)

Try At least there is no commitment and you can read at least a chapter or so for free.

Free Baen Books Online (2, Informative)

SlashTon (871960) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431022)

Baen have put quite a few SF books online ( here [] and then choose Free Library). Read them online or download them to pretty much any e-reader out there. It certainly allowed me to get into a few authors I might otherwise have 'overlooked'. I prefer the dead-tree variety so after sampling some of them like here, I Amazoned them.

goodreads? (1)

dlciii (1290458) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431028)

Seriously, Have you checked out ? To me it is like pandora for books (website which recommends music based on likes and dislikes ala slacker).

A way to navigate the SF Book Club (1)

Gregoyle (122532) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431042)

A method my parents used years ago to become members of the Science Fiction Book Club without having the unsolicited mailings of books was to write RETURN TO SENDER on all the books sent by the SF book club unsolicited.

After a short time (a few months I believe), they were added to the "No Unsolicited Mailings" list (I don't really know what the SF book club calls it). Now they get the catalogs and offers on well-priced books along with the early releases and omnibus editions that may be unavailable elsewhere, but not books they don't really want.

The book club's policies may have changed since that time, but I know that worked for them.

Re:A way to navigate the SF Book Club (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431262)

Or you could send back the little card every month saying "No thanks, not interested" and save them the two-way shipping costs, which then has the effect of keeping their overall shipping costs lower. You may not care to admit it, but people like your parents are the reason why those clubs have shipping charges on the order of 9 or 10 bucks PER BOOK.

Use your library ! (2, Insightful)

soundman32 (147936) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431078)

Here in the UK at least, the local library is free, and you can get (almost) any book delivered there for free (used to be 30p I think!).
Although my library is very small (probably 1000 books), the staff are more than helpful and will be able to get the book you want from some other library.
I haven't bought a book for years. What's the point when a good quality, hardbacked version can be borrowed for free.

Have I said free enough :-)

Try this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431096)

"Read More..." (1)

g253 (855070) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431110)

The "Read More..." link never seemed so appropriate :-)

SF Masterworks series (2, Informative)

Herr Brush (639981) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431140)

On amazon or similar, search for SF masterworks. This is collection of some of the best sci-fi ever written and you're sure to find a few you haven't heard of. Also if you're buying on the cheap, "The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke" is good value for money (almost 1000 pages of SF goodness by one of the greats for £10). Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with amazon except as a customer.

Another option is used book store (1)

Omnedon (701049) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431148)

I used to get books from SFBC a long while ago, but things have changed financially, so...

What you will want to do early on is have your profile set to NOT auto-ship the monthly selection. This way you won't ever have to worry about the selection card getting lost in the mail (in either direction) or simply being delayed.

With each monthly mailing you will get a list of available alternate selections, and quarterly or so they will send out larger catalogs. I certainly had no problem getting my 4 required during the next year, and usually got 2 or 3 per month.

Another option is to check out your local used book store. The one in my area has an affiliate program such that if they do not have a specific title I am looking for they can search other stores all over the country.

Used book stores (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431166)

I go to a used book store, and buy books for anywhere between $3 and $6. I you buy 10 books for an average price of $4.50, then you can take more chances on authors that you do not know. Even if one of the books is absolutely horrible, and two are so-so, you are still getting your money's worth, considering new books run $12.
Here in Toronto, the BMV stores are great.

podcast (1)

pawonfire (883016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431186)

I listen to the 'StarShipSofa: Science Fiction Audio Podcast' The stories are narrated and usually last 30 min to 1.5 hours. It is a good FREE way to find new (to me) authors.

Re:podcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431258)

Excellent podcast, I'd highly recommend it. It totally reignited my love afair with Sci-Fi and gives loads of good reading suggestions. A very nice community all round.

Analog and Asimovs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431210)

12 issues a year.

on average, 175 pages of readable material.

only like $20 for the subscription.

some is crap, some if great.

Baen books & Webscriptions (4, Informative)

Knightman (142928) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431240)

You can always check out [] they have an online library of free books and sample chapters for new books. They also have the webscription site where you can read e-Arc (advance reader copy) books yet to be published and other books for a monthly fee.

Also, check out [] which have all the CD's Baen has published. The CD's are free to copy for non-commercial use and contains alot of books in digital format.

None of the books you get in digital format from Baen is encumbered with DRM in any way.

All Consuming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431260)

You could try online book recommendation sites like (1)

Keck (7446) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431270) [] is pretty good -- I think you can still sign up there to get a new ebook every week for free, plus they have a bunch of non-free books, podcasts, etc. I've been getting them for 6-8 weeks now and they're pretty good!

How about... (1)

too2late (958532) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431284)

a slashdot book club ! :-)

Try the UK (1)

nthenudie (125703) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431304)

As others have pointed out the British Sci-Fi scene seems much more interesting these days and not mired in N book trilogies and the like. There have been some fantastic authors from the UK lately such as Iain Banks (not that recent admittedly), Peter Hamilton and my personal recent favourite, China Mieville. If you want to try the latter try The Scar or Perdido Steet Station. Very different style so they may not be for everyone but I found them engrossing.

Scifi subreddit (1)

delta4s (904190) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431318) is a good upcoming SciFi community

Inter Library Loan and Your Public Library (1)

Cycloid Torus (645618) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431340)

In this part of the US, the local public libraries have a program to pass books back and forth by request. I read by author, so I may have 4-6 requests each year (out of an average 30 @ year). It isn't perfect (finding location of a copy you want, requesting, waiting, etc), but with a little effort and patience, you can get most anything you want.

PDK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431350)

If you like a cup of insanity with your SF, read Philip K Dick.

List of Sci-Fi books (1)

regexes (1043434) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431356)

This might have already been mentioned... but for a list of "award winners", you can check out the Hugo Awards: [] .

I find that these books tend to be pretty good.


Online and cheap. (1)

magic_user (81551) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431360)

I like to use the Baen Free Library ( They have a nice collection of good books that you can read online or download and read later. I also shop at a store called Half Price Books. The Science Fiction Book Club wasn't bad, especially if you wait for the sales. But beware of the shipping costs.

Good luck!

Year's Best SF1 through SF12 (1)

Organic Brain Damage (863655) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431370)

and other anthologies are good sources of new authors for me. I buy one book...Year's Best SF10. I get to read a bunch of unusually good short stories and the authors often have larger bodies of work available.

I recently discovered Alistair Reynolds very good work this way. Buy on Amazon if you don't have a good library. In my experience Barnes & Noble and Borders usually stock their SF and F sections with mostly dreck.
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