Talk about books for MM

If you like military scifi, I highly recommend Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” and “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by the same author. “The Forever War” by Joe Haldeman is also solid. Be careful which version you read, as it’s been edited quite a bit: I read those in the last year, so they are pretty fresh recommends.

I also really liked “The Stars My Destination” by Alfred Bester. It’s a very tightly plotted scifi novel from the 50s. If you want to read more pulpy crime/scifi, I really liked “Junkie” by William S. Burroughs, and of course “Naked Lunch”, “The Soft Machine”, “Nova Express” and the “Ticket that Exploded” by the same author. All very much a challenge to read, but they throw up phrases and images that will stay with you forever.

For psychological scifi, I really like JG Ballard’s work. Some of his work is more experimental, but it all feels very current, even if he began writing in the 50s. His life story is easily the most interesting bit of his work.

Further into the cyberpunk/word salad genre, “Neuromancer”, “Mona Lisa Overdrive” and “Count Zero” are at least semi-decent. They are laughably dated, and written on a typewriter, but still radiate cool. Of those, Neuromancer is head-and-shoulders above the others.

If you want to go a bit further afield into Eastern European scifi, I highly recommend “Roadside Picnic” by the Strugatsky brothers. A very dark adventure story from the 1970s about the aftermath of an abstract alien visitation, and the effect it has on the “stalkers” who recover objects from the Visitation Zones. Also made into a film called Stalker, and a the loose basis for the game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

“We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin is a decent read if you like dystopian novels, it influenced many in the 20th century. I’m not entirely sold that it’s a great novel however. If you like Doctor Strangelove, read “Memoirs found in a Bathtub” by Stanislav Lem. If I think of more scifi novels, I’ll let you know.

I’ll do literary fiction next maybe. I define literary fiction as “anything not scifi/fantasy”.


For Coach:

I’m pretty divided on ancient Rome to ancient Greece. That period of 600-400AD of Athenian Greece is amazing. But Rome had such interesting stories and insights. If it tips me over into the Roman camp, I have 28mm Legionnaire models and fight my friend’s Celts in historical wargames.

I don’t really have strong feelings on Rebels v Empire  – I would prefer to live in the Rebel section post-war. But I don’t like Jedi as anything other than space knights. While the Empire have snazzy uniforms, I’d hate to pay the taxes required to fund the military.

I’ve never finished Dune, I’ve tried 3 or 4 times, but find the prose too stilted. It’s a shame, as it’s really influential on 40k.  I think it’s had so much sucked from it over the years by other works, it’s nothing but a dry husk.

I mostly read books to feel stuff.


5 thoughts on “Talk about books for MM

  1. “but it all feels very current, even if he began writing in the 50s”

    Ballard’s stuff has definitely aged the best of all the older-time sci-fi work. It’s pretty uneven, tho.

  2. Ah my remark about those works was to see if the “legions of the emperor in their body armor” motif appealed to you aesthetically more than “ragtag robed resistance fighters” The Greeks did have the phalanx true.

  3. Starship Troopers is one of my favorite books. I would say its in the top three, but in reality I don’t know what the other 2/3 would be. I read it for the first time a few years ago and it reignited my reading of fiction. I was stuck in this loop for a long time of only reading non-fiction. The Forever War is great as well, but I’m not sure which version I read.

    I’ve read Junkie and Naked Lunch. I’m not sure that I really understood what Naked Lunch was supposed to be, so I watched the film afterwards, and that made it worse. I should probably read the other Burroughs that you’ve suggested.

    I’ve heard of Neuromancer, but never gotten around to reading it. I’m going to add it to the list for when I get tired of the 40k novels.

    I’ll be honest, I read some sci-fi when I was a teen, but then strayed away for awhile. I’m not really sure what made me stop reading the genre. I guess that I felt that non-fiction was more adult-ish reading. Also I don’t really get into a lot of the fantasy novels/games/shows, which I know isn’t the same thing, but a lot of times I feel there is just a fine line between the two.

    1. “I’ll be honest, I read some sci-fi when I was a teen, but then strayed away for awhile.”

      I’ve never been big on sci-fi, but I got some exposure to it through ‘speculative’ fiction collections. E.g. I have read several short story collections by Heinlein but none of his novels. Short stories are my preferred sci-fi medium. You can get a hell of a story going without having to worry about the hows and whys. Novels require too much back story and exposition, the holes inevitably start to show and the suspension of disbelief is ruined.

      Also sci-fi writers back in the day were avant-garde visionaries, but most of them weren’t particularly good writers. Even Asimov, who was probably the most skilled writer of the lot, suffered from clunky plots, mind-numbing exposition and weird dialogue. Stuff like that will put you off unless you’re a diehard sci-fi fan. Horror and science fiction are two literary genres that have improved tremendously over the years.

      Naked Lunch is completely senseless, but highly entertaining. I don’t think you’ll gain a better understanding of it by reading more Burroughs. I don’t think there’s any understanding to be gained.

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