Friday, 19 February 2016

Contemporary Fantasy And Science Fiction

On this blog, I discuss the works of Poul Anderson and of a few other authors, usually relating the latter to the former. While blogging, I have, on the recommendation of correspondent Sean M Brooks, also begun to read the alternative history novels of SM Stirling. However, there remain many current works of fantasy and sf with which I am still unfamiliar. For example, Sean has also mentioned the novels of John C Wright.

I would welcome any comments or contributions along the lines of:

if you like Anderson, you might like X;
X, like Anderson, writes in the tradition of Wells, Stapledon and Heinlein;
X is completely unlike Anderson but worth reading in any case.

Thus, Anderson's comprehensive canon functions as a lens through which to view the entire range of fantasy and sf. Possible lines of inquiry are:

Are any other space operas as substantial as the Dominic Flandry series?
How does Michael Moorcock's Multiverse compare with Anderson's Old Phoenix sequence?
Apart from Audrey Niffeneger's superb The Time Traveler's Wife, do any recent time travel novels match the contributions of Anderson or of Tim Powers?
How many authors write convincing accounts of remote futures of artificial intelligence and abundant wealth?
Who else writes good military sf?
What other trends is Shackley completely unaware of?


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Thanks for the nice mention of me! Yes, I'm glad you began reading the works of S.M. Stirling because of my recommendation. I would suggest as well the collaborations of Stirling with Dave Drake (their Raj Whitehall books), or Stirling's co-authoring with Jerry Pournelle PRINCE OF SPARTA, and GO TELL THE SPARTANS.

I know, with regret, you have had some "tension" with John Wright, but I do think you might like his three "Golden Age" books. Wright has said that Poul Anderson's HARVEST OF STARS books was one inspiration for these books of his.

I can't comment about the books you cited by Michael Moorcock or Audrey Niffeneger, not having read them. But I have read half a dozen of Tim Powers books, and mostly like them. I think you had his THE ANUBIS GATES in mind?

I suggested the collaborations of Dave Drake with Stirling. The former has also written independent SF with a military slant or POV.

I try to stay somewhat aware of what is going on in SF by reading John Wright's blog. I'm sure you are now aware of the quarrels between the "Social Justice Warriors" on the left and those who support (not all of whom are conservatives or libertarians) the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies. For what it's worth, I'm on the side of the Sad Puppies.

Ha! Only SF fans would come up with such names as "Sad Puppies"! (Smiles)


Paul Shackley said...


It is good to hear of works inspired by HARVEST OF STARS. Anderson's legacy continues in more than one direction. My reading, especially of new works, has slowed way down because of my habit since March 2012 of blogging while reading and rereading.

I meant THE ANUBIS GATES, of course, and have added a link. In fact, that is the only work by Powers that I have read.

You mentioned the SJW/Puppies stuff but really I am very uninformed about it.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree, I'm glad Poul Anderson's influence or legacy lives on in the works of other writers, such as Wright's "Golden Age" books. I really need to reread those books, btw. Like some of Anderson's later books, Wright deals with concepts in works which need to be reread to be properly understood.

I try to keep up with some new SF by trying out new books. One example being Gene Wolfe's rather disturbing A BORROWED MAN.

I will be checking our your link to Tim Powers' THE ANUBIS GATES. I've actually talk to him in one chatroom I used to go. We would sometimes talk about SF and Poul Anderson.

As for the strife between the SJWs and the Sad Puppies, Wright's blog is a good source for keeping up with that controversy. Esp. if you look up his earlier blog pieces on the matter. You don't have to accept everything Wright said, he has often added links for interested readers to follow up on.


David Birr said...

Sean already mentioned David Drake for good military-themed SF. I second that. His *RCN* series (inspired by Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels) is in his judgment space opera RATHER THAN military SF, but I think Drake is drawing an unnecessary dividing line there.

I have some issues with David Weber's work, but his *Honor Harrington* space navy series is in general highly regarded. As the title character's initials suggest, it's influenced by the *Horatio Hornblower* series.

I mentioned *The Lost Fleet* by Jack Campbell in my comments on "Legends in Their Own Lunchtimes." Campbell is a pen name for John G. Hemry. I HIGHLY recommend Hemry/Campbell's work. He's written two other military SF series under his real name:

The *Stark's War* trilogy is about U.S. Army enlisted, NCOs, and junior officers who feel compelled to mutiny against a corrupt, incompetent, and micro-managing high command. They have no hope of appealing to an honest higher authority, because people who don't follow the corrupt policies don't get promoted to high rank.

The "Paul Sinclair" quartet, sometimes described as "JAG in Space," follows a young U.S. Navy officer on his first assignment, as he keeps getting involved in courts-martial (never as the person on trial). The Sinclair stories are somewhat unusual in military SF because they're not about COMBAT.

I cited Lois McMaster Bujold's *Vorkosigan* series in connection with your "Leadership" post. There're military aspects to that saga, especially in the early books, but, too, if you're looking for space opera with substance, I strongly recommend the Vorkosigan books.

An adversary once reminded Miles Vorkosigan: "You entered [a star system's civil war] with a staff of four. Four months later you were dictating terms." (If there were a cross-time team-up of Dominic with Miles ... the gods would cry out in fear!)

One thing to keep in mind about Moorcock's Multiverse as opposed to the intersection of realities at the Old Phoenix is that almost all of Moorcock's main characters are the same soul in different bodies -- and sometimes, they're able to remember that.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Very interesting, and your comments about military themed SF were far more comprehensive than mine.

Should I assume the "Dominic" mentioned in your seventh paragraph refers to Dominic Flandry? Intriguing, the idea of a man entering a hostile realm with minimal resources and still defeating that power!
Reminds me of Flandry in Anderson's "Tiger By The Tail."


David Birr said...

Yeah, I was thinking of Flandry, and I considered pointing up the similarity by remarking that Miles' adversaries had had a "tiger by the tail."

I should perhaps have spelled out that Miles is Countess Cordelia's son -- and he absorbed a lot about leadership (and sneaky tactics) from her.

One more (hilarious) thing I want to add about Miles. He's a loyal officer of the Barrayaran Empire. Among the medals he's entitled to wear is one of the highest awards of Barrayar's ENEMIES the Cetagandan Empire. It takes someone like Miles Vorkosigan to find himself in circumstances where saving Cetaganda was the best thing he could do for Barrayar.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Very interesting, what you said about Miles Vorkosigan. So I was right to think you had Dominic Flandry in mind. It's plain I SHOULD look up Lois McMaster Bujold's "Vorkosigan" series.

And I can imagine that ironies like being able to accept honors from the enemies of one's sovereign or country is possible! (Smiles)


Anonymous said...

Kaor, Sean,

I second the recommendation of Lois McMaster Bujold's books, both her Vorkosiverse books, and her fantasies.

Best Regards,
Nicholas D. Rosen

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Then I have to write down Lois McMaster Bujold's name so I won't forget it! (Smiles)

I'm currently reading Poul Anderson's collection COLD VICTORY and then I plan to reread, at long last, James Blish's Okie books. But that should give me time to at least acquire some of Bujold's books.