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Ghjhero

Still Looking for a Good Space Opera Series

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Lately I've been looking to read more sci-fi than fantasy. So far this year I've read Arthur C Clarke's Childhood's End (decent, but not great) and his Rendezvous with Rama (thoroughly enjoyed it and was disappointment to hear the following books were duds); after that I read Dan Simmons' Hyperion series (first book was the best, second was decent and the last two were garbage); next up was Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers (also a major dud, turns out I'm on The Forever War side of things); and most recently I've read the first two books in The Expanse series. Going into it I had high hopes for I had heard a lot of good things about the series, but I've had to stop after Caliban's War. The overarching plot was intriguing, but I don't know that I've ever read such long books that had such little substance. It took forever for Corey to say so much of nothing, which was really frustrating. The characters were all really one dimensional; overall I had little motivation to continue reading.

I'm still hoping to find a good Space Opera series. I thought The Expanse would be what I was looking for, but that didn't happen. I'm open to other sci-fi suggestions as well.

I should note I've read a decent amount of Kim Stanley Robinson's books and enjoyed most (thought not all) of his works, Clarke's 2001 collection which was not my favorite series I've ever read, but I appreciated it and Dune which greatly underwhelmed me- I have to think my experience was similar to the user who started the Tolkien threat. I currently have Altered Carbon by Morgan, Eon by Bear, Revelation Space by Reynolds and Annihilation by VanderMeer on my To Read list, but am ready for people to encourage or dissuade me from reading them. Any suggestions are most welcome. Let's bring some more sci-fi representation to this forum!

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Well, you had me til you told me you didn't like The Expanse, you heretic! :P

Anyway, Annihilation is defiantly not space opera. I don't know if I'd even call it scifi, per se.

Anyway, go read all of Iain M Banks then get back to me.

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17 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

Well, you had me til you told me you didn't like The Expanse, you heretic! :P

Anyway, Annihilation is defiantly not space opera. I don't know if I'd even call it scifi, per se.

Anyway, go read all of Iain M Banks then get back to me.

I wanted to like it so badly, but his writing style was a torture to get through.

Ok, I wasn't aware of that.

The Culture series it is!

ETA: Should they be read in publication order or how Goodreads has ordered them?

Edited by Ghjhero

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Eh, I ddn't think the Goodreads order was different from publication order, but for the most part it really doesn't matter what order you read them in, they're all mostly stand alone. Most people recommend starting with Player of Games of Use of Weapons.

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5 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

Eh, I ddn't think the Goodreads order was different from publication order, but for the most part it really doesn't matter what order you read them in, they're all mostly stand alone. Most people recommend starting with Player of Games of Use of Weapons.

Gotcha, ok ill give it a shot and see what I think.

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Adrian Tchaikovsky's The Children of Time  (there is a sequel out next year so will count as a series), feels a bit like an attempt to recapture the high concept big ideas SF that Arthur C. Clarke used to do - in this case seeing evolution occurring over thousands of generations on a planet being contrasted with the very different perspective of the human crew of a slower-than-light starship.

I also really liked Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire trilogy. I'm a bit cautious about recommending it because the setting has some really bizarre elements in it (warfare is based on ceremonial calendars) and the reader is thrown straight into the middle of a war and left to work out how the world works for themselves, which is probably not going to be to everyone's taste, but I thought it was one of the more interesting space operas of recent years.

 

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Consider Walter Jon WilliamsDread Empire's Fall series if you want a classic Space Opera setting, including war, romance, aliens, space battles, rebellions, ship's captains, and assumed identities. 

  • The Praxis (2002)
  • The Sundering (2003)
  • Conventions of War (2005)

And apparently some other related short works and a new novel set in the Dread Empire:

  • Investments (2005)
  • Impersonations (2016)
  • The Accidental War (2018)

Or if you want the real high-octane stuff, Peter F. Hamilton is your man.  Space wars, aliens, nanorobotics, weirder aliens, trans-dimensional passages, world-trees, sentient ships, mercenary fleets, civilizations living in fantasy settings in interstellar colonies, a syphilitic Al Capone returned from the dead to rule a planetary colony, and any other high-concept ideas you want in your Space Opera Fruit Salad.  Look at these titles!  Use responsibly, do not operate heavy machinery while consuming, etc.

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11 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

This is where I shit over what cred I have left on these forums by saying I think Peter F Hamilton is absolute crap.

Every once in a while I get the craving to eat a hot chocolate cake with hot fudge topping and chocolate ice cream and some fudge pudding.  And also read PFH's stories about guys with golden skin who are friends with stellar hippies who control multi-world economic empires.

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4 minutes ago, Wilbur said:

Every once in a while I get the craving to eat a hot chocolate cake with hot fudge topping and chocolate ice cream and some fudge pudding.  And also read PFH's stories about guys with golden skin who are friends with stellar hippies who control multi-world economic empires.

As a Diabetic I find that offense. :P

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4 hours ago, williamjm said:

Adrian Tchaikovsky's The Children of Time  (there is a sequel out next year so will count as a series), feels a bit like an attempt to recapture the high concept big ideas SF that Arthur C. Clarke used to do - in this case seeing evolution occurring over thousands of generations on a planet being contrasted with the very different perspective of the human crew of a slower-than-light starship.

I also really liked Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire trilogy. I'm a bit cautious about recommending it because the setting has some really bizarre elements in it (warfare is based on ceremonial calendars) and the reader is thrown straight into the middle of a war and left to work out how the world works for themselves, which is probably not going to be to everyone's taste, but I thought it was one of the more interesting space operas of recent years.

 

Thats high praise to compare Tchaikovsky to Clarke, so consider me quite intrigued. I'll be checking him out. Lee's world also sounds interesting. Thanks!

3 hours ago, Wilbur said:

Consider Walter Jon WilliamsDread Empire's Fall series if you want a classic Space Opera setting, including war, romance, aliens, space battles, rebellions, ship's captains, and assumed identities. 

  • The Praxis (2002)
  • The Sundering (2003)
  • Conventions of War (2005)

And apparently some other related short works and a new novel set in the Dread Empire:

  • Investments (2005)
  • Impersonations (2016)
  • The Accidental War (2018)

Or if you want the real high-octane stuff, Peter F. Hamilton is your man.  Space wars, aliens, nanorobotics, weirder aliens, trans-dimensional passages, world-trees, sentient ships, mercenary fleets, civilizations living in fantasy settings in interstellar colonies, a syphilitic Al Capone returned from the dead to rule a planetary colony, and any other high-concept ideas you want in your Space Opera Fruit Salad.  Look at these titles!  Use responsibly, do not operate heavy machinery while consuming, etc.

I'm down for a classic Space Opera, provided it isn't too cliche. I'm with Darth on this one, Hamilton sounds a bit too high-octane for me.

Has anyone read The Three Body Problem? I've heard its a Chinese classic for sci-fi, and did write a note about it when I saw it in the bookstore a few weeks ago.

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Love the Culture series. The quality of the books is highly variable though. 

The Gap series by Stephen Donaldson is totally amazing. First book is . . . intense . . . and very different than the last four. Don’t quit after book 1 if you get put off. 

Have you read the Revelation Space stuff? Others love it more than I do, but I really enjoyed a couple of the booms and it is full of “big ideas.”

ETA: I read one Hamilton trilogy and couldn’t stand it. Not my thing and way bloated  

 

Edited by unJon

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Sorry for the double post but it was worth it:

Armor by Stakely. It crushes Starship Troopers.

 

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11 minutes ago, unJon said:

Love the Culture series. The quality of the books is highly variable though. 

The Gap series by Stephen Donaldson is totally amazing. First book is . . . intense . . . and very different than the last four. Don’t quit after book 1 if you get put off. 

Have you read the Revelation Space stuff? Others love it more than I do, but I really enjoyed a couple of the booms and it is full of “big ideas.”

ETA: I read one Hamilton trilogy and couldn’t stand it. Not my thing and way bloated  

 

Ok i'll put down The Gap too thanks.

I want to get into Revelation Space, but i've been put off a bit cause i've had some trouble finding an agreed upon reading order. Then again I haven't looked into it too hard.

1 minute ago, unJon said:

Sorry for the double post but it was worth it:

Armor by Stakely. It crushes Starship Troopers.

 

Hmm ok, anything like The Forever War at all?

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Revelation Space is good, but the first is a little rough around the edges abd it gets kinda weird. I think if you liked the first two Hyperion and hated the last two(like any sane person should) you’ll like it. 

Three Body Problem is one of those books I hated but can kind of see how others love. It really depends on if the prose works for you, I think.

I was also underwhelmed by Dune.

I feel like there’s a real big one we’ve all forgotten, I’ll have to poke at my shelves the morning.

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Reynolds' Revelation Space stuff is pretty great.  I didn't know there was a reading order controversy, though. 

Hamilton's work has it's moments and he definitely has some cool things going on.  Then he drops Al Capone in there which is absurd and kills the entire storyline for me.  

Corey's The Expanse is probably the best of the bunch thus far discussed in this thread.

Leckie's Imperial Radch is also very good.

I couldn't tell you why people seem to like Banks' Culture series so much.  I have tried a couple times to read Consider Phlebas and can't even make it half way before dropping it.

 

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3 hours ago, Inkdaub said:

I couldn't tell you why people seem to like Banks' Culture series so much.  I have tried a couple times to read Consider Phlebas and can't even make it half way before dropping it.

Try The Player of Games instead. The Culture series can be read in any order, and Consider Phlebas is one of the weaker books in the series. Use of Weapons is probably the best book in the series and has one of the best endings I've ever read, period (it literally left me stunned for several minutes on my first read), but it doesn't focus much on the Culture itself.

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9 hours ago, Ghjhero said:

Hmm ok, anything like The Forever War at all?

In my opinion, the three legs of the "Armored Space Marine" architectures, tropes and philosophical considerations, taking three very different approaches to the idea and the social outcomes of such a society and military endeavor are:

Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein (political effects)

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (sociological effects)

Armor by John Steakely (psychological effects)

Between the three of them, these authors covered just about all the different concepts that the idea of Armored Space Marines can generate.  Written approximately one per decade, they provide the reader with anything and everything to consider on the subject.

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11 hours ago, Inkdaub said:

Reynolds' Revelation Space stuff is pretty great.  I didn't know there was a reading order controversy, though. 

Hamilton's work has it's moments and he definitely has some cool things going on.  Then he drops Al Capone in there which is absurd and kills the entire storyline for me.  

Corey's The Expanse is probably the best of the bunch thus far discussed in this thread.

Leckie's Imperial Radch is also very good.

I couldn't tell you why people seem to like Banks' Culture series so much.  I have tried a couple times to read Consider Phlebas and can't even make it half way before dropping it.

 

I'll be checking out Revelation Space for sure, sounds like good stuff from you and Darth.

I wanted to like The Expanse really badly, but the prose and characters just didn't do it for me. I've realized im more of a literary snob that I first thought. If an author's writing sucks, the book likely cannot be redeemed in my eyes regardless of the plot. Malazan falls into this category for me too, although it did have its high moments, I don't know how I made it through all 10 books.

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15 hours ago, Ghjhero said:

I'm down for a classic Space Opera, provided it isn't too cliche. I'm with Darth on this one, Hamilton sounds a bit too high-octane for me.

While I like Hamilton's books (they do have a grand scale and ambition and plenty of interesting ideas), I don't think it sounds like a good match for what you are looking for. If you didn't like the prose and pacing in The Expanse then I doubt you'd be happy with Hamilton's books since his prose really isn't his strong point and he does have a tendency to take hundreds of pages doing setup before the main plot even starts.

15 hours ago, Ghjhero said:

Has anyone read The Three Body Problem? I've heard its a Chinese classic for sci-fi, and did write a note about it when I saw it in the bookstore a few weeks ago.

I did read it when it was nominated for the Hugo Award. There were things I liked about it, it has some original ideas and the part of the story set during the Cultural Revolution was compelling. However, in the modern-day portion of the story I found the characterisation to be bland and the prose felt like it may have lost something in translation. I think there's enough there that it's still worth reading, but I wouldn't say I was a huge fan of it.

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