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Science fiction - who enjoys it?

(22 Posts)
highlandcoo Mon 22-Apr-13 22:17:13

It does seem to be a genre with a largely male readership .. I wonder why?

I've decided, since I love Iain Banks' mainstream books, to give his Iain M Banks' sci-fi writing a try. Not sure what I will make of it and wondered whether anyone else has read it?

minkembra Mon 22-Apr-13 22:24:33

It is brilliant. An entire system of cultures that explore various philosophical stances. science fiction at its best.
Mind you i am based as i prefer his sci fi to the others. generally read a lot of sci fi and never thought it was particularly male oriented.

ThePskettiIncident Mon 22-Apr-13 22:34:04

I do!

I blame Stephen King's On Writing which has a bibliography if his favourite books. Unsurprisingly it's full of classic sci Fi. I love Philip k dick, Raymond Bradbury and have just downloaded Neil gaimsn's new book. I like the blur between sci Fi and fantasy horror. So, also read Clive barker.

It's traditionally a male dominated genre, but Margaret Atwood is one of the best women writers. Suppose it's historically been pitched at a male readership, but like most other reading stats, there's probably a bigger female readership now.

BrienneOfTarth Mon 22-Apr-13 22:37:11

It's a huge genre and I wouldn't generalise to say that the whole genre has a largely male readership - there are segments of SF which this might be true of, but a sweeping classification like that is equivalent to saying "books set in historical periods seem to have a largely female readership" i.e. not really, it all depends.

Iain Banks' SF has some brilliant writing. My favourites are "The Player of Games" and "Feersum Endjinn". I've found the later (and much much longer) SF works less inspiring, although I did enjoy "Transition".

There are some excellent female SF authors which you may enjoy: Justina Robson (especially "Natural History"), Mary Doria Russell, Ursula Le Guin.

Takver Mon 22-Apr-13 22:41:47

I love sci-fi, and there's loads of sci-fi by women / women who read sci-fi / women who talk about sci-fi out there. My most recent SF discovery is China Mieville (who is I believe a bloke?), The City and The City is one of the best books I've read for ages.

minkembra Mon 22-Apr-13 22:42:04

P K D. love pkd. and Neil Stephens.
For banks i would start at the beginning. i liked consider phlebas.

Shame he won't be writing many more sad but what he has already written is epic.

Also William Gibson and cyberpunk in general.

CoteDAzur Tue 23-Apr-13 08:48:38

I love sci-fi. Or "speculative fiction" as it's called more and more these days.

Iain M Banks' books are of the archaic and now-forgotten "space opera" style and frankly just are not among the best in the genre. (I have read 7-8 of his books in quick succession before I came to the decision that although I am a big sci-fi reader, I can't be bothered to read any more of his drivel books). His characters are "nice", everyone gets along, and there is little conflict. Robots and people and all sorts of aliens just live happily together with, apparently, no conflicts of interest. It's Star Wars.

These days, good sci-fi is detailed, credible, consistent, and impressively realistic. It talks about real people in gritty real-life situations, albeit in a slightly different background of time/place/technology.

I would also recommend Neal Stephenson, earlier William Gibson (starting with Neuromancer and ending before Pattern Recognition), Dune series (all 6 books of it), and Dan Simmons' Hyperion books.

flatmum Tue 23-Apr-13 08:55:42

I have been reading or since I was a teenager. Out of the few other people I know I think it is an even split between men and women.

MrsHoarder Tue 23-Apr-13 08:55:48

I like Charlie Stross' recent works, Neil Gaiman, John Scalzi and pick up new stuff at the library ask the time. More of a fantasy (magic and dragons) fan though.

CoteDAzur Tue 23-Apr-13 09:01:14

Like minkembra, I would also recommend Philip K Dick.

GiraffesAndButterflies Tue 23-Apr-13 09:03:51

I love it in principle but always seem to read the wrong things. Watching here with interest.

YoniMatopoeia Tue 23-Apr-13 09:10:46

I love science fiction, but am sometimes disappointed in the lack of depth given to female characters.

evilgiraffe Tue 23-Apr-13 09:13:49

I love a lot of sci-fi, but if there's too much jargon too fast, I get pissed off. I love HG Wells, John Wyndham, Margaret Atwood and Ray Bradbury. I've enjoyed a couple of Philip K Dick's and Ursula Le Guin's books too. DH loves Iain M Banks, but when I tried one (The Player of Games) I found it terminally dull. Nothing happened for the entire book. I loved The Wasp Factory, though - the style differences between Banks and M Banks are quite surprising.

Takver Tue 23-Apr-13 09:28:20

Yoni, have you read any Ursula le Guin? Also have a look for the SF Mistressworks blog for some excellent recommendations

CoteDAzur Tue 23-Apr-13 09:47:20

William Gibson and Neal Stephenson have some strong female characters.

But you are not likely to find incredible "depth" in either male or female characters in sci-fi, simply because the focus is on constructing the background & story, and making them consistent & believable. It is not Ian McEwan.

Having said that, Dune books are very "internal" and do feature a lot of internal dialogue - one of the reasons why Dune still sits atop "Best sci-fi of all time" lists, although it was written decades ago.

Snorbs Tue 23-Apr-13 09:48:01

Among many of the other authors listed here I'm a fan of C. J. Cherryh. Downbelow Station is a good starting point.

CoteDAzur Tue 23-Apr-13 09:48:10

evilgiraffe - I think you will like Dan Simmons' Hyperion.

YoniMatopoeia Tue 23-Apr-13 10:03:34

I have Takver and there are some great female protagonists in some books.

I do think things are improving on that front

Weegiemum Tue 23-Apr-13 10:07:12

Julian May (a woman) has some excellent female characters, but it is on the Fantasy end of scifi. Would also support those who mention Margaret Atwood and Ursula LeGuin, who is probably my favourite writer.

YoniMatopoeia Tue 23-Apr-13 10:11:08

I adore Julian May.

evilgiraffe Tue 23-Apr-13 10:55:29

I've just looked that up, Cote - looks interesting! I might well bring it home the next time I'm in the bookshop. Thanks! smile

highlandcoo Tue 23-Apr-13 23:20:59

Interesting that so many women on here read sci-fi. In the bookshop where I used to work, it was almost exclusively bought by men, and devoured in huge quantities too. And none of my friends, or any of the women at my book groups have read it. Maybe we're just not typical ... and I've often wondered whether I'm missing something potentially hugely enjoyable.

minkembra I share your feelings about Iain (M) Banks sad There are some great - and some funny - tributes to him on the website he's recently set up called Banksophilia where he's also going to be posting updates on how he's doing.

Cote thanks for the space opera link. I'd come across the expression but hadn't really understood what it meant.

Well, I've now read Consider Phlebas and only really got into it about half-way through. Going to persevere and try The Player of Games next. I decided to do this initially because I like Iain Banks as a mainstream author so much, but some interesting suggestions above which I may well return to at a later date. Thanks all smile

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