My Photo

Welcome to Mannionville

  • Politics, art, movies, television, books, parenting, home repair, caffeine addiction---you name it, we blog it. Since 2004. Call for free estimate.

The Tip Jar

  • Please help keep this blog running strong with your donation

Help Save the Post Office: My snail mail address

  • Lance Mannion
    109 Third St.
    Wallkill, NY 12589

Save a Blogger From Begging...Buy Stuff

The one, the only

Sister Site

« Socks and the City | Main | Respect for vegetables or You can't beat a beet »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Ken Muldrew

Favorite sci-fi author: Stanislaw Lem; favorite book by same: His Master's Voice.
Runner up: Vernor Vinge (A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky).

I hardly ever read science fiction, though besides the wretched cover art (why, oh why, does every sci-fi novel have to have spaceships with laser beams on the cover?) I'm not sure why I avoid it. Lem, to my mind, is more of a philosopher than a sci-fi novelist, and the two Vinge novels listed above are appealing because of the exploration of human slavery (the manner of enslavement relies on turning naturally obsessive people into totally obsessed people, kind of like microserfs, except they use their focussed intellect to do amazing things rather than just put out crap). I have never found alternate worlds and universe-spanning technologies entertaining or even remotely believable. As long as few pages are wasted describing these magnificent worlds and the remarkable future-tech, then I'm not at all bothered by their presence, but if the point of the story is just to describe the future in painful detail, then I will give that book away with all possible haste.

Another sci-fi novel that I enjoyed was Dan Simmons' Hyperion (and it's sequel which was really just the second volume of the same novel). Some of the future stuff in this book grated, but the writing was absolutely exceptional (and he effortlessly switched between several different prose styles, doing them all beautifully). Sadly he lost his mind after 9/11; I hope he has recovered somewhat.

Some questions for genuine sci-fi fans, if I may? Do any of you find all of that detail appealing? Do you study it to find holes in the structure, or to learn the system so that you develop a feeling for how things work within that structure?

Mike Schilling

Favorite Dick novel: . It's not really SF, more a mainstream novel with religious overtones.


Since Phelps is too young, why not Dara Torres? She's 41, as we have been repeatedly told, and she's got drive and ambition to spare.

I like Clifford Simak of the older bunch of SF writers. New ones, I'm mostly unfamiliar. I own three of John Scalzi's books but haven't gotten to them yet.


This is my book report on Philip K Dick:

I like Philip K Dick *snicker*

He writes interesting novels. His best known novels include "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch", and "Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said." I like him because his titles are so long and they eat up many words of the 500 word assignment we've been given to write this summer for our class in Public School 59. (1, 2, 3...65)

My favorite Dick novel *snigger* is "Vulcan's Hammer" which is about totalitarian robots who decide they know better than humans do. These totalitarian robots rule over humans. The robots do not obey Asimov's "Three Laws" (do I get extra credit for mentioning Asimov, teacher?). One man, William Barrios, wants to stop the robots, but he is not sure he should. (66, 67, 68....116)

The ruling computer, the Vulcan 3, loses control of mankind when The Healer movement rises up to smash the system. This novel is a book that closely relates to the current political situation, as Republicans lose control of the Congress and Senate and the White House. This is how the book is relevant to the 21st Century. (117, 118, 119...174)

This book was originally published in 1960 by Vintage Press. (174, 175, 176...184)

(oh shit, I have another 316 words????)

"Vulcan's Hammer" was never made into a movie. None of Dick's novels *giggle* were made into movies except for "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" and "A Scanner Darkly". Both of these movies starred crappy actors. If I were going to make "Vulcan Hammer" into a movie, I would cast me as Barris, even though I am a white Caucasian Christian male and not gay, despite what Johnny thought he saw. (185, 186, 187...255) (*whew* halfway home)

I liked "Vulcan's Hammer" very very very much. It was a very good novel. I think that it deals with terrorism in a very realistic way, and tells the reader that terrorism really comes from within society and not from some towel-headed Arabic muslim extremists who say they want to kill Americans. (256, 257, 258...311)

I think that the Star trek episode "A Taste Of Armageddon" (I like the title. It has many words.) might have been based on the Dick novel *giggle* "Vulcan's Hammer" because that episode deals with humans who accept control by a computer, even dying because the computer orders them to die. (312, 313, 314...354) (dammit!)

I really liked this novel very very very much.

(I'm sorry, teacher, but it was eleven o'clock and my parents told me to go to bed!)


Some questions for genuine sci-fi fans, if I may? Do any of you find all of that detail appealing? Do you study it to find holes in the structure, or to learn the system so that you develop a feeling for how things work within that structure?

I'm less interested in small details than I am in the overall structure. As with movies, if a novel can create a physical universe that makes me suspend disbelief and care about the characters, then I don't care that Avagadro's Number works out to 6.0221415 × 10^24, instead of 6.0221415 × 10^23.


I've read quite a lot of science fiction. My Dad is a big fan, so I used to borrow his books. Worked my way through Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke. I still love "Ender's Game" but totally ignore anything else by Card. Restoree by Anne McCaffrey is probably my all time very favorite sci fi book. And I've read pretty much every thing she's written.
Just recently I discovered John Scalzi, and devoured his books. And in fact, I turned my Dad on to him.

Michael Berry

Favorite Philip K. Dick Book: The Man in the High Castle, with Do Androids Etc. as a runner-up. The two Library of America editions that collect his best novels from the Sixties and Seventies are outrageous bargains.

My current favorite science fiction author is probably Kage Baker, especially her 10 books about The Company and its legions of immortal, time-traveling cyborgs. Start with "In the Garden of Iden" or the story collection "Black Projects/White Knights." Her writing is whip-smart, funny and completely involving.

I obviously enjoy science fiction (please, not "scifi"), having reviewed it professionally for the past two decades. As for Ken Muldrew's question about "all of that detail," it really depends on context. I don't like "info dumps" of exposition, but I want to feel as if the world presented has been thoroughly imagined.

Kit Stolz

I have great affection for the little-known "Clans of the Alphane Moon," which was about a planet/asylum, in which each clan represents a different mental illness, with different flaws and strengths.

The paranoid, for example, who live in Adolfville, rule the planet. The Depressives, or Deps, by contrast can't get anything done. And the Heebs, or disorganized schizophrenics, aren't much use on the job, but have visions that sometimes come true.

Fascinating place.

Howard Chaykin

I functionally gave up SF in the 70s, with a few dips now and then. My favorite Phil Dick novel remains THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE. It pretends to be a straight narrative, but it's actually fairly bugfuck in its portrayal of a United States conquered by the Axis.

As for my favorite SF writer, it has to be CORDWAINER SMITH, nee Paul Linebarger. This guy influenced everybody from E.E. "Doc" Smith, Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, Michael Moorcock, Samuel R. Delany and Harlan Ellison. Smith is a forgotten giant--a visionary whose life story is pretty damned incredible. Read MOTHER HITTON'S LITTLE KITTENS, THE GAME OF RAT AND DRAGON, and ALPHA RALPHA BOULEVARD. He started his future history, AKA THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF MANKIND, in his first story, in 1929, and wrote his last piece just before he died in 1969--and there's a perfect through line between the two stories and everything in between. Brilliant.


If he ever finishes the friggin' thing my favorite SF will be David Gerrold's "War Against the Chtorr." However, since it's been about 10 years since the last book and since you are apparently not allowed to ask him any questions about the next one when he attends the various cons, I'm not holding my breath.


This is so cool...your post got me thinking about favorite authors, which made me remember Kate Elliott's Jaran series, which reminded me that book 4 did not end the series but left it hanging unresolved, which motivated me to search for info on whether a book 5 was ever coming, which led me to discover the Science Fiction Fantasy Chronicles website and the great forums. I have a new place to play!

Mike Schilling

Where's it go? Anyway, I meant The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.


Funny. I'm sitting in my library and, looking around, I realize that the only sci-fi book I have is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Though it is a fave, I must admit the book belongs to a friend. There is a healthy section on real science in here, though, lots of cosmology and physics. Stephen Hawking. I guess I like the real thing better.

I do remember liking Ender's Game long ago. I read it in a time where no regular household had a Pong game, much less a playstation, so the idea of a kid killing off a race of beings universes away by videogame was fresh. I read several in the Dune series, just for the court intrigue, but those books were, indeed, pretty heavy on the details. Still, lots of fun like I, Claudius.

I prefer my sci-fi on film, actually. Can't get enough of it. Even the hokey stuff, like Screamers. That's where sci-fi shines, because you don't have to describe everything, you just build it and put sparkling lights on it, and it's futuristic!


I'm not so much a hardcore sci-fi fan as much as someone who likes a lot of stories in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror overlap. Dick was really good. Of the books of his I've read my favorites are probably "Ubik" and "A Maze of Death" both of them surreal meditations on death.

R.A. Lafferty I like a lot for his conceptual boldness. "The Reefs of Earth", about alien children innocently plotting the earth's destruction, is absolutely a keeper.

Jonathan Lethem's first two novels "Gun, With Occasional Music" and "Amnesia Moon" are well worth your time too.


Hey Lance, long-time lurker, first time commenter.

I haven't read any Dick, and in general my science fiction novels is pretty limited, but I love William Gibson. Neuromancer is pretty much the best sci-fi novel since it came out in 1984. Really, really fantastic. Reading it is a weird kind of revelation, because you realize that basically all popular sci-fi has basically been ripping it off since it came out. And if you hate writers who spend all their time describing their world, you will love Gibson, he explains nothing. It took me forever to figure out what a microsoft was (and no, it has nothing to do with the company).

Also, Gibson is one of the few sci-fi writers who is also just a good writer. In fact, he's probably one of the only writers I like to read just for the texture of the prose.


I had to comment here just for that great title, if nothing else...

I think my favorite piece by Dick is still an essay by him, How to Build a Universe that Doesn't Fall Apart Two Weeks Later, or something like that. I've read a fair amount of his stuff, but I found his work full of interesting ideas and memorable scenes, but sometimes with weak endings. Still a landmark figure, though. I used to read a lot of the short story anthologies Asimov edited with Martin H. Greenberg, and Dick has some great pieces in those.

For current writers, I like Gene Wolfe and Iain Banks quite a bit.


BTW, skippy is a big fan of Philip K. Dick.


Favorite Philip Dick: Valis.
Not sure if either he or Dick are truly sci-fi, but J.G. Ballard has always been a favorite. The jewel encrusted jungle of "Crystal World" and the charmingly titled short story, "Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan" come to mind as favorite examples of Ballard's work.
Another loose fit favorite would be William S. Burroughs.
I seem to like writers, at least those tangential to this genre, whose work springs from powerful obsessions rather than speculative scenarios. The worlds of 'Valis', 'Crash' or 'The Ticket That Exploded' are so ingrained in the writers who created them that those writers seem to take for granted that those worlds are real and that's what makes it for me. When they're successful, I don't feel like I'm reading about aliens, I feel like I'm the alien.



Considering that a) Hawking is probably an alien and b) Hawking's *science* is terrifying enough (really, how can you be two places at once when you're really not anywhere at all?) I'[d say that counts as SF!


(really, how can you be two places at once when you're really not anywhere at all?)

Parallel universes, of course! I might agree with you on the Hawking being an alien part, though. He's smarter than god, but funnier.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Data Analysis

  • Data Analysis


April 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Movies, Music, Books, Kindles, and more

For All Your Laundry Needs

In Case of Typepad Emergency Break Glass

Be Smart, Buy Books

Blog powered by Typepad