Sci-fi recommendations
Thursday, July 31, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
In my continuing quest to get everyone I know to like the same stuff as me, I present to you two recommendations of sci-fi authors that I really enjoy, plus an opportunity to get your own sci-fi published (sort of).

First, I've recently become acquainted with the Scottish sci-fi writer Iain M. Banks. He has a series of books set in The Culture - an ultra futuristic universe where humanity is so far advanced that people have the option to change sexes at will, remain alive as long as they like, and produce a variety of drugs (none of which suffer the side effects or contain addictive chemicals) directly from glands in their brain. People live on ships that are kilometers in size, which can contain up to a billion lifeforms. AI is a reality, as is interstellar travel. I just finished reading The Player of Games and boy was it a good read. It follows Jernau Gurgeh, a famed master game player, as he travels from The Culture to the far off Empire. In the Empire, the game of Azad is so huge, so complex, that who ever wins the tournament for that year is declared Emperor. It was a great introduction to The Culture, so I highly recommend you consider picking up a copy.

For Iain M. Banks's own thoughts on the world he has crafted, go to this article. I enjoyed exploring The Culture so much, I'm working on my second Banks novel, Look to Windward now. I'll let you know how that one turns out. I definitely recommend his work to anyone who enjoys "hard" sci-fi, game theory, etc. Click here to purchase your very own copy of The Player of Games.

Also highly recommended are the works of James Tiptree Jr. (a.k.a. Alice Sheldon). I don't even remember where I first heard about Tiptree, but I was intrigued enough to go pick up a copy of Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, a collection of various short stories. I was completely blown away by some of the stories contained therein. One of my favorite tales from that collection, Love Is The Plan The Plan Is Death is free at right now. Check it out, and if you like it, click here to buy yourself a copy of the complete collection.

Lastly, Weird Tales magazine is holding a writing contest to see who can write the best flash fiction (less than 500 words) piece based on the subject line of a piece of spam email they have received. I'm totally going to enter - I love little challenges like this. My only dilemma is picking from the wealth of hilarious and inspiring spam emails currently lurking in my various inboxes. Should I finally address the mystery that is John Cummata, who continually offers me amazing deals? Should I play it safe and go after the Nigerian prince who wants me to help hide his fortune? Or should I go completely weird and pick something like "Unbelieveable secrets about Estelle Getty revealed after her death!"?
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