What is the single best science fiction novel of all time?


log in or register to remove this ad

Though I would say his Fallen Dragon could be argued to be his best single standalone novel. Even though I myself enjoyed Great North Road more myself.
I have a really mixed opinion of Fallen Dragon. It has both some implausible and I feel poorly-drawn characters with hard-to-believe motivations*, but also the single most plausible "scene of the future" I think I've ever read in any SF novel, which is the main character being horrified and disgusted (and it's described very well) to find his gf's mother is feeding him actual once-living animal meat, not lab-grown meat.
Also unlike most of his books, I found it slightly unmemorable. I haven't actually read Great North Road yet, may have to.

I will say Morning Light Mountain from Pandora's Star is his memorable character for my wife and I (she loves his books), a household name in our house, and one of the most memorable SF characters period.

* = This is kind of unusual for Hamilton, with a few "Oh come on..." exceptions plausibility is usually pretty good on his characters, even if he has a hard-to-control "fetish for fascists", despite not fundamentally being a right-wing writer (and to be fair he does sometimes obviously intentionally undermine it, albeit usually after indulging it excessively).
 


HaroldTheHobbit

Adventurer
I have a really mixed opinion of Fallen Dragon. It has both some implausible and I feel poorly-drawn characters with hard-to-believe motivations*, but also the single most plausible "scene of the future" I think I've ever read in any SF novel, which is the main character being horrified and disgusted (and it's described very well) to find his gf's mother is feeding him actual once-living animal meat, not lab-grown meat.
Also unlike most of his books, I found it slightly unmemorable. I haven't actually read Great North Road yet, may have to.

I will say Morning Light Mountain from Pandora's Star is his memorable character for my wife and I (she loves his books), a household name in our house, and one of the most memorable SF characters period.

* = This is kind of unusual for Hamilton, with a few "Oh come on..." exceptions plausibility is usually pretty good on his characters, even if he has a hard-to-control "fetish for fascists", despite not fundamentally being a right-wing writer (and to be fair he does sometimes obviously intentionally undermine it, albeit usually after indulging it excessively).
Pandora's Star and Neutronium Alchemist series are amazing, and Great North Road is one of my Hamilton favorites. His earlier Greg Mandel books is also very good reading. Fallen Star on the other hand is one of the few very mediocre PFH books. I simply found it boring and unengaging.
 

tomBitonti

Adventurer
Any of them just do fantastic stuff. Baxter’s sequel to the Time Machine is just soooo good.

Yeah. It has one of the standout emotional science fiction moments for me: At the ending, when he tells Nebogipfel to "go" (on ahead without him).

Other works with standout moments were "The Dispossed", by Le Guin, (when he has his breakthrough), "Diaspora", by Egan, at the very end, and "2001, A Space Odyssey" (the novel), by Clarke, in particular, when he talks about the obelisk makers in the middle of the book:

Now they were lords of the galaxy, and beyond the reach of time. They could rove at will among the stars, and sink like a subtle mist through the very interstices of space. But despite their godlike powers, they had not wholly forgotten their origin, in the warm slime of a vanished sea.

TomB
 

MGibster

Legend
That's my recollection as well. I've only read Messiah once, but I've read the original at least two or three times and I remember from it that Paul sees the future where he conquers as a dark and horrifying one, and spends a while trying to figure if he can avoid that any way other than by dying.
It's been a few years since I've read Dune, but by the time Paul realizes his Jihad will spread across the known universe, it's too late to reverse course. Even if Paul were to call the Jihad off or even die, it was going to happen and he couldn't stop it. It's like a man knowing an avalanche is coming, but there's nothing he can to do stop it.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I am going to say this, I wonder if the intention of this post was to "reveal" to the community "what is right sci-fi" and what is wrong.
Since I was sitting with the author of the post at the time they were making it, I can say that no, this was not a trick question, beyond "recommend stuff for Whiz to read other than the usual things people recommend."

No one is trying to censor Lovecraft or Herbert or anyone else. But it's also silly to say "well, they're dead, so we can't criticize them."

Any time you're writing or saying "well, they were a product of their time," you are saying that their values are out of step with contemporary society's -- an implicit criticism.
 
Last edited:

DrunkonDuty

he/him
I did read it, and didnt like it as a whole. I do think it had a lot of good ideas and could have been a much better novel given some more time and edits.

This is where we depart. I did not care for the meta plot or its characters. Did not seem well thought through. The tone was not optimistic at all. A group marching to their inevitable doom. Not saying that's bad, I just don't see how its optimistic? I thought overall the entire book was simply a mess that never comes together.

Has been many years since I read them. But my overall take on the books is that they are optimistic. I'm probably conflating The Fall of Hyperion where a lot of what is laid down in the first book comes together.

(I'm trying to keep my thoughts to the first book alone) I didn't feel that the pilgrims were marching to an inevitable doom when I read it. Into danger, sure. But they were seeking answers to their questions and the danger was the price to be paid.

But different strokes for different folks.
 


Hussar

Legend
I read Hyperion and it was pretty much everything I don’t like in the genre. Most of the book is spent on world building. Very little on plot or character. At least, that was my take away. It’s the primary reason I read so little fantasy.

I find world building for its own sake to be tedious and pointless. I just don’t care.
 

Remove ads

Top