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Ask HN: Best scifi of 2017? (Vernor Vinge/Larry Niven style)
79 points by hyperpallium 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 53 comments

Although I very much like hard sci-fi, my favorite this year was the "Broken Earth" trilogy (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky) from N.K. Jemisin.

Couldn't agree more. Wandering earth (short stories) again by Liu Cixin is also amazing.

Blindsight is also worth a shot!

I finished these a few days ago and they keep coming back in my thoughts and make me consider things from new perspectives.

I also really liked Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series, particularly the first, Ancillary Justice.

Seconded. Really remarkable series. Jemisin has a refreshingly unique perspective and voice.

The Aeon 14 novels following Tanis Richards[1] have been a consistently good read. The Intrepid Saga and The Orion War series. Haven't ventured into the other offshoots as yet.

The Dome Trilogy[2] was also pretty good, as are the Rho Agenda series[3][4][5].

The Bobiverse trilogy[6] (We Are Legion (We Are Bob)) I was a bit dubious about when I started, but ended up enjoying immensly.

The Wrong Unit[7] wasn't a bad little humorous tale.

[1] https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/6426890.M_D_Cooper

[2] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25501349-unexpected-rain

[3] https://www.goodreads.com/series/61746-the-rho-agenda

[4] https://www.goodreads.com/series/142618-the-rho-agenda-incep...

[5] https://www.goodreads.com/series/175066-rho-agenda-assimilat...

[6] https://www.goodreads.com/series/192752-bobiverse

[7] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30959279-the-wrong-unit

The premise of "We Are Legion (We Are Bob)" is strikingly similar to Larry Niven's short story "Rammer" - down to the somewhat unusual terms "corpsicle" and "State". Revived, no rights (though in a wiped body; and intersteller terraforming).

Hopefully, a homage, flagging some inspiration/similarity with Niven?

Bob: http://dennisetaylor.org/legion/

Rammer: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/452990.Rammer

EDIT: he does seem to be a fan: first Bobiverse book. Chapter 14 intro... Lawrence Vienn is a tuckerization of Larry Niven. http://dennisetaylor.org/about/

I second the Bob suggestion. Thought it could to be to silly at first but it's really well rounded.

Not really Vinge/Niven style, but Weir's new one Artemis was a fun read. Also, Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2140 was a lighthearted and somewhat optimistic take on humans who have coped with the inevitability of climate change.

Lighthearted, but cynical all the same. Excellent read, 2140; I highly recommend it!

Ninefox Gambit / Raven Strategem were great, my favorite military sci-fi since Old Man's War.

The Red Trilogy is very good military sci-fi as well. I may have accidentally consumed the entire thing in a week.

The Terra Ignota series (Too Like the Lightning / Seven Surrenders, and Will to Battle which came out last year).

Not only is it very different in tone/style from most traditional SF I've read, it also doesn't restrict itself to just tech/physical science - it explores social and political science what-ifs too.

I'd be hard pressed to name any other book I've read in the last year (or more) that's had me pause so often just to think on the ideas presented.

Absolutely loved this book, though I thought the best parts of it were the influx of ideas and worldbuilding in the first 3/4ths of Too Like the Lightning. The last quarter seemed to rush to tie together the threads laid down and I felt that carried over into Seven Surrenders.

Of course I think my approach to reading it also changed as I was eagerly awaiting that resolution. Haven't picked up Will to Battle yet, but very excited for it.

I felt that Will to Battle improved over the middle book, although I liked all three regardless.

Dichronauts by Greg Egan (adventures in non-Euclidean space)

Provenance by Ann Leckie (space opera)

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland (similar themes to Anathem)

Dichronauts, biggest mindfuck of 2017 for sure! (it's highly recommended, just keep pen and paper ready to grok all the non-euclidian shenanigans)

> Provenance by Ann Leckie

I really really wanted to like this, but I just couldn't. Not my style unfortunately, but everyone keeps suggesting it so it's likely me that's the problem.

I liked how it drilled deep into themes that were important to the cultures in the story, which were very human cultures but not any specific Earth cultures. It was a glimpse into a small part of a large, coherent world.

But you have to like the characters or you can't get anywhere. People have described Stephen Baxter novels in similar ways, but I can't stand any of the characters.

That's interesting, I love Baxter's works and characters but finishing Ancillary's first book took me months and was painful. I liked the universe and the themes so I ended up reading the wikipedia summaries of the rest of the serie.

It just came to my mind that I like the manifold trilogy way more than the xelee cycle though.

The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley had some crazy ideas, but lacked some depth I was hoping for.

Nine Fox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee was also pretty good—had a rough start but ended well.

Collapsing Empire by Scalzi was quite solid and well paced.

Of books not released in 2017, I read The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi—it probably had the most 'new' sci-fi ideas out of the books I read this year, which made it both a bit of a challenge and interesting read.

Don't know about year of release, but these are sci-fi books I enjoyed reading this year...

The book of strange new things (Michel Faber). This isn't typical sci-fi, it's hard to describe. It's quite slow paced. I can't really talk about it without spoiling it. I really felt impacted by it though, I think the book has a deeper philosophy that isn't really mentioned but requires thinking about the meaning. I thoroughly recommended it if you are willing to be thoughtful about a book and not just after laser and space battles. Another book by the same author (under the skin) is also good, and has been turned into a very weird film with Scarlet Johansson.

Other good more conventional sci-fi stuff...

Extracted series (R.R. Haywood) Not alone (Craig a. Falconer) Themys files series (sylvain neuvel) We are legion series (Dennis E. Taylor)

weird question - is there any scifi around finance ? Cryptocurrency, etc. I feel it is weird that almost every piece of tech has had a scifi runway leading to it (VR, AI, robots, clean energy, etc)... but not finance.

Maybe I'm missing something

You might want to check out Accelerando by Charles Stross. It predates Bitcoin and the subsequent explosion of cryptocurrencies, but it touches on some similar ideas, e.g. quasi-artificially-intelligent autonomous corporations.


“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that every interstellar colony in search of good fortune must be in need of a banker”. Neptune’s Brood also by Charles Stross has slow money transferred between two star systems requiring authentication from a third system. The plot is what happens when a transaction has not been completed. Also robots. And pirates.

It’s not exactly crypto currency as we know it, but Charles Stross’s “Neptune’s Brood”[0] spends a lot of time discussing the challenges of interstellar finance.


[0] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15985402-neptune-s-brood

Definitely the geekiest finance/sci-fi book out there.

bought! thanks for that.

Manu Saadia's Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek is kinda the reverse: it is an examination of Star Trek's post-scarcity economy, how matter replicators change everything, and what people do with their free time when they don't have to work. Here is a transcript from an NPR interview with Paul Krugman about Saadia's book:


New York 2140 has a strong financial plotline. Plus it's a great book, loved it.


Seconded. Hilarious, poignant, and just all around weird. KSR does it again :)

Cryptonomicon is probably what you're looking for.

I think the classic in this from is "cryptonomicon" by neal stephenson. This got me thinking about the implications of secure anonymous transactions years ago, well before any general public knowlegde of blockchain/bitcoin type concepts.

What is the role goverment is they can't tax people/companies? How does a government fulfill that role if they can't raise money?

This is definitely one of my favorite books.

mine too - but not finance. Its more general crypto, etc.

True. REAMDE (same author) is more on the nose, but I also didn't enjoy it as much as a book. Really, Neal Stephenson just doesn't do books with only one major focus.

Hostile Takover by Susan Shwartz. Not sure it's exactly what you're thinking of, but worth reading - written by someone who is a bona fide finance person as well an SF author.

Rainbow’s End has a bunch of crypto-ish stuff in it, as do the books from Hannu Rajaniemj

thanks for Hannu Rajaniemj - it sounds fascinating. Bought!

Again - not crypto in general, but financial stuff. that's what i dont see written.

There's Daemon by Daniel Suarez that I think directly inspired the DAO.

Not recent, but Norstilia by Cordwainer Smith is a classic.

Not really 2017, but Iron Gold comes out in four days.

It's the follow up to the Red Rising series, a Roman dystopian on Mars type story, which I highly recommend.

I didn't think a question like this would get any attention on HN let alone hit the front page! :)

Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi was one of my favourites last year

Not sure whether you're asking for scifi published in 2017 or scifi we enjoyed in 2017.

Here is the scifi I enjoyed in 2017 (via audible)

- We are Legion (bob) trilogy About AI, space and Von Neumann machines http://dennisetaylor.org/legion/

- Ready Player One About life later in this century. Lots of VR and references to nostalgia from the 80s and beyond

Yeah, both these books are very fun, with enough hard science to be believable, but still very accessible. My only disappointment with the Bob books was that they ended.

"Ready Player One" was full of naked eighties nostalgia fan service, but that suits me just fine. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Wil Wheaton (speaking of eighties nostalgia...), and he's a great reader who brought real enthusiasm to his reading. Given that Spielberg is at the helm, the movie should be awesome.

"Dark Matter" by Blake Crouch is an excellent read that has a lot of twists and turns. It's quite dark in places.

"We Are Legion" by Dennis Taylor is a very light hearted and easy to read.

"The Collapsing Empire" by John Scalzi is a space opera that I quite enjoyed.

I'm reading "Surface Details" by Iain M Banks, love the Culture series !

Fantasy, but you’re missing out if you don’t read City of Stairs. Great thriller.

Iphuck 10 by Victor Pelevin, about AI detective working in the art industry

I was expecting movies and shows... How about those though?

If these count, I enjoyed:

- The Expanse (season 2)

- Sense8 (season 2)

- Alien Covenant

Well, The Expanse books certainly count and there's a bunch of them!


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