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I mainly read SF to relax (biased towards hard space opera) and have accumulated a "best of the best" list of my own:

Leviathan Wakes - James S. A. Corey (TV show The Expanse is loosely based on this, but IMO doesn't even come close)

Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds

Three Body Problem (all 3 books) - Liu Cixin

Consider Phlebas - Iain M. Banks (your gateway drug into the Culture universe)

Genuinely wish I could experience all the above for the first time again. And looking forward to checking out some of the others mentioned here.




> Three Body Problem (all 3 books) - Liu Cixin

These are great and helped me re-discover my love of sci-fi from when I was a kid, they are often recommended in these HN book threads. I just ordered the other 3 books that you mentioned so thanks for the recommendations!


TBP is probably the worst sci-fi book I've ever read. It's hard to say how much one should blame Cixin vs. the translator regarding the inept, wooden dialogue, but we can certainly blame Cixin for terrible character development and absurd plot points.


Well, there's no accounting for taste I suppose - needless to say I disagree, but if it wasn't for you, so be it. I do note the books seem a little divisive; people either love them or hate them, much like Stephenson.

I do understand how some people might find the dialogue somewhat strange, especially if they haven't had much exposure to foreign media before. The translator always has a choice as to how much they "westernize" the dialogue. This translator did indeed try to keep as much of the Chinese "tone" in there as he could, and as such if you were expecting totally normal English, I can see how you'd be disappointed.

So yes, anyone thinking about picking this up should be aware - it doesn't read like a Tom Clancy novel. If that doesn't scare you off, though, I think you'll find it most rewarding.


My specific complaint with the dialogue is that nearly every character talks in the same way: robotic and professorial. It's a symptom of Liu's poor character design, especially when it comes to female characters. His characters' motivations are often opaque so their actions are inexplicable.

I could forgive this (even Arthur C. Clarke wasn't much interested in characters) if it wasn't for some of the laughably absurd plot points the novel hinges on.


This way of speaking is believable for Chinese scientists and militaries. The cop had a very different tone.


I agree that TBP is overated and is also poorly translated. I could not bring myself to read the next two books.


I’ve read all of them. You won’t be disappointed.

I’d start Alistair Reynold’s stuff off with ‘House of Suns’ though. It’s a standalone, but it’s one of his best works IMO. Then go ahead and devour the ‘Revelation Space’ series.


Huh, haven't actually read "House of Suns"! Guess I know what's next on my list, thanks!


If you bounce off of Consider Phlebas, try Player of Games. I think it's an easier place to start the Culture novels.


Agree with this. Consider Phlebas took me a few tries to get into, ‘Player of Games’ was just easy.

Couple chapters into ‘Use of Weapons’ but haven’t been reading much lately due to life.


OP asked for one book. Help us decide?




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