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Reading Room

Your quiet and comfy lounge to pick up a great book and discuss sci-fi literature.

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Old Sep 26, 2006, 07:39 PM   #1
mightymem
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Books that had the largest impact on you

For me this has to be Dune, i read it while at university and it changed my whole perception of novels. I started to search for books after which were high on concepts and ideas. Dune is a classic novel but not only is is enjoyable it has a message. The message in its simplest form is about power corrupting and how religion can encourge fanaticism. There are many more ideas. But after this book I started searching for more classic sci fiction and since then have increased my reading habit, so know for your turn anyone else read a book that changed there life ?
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Old Sep 26, 2006, 10:27 PM   #2
mack
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

shall I be cliche in my reply?

Ok, I wont. Dune is a great choice - definitely a book that got me thinking in a new way. But to say a book "changed my life"? Well. I'd have to say it was Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death. Why? because when I was a child my mother took picture books away from me and told me it was time to graduate to "books without pictures." I was sad and distressed. Then she handed me this book, and after I got over my initial anger and read it - I never once looked back to picture books!
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Old Sep 27, 2006, 06:40 AM   #3
Splendiferous
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

Douglas Adams' Life The Universe And Everything. Yes, the third in the Hitchhiker's Guide series. I had been going through my mum's books and found this one, the only one in the series that she had left. I'd been a reader of SF since I was even younger (I must have been about 11 or 12 at the time), but it had never occured to me that it could be funny. Hilarious, even. And what with it being the third in the series, there was a puzzle to figure out - what on earth was going on? Who were these people? Why did one of them seem to have two heads but everyone else seemed normal? Was it to do with his fantastically silly name? Speaking of names, why was one guy named after an obscure car? And what the hell did petunias have to do with anything??

It became a mission of mine to track the rest of these down, and so began the development of my sense of humour. I dread to think what my sense of humour was before the books (or BDNA ). I probably sounded like Mr. Spock
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Old Sep 27, 2006, 07:37 AM   #4
Nexus
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

Same as Splend, except I started with the first in the series.
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Old Sep 27, 2006, 07:42 AM   #5
Splendiferous
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

Which I assume makes the story make SO much more sense
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Old Sep 27, 2006, 05:08 PM   #6
mightymem
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

Well to be honest, when I was young I used to read larges amounts of Roald Dahl, enid Blyton and teenage horror books. The first adult books i read was horror and Terry Pratchett. Although I did not understand his hidden jokes. My first adult book I understood was Tom Clancys Op centre series. The author which had the largest impact may of actual been Guy Kavial Kays Fionavar Tapestry series. Then my taste changed slightyly. Though Dune was also another turning point. I always have wanted to read Hitchhikers guild to the galaxy, are the books humour similar to Terry Prachetts Discworld novels ?
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Old Sep 28, 2006, 02:47 AM   #7
toomuchcoffee
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

I remember reading The Lord of the Rings and being attached to those books in way that I hadn't been attached to a book before. I had the sense that I was reading an actual history and I couldn't put them down for some reason. Tolkien isn't really read for his writing, but I didn't know that at the time and I think the detail of the world he created, and the writing as well, seemed superior to anything I had read before. When I was done, my friends tried to get me to read the Dragonlance books, but I just couldn't. They just felt really inferior and written by a lesser mind. I was probably being too harsh, but they were just too easy to read and I didn't like that.

Dracula was another one. After reading that, I wanted to travel and write dramatic things in a journal. I couldn't travel so I wrote in a journal about what was happening at school. I even adopted a victorian writing style, not knowing that people don't write like that anymore.

The Mysterious Stranger and Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain also were favorites that I encountered and loved when I was young. I had just read Chariots of the Gods and even though I wasn't won over by the idea that ancient gods were actually an alien species, I started to think, hey, maybe there's another history of occurrences that influenced the writing of the bible, and maybe these occurrences were only interpreted as being influenced by gods because the writers and scholars of the time didn't have any other way of interpreting the natural world.

So, after I read The Mysterious Stranger and Letters from the Earth I was really shocked by Twain's cynical perspective on religion and I was tearing my hair out with this new revelation of doubt and cynicism. I was in eighth grade at the time and told everybody that I was an atheist and everybody thought I was nuts. I wasn't oppressed or anything, but at that age and time, I think most people took their christian up-bringing as something that no one would ever find a reason to doubt. I wouldn't mind going back to read Twain again, actually. I remember Hemingway saying that American fiction begins with Huckleberry Finn, which needs to be read knowing that the ending has to be mentally discarded as it was written in a hurry apparently and just sort of tacked on to get the book published within a time constraint.

Last edited by toomuchcoffee : Oct 3, 2006 at 08:04 PM.
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Old Sep 28, 2006, 07:40 PM   #8
mightymem
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

wow you have good writing talent and are obviously well read toomuchcoffee, I loved the Lord of the rings movies but have not got round to reading the books yet, I actually got into Dune at the same time the LOR movies were coming out. Because i was studying sociologly at uni I felt like Dune was also a message todo with socioty. The only authors I have read that have such strong convictions and ideas have been HG Wells, Frank herbert and Robert Heinlein. Sci fiction is one of the few genres that I know that has been used as a diving board for Philosophical ideas, ideas about religion, government even the ideas of individual liberty. I have learnt much froms these authors and although I do not agree with every they say I have formed my ideas by reading and learning and trying to be as far sited as possible, without having my head too much in the clouds.
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Old Sep 29, 2006, 06:56 AM   #9
Jove
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

Stig of the Dump.
It was the first book I really remember having read. Everything before that book was just reading the words one after another - without every really reading the book.

Lord of the Rings was the biggest thing, though. Awe-inspiring in scope and grandeur, and finally a SF/Fantasy book that was acceptable to teachers. As TMC said, it wasn't so much the writing - and in fact the book is rather tedious in places, not to mention Tolkein's utter inability to build a decent climax (note how Fellowship ends just before Boromir is killed? The film trilogy is far better paced and structured per book).

More recent books...
Legend by David Gemmell - probably the finest book of his that I've read, although probably more due to life-situations when I read it rather than being a great book. It's good heroic-fantasy stuff, dealing primarily with a "hero" at the end of his life - when he's not quite so quick anymore, but deals with how inspiring a known hero can be in bleak situations, and also how "good" and "bad" are generally relative, with vast swathes of grey in between.

And then there's Ian Banks' "Use of Weapons". If you're going to read any of his - read this! Totally changed my view of how seriously intelligent sci-fi could be. Up to that point the majority of what I had read had been the uplifting variety - where you generally knew the outcome in advance, and it was the journey that was enjoyable.
Not this one.
The journey is great - the story superb - the storytelling top-rate and the overall impact second to none.
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Old Sep 30, 2006, 07:13 PM   #10
mightymem
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

I going to read Ian Banks science fictions novels, i have read his novel Walking on Glass which is really weird and usually. The book had three unrelated charcters whose paths were suppose to meet. Ian Banks does not give the message easily, he makes you think hard before you can figure out what he has to say. Although Walking on Glass has not had a huge impact the time I read it was quite stressful so I remember the book very well.
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Old Oct 6, 2006, 08:58 AM   #11
HighWiredSith
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

The Chronicles of Narnia - only read them once but blazed through them around age 7, recall reading the entire series in less than two months before moving onto The Hobbit - this of course led to my next entry...

The Lord of the Rings - Tackled these monterous books at around age 8. Took me a full two years of off and on reading to make it to the end at which point I immediately started over with The Hobbit and completed the trilogy about nine months later. Hands down the most influential book in my life as it inevitabely led to my lifelong love of fantasy.

The Foundation Series - After living through the cultural experience of Star Wars my reading fancies turned from fantasy/adventure to SciFi. My first real SF reading experience was Isaac Asimov. Foundation and Founation and Empire were tough reads at 8 years old mainly because the stories were so loosely connected. By the time I worked my way through Secound Foundation I was primed for what remains my all time favorite Asimov novel - Foundation's Edge.

Dune - first really "adult" SciFi - completed at age 12, level of understanding around 15%. Re-read around age 19, enjoyed much, much more, level of understanding around 50%. Have since read Dune at least four times.

The Martian Chronicles - developed my continued loved of Golden Era Science Fiction, films and literature. Pre-technobabble masterpiece of very telling short stories set on the planet Mars.

A Wizard of Earthsea - important because Ursula K. Leguin was the first female author I ever really enjoyed and I enjoyed not only her Earthsea books but her SciFi books immensely.

Imzadi - Cheesy to the extreme but still my favorite Trek novel. Am an unashamed Trek junkie, especially the pulp book series'.
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Old Oct 6, 2006, 12:45 PM   #12
Jove
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

Ah yes - just remembered an utterly fantastic book that really opened my eyes when I was younger - for the dual reason of the actual story but also in the fact that my reaction was shared by so many other like-minded people. Before then I had often thought that maybe my liking of SF & F was "odd". At school it certainly put me in a minority, especially my willingness to own up to it.
The book in question?

ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card

'nuff said, I hope.
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Old Oct 6, 2006, 02:23 PM   #13
lost
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

Garfield. Best books ever and most certainly changed my life. I used to eat and sleep all day, and feel terrible about it, then along came Garfield and changed everything. Now, i eat and sleep all day, and have no guilt at all.

On a serious note, Ender's Game was a spectacular book for a young mind to read, I never realized it was written in the 70s, it was so vivid and tangible, everything in it felt like the genuine future of the world. The follow ups were a little too grown up for me at the time, and by the time i got hold of the Enders Shadow series I think I was a little too old for the whole kiddies in space concept.

Another book that completely changed my thinking, not about the world, but about how words could have meanings beyond the obvious, narrative reading of them, was 1984 (and on a non sci fi level Animal Farm). Brilliantly written, a grim look at the world, set in the future but clearly commenting on the world of today ( or should that be yesterday).

A book I always found to be a disappointment was 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley. I know it was written even before the time of pulp sci fi, but it felt so bland, and the settings were so unrealistic (to me at least) that it has never been a book that I would care to revisit, which is a pity as it is supposed to be such a fantastic book.
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Old Oct 11, 2006, 06:43 PM   #14
mack
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

Quote:
Originally Posted by toomuchcoffee
I remember reading The Lord of the Rings and being attached to those books in way that I hadn't been attached to a book before. I had the sense that I was reading an actual history and I couldn't put them down for some reason. Tolkien isn't really read for his writing, but I didn't know that at the time and I think the detail of the world he created, and the writing as well, seemed superior to anything I had read before. When I was done, my friends tried to get me to read the Dragonlance books, but I just couldn't. They just felt really inferior and written by a lesser mind. I was probably being too harsh, but they were just too easy to read and I didn't like that.

This is how Dune made me feel back in the day, and really it was a catalyst series that vaunted me out of the juvenile section into the adult section, though I have yet to find a writer quite like Herbert (not even his son attains unto his excellent writing skill).

The Lord of the Rings series didnt have that effect on me for some reason, and I ended up giving up after trudging valiantly through the 1st and 2nd book. It became a pattern with me with all writers who spend an inordinate amount of time detailing the "landscape."

Now - detailing the technical climate? detailing the political climate? detailing the scientific/militaristic theory and or battleground? Im sold on it. For some odd reason, while anthropology interests me in "viewing," Im less concerned about it when "reading."

And so, I find mysef wondering if we're not split into readers who are seduced by graphic and detailed descriptions of flora/fauna/species interworkings, and readers who are seduced by graphic and detailed descriptions of social machines/political-socioeconomic climates/religious and-or military theory. This is not well stated, but I hope you get my point, and Im sure there is an overlap between the two.

its very odd to me that I gravitate toward technical books/subjects as opposed to the accepted "epic adventure" type books - Im the least technical person I know, and absolutely shunned science/chemistry/biology in school for the "arts." (a bad financial decision for woman - a piece of advice, if you're a girl who wants to make a LOT of money - struggle through a science major if you must: you will highly coveted, and highly paid).

Bottom line? When David Weber goes off into explaining the innerworkings of an alien society, or flora/fauna on X planet? I'm tempted to skip those parts, and get back to the big picture (i.e. why we are on the planet in the first place, who put us here, how we are going to get out, and who is going to pay for it).

What you read tells a lot about you as a person, dont you think?
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Old Oct 15, 2006, 05:19 AM   #15
merlin
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Re: Books that had the largest impact on you

The Hobbit: Much better than the mammoth LOTR (dare I say that?) I read it in Junior School and I still remember imagining Bilbo tricking Gollum in the caves.

2061: The first real Sci-Fi book I read and it made me read the whole series.

The Ghost From The Grand Banks: Arthur C Clarkes tale of trying to raise the Titanic.
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