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Decent Book Clubs for Sci-Fi Fans? 406

Posted by Soulskill
from the signal-to-noise dept.
willyhill writes "I'm a Sci-Fi and Fantasy book nut, but in the last few years I've found it more and more difficult to find the time to read. Contrary to what most people would think, I actually have a hard time finding books, rather than cuddling up with them. In reality, I don't have time to mess around at my local Barnes & Noble and browse books, and I find it dicey and expensive to do the same at Amazon or other online retailers. I was looking at a magazine the other day and I found an advert for the Science Fiction Book Club. While my experience with CD clubs and the like in the past has not been entirely positive, I was prepared to give it a shot given the fact that it would be less expensive than Amazon in the long run. The problem was that their selection is not exactly grand. Having read the Simmons Hyperion Cantos, for example, I was ready to give Ilium a go, but I could only find its sequel. How do other readers get their hands on Sci-Fi books? I tried Googling for book clubs and the like, but there's too much static out there, mostly caused by Oprah. Any suggestions would be appreciated!"
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Decent Book Clubs for Sci-Fi Fans?

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  • The library. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:28AM (#23430606)
    Check your city library. I know, it's not as fancy as a book club or a CD, but that's where most people used to go to find books.
    • Re:The library. (Score:5, Informative)

      by montyzooooma (853414) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:37AM (#23430668)
      I'd second (or third) the library idea and join a SF community forum to ask for book recommendations (eg http://www.sf-fandom.com/ [sf-fandom.com] ).
      • by maceilean (892229) on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:20AM (#23431228)
        The only problem I have with libraries is that they expect you to actually RETURN the books.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kalirion (728907)
          Unless you do what I do and buy books at library sales. At $0.50 a title, you can afford to take a risk on an unfamiliar author/novel and don't feel bad if you don't like it and stop reading after a chapter or two.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Not always - I don't know about your local library, but here they have a monthly book sale at the main city library. They sell off surplus copies of titles they already have at ridiculously cheap prices - I picked up Asimov's collected Foundation Series for something like $1.50 - hardback, dust jacket and everything.

          Sure, some are in horrible shape, but for $0.75 to $2.00 you can't really complain. I've found some remarkable (to me) treasures - old Time-Life publications like "Great Ages of Man" and su
      • Re:The library. (Score:5, Informative)

        by h4rm0ny (722443) on Friday May 16, 2008 @08:17AM (#23431598) Journal

        Or you could subscribe to a Science Fiction magazine. They usually have good review sections as well as some good short sci fi for the busy reader. My personal recommendation is Interzone magazine [ttapress.com]. It's pretty good, British but I think you can get it everywhere and it also has the best film reviews I've ever read (albeit always arriving long after I've seen the film). Definitely worth it for people who don't have the time to work their way through a bookshop looking for the occasional good sci fi.
    • by rootrot (103518) on Friday May 16, 2008 @09:56AM (#23432592)
      One alternative is to work with a good book dealer to build whatever sort of collection you might be interested in creating. Most of my business is in collection/library development, most often for people in the situation you describe...people who love books, want to read what comes into their collection, but lack the time to properly track down material.

      Several of my favorite clients are on personal "book of the month club" programs, where I send them a random book within their interest area(s) each month. Thus far, I've never had anyone complain about a choice.

      I strongly encourage you to find a good book dealer and have a chat. In the alternative, drop me a line *g*...my personal collecting is in hard spec. fiction and cryptography.

      Good luck. .ijk
      --
      Ian J. Kahn
      Lux Mentis, Booksellers
      Antiquarian & Fine First Editions
      211 Marginal Way, #777
      Portland, ME, 04101
      http://www.luxmentis.com/ [luxmentis.com]
      Member ABAA/ILAB

      p.s. You should also check out the SF comm. at www.librarything.com.
      • by pretygrrl (465212) on Friday May 16, 2008 @10:13AM (#23432856) Journal

        p.s. You should also check out the SF comm. at www.librarything.com.
        I was about to write that, but here it is already!
        I agree, of the many websites that organize/recommend content, I think the librarything.com does a great, great job! excellent use of tags, you can input several of your favourite titles and see who else picked them and what their OTHER favourite titles are. I personally am not into fantasy, more sci fi, but thelibrarything.com helped me discover asher, and also Ian Banks.
        enjoy!
  • yahoo, orkut (Score:3, Informative)

    by William Robinson (875390) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:29AM (#23430616)
    Dunno whether it is useful or not, why not join some online groups (yahoo?) or some special communities in Orkut? Orkut there is a community for Sci-Fi book club http://www.orkut.com/Community.aspx?cmm=34191 [orkut.com]

    Orkut has recently added some features related to reviews on books and you could find some leads.

    BTW, FP?

  • by thermian (1267986) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:32AM (#23430630)
    I'd recommend Audible.

    They have a decent selection of SF books (including some first rate cast based unabridged versions of the Dune books that I'm currently enjoying).

    I've been using it for about eight months, and I like it.

    Also, they let you convert the books to mp3. It's a bit long winded, you have to export to cd/virtual cd using a version of nero they supply, then convert them. I use mediamonkey to do that, then mp3 tag tools to sort out the tags/rename the files.

    Or you can leave them as .aa files.
  • Library (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SomethingOrOther (521702) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:32AM (#23430636) Homepage

    Join a bloody library!
    Most (free!) librarys have a decent SF section and will cary SF periodicals if you ask nicely.
    Lots of fellow geeks will be hovering around the Fantesy/SF section also, so you can meet a few people.

    It isn't rocket science dude.

    • I second this comment... Get a library card!

          The library I live near has something on the order of 10,000 SF books in their collection and is always adding them. Not to mention any book they don't have, but is located at some other library, I can request and get in under a week.

      Also, the library system I use has a rating/commenting system that I've found very helpful. In general, you don't have to worry about astroturfing and the like.
    • Re:Library (Score:5, Informative)

      by yog (19073) * on Friday May 16, 2008 @09:28AM (#23432232) Homepage Journal
      Libraries are good. Also, used bookstores, the kind where they can afford to stuff the stacks with old books, not just the selective boutiques that need to pay high rents and wages and can't afford to have lots of stuff. I found about 20 old Clifford Simak novels in the basement of this wonderful old (and now closed) used bookstore in Arlington, Mass. Classic and great stuff, cheap, and out of print.

      Also, join forces with a fellow science fiction lover. Reviews and fancy cover art are no substitute for the impressions you can get from a trusted friend. A buddy and I used to trade books and it was so wonderful to discuss the stories, their strengths and weaknesses, the author's visions and values.

      I think what the OP wants is something along the lines of the Quality Paperback Book Club, which I used to belong to many years ago. They attempted to live up to their name by vetting the books and providing sophisticated reviews, and the books were pretty good, but after a while it got tedious sending the stupid form back every two weeks. New bookstores that have decent sci-fi collections are pretty good, too; you can browse the books before buying.

      One problem is that books are becoming a niche item in the U.S. (don't know about Europe). People read on the Web, or watch multimedia/video/TV, and the reading of old fashioned books is getting to be almost a lost art form. Bookstores are dropping away, and browsing at Amazon.com is just not the same. Anyway, I'm glad when someone asks this kind of question because occasionally you can get some useful information. Not that I have enough time to read... :(
  • Hugo Awards (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Misanthrope (49269) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:34AM (#23430648)
    This might seem obvious, but the yearly Hugo awards usually give a good selection of new books. Even the runners up are usually worthwhile.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by halifamous (1142139)
      I wanted to agree with you, but after checking their list of winners I found they completely missed some of the best books from the last five years: Oryx and Crake, by M Atwood; Never Let Me Go, by K Ishiguro; The Time Traveler's Wife, A Niffenegger; The Book of Dave, by W Self. The Book of Dave is only tangentially sci-fi, I admit. The Nebula Awards overlooked these, too.

      I recognize that these are not hard sci-fi/tech driven stories, of course, so I think I want to restate the question: Where do you fin

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)
        Where do you find good sci-fi that's also a good book?

        Kurt Vonnegut. [amazon.com] *
      • SF vs non-SF writers (Score:3, Interesting)

        by geek2k5 (882748)

        If M Atwood is Margaret Atwood, then many people wouldn't consider her to be a science fiction writer.

        Of course, some people who write 'speculative fiction', like Atwood, don't want to be called SF writers because the public would reject them. Their books meet the criteria of SF, whether it be science fiction or speculative fiction, but they stay clear of the genre because of the 'taint'.

        When you get down to it, there are a number of very popular writers, like Tom Clancy, that write SF involving technolo

    • by zoward (188110) <email.me.at.zoward.at.gmail.com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:32AM (#23431288) Homepage
      The Hugos [wsfs.org] are voted on by SF readers. The Nebulas [sfwa.org] are voted by SF authors. Occasionally the same title will win both honors.
    • This might seem obvious, but the yearly Hugo awards usually give a good selection of new books. Even the runners up are usually worthwhile.
      This worked for me the last time. Same goes for the Nebula award.
    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday May 16, 2008 @09:17AM (#23432110)
      Of course, it depends largely on the kind of science fiction you like ("hard" vs. "soft," literary vs. pulp, etc.) but, as a big fan of serious science fiction (no pulp or Star Trek books for me, thanks), I've found that the best place to start is Gardner Dozois's Year's Best Science Fiction [amazon.com] anthology. First of all, if will give you some great reading itself. But, more importantly, it will give you a great introductory essay on some of the year's best science fiction novels, and a great list of quality authors to look for (if you like their short story).

      I've been a long-time science fiction fan and this has been THE book for me each year, in filtering out the diamonds from the shit.

  • Very vague terms (Score:4, Informative)

    by IICV (652597) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:35AM (#23430652)
    I looked through the website, and they're very, very vague about what you really have to pay. For one thing, it's 5 books for a dollar each (and one free), but you also pay $13.70 in S&H. That's a pretty good price for six hardcover books, but then you're committed to buying four books from them - and it seems like the books they have mostly aren't new. I tried looking some of them up on Amazon for comparison with their "member prices", but most of the ones I chose apparently weren't for sale any more - except Spook Country, which I knew was new. It's about a dollar more expensive there. The one thing I can't seem to find without becoming a member is the S&H on the further books you purchase. I wouldn't be surprised if that's a ripoff. Anyway, it seems like their strategy is to get various interesting-sounding novels for cheap when they stop selling well, and then seed somewhat slightly more popular books in to that.
    • The original post looks a bit like a stealth ad for the SF Book club TBH. And Ilium isn't exactly hard to find.
      http://www.amazon.com/Ilium-Dan-Simmons/dp/0380817926/
    • by dubl-u (51156) *
      Go with a specialist sci-fi bookstore. I use Borderlands Books [borderlands-books.com]. I just walk in and ask them what's good; after some discussion over my particular standards of good, they'll happily drag me to some favorite they have. They are awesome.

      Even if you're not in the area, that's fine; they have a newsletter, and do mail order. And I'm sure that you could call them up, give them a credit card number, and just ask them to ship you a good book every month. Or if you can find a bookstore in your area like that, try th
  • Personally, i think the quality of sci fi works has declined rather steeply in the past 20 years. My guess is this has a lot to do with the rise of multiplayer video games and the like. Alternately, it could just be me getting old.

    I'd recommend going to a good used book store and looking for some older titles. Should be cheaper, and you'll probably find better quality too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by StarvingSE (875139)
      Just go for the classics...Philip K. Dick, Issac Asimov, etc.

      I know it's in the fantasy genre, but A Song of Ice and Fire has been holding my interests for a while.
      • I know it's in the fantasy genre, but A Song of Ice and Fire has been holding my interests for a while.
        I love the books myself, but he's taking way too damn long on the 5th one...
    • Happened to me, too. The whole cyberpunk thing, mostly, passed me by. Mona Lisa Overdrive, The Difference Engine, and Snow Crash were the only ones in that genre that I liked, and I haven't reread them in years.

      Cryptonomicron is a great book, until the last 10 pages or so. Is that cyberpunk?

    • by Lord Apathy (584315) on Friday May 16, 2008 @08:17AM (#23431600)

      I think I'm going to have to disagree with you on this. The quality of some authors has declined as they got older. If I see one more Ender book I think I'll barf. I'll give you that the quality of Star Trek and Star Wars books has gone down in the last few years. There are some really good authors out there that don't have name recognition though. I just finished John Scalzi Old Man's War and found it to be great. Never heard of him before.

      Now here is a strange place to find book recommendations but I Wikipedia. If you type in a few key words you can usually find a list of books and subjects that you are interested in. Then you can look them up on Amazon. Strange but it works for me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rjstanford (69735)
        As long as we're tossing recommendations out there, how about Cherryh? She often seems to get overlooked in these kind of lists, but has a pretty solid writing style and, more to the point, wonderful characterization while maintaining the first rule of sci-fi - pick a universe with rules, and stick to them.

        Actually, even though its heavier on elves (not the kind you're thinking of) than spaceships (although its had a couple of those too), the Discworld series by Pratchett is far closer to sci-fi than fanta
  • google minus oprah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sonamchauhan (587356) <sonamcNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:41AM (#23430690) Journal
    > too much static out there, mostly caused by Oprah.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=book+club+-oprah [google.com]
  • by tcdk (173945) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:50AM (#23430744) Homepage Journal
    Firstly, let me warn you about the Illum books. The first one is okay, but the last one is really bad. Simmons gets lost in the quantum magic of the story and never really finds his way back again...

    I can't tell you about SFBC as they don't do the rest of the world outside of the US...

    Amazons recommendation system seems to work okay.

    Looking at who wins the Hugo or Nebula, can work, but should be taken without a grain of salt.

    Forums and news groups like rec.arts.sf.written can be a really good source of inspiration, but can consume so much time that you will not have time to read books.

    But if you are ready for something different I'll recommend you the "new" wave of authors from Britain. People like Charles Stross (he has a few free e-books out), Peter F. Hamilton (Nights Dawns trilogy is not a good place to start), Ken MacLeod.

    Read up on them on wikipedia.
  • No Time? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vectronic (1221470) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:52AM (#23430754)
    "I don't have time to mess around at my local Barnes & Noble and browse books..."

    I suggest you re-prioritize your life if your life doesnt allow an hour or so spent in a bookstore, then worry about finding books.
    • Re:No Time? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jdawgnoonan (718294) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:30AM (#23430986)
      I was going to comment about that same line: "I don't have time to mess around at my local Barnes & Noble and browse books..." It sounds like you need to fix your life first if you can't make an hour sometime during the course of your week to go to the bookstore. It doesn't take any more time than does Amazon. You have time to read magazines, make time for the bookstore. I also do not understand: "Less expensive than Amazon in the long run." The clubs are only less expensive for a short while. They give you free books and then require that you buy their more expensive and generally cut-rate, cheaply bound editions. Book club books are not built of the same quality as what are at the store and they charge you the same or more. Also, last time that I checked Amazon is pretty cheap. You are a whiner.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      Yup. and if the sticker shock at B&N is what is keeping you away. go to a used book store. there are at least 30 of them in every mid to large town and most better ones will have newer books that are cast off from B&N and Borders and for sale at 50% of the cover price. Honestly if you cant wait a year to read that new book, then you dont have enough books to read. I'm 3 years behind on my reading Que and I consume 1 per month.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by paleo2002 (1079697)

      I actually agree with the OP's feeling about B&N. No matter how gigantic the store is, the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section of the typical B&N consists of a half-dozen shelves off in a corner next to the Teen Readers section. The books are in order by author, rather than genre, which makes it difficult to find a particular type of book if you don't have an author in mind.

      Unless, of course, you're looking for a vampire book or a generic medieval fantasy. Just throw a dart at the shelves and you're likely

  • I have seen some forums where fantasy readers will trade/share their used copies of books (eg, The Dragonlance [dragonlanceforums.com] forums, among others). This could help you track down copies, plus would be another good resource for asking that specific group of fans where to find more of them.

    I have had some luck increasing my fantasy library through used bookstores such as Half Price Books [halfpricebooks.com].
  • Locus Magazine (Score:4, Informative)

    by jhoug (514751) <(John.Houghton) (at) (GMail.com)> on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:01AM (#23430812)
    Locus Magazine [locusmag.com] is a real magazine put together by Science Fiction Fans (notably Charlie Brown who has received many Hugo awards for it). Contains lots of reviews, you'll learn which reviewers have the same taste as you. Yeah, it's not a book club.
    The Young Adult section of the library (don't sneer - the quality of the Science Fiction there is very high) shouldn't be forgotten. Cory's Little Brother [amazon.com] is a must-read, and is a YA novel.
  • Tor Books (Score:5, Informative)

    by bball99 (232214) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:01AM (#23430814)
    Tor regular sends me free SciFi/Fantasy books for free (you have to register but Tor doesn't spam you)...

    kudos to another /. poster for cluing me in on this deal...
  • Marc Andreessen (Score:5, Informative)

    by buccaneer9 (848820) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:02AM (#23430818)
    The best list I've seen in the past year was the one published by Marc Andreessen. I've worked my way through almost all of these now and, aside from one or two clunkers, its a stellar list of books and authors I had not heard of. http://blog.pmarca.com/2007/06/top_10_science_.html [pmarca.com]
  • The ABC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by johannesg (664142) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:02AM (#23430820)
    I visit the American Book Centre in either The Hague or Amsterdam. Either one is a comfortable half hour by train from my house, and it has the widest selection of F&SF books you will encounter anywhere in the world - including the large bookshops in the US.

    Online here: http://www.abc.nl/ [www.abc.nl]

    And before you protest that travelling to the Netherlands might not be any easier or cheaper than joining an online club, you never mentioned what country you were in so I have no reason to assume you are an american ;-)
  • Amazon is expensive? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bashae (1250564)
    Here in Portugal it's next to impossible to find good sci-fi. My local bookstore (which is pretty big) has had practically the same books for years. They're hidden under a shelf, less than 30 books and many are sequels without first volumes. I think I'm one of the few people who ever bought from that shelf. However, fortunately, I can order from Amazon UK. Not only are they cheap (certainly cheaper than local retailers), and have second-hand books for sale, but they're also REALLY fast - books arrive in a
  • by dbcad7 (771464)
    I absolutely hate it that Science Fiction and Fantasy are lumped together.. now although a reader of one or the other may have the imagination to appreciate the other genera why are they so intertwined ?.. You don't find Mysteries and Westerns mixed in the bookstore like Sci-Fi and Fantasy are... They are different things !!!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zoney_ie (740061)
      Perhaps, although there is plenty of "sci-fi" that in reality is just fantasy in a futuristic setting (or galaxy far far away etc.). Probably hard-core sci-fi fans have the most to grumble about. Apart from finding some pure sci-fi tough going, I think the mixed shelving arrangement probably suits fantasy fans.
    • although a reader of one or the other may have the imagination to appreciate the other genera why are they so intertwined

      Because they're pretty close to just being sub-genres of a bigger genre?

      Call it "speculative fiction": fiction set within an reality that has in some small way been altered to be different from the one that we live in.

      Consider also:
      1) The "tech" in sci-fi generally isn't possible. It's essentially magic whose origin is the extrapolation of current technology given a different set of c
      • I don't think that's quite right. Fantasy and Science-Fiction are both speculative fiction, but they take opposite tacks.

        Science Fiction speculates about our world fast-forwarded in time. It (generally) takes our current world as a "seed" and time-lapses it. This also defines its focus, to a large extent - science fiction tends to focus a lot on technological and sociological trends, because they're the ones that can be examined over a long time. It focuses less on individuals because (again, generally) a
    • I absolutely hate it that Science Fiction and Fantasy are lumped together

      I do too, but we seem to be solidly in the minority here. I used to read more SciFi some years ago and I used to talk to co-workers who also were interested in it. I was quite surprised to find out that they saw no difference between SciFi and Fantasy and read both and that I was in the minority to only like SciFi. I have zero interest in Fantasy, but I could name some SciFi authors who I like who write both.

  • Worth a look. Features a group blog by established authors and up-and-comers in the SF field: SF Novelists [sfnovelists.com]. You'll find links to new and previous releases, and the sidebar contains sample chapters and so on.

    (Disclaimer: I'm a member of the group, but firmly in the up-and-coming category. So to speak.)
  • Ask Shashdot! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zwei2stein (782480) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:12AM (#23430864) Homepage
    I think it is obvious. Just make bi-monthly "What new SF/F book do you recommend"

    I am sure a LOT of people would find that useful. (hint: not a sarcasm)

    Tapping large geek pool of shashdot should be enough to get good recommendations.

    Other than that, geeky literature majoring friends are great source of recommendations, i suggest making one!
  • I'm surprised no one has mentioned this. Ask your friends. I have to ward off my friends' unsolicited Sci-Fi recommendations with a hockey stick.

    Also, ask older readers, there are a lot of older books that are very good reads, and will turn up in used bookstores.
  • Mysterious Galaxy (Score:3, Informative)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:16AM (#23430902) Homepage Journal
    I love Mysterious Galaxy (http://mysteriousgalaxy.booksense.com/). The staff there are awesome, and can find books for whatever your personal tastes are.

    They're great people, and I think F&SF specialty stores like that deserve our support.
  • by Two99Point80 (542678) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:23AM (#23430948) Homepage
    My wife works at a county library branch, where the vast majority of donated books are sold very cheaply for fundraising (only a few are suitable for adding to the library's collection). She recently snagged two SF anthologies for a total of forty US cents.
    • Agreed. We buy all of our books at the library. My wife reads 24/7 but I have different tastes and read much less. I hardly ever check out books from the library, don't like the time restrictions, so I always buy. 50 cents for softcover and $1 for hard locally. And that's going on all the time. They also have large booksales where the books are something like 5/$1. I picked up two paper bags worth of books then. All Sci-fi and fantasy.
  • "I actually have a hard time finding books, rather than cuddling up with them."

    Let me guess...Not married?
  • by mcdg (1213760) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:27AM (#23430972)

    Imagine a pile of 100 best sci-fi books ever, and a new one is out once every 3 years or so. When you are just getting into sci-fi as a teenager, you can be assured to have a big pile of great sci-fi to read ahead of you.

    As you finish it all, it becomes harder and harder to find new good ones, which gives the impression that "today sci-fi is not as good as the years past". Its only the impression, because you wen't thru 50 years best sci-fi in maybe 5-6 years.

    Now you have to wait 2-3 years to discover another gem, while before you could have just went to any "best 100 list" and picked any one up.

    My recent great finds: The bright of the sky: Entire and the Rose (can't even begin to describe it), Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space universe, Commonwealth Saga + Dreaming Void by Peter Hamilton.

    My recent disappointments: Neal Asher. Tried to read Gridlinked, could not even finish.

    • by Lumpy (12016)
      Then expand past Sci-FI and read some of the good stuff. Grab books by Kurt Vonnegut (start with Slaughterhouse Five, Cat's cradle also rocks), go read Clockwork Orange, Hell read the old old classics from HG wells. Most youngsters (under 28) turn up their nose at the classics. you CAN NOT run out of good things to read that will interest you.

      Also check out each years' Nebula awards. every year I find a new artist to put on my read list.
  • Baen (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:28AM (#23430978)
    Don't forget the Baen Free Library - they also sell ebooks with NO drm.

    http://www.baen.com/library/

    http://www.webscription.net/
    • Baen is OK for military SF fans who are more interested in war adventures or fantasies with the setting being space or the future but not so great for core sci-fi fans. Of course there are a few gems hidden in there - Keith Laumer's books being a great read (and not just the Bolo and Retief novels). Stay away from Ringo or even Taylor (when collaborating with Ringo) unless you are a white teenager with a very racist viewpoint of the world. (I am not saying that Ringo or Williamson are racist just that they
    • by infolib (618234)
      Yeah, I've got to second that. There's lots of good stuff there, and I've spent too much money on their e-books. Apart from that they're just so bloody sensible. [baens-universe.com]
  • Why Amazon? (Score:2, Informative)

    by maceilean (892229)
    Once you've found the authors and/or titles you want to read (google 'top 10 SF 2008' or something) head on over to addall.com or bookfinder.com Not only will these sites show you the amazon and b&n books but they will also lead you to the independent book search services like biblio.com and abebooks.com There is no reason why anyone should pay retail for mass market paperbacks. There are also many more out-of-print SF books than in-print.
  • I have all but given up on science fiction and fantasy - it is as if all you can find is interminable series of massproduced soap-operas. Everybody tries to be 'Epic', but nobody has quite what it takes to pull it off. Maybe I am just getting too old, though I also find that authors like Asimov and Niven are strangely shallo, too much children of their time.

    Perhaps it is because the newer authors have run out of visions - in the last century science seemed to be roaring forward; new, mindblowing discoveries
    • by ecotax (303198)

      But enough of that - maybe I am just getting too old. Is there any good science fiction out there?

      I basically agree with what you said about how hard it is to find good SF and fantasy.
      But occasionally I find something new and worthwile in the American Book Center in Amsterdam (already praised by someone else in this discussion).
      Authors I recently read some books of which I particularly liked are:
      Iain Banks (everything),
      Charles Stross (The Atrocity Archives, The Jennifer Morgue) and
      Jack McDevitt (Seeker, Polaris).
      Tastes differ, of course. But if you're a programmer and like Terry Pratchett, it's unlikel

  • A method my parents used years ago to become members of the Science Fiction Book Club without having the unsolicited mailings of books was to write RETURN TO SENDER on all the books sent by the SF book club unsolicited.

    After a short time (a few months I believe), they were added to the "No Unsolicited Mailings" list (I don't really know what the SF book club calls it). Now they get the catalogs and offers on well-priced books along with the early releases and omnibus editions that may be unavailable elsewh
  • Use your library ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by soundman32 (147936) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:53AM (#23431078) Homepage
    Here in the UK at least, the local library is free, and you can get (almost) any book delivered there for free (used to be 30p I think!).
    Although my library is very small (probably 1000 books), the staff are more than helpful and will be able to get the book you want from some other library.
    I haven't bought a book for years. What's the point when a good quality, hardbacked version can be borrowed for free.

    Have I said free enough :-)
  • by Herr Brush (639981)
    On amazon or similar, search for SF masterworks. This is collection of some of the best sci-fi ever written and you're sure to find a few you haven't heard of. Also if you're buying on the cheap, "The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke" is good value for money (almost 1000 pages of SF goodness by one of the greats for £10). Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with amazon except as a customer.
  • by Knightman (142928) on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:21AM (#23431240)
    You can always check out http://baen.com/ [baen.com] they have an online library of free books and sample chapters for new books. They also have the webscription site where you can read e-Arc (advance reader copy) books yet to be published and other books for a monthly fee.

    Also, check out http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/ [thefifthimperium.com] which have all the CD's Baen has published. The CD's are free to copy for non-commercial use and contains alot of books in digital format.

    None of the books you get in digital format from Baen is encumbered with DRM in any way.
  • by Keck (7446)
    Tor.com [tor.com] is pretty good -- I think you can still sign up there to get a new ebook every week for free, plus they have a bunch of non-free books, podcasts, etc. I've been getting them for 6-8 weeks now and they're pretty good!
  • and other anthologies are good sources of new authors for me. I buy one book...Year's Best SF10. I get to read a bunch of unusually good short stories and the authors often have larger bodies of work available.

    I recently discovered Alistair Reynolds very good work this way. Buy on Amazon if you don't have a good library. In my experience Barnes & Noble and Borders usually stock their SF and F sections with mostly dreck.
  • A science fiction book store? Sure, there's more to pick from than at Barnes & Noble,
    but these small shops are run by voracious readers who are more than happy to share...
  • I'm am a rabid collector of books, especially Sci-Fi and Fantasy (along with almost everything else EXCEPT romance.) I have over 5K books in my personal library. Finding good books online is nice, but hit the local used book stores. Yeah, I know it requires you to get off your ass and do some walking, but you'll find what you want more often than not there. Hit up library book sales.

    Again, it requires actual physical activity, so this may not work for you it seems.
  • I've belonged to the Sci-Fi Book Club for well over a decade now, and while I don't buy from them very often, they are a good source of inexpensive hardbacks (I've built up quite a library of hardbacks over the years). I also end up browsing the various book stores in the malls.

    However.

    I have the same problem everywhere I go. It seems that most of what is out there is fantasy, rather than Science Fiction. I prefer the stuff with the nuts and bolts, thank you very much, even though I *do* enjoy the occasion
  • Trust me. I was a member for a while, the prices aren't terrible, but if you're like me you prefer paperback anyhow, and they're almost entirely hardcover. Plus, the Featured Selections are a pain if you forget to cancel them.
  • Look for Authors (Score:2, Informative)

    by N8F8 (4562)
    Aside from searching Amazon.com for highly rated books, I often try to fins the more popular authors and then find their more popular works:
  • Listen to my Podcast, Read More Science Fiction.

    My buddy and I read and review Sci-Fi books...Mostly older, but recently we reviewed "Old Man's War" by John Scalzi...

    Yeah, we don't stay on-topic very well, but I think we're entertaining anyway, or we wouldn't keep doing it...

  • Most local libraries will do a used book sales twice a year, at least in my area. If you're a bit patient and don't mind waiting a couple of years for the latest titles, you can enjoy reading for pennies to the book. The trick is to come in early on the first day to get your choice selections at US$ 3 to 4; then show up again at the very end for the "bag sale", in which you can buy a few bags for usually $5 each and then leave with as many books as you can fit in your bag. Once I discovered library sales I
  • There are a few science fiction magazines out there, such as Asimov's, that are worth subscribing. http://www.asimovs.com/ [asimovs.com]

    Admittedly, the short stories are a mix. Some great, some good, some decent, and some mind-raping-awful ones. But its a great way to sample new/unknown to you talent. If you find a serial in the magazine you really enjoy, the author tends to also write books... And bingo - instant reading list.

    And then, there is your local science fiction and fantasy bookstore (A dying breed, unfortun
  • No time to read your SciFi? Check out the Escape Pod podcast. Steve does a great job with presenting short stories from acclaimed authors.
    http://escapepod.org/ [escapepod.org]

  • by pillageplunder (183475) <tarntootaineNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @09:29AM (#23432250)
    Go out to http://www.baen.com./ [www.baen.com] They have the Baen Free Library project, links to many Authors web-sites, a very good online "baens Bar" where you can interact with authors, and the right approach (IMO) on how to deal with free content.

    Do some leg-work! As others have pointed out, go visit a local book-store, and not just one of the chains. Find a used book-store, or two.
  • Ebay! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Antifuse (651387) <slashdot@ryanwCO ... m minus language> on Friday May 16, 2008 @11:15AM (#23434028) Homepage
    Seriously... Ebay is a FANTASTIC place to pick up used books on the cheap. I'll usually just buy a "lot" of like 20-30 books... with Media Mail (if you're in the States), it is MEGA cheap to get them shipped to you. You usually average around 2 bucks a book if you do it this way... often times even cheaper.

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