[thechat] sci-fi recommendation (was LotR)

Chris Spruck cspruck at mindspring.com
Tue Jun 5 00:40:36 CDT 2001

At 05:28 PM 6/4/01 -0400, you wrote:
>Can anyone suggest any current authors who are real science fiction writers
>(not fantasy)?

I really like the works of James P. Hogan. He writes a lot about artificial 
intelligence, time travel, and alternate realities, and has written 
non-fiction as well. I've read almost all his stuff - novels I really liked 
include the following, but all his books are great:

The Giants Series (a trilogy plus one including Inherit the Stars, The 
Gentle Giants of Ganymede, Giant's Star, and Entoverse) - it's hard to 
explain this series without giving it away, but the basic gist is that the 
human race discovers that they were a failed experiment that was abandoned. 
The experimenters return and are shocked to find a thriving race, that 
didn't turn out like the other.... I've already said way too much, hehehe. 
Lots of subterfuge and political intrigue ensues, but it doesn't drag into 
boredom like most political issues can do. Has a general AI theme 
throughout and the fourth book concentrates on all kinds of trouble between 
the various races as well as the "puppetmasters" and gets into some really 
interesting stuff where people are channelled into and out of an 
alternate/VR universe embedded in an AI supercomputer system. This series 
is one of my all-time favorites.

Endgame Enigma - set in the Cold War era, it's the US vs. the Russians in 
an espionage story set on a space station...or so you think. Very engaging, 
although a little dated.

The Two Faces of Tomorrow - Scientists have developed an AI system with a 
sense of self-preservation, since they expect that a "survival instinct" 
might evolve from an AI anyway and they want to test it. They build a space 
habitat and leave it under complete control of the AI and then they begin 
to attack it in various ways to see how it reacts and adapts. "We can 
always unplug it...." <insert the sinister music from the movie Jaws here>

Realtime Interrupt (summary from the Hogan web site) - When 
computer-created animations inhabiting a virtual world become good enough 
at imitating human surrogates injected as role models, the problem is 
telling which is which.

The Proteus Operation - A great story where the outcome of WWII was 
completely different than what really happened as we know it, so a team is 
sent back in time to orchestrate a plan to change the outcome to what we 
are familiar with. Significant personalities who play themselves include 
Churchill, Roosevelt, Einstein, Fermi, and others from the Manhattan 
Project, which serves as a cover for the real plan.

Check out the bibliography at http://www.jamesphogan.com for a full list 
and descriptions of the rest of Hogan's work. I strongly recommend him - 
can you tell? Thanks for reading this far. Let me know if you would like my 
opinion on a specific story.


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