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Basically, I've read a lot of sci-fi, but there are some writers whose style I adore, and many others (though great) whose style I really don't like.
What is it that Ursula K Leguin had that Asimov didn't? I think Asimov's writing is rightly considered "great sci-fi", but it isn't my cup of tea. But, I could read Leguin any day. And I also really enjoyed the Dune series (all of it, though I admit the prequels and sequels from Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson are inferior writing... by that point I was in love with the world).
The "Uplift" series from Brin had every right to win me over (I love the "progenitor" idea and ancient races in general), but... I don't know what it is. It felt very "syfy tv series"-esque in its execution. The promise of the ideas couldn't get me past the second book (I did give it two books, out of hope that it would get better!).
Who/what should I read that will capture whatever it is that LeGuin and Herbert had, but that Asimov and Brin don't? I don't really know what it is. Perhaps it's the sort of transcendant themes and air of their settings and characters? Let me list a few more things I've loved and some that have let me down, and maybe it will help...
Loved: Orson Scott Card... specifically the trilogy after Ender's Game (Ender's Game itself and the Shadow spin-offs are very good, but too... gritty? too down-to-Earth-right-now?), the Homecoming Saga, and Wyrms (<-- my favorite). I also think the Pathfinder Trilogy was good, but a bit childish (YA?).
Liked: Anne McCaffrey... Pern is a wonderful world to stop in and visit from time to time. Super light, but enjoyable. And I even liked the Pegasus trilogy; though it was a little too comic-bookish at times.
Liked: Tom Toner's "Promise of the Child".... but, the ending is... frankly, ridiculous. And I have no desire to read the sequel.
I've also loved a great deal of sci-fi short stories, and of course I adore H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.
Didn't like: Niven's "Ringworld" or Clarke's "Rendezvous with Rama". The former is too absurd and cobbled together, and the latter is too... grounded? I don't know. They both tease an amazing, transcendant race, but it's just a tease.
I could go on and on. Does anyone see what the common threads are? Would more examples help?
One that I really thought I'd like was The Culture series by Banks... I'll be honest, it was the constantly foul language that turned me off after Consider Phlebas. That's probably a point I'll need to be flexible about (I mean, the same thing caused me to stop reading Bear's "Eon" part way through... and it was a bit "Rama"-ish).
What do you think? Am I hopeless? Any suggestions?
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