Good (perhaps lesser known) gritty Sci-Fi worlds?

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galacticgravy

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#1  Edited By galacticgravy

TL;DR Suggest me some gritty sci-fi books/comics/movies/shows, but not so much on the games. No System Shock.

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Sorry, I know the term "gritty" has been hijacked by anything with an Instagram filter on it but I hope you'll forgive me here. Playing Titanfall has been scratching a little itch of mine. I love mechanical gritty sci-fi. I love the Alien movies. I love the look of Dead Space. I own the stupid Blade Runner briefcase. MASS EFFEEEECCCCTTTT (Not the grittiest, I know but Omega and parts of the Citadel were awesome). Titanfall has a look to it that I like, too. Not as dark, but that sort of gigantic structure and pillars of metal thing is doing it for me. They make me wonder what more has happened in the world. Problem is, we got nothing besides the campaign.

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I want to watch/read and maybe play a good gritty sci-fi story (I say maybe because I've played most of the not super difficult games. I cannot for the life of me get through System Shock, sorry). Remember, that what I like about Dead Space isn't the necromorphs. It's the awesome environments, and the possible political intrigue of the Unitologists. Same goes for Alien movies (it's not all about the xenomorphs for me). I'd rather read a book about the inner workings of the Weyland-Yutani than about aliens any day. Fuck alien invasions.

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I want to know what's going down deep in Omega station. I was super psyched for Star Wars 1313 because it wasn't about space magic and looked pretty dope. Cyberpunk is awesome, too. Shadowrun, Deus Ex, etc.

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Ideas? Oh, and here's some thinking music for you:

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Humanity

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@galacticgravy: In terms of books I suppose Dune would be really great as it's a fully realized world - I'm talking about Frank Herbert here, don't touch anything made by his son because for all intents and purposes it doesn't exist.

Anything by William Gibson, but specifically the sprawl trilogy of Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Those books came to define what is now popularly known as cyperpunk, but it's sci-ish as well.

Personally I think Snowcrash is overrated but people seem to really love it and it features dystopian vibes. I generally think Neal Stephenson is a good writer but he needs a sterner editor. Some of his books delve into math, logic and so forth in detail that will lose the laymen reading for the story - I suppose other "number" enthusiasts appreciate it though.

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audioBusting

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#3  Edited By audioBusting

I remember liking Pluto a lot. It's kind of Blade Runner-ish. The Astro Boy universe isn't exactly gritty, but it's one of my favorite sci-fi worlds.

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Sinusoidal

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#4  Edited By Sinusoidal

My favorite anything sci-fi of recent years is Peter Hamilton. His "Night's Dawn Trilogy" is his most popular, but not his best IMHO, it's still as good a place to start as any. Not to be read lightly. His books are absolute doorstops.

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YoThatLimp

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Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey was amazing!

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shirogane

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You could check out the Warhammer 40k fiction if you havn't already, that universe is pretty interesting, and about as dark as you can get.

If you havn't seen it already you should go watch Firefly/Serenity as well, pretty good series. Though the sci-finess of that series isn't really that strong apart from being on a ship and all.

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fattony12000

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#7  Edited By fattony12000
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Jorbit

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#9  Edited By Jorbit

@fattony12000: What series/book is that?

EDIT: Oh wait that helmet. That's Warhammer 40k. Sheit son, maybe I should read into that stuff.

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fattony12000

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#10  Edited By fattony12000
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viking_funeral

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#11  Edited By viking_funeral

@humanity said:

@galacticgravy:

Anything by William Gibson, but specifically the sprawl trilogy of Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Those books came to define what is now popularly known as cyperpunk, but it's sci-ish as well.

I have to second Neuromancer. It's a light read, as long as you don't stop to look up every piece of jargon they throw at you and just accept that it probably means what you think it means, given the context. Some people need to know exactly what space drug 'X' does, where it was made, etc... and some people just accept that it's a futuristic drug and move on. Do the latter.

EDIT: Oh, and some Cowboy Bebop if you're into Anime. Even most non-anime fans enjoy that series, and it has that slow moving space vibe that Alien does, except without the aliens.

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Video_Game_King

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Didn't Extra Credits sort of do an episode on that last week?

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Justin258

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Altered Carbon, perhaps, though it may not be precisely what you're looking for. It's the only thing jumping to my mind at the moment.

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abendlaender

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#14  Edited By abendlaender

@video_game_king said:

Didn't Extra Credits sort of do an episode on that last week?

Holy shit, they totally put Burn Cycle on the list. I....don't know what to think now.

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EVO

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Aeon Flux (the MTV cartoon, not the film).

Brazil

Dark City

Have you seen these? They're not exactly gritty, but good settings nonetheless.

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AdequatelyPrepared

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@evo:

Ninja'd, was going to mention Dark City myself. Dark City is...odd. Scifi plot, pseudo-scifi settings.

Twelve Monkeys? Though it doesn't really count, sort of mixing this question up with good sci-fi films.
Edit: Not exactly a niche film, but have you checked out Looper? It's good as you can accept the whole time travel conceit and just move on (seriously, there are about, 9 different paradoxes in that film).

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Humanity

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@humanity said:

@galacticgravy:

Anything by William Gibson, but specifically the sprawl trilogy of Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Those books came to define what is now popularly known as cyperpunk, but it's sci-ish as well.

I have to second Neuromancer. It's a light read, as long as you don't stop to look up every piece of jargon they throw at you and just accept that it probably means what you think it means, given the context. Some people need to know exactly what space drug 'X' does, where it was made, etc... and some people just accept that it's a futuristic drug and move on. Do the latter.

EDIT: Oh, and some Cowboy Bebop if you're into Anime. Even most non-anime fans enjoy that series, and it has that slow moving space vibe that Alien does, except without the aliens.

What I find most fascinating about Neuromancer is not only that it's a great book, but he wrote way before the modern day internet as we know it even began to exist. He had amazing vision and foresight into the evolution of technology. Also the man is a genius with techno-jargon.

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BBAlpert

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My thoughts on Warhammer 40K: It is a universe of constant, childish escalation. It's Toy Story's Andy pitting a Slinky Dog With Built-In Forcefield against a Dinosaur That Eats Forcefield Dogs. It's big and loud and completely fucking stupid and I love it.

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#19  Edited By Mechanical_Ape

A lot of good things have already been suggested. If you're looking for something a little more obscure, you might want to check out Jeff Noon. His books aren't mechanically gritty like you mentioned, but more drugs/cyberpunk/having-sex-with-your-sister kind of gritty. If you're interested, I'd suggest starting with Vurt. It's his most well-known book and the one I remember most even though I haven't read it in a decade.

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Mnemoidian

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Depends on what you're looking for - the Blade Runner stuff is very different from a lot of the stuff suggested in this thread so far. Maybe some Shadowrun stuff? The new game was pretty good - and I'm sure there are a lot of books for that as well (no first person experience though).

Warhammer is about the grittiest, grim-darkest you can get, though from a quality perspective, Games Workshop has managed ot put their name on a lot of really terribly poor quality stuff running the full gamut of stuff (movies, books and games) - though there are a lot of good stuff as well, if you know where to look. Start with Dan Abnett's books. Basically, everyone is corrupt, there is no one that is "really the good guys", everything is covered in a layer of grime. But it's very conflict orientated (as you should expect from a setting with the tagline "In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war".)

Frank Herbert's Dune is good, though it gets very philosophical by the 4th or 5th book in the (main) series. The movie by David Lynch isn't very acurate, but it is quite entertaining as it's own thing. The Sci-fi channel miniseries' are far more accurate, while still quite good.

Same with Ender's Game - and it's much more a near-future scenario at the start of the book series. (And unfortunately, the movie was pretty bad). Around the 6th or 7th book it gets quite existential - the series deals a lot with philosophies of conflict.

And of course movies like Equilibrium (Cubic?), Starship Troopers, Johnny Mnemonic, District , the Escape From-movies, The Fifth Element, Tron?... and even more if you are willing to cross over to Japanese Animated stuff - everything Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop...

Yeah, and from Gibson, at least Neuromancer should be required reading.

Of course, those are all pretty well known... >_>

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chiablo

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#21  Edited By chiablo

Here's my book recommendation to add to the stack:

File:Chasm City cover (Amazon).jpg

The only real good sci-fi worlds I can remember all came form point-and-click adventure games of yore:

  • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
  • Beneath a Steel Sky
  • The Dig
  • Machinarium

The world is only interesting if there is story that gives the world character. Mass Effect was almost there: the alien races were interesting, but all of the planets were just set pieces for the characters to stand around in. The mining colony is indistinguishable from the sprawling megalopolis, other than the random NPCs sayin "I'm a miner" or "I'm shopping".

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EVO

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@adequatelyprepared: I really enjoyed the city scenes in Looper; shame we didn't get to see more of that setting.

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TheBluthCompany

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@yothatlimp: Those three books are fantastic. Can't wait for the next one.

Also, it is not that gritty, but the Miles Vorkosigan book series by Lois McMaster Bujold is just about the best series I've ever read. Really not that gritty though.

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SomberOwl

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I see your already a fan of Transmetropolitan.

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muchobeans

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Just to throw in my two cents really quick, I'd suggest almost anything by Philip K Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Flow My Tears, A Scanner Darkly, Ubik) would be appropriate, he doesn't do so much towards cyberpunk, but the gritty scifi is totally there in spades. And off of that about a dozen movies have been made from his stuff, but those are pretty grab bag. I'd second Ghost in the Shell, if you can stomach the anime-ness of it, there's an amazing world to absorb as a manga, anime, movie or what have you (the games weren't too bad either).

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sparky_buzzsaw

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I'd say Richard K. Morgan's sci-fi should be read, along with Tad Williams's Otherland series. Neither are quite what you're after, but I suspect you'll like their settings and terrific stories.

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galacticgravy

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Thanks for all of the awesome suggestions, guys. And holy shit I can't believe I forgot Warhammer 40k. Huge fan. Looks like I have a ton of shit to look into.

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gamer_152

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#29  Edited By gamer_152  Moderator

Not that it's the most obscure thing ever, but if you're into cyberpunk I think reading some William Gibson is mandatory.

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#30  Edited By TheFreeMan

It's been mentioned, but The Expanse books by James S.A. Corey are really, really good. Fourth one comes out this summer, I'm very much looking forward to it.

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grabbizle

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@gamer_152: I just pulled up William Gibson's Neuromancer :)

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It's not quite a sprawling sci-fi movie, but it gives me the whole "wonder what more has happened in the world" feeling a ton: Cube. Kinda gritty sci-fi horror.

It's an adventure game, but you might find Gemini Rue right up your alley.

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peakborn

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#33  Edited By peakborn

A safe bet would be one of the godfathers of Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov's Robot series.

I can still clearly remember the first book's, Caves of Steel, world that parallel's depression America, except with robots and advanced branch humans as well as a good murder mystery to tie it all together. Definitely a must if you are a fan of Blade Runner.

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pyromagnestir

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#34  Edited By pyromagnestir

I have no idea of the extent to which Iain M. Banks's Culture series of novels are or aren't known, but them's some good sci-fi.

Battlestar Galactica is the only gritty sci-fi show that comes to mind. That's pretty well known, though. I imagine you've at least heard of it, if not watched it.

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FancySoapsMan

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Well I'm not sure what you'd think of Deus Ex given what you think of System Shock, but it may be worth checking out anyway.

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The 40k universe is probably my favorite dark sci-fi setting.

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JasonR86

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City of Endless Night was kind of a cool idea. The book wasn't great but I think the concept is cool.

It was a story written right after WWI. It's based in an alternate reality where constant Allied bombing had driven the Germans to live underground where they created a vast city governed by some fucked up ideas about class, gender, race, human-type. WWI rages on for years with Allied forces trying to force the Germans out with no success leading a stalemate. The story takes place many years after this when an American, due to circumstances, finds himself in Berlin trying to pass himself off as a German.

It's a really neat idea that is wrapped around a sort of poorly written book. I mean at the time it was well liked but it just hasn't stood the test of time as well as some other classic literature. But it's free on the Kindle and worth checking out at least.

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#38 SgtSphynx  Moderator

@peakborn said:

A safe bet would be one of the godfathers of Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov's Robot series.

I can still clearly remember the first book's, Caves of Steel, world that parallel's depression America, except with robots and advanced branch humans as well as a good murder mystery to tie it all together. Definitely a must if you are a fan of Blade Runner.

You sir, have impeccable taste.

Gonna second both Asimov and Ghost in the Shell

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Aetheldod

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I would recommend the manga called Blame! by Tsutomu Nihei it is awesome and gritty to the core , and dont worry it doesn´t have any of the anime/manga tropes if you dislike those.

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korolev

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I would recommend the manga called Blame! by Tsutomu Nihei it is awesome and gritty to the core , and dont worry it doesn´t have any of the anime/manga tropes if you dislike those.

Absolutely. It's a very unique world, and it's not at all like most anime or manga.

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Crembaw

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@korolev said:

@aetheldod said:

I would recommend the manga called Blame! by Tsutomu Nihei it is awesome and gritty to the core , and dont worry it doesn´t have any of the anime/manga tropes if you dislike those.

Absolutely. It's a very unique world, and it's not at all like most anime or manga.

Blame! is one of the few manga I would classify as literature. Personally, of course - everyone has their own personal canon.

Starfish by Peter Watts is a really interesting look at a possible near-future wherein Humanity sends its most psychologically 'unsuitable' people down to the bottom of the ocean, where they work geothermal energy stations. It kind of goes off the rails at the end, and the sequels aren't nearly as good, but it's still pretty interesting.

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MarkWahlberg

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#42  Edited By MarkWahlberg
You've never heard of this movie, but it's pretty damn good.
You've never heard of this movie, but it's pretty damn good.