Alright, so I'm just getting through my first semester of QFT and while I'm not quite ready to step into anything really heavy, I'm close to the point where I can read introductory material on a technical level (like, I could probably start Zweibach's Strings for Undergrads). I've been reading some various physics blogs and while many of the posts are quite old (around the time when Woit and Smolin were publishing their popsci books), I still get the sense that there is some hostility towards strings. Will starting some of this material help me see where this criticism is coming from? My goal, presently, is to find topics in physics that are new areas that require exploration [yes, I'm being optimistic] and I've heard from one side that string theory hasn't made a whole lot of progress in the decades since it started and from the other that string theory has many areas which are still untouched and is too expansive to have made significant progress. Where can I start looking to answer these questions myself? I would like to be able to [at least pretend to] have a grasp on the arguments for and against various models, from a basic technical standpoint. The idea of falsifiable (or not) has arisen on a few occasions, for example, and I'd like to know exactly why some theories are or are not. So basically (based on my knowledge-base): where do I get started in terms of books and lectures; which theories should I investigate and is there any particular order I should consider them in? If I should wait until I have significantly more material under me, that's fine too. I'm not in a hurry; I've got time to think about these things before worrying about a PhD or anything.