*Sarah Speaking: I realize it’s evil to hit you with essentially 2 promo posts in a row. But today we’re going to be running around like crazy people (ducttape-grandkids coming mid-week) and yesterday night Valeria-cat announced she wasn’t feeling so good by peeing all over our bed. Twice. So, I’ll write post on Monday. These two days I run around like crazy -SAH*
De Gusta-Books Non Est Disputandum by Foxfier
Look, if you like a book, you like a book. It’s really not something that will change when someone says “I don’t like it.” In matters of taste, it’s not up to debate.
Recent…ish… there was a kerfuffle over some list or other of “how dare you read these books? They’re bad!” where it was a definite purity spiral, and from the selection and justifications it was questionable if folks liked ’em, or just thought that they should like them.
(Think in terms of the difference between books you want to read, and books you want to have read, and books that you want folks to think you read.)
Sad how little that narrows it down, isn’t it? Anyways, long story short, instead of laughing or complaining, it was suggested that somebody try to get folks to write lists of good stuff to read. Guess who the “somebody” is today….
The format is title and author, link if applicable, what it is, and if you’ve got something besides “I just really liked it,” list that.
So, for example:
Daring Finds series by Elise Hyatt, an Odd and quirky crafting series with romantic sub-plot, and I like it because it’s fun, of the “his men would follow him anywhere, if only to find out what happens” sort.
The duology of A Net of Dawn and Bones and Seeds of Blood, by C Chancy; near future broken masquerade (“magic and monsters come out of the shadows”). Definitely not a romance-type urban fantasy, think more like the Dresden files, but with non-romantic duo instead of Harry as the main character. I like it because Chancy takes her subjects seriously, as well as telling an interesting story. Things are plausibly explained in-world, and not in a way that is actively painful if you’re familiar with the subject; it opens in hell, for goodness’ sake, and actually sells it.
And so on, however many books you want to list.
You don’t like someone’s list?
Make your own list, with the books you do like, and why! Spread the treasures! You get inspired to make a list, link to the person who inspired you– or just reblog them, and then join in, too, whatever works.
Let’s try to spread some positivity, right?
Frontier Magic, by Patricia C Wrede. Magical AU American history, post 1800.
First series I talked my daughter into reading, largely on the basis of “Well, you liked The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.” Part of the fun is seeing the translation and logical continuation if you change one thing.
…I have been informed by the two eldest that I am adding Marda Quincesinger, Postulant, by Maggie Hogarth It is “basically fantasy– dragons, talking animals. Fantasy.” She likes it because it’s awesome!
Shadows by Robin McKinley, an alternate world roughly modern-day fantasy.
“It’s got a good story line. It’s interesting to read.”
Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, by Richard Scarry. It’s a simple story with a lot of fun, fanciful cars in an anthropomorphic animal world. The littles love it because finding Gold Bug is fun.
Dragons Love Tacos, by Adam Rubin. It’s a bedtime story book. Simple, cute, survives being read every night for a month straight, and the kids start picking up words by exposure.
Alright, back to what came to mind when I thought of good books I wanted to share.
Radiance, by Grace Draven. Romance, fairly physical, slightly dark/epic fantasy setting. I like it because the characters start out acting like adults in a rather painful situation, and (I hope I’m not spoiling too much) eventually fall in love; what really stood out was that there was a lot of physical touch that had nothing to do with romance.
Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers, and I’m linking the whole series because it’s good. It’s a now-historical mystery series, was current-day when it was written between the world wars. Generally starts with a murder, which is generally solved by the end. A lot of non-slapstick, understated or ironic humor, including the entire novel Strong Poison towards the middle of the series, where the plot line is “female author suspect of killing her ex-lover using methods from one of her novels.” In a novel. By a lady. Who did that kind of research…. thus showing that the worry of “does my search history make me look like a serial killer, or a writer?” predates the internet!
Father Brown’s Mysteries, by G. K. Chesterton. Historical fiction, pre-WWII England, basically the spiritual grandfather of mystery novels. They’re legally available for free all over the place. It’s kind of like if Columbo at his most bemused was transported back into pre-war England, and had some adventures and solved (rather good) puzzles.
Bound to the Alien Engineer by C. V. Walter. It’s book two in a series, definitely not-sweet romance, near future sci-fi, and you’ll hurt yourself laughing because it’s about a bunch of scifi fans trying to find out about their friend, by shaking down the guys cosplaing as big, blue aliens from a fandom nobody recognizes.
Exile’s Honor, by Mercedes Lackey. Fantasy, intelligent spirit-bond animal subtype. It’s awesome because Alberich is a snarky, honorable, somewhat grumpy with absolute justification, hard working character of towering awesome. Read it against my better judgement– I find the mind control ponies of Valdemar to be creepy– and I love this book.
Absolutely anything with Hoka! in the title, by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson. Classic scifi (think Spaceman Spiff type scifi) comedy. You see, there’s a race of ADHDAF extreme RP, cosplaying teddybears that are strong enough to actually pull it off….
Hank the Cowdog, by John R. Erickson. The adventures of a ranch dog in Texas, who is not nearly as intelligent as he thinks he is, in a way that a five or six year old can recognize and find funny well into adulthood. Last on the list because this will be really long…. these were the first books I was allowed to read after my mom got word that the school library was restricting me to books they thought I could handle. Which was so restricted I’d have to work up to Color Kittens. She didn’t maim anybody, I promise, though I won’t say it wasn’t a risk.
For these, I actually love the audio books best– they were books on tape when I was a kid, read by the author, and they are incredible. We have both the audio editions and several of the book bundles, you can find them searching for Hank the Cowdog Set”.
So, folks– make a list, or several– what’s your De Gusta-books?
276 thoughts on “De Gusta-Books Non Est Disputandum by Foxfier”
Well, for me a big one is the Bob and Nikki series, by Jerry Boyd (fair notice–Jerry is a personal acquaintance). They start with Bob coming home from work and finding a woman in his garage trying to get her “flying saucer” working again. Bob being handy fixes it up for her and things start going way far from ordinary from that point on. Here’s the first book in the series:
Seconded. He keeps writing more at a rate of several per year, too; thankfully they’re on Kindle Unlimited so it’s not breaking my book budget to keep up with the series.
Bob’s voice in my head is a Cajun, married to an Ozark lady I used to know. Butch was the kind of guy who would use some of the same things to make a part to fix a saucer.
I could hear it, me. 🙂 But being from east Tennessee, I tend to hear Bob as a hillbilly, like the rest of us…
I always supported the Bob and Nikki series… but the audiobooks really made them take off. The narrator/voice actor has a really good sense of comic timing, which helps a lot. And buying the audiobooks in packs is very affordable, while you can always check in the text if you don’t hear something right. (Usually a sign that I didn’t turn up my earbuds enough… or that I got distracted by the chores I was doing while listening.)
People talk about the orality of literature, theoretically or in terms of historical epics like the Iliad. But the Bob and Nikki series demonstrates that oral literature qualities really do exist and thrive in the present day.
Which is a lot to say about a funny, fun series… but yeah. I do mean it. I think it’s one of the “secret ingredients” or “hidden ingredients” that are greatly misunderstood in our society.
For some reason, I couldn’t get into the first book (via KU).
Maybe, I’ll try it again.
Butch had a bit less of a Cajun accent from spending so much time in the wife’s area, and over seas while in the Army, so not as heavy as Justin Wilson, and some Arky /Show Me Hillbilly sprinkled in. Also a lot of the stereotypical Cajun accent softens the closer one gets to NOLA, and he lived in Jefferson Parish, which abuts Orleans
Saw the premise, and this instantly jumped into my mind. Same type of thing, but the poor sap in this song isn’t as capable as Bob. 😀
Yes! Got my wife and friends hooked on Bob and Nikki! Keep writing, Jerry!
Pretty much anything by Seanan McGuire, who’s got a grasp on deep-down myth* that rivals Terry Pratchett. I’m halfway through her October Daye series and enjoying it immensely – funny, fast-paced, lots of fairy lore that feels right, and no frickin’ tramp stamps. There’s the occasional shibboleth, but her characters are good enough to power past ’em. She’s got two books, “Indexing” and “Indexing: Reflections” on KU if you want a decent sampling.
*I can’t quite define deep-down myth, but it’s that stuff where when you get an unexpectedly happy or, more likely, wincingly unpleasant end and go “of course, because folklore!”
The Liad series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. The opening line of first book, Agent of Change, is, “The man who was not Terrence O’Grady had come quietly.” From there unfolds a story that hooks you and doesn’t let go. Espionage, romance, and eight-foot-tall turtles who make the best knives in the universe. I’d write more about it, but since it’s in the Baen Free Library, the best way to introduce it is probably to just point you at the Free Library and let you check it out for yourself. Beware, though: once you’ve read the first book, you’re going to want to find out more. Especially about the turtles, who are made of Pure Awesome.
Georgette Heyer does space opera.
I really like the EarthCent Ambassador series by E M Foner, as well as its spinoff series (currently there are two of them). They’re set about 150 years in the future, after an intelligent AI race has (benignly) taken over Earth and incorporated it into its network of alien races. Humans have become cheap labor, but are treated very well, and a lot of the series is comedy – the Human ambassador negotiating with alien races. Business and trade are the basis for all races negotiating with one another, and as the series progresses we start to see Humans try to organize their own empire as well as an examination of the social changes that have come about among humans in the past 150 years. It’s really good, and more fun than I’m probably making it sound.
Also a big vote for the Luna City series by Celia Hayes – life in a Texas small town, more about the characters and the atmosphere than the plot, with a helping of local history thrown in. It’s great.
“I find the mind control ponies of Valdemar to be creepy”
Eh, they’re just Lenses with hooves. Give people those kinds of powers and you need something to vet the holders. One of my pet peeves with the whole Green Lantern series is that the Guardians don’t usually try to fill that function….. and are so BAD at it when they do.
The rings are supposed to do it.
Which were forged by the Guardians as Lenses were by the Arisians. The ring should have left him almost immediately when he began abusing it. Of course, the Arisians would have killed Sinestro as soon as he showed up……
Like I said, so BAD at it.
Indeed Sinestro would never have returned from his trip to Arisia to meet Mentor. I met the Lanterns first through my older cousins comics. When I stumbled onto Galactic Patrol and Triplanetary in 7th or 8th grade it was clear Arisia was OA and the Guardians were Arisians. To some degree the Jedi are also just Lensman. The Jedi Council has the same issue the Guardians do, if you cannot fully vet people your are essentially giving absolute power to single beings you better be gosh darn sure they are incorruptible or some will break and be absolutely corrupt.
WPDE. Apparently it has decided all on its’ ownsome that I should get two e-mailed replies whenever someone posts a reply to my comments.
This has been just another WP bug hunt. We now return to our regular programming. 😎
Yeah, I got one too, and I don’t have a WP account. It’s weird software, Jim.
I had/have that problem on earlier blog posts. WPDE in saecula saeculorum.
And here I thought that posters were stuttering. [Crazy Grin]
It’s not necessarily the vetting that irritates me so much as the textbook left wing talking points they spout, along with the obvious hypocrisy of the motto “there is no one true way” being in itself a “true way”, and all the retconning Lackey’s done.
Also, all the books that are hundreds of pages of philosophizing and talking about your feelings, then a challenge or villain pops up in the last 30 pages and gets defeated.
Something that helped me get through that same problem:
Remember that Lackey is very good at writing emotional-logic, where you’re in it and living it, and don’t think about it too hard.
She is not very good at hard and fast world building, setting up strong objective morality situations, etc.
Do not over-think it.
If you read what she writes for what it is, it’s great!
Arguably, Ms Lackey has even pointed this out, with her reaction to folks who took her Urban Fantasy magic lady for reality– when it’s just an enjoyable story.
Yeah, I still have issues with mass mind control and memory editing “for your own good,” greek-level gods of “good” (more like vaguely nice) involved or not. That’s something that I can’t get past.
Heck, part of what makes me like Exile’s is that Kantor is…well, that issue is avoided. 😀
And Alberich is an adult, a man of faith and comfortable with himself. His relationship with Kantor is one of equals from the beginning.
Which makes Kantor’s remarks on Caryo’s “inability to change,” when Selenay falls disastrously in love rather interesting. He basically says Caryo is a maiden aunt, very wise and loving, but naive and a bit of a prude.
“Brightly Burning,” is another story where the guiding Herald and his Companion have a relationship of equals. And where the protagonist’s relationship with his Companion creeps out his mentor…
Well, equals from the point that he knows there’s a relationship…. but yes. 😀
I’ve bounced HARD off of pretty much everything else I’ve tried in the series, but make occasional attempts; my husband has an extensive collection from when he was a teen so I’ll make eventual future attempts….
Friends Across Borders on AO3 makes some of the best of the setting I’ve run across. 🙂 Let us set them on fire!
I loved the first three Valdemar books when I found them, because I was the right age (mid teens) and the right situation (outcast by my society-of-peers, having family problems). I loved the Tarma and Kethrey stories. And Alberich. Her Victorian urban fantasy . . . OK at first, then slid. Ditto the modern urban fantasy (SERRAted Edge). YMMV, and I’ll still nibble her books before saying “no.”
Yes, the Tarma and Kethry books are really good ( I see published as an omnibus in 2018, very convenient!). Then there is By the Sword, which is a frequent re-read for me – I think it’s a variety of competence porn for me even though I have never had any desire to be a pseudo-medieval mercenary (grin!)
Of the Elemental Mage books, my favorites include 1) the very first one she published, which is an outlier in being set in the US: The Fire Rose (Beauty and the Beast), 2) Phoenix and Ashes (Cinderella), and 3) Reserved for the Cat (Puss in Boots). I have long had a fondness for fairy-tale retellings, so the Elemental Mage books (at least at the beginning) were right up my alley.
And I am sad the The House of the Four Winds (Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory) was apparently a singleton rather than the beginning of a 12-book series of One Dozen Daughters.
Eh, they’re just Lenses with hooves.
That’s not making it any less creepy, Tradition or no.
Blessed and reincarnated souls of dead Heralds as it’s eventually revealed, which is pretty cool, and in theory makes them more trustworthy.
:considers the borderline insane and not in a fun way stuff that some of the Heralds get up to, even before you start trying to make the world make sense:
That said, Chancy’s got a great fanfic crossover series with a Chinese oh gosh all the pretty shinies magic series going on her blog and AO3, — crossoverqueen on wordpress– and over on AO3 there’s Friends Across Borders which is “over in Karse after the Necromancer stuff started” and… well, it’s good, an awesome bromance. 😀
Before I even knew what “fanfic” was, I used to imagine characters from other series dropping into Valdemar and screwing the place up by not abiding by near little rules to live by.
:giggles madly: That sounds right to me….
K, you might like this:
The diplomatic mission went fine, until the white horse yao kidnapped the necromancer’s boyfriend.
(The Companion would like to object to yao.
(Lan Wangji objects to boyfriend.
(Wei Wuxian objects to… Fine, whatever. The locals have a word for the ghost path? Roll with it!
(Queen Selenay would just like to know when the gods will stop dumping legends on her doorstep.)
AKA Nie Huaisang plans to fix everything. Oops.
Digression, I am a sincere believer in the “I imagine characters” … THING… being exactly what makes fiction copyright worth protecting, and why copyright should be shorter.
We need that cultural churning, the crossovers, the development, the What If, in a manner similar to how we need the technological development.
Now I’ve got some fun fanfic to read!
Also, I get liking Alberich’s story. I always wish Tolkien had had time to include a “good” Haradrim who was raised to believe Sauron was his god but learned the truth and joined the good guys.
And I was always curious about the blue wizards and their efforts to inspire resistance against Sauron.
I had issues with one about four novels back, where she basically ripped off Sayers’ “Gaudy Night,” badly. One of the themes/lessons of “Gaudy Night,” is that becauuse Harriet is so afraid one of her friends is behind the events she can’t see there are other, less clichéd, possibilities. In Lackey’s version, there’s one suspect and yep, it’s the nasty patriarchal sect. Disappointing.
That was one of the reasons I dropped Valdemar. I started noticing that in Lackey’s writing, fathers were nearly always nasty, patriarchal stereotypes. Not once did she show, say, a patriarchal father preventing his daughter from marrying a cad because he could see what the guy was when the love-struck girl could not. At least in the books I read before I dropped the series, she always seemed to portray the patriarchal fathers as emotionally abusive, uncaring jerks. It got old, and I annoyance-quit. (Which is like rage-quitting, only with less rage and more “What? This again? Meh, not worth my time anymore.”)
There are a few “nice” fathers, though they tend to be a bit gelded and overshadowed by their wives, like Seleny’s second husband, and I imagine Darkwind and the other enlightened straight males who get married would make good parents.
OTOH, she’s good at occasionally upending romantic tropes with common sense. In one book, a naive young noblewoman is thoroughly infatuated with a young man from an enemy’s family (yes, quite obviously Romeo and Juliet at first glance). Another noblewoman takes her aside and explains to her, in the bluntest possible terms, why writing an impassioned letter to a man she’s never met is a Really Bad Idea, and what the consequences could be. And as it turns out, her potential Romeo is a sociopath who sees marrying her and murdering her (and his) entire family as a great way to gain the income to support his mistress…
I’d add Beauty and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. Hero and the Crown wasn’t bad, but the “magic on the Northwest Frontier” aspect of Blue Sword adds a layer of fun. Along those lines, Talbot Mundy’s King of the Khyber Rifles is an old-school Victorian adventure novel set on the Northwest Frontier. It is Victorian, and part of a series, but it’s adventure and espionage and Romance.
C. Chancy’s Pearl of Fire. Mysterious problems, religious differences, and a veteran dealing with survivor’s guilt-of-a-sort while living on the (literal) edge of a volcano and trying to keep the place from blowing sky high. No romance but slow growing friendships based on mutual respect.
Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series. It draws on English folklore and had a huge influence on me as a younger teen. Yes, it is a touch dated, and you might have to explain how land-line telephones didn’t always work, and that yes, people could live without computers, but the stories still work beautifully. I re-read the title volume almost every December.
Ooh, loved those two McKinley books!
Hand to forehead, fingers splayed.
C. Chancy’s Pearl of Fire.
Goodness, yes, she got Both the military “feel,” and the cop “feel,” right.
Thank you! 🙂
Seriously, thank you.
It can be easy to go all in on the “oh, I am Veteran, we are law enforcement, woe is us nobody can understaaaaaand….”
Nope. Still just people.
I think that’s one of the most awesome things about being a writer. “I am a human/sapient being, let’s see how I think a human in this alien/fantasy setting would pull it off….”
I liked the McKinley books a lot. Similar genre is Red Moon on Black Mountain by Joy Chant, One of the few books the daughter and I agree on.
The sequel to Red Moon and Black Mountain is not quite as good, but it is good. (Unless I am remembering another book by someone else.)
I agree, they fell off in quality, I think she only wrote four books total, one being a retelling of the Arthurian legends with the source material.
I inherited my copy of Red Moon on Black Mountain from my late father, it’s a first edition, first printing, slightly foxed. It’s held up very well considering. I managed to ruin the first edition, first printing Ballantine LOTR through over reading but I managed not to ruin RMoBM and my children read it with due care after I promised them previews of hell should they ruin it.
Still one of my favorites.
I’ll go for a shoutout for one of the N. Texas Troublemakers. OldNFO’s Rimworld series
combines Frontier Planet stories, an AI that’s very impressive, some romance and space opera. Not listed in the book is a novella “Stranded” as well as “Rimworld – JACE”. These give some backstory to the main series. FWIW, J. L. Curtis released a snippet of backstory for Ethan Fargo. One of the Cronin family (Grey Man series–also really good) makes a cameo appearance.
Argh. Didn’t expect to see the graphic in the listing.
Thanks for the shout out!
I’ve been on a Star Wars Legends (or so they now refer to the decannonized novels) kick. Specifically the early novels, before the prequel movies, where the authors are still speculating about stuff like the Clone Wars and who Luke and Leia’s mother was and how Anakin fell. So much mystery and creativity by talented writers.
I’m reading the less well known stuff, not the Thrawn and X Wing books that everybody knows about.
I personally liked Truce at Bakura – early romance for Luke, and fighting evil lizard aliens who suck out proposals to power their battle droids.
Children of the Jedi – another Luke romance in a very inventive setting, an exploration of Leia’s struggles, and a beautiful and bittersweet tone.
Planet of Twilight – some of the coolest and creepiest enemies.
I even sort of liked Crystal Star, characters were a little out of character, but Leia’s search for her kidnapped children was stirring, and we get to explore the kid’s personalities.
The Black Fleet trilogy – the New Republic has to figure itself out as a great power while being manipulated by a smaller dictatorship that’s conducting genocidal expansion into neighboring planets and doesn’t want the New Republic to intervene.
Almost forgot the Courtship of Princess Leia – a planet of Amazon Force “witches”, how can you go wrong?
And the Han Solo trilogy of course
And the Lando Trilogy. I think I still have a copy of that one.
Can’t forget that!
Years ago, I had Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (I doubt I have the title entirely correct) by Alan Dean Foster. This was released between ANH and Empire, so the Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker connection was Cloaked-Dude vs That Kid.
I assume it was decanonized once Empire was released.
Actually, that was the title.
“I assume it was decanonized once Empire was released.”
Seeing as how a major subplot was Luke having the heat raising hankering for his sister Leia, and vice-versa, I believe it was decanonized about the time the script was outlined.
Darned good novel, though. Very solid, one of Foster’s best in that vein.
Originally, the “There is another” lost-sister character was going to be a different girl than Leia. Conflating the two was a pretty good script decision, but it did have consequences.
I love those early ones. When there was more leeway. I didn’t mention Splinter because it’s one of the better-known ones.
The lizards suck out persons souls, not proposals.
Yesterday I was in Walmart and found a Star Wars novel. Good grief. Title, “The Princess and the Scoundrel,” and it should be an inspiration to aspiring writers everywhere.
Plot- Han marries Leia and they go off together, alone, on a high-end interstellar cruise ship for a honeymoon. Adventures ensue.
As I said, good grief. Leader of an interstellar rebellion takes a honeymoon, no guards, no escorts, no nothing? Not even Luke aboard disguised as a maintenance guy? Give me a break.
As I said, an inspiration. “If she could get this published….”
Dorothy, it MIGHT not be as bad as all that.
Travelling with an entourage automatically gets you NOTICED. Travelling incognito has been the preferred solution of royalty since the dawn of time (Peter the Great, etc.) Of course, no author of modern SF (Weber excepted) seems to have given a single thought to the capabilities of modern surveillance tech.
Besides, Han Solo, gunfighter without peer (just ask him), would probably feel insulted if anyone suggested she needed any bodyguard besides him. 😎
I might agree if the tone hadn’t felt like someone writing for an audience of 12-year-olds. But again, I only read snippets so I’m probably not doing it justice.
AND as I understand it, the ship in question was shameless cross-promoting for that fiendishly expensive Star Wars Hotel Experience Disney was selling.
This is modern Disney Star Wars, Han will probably trip over his own feet, shoot himself in the fundamentals and Leia will save the day, along with Sassy Female Co-Star of the Week.
Oh, I love Father Brown! To heck with free stories, I picked up a compendium off Amazon with all the stories from all the books. (And now here I am regretting not bringing that book to college. Sigh.)
I’ll probably post several recommendations later, after I’ve checked in on what school tasks I can get done today. If I start my list now, I may never finish it.
He’s just so fun!
Stay away from the BBC adaptations. They have nothing to do with Father Brown. They made him into a semi high church Anglican country vicar who seems to be very woke.
The new ones, yes; did massive damage to the point of excusing a serial rapist because.. .uh… bi?
I don’t know who did the old ones on Mystery! theater, but they were like early 90s at the latest and I don’t remember any really bad things in them.
Ugh, yeah. I tried to watch it on Netflix but got so tired of every other episode involving one or more persons with SSAD. (Same Sex Attraction Disorder)
I will say, the episodes with Flambeau were generally entertaining. (Even if they weren’t accurate to the book version of Flambeau. I can accept it being difficult to find an actor physically big and powerful enough to pull off a giant of stunning acrobatics who is simultaneously charismatic enough to manage Flambeau’s particular style of daring thievery.)
1970’s UK Father Brown version is awesome. Lots of old Dr. Who, Wodehouse, and Mystery actors, too.
Well, on one hand, if I’m going to list books that I really, lastingly love:
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (lots of editions!)
Kim, by Rudyard Kipling (https://www.amazon.com/Oxford-Worlds-Classics-Rudyard-Kipling/dp/0199536465/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1OYQQGK2WPACS&keywords=kim+rudyard+kipling+oxford&qid=1661612430&sprefix=kim+rudyard+kipling+oxford%2Caps%2C99&sr=8-2)
Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers (https://www.amazon.com/Gaudy-Night-Wimsey-Mystery-Harriet/dp/0062196537/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1661612571&sr=8-1)
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien (lots of editions!)
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand (https://www.amazon.com/Atlas-Shrugged-Ayn-Rand/dp/B00IBP5KQK/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3TTFGXSVGDRO1&keywords=atlas+shrugged&qid=1661612977&s=books&sprefix=atlas+shrugged%2Cstripbooks%2C114&sr=1-2)
Citizen of the Galaxy, by Robert Heinlein (https://www.amazon.com/Citizen-Galaxy-Robert-Heinlein/dp/1416505520/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1661613081&sr=1-1)
The Queen’s Gambit, by Walter Tevis (https://www.amazon.com/Queens-Gambit-Novel-Walter-Tevis/dp/1400030609/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1661613510&sr=1-1)
Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny (https://www.amazon.com/Lord-Light-Roger-Zelazny/dp/0060567236/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1661613145&sr=1-1)
The Pride of Chanur, by C.J. Cherryh (https://www.amazon.com/Pride-Chanur-C-J-Cherryh/dp/093209645X/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1661613610&sr=1-1)
Courtship Rite, by Donald M. Kingsbury (https://www.amazon.com/Courtship-Rite-Donald-Kingsbury/dp/B002GZPSR2/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=courtship+rite+kingsbury&qid=1661613198&s=books&sprefix=courtship+rite%2Cstripbooks%2C96&sr=1-1)
Sabriel, by Garth Nix (https://www.amazon.com/Sabriel-25th-Anniversary-Classic-Garth/dp/0063040506/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1661613238&sr=1-1)
The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman (various editions)
A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge (https://www.amazon.com/Deepness-Sky-S-F-Masterworks/dp/1473211964/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1661613439&sr=1-1)
Courtship Rite is a truly subversive novel….take a race of cannibals and not only make them sympathetic, but admirable. They cull the young and infirm, but are horrified by the concept of war.
(The worst thing that can happen to you is to die knowing your body can’t be eaten by your firends and family).
Yes. To my mind the most brilliant scene in that wonderful novel is the passage where Oelita the Heretic goes outside and falls on her face before the god she has denied all her life, thanking him for saving her from the horror of life on Earth.
I know of hardly any SF novels to equal it. It’s a tragedy that it has been allowed to go out of print—and hasn’t even been made available as an ebook.
Not really sure Why I like the following two series but I do.
Joyce Harmon, Regency Mage series (currently four books). I keep checking for Book Five.
The first book is Mary Bennet And The Bingley Codex. The blurb for the first book really describes the series. IE “A magical sequel to Pride and Prejudice.” Joyce Harmon appears to “violate” the canon for ” Pride and Prejudice”, but her Mary Bennet pulled me into the story. 😀
Mel Todd, Twisted Luck series (currently six books & two short stories)
The first book is My Luck. Set in a magical “our world” (I don’t remember when magic entered this universe but it was somewhat recent). As somebody else mentioned (weeks ago), each book seems to be a series of events rather than a plotted story. Somehow it works. 😀
Along possibly-similar lines to Regency Mage, I love Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I’ve only read it twice, but when you realize it’s the ne plus ultra of goat-gaggers at 300k words (yes, you read that right, three hundred thousand words), you can understand why I’ve only read it twice so far. Premise: the Learned Society of York Magicians, who are all “theoretical magicians” who can study magic but not practice it, are stunned to learn of a “practical magician” named Mr. Norrell. If he’s real, and he does prove to be real, he’s the first magician England has had in centuries. Soon there’s another, his apprentice Jonathan Strange, and the two men become both friends and rivals, in a complicated relationship. Then there’s the mysterious gentleman with the thistle-down hair: he’s obviously some kind of faerie being, but what exactly does he want? And was it a good idea to strike a deal with him? (Hint: no. No, it wasn’t.)
Regency Mage is much lighter than Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell seems to be.
There are secret magic societies in the Regency Mage universe but the series has one of the better reasons for the societies to remain secret.
Basically magicians had been practicing openly over (roughly) two thousand years prior to the “present time” but were feared and had two weaknesses.
It was possible for magicians to be “taken off guard” and killed by non-magicians.
Secondly, children of magicians were unlikely to be magicians thus the vast majority of magicians were children of non-magicians. Of course, it would be much easier to kill a child who was a magician than it would be to kill most adult magicians.
So all the magicians of the past meet (even though they were enemies) and decided to go underground to protect themselves and future magical children.
There was a major rewriting of history involved thus few believe that magic was ever real.
The societies exist to prevent magic used in war, to find/raise magical children and to deal with magical threats (human and otherwise).
Mary is unusual in that most magical children are discovered as children, she was almost adult when she discovered magic.
Loved that book. Never been tempted to read it again, though.
The author fell off the radar after the book for one reason or another, but she put a new one out (evidently just in time to be creamed by the lockdowns). I’ve been wanting to check it out, but haven’t had time to tackle a goatgagger.
Not really sure Why I like the following two series but I do.
:laughs: There’s a reason that I made the why optional…some stuff, it is just awesome, not sure why.
Let’s start with the easy stuff that needs no introduction.
Lensman series, by EE Smith. Invented space opera. And lots of other stuff. Liked the comment above about Companions being Lenses on hoofs.
Heinlein juveniles. ‘Nuff said.
Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. Shards of Honor shows Lois’s potential wonderfully. I tend to find cringe humor and drama offputting – usually from the “there but fot the grace of God go I” perspective- so I don’t reread Miles’ early life missdventures that often. But when he matures – Komarr and A Civil Campaign may be the pinnacle of post-Golden Age SF. Ekaterin on truth syrum may be the single best exploration of the dissolution of a marriage ever written; Aral’s discourse on honor, the best life advice. Lois’s classic one-liners have caused me to name her, in my mind, the Shakespeare of the space age.
Ringo’s The Last Centurion.
Now the not so easy or common. My son’s interest in anime has lead me into some side explorations of my own. Invaders of the Rokujouma is a slow burn wonder. Koutarou Satomi stumbles into a $50 a month basic Japanese efficiency apartment – a rokujouma – when he decides to stay at home for high school after his widowed father is reassigned. The apartment is so cheap because it’s supposedly haunted. Well, not only does the ghost – that of an adolescent girl – want him out. Over the next few days, an inept magical girl, a mature for her age priestess of a subterranean kingdom, and a royal brat of an alien princess show up demanding the apartment. However, this is not a fantasy kitchen sink of a “harem” story; its far more a found family story with romantic elements. The girls bond with each other (and several other characters unnamed here) and work together against their rivals, eventually combining their two magical systems and alien technology in ways that force their rivals to also team. The titular anime covers the first seven volumes of what is now a 42 (and growing) volume series.
The Irregular at Magic High School is a slighty shorter (30 plus volumes in Japan, 19 currently in English) series that has a bit more of a reputation (for reasons probably not offputting to anyone who enjoyed Time Enough for Love). Magic is discovered about “now,” and it’s learned that magical ability can be nourished by selective breeding and genetic engineering. By 2095, the start of the series, this results in Taysuya Shiba and his sister Miuyki. Tatsuya is the most powerful combat magician of his generation – but is inept at most more routine magical tasks, hence his classification as irregular, since this is all a family secret. Miuyki is more generally powerful, beautiful, and popular. I fell into this series because I found the magic systems interesting, as well as the politics of what is essentially a magitek cold war with mostly conscripted soldiers and lots of infighting and intrigue.
The series starting with A Certain Magical Index hasn’t held my interests like the ones above. But the initial story of the most popular side character has. Mikoto Misaka is known as the railgun – a genetically engineered psychic with intense electromagnetic force control. Think of Magneto as a 14 year old chipper, sometimes snarky, girl. One who has just discovered that she has been cloned. And that her clones are being used as cannon fodder for death duals with an engineered rival because he has higher potential. Fortunately she has the attention of series protagonist Touma Kamijo. Who possesses only the negative power of being able to cancel magic and psychic abilities- as long as he can touch them. Interestingly, Touma Kamijo is the reading of Japanese kanji that roughly translate to “the demonslayer who talks back to God.”
Wow, I never thought I would see someone else here recommending Invaders of the Rokujouma… I thought that I would be the only one here with that guilty reading pleasure. 🙂
Good to know I have a shared interest. I have read the whole series twice, through Volume 30 thrice, and some favorite scenes (e.g the space battle in Volume 13) over and over.
I have a love/hate relationship with Time Enough for Love. (shrug)
More love for me. I had a cat named Ishtar, and have named computers Minerva, Athena and Dora. Minerva got renamed because reasons (Moriarty was a better name for that one), but A and D are still active. (Other computers in the household split between Sherlock Holmes names and TMiaHM, with “Mycroft” in both camps.)
TEfL came out my junior or senior year in college and getting started at being an adult (for values) was a factor in appreciating the book. Lazarus Long was a influence, whether for good or not is up for debate.
The manga series I’ve liked best so far is Silver Spoon. High school boy from the city fails his entrance exams for the elite high school his father wants for him. So he enrolls in a rural boarding school that emphasizes agriculture, thinking that its curriculum can’t be any challenge—and in fact the academic part of the curriculum is easy for him; he ends up tutoring a lot of his classmates. But he didn’t think through the implications of its being an agricultural school . . . It’s often quite funny but also has some excellent serious character interaction. It’s rather like one of Heinlein’s “man who learned better” stories, but set on present-day Earth and with no fantastic elements (though it definitely has some scientific content!).
The ‘Elfhome’ series by Wen Spencer.
See, it all started when Leonardo da Vinci DuFae invented a hyperphase gate. Well, no, actually it started a few years before the French Revolution… Anyway, Chinese spies murdered DuFae, stole the plans and built the gate in orbit. When they switched it on, the spaceship Dahe Ho went somewhere else — but so did Pittsburgh, on the other side of the Earth. When they switched it off, Pittsburgh came back. Along with elves.
Elfhome is a version of Earth in an alternate universe, loaded with magic and inhabited by elves. The bits of magic we experience in our world leak through from Elfhome. When the hyperphase gate is active, a fifty-mile circle of Pennsylvania gets swapped with the equivalent area of Elfhome. Eventually, the Chinese set up a schedule: the gate is shut down for one day every month. Shutdown is when trade between Pittsburgh and Earth is possible.
The novels, in order:
Wolf Who Rules
Project Elfhome — a collection of Elfhome stories
Wood Sprites — meanwhile, in New York, other stuff has been happening
Be warned, ‘Harbinger’ ends in a monstrous cliffhanger. I just hope we don’t have to wait 8 more years to find out what happens.
Here’s the first line of Tinker:
This book and it’s sequel are the best things I’ve read in years. The worldbuilding is one of the few I’d put on the level of Gene Wolf’s Book of the New Sun. And the prose…The prose…it might not be for everyone, but reading the blurb alone was intoxicating and I read the whole thing in a state of ecstasy.
In the counter-earth of paleozoic darkness and daemonic sway, the people of Arras have dwindled, retreating from Urgit and Cormrum-by-the-Sea to clutches of domes in the desert. But still they walk the songlines of the seraphim, preserving their primeval lore.
When Keftu, the rightful-born young phylarch, returns from a journey to find his people poisoned, he sets out to discover the secret of immortality. He is drawn to Enoch, the rust-stained city of stone, mankind’s omega. There his plans change as he falls under the power of an urban warlord and falls in love with a mysterious harlot.
Rising from slavery as a slayer in the pits, Keftu ascends on wings of resin and bone to trouble the world-city’s oversoul. Will he succeed in scaling the sea-girt, stratospheric Tower of Bel and gaining the Hanging Gardens of Narva? Or will the city devour him before he can find his place in it?
Dragonfly is the first in a series of sword-and-planet tales set in Antellus, the alter-earth circling an alien star at the dim ultima Thule of the universe, a world of prehistoric beasts and ocean-girding cities, ancient ruins and space elevators, primordial daemons and antediluvian races.
Inspired by the first master fantasists – Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lord Dunsany, E. R. Eddison, H. Rider Haggard, William Hope Hodgson – and pulp writers like Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith, Dragonfly combines a contemplative outlook with a drive to action, a sense of mystery with a dash of violence.
Sorry, wrong link
James Schmitz – Witches of Karres. Spaceships, a befuddled on the run explorer, and 3 mischief making underage witches. Several follow on volumes too. Family friendly.
Mackay Chandler – the April series. Libertarian style set in the nearish future, on a space habitat that decides to become independent. A few breakthrough inventions, 3 teenagers who push things (a lot) and a lot of dark politics (sadly probably pretty accurate).
Phil and Kaja Folio – Girl Genius series. An illustrated series, available free at their website, as PDFs and as audio books (excellent). Steampunk fantasy “Adventure, Romance, Mad Science”. My favorite is Krosp, Emperor of All Cats.
Yes, Mackey Chandler’s “April” series is terrific, and so is his “Family Law” series. These two series mix together and I understand they are going to merge completely at some point in the future.
Robin McKinley…her Hero and the Crown is one of my all time favorites and the first book without pictures I very read. Not many later books have measured up.
The ‘Worldwar’ series by Harry Turtledove.
Spring, 1942. When a young man’s fancies turn to baseball, war, and — alien invasion?!? WTF, O?
That’s right, just when we’ve got World War 2 nicely underway, we’re rudely interrupted by lizardlike aliens from Tau Ceti bent on planetary conquest. Only, they didn’t expect us to have railroads, battleships, airplanes, machine guns, radio and radar. Why, when their robotic probe discovered Tosev 3 a mere 900 years ago, we hadn’t even figured out steam engines!
Still, after building their space fleet, raising and training 100,000 soldiers, and spending 20 years getting here, going Home empty-handed would be far too humiliating. They launch their attack by setting off dozens of atomic bombs in low orbit to take out our electronics. Except, our 1942 technology was based on vacuum tubes, which are practically immune to EMP. The aliens didn’t think of that; they haven’t used vacuum tubes in 20,000 years!
Poor Lizards. Their initial successes bog down into a grinding slog against these intractable, defiant, fiendishly clever and inventive Tosevites. One day, the Deutsche tribe of Tosevites takes out one of their landing ships with a gigantic artillery gun from more than 50 miles away! They blast the gun to bits from orbit, of course, but when they clean up the wrecked ship, they discover that most of the explosive-metal from its nuclear arsenal is missing…
A historical science fiction series of 8 books:
Worldwar: In The Balance
Worldwar: Tilting The Balance
Worldwar: Upsetting The Balance
Worldwar: Striking The Balance
Colonization: Second Contact
Colonization: Down To Earth
Oh! A quote:
A Greek Orthodox ship captain, watching a mushroom cloud rise over Rome: “Welp, there goes the Pope. I ain’t Catholic, but that’s a hell of a thing to do to him.”
For Harry Turtledove, I’d recommend a different selection.
Starting with “The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump”. (Who knew he could do humor?)
“How Few Remain” and “In the Presence of mine Enemies” as his best alternate histories.
Now that sounds like a hellaciously fun read.
I concur Worldwar is a romp in some ways.
Got Ginger ?
Wow. Historical fiction has never really been my thing, but this sounds awesome.
Although it’s a little strange to root for the Germans of that age. But against an invading army of aliens, it feels like ‘We’re not working together, but there’s a common enemy we’re all trying our best to kill, so…’
A classic example of “The enemy of my enemy is not my friend, only my enemy’s enemy, but we can work toward a common goal. For the moment.”. Sort of like the US and the USSR in WWII.
Sometime commenter Tom Simon has the amazing book Lord Talon’s Revenge, as well as the novels The End of Earth and Sky (part 1 of a series) and Where Angels Die: Angel Keep (part 1 of a series). And he has a bunch of essay books. And they’re all freaking good.
Seriously, why the heck does the rest of Canadian literature EVEN TRY. Margaret Atwood should go on pilgrimage to his house and take him as her sensei. He should not be given grants, so much as he should be named a national treasure.
Peter J. Floriani’s ridiculously wonderful Joe the Cable Guy, which is basically a slice of life technothriller about the 1980’s cable industry; and his ridiculously long and awesome De Bellis Stellarum novels and side stories about the founding of a modern order of knights.
Which he hasn’t made into ebooks. I have an entire shelf of like thirty books by this guy, and that’s not even counting the nonfiction, and precisely one of his books is an ebook. And I will keep buying his books in softcover, if that’s what it takes.
Excuse me. It’s Joe the Control Room Guy, and I don’t know why I keep making that mistake.
I forgot to say he’s a huge G.K. Chesterton scholar too, besides being a computer guy and general polymath. He put out an annotated Everlasting Man last year (also not an ebook, what the heck dude….)
Crud, I didn’t even manage the author page link correctly.
I give up. I guess the first link was better.
Seconding Bujold, McKinley, Chancy, etc. And any of the regular denizens around here with books, because a lot of them are very close to my heart. The more critical of small things that I’ve been, probably the more I like them!
I just wish more of my fan friends and acquaintances would publish independently, because a lot of people who should have, didn’t. Even if it’s just trashy fun, I’m totally okay with that.
I tried to keep it to one rec’ per author, with the idea it’d get more variety. 😀
Also, if you read (and re-read) essays for fun, as I do, Tom Simon’s collections are excellent value.
Try Style Is the Rocket (story is the payload)
hmm. getting strange around here (in Reader) with comments and notifications.
Yeah, I’m getting replies via email, and I have not checked the box, nor do I have a WP(DE) login. Nor Twit, nor Book of Faeces.
was just the one comment I was getting them for, and it might have stopped. Or I’ve not commented since (nor have I checked email today)
John Whitbourne and his Binscombe Tales (Starting with “Waiting for a Bus and other stories”).
I don’t much care for his longer fiction. What I’ve read of those have been grey goo. But the short stories of Biscombe? They’re great. Such a charming little town. In a magical realism urban fantasy way. It does lean into horror, but not for shock, gore, monsters and the like.
I hold his “The Anubis Gates” is still the best time travel story ever written. And he’s got a couple novellas that are just (chef’s kiss).
But my favorite story of his is actually “Last Call”. Take myths of magic, the founding of Las Vegas, a cursed deck of tarot cards, high stakes poker, the Mandelbrot set, and see how they’re all connected in an absolute fever dream of a story.
I go back and forth on whether “The Anubis Gates” or “Declare” is Powers’ best. You can’t go wrong with either.
(Or anything by Tim Powers — you can’t go wrong, except possibly with the two books he wrote for Laser.)
“Last Call” and “Declare” are his two best, although I just slightly prefer “Declare”. Once you’ve read five or six you can easily see the standard story pattern he uses, but usually the window dressing is fun.
I have tremendous respect for Declare, which is more tightly plotted than anything else he’s written. But I have to say it’s tied with The Stress of Her Regard for being my favorite Powers. His take on that weekend at the Villa Diodati is just really amazing.
Many years ago, at a convention in San Diego, he appeared as writer guest of honor, and for his spotlight I interviewed him. And he talked about asking Gregory Benford about the silicon lifeforms in The Stress of Her Regard, and having Benford say, first, that they didn’t work scientifically, but second, that here was how to make them sound plausible if you wanted to have them anyway . . .
OK, I’ll play. I’ll even keep it to science fiction. 🙂
#1 is the Lensman Series, of course. The Mother of All Space Operas, and a masterpiece of the genre. Big, bold, and heroic. Everybody else has been chasing Doc Smith, copying his ideas (usually badly). Tip for aspiring writers – study how Smith manages to make Heroic Single Combat involving the characters plausible in the plot. Tip for young people – you can do far worse things with your life than develop the skills of a Lensman.
#2 is “The Mote in God’s Eye”. This is Niven and Pournelle’s finest work. It’s the classic First Contact story…but turned inside-out so that humans are the society with interstellar travel, the Moties the aliens that we have to figure out how to deal with.
#3 is Frank Herbert’s “Dune”. Forget the sequels. Once in a while, a writer will craft a story that is well outside his normal range…for Herbert, this was it. It cuts hard against most of the classic Space Opera tropes, and manages to do so plausibly.
#4 is John Wright’s Golden Ocumene trilogy. This is another good example of Space Opera (A genre Wright has played with, with varying degrees of success. Worth studying if you’re an author.) Very different technology base.
“#3 is Frank Herbert’s “Dune”. Forget the sequels.”
Yes, exactly this.
I third this motion. The second book was mostly OK, but not as good as the original. And then they plunged downhill like a steam engine trying to jump the Grand Canyon. In my opinion. YMMV.
I’ll fourth it. Herbert wrote some other good stories in addition to “Dune”, but the “Dune” sequels were pretty much dreck (“Dune Messiah” was readable, barely, but I couldn’t even get halfway through the next).
Three thumbs way up for The Mote in God’s Eye. 🙂
Dune is fantastic, Dune Messiah is okay, Children of Dune breaks canon all over the place, and I read the first chapter of God Emperor of Dune when it was published in (ahem) Playboy back in the ’80s and was glad I hadn’t paid for the whole book.
I enjoy The Mote in God’s Eye, and I’ve read the letters where Robert Heinlein advised N&P on how to make it work better, in terms of both plot and style—which show how very conscious a literary artist Heinlein was, contrary to the assumptions of some critics. But I can’t feel satisfied with the biology of the Moties. It seems to have an oversimplified model of natural selection where the variable that is maximized is reproductive rate, all the time, every time.
The Chronicles of Old Guy gives us the adventures of a cybertank, the aforementioned Old Guy.
The Chronicles of Old Guy (Volume 1) (An Old Guy/Cybertank Adventure)
by Timothy J Gawne
Anyway, cybertanks are the inheritors of humanity’s legacy. Their intellects are based on ours, but able to run multiple copies of their minds in parallel. As far as any of the cybertanks know, humanity just left one day…
The series leans seriously libertarian, and to an extent was inspired by a sibling telling the author, “I bet you can’t work THAT into a story.” Which the author proceeds to do.
Very little (none?) non-fiction so far.
It’s kind of a specialist work, and pretty dated, but C W Oman’s “The Art of War in the Middle Ages A.D. 378-1515 ” is one of my favorites.
Much more modern and currently on-line, I quite enjoy Bret C. Devereaux and his website “A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry”, https://acoup.blog/
Updates most Fridays.
I’ll go to the commonplace, Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings; kind of an annual re-read, and I did read them to my kids.
Maurice Druon’s Accursed Kings series, although the 7th is a strange addition amounting to ‘The Cardinal and the Battle of Poitiers’. Yes, I’m aware of GRR Martin’s comment, but I read the first 5 while in high school, and he’s just a year older than I am. https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B07SRJSVG7?searchxofy=true&binding=kindle_edition&ref_=dbs_s_aps_series_rwt_tkin&qid=1661628454&sr=8-2
Sharon Kay Penman’s series on the Plantagenets; used to own them in hardcover, one of the hard choices to sell before moving a couple years ago. And her Justin de Quincy novels – smaller scope, same time period. My library used to have a lot of Penman’s other works; I believe I started with The Sonne in Splendour, and I enjoyed them all.
Little story: we just did a guided tour in France, ‘In the footsteps of the Plantagenets’; our subject-matter guide has her masters in Art History from U of Poitiers, she’s an American who has been studying in France about 19 years. I asked her if she had read the Druon series; she said “who?”.
In France, Druon is not pronounced ‘droo on’. If you don’t nasal the hell out of the ‘on’ (and closer to ‘own’), the French speakers don’t know what you are saying. Once establishing the subject, she replied yes (read in French, of course) and most educated Frenchmen had read the series. (She, herself, had learned a lot of French from reading the French Harry Potter with a dictionary at hand.)
Said guide also does not like the history in Penman; I don’t like some of the history in Shakespeare, but I still enjoy the History plays. Depending on your depth of knowledge, I guess some things grate more than others.
Raymond E Feist’s Riftwar series. I like some of the successors, too.
Leiber’s Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories.
Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber. Some of it does get repetitive …
And, a general interest in anything ‘magic’. I want to see how authors explain where it comes from. For example, Rowling never even tries – yer a wizard or a muggle, that’s how it is. Lots of hand-waving, I’m afraid, but I still read to see at least that much. Too many works to cite, and many I don’t actually ‘like’.
I still love “Citizen of the Galaxy”.
Dune, Children of Dune, and Dune Messiah.
Being able to predict the future and being able to control it are two different things. It’s a terrible thing to foresee what happens when you attempt control and lose it.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.
Thomas Covenant, a writer afflicted with incurable leprosy, a shattered marriage and career, and who is grimly fighting prejudice and social ostracism, is chosen by a mysterious beggar as his champion. He is transported to a Land of magical beauty and confronted by the land’s enemy, a being known as Lord Foul, the Despiser. Covenant refuses to admit the Land is real or that he has any power, and is decidedly not a hero: He is callous, selfish, and cynical. When his leprosy is cured, in a rush of passion he commits the terrible crime of rape of the young innocent girl who first befriended him. A lot of readers quit here in disgust. But if one continues, one may find that against his own will, Thomas is drawn to the Land and gradually commits to siding with its defenders. As he is confronted again and again with the horrific consequences of his own actions he attempts, inadequately, to make amends. He gradually realizes that he has the power he had refused to believe in. He is also moved by the examples of love, loyalty, fidelity, and friendship he finds among the peoples of the Land in spite of his own unworthiness. He finds examples of courageous resistance to overwhelming despair, as well as the failure of such courage. His sojourn in the Land is interrupted by returns to his own natural world, where his leprosy has not been cured, and he finds that his fears that his belief in the Land would result in his losing control of it are coming true. Nevertheless, he cannot afford to disbelieve in the Land, either. He recognizes that his attempted evasions of responsibility are not only cowardly but futile and destructive, and that he must confront his own inner Despiser as well as the externalized Lord Foul. He must become the hero he originally was not, because no one else could do the job. Finally, he confronts and casts down Lord Foul, which enables the Land to endure and returns to his own natural world with strength to live, not just survive.
Lest someone be persuaded by that, Thomas Covenant is a protagonist with no redeeming qualities, and never develops any.
The good characters line up and sacrifice themselves, because they believe in him. Even though he’s manifestly unworthy of such belief
In the end, he succeeds not from any idealistic or noble reason. He’s simply more terrified of certain death than the magic he can’t control.
I am included to highly dispute that “no redeeeming qualities and never develops any”, but I won’t try to back up my opinion with quotes. Yes, the good characters line up and sacrifice themselves, because they believe in him even when there is evidence that he is unworthy of such belief, and when he actively rejects the notion that he is. But I do think that belief proves justified in the end.
My dad started reading the Thomas Covenant series back in the mid-80s (or was it only the one book back then?) and didn’t finish it because that was his sense of it, too. I’ve heard enough to know that it’s the kind of story I don’t want to waste my time on.
Similarly, I would never recommend George RR. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones books to anyone. I find them repulsive — but that’s only after reading the entire series as it existed at the time. They were the definition of compelling. Couldn’t stop reading, but man, I do NOT want to go back there.
BUT…that said…to each his own. I know plenty of people who loved GoT and spent a lot of time in that world. There’s no accounting for taste.
I read the first Thomas Covenant trilogy and had to kind of force my way through the last book. My friend read the second trilogy and told me about it and I had no interest in reading them myself.
There are three series: the Second Chronicles and the Third Chronicles. I’ve read them all and find them worth rereading from time to time, which I can’t even say for everything I have liked. I have personal reasons for appreciating Thomas Covenant as a character, but since this isn’t a self-psychoanalysis session I won’t go into them. They aren’t light reading and I wouldn’t recommend them for children. They certainly aren’t to everyone’s taste. But I saw a definite pattern of redemption and character growth, both in him and in his co-protagonist Linden Avery, in the second and third Chronicles, and some thoughts worth chewing on.
By contrast, I also read the Song of Ice and Fire, the first four books, and although the storytelling was good enough to keep me going, it didn’t stay that way. It got more repellent and more disgusting the further I went, and I found nothing redeeming at all.
I got through the first Thomas Covenant trilogy but couldn’t finish the rest. I thought the first book in Martin’s GOT opus was tremendous, they went steadily downhill when he lost his discipline and became uneditable.
One of the first books that I was reading and then put aside because the character broke my suspension of disbelief.
I just couldn’t get in the head-space where I’d go “oh, this is a dream– great! I’ll do whatever!”
So, VERY early in the first book.
His “do whatever” was mostly “go with the flow.” It took him quite a while to build up to “Hellfire, you can’t DO this to me!” or sufficient resentment at being made Lord Foul’s errand boy.
Or perhaps I could take the “Active denial of what your senses are telling you because you don’t dare believe it” a little bit easier because I had seen depictions of clinical insanity. Sometimes the will to believe, or disbelieve, can overwhelm the evidence of your senses.
Which brings up another favorite. “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden”, by Joanne Greenberg, not an SF story but a fictionalized autobiographical account of a teenage girl’s recovery from severe mental illness. No, I was never that mentally ill, but there were parts of her struggle that resonated strongly with me. I read and reread it often enough to practically have the thing memorized.
His “do whatever” was mostly “go with the flow.”
I have now relaxed to the point where I can observe the flow, and even evaluate it.
That took.. at LEAST a decade, after high school.
And I still give ‘the flow’ a stink-eye.
At that point? The flow was not happening, and I had zero room to buy into a flow. 😀
Haven’t seen this in the comments yet, I know some folks here use his hair sticks and have drooled over the knives he makes:
I verified it’s actually Benjamin Olson doing it.
For folks who missed the drama, part of what the Kung Flu screwed him up is that when he tested positive with several risk factors, they told him to isolate and gave some other bad medical advice, and then there was a weather emergency…. it was Bad.
Lord of Light (breaks almost every rule about writing — and Zelazny is brilliant enough to pull it off).
Poul Anderson — I could simply say, “Anything”, but if I had to pick a subset, I’d recommend Three Hearts and Three Lions, Tau Zero, The High Crusade, Operation Chaos, and, if you want a good large pile of stuff, the Baen seven volume Future History, and the NESFA Press seven volume collected shorter work.
Leigh Brackett — The Sword of Rhiannon (arguably the best of her planetary romances — but you can’t go wrong with almost anything she wrote).
Randall Garrett — Too Many Magicians (how do you do a locked room mystery in a universe with magic?). And, for those of you who recommended the Lensmen books (which I agree with), Garrett wrote the perfect pastiche with “Backstage Lensman”. And, for sheer amazement, “Despoilers of the Golden Empire” (get the version from Project Gutenberg, since it includes the author’s postscript — some of the reprints don’t include it).
Henry Kuttner/C. L. Moore (under lots of pennames, and often republished under one or the other of their names, when pretty much everything they wrote after they got together was collaborative) — again, you can’t go wrong, but I’d pick “Clash by Night” and Fury (same setting), “Vintage Season”, the Gallagher stories, usually collected in Robots Have No Tails, “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”, And “Shambleau” which Moore wrote before she met Kuttner.
For hard SF, Mission of Gravity (Clement), A Fire Upon the Deep (Vinge), Revelation Space (Reynolds).
And the list is getting too long as is, so I’d better stop.
I loved Sword of Rhiannon, with Carse and Ywain being great examples of ‘bad’ characters and quasi villains literally forced into becoming heroes.
But debatably Ywain wasn’t actually ‘evil,’ she was just on her people’s side in a barbaric time, but the snake people were out and out evil and working with them was an obscenity.
Second on the Lord Darcy stuff by Randall Garrett. Hard to get, Baen had rights to it for a bit and did a nice omnibus of all the stories including 2 that were unpublished. Scif-Fi Book club had an omnibus you can still get used for $4-6 from used booksellers. Whoever has the rights now broke it into three slim volumes. to claw money our of folks.
There’re two Lod Darcy’s I’ve never read ?
There’s a couple of posthumous ones written by Michael Kurland with the Garrett estate’s blessing:
A Study in Sorcery
Ten Little Wizards.
I’ve read Ten Little Wizards.
Garrett’s, “Murder on the Napoli Express,” is a wonderful send-up of, “Murderon the Orient Express.” Frankly, to me it’s a better story.
Michael Kurland is still writing books-?!
I thought he was like Doris Piserchia*… one of those authors who throw out an amazing novel or two and then go dark.
*Spaceling is so much fun. A rebellious kid in foster care with the ability to see these dimensional portals floating everywhere. She thinks she’s unique and uses it for skiing off mischief until the wider world comes knocking at her door and pulls her into an adventure.
You may or may not have read them, since the Baen book was an all-reprint collection. But they weren’t in the standard Lord Darcy collections, including the Book Club edition. Note that the Baen collection, and the Book CLub collection have the same title (Lord Darcy), so if you’re looking for a copy of the Baen collection, be careful not to get the Book Club one.
The two stories are:
The Bitter End — originally in Asimov’s, Sept-Oct 78
The Spell of War — originally in The Future at War, Vol 1 Thor’s Hammer – ed Reginald Bretnor, and later reprinted in The Best of Randall Garrett from Timescape
So you may well have read them, even if not in the Baen edition, which.is still in print in paper.
I have read, “The Spell of War,” Imthink.
Spell of War is the one I remembered. Effectively a prequel set in the 1939 Anglo-French/Polish great war. Darcy is a young officer, and Sean O’Lochlain is an enlisted Non-com (Sargeant?) sorcerer. A good addition to the cannon. The Bitter end I just don’t remember so it didn’t stand out from the rest. I suspect if you’re looking for physical copies the SFBC edition is FAR more numerous. By the time Baen published their version of the compendium E-Books were all the rage, certainly an E-book direct from Baen is how I own it. Sadly the seem to have only had the rights for a limited time, so now it’s somebody else’s Amazon is not telling me who, and as I said the took it back to the 3 book format that predated the SFBC compendium.
I think that’s the omnibus I bought at the thrift store. I should start it.
Well worth it whether its the SFBC version or the Baens. I will note because these were short stories meant to be standalone (and you were paid by the word 🙂 ) in various SF Magazines Garrett put in LOTS of back story/boilerplate on the nature of the Anglo-French Empire (and Magic) in each. The Baen edit reduced/removed that, but if you have the SFBC version after the second or third time you can just skip over it without missing plot points in most cases.
Liked Lord of Light, Although I liked Zelazny’s “Creatures of Light and Darkness” better When Zelazny was on he was excellent with an oddly Dashiell Hammett/ film noir flavor to his writing.
Yep, ‘Creatures Of Light And Darkness’, ‘Lord Of Light’ and ‘Doorways In The Sand’ are all in a row on my shelf. Along with ‘Isle Of The Dead’, ‘To Die In Italbar’, ‘Unicorn Variations’ and ‘The Last Defender Of Camelot’.
Martin: “I thought your typical unicorn was white.”
Tlingel: “I am archetypal, and possessed of virtues beyond the ordinary.”
All of the above, plus This Immortal and (to a lesser extent) Roadmarks. Plus both Amber quintologies(?); the first being the better IMHO.
De gustibus non disputandum. Same for music as it is for books.
I didn’t think so when I was a young whelp, but I’ve come to realize the truth of it. Nobody should ever be made to feel like something love reading/listening to is a guilty pleasure they can’t admit to. If it entertains you and feeds your soul, it’s a Good Thing and that’s all there is to it. I may hate it, but you may also hate something I love; either way, it’s okay. Neither of us gets to decide for the other.
Anyway, if I’m ever asked for recommendations, I almost always start with two authors:
Georgette Heyer — any of her couple-dozen Regency romances.
Like Jane Austen, but lighter, with an early 20th century writing style and more humor. If they hit the right spot for you like they do for me, you’ll be grinning all the way through and laughing out loud at (and with) her characters on the regular. I’ve read every one of my paperback Georgettes multiple times, some of them until they literally fell apart. I usually recommend these for people to start with: The Convenient Marriage, These Old Shades, The Unknown Ajax, Arabella.
Yes, I was thinking of listing that one as a gateway drug, too. There are so many great ones, though. If I didn’t put a hard stop at 3…or 4…the list would just never end.
If you Like Regency Romance and the Regency period you might like the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. Although it is closer to Hornblower and Aubrey/Maturin than Jane Austen.
Bernard Cornwell — the Richard Sharpe series.
Follows the titular soldier through the entire British involvement in the Napoleonic wars. Sharpe’s Eagle was the first one written; there are 7 prequels and at least 17 sequels. I recommend starting with Sharpe’s Rifles, which is where Lieutenant Richard Sharpe meets Sgt. Patrick Harper and transforms himself from a depressed, out-of-his-element quartermaster into (with the possible exception of Harper) the single most badass soldier in the Peninsular Wars.
Bernard Cornwell — the Saxon Tales, aka The Last Kingdom series.
Uhtred, a Saxon raised by Danes, becomes the unheralded warrior who makes King Alfred’s dream of a united England under Saxon rule a reality. Epic, bloody, and gritty, a hell of a ride. Cornwell really knows how to capture the essence of a bygone age and put you in the middle of it.
I enjoy the Shan/Priscilla stories more than Val Con and Miri, but both are good. Of course, there are at least two multi-novel arcs, and it looks like a third is just starting.
Supposed to be much higher in the thread….this is the Liad universe. Sorry.
Nobody mentioned James Schmitz?
Baen has put out collections of all his work, well worth having.
“Agent of Vega and Other Stories,” has, “The End of the Line,” probably my favorite non-series Schmitz story. (Which just BEGGED for a sequel). The Agent of Vega stories are space-opera romps (Quote from, “The Truth About Cushgar,” the last of the stories: “She swore it was true under a dozen lie detectors and on a stack of Lar-Sancaya’s holiest scriptures, but everyone knew what Pagadan could do to a a lie detector and as for the other…well, there remained a reasonable doubt.”)
There’s also, “The Witches of Karres,” and three posthumous “sequels,” written by Flint, Lackey, Dave Freer and at least one more writer. Not as good as the original but quite readable.
“She swore it was true under a dozen lie detectors and on a stack of Lar-Sancaya’s holiest scriptures, but everyone knew what Pagadan could do to a lie detector and as for the other…well, there remained a reasonable doubt.”
Great Line! 😀
I rather had a soft spot for Telzey Amberdon, myself.
Telzey is fun. Reading between the lines, she draws significantly from “Children of the Lens”…Schmitz made no secret of the fact that he thought the Kinnison daughters needed more than one book.
A minor note. I certainly can recommend the Baen editions — Eric Flint did the field a great service by putting a bunch of hard-to-get brilliant work back into print.
However, he did rewrite them, ranging from minor changes to significant ones. In the cases where he made significant changes, he and Baen made the great decision to make the original versions available on the Baen web site, for people who wanted to see them. However, if there were minor editing changes, he didn’t do so.
If you’re looking for the original versions, you’re mostly looking for old paperbacks, since there were very few hardcovers (Witches of Karres is an exception — there was an original hardcover, and a SF Book Club edition, so it’s easy to find a hardcover). And there’s a NESFA Press collection that reprints ten of his shorter works, in hardcover, still in print.
When NESFA decided to put older, out of print but really strong, works back into print, there were good reasons for picking Schmitz as the first author collected.
There was at least one Telzey Amberdon story that never made it to book form until the reprints.
My favorite, hands down, is Nile Etland, with Trigger Argee a close second.
But anything by Schmitz is good value (I am close to having all his stories to reread. Huzzah ILL)
And I cannot recommend Janet Kagan’s essay on Schmitz highly enough: “Mischief in the Spaceways” (available in the Best of James H. Schmitz)
Or anything by Janet Kagan, including her Star Trek tie-in novels. Hellspark is probably easiest to find about a linguist on a new planet survey, or try the Baen complete collection.
Come On Now! Fewer Book-Likes Here! I’m getting too many “Possible Reads” here! :crazy: U+1F92A 🤪
Trying to post a crazy/zany emoticon. 😉
Agree entirely about the Hoka. “Mon Brave”
Staying in Sci-fi/fantasy and off the top of my head
Lord of the Rings
Mote in God’s Eye
Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Tactics of Mistake
Cities in Flight
Red Moon on Black Mountain
That Hideous Strength
Everything by Pratchett
The first few Honor Harrington books, they went of the rails at some point
I like the Liaden books but don’t find myself rereading them.
Everything Bujold except the most recent Miles novel which struck me as a reaction to sad puppies
I really enjoyed Lies of Descent by Troy Carrol Bucher but haven’t found the next book yet, I really want to see what he does with this story.
The one that may not fit in here is Catherine Asaro. I really like her books.
You must mean ‘Gentleman Jole And The Red Queen’ because ‘Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance’ is all sorts of fun.
Ivan: “Two beautiful women kidnapped me and kept me in their apartment all night.”
Yes. It was all too gratuitous and didn’t add to the story arch in any way, add the timing and circumstances and …. Sigh. Why must we all take sides on everything all the time.
The endpoint of GJatRQ was perfectly fine, and could even have been satisfying to me if presented in another way (perhaps as C-plot to some other Vorkosiverse adventures?).
Not that Cordelia didn’t deserve another book of her own! She most assuredly did! Just … not this one, by my preference.
But discussing that book is for another time, another venue. (shrug)
And it broke the universe, and the reason we loved some of the characters, and spent half the story building up a huge plot point that… never went anywhere.
In my head cannon, the series ended with Cryoburn, and the epilogue / grace note was Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. For most certainly, cryoburn was the completion of the arc of life to death, and the weighing of the costs of keeping someone alive instead of letting them die.
The most poignant line in that series, one that took the whole series to build up to: “Ensign Dubaer’s ghost breathed in her ear.”
Someone I haven’t seen mentioned in a while is Gordon R. Dickson
The Childe Cycle (if you’re going to talk military SF, how could you possibly leave out the Dorsai !?)
the Dragon Knight series (starting with the Dragon and the George)
and too man others to count.
His futures were full of conflict, but it wasn’t dystopia and he didn’t write grey goo.
I like Tactics of Mistake more than Dorsai.
I’ve gotten number one son to read Dickson to see how to build believable,worlds without a lot of description. Description isn’t his (#1 son’s) best thing.
The Childe Cycle is generally good reading. I Like “Soldier Ask Not” the best but “Dorsai!” and “Tactics of Mistake” are also good.
My apologies to Foxfier: she did mention him. One of the downsides of reading fast is that I don’t always read carefully.
I figured that’s what had triggered you to mention him!
And honestly… the Hokas don’t exactly count…..
Uuuhhh! Hokas not count? You can add Paul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions and Hrolf Kraki’s Saga to my list too, then we can add Hokas to the list again without becoming a burden.
For myself, I could never get past the first few pages of Gormengast. I tried several times and it just never worked.
The Hokas are strong enough to stand on their own tower of awesome. 😀
Since we’re continuing to play, I’ll move to the non-SF.
#1 is Tom Clancy’s earlier works. “The Hunt for Red October”, “Patriot Games”, “Clear and Present Danger”, and the two masterpieces – “Red Storm Rising” and “The Sum of All Fears.” Clancy was an absolute master of writing a complex, multi-stream plot – and of pulling all the elements together into a crashing finale.
#2 is C.S. Forester’s Hornblower series. This is an epic character study of a man who is a hero – but who is convinced that he is a coward.
#3 is Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey and Maturin sea stories. O’Brien is in many ways a better author than Hornblower, an absolute master of showing, rather than telling, the reader critical information.
And Sharpe’s Rifles!
YES! I love the Sharpe’s Rifles series. Posted it above, and recommend it every chance I get. I’ve read the whole thing multiple times. Never gets old.
Clancy’s one of a couple of authors where I’m not constantly being pulled out of the book by the stream of profanity. It makes sense for his characters. And it generally means something, rather than just being a couple of words repeated over and over again and applied to anything under heaven.
But stars, I loved the character John Clark. He’s awesome. (Obligatory meme reference: When Chuck Norris goes to sleep, he first checks under the bed for John Clark.)
And Rainbow Six was fun as well, as was The Bear and the Dragon (At least I think that’s the one I remember. There was one particular scene with a Russian agent… gosh, it takes a lot for me to look at Clark and Chavez and think ‘Oh, my poor darlings’ while grinning from ear to ear. But that scene was hilarious!) But my favorite has to be The Cardinal of the Kremlin. I need to re-read that again sometime.
Meme reference successful, I laughed out loud!
I liked Rainbow Six as well, for the usual it’s-by-Clancy reasons, but also because at the time I owned one of the Beretta 8045 .45 ACP pistols Ding and Clark carried. For some reason, couldn’t shoot it well at all; gave it to my daughter.
In the realm of Mil-fic, I buy Steven Konkoly, FX Holden, and the Monroe Doctrine series by Rosone and Watson (1, 2, 3) and Aaronse (4, 5). IIRC RAH’s comment, they have successfully competed for my beer money.
I liked the first three or four books of the Death Gate Cycle, not so much the conclusion.
It started out great, but the introduction of the capital-E-Evil and capital G-Good dragon entities took the focus off the brewing Sartan/Patryn conflict and the multi-world war I was expecting in the last three books didn’t materialize.
I mean, I know the only way Haplo could join the ‘good guys’ was if there was a greater threat and if Xar was corrupted by some dark forces, but the Evil Dragons were just too obvious.
Trying not to mention ones others have already listed: (Heinlein Juveniles) – By the ones I have grouped into Nook Libraries, in no particular order:
1..Mercy – Coyote Shifter & accompanying side series Alpha & Omega – Patricia Briggs a different take on werewolves, native gods, vampires, and European folktales
2..Buttons – Gail Martin – different take on hauntings
3..Dragon Prince and Dragon Scrolls – Melaine Rawn – Different take on dragons, magic, and medieval rulership
4..Dresden – Jim Butcher (enough said)
5.. Elemental – Jennifer Estep – different approach to magic, revenge, and presumptions.
6.. Nantucket and Emberverse – Steve Stirling – First book in Nantucket is “Island in the Sea of Time” and Emberverse first book is “Dies the Fire” … Don’t know why I picked up Island in the Sea of Time, but reread it often. Two others in the series was “Oh. There is more!” Dies the Fire picked up for two reasons. 1. Answer to what happened to the rest of the world when Nantucket picked up and swept way into prehistory past. and 2. Takes place in Willamette Valley. Kept up with Emberverse even though it kind of goes into major woo woo because of the “how did other regions handle … and why” as the Willamette base, for reasons, move around the US/Canada/Mexico. Fan fiction is pretty good too.
7.. Valor Series, Vicki Series, (kid’s series) by Tanya Huff – Latter two linked by Henry the Vampire.
8.. Rouge Angel – printed under “David Archer” but really are 5 or 6 different writers for the 55 printed books. Different take on historical stories, fairy tales, and historical items and persons.
9.. Yellowrock & Soulwood series – Faith Hunter
10.. Soldier’s Duty – Jean Johnson
11.. Also have the Earth Children series – Jean Aual – disappointed on the direction it went.
12.. Outlander — but more interested in the grandchildren and Bri/Roger than I am Jamie and Claire now. Some books better than others. Actually dropped series after Outlander. Picked it up again from Snow and Ashes. …. Grumble, grumble, … “Fine. I’ll read the books in between!”
Just a “few”. Gotten picky about picking up and starting a new series. Gets expensive catching up. 🙂
#4 – Darn straight.
Dresden, like Outlander, was a series I didn’t pickup and devour right away. I don’t know why. Read the first book but didn’t bother with the next few. Not that it was bad, I did finish it. But not the drive to pickup the rest already out. Then was desperate for anything to read. So I picked up another one further down the series (not that far). I then got caught up. There are series on my list that I’ve started after they were done, had to finish the series. There are some that are well on track, but not finished, I pickup, have to get caught up, then pickup new ones as they are released. Sometimes the latter start falling flat or repetitive. Those get either dropped, or I only pickup on deep discount. I’ve picked up free to cheap (BookBud) first or even omnibus new series I don’t take any further. Last mostly because I have too many series that are “get on release day”. Sure spread out over the year, usually, but … Very little discount even though I’m 100% ebook.
Reblogged this on Head Noises and commented:
I wrote something and Sarah posted it!
If you want to join in… please do. 😀
I’m just a reader, not a writer, so I have no idea if this author is a problem or not, but I have really enjoyed Megan Whalen Turner’s books about Eugenides, the Queen’s Thief. His successes seem to come out of nowhere you expected, the plots are terrific, and the dialog captivates me. Books 1-3 (The Thief; The Queen of Attolia; The King of Attolia) I will re-read sometimes; didn’t care for #4; #5 got better; haven’t seen #6 yet.
I loved all of them. I thought six was a good conclusion to the story.
So I’m going to avoid the obvious (Heinlein Juveniles and other works, Lensman (obviously I like them 🙂 ) and try to avoid things that have been mentioned (Lord Darcy, Worldwar). These are books I go back to time and again.
A Canticle For Liebowitz, Walter S. Miller — Some of the most elegant writing I’ve ever seen helps if you can hack a little bit of Church Latin or have some pre vatican II knowledge of the Catholic Church. It’s a shame Mr Miller wrote no other large works (and this is really a pastiche of 3 novella/ novelettes). I have a collection of his short works and there literally is not one bad story in the collection.
Of Men And Monsters (Alternate title The Men In The Walls) William Tenn — Some of the most sarcastic Scifi you will ever meet and a fun story to boot. Again no other Tenn long form, Lots of shorts, Collected by NESFA publishing
The Final Reflection, John Ford– Yes it is a star trek novel, get over it. Original Star Trek characters pass through briefly. It’s actually what the Klingons SHOULD have been. TNG+ Klingons are essentially modelling bushido/Samurai these are Alien and yet believable. And again a great story.
The Dragon in the Sea (alternate title Under Pressure) Frank Herbert. A really well don locked room spy thriller in a submarine. Shows what herbert was capable of (as does Dune) when he wasn’t just flogging for bucks.
To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis — Cats, Dogs, Oxford Dons, Victorian Manners, Kedgeree (yuck), True Love (yes it is a kissing book though not until the end 🙂 ) its got it all. This is one of the BEST time travel stories ever written And Ms. Willis pulls it off in a hilarious tour de force. Maybe it will encourage you to read Three Men in a Boat…which is funny but not as good as this
What Mad Universe, Fredrick Brown– A Scifi magazine editor from our universe ends up in a universe where in ~1910 a sewing machine repairman created an interstellar drive by mistake. In this universe ALL (and I mean ALL) the tropes of 30-50’s pulp scifi are lampooned and given valid reasons to exist. Wonderful story Deus Ex Machina ending (of course 🙂 )
There’s a few of my favorites, you’re in for a treat if your unfamiliar with these.
A few comments:
Ford’s How Much For Just the Planet is a trademark-breaking comedy routine Star Trek book. And the description can’t do it justice.
Under Pressure was also released under the title “21st Century Sub”, and is as good as the recommendation makes it seem.
I edited the two volume complete SF of Fredric Brown for NESFA Press, so I’m clearly prejudiced.
In the 1978 Bantam reprint of What Mad Universe, an idiot copy editor introduced one of the most incredibly inane wrong changes in the text. All reprints after that, until the NESFA Press collection of the Brown novels (Martians and Madness), followed the wrong text. It got fixed.
And (very much IMHO) Brown is the closest the field has ever come to O. Henry — the unmatched master of the short story (and ultra-short story). All his short SF is collected by NESFA Press in a single volume (From These Ashes).
Ford’s two novels are probably the best in Star Trek.
I like Diane Duane’s books, especially the ones for “classic,” Trek. If you want pure fun, see, “Doctor’s Orders,” where McCoy gripes once too often about command and Kirk says, “Actually, I can leave you in charge,” and does. Just for a few hours, they’re in a parking orbit around a world that looks totally harmless, what could go wrong?
And then Kirk disappears and the Klingons show up….
‘Ishmael’ by Barbara Hambly. An injured amnesiac with green skin and pointed ears turns up in 1860’s Seattle.
Biddy: “It would cause talk!”
Ishmael: “And ‘talk’ is more to be feared than pneumonia?”
Biddy: “Of course! You can get over pneumonia!”
That was a fun little story. 😀
I was unsure about whether or not to read How Much for Just the Planet, when my parents offered it to me. Star Trek just wasn’t my thing.
Then Dad read the first chapter aloud to me. My mind changed within the first couple paragraphs, I think.
My favorite of the subplots is Uhura and Proke. The cliches abound, and it’s just so entertaining!
In General “Under Pressure” is published under its author preferred title “The Dragon Under the Sea” today. Paper copy I have is “Under Pressure”, I’ve never seen a “21st Century Sub” titled one.
And I knew NESFA had the Brown books, perhaps time to add it to my desired list and have it sit next to the William Tenn 3 book set. I’ll have to look I think my “What Mad Universe is the 1978 (or later) Bantam edition.
And for “How Much for Just the Planet” it is fun with hat tips to W.S. Gilbert, but never engaged me like “Final Reflection” did. As the title refers to “De gustibus non est disputandum”.
“To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis …Three Men in a Boat…”
I love just about everything Willis wrote, but this is an unbeatable combo of a new riff on an old classic.
“What Mad Universe, Fredrick Brown” – found his books in my parents’ “secret drawer” and got hooked on SF much too young. I think I still have that pre-1978 copy.
“And (very much IMHO) Brown is the closest the field has ever come to O. Henry — the unmatched master of the short story (and ultra-short story).”
Second the motion.
Bridge of Birds, The Story of the Stone, and Eight Skilled Gentlemen by Barry Hughart.
Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliasotti.
Mirabile by Janet Kagan.
The whole Ciaphas Cain series.
Just about anything by Andre Norton, but especially Catseye and Witch World.
P.M. Griffin’s Star Commandos series.
…Yes, I love space fantasy. 🙂
Oh yes, Mirabile. I read those to our son.
Also just about every story by Robert E. Howard I’ve every run across. 🙂
Mirable was awesome!
add Uhura’s Song by Kagan. Better that Mirabell which is awsome in its own right. Also Hellspark by Kagan.
“Uhura’s Song” is one of my favorite Star Trek novels! Right up there with “How Much for Just the Planet.”
And “Hellspark” is worth reading just for Om Im. I want to be a Bluesippan! Knives are cool. (And, in their culture, meaningful!)
My favorite Janet Kagan novel that was never written is The Courtship of Om Im. Yes, I realize that my mind is doing the same thing as 50% of fanfic writers and creating a romantic relationship where none is necessary. What can I say? Human as charged!
Stars, I want to read that! There’s so much room for a sequel in that book, but… sigh.
Back to E.E. Smith:
The Skylark series is a lot of fun, and perhaps one of the primary sources of, “bigger and bigger starships/weapons,” theme. Also probably the first, “two scientists are close firends/halves of a greater whole,” theme. And the main villain, Dr. Marc C. Duquesne, is both sympathetic and an SOB.
I think my favorite non-series Smith book is, “Spacehounds of IPC,” which is available on Gutenberg. Keep firmly in mind it was written in the 1930s, or possibly earlier, because the astronomy is -well, think of it as a parallel universe where humans can land on Saturn and work without spacesuits, to call out the most glaring bit of, “say what?” And all four of the major Jovian satellites are habitable. But I find it very easy to suspend my sense of disbelief.
Skylark DuQuesne, the fourth of the Skylark novels, was written decades after the first three, and breaks a lot of what we know about how that universe worked. I tend to ignore it, and assume the series ended with Skylark of Valeron.
“I find it very easy to suspend my sense of disbelief” Exactly as I still do for canals (and Martians!) on Mars in “Red Planet”, or swamps, move-overs and dragon scientists(!) on Venus in “Between Planets”. Yeah, it’s not real. Deal. 🙂
The Liavek shared-world-anthology collection (of five books) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liavek)
I think it’s difficult to find the paperbacks these days, and they were never in hardback to my knowledge, but I know that recently Patricia Wrede published her contributions via Amazon – at least on Kindle – I’ll put that link in a sub-posting.
It is the Liavek stories from Patricia Wrede and Pamela Dean, title Points of Departure.
And I hope this link works correctly
Oh my! Pamela Dean.
Her secret country stories are amazing. Kids traveling to another universe are favorites of mine, especially ones where they have a shared invented world that seems to come true…
I should have mentioned this earlier. Holly Lisle’s Sympathy for the Devil opens with Dayne Kuttner’s fervent prayer for God to give every person condemned to Hell a second chance at salvation. The prayer is so fervent that God answers it… uniquely. 50,000 condemned souls and demons are sent to North Carolina (Dayne’s home), with both the opportunity to corrupt humans, and to be saved. Including two of the original fallen angels, sent specifically to corrupt Dayne. Watching two attempts to corrupt a soul strong enough to challenge God’s love – and win – is a wonder. As is God’s thought provoking final comment. The rest of the triology is also worth reading.
No-one has mentioned short story collections, so I will add my favorites.
All are highly re-readable
James H. Schmitz
Joan Aiken (for children, and especially the Armitage series. For adults: faugh-!)
John C. Wright
Nicholas Stuart Grey (especially Mainly in Moonlight)
Two fun collections if you can find them: Small Shadows Creep edited by Andre Norton; Humor in the Galaxy via Terry Carr (It has Some Are Born Cats!)
Baen’s Tom Godwin collection, too. He’s remembered for ‘The Cold Equations’ but I think ‘The Survivors’ is a better story.
The Gerns capture a human ship trying to escape from their invasion fleet and dump most of the refugees on the hell-planet Ragnarok to die, which 99% of them do. Unfortunately for the Gerns, 1% of them survive, and remember…
Yep; one of my favorites, under that title or “Space Prison”. The sequel (“The Space Barbarians”, IIRC) wasn’t as good, but readable.
Thankyouthankyouthankyou! I read “The Survivors” in high school, adored it, and couldn’t remember the title, just some vague notion of “butt-kicking story done by guy who’s better known for Some Other Thing”. 🙂
Glad I could help. The Tom Godwin collection is available online at The Fifth Imperium in the ‘1635: The Eastern Front CD’ image. Download the image, unpack it, open ‘index.htm’ in your Web browser, and click on ‘The Cold Equations’ under the ‘Classic SF edited by Eric Flint’ heading, bottom right part of the title page. ‘The Survivors’ is the first story.
The Fifth Imperium hosts images of the CDs Baen used to include in some of their books back in the 1990’s. You can still get about 400 books for free, legally, by downloading the images.
The CD includes all of the 1632-verse books up to the first few chapters of ‘1635: The Eastern Front’, the entire Belisarius series, plus some other books by Eric Flint.
I highly recommend ‘Boundary’ by Eric Flint and Ryk Spoor, as well as ‘The Wizard Of Karres’ and ‘The Sorceress Of Karres’ by Flint, Mercedes Lackey and Dave Freer.
Hmmm, ‘The Fifth Imperium’ in the first sentence is a link, but putting it in bold didn’t really make it stand out. I’ll try underline next time I post a link.
Grrr. That didn’t work either. They changed the underline syntax. Will this work? It didn’t show up correctly in the preview page.
Nope, WPDE does something to prevent the <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”> directive from working.
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
I rarely reread fiction. To make this list a book has to be worth rereading. Almost anything by Heinlein qualifies and I have been rereading some of his stuff lately. Larry Correia’s first three or four Monster hunter books I have reread. I’ve also reread a couple of Cedar Sanderson’s Pixie for Hire books recently.
I do sometimes reread non-fiction memoirs. the last couple I’ve reread have been Forever Flying by Bob Hoover and Fighter Pilot by Robin Olds (completed by his daughter from his manuscripts), two incredible lives.
I am currently reading one that might make it into this category, though largely for personal reasons. Ferry Pilot by Kerry McCauley tells about his thirty years as a ferry pilot delivering aircraft all over the world. That career started at about the time he and I lost an entire planeload of mutual friends in a mid-air collision. He was one of the first people on the scene after the crash. I was the last person to talk to them on the ground before they took off.
One thing I find interesting is how I like some books by a given author, but not others. To throw out a few examples:
I don’t like Heinlein in general (blasphemy, I know) but I do like Double Star
I like most of Bujold’s work, but not the Sharing Knife stories. Also, The Warriors Apprentice is the one Miles book I Just Don’t Like – and since it was the first Bujold I’d picked up, it put me off her for years.
I like most of H Beam Piper, but not the paratime stories.
I can’t get into Patrica Wrede’s Frontier Magic series, even though I do like her Enchanted Forest Chronicles and her two Marielon books. And her writing advice.
I think that most Heinlein fans have at least some of his books (or stories) for which we go “What was he thinking?” or “Why, oh why?”
About the Sharing Knife stories, I’m curious: Is it the entire series, that you don’t like? For example, Beguilement is my second-least-favorite Bujold, but I like Passage and Horizon quite well.
It was the entire series.
Aside from finding it a pretty charming romance, I love Beguilement just for presenting a farmgirl with traditionally feminine skills and aspirations as worthy. The “ewwwww, needlework!” trope in fantasy bugs the hell out of me, so I was quite refreshed by Fawn knowing-and not hating–canning, mending, etc.
The characters are great in that series (agreed on the interesting emphasis on more traditionally feminine skills), some aspects of the magical system are interesting, but the titular magical mechanism is just grosses me out. I originally read them as library checkouts, the only one I bought on Kindle was Passage.
I got a critique of “The Wolf and the Ward” where the guy professed to be a feminist and expressed concerns about the sewing in the work. . . though he did admit it seemed to work, my eyes got a rolling workout.
@ S-cubed > “presenting a farmgirl with traditionally feminine skills and aspirations as worthy. The “ewwwww, needlework!” trope in fantasy bugs the hell out of me, so I was quite refreshed by Fawn knowing-and not hating–canning, mending, etc.”
Agree on that completely, but the series as a whole is not one of my favorites.
Hey, now, ‘Lord Kalvan Of Otherwhen’ is great.
I agree with a lot of the titles listed so far, and would add:
-Dean Koontz: writes thrillers – some psychological, more often supernatural or quasi-SF. Phantoms, Watchers, Dragon Tears and Dark Rivers of the Heart are the earliest ones I like. The Jane Hawk series is probably the most recent. Wish I could remember the name of the one that starts off kind of like The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag. Interesting glimpse into the more red-state or “normal” side of Caliweirdia and adjacent states.
-John Dickson Carr: British influenced American mystery writer from the Golden Age, famous for his locked room scenarios and general love of the baroque and the gothic. Basically the reverse of Georgette Heyer: avoid the historicals and focus on the mysteries. I feel like his Henri Bencolin books (especially Murder in the Waxworks and Four False Weapons) have a somewhat better feel for the French people of the period than his British counterparts do: the shady men and ladies of the demimonde feel more nuanced; the starchier, more old-fashioned style of French people are shock, horror, acknowledged as existing. His British characters are less convincing but still amusing, especially Gideon Fell (essentially a Chesterton knockoff minus the Catholicism and plus Carr’s rather…impish attitude towards women.
-Patricia Wentworth: started reading these after Blake Smith mentioned them on MGC. Mostly romantic suspense with a governess-turned-private-detective who shows up to help put the pieces together. Much clearer view of the WWII-era deprivations than Agatha Christie provides, and a somewhat different perspective in other ways (a preference for more conventional romantic leads, a certain distaste of what most American readers would think of as Cool Old Houses.)
-Gene Wolfe: his “canonical” works (New Sun/Long Sun, Peace, Fifth Head of Cerberus) don’t do much for me, but I like Soldier in the Mist and its sequels, and would maybe describe Devil in a Forest, Pirate Freedom, An Evil Guest and The Land Across as guilty pleasures.
-In terms of modern epic fantasy, the first three books of Phillip C. Quaintrell’s Echoes Saga are pretty good, assuming you can get past the gratuitous violence and elf-sex and some pretty unpleasant POV characters, including a smug, dragon-riding Kvothe@College knockoff, a child-murdering (and only sort of repentant) Elvish spec-ops guy, the Dark Lord, and the Dark Lord’s backstabbing lieutenants. They have clever world-building, good action scenes and pacing, and are the most successful fantasy stab at that “Tom Clancy, cast of thousands” thing so many post-Tolkien writers aspire to. The first three stand as a coherent saga on their own; the next books in the series pick up a generation later with my favorite POV character dead, so I haven’t had any urge to check them out.
-The Seventh Knight by Robert Ryan: I need to pick up the sequels and see if they’re any good. The first one was a very earnest, intentionally old-fashioned coming-of-age adventure with a strong Celtic mythology/Middle Earth/Prydain vibe. I found it slow-going in places, but basically likable, and more evocative than most modern books in that vein.
-The Lost Fleet by Jack Campbell: read the original series plus the spinoff where they find aliens, skim the brain dead romance track, savor the brilliant space battles and pacing. Ignore everything else this guy has written.
-R. M. Meluch, Tour of the Merrimack, books 2 (Wolf Star) through 4 (Strength and Honor). (Book 1 is in a separate continuity due to timey-wimey stuff, and books 5 and 6 loop back to that continuity. 2-4 work as a standalone trilogy). What if Captain Kirk were a southern gentleman who was somehow as huggy and emotional as a Punjabi in a Bollywood film? What if Spock was a zombie cyborg from a Neo-Roman human culture In Space? What if their McCoy analogue was Ramirez from the Highlander movies? And they all fought xenomorphs with swords while wearing vacuum suits? If you have ever pondered these arcane questions, Meluch has answers.
Hey, wait just a cotton pickin’ minute on Jack Campbell. I’m going to like his “Pillars of Reality” even better than his Lost Fleet if I want to.
I think I like the “Legacy of Dragons” trilogy even better than that. It has something of a “John Carter meets Dejah Thoris” theme, except different and from her point of view. They’re on the run together. He’s no swordsman, he’s a spoiled rich kid on the run from a pirate captain of a mother, trying to master low-tech survival. She’s the Great Woman’s Daughter trying to get out from under her parent’s shadow and on the run from their old enemies. At the same time she’s trying to master her father’s magical powers she isn’t supposed to have inherited, and it’s killing her. And no, they aren’t hopping into bed together the first chance they get, which I assure you is a relief from so many contemporary heroic couples.
I’ll admit the prequel “Empress of the Endless Seas” series doesn’t do much for me, but I am interested in the future of that world.
It’s funny. Hammer’s Slammers and the Pournelle/Sterling Sparta books (Prince of Mercenaries, Go tell the Spartans and Prince of Sparta) as well as the Falkenberg stories really shaped my early writing and academic direction, but I don’t think of them that often, even though they are still on my shelf long after other things got riffed. Ditto the Dorsai books.
As for books that I read for pleasure, and enjoy enough to reread regularly, but don’t necessarily hold up as unflawed or as superb writing:
E.E. Smith, the Lensman novels (except for Triplanetary, which was retrofitted into the series and isn’t nearly as good)
Jack Williamson, Darker than You Think, which is a brilliant reframing of lycanthropy in terms of evolutionary genetics (in fact it seems disturbingly congruent with some recent findings about human evolution)—though I also wonder if Williamson had been reading Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals
Terry Pratchett, the Discworld novels (particularly Thief of Time, which I think has the best portrayal of superpowers that I’ve ever seen in prose)
Lois McMaster Bujold, Barrayar (part of the Vorkosigan series, but during most of it Miles is a fetus; his mother Cordelia gets the starring role here, it what could almost be an opera)
Lois McMaster Bujold, The Sharing Knife tetralogy, superficially a romance but with a lot going on below the surface—its Lakewalkers are an analog of Tolkien’s Dunedain, though some of their customs would have turned JRRT pale, or bright red
Michael Flynn, In the Country of the Blind, an adventure story about hidden forces manipulating the course of history
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog, which is just hilariously funny
Guy Gavriel Kay, a series of quasi-historical fantasies starting with The Lions of al-Rassan (one of whose characters seems to be an analog of the Cid); every volume I’ve read has at least one overwhelmingly intense scene
S.M. Stirling, the Nantucket trilogy (especially the passage where Azzu-ena asks Justin Clemens to teach her American medicine)
Eric Flint et al., the Ring of Fire, the OTHER temporal robinsonade, somewhat uneven but with some books I like a lot, especially the one about the Barbie Consortium
Neal Stephenson, The Baroque Cycle, just barely science fiction (for a scene involving Isaac Newton in the third volume), massively researched over-the-top historical adventure about technology and political institutions
Walter Jon Williams, the Drake Maijstral series, first rate science fiction comedy of manners
Mackey Chandler, the April series, particularly for its running theme of emancipation
Travis Corcoran, the Aristillus novels (a brilliant reply to The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress)—I almost put this one into the other list, as I find its characterization really good, and its libertarian themes play fair about the problems of a libertarian legal system
All right, what do I know that no one else has mentioned yet…
Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series is good. Wizards are granted the ability to manipulate the programming code of the universe (essentially) in order to drive back the Lone Power (the personification of entropy, and kind of the devil.) Excellent worldbuilding, fantastic cast of characters both human and not (Fred the White Hole shows up in the first book, and Ed’Rashtekaresket the Lord of Sharks shows up in the second. Fred is funny, and Ed manages to be both fascinating and terrifying.) Very beautiful storylines as well. (The end of the third book will make you weep.) Oh! And loving, decent, normal families. Good fathers. That alone is worth reading.
Eleanor Bourg Nicholson (no relation) wrote an eerie page-turning vampire story called A Bloody Habit. Imagine a Catholic Dracula nerd got frustrated enough with the mistakes in Bram Stoker’s original (who else was seriously ticked about “the putty part”?) to write her own version, and you’ve got it. No sparkling here, I promise – these undead will send shivers up your spine.
Jim Butcher’s less well-known fantasy series The Codex Alera are definitely worth a read. As the story is told, Butcher was chatting in online forums and challenged everyone to give him two horrible book concepts and watch him make an epic saga from them. Someone took up the gauntlet, and gave him “the Lost Roman Legion” and “Pokemon.” From that, he built an epic tale of high fantasy.
Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula, by Loren D. Estleman, is the crossover you never knew you needed until you read it. Genius detective pits his wits against the ominous Transylvanian Count, and Estleman dances expertly in the empty space in Stoker’s original manuscript, managing to touch on canon just enough to convince you that the two stories really do run side by side.
C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy is a fascinating marriage of science fiction with Christian worldbuilding. Journey with Ransom as he’s kidnapped and dragged to Mars as a sacrifice to the aliens, and later travels to Venus to preserve its people from the Fall that plagues our world. Then watch as Merlin is woken from his enchanted sleep to do battle with a Satanic corporation ironically called the NICE.
For the Star Wars inclined, I really enjoyed the Thrawn books. (All the ones published thus far.) My particular favorites, interestingly enough, were the Hand of Thrawn duology. He’s not actually present, but his shadow is keenly felt as an Imperial Triumvirate impersonate him as a last ditch effort to revitalize the Imperial Remnant. (Oh, and I really liked the first book of the more recent Thrawn trilogy. Nightswan is a fantastic Worthy Opponent for the anti-villain admiral.)
The Revenge of the Sith novelization is likely the only understanding I’ll ever have of Episode Three. Honestly, I don’t see how the movie could possibly live up to the book. From Darth Sidious’ depiction as a devilish personification of the Dark Side to Anakin’s genuinely tragic fall from hero to monster, this is a beautifully tragic tale of the end of an era.
(It also helps to explain why Anakin was struggling so badly in those last weeks – the guy wasn’t eating, or sleeping, and relying on the Force for basic survival. See, this is why you need to take care of yourself! If you don’t, some evil Sith Lord will come along and trap you in a mechanical suit for twenty years. Be ye warned.)
I’ve also got some books aimed for younger audiences that still carry value. The Hero’s Guide To: trilogy is pretty darn good. Starts with The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, ends with The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw. A parody of Disney princess movies centered around an interesting cast of characters. (Prince Frederick the Eloquent Nancy-Boy who faints at the sight of blood, Prince Liam the Cape-Adorned who’s excellent at playing the hero but not so great at handling his bratty fiancee Briar Rose, Prince Gustav the Mighty who keeps getting beat up – particularly by his sixteen older brothers who are all tougher and mightier than he is, and Prince Duncan the Weird who shouts out names for every bird and squirrel that crosses his path. All of them are Prince Charming. And they’re almost all matched to the wrong princess.)
Andrew Peterson’s The Wingfeather Saga is one of the best Christian kids’ series since The Chronicles of Narnia. It manages to contain the epic tale of three children born to the throne of a conquered kingdom in the same book as toothy cows (honestly, they’re terrifying. Avoid at all costs)!
The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander (I believe) is an excellent example of the Hero’s Journey. Travel with Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper as he rescues his beloved Hen-Wen the prophetic pig, meets with Gwydion (if Aragorn was a prince), and befriends Eilonwy the chatterbox princess-sorceress. (Oh, and I almost forgot – Fflewder the compulsively lying bard whose harpstrings break every time he over-exaggerates a tale. He’s repairing those strings a lot.) Loveable characters and a series of chilling villains lead you through a faintly Celtic-tasting fantasy world to a beautifully Tolkien-esque conclusion.
The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha, also by Lloyd Alexander, details the story of a young layabout who’s sent through a bowl of water to a faraway land where he’s made emperor. Travel along with our hero as he struggles against his villainous vizier, befriends a slave girl and a political satirist condemned to death, and learns the value of hard work as he runs for his life.
Rick Riordan’s The Kane Chronicles is an excellent trilogy that comes early on in his career. (Before he went full-woke.) The tale of two siblings in battle against both magicians and Egyptian gods as they rebuild a broken relationship (oh, and keep the world from ending). The villains in particular are fantastic – ranging from Set, the god of chaos (and self-styled ‘Rockin’ Red Reaper’,) Apophis, the embodiment of chaos (terrifying eldritch monstrosity bent on the destruction of reality), and Setne (the conniving and charismatic ‘Uncle Vinnie’).
The Bunnicula series is a heartwarming series of tales that I should probably read to my kids someday, sitting near a roaring fire while a storm lashes at the windowpanes. A spooky tale about a possibly-vampiric rabbit that drains the juice from vegetables and his loving (but confused) family. Oh, and Chester. The fantastically paranoid cat who’s certain that the rabbit will enslave the world one day, and enlists the patiently-suffering Harold the Dog in his efforts to preserve his family from the undead menace.
If you’re looking for a laugh, find Jeffery Brown’s Star Wars comics. Vader’s Little Princess and Darth Vader and Son are full of adorable imaginings of what might have been had Darth Vader kept custody of his beloved little ones. (It’s difficult to properly menace your subordinates when you’ve got a knee-high little angel wrapped around your leg. Little Leia emphatically dislikes being dropped off at school in her Dad’s AT-AT. And no, Leia, you are not allowed to leave the house in a metal bikini. Ever.)
Oh, and for those of the Christian persuasion (and not), look up Inherit the Mirth. Just make sure you’re willing to take a joke! Cuyler Black’s comics poke loving fun at the weirder elements of the Faith and its history. (‘Heck is where you go if you don’t believe in gosh, children.’ Jesus’ wristband ‘What would I do?’ And the blacksmith enlisted to make a golden calf for the Israelites to worship picks the wrong homonym. Trust me, it’s hilarious!)
Ugh, okay, I should probably stop.
TL;DR – You should absolutely go back and read this list through. I hope I’ve made it interesting enough descriptions to be entertaining, and some of these books are really good!
Dean Ing frequently walks the tightrope between SF and Technothrillers, and IMHO, does it quite well. His Ted Quantrill trilogy (starts with Systemic Shock) deals with the aftermath of a US/China war where the capital of the US ends up in Utah. Ted’s experience as a Special Forces/semi-slave warrior is riveting, and how that’s dealt with and the sequel are well worth reading.
Ransom of Black Stealth One starts a series of technothrillers. The Nemesis Mission is great fun, with a description of why it’s not a good idea to abuse a T-33 flight envelope, and a Mormon version of Indiana Jones.
I tend to keep my copy of, “Pulling Through,” close at hand. Not only is it a good story, the essays on surviving a nuclear war in the back are worth the price of the book right there.
I had a paperback that covered earlier adventures of Harve Rackman in one of Ing’s short story collections. The Oregon Inst of Science and Medicine has an ebook version (both HTML and PDF) of Kearny’s book (expanded from the Oak Ridge publication) that has the fallout meter and the other goodies (including a plywood-build air pump).
I’m not excessively worried about fallout; the ChiComs would either have terrible aiming (I’m 300 miles from Portland and 50% further from San Fran*) or they’d be targetting the local F15C training base. I don’t think that has a high enough priority to worry about.
(*) According to PJMedia, the people living there hate the term even more than “Frisco”. Love it.
The “North American Confederacy” series by L. Neil Smith
“Alongside Night” by J. Neil Schulman
“Voyage from Yesteryear” and “Thrice upon a Time” by James P. Hogan
Anything written by any of the following:
M. A. Foster
Eric Frank Russell
Hank the cowdog books are de rigueur in Texas… Just sayin…
It’s part of a lot of home-school curricula.
a Desert Called Peace
(The rest of the Carrerra series is good.)
The M-Day series
His various non fic works on military science are good.
Early “known space” stories and novels through Ringworld.
L Neil Smith:
The Probability Broach ( the re-released edition)
Various non fic works about the Legions of Rome.
Skipping repeats of others much mentioned up-thread.
“Emergence”, “Tracking”, and “Threshold” by David R. Palmer are all very well written with plot twists you will NOT see coming.
The first two of these are a series but “Tracking” seems to be out of print. I have it in serialized form from Analog 15 years ago.
Sherwood Smith! I am especially fond of Crown Duel, which is the opposite of competence porn – but not slapstick – in a stew of rebellion and court politics and magic.
Sharon Shinn’s novels of The Twelve Houses (the first being Mystic and Rider): Magic and political intrigue and civil war and, yes, romance!
“competence porn” – aha! That’s what Laumer writes! I had been calling it ‘the omni-competent man’, but I like yours better.
His Retief and Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat are meant to be over the top, even though they have that same over-competence attribute.
Anything (almost; even Jove sleeps) by, in no particular order:
Our gracious hostess, of course 🙂
Asimov (although his politics sucked)
Willis (Connie, and now Dan)
John D. MacDonald
…and I’m sure others who’ve slipped my mind, some of whom I’m just starting to read.
John M. Ford: Growing Up Weightless. A masterful weaving of coming of age on a post-revolution Luna that’s still economically tied to earth, and the strains in the society as seen through the eyes of the adults, and the children. As well, a journey across the length and breadth of the moon, the immigrant societies, the philosophy of baudrillation, and the culture clash between generations.
War For the Oaks: A love letter to a city and music scene wrapped in the midsummer fight for dominance between the seelie and unseelie court – this was an urban fantasy before the genre was really codified or became what you expect today
Bone Dance: post-apocolyptic, ignoring D&D-style magic for tarot and voudoun, and a paen to movies and music gone by, and the enrgy and drive of restless youth.
Falcon: William Butler Yeats meets the rise and fall of a starship pilot caught in a galactic conspiracy, who has spent his life realizing his fate was predetermined in his genes… and subverting it..
Cyteen: Ari Emory is a clone being raised as part of an experiment to make her not only genetically, but psychologically, the exact replica of her predecessor. A predecessor who was a tyrant that steered the course of stars. But not everyone wants to see the project succeed, and the world has changed while she’s been growing up… A masterpiece of hidden motivations, economic and realpolitik going on that the narrator can sometimes see but only, over the course of three books, slowly learns to understand.
Really, I love most all of her Alliance-Union books.
Digger: Love, laughter, a competent wombat who’s just trying to do the right thing and get home. Prophetic slugs and hyena politics, and an innocent demon-child notwithstanding…
Castle Hangnail: Awesome YA of how to hold on to what you love by hook, by crook, and by kindness and cleverness.
Martha Quincesinger, Postulant: It’s a story of a young woman setting out to be a hero, in a world drawn straight from the art of Lisa Frank.
Spots the Space Marine: when a desk-jockey reservist gets sent out to the pointy end, she learns to bond with the shattered remnant of a team and fight to win at all costs.
Mindtouch: A story of platonic friendship and surviving cultural clash between two very, very different people and cultures.
Alien Taste (Ukiah Oregon series): Wen couldn’t stay in a strict genre if her life depended on it. It’s urban fantasy with alien technology instead of magic, and it’s awesome.
Ten Million Gods: A meditation on writing, and mythology, and the unique cultural weirdness that is Japan. Oh, and a hitman that’s adopted a kitten.
Also Cherryh, the “Foreigner” series (now up to 21), a take on alien psychology and human-alien interactions as good as, sometimes better than, some of Gordon Dickson’s.
The title is Eight Million Gods (which I post only to reduce difficulties for people who go to search for the book).
looks over at bookshelf
You are quite right! I apologize!
And I forgot to include both you and Peter in my list; I apologize!
And, Cherryh’s Rusalka trilogy for good creepy fun. I have not read the re-writes she has available from her website.
Oh yeah. That one was seriously creepy. It’s probably where I got my wariness about the whole “Russian folk monsters were really good and honorable deities before the eeeeevil Churchians came” thing. Um, not. (Further research and reading only cemented this suspicion that Chernobog was not a misunderstood, loving water deity.)
… but I did just buy them. Website is a bit of a tangle, but I prevailed. Ebook catalog is https://www.closed-circle.net/ebook-catalog
I’m a little surprised that nobody has mentioned Walter Jon Williams’ Hardwired and Voice of the Whirlwind. I read the first one before I ever read Gibson, so it’s the canonical cyberpunk for me far more than Neuromancer et seq.
Well, it’s certainly clear why I enjoy this commentariat so much.
Aside from sharing many, many of my favorites starting in elementary school (as with many of you, the librarian gave me carte blanche in the adult stacks at an early age), I now have good reasons to give a second chance to ones that didn’t strike me just right the first time, to pick up books by beloved authors that I missed somehow, and discover new soon-to-be favorites.
A list of my recommendations would be really, really long (when you’ve been reading for 60 years….), but it overlaps a lot of authors already mentioned, so I’ll add a few names that haven’t surfaced yet (or, at least, when I started composing my comment).
Timothy Zahn – just about everything, including his Star Wars world-building. He combines rather intricate plots with plausible but edgy future tech, usually has a mystery to be solved, and writes adult-level subject matter without “adult” language or activities (ahem), so that I could in good conscience recommend them to teens.
Louis L’Amour – for most people today, the world of the American west is almost as foreign as science fiction. He struck a good middle ground between the first dime-novel romantics, and the modern gritty realism of Larry “Lonesome Dove” McMurtry. I favor his earlier works; some of the later ones impress me as being boiler-plate paragraphs from those, strung into a loosely coherent narrative.
However, his stories epitomize Lady Bracknell’s definition of fiction, and don’t take long to read.
Oscar Wilde – “The Importance of Being Earnest” is almost as much fun to read as it is to watch on stage.
Dick Francis – not quite a series, like most murder mysteries that chronicle the career of the sleuth (with two exceptions), each book is a stand-alone. All of the cases have some connection to the world of British (and sometimes international) horse-racing, written by a former world-class jockey, and are full of basic and insider information. First person narrative is hard to pull off, especially for detectives (Archie Goodwin, the narrator of the Nero Wolfe series, is another example), but gives the reader an acute view of the emotional stakes of the hero in solving the problem while staying alive, since the villains are not averse to building up their body count.
Dorothy Dunnett – The Lymond Chronicles. If you like the political intrigues of Game of Thrones (but not the raunchy excesses; I only made it through the middle of book 2), then why not go for the real thing? Six volumes, set in the era of British history when Mary Queen of Scots was still a child, pawn of the French and danger to the English, the hero Francis Crawford of Lymond devotes his life first to her welfare, and then to far-ranging international intrigue. Dunnett’s historical verisimilitude is impeccable. The books are an immersion course in the music, literature, art, and general life of the period; the characters are fully-drawn and unforgettable; the action is heart-stopping; and the deep drama is leavened by a penetrating sense of humor.
Side topic for the bibliophiles among us – which is everybody, it seems.
If you would like to catalog your collections, or parts of them, or just see what other people have said about your favorites, I heartily recommend the on-line database manager LibraryThing. I’ve been using it since 2009 and have input well over 8000 volumes that I own (or owned) or have read or intend to get someday, and I’m a “small” user!
It’s easily the best library cataloging system available to the general public, and is used by small libraries (municipal, corporate, churches, etc).
The service is free; it was only a minimum cost early on, but now their commercial products foot the bill for the rest of us.
Give ‘Princess Holy Aura’ by Ryk Spoor a try.
Every 500 years or so, the Stars are Right for Lovecraftian abominations from beyond space and time to invade our universe and make it their own. The Time is almost Upon Us, we need a Savior, and 35-year-old bagel shop worker Steven Russ is given the opportunity to volunteer — but there’s a catch. The ancient spell which empowers the Savior is based on the original Savior, a 14-year-old Magical Girl called Princess Holy Aura.
Steve not only has to Save the World, identify and enlist the other four Apocalypse Maidens, he has to do it as a teenage girl. Where are the other four Maidens to be found? Why, at the local high school, of course! Which will be harder for Steven to endure — battling eldritch horrors, or ninth grade?
Strangely enough, the “guy into girl” works quite well IMO.
Oh, there was a funny series of scenes where “girl Steve” gets knocked down accidentally by guys on the sidewalks.
Guy Steve is a big man and people automatically see & avoid him.
So he (as a girl) isn’t watching out for other walkers and should be. 😉
How about the scene where a creep starts following girl-Steve down a deserted street? Girl-Steve ducks around a corner, the creep follows only to find 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds of guy-Steve waiting. Pulling out a knife didn’t do the creep any good, either.
I think guy-Steve should have broke the creep’s arm, just to drive the point home.
Princess Holy Aura could be made into an incredible movie, much better than the crap Hollyweird has been spreading lately.
Great Scene! 😆
It could be made into a Great Movie but I don’t want Hollyweird to touch it.
OK, this has been up since the 27th and it’s now the 29th.
Who else is approaching $100 spent on books you didn’t know about before this thread? Ebooks, in my case.
Not yet. Making photocopies for Day Job ate all my fun money for a while.
@ Deep Lurker > “I like most of Bujold’s work, but not the Sharing Knife stories. Also, The Warriors Apprentice is the one Miles book I Just Don’t Like – and since it was the first Bujold I’d picked up, it put me off her for years.”
Agree on the Sharing Knife – but Number 1 Son & his wife love the series.
However, I loved Warriors Apprentice so much that I immediately bought the entire series published to date (back in the mid nineties).
My personal opinion is that the Saga starring Admiral Naismith ended with Memory (a nearly perfect book), and the latter volumes picked up Ensign Vorkosigan, who was not nearly so interesting to me. And I really, really didn’t like Ekaterina in the beginning, and only tolerate her now.
No accounting for tastes.
“The Curse of Chalion” is also an almost perfect book, although I didn’t care much for the companion set of “Paladin of Souls” and “The Hallowed Hunt.”
I just got a copy of Bujold’s “Penric’s Travels” (a trilogy of original e-novels set in the same World of the Five Gods) and am looking forward to seeing what side of the knife they fall on.
Is it too late to put in a plug for Bradbury? I’m not so fond of his later writing, but enjoyed almost all his earlier work. And Charles Williams–Descent into Hell and All Hallows Eve especially.
Dandelion Wine was the first book I read in English.
@ Sarah > “Dandelion Wine was the first book I read in English.”
I feel like that ought to explain something about your early views of America.
Comments are closed.