While I’ve spoken elsewhere on the site about other kinds of books, I decided to move the SF&F books to their own page here (since they were taking over the other page anyway).
I’m a huge fan of Jim Butcher’s first series, The Dresden Files. While the first and second volumes, Storm Front and Fool Moon, definitely have the feel of a young author getting his feet under him, his skills improved very quickly. Volumes 16 (Peace Talks) and 17 (Battle Ground) will be released in July and October 2020. I (and millions of other fans) are eager to read them! I just re-read the whole series in preparation. I tried to pace myself, but once I get going with this series, they’re just so good that I can’t stop reading.
Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse, edited by Lyn Worthen, is the anthology I’m reading right now. I’m not big on post-apocalyptic fiction, particularly during a pandemic. However, a friend had a story published in this one, so how could I resist? I enjoyed her story and I’m working on finishing the rest.
Adrian Tchaikovsky’s work is some of the most original I have ever had the pleasure to read. I simply can’t get enough of it, despite the fact that his Shadows of the Apt series is very dark, and that would normally be a huge vote against it for me. If you have not yet read Empire in Black and Gold, I urge you to do so right away. Just be aware that you’ll want to have Dragonfly Falling, Blood of the Mantis, Salute the Dark, The Scarab Path, The Sea Watch, Heirs of the Blade, The Air War, War Master’s Gate, and Seal of the Worm on hand to read right away, too.
Catherine Asaro has returned to her Skolian Empire universe with a new trilogy, the Major Bhajaan Mysteries. Undercity is the first volume, followed by The Bronze Skies and The Vanished Seas.
Back in the late 80s, I read Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden novels—Conflict of Honors, Agent of Change, and Carpe Diem. I loved them. Unfortunately, they went out of print and I couldn’t find them for a long time, and the trilogy ended with some major plot lines totally unresolved, which was somewhat unsatisfying—especialy considering how very engaging I found the characters. Happily, they were republished in an omnibus edition, Partners in Necessity. Even better, Plan B, the next installment in the series, was released shortly afterwards. The authors, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, have gone on to expand the universe much further. The marvelous chapbooks have since been made more accessible to all, as they’ve been released as ebooks (available through Amazon). I have all of them and will happily continue to buy every new release, as they are reliably marvelous. Give Agent of Change a try. It’s free!
Connie Willis deserves far more attention than she gets. To Say Nothing of the Dog and Bellwether are both highly engaging, hilarious, and unique novels. Blackout and All Clear are incredible novels set in the same universe as To Say Nothing of the Dog (the Oxford Time Travel series).
Tanya Huff’s fantasy is pleasant, and I read anything I find by her. Her science fiction, though, is amazing. Valor’s Choice, the first of the Confederation novels, introduces us to Marine Sergeant Torin Kerr. The following seven books keep up the quality and fast pace of the first. I do hope there will be more!
I’ve really liked C.J. Cherryh’s science fiction—especially the Foreigner, Invader and Inheritor trilogy1 and the Chanur series. Every time I’ve picked up one of her fantasy books, though, I just haven’t been able to get into them for some reason.
Any time I’m in a used bookstore, I look for paperback copies of Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. If they’re in readable condition, I buy them. I started doing that because I tend to recommend this book to every geek I meet, and every time I loaned out copies of the book, they didn’t come home, because the people to whom I loaned them to their friends. It’s easier to just give out copies. I re-read this one every year or so, and every time I find something I’d missed before. It’s an older work now, but it’s still a fun read. Zodiac : The Eco-Thriller, a much earlier work, is prescient. Cryptonomicon has grown on me since the first time I read it. Reamde: A Novel feels very much like Cryptonomicon (a near future-thriller) without the historical flashbacks. It’s a little slow in parts, but I finished the last few hundred pages in one sitting because I couldn’t put the book down. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. was engaging from the beginning, happily.
Charles Stross has written two series that I’ve found highly enjoyable, The Laundry Files and The Merchant Princes. The two are quite different. The Laundry Files, which starts with The Atrocity Archives, is horror. It’s unusual for me to enjoy horror at all, but this bleak reality is presented with biting humor. I wouldn’t have picked up the series at all, but I loved The Family Trade
and the rest of the novels in The Merchant Princes series. (Oh, look — there are new books in that series! Yay!)
I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series. The Soulwood books are set in the same universe, and they’re good. I just don’t care about the main character quite as much as I do about Jane. Skinwalker is the first book of the Yellowrock series. I think it’s time for a re-read!
If you like big, chunky books full of intricate plot twists and deeply-drawn worlds, Michelle Sagara (aka Michelle West, and sometimes Michelle Sagara West) is the author for you. The Chronicles of Elantra follow Kaylin, a newly-fledged Hawk (like a police officer). We meet her in Cast in Shadow and her story continues through (at the moment) another 14 novels. They’ve all been excellent reads. I found the Essalieyan series (written as Michelle West) to be amazing. They’re so complex that I almost felt like I needed to draw out a diagram to keep all the details straight. The Hunter’s Oath is the first novel, chronologically, but I would probably start with The Broken Crown.
1 While referring to the first three books as a trilogy is correct, the series itself has gone on to 20 books, and every one has held me spellbound.