Dreams in Print

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.

Cover of Partners in Necessity
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! 

Cover of Someplace to Be Flying
Charles de Lint has to be the best urban fan­ta­sy writer I’ve ever encoun­tered. I espe­cial­ly enjoyed Some­place to Be Fly­ing.

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.

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