Sunday, July 30, 2017

Some suggestions of where to start if you want to get into modern SciFi/Fantasy

AC Thomas, one of the people I follow on twitter for hockey purposes, asked me a pretty good question:  Where should I start if I want to find something in SciFi/Fantasy to read?  Somehow I've not made a post about this yet, so I wanted to make some suggestions and of course this turned out longer than a twitter thread could do, so I'm writing this up instead.


Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
---SciFi Space Opera in a universe where mathematics can be used to warp reality.  A battle of wits between a mathematics genius infantry captain and a brilliant but mad undead general in a universe where ritual torture and strict adherance to a ritual system are needed to power technology.

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
---Fun Action packed Scifi Series involving a shadow war on Earth between Humans and Alien parasites and a ordinary shlub who gets possessed by a good Alien parasite on the run.

Six Wakes by Muir Lafferty
--SciFi Murder Mystery/Space Opera featuring a group of clones who wake up to find themselves all having been one of their predecessors.

A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
--Absolutely Joyously fun anthology of stories featuring a cast of multi-species beings on a space ship that tunnels pathways in space-time.

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer 
--Scifi/Horror-esque book (soon to be a movie) featuring a lonely scientist who investigates a mysterious alien area that has manifested on earth and caused strange phenomena to occur...and people to disappear.

Parable of the Sower/Talents by Octavia Butler
--Dystopian near future tale in which a Woman flees from disaster in a future US (including a politican promising to Make America Great Again) and attempts to both survive and create a new path of life for everyone based upon a belief that God is Change.
(Warning: hard to read in its darknesse at times, but incredibly powerful).

Crossover (Not quite either genre):

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
--First published book in the Craft Sequence series, in which magic is based upon Law and Economics.  Fun characters and plotting - this one features a Necromantic law firm attempting to resurrect a dead god, while solving the mystery of his death.

Jaran by Kate Elliott
--Scifi Universe, kind of fantasy-esque story, in which the human sister of a leader of Human Rebels against the Alien empire finds herself marooned with Desert Nomads on a primitive planet, only to find herself and possible romance with these strange people.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
--Absolutely fun tale of a young woman witch and young man mad scientist who try to find themselves in their abilities and at the same time find something in each other.

The Just City by Jo Walton
--Philosophical SF/F hybrid in which the goddess Athena takes humans throughout time to a lost Island to see they can create Plato's Republic, while her brother Apollo tries to understand free will by hiding himself amongst its students.  Thought Provoking at times, and some absolutely wonderful characters (the 3rd book in this series is a personal fave, though i didn't love the second book)


The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
--Silkpunk - Chinese inspired Epic Fantasy - story with fun characters and epic battles.  Definitely Epic Fantasy but very different from the standard Tolkien/Western-Europe inspired stuff.

Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott
--First in an Epic Fantasy series in which a land known for peace and order is faced with corruption brought about by those Magical Beings who were supposed to protect it, and a diverse cast of characters from within and without must join forces to save everyone.  A little dark, but compelling.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
--Dark Story about a Woman who joins an evil oppressive empire who executed one of her two fathers in order to work her way up the organization and change it from within and who is given command to pacify an unruly region for the Empire.  Can get really dark as the woman (Baru) tries to figure out how far she will go, but incredibly chilling and well written.

The Inheritance Trilogy by NK Jemisin
--Fantasy series (Epic?) in a universe in which the Three all powerful gods have split, with the God of Order killing the God of Life/Death and imprisoning the God of Chaos and putting a people in his thrall in charge of the world - and the people and characters who try to put things back in order thousands of years later.  Truly great characters, some great romance, and amazing writing.
(Alternatively, her latest series starting with The Fifth Season is another great choice, but I love this series more)

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
First in a fantasy series featuring (to quote the author) "matriarchal bisexual polyamorous flying shapeshifting lizard-lion-bee people" (the "Raksura") in a world filled entirely with non-human races - this book and most of the series tells the story of Moon, a Raksura who doesn't know what or who he is as he is found by one of his people and brought to a Court that is struggling to survive...and to not get killed by a dangerous sister race.  Absolutely amazing characters and a series that is better than the sum of its parts.  

I could recommend a lot more (I didn't even list half of the books I've given perfect scores to in the above), but I think the above is a nice starting point for those trying to get into the newer stuff in the Genre (Spirit Gate and Jaran aren't new, but whatever), and captures a mix of fun, serious, dark, and light stuff.

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