Well, that all took longer than I thought it would. 🙂 Sick child, Internet arguments, phone companies that are run by the devil — you know, life stuff.
I’ve been bopping around the Bookverse too, though, and here are some book/series that may be worth your time to check out:
First, the classic writers:
David Brin has been one of the most interesting writers in science fiction for some time, in my book. An astrophysicist, he is also excellent at characterization and creating action-packed suspense. One of his novels, The Postman, was made into a not very effective adaptation film for Kevin Costner. Better to read the book. His Uplift series is pretty much required reading if you want to have a basic understanding of SF canon. However, the man’s been kind of busy the last few years, and so we’ve had to go without new stuff until now. Brin’s new very large novel, Existence, is about a medium future Earth that has covered itself in trash. An orbital garbage collector stumbles upon an alien artifact that speaks of both attempts at communication and invasion. It’s one of the oldest ideas we have in SF, and in Brin’s hands, it’s going to be incredibly complex, diverse and personal. Definitely one to check out.
What Brin is to SF, British author Tom Holt is to satiric fantasy, and Holt is offering yet another bizarre and endearing novel, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages. This one is about magical multiple dimensions/realities, in which a real estate solicitor is confused by strange going-ons that involve a magical dimensional travel ring, pigs, and insanity. Holt is very prolific, but I like the sound of this one especially and may check it out. My favorite of his that I’ve read so far is the famous Expecting Someone Taller, which involves Norse gods and yet more magical objects. But really, any Holt title is likely to be fun.
Onto the newer authors who have caught my eye:
Kate Locke is debuting with the first book in her Immortal Empire series, an alternate timeline contemporary fantasy called God Save the Queen. In Locke’s version of the world, a gene altering plague virus of magic created a mutated, non-human species that live underground called goblins and the half-mutated vampires and werewolves, who make up the nobility, and then there are humans. Queen Victoria has consequently ruled for a very long time over a still chugging if struggling British Empire. The main character is a noble’s illegitimate daughter infected by a goblin attack who is an enforcer for the Empire trying to find her sister. I sampled the first chapter and I liked the writing on this very much. The use of legends into a weird re-invention I thought created an interesting, crumbling world, mixing steampunk with modernity, and social commentary Dickens style. Looks to have a fair amount of action, too.
Also on the contemporary fantasy front, Benedict Jacka has another entry in his Alex Verus suspense series about a mage with foresight powers. In Cursed, Alex is up against a dark magic being used to suck the life force out of humans, mages and magical creatures. I like the idea of having a main character who everybody bothers about seeing into the future. I find main characters who are pestered are often the most interesting. In this one, Alex also has to deal with a potential betrayer in the halls of power.
N.K. Jemisin has greatly impressed me — and everybody else — with her novel The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and following series. Her new series, Dreamblood, though, is even more interesting to me from the sound of it. Starting with The Killing Moon, Jemisin introduced us to the city state of Gujaareh, ruled in peace by the priests of a soothing yet ruthless dream goddess who harvest the magic of dreams. In the newest entry, The Shadowed Sun, Gujaareh’s era of peace is past and a plague of nightmares is striking a populace ripe for further change.
And because I enjoy vampires, some more in Jaye Wells‘ contemporary fantasy Blue Blooded Vamp, the last entry in her highly successful Sabina Kane series. In Wells’ world, the biblical Cain is the first vampire and his brother Abel is a powerful mage. Vampire hunter Kane has a chance to finally stop Cain and get revenge for her family’s deaths, but it depends on finding Abel in Rome, and he may not want to be found.
And more aliens — SFF authors Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham teamed up under the pen name of James S.A. Corey to write a rip-roaring military SF series, The Expanse, starting with Leviathan Wakes. The sequel is Caliban’s War. Everything is going to pieces on several planets and the crew of the policing ship Rocinante is finding itself at the critical position in a long-time alien invasion. I like that the SF authors are coming up with very sneaky ways to have an alien invasion. This series has gotten a lot of positive buzz and the bit of Abraham’s writing I’ve seen so far I liked a lot, so I’m planning to check this out.
Finally, another new entry in a much buzzed about series — Mira Grant‘s Newsflesh post-apocalypse zombie story. Grant (known as Seanan McGuire in the fantasy field,) has created a world with mammal zombies that still struggles to go on as a society and focuses on a pair of blog reporters. In Blackout, the last volume of the trilogy, they try to find the final truth about the virus that started everything and the secret political organizations who are — well, you know, usually trying to kill snoopy reporters. The fist book in the trilogy, Feed, got a ton of good buzz and it’s a short set for those for whom that’s an issue. I’ve read McGuire’s contemporary fantasy novel of the faerie Rosemary and Rue and she is quite good at suspense. Plus, zombies!