Book Recommendations: Sci-Fi

Time for another book recommendation post!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve always been something of a sci-fi fan, but never got into the hardcore stuff. Star Wars, movies and novels, made up the majority of my fascination for a long time. Star Trek, especially Voyager (yes, in watching the show now I can understand people’s irritation, and am frustrated myself, at the weak storylines and bland character developments when it had SO MUCH MORE POTENTIAL, but it’s still my favorite of all of them) was a mainstay of my teenage and college years. As an adult I discovered Doctor Who and Firefly, and though my relationship with Doctor Who has soured to the point where I no longer care about it in the slightest, it was wonderful for a while. And I adore Firefly (ZOE!!!). I also get a kick out Warehouse 13, and one of these days I am actually going to watch The X-Files.

But … those are all TV shows. And movies, counting Star Wars. There aren’t a whole lot of books which I’ve read in the sci-fi category. And none at all on my shelves, save for a few holdovers from my Star Wars EU days. So I’m always looking for more.

What I love in sci-fi is not just cool technology and spaceships, although I do love those. And I’m not one who is into all the science-y talk, and figuring out the possibilities and probabilities of Faster-Than-Light speed or the like. Aliens are cool, but not essential. I really like just good old-fashioned space opera, the small drama of human existence played out against the wide background of space (or the wide background of a bigger universe than one we’re aware of – like Warehouse 13. It doesn’t have to be space, though I admit I love that best).

So, here are the few books/series I’ve read and enjoyed, and one or two I’ve tried and now wish to steer clear of, and please feel free to hit me up with more based on what I’ve already tried!

Star Wars Expanded Universe. I sold most of my Star Wars EU collection before one of our moves; it was a wrench, but I really didn’t read them anymore, and the New Jedi Order books had left me feeling rather cold toward the EU in general. I kept my X-Wing novels, though, at least all the ones before the NJO, as well as Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy and Hand of Thrawn duology. Oh, and Mike Stackpole’s I, Jedi. I saved all those because I would love them whether they were Star Wars or not, they were just fun, fun reads. And glad I was that I did when Aaron Allston died and I was able to re-read all the Wraith Squadron books by simply going down to our storage unit in the basement and pulling them out of a box there.

The Vorkosigan Saga. I read Lois McMaster Bujold’s Chalion books first, and loved them so much I turned to her Vorkosigan books as soon as I finished Paladin of Souls. I read Cordelia’s Honor first, and loved it but was so overwhelmed that it took me a little while before I could read The Warrior’s Apprentice. That pattern has remained, in fact. I love each book that I read, but I have to take long breaks in between them because I get so intensely involved in them as I read. And I absolutely cannot read them before bed, or my mind races like crazy all night long!

Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword. These books, by Ann Leckie, are so, so good. Rich characters? Check. Sci-fi and alien concepts used to bring home truths about our own societies and thought processes? Check. Intricate, well-developed plots? Check.

The Touchstone Trilogy. By Andrea K. Höst, an indie writer from Australia. These novels, written in diary form by the teenage protagonist, a girl from our world thrown all of a sudden into a strange new universe, are brilliant. I’m dying to re-read them, but making myself wait until I finish writing From the Shadows, which is also written in diary form from the perspective of a character thrown out of her ordinary world into a new one (of sorts). There are enough similarities there that I don’t want to let myself be accidentally influenced by Höst. I’m saving the trilogy re-read as a reward for finishing my own work.

Ultraviolet and Quicksilver, by RJ Anderson. Oh my. I love these books. Not space opera, but glorious nonetheless. Ultraviolet especially was so gripping and so unexpectedly moving to me, in a way I hadn’t experienced since reading A Ring of Endless Light.

Now for the ones I’ve tried but didn’t love.

Honor Harrington. I really, really enjoyed the first one. The second one dealt with some topics which turn my stomach, and while it might have handled them well (they are so distressing to me I cannot possibly be objective about how they’re handled – I had the same problem with the Phryne Fisher books), it made it impossible for me to continue with the series.

Ender’s Game. I read it because it’s a sci-fi classic. It was, I thought, really brilliantly written. But I didn’t enjoy it. That’s all I can say on that.

To close, I will mention that I have the first book of CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner series coming to me through ILL, but there was a glitch and it got held up for about two weeks, so I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. But I’m excited to try when it does get here!

There you have it, my list as best my memory (and my Goodreads lists) can serve. What do you recommend, or recommend I avoid in my search for more awesome-to-me science fiction books?

Update:

Doris Egan’s Ivory books have been recommended (and I ordered the first one already!)

Two people (blog and FB) recommended Anne McCaffrey: the later Pern books, the Talents series, and the Crystal Singer series.

Also recommended was Shannon Hale’s MG superhero book Dangerous.

 

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9 thoughts on “Book Recommendations: Sci-Fi

  1. I’m not a SciFi fan, except for – squeee! – Warehouse 13. Come to think of it, I have yet to watch Season 4 (it’s a bit tricky up here, as none of our networks carry it, and Syfy channel doesn’t stream in Canada). Actually, I’m not even sure I’d call that SciFi – more Fantasy, actually (because the Warehouse and the artifacts are pretty much magic, not technology).

    Actually, some of the later Pern novels by Anne McCaffrey would qualify as almost-SciFi, I think.

    • Yeah, Warehouse 13 definitely is a fun blend of fantasy/sci-fi/steampunk without ever falling definitively into any of those categories. Which adds to its charm, if you ask me.

      Someone on FB recommended the Pern books. I haven’t had a great experience with the two McCaffrey books I have read, but I’m thinking I might need to give her another chance. (I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t find them particularly compelling.)

      • Pern is really fantasy, almost classically so. Except, like I said, some of the later books take a tiny bit of a SciFi-ish twist. It’s got very cool world-building, all of it.
        McCaffrey has a SciFi series called “The Freedom Series” – I haven’t read it, but my man just did. He was complaining about plot holes, though, so apart from the fact that McCaffrey is a great writer generally, I don’t know how recommendable they are.

        Oh, and it’s Season 5 I meant of Warehouse, not 4.

  2. I’m like you– I love science fiction in movies and TV, and yet I haven’t really READ very much of it. In fact I think you’re ahead of me. No, I KNOW you’re ahead of me because I haven’t read ANY of the books you mentioned here. Except A Ring of Endless Light but you weren’t actually talking about that one.

    One SF book I read and loved recently though was Dangerous by Shannon Hale. It was like watching a superhero movie on paper. Or in my head. Whichever. THOROUGHLY recommended.

    • I read Dangerous, but I just couldn’t get into it. I might have been hampered by my annoyance at the homeschool stereotypes, though. I freely admit that! Also, I think I kept wanting it to go deeper, and as you said, it was much more like a superhero movie in that aspect. So I think the real problem was me. I’ll add it to the list!

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