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SciFi and Fantasy Series

It’s almost a given that when you write a good science fiction or fantasy book, it has to turn into a series. Fans crave it, but probably not as much as publishers do!

So here are several lists: New Series, Classic Series, and a list of a few that I would not recommend:

NEW SERIES

  • The Castle series by Steph Swainston

A unique new fantasy series by a young lady from the UK (Hi Steph!). This series features many characteristics that we have seen before (immortals, parallel worlds, aliens) but puts them together in a way that is at the same time modern as it is archaic; modern as in the main character, Jant, who is an immortal, has a drug problem (which he finds out allows him to enter parallel worlds); archaic as in the battles, challenges and sea voyages. You can read my reviews of the first two books in the series: The Year of Our War and No Present Like Time. Steph was kind enough to swap signed books with me, so I also now have a review of The Modern World.

  • Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi

Scalzi makes me laugh out loud while reading. Normally that’s Christopher Moore territory, but Scalzi does it with good sci-fi adventure mixed in as well. The space age drill sargeant bit in Old Man’s War had me rolling. John tips his hat to Robert Heinlein in his opener, and, if you like Heinlein, you like John’s writings as well. You can read my reviews of Old Man’s War (nominated for a Hugo!), and The Ghost Brigades. I’ll get to the next one in the series soon.

  • A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
    • A Game of Thrones
    • A Clash of Kings
    • A Storm of Swords
    • A Feast for Crows

One of the most intricately written, well charactered fantasy series I’ve read. And I’ve read a lot of them. I was concerned after the first two books (A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings) that Mr. Martin would not be able to keep up the pace of excellence he was laying down. He wasn’t afraid to kill of major characters, sometimes in suprising ways. And everyone was neither all bad nor all good, kinda like…humans. The 3rd book, A Storm of Swords, kept up the pace. The 4th book was somewhat dissappointing, not in the quality of the writing and story but in the fact that Mr. Martin (or his publishers) made the decision to split it half, meaning only half of the major characters and plotlines played out. My biggest concern is that is has been a decade since he started this, with three more books planned (what was a trilogy is now a sept-ology?)….I hope the quality keeps up and the pace continues at speed, that it doesn’t start to drag as The Wheel of Time series did.

  • The Baroque Cycle plus Cryptominocon by Neal Stephenson
  • The Prince of Nothing series by R. Scott Bakker
  • Seeds of Civilization series by R.J. Archer

R.J. takes the theories of Graham Hancock and combines them with his own and other archaeological research to provide stories that are part Clive Cussler and part X-Files. The first takes place in meso-american ruins, the second in an ancient temple off the coast of Japan, and the forth-coming third book in the Bermuda triangle.

My son has finished every book in this series, including the “The Orc King” that we got as an ARC at BEA. I still have several books to go. Though the quality of this series goes up and down, there are several classics, including the first six books (the Icewind Dale Trilogy and the Dark Elf Trilogy), and the characterizations of the main players in the story are consistent and well done.

  • Otherland by Tad Williams
  • Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Read them with my son!
THE CLASSICS

  • Foundation + Robots by Isaac Asimov

The original Foundation trilogy stole years from my life, pushing me into the world of fantasy and science fiction. I was a math major in college and on the math team in high school (yes, I know, geek alert) so the Hari Seldon’s psychohistory prediction of the future bit hit home. I include the extended foundation series and the robots since they were tied together in later book.

  • John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

These and the Pellucidar series rarely fall on anyones “best of” list. But I ripped through all of these as I ventured into Science Fiction, and they had all of the characteristics of a serialized space opera. I still have all of the originals.

  • Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer
  • Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny
    • Nine Princes in Amber
    • The Guns of Avalon
    • Sing of the Unicorn
    • The Hand of Oberon
    • The Courts of Chaos
  • Saga of the Pliocene Era + Galactic Milieu + Intervention by Julian May
  • Ender saga by Orson Scott Card

Longer notes later, but I just had to note that I have a signed copy of Ender’s Game!!

Some people would call this ‘pulp fiction’ or ‘dimestore novels’. But they were some of the first sci-fi type books I read, and I ate them up. Doc and his band (Monk, Ham, Renny, Long Tom and LittleJohn, and later on his neice) solved crimes in books like The Sargasso Orge, Meteor Menace, Pirate of the Pacific and The Men Who Smiled No More. Much to my lovely wife’s chagrin, I still have many of them; they were and are great reads.
ONES to SKIP

  • The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

I own and enjoyed the first few books in this series. I stopped reading in the middle of Book 8, The Path of Daggers. Yes, I said “in the middle of”…something I rarely do. My apologies to Robert Jordan, who is a much better author than I. But I was bored. The series has been described as “intricately detailed”. But it was just dragging. Rumor has it that he will finish the series with book twelve. But too long, too many details for me. I know I may get cards and letters for this opinion, but the voices inside my head could not hang with Rand al’Thor.

  • Anita Blake vampire hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton

Same as with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, I own and enjoyed the first several books in this series. I stopped reading ‘in the middle of’ Incubus Dreams, the 12th book in the series. The plot devices were getting old, and, I really hate to say this, but the supernatural sex was getting in the way of the storyline. I love gratuitous and graphical sex scenes just as much as the next guy. But just how many times can Anita do it with a vampire and a wereleopard and a….make it a porn movie and end it.

  • Outlander series by Diana Galbandon

Some would not consider this a fantasy series, but it has just enough time travel to get it close. Again, my lust for brevity shows, as I finished the first book barely….it could have been hundered of pages shorter. My review of the first book in the series is here.

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