Recommend Me Some Books!


#1

I am always on the lookout for more books to read, especially ones in the fantasy and sci-fi genre. Usually, I am pretty specific about what kinds of books I want to read but it doesn’t always result in good recommendations so this time I’m going to list my favourite books and hope you guys can base your recommendations off of that:

The Elric Saga - Michael Moorcock

Dune - Frank Herbert

Book Of The New Sun - Gene Wolf

Morrowind - Michael Kirkbride (ok not a book but it encapsulates everything I want in fantasy\sci-fi)

Malazan Books of the Fallen - Steven Erikson

The Second Apocalypse - R Scott Bakker


#2

Fun fact: Michael Kirkbride is currently writing for the Telltale Minecraft series.

Anyways I have a few recommendations:

The Nexus books by Ramez Naam are pretty alright. Kind of a popcorn read but the technology is all grounded in reality - Naam himself used to work at Google - making the cheesy action more interesting.

I really loved the Red Rising series, by Pierce Brown. The first book I would actually consider the weakest of the three, but even that one is more engaging than the Hunger Games-styled books it emulates, and it all gets better from there.

Brave Story, the Book of Heroes, and the Ico novelization (!!!), all by Miyuki Miyabe, are all great. Brave Story especially is a book I hold close to my heart.

East of Eden by Jon Steinbeck is neither sci-fi nor fantasy, but it’s one of my favorite novels of all time so I have to recommend it to everyone.

The Golem and the Jinn by Helen Wecker is one I read recently and enjoyed as well, especially because it involves a lot of aspects of my own culture.

That’s all I can think of at the moment!


#3

I’ve only started getting back into Fantasy in recent years, so I’m afraid not familiar with the ones you listed. I know Dune, but never read it or watched the movie.

My favourite book series right now is The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K: Jemisin. I wrote a recommendation after finishing the first one. Part 3 was released last week.

Usually I’m not a fan of post-apocalyptic stories and yet somehow this has managed to become my favourite novel. The books feature a lot of suffering, but it never feels gratuitous. It also focuses on the forming of communities and families during the apocalypse, which gives the story a thread of hope missing from most grimmdark end of the world stories. One PoV character is written entirely in second person and while that felt strange at first, it is used to illustrate the sense of detachement that character is feeling and works surprisingly well.

Before that I read “Who Fears Death” by Nnedi Okorafor, which is going to be adapted into an HBO show and is being produced by George R.R. Martin. This is the coming of age story of a witch set in a post-apocalyptic Sudan.


#4

I’m for sure gonna check both of these out!


#5

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho is good. it’s set in an alternate Victorian (or maybe georgian? it’s whenever napoleon was doing his thing) England, in which magic is real and controlled by an awful society of boring old men, lead by the Sorcerer Royal. At the start of the book, the former Sorcerer Royal has just died, leaving his position (and a heap of problems) to his adopted son, Zacharias Wythe - a black man. He then needs to solve the problem of England’s disappearing magic and a foreign crisis, while also trying not to get murdered for being black. If you’ve read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke it’s clearly taking some inspiration from that, but does its own thing pretty well.

The Dandelion Dynasty series by Ken Liu is pretty good so far, though I’ve only read the first one (The Grace of Kings). An island archipelago of several nations was at almost constant war with each other, until the weakest of these nations suddenly developed airships and almost overnight conquered all the other nations, forging a new and mighty empire. The series starts several decades later, when the first emperor dies and everything starts going to shit. It’s been described as being a wuxia Game of Thrones, which is a bit reductive but kinda fits - it’s got similarities in being a big dramatic epic fantasy series, but was clearly inspired by Chinese literary tradition and history rather than European. One warning, though - it’s really not at all good about female characters; the only major female character in the first book is literally just there to be the main character’s wife, for example, and she’s not even the worst example. If you can get past that it’s good but, be aware.


#6

I haven’t read Book Of The New Sun, but i have read The Fifth Head of Cerberus and it’s also a really good sci fi Gene Wolf book. I can’t, however, know how different they are.


#7

I’ll list some quotes from the books so you can get a better idea about them:

Elric:

“Elric knew that everything that existed had its opposite. In danger he might find peace. And yet, of course, in peace there was danger. Being an imperfect creature in an imperfect world he would always know paradox. And that was why in paradox there was always a kind of truth. That was why philosophers and soothsayers flourished. In a perfect world there would be no place for them. In an imperfect world the mysteries were always without solution and that was why there was always a great choice of solutions.”

Dune:

“The mind can go either direction under stress—toward positive or toward negative: on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training.”

“Greatness is a transitory experience. It is never consistent. It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind. The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man.”

Book of the New Sun:

“Certain mystes aver that the real world has been constructed by the human mind, since our ways are governed by the artificial categories into which we place essentially undifferentiated things, things weaker than our words for them.”

“We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges. When soldiers take their oath they are given a coin, an asimi stamped with the profile of the Autarch. Their acceptance of that coin is their acceptance of the special duties and burdens of military life—they are soldiers from that moment, though they may know nothing of the management of arms. I did not know that then, but it is a profound mistake to believe that we must know of such things to be influenced by them, and in fact to believe so is to believe in the most debased and superstitious kind of magic. The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all.”

Malazan Books of the Fallen:

“There is something profoundly cynical, my friends, in the notion of paradise after death. The lure is evasion. The promise is excusative. One need not accept responsibility for the world as it is, and by extension, one need do nothing about it. To strive for change, for true goodness in this mortal world, one must acknowledge and accept, within one’s own soul, that this mortal reality has purpose in itself, that its greatest value is not for us, but for our children and their children. To view life as but a quick passage alone a foul, tortured path – made foul and tortured by our own indifference – is to excuse all manner of misery and depravity, and to exact cruel punishment upon the innocent lives to come.
I defy this notion of paradise beyond the gates of bone. If the soul truly survives the passage, then it behooves us – each of us, my friends – to nurture a faith in similitude: what awaits us is a reflection of what we leave behind, and in the squandering of our mortal existence, we surrender the opportunity to learn the ways of goodness, the practice of sympathy, empathy, compassion and healing – all passed by in our rush to arrive at a place of glory and beauty, a place we did not earn, and most certainly do not deserve.”

“The unnamed soldier is a gift. The named soldier–dead, melted wax–demands a response among the living…a response no-one can make. Names are no comfort, they’re a call to answer the unanswerable. Why did she die, not him? Why do the survivors remain anonymous–as if cursed–while the dead are revered? Why do we cling to what we lose while we ignore what we still hold?
Name none of the fallen, for they stood in our place, and stand there still in each moment of our lives. Let my death hold no glory, and let me die forgotten and unknown. Let it not be said that I was one among the dead to accuse the living.”

The Second Apocalypse:

“No soul moves alone through the world, Leweth. Our every thought stems from the thoughts of others. Our every word is but a repetition of world spoken before. Every time we listen, we allow the movements of another should to carry our own…NO one’s soul moves alone, Leweth. When one love dies, on must learn to love another.”

“Men, Kellhus had once told her, were like coins: they had two sides. Where one side of them saw, the other side of them was seen, and though all men were both at once, men could only truly know the side of themselves that saw and the side of others that was seen—they could only truly know the inner half of themselves and the outer half of others.
At first Esmenet thought this foolish. Was not the inner half the whole, what was only imperfectly apprehended by others? But Kellhus bid her to think of everything she’d witnessed in others. How many unwitting mistakes? How many flaws of character? Conceits couched in passing remarks. Fears posed as judgements …
The shortcomings of men—their limits—were written in the eyes of those who watched them. And this was why everyone seemed so desperate to secure the good opinion of others—why everyone played the mummer. They knew without knowing that what they saw of themselves was only half of who they were. And they were desperate to be whole.
The measure of wisdom, Kellhus had said, was found in the distance between these two selves.
Only afterward had she thought of Kellhus in these terms. With a kind of surpriseless shock, she realized that not once—not once!—had she glimpsed shortcomings in his words or actions. And this, she understood, was why he seemed limitless, like the ground, which extended from the small circle about her feet to the great circle about the sky. He had become her horizon.
For Kellhus, there was no distance between seeing and being seen. He alone was whole. And what was more, he somehow stood from without and saw from within. He made whole …”


#8

I’ve recently discovered China Miéville and read Perdido Street Station. It’s technically classified as “weird fiction”, or part of the “new weird” movement. It seems like a cross between steampunk/cyberpunk/urban fantasy. It’s the last novel that really gripped me and I recommend checking it out. Of @Jonny_Anonymous’s books, it might be closest to Dune, but I’m also not familiar with the other books listed. It might not be a perfect fit, but it left such an impression on me that I’ve been proselytizing this book ever since I read it last year.


#9

When you say the last novel, which one do you mean?


#10

I think Bronson meant it’s the last novel they read with that sort of impact, not that it’s the last novel in the series. In fact, it’s the first, although I haven’t read any of the other Bas-Lag books. Still, Perdido Street is great. Another Mieville work worth looking into is Kraken which takes place in London’s magical underbelly, but in a grimier and more work-a-day fashion than books with that set-up usually have.

Also, my standard recommendation for any SF/F fan is the Culture series by Iain M. Banks. I don’t think there’s a single bad book to start the series with (although Inversions is easily mistakable for an unrelated low-fantasy novel) but I kind of get the vibe that you would appreciate Matter which is something like low space opera/ high-fantasy.


#11

Have you read The Witcher books? I’d say start with the short stories (The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny) before starting the saga.

And although it’s not fantasy, I’ll recommend my favourite book, Life of Pi.


#12

I really liked the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher.

They’re pretty basic and short but I really enjoyed them.

I also liked the Golden Threads trilogy by Leeland Artra.

I don’t really read much anymore unfortunately. :disappointed:


#13

M John Harrison and China Mieville are, for my money, the best speculative fiction authors alive.

Some suggestions:

The Third Head of Cerberus Gene Wolf
The Scar China Mieville
On Pale Wings M John Harrison
Nova Swing M John Harrison
Cugel’s Saga Jack Vance

Really though, the last three are each parts of series, none of which you have to have read contiguously, and I’d recommend those series as well. The book before Cugel is where Gygax gets the fictional explanation for what we now call spell slots in D&D.


#14

The sequel (The Wall of Storms) has way more female characters that are all really awesome and basically run the entire plot.


#15

after scanning over those quotes i think you should read Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. There’s a philosophical tone to all of them that makes me think you’d like it.
i’d reccomend it to just about anyone who likes sci fi, actually.


#16

That John Harrison stuff does sound good. Shame it’s not on kindle.


#17

Got the name of one of them wrong. It’s a storm of wings and it’s included on the Viriconium collection on Kindle.


#18

Doesn’t seem to be available on the UK site at least.


#19

Oh, bummer, sorry.


#20

Alright this is some of the things I am about!

I have read most of the books and series you’re talking about there and I super-enjoyed them, so hopefully some of my tips will be good for you. Also a couple of years ago I noticed an imbalance in my bookshelf and decided to only read female authors for a year and that opened my eyes to so much good stuff I had been missing.

The Curse Of Chalion is the first of three and a bit books by Lois McMaster Bujold which I love- the worldbuilding is detailed and clever, the characters are well drawn and the stories themselves are made of powerful stuff. These are probably my strongest recommendation. I have yet to read anything by Bujold that I didn’t super enjoy- her stories vary quite a lot, but she’s really good at telling them.

Tigana is a great starting point for Guy Gavriel Kay who writes beautiful stories that mostly lie just a small step sideways from history. Tigana is a little more fantasy than some of his other books but it is superb and if you enjoy it then there is a world of treasures ahead of you.

Range Of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear because at some point I got sick of samey faux-Europe fantasy settings so one that is closer to the Silk Roads is way more interesting to me and this is full of intriguing ideas. Also ( in a way that is quite authentic central Asian folklore ) one of the characters is a heroic horse ( not like a talking horse or anything, she just does horse stuff ) and I am here for that.

Mythago Wood if you have somehow not read this weird story about a man coming home from WWII and losing himself in the wildwood, I strongly recommend it. I have read very little that has the sense of an authentic touch with deep mythology and lost-prehistory to compare with it.

Irons In The Fire is the start of a trilogy by Juliet E McKenna which is set in a fairly traditional fantasy world, but telling the story of a political revolution. This sticks with me as a series where the tension picks up in the first few chapters of book one and hangs right on in there until the end of the third book. Also McKenna writes trilogies where each book has a satisfying ending which I wish other writers could learn from.

The Hyperion/Endymion Series by Dan Simmons are huge scale high-concept space opera and also about art and literature and religion and what the future might mean and also super-dramatic and action packed and then you will think about them for a long time afterwards.

Cold Magic is the start of a trilogy set in an alt-history 18th century with magic and trolls and revolution in the air. She has nudged history in a few interesting and fun ways to create a very different world. Kate Elliot has written a lot of books and as a relative newcomer to her work most of them are on my to-read list ( and would climb it quicker if they showed up as audiobooks! ) but the Spiritwalker series I have read and can recommend unreservedly.

Children Of Time by Adrian Tschaikovsky is a sci-fi story that has won a bunch of awards recently and deservedly so. I don’t want to talk about it too much, but if you like the general concept of it, then I can safely say the execution awesome.

For me the motherlode is a writer of historical fiction called Dorothy Dunnett - she has a series set in the 15th century ( Niccolo - more scheming and twisty ) and one set in the 16th century ( Lymond - more swashbuckling ) along with a standalone novel about one of the candidates for the historical MacBeth and they are all masterclasses in how to tell a complex story. She also has a very deft way of slotting her characters into history and bringing the genuine figures around them to life in a way that makes for fascinating storytelling. If you enjoy compelling, intricate, dramatic storytelling and you aren’t easily intimidated by detailed writing ( and you have said you like the New Sun so I am going to guess you have a taste for that kind of thing ) then I can’t recommend her strongly enough. The Game Of Kings and Niccolo Rising are good starting points and you can often pick them up cheaply second hand.

Also the recommendation for N K Jemisin upthread is a very good one The Obelisk Gate is my current audiobook and it is excellent. Other authors that you might enjoy include Phil Rickman ( who is mostly writing horror/supernatural/folkloric stuff with a deep understanding of history, folklore and Welshness ) and if you enjoy careful worldbuilding and using the world to create both puzzles and clever solutions you might have fun with Brandon Sanderson. Martha Wells has recently been writing stories about a boy who can turn into a kind of flying dragon-creature and his adventures in a vast and complex world peopled by many intriguing races and cultures, that are also about family and identity and terrifying peril and learning how to belong. There is a so much great stuff around, more than one could ever read in a lifetime, but hopefully this gives you some pointers to some stories you will enjoy.