Reading Recommendations · Science Fiction and Fantasy
The realms of fantasy and science fiction range from adventures in sword and sorcery to far-future speculations with humans as disembodied intellects.
The ancient race of Dwellers are rumored to possess a map of wormholes hidden throughout the galaxy. If true, it could start a war; or, it could cost Fassin Taak, a researcher of the Dwellers, his life. Perhaps, both. The tenth book in the Culture series is a sensational stunner.
From Australia comes this literary, atmospheric debut fantasy concerning two dissimilar rebels—a mercenary and a physician—who seek refuge in the debauched city of Ashmoil, following a failed revolution. Attention China Mieville fans!
The alien Satrapy, masters of a vast space empire, have lost patience with the human Raga, rogues and smugglers descended from Caribbean stock of old Earth. The Satrapy want the Raga destroyed, but don’t expect the Ragamuffin to go quietly. Boffo space opera.
This sequel to The Curse of Chalion offers a fantasy world of marvelous complexity, a wholly original mythology, and a grand conflict between good and evil.
In early 19th century England, two magicians with amazing skill arise to aid their country in the conflict with Napoleon—but the sorcerers grow to be bitter rivals. Clarke’s debut is lyrical, richly imagined, and full of fascinating period detail.
Following six novels in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Donaldson resumes his landmark series. In the opening volume of a new quartet, Dr. Linden Avery returns three-thousand years later to the realm called “the Land,” a place now deeply in chaos.
The arch-priestess of a serpent cult sees the future in the entrails of human sacrifices. Though the Great Serpent directs her to marry a king, terrifying visions warn her otherwise. Volume one of the DarkGlass Mountain trilogy is set in the same universe as the acclaimed Wayfarer Redemption series.
The discovery of an alien artifact at the bottom of a Pacific trench attracts the intense interest of a pair non-humans, who have lived on Earth for tens of thousands of years. This is a gripping SF thriller.
An MIT grad student builds an instrument that disappears when he turns it on. When the device reappears, he realizes it has traveled into the future. Haldeman provides an enormously entertaining treatment of a classic SF theme.
Young Frankie Vine enjoys an eccentric childhood growing up in a family of clarvoyant women—Frankie also inherited the sight—in wartime Coventry, England. A quirky and mezmerizing coming-of-age story.
Lisey, the widow of a famous novelist, sorts her husband’s archive and discovers the dark and terrrifying place that was his boyhood refuge and inspirational wellspring. King’s thriller concerning widowhood and the creative process is masterful and disturbing.
Nine thousand years after the colony ships Bremerahven and Seeker left Earth, their fate remains a unknown. Antiquarian Alex Benadict acquires an artifact from Seeker and determines to retrace its journey. Expansive ideas abound in McDevitt’s far-future masterpiece.
Ombria mourns the death of its prince, which left his child heir in the hands of the sinister sorceress regent. But another sort of shadow disturbs the dark alleys and corners of the city, and it holds the key to Ombria’s past and future. A dark and memorable fantasy adventure.
Retired special ops soldier Blaine Donne is a private investigator on his home planet of Davanta, and his calendar is crowded with seemingly unrelated cases. But, of course, they’re not. An intriguing stand-alone SF/mystery from the venerable and prolific Modessitt.
An autistic computer programmer, born at the turn of the 21st century, confronts a dilemma posed by an experimental medical procedure. Moon offers a stunning fictional treatment of autistic experience.
Fifteen-year-old Kafka Tamura runs off in search of his lost mother and sister. Nakama, an elderly mentally-afflicted man, flees a simple life undone by violence. Parallel journeys form an odyssey that gradually interweaves the fates of Kafka and Nakama.
In this compelling contemporary fantasy, an adopted girl from Bucharest, now living with a family in Massachusetts, discovers her identity as princess in the magical, alternate realm of “Roumania.”
A virulent strain of bubonic plague wipes out the population of Europe, rendering Christianity an afterthought. As a result, the cultures of Islam and Buddha expand and flourish in the void. A sweeping and ambitious alternate history.
This is the first book in an imaginatively conceived trilogy, positing a parallel universe in which Neanderthals emerge as the dominant species.
Trojan War is contested on a terraformed Mars, while a post-human Zeus and related gods and goddeses look on. The initial volume of an explosive, two-part epic. (Locus Award: 2004)
The second installment of the Baroque Cycle follows parallel tales of criminal, Jack Shaftoe, and elegant spy, Eliza, Countess de la Zeur. Stephenson’s complex foray into the intrugues of 17th century politics and finance is an adventure tracing the historical origins of modern science.
Stross amplifies a story sequence that first appeared in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. At the dawn of the Singularity, when AI rules, three generations of the Macx clan strive against an unfathomably destructive force attacking the solar system.
Poet Robert Gu is cured of Alzheimer’s in 2025, regaining his awareness in an unfamiliar world of high techonology. During his reeducation, Gu becomes entangled, unwittingly, in a conspiracy of world domination.
This Trollopean pastiche, involving the conventions of money, inheritance, and social climbing unfolds in a society populated exclusively by dragons. This Victorian dragon family saga is an unforgettable frolic.
The night the stars blink out shapes the development of a generation of scientists and space explorers in Wilson’s intriguing speculation concerning the solar system transformed.
The wandering Spartan warrior Latro suffers quotidian amnesia. He must record events, lest he wake not knowing his identity. A side effect enables Latro to perceive gods and spirits. This is the third poignant volume in Wolfe’s dreamlike Soldier sequence.
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