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Massively Moving Offline Reading Paper Guide

I’m in the midst of a concentrated one-week, 3 credit hour class at seminary, which, while fascinating, is taking up all of my evenings (and all day on Saturday too, natch).  So gaming time’s been pared way, waaaaay back for the time being (Fallen Earth is getting 95% of that — I’m loving exploring the Tech faction), and I don’t have the typical thrilling, on-the-edge-of-your-seat adventures to regale you with.


I’ve never had those?


Instead, let’s turn to a topic that PBJ kicked off — recommending great scifi/fantasy books for fellow readers to enjoy.  Although I don’t have a Kindle proper, I’ve been splitting my reading between paper versions and the Kindle for iPhone version (this latter is far more convenient and always with me when I have a few minutes here and there).  Andrew’s shared some of his favorites, and I’d like to do the same:

  • Vorkosigan series (Lois McMaster Bujold) – Ms. Bujold’s won at least three Hugos that I know for this series, and it’s one of my absolute favorite.  Start with The Warrior’s Apprentice, but realise that there are also a couple prequel books that deal with the main protagonist’s parents.
  • Thursday Next series (Jasper Fforde) – Alternate history 1985.  Time travel.  Comedy.  Jumping into books, literally.  Absent minded inventors.  Evil masterminds.  Bizarre everything that people take in stride.  Did I mention it’s funny?  Start with The Eyre Affair.
  • Bas-Lag series (China Miéville) – Perdido Street Station is nothing short of a masterpiece of “twisted fantasy” — fantasy that goes off the beaten path of elves and wizards and does something strikingly different.  The Scar and Iron Council are okay, but PSS is a must-read.
  • Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) – Neil Gaiman’s everything comes highly recommended by many geeks, but my favorite is the first I read of his: Neverwhere.  It’s a novelization of sorts of a BBC miniseries (which I also own) about a guy who stumbles into the REAL London Underground.
  • The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss) – It’s been just about forever since I’ve fallen in love with a novel as much as this one, and once I finished it, I had to re-read it immediately.  Engrossing, inventive and constantly moving tale of a fantasy “legend” who is telling his life story in three days (this novel covers the first day of hiis telling) to a chronicler.  It will kick your brain’s butt and you’ll ask for another.
  • The Song of Ice and Fire series (George R.R. Martin) – There’s a widespread acclaim for this series which I’ll back, so you don’t need me to say much more than this is gritty dark fantasy that thinks that Dragon Age Origins really is way too lighthearted.  Awesome characters and a constantly twisty-turny story.
  • The Dark Tower series (Stephen King) – Some people assume that all King writes is horror, and thus have never exposed themselves to the genre-twisting Dark Tower series (and that is a shame).  Western, drama, scifi, post-apocalyptic, and — yes — horror are all blended together to make one epic tale.
  • Expendable (James Alan Gardner) – One of my rules of thumb for a great book is that every chapter have some element that’s riveting about it, and Expendable more than meets that qualification.  A tale of a less-than-perfect human (“expendable” in a society of genetic perfection) who is put in harm’s way over and over again as humanity explores the stars.  The rest of the series is a mixed bag, but I do love me this book.
  • Replay (Ken Grimwood) – Replay’s a bit of a twist on the Groundhog Day formula: a guy dies in the mid-80’s, only to be yanked back in time to when he was in college, given the chance to live his life over and over again.  Along the way he finds other time-repeating souls, and realizes that his “replays” are getting shorter and shorter.  Good stuff.
  • The Callahan Chronicals (Spider Robinson) – Yes, I spelled the title correctly.  A series of short stories revolving around a mysterious bar where the strange and unusual always seems to walk through the door with a tale.
  • The First Law series (Joe Abercrombie) – Very dark, very gritty fantasy trilogy that makes for a great read (the characters are never quite what you expect — one of the main guys is a deformed torturer).  I have issues with where the series ended, but it was a terrific ride, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the story continued.

18 thoughts on “Massively Moving Offline Reading Paper Guide

  1. Wotcha Syp,

    I’d recommend “The Lies of Locke Lamora” by Stephen Lynch. It’s a heist movie in book form, with nods at Oliver Twist, Ocean’s 11, the Bond series, all written in a highly accessible but flavourful style. Huge fun.

    Some of your recommendations I’ve tried before and not found to my liking, but I’ve been looking at the Jasper Fforde books and wondering. I shall have to try them now.


  2. May I suggest that no list of great Fantasy genre suggestions is complete without mentioning the Magic of Recluse (and following series) by L.E. Modesitt Jr. These are epic tales of good and evil and a system of magic that is not only well defined but is simply wonderous! My favourite Fantasy author.

  3. I’ve recently started reading the Horus Heresy series which is based in the Warhammer 40k universe. I’ve never experienced compulsive reading like this since I demolished the Lord of the Rings in a week one summer holiday, when I was an “eat lunch by yourself” teenager.

    I’d google Horus Heresy for a synopsis of goings on in the 40k universe around that time and if it sounds interesting the books will have you lying in bed thinking: “well, it’s already 3am so another hour won’t hurt…”

    There were a few days I was almost nodding off in work with lack of sleep 😀

    It’s pretty brutal, epicly epic and wholly tragic.

  4. You read some good stuff, I like those novels, too. Bujold also wrote some great fantasy novels, “The Curse of Chalion” and “Paladin of Souls” are quite good. The latter won Hugo, Nebula and Locus award, which is a bit of an irony, I think Chalion which was a better novel IMO should rather have got them.

    I never really got into Erikson’s writing style, despite my admiration for the world building and scope of his Malazan series.

    I can also recommend books by Paul Kearney and David Gemmell, Heroic Fantasy of the smarter kind.

  5. Thanks for the recommends, Syp. They have been wishlisted, and I even have a sample of Perdido Street Station waiting on my iPhone for later. 😉

    I’ve also got the ebook of Neverwhere already; it’s my next Gaiman before I listen to The Graveyard Book and Coraline on audio.

    So do you suggest The Song of Ice and Fire for someone who has a hard time reading series as a whole? I like to take breaks between installments, but I’ve heard that one is so involved that I might not want to do so with it. It’s so intimidating, but I’ve heard so very good.

  6. I picked up “Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse: A Novel” before a recent trip…easy and fun read if you like the genre.

    If you want something with adventure and mad scientists, check out Girl Genius.

    It’s free, but I have bought a few books for friends, so you can always get your dead tree copies if you need them.

  7. A great post-apoc book: The Postman, David Brin
    A great book on clones/avatars: Kiln People, David Brin
    For fans of witty, pithy prose: Stephen Brust, all the Jhereg books and Phoenix Throne trilogy
    My favorite space opera/high adventure: The D’Alembert Series, E.E. Doc Smith

  8. I can attest to the Rothfuss and Martin book/series. I’m fervently awaiting the fifth installment of Ice and Fire, and the follow up to Name of the Wind.

    I can recommend the Brandon Sanderson books, Elantris, Mistborn Trilogy, and Warbreaker. I picked those up after reading through WoT the second time, eagerly awaiting Memory of Light, and read that Sanderson was picking up the torch so I thought I’d check out his books. After finishing some Sanderson books I found Ice and Fire then subsequently Name of the Wind. I’ve been very pleased with the fantasy I’ve read over the past 2 or 3 years.

    I just started The Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe, which I read is fantasy/post-apoc in the Dying Earth vein (also sounds like similar setting as Mistborn…though I guess it would be the other way around). Not far at all as I’m studying for a financial exam, well cramming really as it’s a week away, but I like what I’ve read so far.

    Professor Beej: I can’t recommend Ice and Fire enough to people. My books are very beat up from loaning them out. I would be surprised if Game of Thrones doesn’t grip you enough to immediately pick up Storm of Swords. But even if it doesn’t, I don’t think he’s putting out the next novel for awhile, so it’s not like you would be able to finish the series as a whole even if you wanted to (or fiended for it as I do).

    My apologies for the long post. I thoroughly enjoy your blog Syp, it’s really fun to read and updated regularly.

  9. Kyle: I’m sure I’ll get into them soon enough. Which means likely this summer when I am not teaching nearly as much and have the time such an epic deserves. But I will get to them sometime really soon. I hear too many good things about them.

  10. Prof Beej-

    Probably a good plan. I would imagine there is a strong chance you will have a hard time putting them down as has been my experience.

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