A few of you have been after me for book recommendations. It’s your lucky day. If you don’t count the world being on fire and shit.
I was filing out my nominations for World Fantasy 2020 Awards and realized I already had half-a-list, which means it’s also half-a-post!
I love efficiency almost as much as I love books.
I like biographies and history, but for quarantine reading? No. Just no. We need something that will take us from our current surroundings.
We need books in exotic settings, as far away from the kid howling over the lack of soccer and Chocorooms as possible.
Since our heroics currently consist of sitting on our asses at home, we need to watch someone else save the world. Or the galaxy. Or the universe!
Best Recent Escapist Science Fiction & Fantasy Reads (Stand Alones)
- The Raven Tower, by Ann Leckie. How often does a writer use second person present? Never. But it works in this unique fantasy novel, narrated by a god. Or a maybe a rock. You decide.
- 10,000 Doors of January, by Alex E. Harrow. Right now, I bet you wish your front door opened to somewhere else. Anywhere else. In this fantasy, doors go into different worlds. They might even lead you to a family that doesn’t suck!
- Steel Crow Saga, by Paul Krueger. You know you always wanted a Pokemon buddy. In this fantasy world, you can choose a “shade” to be your forever soulmate. Or you could make it your eternal slave, if you’re an asshole. Or a Republican.
- Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir. I dunno if this book is Sci-Fi. Maybe it’s Fantasy. Could be Futurist Gothic (if that’s a thing). I do know that the dialogue is hilarious and the characters are unforgettable. The world is riveting, though tricky to explain; I’m gonna bail on that. Just read it already.
- Wanderers, by Chuck Wendig. Content Warning: there’s a pandemic in this book, but it sucks way worse than COVID-19, so, yay? Also the book’s evangelical white supremacists (is that redundant?) are extra special horrible; watching them all die is satisfying. The ending is bittersweet; questions raised will haunt you.
- Witchmark, by C.L. Polk. I sat next to Ms. Polk at last year’s World Fantasy convention and hadn’t read her book. That was embarrassing, especially when Witchmark won Best Novel. (I finally had to buy it and stop waiting for my library copy because of the thousand people ahead of me.) Witchmark is set in an Edwardian-esque world where the well-born mages run the country. Anyone else with magic is labeled a witch and dragged off the asylum. Sucks to be the main character, a doctor trying to hide his magical healing abilities.
- Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. Agnieszka is ripped away from her village by an irascible wizard who thinks he knows everything. Turns out he can’t teach magic for shit, but luckily he’s kinda hot and smart enough to let his student become the master.
Best Escapist Sci-Fi/ Fantasy Series (cuz this is gonna last another month)
listed by the first book in series to make it easy
- The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Is your quarantine life crap? Well, this main character’s life has been way worse, what with being on the losing side of sieges, eating rats, being enslaved, etc. Now he’s home and has to help his kingdom get its shit together–while possibly be consumed by a demon in his gut.
- The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black. Feel ready to murder your own family these days? In this faerie land, murdering one’s entire family is standard. The main character is a human stolen by her parents’ murderer. And even though she has no magic, she’s gonna survive, fight, spy, and maybe even win.
- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers. Can’t deal with over-the-top death and drama? Tag along with Rosemary the introvert as she joins a rag-tag crew in Sci-Fi’s cozy mystery series!
- The Last Sun, by K.D. Edwards. What if Tarot cards were actually real people? With magical power? Some of whom were real assholes? Luckily, Rune the Irreverent and his companion Brand are here to keep the Arcanum in line–budget be damned!
- Foreigner, by C.J. Cherryh. Humans got lost in space, landed on an inhabited planet, and preceded to fuck up everything. A century or so later, the ambassador between the natives and the humans is still trying to un-fuck up everything. Of course everyone wants to assassinate him.
- The Killing Moon, by N.K. Jemisin. Ancient Egypt, but with magic, priest assassins, palace intrigue, and cross-cultural romance. Content warning: the second book has a delightful plague in it.
- The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden. Set in Russia; sometimes as dark as their winters. Vasilisa can see the the old spirits that protect the household. Her religious stepmother forbids her from honoring them, which goes…poorly (i.e., the oldest, dark af evil rises unchecked).
Next post, I’ll do some escapist mysteries. Till then, feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.
Under no circumstance do I condone pirating books. If you download from one of those so-called “sharing” sites? You’re a goddamned thief. Buy it or borrow it from the library. It’s the least we can do for the writers and publishers keeping us sane (and our spawn un-murdered) during difficult times.