Hidden gems in Science Fiction

Art, music, literature, dance, the creative arts are all subject to an individual’s taste. However, in many cases the cream does rise to the top. Many of my favorite stories are other reader’s favorites too. Check out my recommendations in past blogs and you get a sense of what I like. It’s all over the science fiction/ fantasy map.

That’s why I like lists such as the Hugo and Nebula awards. Having said that, several times I have overlooked a good story based on a snap judgement.

In the fantasy genre, Robin Hobbs was such a writer. Her first attempt at writing failed. Then, Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden changed her pen name to Robin Hobbs and her series took off. I was told this and decided to pass on her novels until years later when a friend was reading her and commented that she was really good.

I started with the Farseer Trilogy: Assassin’s Apprentice book1…and loved it. I was also drawn to the title. What would it be like to be an assassin’s apprentice?

The first trilogy contains a lot of my favorite story plots. Good Prince Chivalry has a bastard son, Fitz, more often called “the Bastard”, who lives in the shadows at the king’s royal palace. Prince Chivalry is shamed by his bastard’s existence and he and his current wife are exiled from court. But Fitz stays. Fitz is given to the stable master and then, the king’s assassin to raise. Fitz holds the royal line’s ability of telepathy and can bond mentally with animals, particularly one wolf that he saves.

Another interesting character in the story is the fool. Of course, the fool spouts out wisdom that sounds like nonsense and, over the series, plays an important part in Fitz’s and the king’s life.

The second trilogy picks up the Fool’s story with the Tawny Man Series: Fool’s Errand, Golden Fool and Fool’s Fate. There is also a dragon series in the same universe and a Mad Ship’s Series.

Something fun for everyone.

All are good reads. I recommend them to you if you like fantasy and fantasy escape stories along the lines of Patrick Rothfuss and Terry Goodkind.

If your taste runs more to hard science, spaceships and modified humans, then I want to mention Jay Lake’s Death of a Starship.

Jay is a member of my Portland Writer’s Group and as of this 2009 publication has over 240 published short stories and eight novels, Green published by TOR is his most recent. He also has won numerous nominations and awards for his writing. He was co-host at the recent Hugo awards and is battling cancer.

It’s not an easy war. We are rooting for a victory.

Death of a Starship starts off with an exciting space battle that ends with a large battleship, the Enver Hoxha, mysteriously disappearing.

The Grand Ekumenical Security Directorate that investigates rumors of aliens and strange disappearances sends Father Jonah Menard to investigate rumors of its reappearance. Along with the father, travels a bodyguard in the form of a manufactured creature called an angel. Having pale skin, red eyes and deadly wings, the angel can survive for a limited time in vacuum and is a formidable fighter.

To counteract these creatures, the military has a secret branch that has created Biones, which are enhanced humans designed to kill angels. A third vector is Micah Albrecht,  out of work ship engineer, who finds a key lock to a hidden boat off of the Enver Hoxha.

All converge in the pursuit of power, survival and aliens.

A surprisingly good read…for me.

Because…several elements of the story echo ideas and elements in my own novels and I sometimes wonder if there aren’t certain ideas floating out in the ether that various writers pick up and incorporate into their stories, not realizing that others are thinking along the same lines. I wrote my story years before I read Jay’s and yet there are similar elements. Disconcerting.

A mass consciousness? Where do we writers get our ideas?

For me they bubble up out of my consciousness from past stories and experiences. An idea or story plot appears in my mind and I want to see where it leads and what it looks like in full bloom.

Some days I’m just a blooming idiot, making the world more colorful and fragrant.

p.s. Here’s an awesome piece by John Scalzi mentioned in last week’s blog  http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/07/23/a-self-made-man-looks-at-how-he-made-it/

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Filed under alien life forms, Best selling science fiction, fantasy, gene modification, genetic manipulation, hard science, Indie authors, Indie Science Fiction Authors, military, military science fiction, modifying humans, Nebula nominations, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, Space opera, space ship, space travel

2 responses to “Hidden gems in Science Fiction

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