Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful ways an author can sell books. So many ads and commercials bombard us daily that I feel we are becoming immune to the messages. But let a friend lean over and whisper, “You should read this book, buy this tool, try this service” and we’re out the door.
My blog on Science Fiction Mysteries came to the ears of an associate on Goodreads. Jacob posted the blog and leaned in to comment on three other novels that he considered good science fiction mystery stories. Two I have read, and the third has been ordered and put on my “to read” list. So I’m leaning over and passing along his suggestions by word of blog.
This story is about detective Elijah Baley who is tasked to solve the murder of a high level person. The setting is years in the future where the cities are built underground and space travel is commonplace. The positronic brain has been developed so that robots mimic humans, creating antagonism in some social circles. Baley isn’t too happy to learn that he has to solve a murder mystery and his partner is Daneel R. Olivaw, a robot…even worse, this robot has been made in the image of the victim.
This is the first of several books by Asimov that feature Olivaw and Baley and all are highly recommended. Caves of Steel was made into a movie called “I, Robot” starring Will Smith.
The second suggestion was Altered Carbon, which I reviewed last year.(July 2012) I liked the gritty novel of a detective that is downloaded into a “sleeve” or body several times over his lifetime. Check out my review for a more detailed account.
The third that Jacob recommended is The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds. It’s been a while since I have read any of Reynolds books, and there are quite a number of others that he has written that I haven’t read. I don’t remember reading The Prefect, so I ordered it and it’s on the way. If you have favorites of his, let me know. Fair warning that I may go into “an author deep dive” if I like it.
Currently, I’m “deep diving” into Andre Norton and so far all have been enjoyable. I received The Ice Crown free at Powells and liked it. The Book club there gave an enthusiastic thumbs up when I asked opinions on Norton, so I went on to get Witch World. This is the first book in the Witch World Series. It was good. I plan to continue on in the series. I also picked up the The Zero Stone. I’m halfway through and I’m hooked. Here’s what has happened so far:
Murdoc Jern’s father is a gem trader and collector of odd objects. He comes across an enigmatic space stone in a ring shape, bigger than a wrist that gives off strange vibrations. He sends his oldest son, Murdoc, off to apprentice under Vondar, a well known gem trader, in order that Mordoc broadens his experience and builds a career. He also suggests that Murdoc may be able, through his travels, to discover the origins and properties of the alien stone. Mordoc comes home to visit. There’s a festival and the whole family, but his father, go to church to celebrate. Mordoc becomes uneasy and leaves early, goes home and finds his father dead, bound and tortured to death in his office. For some reason, he suspects that the Thieves’ Guild is after the stone.
With his father dead, his younger brother feels threatened that he will try to take over the business. His mother brutally reveals that he is a “duty child.” These are embryos shipped from a populous world to a frontier planet to vary the stock, by law assigned to a family to raise and nurture. They want him to leave, which he does gladly, taking only the strange stone with him.
He rejoins Vondar, but they are accosted in a bar by the local planet’s religious sect that spins a green wheel and whoever it points to is assassinated. The wheel points to a space between the two of them and as the two fight in protest, Murdoc runs free and Vondar is killed. They hunt Mordoc down, but he run to sanctuary where he negotiates and gets smuggles on board the last departing ship captained by a Free Trader.
The Free Traders stop at a planet on a regular route, only to find the planet wasted and the inhabitants gone. But the ship’s cat ingests a strange seed pod and gives birth to a catlike alien that names himself Eet and forms a telepathic bond with Mordoc. Mordoc contracts a disease that looks like a plague and overhears words that lead him to believe that the captain has been paid to deliver him to someone. Mordoc’s boils, fever and rash panic the crew and so they won’t be shunned as a “plague ship,” they plan to kill him. In order to escape, Mordoc and the cat leave the ship by jumping into space. In his fevered state, Mordoc vaguely realizes that the space stone on his gloved finger is pulling him toward some destination.
That turns out to be a drifting and abandoned ship of no design that Mordoc can recognize. Luckily, they find edible rations and a lifeboat inside. After, rest and recuperation, they take the lifeboat and head towards the nearest planet where they crash land onto a jungle like planet.
And I’m only a third of the way through. The plot is exciting with lots of twists and turns and I am anticipating what comes next. I wonder who Mordoc Jern really is, what the strange relationship with the alien being will develop into, and who is after them. Most of all, what is the Zero Stone and what can it do?
And lean over and whisper me your favorite scifi novel.