SciFi and Fantasy Books Thread

by mnl
  • mnl 05-23-2020, 04:31 PM (Edited 05-23-2020, 04:38 PM)
    If there is one thing I'm more into than Anime, Manga or computer games it must surely be science fiction and fantasy books. It all started when I was around 5 and my mom read me The Hobbit as a bedtime story. A year later I discovered that The Hobbit had a prequel called The Lords of the Rings, had it read to me first and then started reading it myself, with other books like Phillip Pullman's The Golden Compass and the myriad of Hohlbein books (probably mostly popular in Germany, all their books are run-of-the-mill isekai stories) soon following. Ever since then I've basically had some kind of fantasy book lying around next to my bed that I'd be reading at any given moment.

    I didn't really read science fiction as a kid or teenager, but only did branch out in my 20s as I had increasing trouble in finding fantasy books to read and, well, I'd see all these recommendations for scifi books on reddit and stuff so I was naturally intrigued what I had missed so far. One thing I can say without a doubt is that we are currently living in the golden age of science fiction and fantasy books. The medium has advanced in strides in the last decade and matured in some ways, a change I would mainly attribute to a divergence from the classic hero's journey towards stories that play with subverting established tropes and also to the great influx of female writers (the best science fiction and fantasy books are written by women these days!).

    I thought I'd share my passion with you guys by recomending you some books that have come out in recent years and that I think are bloody brilliant. So here are some recommendations in no particular order, synopsis are taken from goodreads.


    Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

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    "Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father's inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.

    When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk--grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh--Miryem's fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.

    But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love."

    Imagine someone taking a classic fairy tale but writing it out over 400 pages while also brushing it up to suit modern tastes. That's basically this book. It's also very good.


    A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

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    "Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn't an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.

    Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan's unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret—one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life—or rescue it from annihilation"

    This book is a brilliant depiction of a great empire shortly before it's collapse. Also has nice poetry (in the Teixcalaanli Empire expressing oneself in poems is regared as being cultured). One of my favourites.


    Ancilliary Justice by Ann Leckie

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    "On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance."

    This book is narrated from the perspective of a battleship AI transfered into the body of a human. What makes this book brilliant is how Ann Leckie manages to infuse the non-human-ness of the narrator into her writing.


    The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

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    "This is the way the world ends. Again.

    Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze -- the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years -- collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

    Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She'll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter."

    Humanity has knocked the moon out of orbit and now plate tectonics have gone all whacky. Thousands of years later earth is regularly ravaged by super earthquakes known as "seasons" and the book starts with the beginning of the worst season yet. (Basically humanity is fucked for good). This series is pretty good. It won the Hugo Award  three years in a row (2016-2018) (probably most prestigeous Fantasy/Science Fiction award).


    Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

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    "What if men built a tower from Earth to Heaven-and broke through to Heaven's other side? What if we discovered that the fundamentals of mathematics were arbitrary and inconsistent? What if there were a science of naming things that calls life into being from inanimate matter? What if exposure to an alien language forever changed our perception of time? What if all the beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity were literally true, and the sight of sinners being swallowed into fiery pits were a routine event on city streets? These are the kinds of outrageous questions posed by the stories of Ted Chiang. Stories of your life . . . and others."

    Ted Chiang's stories are an exploration of science (physics, mathematics and linguistics) in the context of fantasy and science fiction stories. One of his short stories was made into the movie Arrival which is (imho) the best scifi movie of the decade.

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SciFi and Fantasy Books Thread