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Book Talk > Science Fiction/Fantasy You think everyone should read

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message 1: by Jared (new)

Jared (jdhenze) | 10 comments To get things going, I want to know what books you think are essential reads for anyone who is a genre fiction fan. Which books do you think should be an essential touchstone on an individuals navigation of alternative worlds.

The first book that comes to mind for me is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. The book is artfully crafted to create a unique fantasy breaking tropes of the genre with a story framework that shows up the storytelling talent of the author. If only the author could finish the third book in the trilogy....

Others authors I would toss in would be Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson, and Jasper Fforde


message 2: by Morgan (new)

Morgan (bazin) | 5 comments Now, granted my only experience with Sanderson is the Mistborn trilogy, I really found his world building to start to crack and fall apart a fair bit as the series went on. I really liked the first book, but then things just...didn't really resolve in a way that made sense to me given the information previously given. Again, maybe a problem with the source of the exposure.

I think A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab might fight in this category as someone that does something different with fantasy and weaves an interesting story that is supported by her worldbuilding. To show a contrast, I'd like to suggest that the world that A Game of Thrones exists in matters very little - I always felt you could transplant what Martin was doing into a space chronicle and you'd have the same story, his world does little to support what he's telling.


message 3: by Brandon (new)

Brandon (soupytoasterson) | 10 comments Mod
I absolutely second Josh's recommendation of A Darker Shade of Magic. I think we were both recommended it by a mutual friend of ours and it was one of the few books I actually got around to reading and finishing this year - great characters and world.


message 4: by Jared (new)

Jared (jdhenze) | 10 comments Josh wrote: "Now, granted my only experience with Sanderson is the Mistborn trilogy, I really found his world building to start to crack and fall apart a fair bit as the series went on. I really liked the first..."

I'd say that's a fair assessment of Sanderson. Overall there are flaws with his worlds but I've found he has strengthened as a writer over time, building more believable worlds. I'm mostly excited for his greater Cosmere plans bringing the different worlds he has worked on together. He seems to be building to something that hasn't been done before (to the scale he plans at least).


message 5: by Morgan (new)

Morgan (bazin) | 5 comments Jared wrote: I'm mostly excited for his greater Cosmere plans bringing the different worlds he has worked on together. He seems to be building to something that hasn't been done before (to the scale he plans at least).

I was not aware of this - it definitely looks ambitious. The only other thing of this sort of nature that I could say comes close would be Stephen King's Dark Tower.

I haven't personally read them, but my wife really loved the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, which from my understanding are retellings of classic fairy tales. Since I'm a little pickier when it comes to a YA title, I haven't dove in yet, but I love these sorts of stories, taking old ideas and mingling them with some new stuff to make them fresh and ever-so-slightly different.


message 6: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 1 comments I really love Brandon Sanderson's writing. It brought me back to epic fantasy after not reading it for a long time, because everything just seemed the same. I like how his novels are unique worlds and not just the same Tolkien knock-offs - and I LOVE Tolkien.

I would suggest Walter Moers' Zamonia books - I've actually only ready one, The City of Dreaming Books - but it was fantastic. It was bizarre and funny and had truly memorable characters. I also second anything by Jasper Fforde. Catherynne M. Valente - she has such unique and beautiful writing. Jim Butcher's Dresden Files are awesome. Neil Gaiman's Stardust, Neverwhere or American Gods.

I guess I could go on, but those are some of my favourites.


message 7: by Jared (new)

Jared (jdhenze) | 10 comments I'm glad someone else has read some Walter Moers, I've also only read City of Dreaming books and it was such a off the wall experience unlike any other. It's unfortunate they are harder to find up here in Canada, they are all over the place down in the states


message 8: by Dan (new)

Dan | 3 comments On the subjects of fantasy that's not Tolkien knockoffs & worldbuilding, the scale of Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen & R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy is pretty incomparable amongst stuff I've read. Canadian authors too, if that makes a difference to you. That being said, I haven't read much prose fantasy in years, despite it being my jam when I was younger. I'll always have a soft spot for the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander due to my childhood nostalgia.

When it comes to science fiction, Lilith's Brood by Octavia Butler, Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers, A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge, and A Mote in God's Eye by Niven & Pournelle (I think?) are all really fun, because they all go in depth into human-alien relationships when the aliens don't just behave like humans with pointy ears or green skin or whatever, but are actually truly alien intelligences & beings. In addition, Lilith's Brood is a frighteningly complex examination of colonialism, Roadside Picnic is some of the best "gritty, lived in" science fiction, and A Fire in the Deep and A Mote in God's Eye are just fun, zippy page turners.

Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower is my personal favorite example of the somewhat tired dystopia and/or postapocalyptic genres.

If you like a lot of infodump, Ursula K. Leguin's Left Hand of Darkness is a classic, and I recently read The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu and it was pretty interesting.

I'll have to check out A Darker Shade of Magic!


message 9: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Blair (j_r_blair) | 6 comments I have to agree with some previous posts: A Darker Shade of Magic is fantastic; Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles are a must-read; and Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive is brilliant (and far better than Mistborn, in my opinion.)

My personal favorite is Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings books, starting with Assassin's Apprentice. I love the world she's created through each of the three trilogies and one quadrilogy she's written, and while I love the Fitz and the Fool books best, each of her series has something that hooks my interest every time I read them--dragons, pirates, 'zombies,' people that can talk to animals, political intrigue, and even a little romance.

Other favorites: Joe Abercrombie's First Law books; Brent Weeks' Night Angel trilogy; Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards series; Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy; and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series (except book 10. Never book 10.)


message 10: by Jared (new)

Jared (jdhenze) | 10 comments I really need to revisit the Realm of the Elderlings, I've only read the first trilogy but I enjoyed it immensely. Not quite sure which series sidetracked me away from it...


message 11: by Bree (new)

Bree (philosofreaky) Thank you, everyone! I opened up this thread on my app while I was in the bookstore today and picked up A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, and The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.

(Unrelated to this thread, I also got Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs)


message 12: by Jared (new)

Jared (jdhenze) | 10 comments I'm glad we were able to be of some help! You'll have to let us know if our recommendations hold up.


message 13: by Elsie (new)

Elsie | 1 comments I'm going to throw something in that a lot of North Americans haven't read, but that I think everyone should, which is at least one Discworld book by Terry Pratchett. While they can be a bit silly, he also makes some wonderful commentary on both fantasy as a genre and on our world.


message 14: by Jared (new)

Jared (jdhenze) | 10 comments Always a solid choice, I'm always interested in which book people recommend starting at for Pratchett, which would you suggest?


message 15: by kels (new)

kels  (lanom) | 4 comments I always suggest that people try one of Pratchett's Shakespeare parodies (I think I started with Wyrd Sisters), or one of the City Watch stories (Guards! Guards! is one of my all-time favourites).

For must-read fantasy, I think everyone should give N.K. Jemisin a try. She's got a beautifully lyrical way of writing, and her characters are amazingly diverse. She definitely isn't writing the stereotypical "white dude" fantasy. She's writing some really progressive and interesting fantasy stories.

I also really love Guy Gavriel Kay and tell everyone to read the Fionavar Tapestry because it makes my heart hurt so desperately. Perhaps not the most critical of reviews, but I just really love that series.


message 16: by Brandon (new)

Brandon (soupytoasterson) | 10 comments Mod
Linden wrote: "I'm going to throw something in that a lot of North Americans haven't read, but that I think everyone should, which is at least one Discworld book by Terry Pratchett. While they can be a bit silly,..."

I've made three runs at Pratchett, and stopped three times... not because I wasn't enjoying the books (because I was) but because I'm apparently extremely easy to distract with other books - especially when there are no chapter breaks. It is my vow to one day finish at least one of his books, because I really have enjoyed what I've read...


message 17: by Morgan (new)

Morgan (bazin) | 5 comments I've tried Pratchett a few times but I could not get into it. With that said, I really did love Dark Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman, so maybe I just started the wrong books (which is possible, as I love Stross' Laundry Files, but really disliked the SF book I tried of his).

I'm also one of the 'weird' people that don't like Hitchhiker's Guide, so maybe I'm just broken.


message 18: by Jared (new)

Jared (jdhenze) | 10 comments Due to my reading habits, I've been reading them in release order (not the easiest method to enable engagement) but I agree the Wyrd Sisters and City Guard storylines are great jumping on points.

For those trying to test the waters to see if they would enjoy (potentially Josh and Brandon) I would recommend looking into what the different books parody (examples being Small Gods poking fun at religion and Maskarade being Phantom of the Opera) and starting with the subject being parodied you enjoy the most. That way you'll "get" most of the jokes in the story and have the best chance of figuring out if his humor/style is for you.


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