The Sword and Laser discussion

Sword & Laser starters for younguns...

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message 1: by Mary (new)

Mary (valentinew) | 118 comments Jennie's thread reminded me that I have an excellent resource here at my fingertips.

I have a friend with a 12 year old son. She & her husband both enjoy scifi/fantasy & gaming, but they despair of getting the boy to read at all, let alone a genre they're familiar with. She asked me this weekend if I had any suggestions. I tossed out a few, but you guys might be able to help me more.

As I said, he's 12, & so far not a big reader. He's a Young Marine & enjoying that thoroughly, so I'm thinking something with military, wars, battles, etc. at a young adult reading level in fantasy &/or scifi.

For the record, all I could come up with was Heinlein's young adult stuff, The Family Stone & all that.

Any suggestions? (Thanks in advance!)

message 2: by Anne (new)

Anne Schüßler (anneschuessler) | 838 comments I really liked Tunnels, although I'm not sure if it's the right age group and it's not really military, but more subterranean adventure.

Also, Neil Gaiman's children's books, Coraline and The Graveyard Book are pretty good, with enough scary stuff, especially Coraline.

I must admit that I don't really know what 12 year old boys could like to get them into reading, but those were that books that I read as an adult and really liked.

message 3: by Skip (new)

Skip | 517 comments I would recomend early sci-fi from Andre Norton, Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, or Roger Zelazny. Most golden age science fiction is full of space ships and guns. They also run much shorter than modern novels. Most run around 150 pages and were written for younger audiences.

message 4: by Kris (new)

Kris (kvolk) I think comic books are a great place to start kids off who don't like to reasd and it can draw them to longer formats when the bug bites them..T

message 5: by Kris (last edited Jul 07, 2011 08:39AM) (new)

Kris (kvolk) I think comic books are a great place to start kids off who don't like to read and it can draw them to longer formats when the bug bites them..they are digital now as well so they can be read on an ipad etc...

message 6: by Colin (new)

Colin | 278 comments I am not sure if these are going to be too young for him, but the Artemis Fowl books by Eoin Colfer are enjoyable. Artemis Fowl
I personally dislike one character (the dwarf burglar with flatulence issues) because he was too obviously the 'heavy handed potty-joke' character, while the rest of the characters were rather charming.

Anyways, the book series (set in Ireland) is about Artemis Fowl, a young man, heir to a house that has long been associated with arms dealing and criminal activity. His father goes missing and he is left to his own devices, deciding to follow in the family business of sorts, and sets into motion an elaborate plot involving the faery world, with kidnapping, action, and decent comedy (fart jokes aside).

If that is not his style, I'd suggest the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper.

message 7: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) Colin wrote: "If that is not his style, I'd suggest the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper."

Seconded, definitely.

The Dragonlance Chronicles
Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword
Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain
Nicholas Stuart Gray's The Seventh Swan (great soldier character)
David Gemmell might be a bit old for him, but there's serious military action
T.H. White's The Once and Future King ...

message 8: by Halbot42 (last edited Jul 13, 2011 10:31AM) (new)

Halbot42 | 185 comments I second the Dark is Rising, one of my first fantasy series after Narnia and before Tolkein. Just ignore the movie. Terry Pratchett's work shoud be a good fit, either Tiffany Aching or some of the others (Small Gods, Feet of Clay, Reaper Man, Soul Music) While we have learned unpleasant things lately re: OSC's personal beliefs,Ender's Game might be a hit. Also from Baen would be March Upcountry. Cool future tech meets stone age wars, none of the appalling stuff John Ringo is infamous for, just the good stuff. And my favorite book when i was 12 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

message 9: by Tom (new)

Tom Cameron | 25 comments I think The Graveyard Book would be a fantastic book for him to read. My son (Age 12) loved it. It's hard to go wrong with a Newberry Award Winner.

I would also recommend the Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander, the fifth book in the series (The High King) also won the Newberry Award. I like to re-read this series every few years, I started reading it when I was 13.

message 10: by Mary (new)

Mary (valentinew) | 118 comments Actually, his step dad borrowed my copy of the Prydain series a year or so ago & read it to him & his younger sisters as a bedtime story, already.

I've passed all these suggestions on to his mom. Thanks all!

Also, The Dark is Rising series was one of my first favorites as well. I own them in trade paperback form now. And I agree, the movie, while better than I expected had little to do with the series, although it didn't hurt as much as Disney's version of "The Black Cauldron" did....

message 11: by Paul (new)

Paul  Perry (pezski) | 491 comments Lots of great suggestions here (several i was going to make myself; i heartily recommend the Prydain books).

For SF, I'd also recommend Harry Harrison. I started reading his Stainless Steel Rat series and Bill The Galactic Hero around that age.

In military SF, I've been told that some of the Warhammer books are better than you might expect, especially the ones from Dan Abnett (I've a pile waiting on my TBR shelves so will keep you posted)

The main thing I read in my early-mid teens was mythic fantasy, especially Celtic, I think following on from discovering Conan a little earlier - the Cormac mac Art books started by Robert E. Howard and continued by Andrew J. Offutt, Kenneth C. Flint's sequence based on Irish myth, Elizabeth H. Boyer's Icelandic saga (and of course reading the myths that inspired them!)

Hopefully he'll be bitten by the reading bug. Growing up surrounded by books and reading is the best start.

message 12: by Martin (new)

Martin (mafrid) | 50 comments Mary Gentle's Grunts is one of my personal favorites and would fit great to someone who's into marines, war and battle.
Unfortunately he might miss the satirical aspects of the book as those parts need a bit of knowledge of how sword and sorcery fantasy is constructed, but I'm not sure that it's needed to appreciate the book.

It's basically about how Orcs are the marines, to the forces of evil and how they can always spot the good guys by their white clothes, long hair and fancy swords.

Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2898 comments Okay these aren't S&L but they seem right up the same alley - the Alex Rider books.

The Lightning Thief and the other Percy Jackson books are more mythology/fantasy and might read too young, but he might like them.

I also agree with the Dark is Rising books... Oh how I wish I'd known those as a child!

message 14: by Kevin (last edited Jul 08, 2011 07:34AM) (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) | 1081 comments I would start them the same way I got started reading fantasy, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, which is very underrated series here on Goodreads.

message 15: by Israel (new)

Israel | 80 comments Lots of good suggestions already. I would add the Shaman's Crossing series and if some vilence is ok anything by Brandon Sanderson.

message 16: by Halbot42 (last edited Jul 08, 2011 08:50AM) (new)

Halbot42 | 185 comments I vote against Grunts emphatically. Terrible book. I get the idea of trying to lampoon fantasy conventions, but in practice its a book where the main characters murder and eat children, and i dont need that crap in my brain. Every character is a murderous treacherous piece of filth, except the good ones, who are stupid. Maybe as an adult and reading this in context its just bad not terrible but i would absolutely avoid this book at any age. One the other hand if you really want something that snarks fantasy without making you want to bleach your brain and cry, try Bored of the Rings: A Parody of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings

message 17: by Matthew (new)

Matthew (masupert) | 215 comments My firs tad ice to the parents would be to not force it upon him. If he isn't interested in scifi/fantasy then you will only make him resist it more my constantly throwing it in his face. A lot of kids hate what their parents love just because itnis associated with their parents. He has to find it on his own.

That being said the Redwall books are a great place to start.

message 18: by Scott (new)

Scott | 41 comments I think the Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books would actually be a really good place to go to for this. They are easy enough that the language isn't going to be a problem, and entertaining enough that even me a 23 yr old and the two co-workers that introduced me to the series (26 and 21 respectively) found them to be a fun read. It even has the war aspect later on in series, with plenty of fights throughout the series to keep his attention.

One other suggestion that I think might be good are the Finnegan Zwake Mystery novels, by Michael Dahl. They aren't fantasy/scifi, but they were one of my favorite series growing up, and was what made me really start to love reading, after that point I never could get enough.

I hate to say this but depending on the other kids he associates with, a mystery novel might make it easier on him then fantasy. One of my friends stopped enjoying to read because of the crap his teammates were giving him about the fantasy books he was reading, and after that getting him to read any of the good fantasy and scifi books was nearly impossible and still is hard even now.

message 19: by Kris (new)

Kris (kvolk) Also the Icewind Dale books and Drizzt in general where favorites of my son at about that age...

message 20: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 4183 comments I got my start with Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. Read the others in that series, too. I also remember doing the Pern books when I was about 10, another formative book for me.

I read the Chronicles of Narnia books, too, but I could understand if. The religious themes turn parents off.

I read The Dark is Rising as a kid but none of the other books in that series. I recently read the others and found they didn't grab me as much as Dark is Rising.

message 21: by Tim (new)

Tim (zerogain) | 93 comments How bad is it that I read this thread heading as "for young guns"?

As a kid I truly enjoyed Piers Anthony's various fictions, but mostly Xanth. I have no idea what he's made of them since I've left middle school, but I remember liking them.

That was also the time I found Conan, too, but I guarantee you my rather conservative parents did not know about him, especially after our battles over Dungeons and Dragons ;-)

message 22: by Ben (new)

Ben Marshall (275ben) | 8 comments As a young teenager, he might like the feeling of Pittacus Lore's "I Am Number Four". The name "Mogadorian" is a bit silly, I'll grant you, but the book reads well from a younger point of view. War between human-looking aliens, last few of a species, developing powers, with a good dose of teenage angst, high school and rebellion thrown in. Plus, if he really gets into it, the authors are still writing the series. If he doesn't, the first book works well on it's own. There's also a movie (IMDB link) which doesn't do a bad job of re-telling the story.

One of my high school English teachers started me on the Science Fiction/Fantasy path (for which I'm eternally grateful) with the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey (& Todd McCaffrey these days). He also got me hooked on David Eddings with "The Belgariad".

Good luck to you and I hope you can help broaden his reading horizons!

message 23: by Amy (new)

Amy Pilkington | 104 comments For something recent, I highly recommend Leviathan and it's sequel (trilogy will be complete in September).

Like Bitter Seeds, it's a retelling of a world war (WWI in this case), with Britain having biotech and Germany having more steampunk-esque mechs. Only unlike Bitter Seeds, this one is meant for a younger crowd. Both main characters are around 14. It even has beautiful illustrations of all the different military tech and flying ships.

message 24: by Rahlquist (new)

Rahlquist | 1 comments Perhaps try Sword of Darrow This book was produced by a father son team and then reviewed and commented on by over 2100 7-14 year olds. My daughter was one of the children who read the manuscript and provided feedback. Several changes were made based on the feedback of all the young reviewers. The author even included a list of all the reviewers in the back of the book.

My 9yr old daughter loved it, as did all of the boys we spoke to who read it at the signing.

message 25: by Joe (new)

Joe Osborne | 94 comments How is it that no one has yet suggested Orson Scott Cards Ender's Gameor the rest of the series?

message 26: by Halbot42 (new)

Halbot42 | 185 comments I did, way back at the start, I just suggest you dont pay for it

message 27: by Brian (last edited Aug 02, 2011 06:20AM) (new)

Brian | 67 comments Joe wrote: "How is it that no one has yet suggested Orson Scott Cards Ender's Gameor the rest of the series?"

They did eight post.

The The Color of Magic and the rest of the Terry Pratchett books

message 28: by DrFlimFlam (new)

DrFlimFlam | 48 comments As a young reader who got into fantasy and sci-fi at around that age, I figure the best stuff I can recommend is what grabbed me (that is also age approprirate- libraries will let you rent ANYTHING!).

The Norby Chronicles and all Norby works in general were a fun primer into sci-fi. Also, existing fandoms, like Star Wars, could make something like Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy: Heir to the Empire: Star Wars, Volume I a winner.

My entry point into fantasy, aside from the usual stuff of Prydain, Narnia, etc., was Terry Brooks. I find his stories simplistic and too easy to predict now, but I think they're perfect for younger readers, while also being age-appropriate. My friends and I were REALLY into these books.

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