Top 10 books that are trending in sci-fi and fantasy lovers’ reading lists
April 1, 2020
Bogged down by the lockdown? Not too keen about this quarantine? Yea, sorry, stopping that nonsense. It’s just that I too feel the pressure of an entire month, now, spent at home, which leads me to spend my idle time doing very little except disconsolately play with words. I’m fazing with the lazing.
What to do with ourselves, when each day looks like the last, time seems to evaporate, marked only by the succession of meals, when we’ve binged on every possible bingeable show, (excluding “Disjointed”, which not even a one year Ebola outbreak would get me to watch), and prank-called every other person in town?
Unsurprisingly, people are rediscovering books. In an earlier article I had discussed how the current lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic was affecting book sales. The result was that sales were actually remaining quite stable for a good portion of the indie author market, while registering a sharp increase with more well-known authors. In other words, readers want to play it safe, even indoors, and go to the classics, or at least the well-heard ofs.
A survey among fantasy and sci-fi lovers produced an interesting reading list which, apart from being a very good collection of recommendations, shows how we all would rather bear those established writers we have, than fly to indies we know not of.
Which is a shame, really, since we (luckily) won’t have as many chances to explore new and interesting authors, all while saving the world while comfortably sitting on our asses. That’s why I am suggesting a second title by an indie author, next to every known one. They may be similar in style, or “you might also like” ideas, or just invitations to check this other book too.
H.P. Lovecraft – Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories If you’re a fan of horror then you know where to turn for the source of all things terrifying…yes, right behind you.
The Indie Alternative: E.A.Copen – Beasts of Babylon. Let’s go hunt some monsters in the company of an undead gunslinger, shall we?
Philip K. Dick – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep A seminal piece of work, at the origin of the Cyberpunk genre as well as Ridley Scott’s visionary motion picture: Blade Runner.
The Indie Alternative Jim Keen – The Paradise Factory (Cortex book 1) Just out in 2020, Keen’s novels are the result of a complex world-building process.
Terry Pratchett – The Discworld series An incredibly vast cast of the most unusual characters, from the possibly even human Nobbs to the anthropomorphic personification of Death itself, is the vector to a fantastic series of hilarious adventures in this alternative universe.
The Indie Alternative: Mike Wolff – The Guiding Council Series Myths and Urban Legends are real, and they have a complex society that exists all without the humans knowing.
The Other Indie Alternative: Kevin McCallion – Moristoun An island where all those who committed suicide live in eternal hoplessness. But desperate McSorely gets a sneak preview of Moristoun before making his drastic move… – desperately funny.
Douglas Adams – The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy The Meaning of life? Easy. Forty-two. What exactly is the question? That’s a tad tougher, but don’t worry, you and the planet are part of the computer designed to calculate it. That’s unless the Vogons don’t decide to demolish it first.
The Indie Alternative: Michelle Proulx – Imminent Danger: And How to Fly Straight into It High school junior Eris Miller thinks she’s having a bad day when her roommate’s boyfriend catches her stepping out of the shower wearing nothing but a towel. Then she gets abducted by scaly six-armed aliens with a strange fondness for the color blue, and her day suddenly gets a whole lot worse.
Anne Rice – Interview with the Vampire Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force—a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses.
The Indie Alternative: Shane Carrow – Vampire on the Orient Express Through fire and darkness, through blood and ice, the Orient Express is bearing an ancient evil across the continent – and not all its passengers will live to see Constantinople…
Neil Gaiman – Neverwhere Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Here in Neverwhere, Door is a powerful noblewoman who has vowed to find the evil agent of her family’s slaughter and thwart the destruction of this strange underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life and home, he must join Lady Door’s quest to save her world—and may well die trying.
The Indie Alternative: P.W.Catanese – Donny’s Inferno Although she appears to be a teenager, Angela is actually an ancient dignitary from the underworld who needs the help of a mortal. And she’s chosen twelve-year-old Donny Taylor.
Deborah Harkness – All Souls trilogy Twilight meets Outlander and Harry Potter, and they all go out to drink a potion or two. Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar’s depth to this riveting tale of magic and suspense.
The Indie Alternative: Mona Marple – The Witches of Mystic Springs Welcome to St Winifred’s, a magic school with an unpopular headmaster who won’t survive the night. With a storm raging over the choppy waters, and the Magick Squad too worried about Health & Safety to come out and investigate, it’s down to the guest of honour to investigate the murder.
Joe Abercrombie – Shattered Sea trilogy A series of fantasy books which even J.R.R. Martin had trouble putting down. This series is full of lightning-fast action and and packed with a wonderful collection of rogues, villains and two-faced bastards.
The Indie Alternative S.L. Briden – Shadows of a Phoenix trilogy A noble knight. A haughty sorceress. A dark prophecy that binds them together. High fantasy and Arthurian legend mix in this epic new series.
Earnest Cline – Ready Player One Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.
The Indie Alternative Jeremy Fabiano – Tempest Chronicles trilogy On his deathbed, he is made an offer he dare not refuse: fade away as the darkness takes him or have his consciousness transferred into a game—Tempest Online. Leaving the broken husk he once called a body behind, Steve becomes Abalonious, a warrior possessed of strength, cunning, and the power to make a difference, but with that power comes a far greater responsibility. The deal he accepted comes with a catch: if he fails, the game he’s grown to cherish is over and he’ll die—permanently.
BONUS ITEM: Apocalyptic genre, sponsored by COVID-19
John Wyndham – The Day of the Triffids When a freak cosmic event renders most of the Earth’s population blind, Bill Masen is one of the lucky few to retain his sight. The London he walks is crammed with groups of men and women needing help, some ready to prey on those who can still see. But another menace stalks blind and sighted alike. With nobody to stop their spread the Triffids, mobile plants with lethal stingers and carnivorous appetites, seem set to take control.
The Indie Alternative Laury Falter – Apocalypse Chronicles On an ordinary day in early September, Kennedy Shaw leaves for school unaware that within a few minutes the world she knows will be gone – succumbed to an outbreak of epidemic proportions.