The Sci-fi and Fantasy Book Club Message Board › Sci-Fi Series for Future Meetups
At the end of June's Sci-Fi Selection Meetup, a few of us talked about choosing entire series or trilogies for future meetups since (1) very few authors write stand-alone novels anymore and (2) it would help us avoid being left with dozens of unanswered questions at the end of a first-part novel.
So I thought we could discuss ideas for which series or portions of series we'd like to try, and to kick that off I'm including some suggestions for SCIENCE-FICTION novels. I've already created another thread for Fantasy selections.
It's going to become readily apparent that I mostly read military sci-fi, so these recommendations are somewhat narrow in focus. Please suggest others that you think would work or are intrigued by.
(1) The Safehold Trilogy by David Weber
This trilogy (Off Armageddon Reef, By Heresies Distressed, By Schisms Rent Asunder) is very different from most of Weber's other work. It manages to combine the best of science fiction and 19th-century seafaring adventure into a complex story that touches upon the ethics and nature of organized religion as a mechanism of control. And although it stays fast-paced and the characters and players are sometimes hard to juggle, it still remains thought-provoking and compelling, and is an interesting look at how a created society might differ from or draw upon our own history.
(2) The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
This trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) is a bit heavy at times, but the sheer scope of it is staggering, as it takes us from a time very similar to our own and extrapolates forward into a culturally rich Martian future. It's not easy for science fiction to be both imaginative and plausible, but this does it. These are long reads, however, so it may take people some time to get through these.
(3) The Honorverse series by David Weber
This is my second Weber recommendation, though these books have a very different style than the previously mentioned trilogy. These have most often been described as Horatio Hornblower in space, and that's fairly apt in that there are a lot of parallels to the Napoleonic Wars and the Royal Navy in this series. Still, they're fun compelling reads with interesting technological advances projected out, and despite the fact that they're basically adventure stories, Weber doesn't skimp on characterization or depth. These are a lot of fun, and the first 3 books (On Basilisk Station, The Honor of the Queen, The Short Victorious War) would make a good selection, though the first novel is also fairly effective as a stand-alone.
Although it's part of a series, this would work well as a stand-alone selection:
(4) The Way of the Wolf (Book 1 of The Vampire Earth series) by E.E. Knight
These books somehow blend vampire fiction, military sci-fi, and post-apocalyptic fiction into one setting. Without giving anything away, it's about a future in which aliens (last time they tried, they became the basis for most of Earth's various vampire mythologies) have invaded and conquered the Earth, with only a few pockets of free territory left from which resistance fighters are based. And some of the fighters, aided by aliens that oppose the invaders, have their genetics and physiology altered to better equip them to fight (their antecedents from the last war became the basis for werewolf and were-cat myths and the Norse Berserkers). It sounded a bit nuts to me until I actually read them, and I was surprised to find that they worked.
Another idea, since we have Ender's Game coming up, is to read Ender's Shadow (which takes place concurrently) as a companion novel.
I went ahead and read Weber's 'On Basilisk Station' and picked up a few of the others.
Here's my two-cent review: as noted, they are basically military adventure stories. I'm less satisfied with the characters and the setting, finding them a bit one-dimensional and stereotypical. I don't think the stories will be around in, say, 20 years. That said, the development is more than adequate for a space opera series, and the plot solid enough. I found Basilisk Station a very enjoyable read, and would recommend it if one is in the mood for a light, fast page-turner with lots of (space) naval combat - which is of course the market it is targeting. I plan on reading the next couple of books.
A contrast can be made with the 'Old Man's War' series. I found OMW deeper, but Honorverse more fun.