I am starting something new. 5 Things Friday. I hope to post every Friday with a new 5 things. I’m starting with a short list of my five favorite books of all time. Up until now at least. It’s difficult to stop at five but I like the alliteration. I’m not doing Fifty things. That would take weeks to write each one. Here we go!
5. Into the Wilderness – Sara Donati – This carries on the story after the James Fenimore Cooper novels, the Leatherstocking Tales, Last of the Mohicans ring a bell? I really adored these as a young man. Set in the New York wilderness in 1792, Into the Wilderness is the story of a headstrong English teacher and the son of a legendary frontiersman. I loved this entire series. A little romance, a lot of action, and a great mix of fact and fiction. I learned some history reading this series. My book review is here.
4. Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll – I have loved this book for a very long time. The highly imaginative world, the crazy characters, and the sing-songy nature of the dialogue is marvelous, and practically perfect in every way. The original artwork by John Tenniel is amazing as well and fits perfectly with the off-kilter view of the world.
3. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card – These next three books are almost even on my scale and couldn’t be more different. This book is probably the most unputdownable novel ever written. It follows a very young Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, who is only tasked to save the world from invasion by aliens. If you haven’t already read this book you need to go out and buy it today. I don’t care how you feel about Card; this book is absolutely incredible, even if you aren’t a fan of science fiction.
2. Downbelow Station – CJ Cherryh – I absolutely adore everything in her Alliance/Union series. This one was her first Hugo in the series. These books are cerebral and thought provoking and wonderful space opera at its best. Mankind has moved out into dozens of star systems and political strife follows. Cherryh is wonderful at getting deeply into the head of her characters to make them come to life, so a star spanning story becomes very personal.
#1 Neuromancer – William Gibson – Groundbreaking! It created a brand-new genre within science fiction. This is Gibson’s debut and the prose is as wonderful as the characters and his vision of the near future, with hackers and artificial intelligence. It put cyberpunk on the map. I love his style of storytelling and he has only gotten better with each subsequent novel.
The Quantum Thief – Hannu Rajaneimi – This is a mind-bending post human story set in our solar system. Brilliantly imaginative with incredible technology that feels lived in once you make the shift into a new mindset where it all makes sense. This is Rajaneimi’s debut and the beginning of a trilogy following Jean Le Flambeur, a thief of unmatched skill. It involves themes of the malleability and unreliability of memory and what it means to be human. I had to reread the opening several times before I could understand what he was talking about but it was worth the effort. I blogged about it back in 2012 here.
The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch – The Gentlemen Bastard series. Lynch’s debut novel is storytelling at its finest. The opening novel tells the story of a pair of young con men living in a fictitious magical preindustrial land. It is a heist story at its heart. Friendship and perseverance are the main themes.
Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson – This opus is what new fantasy is all about. It has nothing remotely barrowed from Tolkien, other than being fantasy. Purely original in every way. Sanderson likes to make new magic systems for each of his series and this one works flawlessly. The characters are epic and the action is full tilt. Knights in living armor, or the remnants thereof, wielding living swords. Gods and assassins. It is fantastic.
Jennifer Government – Max Barry – Brilliant and hilarious. This is Max’s second novel and it is a spoof of capitalism, detailing where a dystopian future might lead if corporations take over the world.
Altered Carbon – Richard K. Morgan – Sexy and smart and totally original SF. An unforgettable character in the soul of Takeshi Kovacs, the last remaining super special ops agent from an earlier age. The story is really a murder mystery at its heart, but the heart-stopping technology is so cool, and the action is like a Kung Fu movie.
Moon Called – Patricia Briggs, the first Mercedes Thompson novel, about a badass female shapeshifting Volkswagen mechanic, and a pack of werewolves. Wonderful Worldbuilding, including the fae and vampires too.
Five-Twelfths of Heaven – Melissa Scott – Book one in the Roads of Heaven trilogy. Mid 80s awesomeness, about a woman and her dreams of owning her own starship. These stories really captured my imagination, with strong woman characters and incredible concepts of faster-than-light travel.
Dune – Frank Herbert – The protagonist’s heroic journey is awesome to behold and the storytelling is a masterclass. This HUGO winner is one of the all-time greats.
Foundation – Isaac Asimov – These books were some of the cardinal stories of my youth. The entire series is amazing, and he eventually ties his Robot novels together with the Foundation novels in Foundation and Earth. Utterly fantastic.
Have you read any of these? What are your favorites?