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Some cool SF books you may not have heard of

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The aim, here, is to make your TBR pile into a danger zone, so here are a few of my favorite SF titles you may not be familiar with:

Sarah Zettel writes incredible SF, she has numerous titles and they are all excellent, but for some crazy reason the community never discovered her.  She wrote mostly standalones, all of them are good. One of my personal favorites is The Quiet Invasion - where something strange is discovered on Venus, it's a smooth read, the suspense well handled and the alien presence is superbly well done.


R. M. Meluch - way too far under the radar for the quality of her work. If you want serious with interesting depth of thought, Jerusalem Fire is brilliant - bear with the slow start, it gets amazing. Might be hard to find, well worth it if you can run down a copy. If you love rollicking space opera with character tropes stood on their head, some interesting handling of string theory quantum in a fun, space military setting with the humor towards an American slant, this one made me laugh out loud - check out her Tour of the Merrimack series beginning with The Myriad. Light read, killer fun.


Karin Lowachee - Warchild, Burndive, and one other title, these three loosely connect, they are parallel stories that take different character views. Start with Warchild, and you can easily stop there if you want a standalone. Interesting take on a war with aliens and handles some seriously difficult issues on the way.


Katie Waitman - the Merro Tree. This is a very literate, beautifully written story about art, entertainment, and cultural appropriation, censorship, and culture clash. This is a book I consider to be a benchmark work in the field, it is a gorgeous experience, will make you think, and leave a mark on your spirit. Criminally underread, and could be hard to find, but well worth the search to get your hands on it.


Julie E. Czerneda - In the Company of Others -if you are a fan of CJ Cherryh's hugo winning Downbelow Station, this book gave me somewhat similar vibes - the setting is an overcrowded space station that is getting a bit derilict, and a main character who is "other' - the premise is lovely, the characters sharply defined, and the insights are typical of Julie's work. Tough issues handled with TLC, and a wonderful standalone read that won't leave you in the dumps.


I'd be remiss not to add how much I loved Miles Cameron's more recent Artifact Space - a character on the lam winds up on a military/cum merchant great ship - when ships are disappearing in deep space. The characgters' effort to fit in, from a dubious background, set against a tense mystery, with well worked out hardware and concepts. There is apparently a sequel on the way, and it will definitely do damage to my wallet when it drops.

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I hope to get to Artifact Space soon, it's on my shelf waiting for me. Lots of other books here I wasn't familiar with, thanks for sharing with us!

Steve IRL

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While posting my thoughts on a CJ Cherryh SF book, Voyater in Night in the 'horror' catagory (and it IS, truly horror) another title you surely have not heard of came to mind....it is a self published title with such a bizarre premise, it escapes all categories.

The title is Speakers and Kings, by M. Keaton, and - prepare to be utterly disoriented - it is a story about beings that are not embodied....they are not physical. If you want a truly mind bending read, this one skirts the outer limits, and likely was quite a challenge for the author to tackle.

Here's the blurb, if you want to dig deeper:


The definitions and origins of a culture inescapably mold the future of a people. The seeds sown by generations long buried grow to bear unexpected fruit in the present. What if a people, with no language and no history, joined a world already in progress?

On the island of Mirabalpur, sheltered by Qaiyore's vast inland sea, the magi of Mir struggle to find a future and escape the ghosts of their past. Once a mighty empire now fallen into civil disarray, Mir finds itself confronted with grim reminders of the atrocities of its imperial history.

Beneath the floating city of Annaeyana, Siinari nomads amass in the northern deserts. Believing the city to be the prison home of their god, Sin-Alb, they prepare for iyahd.

In the fertile lands to the south, rival kingdoms struggle for dominance and survival. Located on the Qaiyore's great rivers rich with trade and agriculture, would-be empire builders are caught in a brutal maelstrom not of their own making.

Throughout Qaiyore drift the Earith, spirit beings and living history lessons. Once a race of slaves, these normally passive ancients have begun to act - and neither race will ever be the same again.


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