Daily Illuminator

December 2, 2018: Fiction I'm Reading

I'm actually not reading as much as I'd like. Working on that. But here's a short list.

• David Weber – I am in the middle of rereading some Honor Harrington. Great space opera! I also recently read, for the first time, his "Oath of Swords" series. Five books so far. The protagonist is a paladin with D&D influences; I bet this was Weber's campaign. I also enjoy the "Safehold" books and will reread the whole huge ginormous stack of them, all together, once the series reaches its conclusion.

• Paolo Bacigalupi – The new master of the bleak, hot future. The Windup Girl is immersive, sad, and beautiful, all at once. More recently, he released The Water Knife, which is so grim that I set it aside at first, but then picked it up again because I had to know what happened. This is a young author to watch; everything he has written has pleased me. You can read some of his short stories at windupstories.com.

• Mira Grant – I just finished Feedback, the fourth book in her "Newsflesh" trilogy. Yes, you read that right. Anyway: intrigue and adventure in a classic zombocalypse setting, with lots of wicked wit. Good stuff.

• John Ringo – And we're back to space opera. I have read Live Free or Die over and over again. Just a darn good alien-invasion story, with a hero who (almost) never fights on the front lines, but keeps winning wars anyway through brains, determination, and gazillions of dollars of honestly earned money. Ringo's "Empire of Man" books, written with David Weber, are also great space opera of the ground-pounding variety. I would love to read more about Prince Roger; he's shown himself to be a survivor and a leader, but how will he do as a ruler?

• Peter Watts – In the words of critic James Nicoll: "Whenever I find my will to live becoming too strong, I read Peter Watts." Harsh, but fair. Much hard science fiction holds out hope that technology will solve our problems if we just give it enough rope. Watts' writing assumes that we will simply use that rope to hang ourselves, complete with rattling breaths and frantic, useless kicking. But he tells his dark stories with imagination and style. Much of Watts' work is free to read at his site, rifters.com. Go and look.

-- Steve Jackson

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