I enjoy a good science fiction yarn more than any other genre. I also tend to be far harsher in my judgement of an author when it comes to the plausibility of the science and technology. If you aren’t willing to spend the time and energy necessary to present credible future technology and science, write it as fantasy!
On Basilisk Station (David Weber)
I have a ton of Weber’s Honor Harrington books but have only recently started reading them. This was a great ride. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. If you are a fan of military science fiction, don’t pass up this series by David Weber. Jim’s score: A.
The Expanse (James S. A. Corey)
The Butcher of Anderson Station
Gods of Risk
George R. R. Martin (A Game of Thrones) plugs the works of his assistant, Ty Franck, on his Not a Blog blog as being well worth your time. Ty is one half of the team publishing under the pseudonym of James S. A. Corey. I took the plunge and read the Expanse material when it became available in the library. If you are a fan of space opera, these books are for you. The novels are Leviathan / Caliban / Abaddon and were a blast. The short material (Butcher / Gods / Churn) is good as well but not essential to the storyline of the trilogy. If you’ve enjoyed Simmons (Hyperion Cantos), Hamilton (Commonwealth Saga, Night’s Dawn) or Herbert (Dune), give this a look! Jim’s score: A.
The Martian (Andy Weir)
This book is an example of why self publishing is relevant and important! The Martian is an intelligent and suspenseful story of what might happen if you were stranded on Mars. After being turned down by several publishers, the author released the book on Amazon. Jim’s score: B+.
Wool (Hugh Howey)
And this is the counter-example to The Martian. Howey is a fine writer who would have benefitted from an editor that would push for changes to make this a plausible science fiction story OR suggest a rewrite to re-theme it as a fantasy or alternate history novel. I stopped reading about two-thirds of the way through the book for a number of reasons. Perhaps reasonable explanations exist in the later stories for the details I saw as problems (e.g., Why aren’t the silos connected? We have miles and miles of tunnel hundreds of feet below ground today. How can you extract and refine fuel [presumably petroleum] from the bottom of the silo for many generations in an area of the country not known for this sort of mining [i.e., Georgia]). If you can move beyond the scientific and technical missteps, Wool and its sequels are likely enjoyable but it wasn’t for me. Jim’s score: F.
The Long Earth (Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter)
The premise is neat and the story engaging but The Long Earth drags in the middle and tends to be predictable. Still, the concept of a multi-verse is intriguing. Jim’s score: C+.
Thoughts on 2015
I have a stack of sf (e)books waiting to be read. I may take a run at Hamilton’s Void trilogy (Dreaming / Temporal / Evolutionary) or Atwood’s Oryx and Crake trilogy (Oryx and Crake / Year of the Flood / MaddAddam). Gibson released a new book in ’14 (The Peripheral) and Scalzi’s Lock In sounds interesting. And I have yet to read Stephenson’s Reamde or Willis’ Blackout/All Clear.