Tag Archives: geeks

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books That Every Geek Should Read: Updated for 2015!

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I often find myself in need of a good book to read, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to look. Sometimes really great books and series fall through the cracks and you never hear about them; so I thought that I’d make a handy little guide for fellow geeks who are jonesing for something well written and entertaining. There are tons out there, and this list is hardly all-inclusive. These are just some of my very favorites from recent years outside of the obvious like Lord of the Rings, Hitchhiker’s Guide, Wheel of Time, Discworld, or Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. The following are 10 series or stand alone books that I think every geek should read. The order of the list is not meant to be a ranking, as I love every single one of them for different reasons. Click the link in each of the titles to be taken to where you can find out more info and pick them up.

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1. The Dresden Files Series by Jim Butcher

What’s it about?

Harry Dresden is Chicago’s only professional wizard. It’s true. You can even find him in the yellow pages. This is, by far, my absolute favorite series ever. Whenever a new story comes out it’s like a personal holiday for me, and I don’t stop reading until I’m done. There are 16 books in the series so far, if you include the collection of shorts, Side Jobs. The 17th, Peace Talks, should be out sometime next year. It’s an urban fantasy series that features wizards slinging magic, one of the best takes on vampires I’ve ever seen, and just about every kind of boogidy-boo from any religion or myth you can think of. Harry is a witty, sarcastic badass, and a hell of a lot of fun. The series starts a bit slowly and it takes the first three books to set the foundation of the larger world that the series is built on; but even those first three books are tons of fun, and once you get started you won’t want to stop. As a bonus, the audio books are read by James Marsters (yep, Spike from Buffy/Angel) and he rocks it. Worth checking out.

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 2. The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

What’s it about?

The Iron Druid Chronicles is another urban fantasy series that follows Atticus, the world’s only remaining Druid. He’s over 2000 years old and he still looks like he’s in his early 20’s and he manages to piss off vampires, witches, and just about every pantheon of gods there are and kick off Ragnarok in the process. Atticus is another fun character to follow, but it’s his dog, Oberon, who through magic can talk to Atticus, that steals the show. There are currently 7 books published with the 8th hopefully next year. Really fun, quick reads, especially if you need something to tie you over until you can get your next Dresden fix. This series has become a favorite of my wife and her friends after I introduced them to it through the marvelous audio versions read brilliantly by Luke Daniels.

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

3. Sandman Slim Series by Richard Kadrey

What’s it about?

Stark is a naturally talented magician who is betrayed by his jealous friend and sent to Hell. While in Hell he becomes the top gladiator in the arena and one of the chief lieutenant demon’s personal assassin. After killing his master and escaping Hell, Stark sets out to avenge the death of the love of his life and take vengeance on those who betrayed him… and that’s just the first book. The series is a gritty fantasy noir tale that’s much darker than the previous two on the list, but just as much fun to read. Kadrey gives us a really fun anti-hero in Stark, and paints a really creative take on Heaven, Hell, God, and the universe. There are currently 6 books in the series with the seventh set to come out at the end of July.

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4. The Joe Pitt Casebooks by Charlie Huston

What’s it about?

Sticking with the gritty noir theme we have the Joe Pitt casebooks by Charlie Huston. Joe Pitt is a rogue vampyre (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) who works jobs for the various vampyre clans of New York just to get by. These books are supernatural noir thrillers and are closer to horror than any of the previous series. As dark as they are, they’re still an excellent and fairly original take on the tired vampire genre and well worth a read. Comic fans may recognize Huston by his work for Marvel Comics, most notably Vol. 5 of Moon Knight. The audiobooks, narrated by Scott Brick, are also excellent.

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5. The Gentleman Bastard Series by Scott Lynch

What’s it about?

The Gentleman Bastards are a gang of elite con artists that pray on the nobility and break the “secret peace” that all of the gangs have with law enforcement of the kingdom of Camorr. The series is High Fantasy for people who are tired of the typical political boredom of the genre. Scott Lynch is a talented writer who injects a ton of humor into his stories, and the books themselves feature characters you love and settings that vary from a fantasy medieval Venice to the high seas. There are currently three books in the series, with more planned. I cannot recommend these enough.

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6. The Myth Adventures Series by Robert Asprin

What’s it about?

The Myth series was my introduction into fantasy as a child and I still love these books. Before Mr. Asprin died a few years ago the series had numbered in the 20’s (he wrote the last few along with another author), but the series itself started in the 1970’s. The books follow magician Skeeve and his friends on their various adventures through the dimensions. It’s a fun fantasy series very similar to Pratchett’s Discworld novels in tone. They’re also quick “popcorn” reads, so perfect if you want an entertaining story that isn’t too long.

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7. The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn

What’s it about?

Zahn is probably best known for his work in Star Wars. The Icarus Hunt is a stand alone sci-fi thriller that follows down-on-his-luck pilot Jordan McKell and his alien partner as they’re hired by a wealthy billionaire to fly the mysterious ship Icarus and it’s cargo to Earth. Jordan and his crew quickly find themselves in over their heads  when they find out that the most powerful aliens in the galaxy are after them and their ship. Nothing, and no one, is what it seems in this book and it has an ending that truly surprised me with it’s twist. Great, great read.

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8. The Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert

What’s it about?

Dune is probably an obvious no-brainer to a lot of you, but I’m still surprised by just how many people haven’t read the original novels and only know Dune by it’s really weird movie starring Sting. Dune is to sci-fi what Lord of the Rings is to fantasy. It’s a must read. Period. It was also a largely influential book for me personally, and it’s one of the things that really encouraged me to want to be a writer myself. There are tons of Dune books that have been written by Frank Herbert’s son and Kevin J. Anderson. They range from “decent” to outright horrible. The ones that I feel everyone should read are the original 5 by the master himself.

redshirts9. Redshirts by John Scalzi

What’s it about?

As any Star Trek fan knows, it was a running joke that on the Original Series that if a crew member was wearing a red shirt and was not a part of the main crew when the away team beamed down to the planet, they weren’t coming back. Red shirts were the cannon fodder for all the various monsters, out of control robots, and menacing alien threats that the crew encountered every week. This brilliant novel by John Scalzi doesn’t just put the focus on those poor bastards, but asks the question- what happens when they start to put two and two together and realize what’s going on? I don’t want to spoil any of the fun of the concept by giving too much away. Let’s just say that if you’re a fan of Star Trek, Galaxy Quest, or just sci-fi with a comical twist, this book is definitely for you. The audiobook is particularly fun, especially since it’s read by none other than Wil Wheaton.

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10. The Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia

What’s it about?

The Grimnoir novels are set in an alternate-history 1930’s where magic is real and commonplace and turns everyday people (and a lot of famous figures from history) into superhumans. The Amazon quote calls it a cross of Twilight and The Maltese Falcon, and that makes me want to gut punch the guy who wrote it. It’s nothing like Twilight. No. Thing. A better comparison would be a cross between Heroes (the first season before it sucked) and The Maltese Falcon. The idea behind the Grimnoir novels is one of the most original, fun, and exciting ideas I’ve ever seen. I LOVED these books and the entire concept. It’s one of those things where I both love Correia for writing them, and hate him because he came up with the idea before I could. The series is three novels long (with an additional three short stories, two of which are audiobook-only and can be found on Audible) and the author himself just confirmed on Twitter that a new trilogy set in the 1950’s is in the works. Now is your chance to get caught up on the series. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novels The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1 & 2, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Kindle editions are all available for $0.99.

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Rant Alert: “A New Star Wars Movie Every Year?!” Why “Fans” Need to Chill Out

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A lot of “fans” on entertainment websites annoy me. They annoy me so much that sometimes I wish I could pull a Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back on them. I have never seen such soul-crushing negativity as I have found on comments sections coming from people who supposedly love the franchises they’re freaking out over. The most recent victim is Star Wars, after it was confirmed that Disney plans to release a new Star Wars movie each year. In the comment section for multiple fan sites commentators proceeded to wig out. From some of the posts you’d think Disney was Nazi Germany. They got so ridiculous I did what I swore I would never do and actually posted a comment that amounts to basically what I’m about to say here. It was a flower buried under a landslide of stupid, but a few people actually responded and applauded.

It gave me a little hope for humanity.

First, I believe what is actually going to take place needs to be clarified: There is not going to be a new Star Wars episode every year. The “episodes” are the main entries in the storyline, IE Episode 4 was the original Star Wars: A New Hope. The “main” episode movies will be once every 2-3 years, starting with Episode 7 in 2015, just like most major franchise movies. What Disney is planning to do is release stand alone movies in the “off” years, that will focus on different timelines, characters, and probably even storytelling styles. The Star Wars universe is a freaking huge playground. The last 25 years worth of expanded universe material in all the games, novels, and comics proves that there’s a TON of room to play without peeing in the cheerios of the main story.

Second, what Disney is planning to do with Star Wars is no different than what they’ve been doing with the Marvel Universe since 2008; which a majority of the movie going public, the aforementioned functionally retarded “fan” trolls included, generally like-love. Since the first Iron Man there has been at least one, often more than one, Marvel movie released every year. From a franchise perspective, why should Star Wars be any different? The argument could be made that they have even more room to tell different types of stories/do different types of movies with the Star Wars universe than they can with Marvel.

Third, Disney hasn’t given us any reason to think these movies won’t be quality products….yet. They’ve done a great job with Marvel and Pixar so far. If this means we get a new, quality Star Wars movie every summer, what’s the problem?

Fourth, I think we all need to start living by the wisdom of our geek prophet Wil Wheaton:

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Seriously, it’s one thing to discuss things you like/dislike about this stuff with other fans of the genres. It’s another to be a complete douchnozzle troll just because the internet is anonymous and you can. It’s hard to have fun and share about all the awesome (and sometimes not-so-awesome) stuff that’s coming down the pipe when a small, but very vocal, minority of jerkwads make those conversations horrible to even look at. For instance, the Man of Steel trailer last night was freaking beautiful. I was stoked, as was just about all my friends. I go to these fan sites and amidst the praise is the inevitable negative douchebaggery that just lets some of the air out of the geek tires. I don’t mind people having different opinions or not liking something I thought was amazing. That’s fine. Different strokes and all that. But there’s no reason to be just an offensive @$$hole about it. I get it: people love to troll because they’re pathetic individuals with nothing better to do with their time, but I can’t be the only person sick to death of this crap. Not to mention the negative effect it can and does have on the things we love. You may not think that people with the money/decision making power pays any attention to this crap, but you’d be very wrong. They do, or at the very least they pay people to pay attention to it for them. Basically, you’re part of the reason we can’t have nice things. So, for myself and the rest of my fellow geeky fans I have only this to say: STOP IT!

You never know. The next time your doorbell rings…

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J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Digital copies on sale for a limited time for $0.99.

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