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Voice of the Fans: What Book Have You Recently Read That’s Good Enough To Recommend To a Friend?

What, you need more prompting than the headline?

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About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

45 Comments on Voice of the Fans: What Book Have You Recently Read That’s Good Enough To Recommend To a Friend?

  1. Bob Blough // February 28, 2010 at 2:08 am //

    I just finished reading Adam Roberts YELLOW BLUE TIBIA.  I immediately gave it to a friend to read.  So  guess that’s the one.

  2. Dino Mascolo // February 28, 2010 at 3:51 am //

    “In the Garden of Iden” by Kage Baker, which was recommended to me by you. Now I know why she will be so missed.

  3. Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard. The setting of this novel is very unusal and well realized. It’s a debut novel, I picked it up on the basis of one short story by the author and I certainly didn’t regret it.

  4. The Silver Skull – Mark Chadbourn

    Queenpin – Megan Abbott


  5. I agree on the de Bodard, too.

  6. Steve DiStefano // February 28, 2010 at 7:17 am //

    ‘Spin’, author escaping me at the moment.  It’s mind blowing concepts demand that everyone in the known (and some parts of the unknown) universe read this book.

  7. Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  It is a book that I feel confident recommending to purported non-sf fans as well as sf fans.  Very accessible and entertaining.

  8. Last weekend I read UBIK by Philip K. Dick while on a long bus ride, and loved it. True to Dick’s style, he has you questioning every aspect of reality by the time you’re finished with the book, and leaves you with many profound questions to ponder afterward.

  9. Heaven by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen.

    Spin is by Robert Charles Wilson.  Pretty much all his books are amazing.

  10. I recommend WICKED GENTLEMEN by Ginn Hale to anyone with an interest in alternate history and/or LGBT fantasy.

  11. “The Strain” by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan was such a refreshing change from the current trend in vampire fiction that I had to pass my copy on to a friend as soon as I finished reading it.  For fans of good vampire fiction, it’s more like George Martin’s “Fevre Dream” than the Harlequin romances of most newer novels.

  12. I’m not finished with it yet, but I already know I’ll be pushing A Madness of Angels on my friends. 

  13. “Live Girls” by Ray Garton-  Fun 80’s splatterpunk book set in sleazy old Times Square

    “The Birthgrave” by Tanith Lee-  Amazing retro sci-fi novel that took my breath away. Highly recommended

  14. Just finished Old Man’s War and also The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi.  Fast-paced and fun to read with sporadic bits of humor sprinkled in.    Looking forward to The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale.

  15. Just read Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin, and both really stood out. I’d recommend either to any of my friends, genre fans or no.


    I really enjoyed Swann’s Heretics, which I found out about here.  It really does read like candy.

    The training part of Old Man’s War was the most fun per page I can remember reading recently.


  17. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

    I’ll have a review March 3rd along with a link to a contest.

  18. Mark Chadbourn’s Lord of Silence.

  19. Purgatory by Mike Resnick

  20. The Sea Came in at Midnight (Steve Erickson)

    Erickson’s lyrical novels are hard to classify.  Elastic time, chaos, and coincidence — not particularly SF/F, but I’d recommend Erickson to anyone that is interested in a character based novel that cartwheels upon itself, never afraid to take leaps or dream. 


    Science Fiction:

    Saturn’s Children (Charles Stross)

    Characters, locations, and lots of big ideas.  Even though it was up for a Hugo, I think it has been largely dismissed or overlooked by a lot of readers.  Highly entertaining space opera.


    Counting Heads / Mind Over Ship (David Marusek)

    Marusek needs to be read.  Some of the best ideas going and he deserves recognition.




  21. China Mieville’s The City & The City. Mieville is a literary god. The man can do no wrong…well, except for Un Lun Dun, but that’s just because I dislike YA literature. The City is a Kafka-esque Eastern European mindbender that is perfect fodder for people who dig surreal weird fiction.

  22. The Dreaming Void — Peter F. Hamilton — I am continuing on to the Temporal Void and awaiting the Final installment that’s due in September — I would reccomend his writing as easy to read and very engaging — its all about characters with him — Tech is all secondary  

  23. It was a long time coming, but I recently finished Dandelion Wine. It was revelatory. I have a lot of friends that would usually scoff at a book in the sf section, but any lit fiction fan would be blown away by Bradbury’s writing. I know it’s not really a fantasy or science fiction, but there’s enough elements there for it to squeak by. I want to read it again just to start memorizing passages.

    I also highly recommend Libba Bray’s Printz Award winning Going Bovine. It’s such a great mix of fantasy and teen drama. And physics! I can’t forget the physics. Who wouldn’t like a story about alternate universes that includes a dwarf sidekick and an animate garden gnome that thinks its a norse god.

  24. Destroyer of Worlds  – Niven & Lerner, Time Travelers Never Die – McDevitt.


  25. The Sad Tale Of The Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington – twisted historical medieval fantasy gorefest fun.

    Edge by Thomas Meaney – twisted near-future Rollerball-esque vicious satire.

  26. Just finished The God Engines, by John Scalzi.  It’s really unlike his other stuff, and it’s really, really good. 

  27. Hunter’s Run, by George R.R. Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham

  28. The Traveler and The Dark River by John Twelve Hawks. 

  29. Grimwood’s ‘Replay’. Blew me away, recommended it to couple of friends, i guess they liked it 😉

  30. Vigilant by James Alan Gardner. I never see him mentioned, but if Vigilant is indicative of the quality of the rest of his work I don’t understand why not.

  31. I’ve been pushing Karl Schroeder‘s Virga books at anyone who will stand still for an elevator pitch.  Start with the first one, Sun Of Suns, then read the next three while we wait for him to finish the series.  They are the awesome.

  32. I also just finished Sun of Suns by Schroeder.  However, I didn’t care for it at all.  


    But, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss was a great read.  It sat on my shelf, unread, for months before I decided to start reading it.  Once I did, I could not put it down.

  33. Peter Damien // February 28, 2010 at 10:23 pm //

    None of the recent recommendations I have have been REALLY overtly SF/F. 


    DROOD, by Dan Simmons – a stunning novel about Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and drugs and mesmerism and the last five years of Dickens life. Incredible book. And the sheer brilliance of it, too, is that if you read Dickens biographies (and I’ve read a number of them), you realize that Simmons didn’t invent much of anything, merely shoehorned this story into the actual events of Dickens life. 

    HORNS by Joe Hill – read it in two days. Brutal, and powerful, and beautiful in places. Really a whole different, and leveled-up sort of book from HEART-SHAPED BOX. Amazing. I dearly wish to press copies of it onto friends.

    VOYAGE OF SLAVES by Brian Jacques – like most Brian Jacques books, it’s readable and poetic and really exciting. I tend to read him a book here and a book there, and it’s always a pleasure. (I read it after re-reading Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, so it was like a perfect dessert after a heavy meal)

    and a book called CHARLATAN by Pope Brock – a terrific book about a con-man who convinced America, among other things, that he could restore men’s vitality (ahem) using only a pair of goat’s, er, brass monkeys. Brilliant, hilarious book. I love books about con-men. 

    and those were the books I finished and went “ohmygodyouhavetoreadthis” in the past two weeks or so. 🙂

  34. Curt Jarrell // February 28, 2010 at 10:45 pm //

    Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett is the best literary/horror debut I’ve ever read. There are mythic qualities, beautiful language and enough gruesome goings ons to satisfy any horror reader. Excellent reading. I can’t wait to read his next work.

  35. Great list so far, thanks everyone! I agree on quite a few and have added other to my to-read list.

    I think the Spin Steve is referring to above might be the one by Robert Charles Wilson; if so, I agree, it was fantastic. I’m eagerly awaiting the 3rd in the series, but book 1 could easily be a really strong stand-alone, just stunning.

    I recently read books 3 and 4 in Timothy Zahn’s Quadrail series. They were not as world-shaking as Spin, but I enjoyed the sci-fi/mystery noir style. It’s a fun, smart series.

    I just finished Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol. Not sci-fi, but fans might enjoy it. It IS a remarkable combination of fact and fiction, history, religion, and science, with a great tour of DC landmarks included. Lots of action!

    If any of you guys like Urban Fantasy, Mark Del Franco has a terrific series with a male protagonist, Connor Grey. The first book is Unquiet Dreams.


  36. Second Mieville’s The City & The City.


    Although it is from a few years ago, I’d strongly recommend Scott Westerfeld’s Succession (The Risen Empire + The Killing of Worlds). Good story telling, strong characters and very good space opera. What i really liked was the way he handled the starship physics. Must read for any SF fan.


    Other books I’ve read only recently – Cory Doctrow’s Down & out in the magic kingdom, Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (crime noir meets alternate history meets humour), and Charles Stross’ Iron Sunrise.


    Reading The best of Michael Swanwick now – nice to have all his short stories in one place.

  37. Consider Phlebas  – Ian M. Banks


    Classic sci-fi space opera at its best.  Without it there is no Halo among other sci-fi series.

  38. The best book I’ve read in ages is Mark Gardiner’s memoir, Riding Man. In it, he describes a life devoted to racing in the world’s most dangerous motorcycle race. Although it’s _about_ motorcycle racing, it’s not just for motorcycle racers — rather, it’s a book about the pursuit of dreams that makes you question your own life choices. The author’s funny, poignant and totally underappreciated by the wider public (although he’s well known in the bike niche…) Check out:

  39. Steve Eastman // March 1, 2010 at 3:22 am //

    I guess I only just started it, but Slights by Kaarren Warren kept me up *very* late last night. Oh. My. God.

  40. There’s a couple of books that I’ve read lately that I’d recommend to others.


    The first is Paolo Bachagalupi’s book, The Windup Girl. Absolutely stunning book, excellent world building, terrifying story and situation. I loved evey minute of it. I’m currently going through N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which I’m loving so far, for all the same reasons. I’m also reading Olaf Stapledon’s The First and Last Men, which is an absolutely facinating read from the 1930s. 

    A couple other recommended titles that I’ve read lately: Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and Iain M. Banks Consider Phlebas.

  41. Melinda // March 1, 2010 at 1:30 pm //

    Martin’s “Fevre Dream” is mentioned above at least once, and I add my heartfelt recommendation. I’m not particularly a fan of vampire-fic but this is so much more, and lovely besides. And though sex and romance are pretty much officially excluded from the story, it manages to be exquisitely romantic (to my sensibilities, at least) nonetheless. If your “buttons” are anything like mine, it will push them shamelessly, and you’ll love it as it does so.

  42. Roddy Reta // March 1, 2010 at 3:19 pm //

    Robert Charles Wilson’ SPIN is one of the best SF books I’ve read over the past year, no question.  A SF novel that reads like a literary work.  Glad to hear other commenters sharing the love.

  43. Richard K Morgan’s “Altered Carbon.”  Rest assured I’ll be picking up the rest of Mr. Morgan’s books.

  44. “Already Dead” by Charlie Huston

    “The Silver Skull” by Mark Chadbourn


  45. “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell.

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