In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.
Today’s recommendations are by Ferrett Steinmetz. Ferrett Steinmetz’s debut urban fantasy FLEX, described as “A desperate father will do anything to heal his daughter in a novel where Breaking Bad meets Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files,” is coming out to bookstores on 3/3/15. It features a bureaucracy-obsessed magician who is in love with the DMV, a goth videogamemancer who tries not to go all Grand Theft Auto on people, and one of the weirder magic systems yet devised. He Tweeters at @ferretthimself, and blogs entirely too much about puns, politics, and polyamory at www.theferrett.com.
Steven Gould’s 7TH SIGMA
Most science fiction books are loud, like fireworks; 7th Sigma has the calm of a burbling stream, and I keep coming back to its gentle tone. The hook is that metal-eating bugs have reduced the Southwest to a no-tech zone, but the bugs are kind of an afterthought. The real hook is Kimble Monroe, a young teenaged boy on the run who winds up at a dojo, and the book is this episodic , wandering tale where Kimble learns various life lessons about how to not just survive out here in this bug-denuded wasteland, but how to be a moral person. The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and alas, Mr. Gould’s now writing the Avatar books for James Cameron so I don’t know when I’ll see the next one in the series, but I keep sending him emails to prod him along. You would too, if you’d read this.
Matthew Woodring Stover’s HEROES DIE
When I look at the bestsellers list, I am continually shocked to find Matthew Woodring Stover not on them. Heroes Die has one of the best hooks ever – why is this grim fighter sowing rebellion within the empire? Because we on Earth have found a way to punch a hole to a parallel dimension, and the Blade of Tyshall’s adventures make for great television. But of course, our hero Caine has reservations about his job, and eventually squares off with the leaders of both worlds. Stover’s a martial artist and so his prose is visceral in an amazing way – you feel every patella crunching underneath your boot heel – and so I still can’t believe this didn’t win every award. The resonations of how we mine third-world countries for entertainment remain as fresh as the day this was written.
Geoff Ryman’s WAS
Few books make me sob openly on airplanes, making my fellow passengers ask me what’s wrong – but holy God, this book hit me hard. It’s a long and meditative tale centered around The Wizard of Oz: trailing through Judy Garland’s disappointing fame, sitting next to the hospital bed of an actor who once played the Scarecrow and is now dying of AIDS. But the heart of this book is the “real” Dorothy Gale’s story, an abused girl growing up in a hopeless town, who goes insane thanks to a twister arriving, and her story is one of the most real things I have ever read in fiction. I know people like Dorothy. She speaks to me. And her insanity is clear and true to me even if it is never as clear to her, and I still hope one day she finds her rainbow, unlikely though that is. But I have never recommended this book to someone who hasn’t liked it.
Stay tuned for the next post where we get even more reading recommendations!