In a lot of circles I’m known as the science fiction guy. No surprise considering most everything I’ve published to date qualifies as science fiction, but I’ve got a dirty little secret… you ready for it?
I think of myself as a Fantasy writer.
“Huh?” You grunt perplexedly “<–totally an awesome word! Say it out loud. Go on, I dare you.) “But don’t you write about robots and spaceships and artificial intelligence and how do you justify all those lasers? Not to mention the aliens… and don’t even get me started on the–“
Yes, alright, I write about many ‘science fiction’ concepts ’cause I think they make for awesome plots. But when I say that I think of myself as a Fantasy writer, it might help to make clear how I divide Fantasy from Science Fiction. Luckily, I’ve written a blog post about this before. If you want the real, down and dirty, nitty gritty details, you should click below:
Now, I don’t blame you if you don’t want to read another blog post just to understand this blog post (that would be getting a little Inception-y, wouldn’t it?) So let me summarize.
Science Fiction extrapolates the social effects of technology on a society.
Fantasy provides a world of complete immersion to escape within.
I’ll be the first to admit, those are painfully reductionist in their simplicity, but they serve for our purposes.
When I write a story (whether it be definitely science fiction or fantasy or a mystery-thriller-rom-com) I spend a lot of time and effort crafting big, wide, robust worlds like you might find in an epic fantasy. Deep worldbuilding, even in a short story, is immensely satisfying to me. So it’s not surprise that I spend a lot of time thinking about it. Of course, I do also enjoy exploring the implications of certain technological advancements, so perhaps a more apt way of thinking of my work is as a fusion of fantasy and sci-fi.
Anyways, this is an incredibly drawn out introduction to the reason you stopped over today which, if you don’t remember (don’t worry, this was circuitous and I’ve nearly lost myself a handful of times already), had something to do with the 3 Fantasy Series you should absolutely be reading.
Why should you be reading them? Well, it ties into what I was saying before about balancing robust world-building with social awareness in regards to ‘technology’. The 3 three series I’m about to drop on you are part of what I consider a new school of fantasy that really does an amazing job balancing not only the immersive aspect of good epic fantasy, but also (in my mind at least) goes one step further than many of their predecessors in the field by delivering a sort of social commentary that goes beyond the mere distinction of Good vs Evil.
Enough preamble. Here are the series you absolutely should be reading right now.
I’ve reviewed City of Stairs on here before, and even included it in my Top 5 Books of 2015 post, so you should go and check those out if you’re curious why this book is so good. City of Blades was just recently released. Sequels can sometimes suffer by comparison to their older sibling, but remarkably Robert Bennett Jackson manages to deliver a story as good, if not better, than the first.
Dang. What a show off.
These books really have it all. Worldbuilding on a level I can barely wrap my head around (consisting of dead gods, no less); a depth of narrative that you could fall endlessly into; a cast of characters both unique and compelling; and an expert handling of the complex myriad of social, political, and economic issues that inevitably arise in the wake of… you know, killing gods.
Next up on the list is another series I have gushed about previously: Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence.
Again, I’ve reviewed Two Serpents Rise in a previous blog post (CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW!) so I’ll refer you there if you’re interested in the details of why I find this series so compelling. In short, take all the things I said about City of Stairs and apply it here, and you’re good to go. Though, I will say this: Gladstone’s focus on the economic fallout of dead and dying gods is particularly interesting and compelling. The Craft Sequence focuses on this particular aspect more so than the other two series listed, and to great effect. If you’re intrigued by magic systems and bureaucracy (not always an obvious partnership, I admit), this could be the series for you.
Last, but certainly not least, we get N.K. Jemisin’s The Inheritance Trilogy. I’m late to the Jemisin party myself, only recently discovering what everybody else in fandom has already known for years: Jemisin is wickedly talented. Her narrative voice is a raw force of nature. I’m not sure who I could compare her to, and there, perhaps, lies the compliment. She’s the type of storyteller that pulls you in so completely, you don’t even realize you’re living in a story world until it’s over. And then you’re just sad.
The Inheritance Trilogy is possibly the most traditional of the three series listed in terms of setting and plot, but Jemisin’s handling of the tropes feels so new and fresh that reading her is like rediscovering the entire fantasy genre.
But it’s not just style with Jemisin. She also has substance. The quality and depth of her worldbuilding is staggering (as you would expect from all great fantasy). I plan on doing a more in-depth review of Jemisin’s work in the near future, so I won’t beat it to death here. Needless to say, you should grab this series.
What about you? What are some of your all time favorite Fantasy books? Are you reading anything now that’s absolutely knocking your socks off? Get down to the comments section and share with the rest of us!
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