~post by Tommy
Joy to us all, Christmas is in the air. This is the time of year for warm drinks, familiar songs, and the quiet desperation of not knowing what to get the nerd on your Christmas list. Well have no fear! I have a few answers to some of your questions.
Q: The person on my list really loves Game of Thrones, but they’ve read them all. What do I get next?
A: There are several ways to go with this one. If he or she is a fan of the more historical aspects of the books, medieval war and what not, you might check out Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series. The English go to war with the Danes in a series set during the Dark Ages that focuses on the personal aspects of war. The war is seen from the point of view of a Danish viking and gives us a great chronicle of Viking invasions from the point of view of the invaders who are often demonized in fiction. Epic in scope, personal in storytelling, The Saxon Stories are a perfect next step.
If they’re more the fans of the unique world and detailed characters, then you might be looking for The Belgariad by David Eddings. Eddings’ unnamed world teems with life, history, and fascinating people. From the very beginning there are seven thousand years of history to catch up on in ten books and Eddings hits the ground running teaching his audience through his young main character Belgarion. Eddings also creates wonderfully complex, fully human characters and his Prince Kheldar remains one of my favorites to this day.
Q: The person on my list just read all the Ender’s Game books, what else can I get them?
A: Again, several ways to go. If the person you’re buying for is a fan of unconventional soldiers fighting a space war you might consider John Scalzi’s The Old Man’s War. In this book the futuristic space navy of Earth doesn’t want fresh young faces clogging up its ranks. They take years to train and have very little practical experience. Instead they recruit from the ranks of the middle aged, people who have lived life and have a wealth of experience to give the armed forces. Serious space drama, with a hint of humor, The Old Man’s War is a great war tale to follow Ender’s Game.
Maybe, however, the person you’re shopping for is a fan of the more traditional space ship battles that Ender’s Game ends with. In that case, look no further than David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. First introduced in On Basilisk Station, Honor Harrington is a Napoleonic war-era naval heroine, remade for a science fiction setting. Bold characters, brutal battles, and more internecine politics than you can throw a stick at, Honor Harrington will appeal to everyone who loved Ender’s Shadow and all of it’s sequels.
Q: What if I’m shopping for someone who prefers classic Sci Fi like Dune or Isaac Asmiov?
A: For fans of Frank Herbert, I again have two recommendations. For those who loved that the story he told focused on the same themes and places over thousands of years of history, grab Ian Banks’ Culture novels. The Culture novels tell the story of a Utopian society and the beings that do the dirty work that allows it to be that way. Banks’ ability to tell the same story over the course of a thousand years, all the while allowing each individual book to come to a satisfying conclusion, will draw Dune readers like moths to the flame.
On the flip side, perhaps the book series you’re looking for is the Expanse. For those who love the emptiness of space and the breadth of the universe that is revealed in Dune, the Expanse offers much of the same. It tells the story of a single ship amidst the turmoil of a possible civil war, scientific discovery, and a vicious creature. Two parts Star Wars to one part Jonh Carpenter’s The Thing, the first novel, Leviathan Wakes, read like reading Dune for the first time.
Q: My giftee really loved the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. Do you have anything like them?
A: For you I have but one series, not because there aren’t more of them out there, but because I have one that is absolutely perfect. Starting with Rosemary & Rue, Seanan McGuire’s October Daye mysteries are the story of a half faerie private eye in modern San Francisco. Of course October also happens to be a knight in service to one of the local faerie Dukes and teacher to one of his squires. The series is the perfect blend of mystery and fantasy, real people and Celtic folklore, and is one of my absolute favorite series ever.
Those are some of the questions I field most often this Christmas season. We’ll be back next week with more present help as Christmas draws ever nearer. Of course is you can’t wait, just come down to the store and ask for Tommy. I’m happy to give you even more recommendations in person.