OT - nerd books

Submitted by white_pony_rocks on July 28th, 2012 at 4:16 PM

So I just finished my last final for my undergrad and I told myself that I was going to start reading more after I was done.  I'm looking for a good sci-fi/fantasy book, maybe a series.  Either something with dragons and magic or something in the future but not set on earth.  Any suggestions?  I keep asking the gf and shes keeps telling me to read Magical Thinking and I keep telling her that i want magic in the book, not in the title.



July 28th, 2012 at 8:11 PM ^


The DragonLance Chronicles - Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman (who is a man, not that it matters) Excellent character development as mentioned before. Had a stint on the NYT bestseller list in the 80's. Follows a group of adventurers as they return to meet after searching the realm for answers to the loss of the Gods/Magic/Religion what-have-you. There are three main trilogy's for three different era's and one large book to bridge a gap of time, as well as a wealth of supplemental novels, short stories, gaming systems, etc. Unofficial fan site - http://www.dlnexus.com/products/list.aspx

Song of Ice and Fire - George R.R. Martin - Some of the most advanced character development in fantasy. Martin is praised for writing these books only from a characters perspective and features 9-16 POV's for each book. It is a low-magic realm, at least to start but the series is not finished. Heard of GAme of Thrones? Yeah, you heard of it. This is it. Politics, religion, cIass or caste systems, moral ambiguity and warfare are just some of the themes. I personally believe that it will run 8 or 9 books and not be finished until after 2020. This is my personal favorite on this list. 

Short Stories

Robert E. Howard (Conan, Soloman Kane, Kull, Cormac MacArt) Howard only wrote a few pieces worthy of being called a novel. He is master of "electric" or 'charged" writing which works much better in short story form and really captures moments well with his powers of description. He has received praise and listed as inspiration by the likes of Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkein, and HP Lovecraft, who was his penpal. If you're interested then start with Conan, who is written as one of the realms greatest warriors who actually has a code of ethics and has been a scout, general, mercenary, king, pirate and more. Conan is a great character and I personally really liked Cormac MacArt, an Irishman who is second mate on a pirate ship (but the No. 1 badass, lol) whose stories focus on the British Isles and the historic supernatural elements found there (druids, witches, sorcerers). Howard is quoted as very much enjoying "rewriting history in the guise of fiction" so you may realize that you are reading a recreation of the Battle of Marathon or the like, but with elements of the supernatural included. 

Kurt Vonnegut - Some of the most enjoyable sci-fi writing that I have experienced. He also works better in short stories IMO. His finest collection has to be Welcome to the Monkey House, which is mostly sci-fi (but written in the 50's and 60's so it's not as far out there as it used to be). His stories are full of political and social commentary and 'what if...' scenarios concerning some of society's problems. They are truly enjoyable stories. 

I don't read much sci-fi but I have a copy of Frank Herbert's Dune getting dusty on my shelf that I will read someday since it's been praised for decades but that's going to introduce me to many many more books. Larry Niven's Ringworld was recommended to me as a good sci-fi read. Stephen King's attempt at fantasy in The Eyes of the Dragon was great when I was a teenager. Happy hunting!



July 28th, 2012 at 10:33 PM ^

I just finished The Founding.  It is an omnibus of 3 novels in the warhammer universe written by Dan Abnett.  He is an absolutely wonderful writer.  The founding includes 3 books (First and Only, Ghostmaker, and Necropolis) that follow a regiment of soldiers and their enigmatic leader.  The soldiers are the last survivors of a destroyed world who they fight the forces of Chaos for the God Emporer. 

There are at least 10 books in the series, and i have only finished 4 of them.  I am currently on the second of 3 omnibuses (sp?) and i am having a hard time putting them down at night.  I read till 1am every day.  I used to go to sleep at a respectable 11pm.  They are only 15 bucks at barnes and nobles.  So they are easy on the wallet.


July 28th, 2012 at 10:54 PM ^

Geek culture truly is dominating these days. My comments follow. Maybe the slgihtest of spoilers.

Game of Thrones/GRRM: Ugh. So well written. Fantastically well done. Can't read it. It makes me throw up how he loves his villains far, far more than his heroes. Also, seems to have disdain for the reader at points.

Harry Potter/Rowling - Underrated, if that's possible for a series that has its own theme park. It's not especially literary, but that's about its only shortcoming. Fun, solid, cultural touchstone.

Hunger Games/Collins - Maybe not exactly a match for what the OP wanted, but it's great dystopian sci fi. Somewhat literary. Fantastically raw mood. Perfect ending to the trilogy.

Ender's Game/Card - It's been out long enough now that we can say it's a classic. Even if you only read ten books your entire life, you can make a strong case that this should be one of them. The best word to describe it is intense, but it's also thoughtful, haunting, and literary.

Twilight Saga/Meyer - People love to disrespect it, but they make themselves look like buffoons when they do. Unless you can't stand romance in your books, read it. Extremely literary and intelligent, it plays off the American canon delightfully. It's as smart and sophisticated as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and if you don't know how smart and sophisticated that is, google something like 'Buffy academic studies' to find out).

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8/Whedon - Graphic novel. See above under Twilight.

Lies of Locke Lamora/Lynch - Best fantasy novel of the oughts. Sense of humor, tricky, and soulful. Unfortunately the sequel sucked hard (well, it was maybe just kind of bad, not totally ridiculously terrible, but it was nowhere near as good as the original; think Flowers in the Attic to Petals on the Wind type of drop off, or Matrix to whatever its first sequel was called). Bonus is that Lynch is a true geek gamer and you can have all kinds of literary fun tracing Gygax and RPGs through the books.

Stranger in a Strange Land/Time Enough for Love/Moon is a Harsh Mistress/Starship Troopers/Heinlein - These four are his masterpieces, and yeah he has four masterpieces because he's that good. Extremely literary. With Bradbury and to some extent Asimov and Clark, he brought science fiction out of the literary ghetto in the mid 20th century.


Anything by Brandon Sanderson is strictly meh as far as I'm concerned. I just don't see much there.

Anything Wheel of Time by Jordan or Sanderson is also meh at best. This is the fantasy novel series equivalent of Lost, just making stuff up as they go along.

Vonnegut is fantastic. My favorite sci fi piece of his is the short story Harrison Bergeron. However, Vonnegut's genre is literary, not science fiction, to the point that he feels no compunctions about self-consistency in his world-building, only in his prose.


Feat of Clay

July 29th, 2012 at 12:35 AM ^

Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy. It's a young-adult series, but so are some of the other highly-recommended books named thus far. No dragons but it has the other stuff you are looking for.

I Bleed Maize N Blue

July 29th, 2012 at 1:39 AM ^

I also recommend Martin's Song of Ice & Fire series, Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Simmon's Hyperion series, Zelazny's Amber series - hell, anything by Zelazny - Robert E. Howard's Conan stories (and his other stuff) - Card's Ender's Game, Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.

I'll add Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series (and other stuff);  Harlan Ellison - I gotta like an author who comes up with "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream"; Vernor Vinge - A Fire Upon the Deep, and a Deepness in the Sky; Jack Chalker's Four Lords of the Diamond quartet and Well of Souls series; David Brin's Uplift series and other stuff.

Herbert's Dune - I liked the first three; the fourth, God Emperor of Dune didn't impress me, and I stopped.  Read other stuff by Herbert, too, like the WorShip series, and Whipping Star and the Dosadi Experiment.

Jordan's Wheel of Time - YMMV.  I enjoyed the first four books, the next several really dragged.  Sanderson isn't as good a writer, IMO, but at least Stuff Is Happening, and the series is coming to an end.  If it weren't for gift certificates, I might have given up on WoT, but I'm stubbornly going to finish.

Jordan also wrote Conan books that I enjoyed.

This may not be for the OP, but Martin was involved (as writer of a character and editor) in the Wild Cards series, which takes place on Earth.  A group of writers/gamers came up with a more "plausible" reason for superpowers - an alien virus.  Of those who get infected, a few will gain power - the Aces - some will be deformed in some way - the Jokers (and some of those gain power - Joker/Ace) - and most draw the Black Queen and die hideously.

Also on Earth in a fantasy America is Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series.  Many people have "knacks," a minor magical ability, a few people are more powerful and have talent, and Alvin, as seventh son of a seventh son, has Major Talent.


July 29th, 2012 at 1:45 AM ^

If you're willing to deal with a small PORTION of the books being on earth, the Grand Tour series by Ben Bova is a great 'next hundred years' sci-fi series, emphasizing the sci. They're great nerd books. I recommend starting with the original "Mars", which was his first, though his Lunar books are probably my favorites from the series.

The whole series is, as you may have guessed, a grand tour of Man's earliest steps into the solar system at large. My absolute favorites in the order I would read them:





The Precipice

Rock Rats

Silent War


The others in the series are excellent as well.



July 29th, 2012 at 7:32 AM ^

The fantasy genre is plauged by so many bad writers.  There is a ton of filler and a ton of writing that re-hashes the same "save the world" stories over and over.  As an adult I feel ridiculous and guilty for reading a lot of these writers.  Then there are a few authors who write with fantastic pace and once you open the book you can't stop.  They are:


Brandon Sanderson (Misborn series, Elantris.  No fantasy author is better at pacing and excitement/surprises that are worth reading for)

Patrick Rothfuss (Two books only, no fantasy author is a better character developer, you will love these novels)

Peter Brett (Two books only, a fantastic fast-pace read that is well worth it)

Robert Jordan (Okay, this one isn't paced well, it's a 14 book series being finished though by Brandon Sanderson)


Other than the above, I can't bring myself to read any other authors because nothing else compares.

Sci Fi: A quick nod to Ender's Game and all the novels and Orson Scott Card writes in that realm


July 29th, 2012 at 12:17 PM ^

Calling out most fantasy writers for being "filler" and "re-hashing the same stories over and over" is not something I would do, but ok, whatever. What's prompting me to post is that you then say you like Sanderson. His largest career move, finishing the Wheel of Time books, is pretty much nothing but re-hashing the same save the universe story. It's not his own story in any sense of the word! He's writing it from someone else's notes fergodsakes. Not to mention that doing so in some sense vitiates one of his achievements with Elantris, namely, putting out a fantasy novel that actually wrapped up in one volume. I don't get it, man.

Also, you don't need to feel guilty as an adult for reading these books. Shakespeare was a re-hasher to the point of plagiarism. Re-hashing can produce some pretty good art.


July 29th, 2012 at 8:56 AM ^

He has written close to 25 books in the series.  He has broken up the large series into multiple trilogies.  I really enjoyed some of the earlier trilogies:

- Riftwar Saga (the begining of his whole series)

- Krondor's Sons

- Conclave of Shadows


Unfortunately after the Conclave of Shadows the stories get really bad.  So I strongly suggest some of his earlier books


July 29th, 2012 at 9:03 AM ^

By Glen Cook and I second the Malazan books, ASOIAF and while I partially agree it was better earlier in the series, the Dark Tower is still worth reading.


July 29th, 2012 at 9:22 AM ^

is my all-time favorite series. With 13 books out and the last coming up in January, now is the tmie to read them all in time for its release. 

Dovie'andi se tovya sagain!


July 29th, 2012 at 10:43 AM ^

Of my favorites are the David Eddings series (mallorean and belgariad, sp?), as well as a seriously underrated first tad Williams series, memory, sorrow and thorn.


July 29th, 2012 at 10:59 AM ^

A lot of the above recs are excellent, but there is a terrific, little known series of four books called "The Entire and the Rose," by Kay Kenyon (the 1st book is called "Bright of the Sky). It combines Sci-Fi with fantasy world building in a fairly unique way. An interstellar pilot in a future Earth is catapulted into another world, controlled by a strange master alien race that is supressing the people of that world. It has many elements of fantasy throughout, combined with a portrait of a future earth where corporations have ultimate power in exchange for their paying for the entire social safety net for the rest of us (this is a small but interesting part of the books). The majority of the books take place in this other world, and the main character is very well written, the action is excellent, the plot hurtles along, and the challenges seem daunting. Very high recommendation. 

Another darker rec set in a different world that has elements of both magic and sci-fi: The Bone Song, by John Meaney. Completely different and unique in every way. Just search Amazon for it--you won't be disappointed I promise. 


July 29th, 2012 at 11:14 AM ^

Farseer series by Robin Hobbe. Dragons, magic, telepathy, and some good ole sordid transgressions that gets everyone riled up.

Thanks for starting this thread!


July 29th, 2012 at 10:00 PM ^

I was surprised I got to page 3 of this thread before anyone mentioned the The Black Company by Glen Cook. Someone else mentioned it first but I second his nomination. Cook is an excellent writer, great action sequences interspaced with occasional humerous bits that made me laugh outload. Interesting characters. I loved it. Very original too.

I get tired of all the authers trying to imitate Tolkien, few succeed. Cook is completetly refreshing.

I also really like Zelazny's Amber series. Very quick read too. Coincidentally Cook's writing style is very similar to Zelazny's

As many have said, the w heel of Time starts really well but then just goes on and on without much happening. I gave up after 5 or 6 books when it became clear to me that he was just trying to make as much money as possible off the franchise by churning out more books.

Personally I don't care much for Ender's Game that many have suggeted, although Card's writing is excellent, I found him a bit too exestential for my taste.

Also anything be Gene Wolf is very interesting. He is an amazing writer, but it's very wierd stuff.

Finally, as far as Sci-Fi goes there is a relativley new writer I have enjoyed a lot, Phiilip Farmer, kind of off beat and very fund sci-fi.