Newsletter December 6, 2020
The Lampworks Lamplighter
SF & Fantasy News & Reviews
In this issue
- Holiday Suggestions
- Featured promotions to help you find new authors to follow
Buy a Book, Give a Book
We often talk with each other about what books we’ve read, so this month we decided to share our list of all-time favorite sci-fi and fantasy books with you. We have similar interests, such as historical fiction, sci-fi grounded in real-world science, realistic characters, and epic fantasy world-building, so there was some overlap. We also learned some things about each other and ourselves. We seem to both gravitate toward classical sci-fi and “Golden Age” authors such as Asimov, Clarke, and Bradbury, and our shared enthusiasm for Neil Gaiman’s works rang out clearly in the fantasy arena. But we each found something new in the other’s picks as well.
This isn’t a “best of sci-fi and fantasy” list; it’s the books that we think of as memorable, influential, and fun. You have probably heard of many of these before, but maybe haven’t read them yet. With the holidays upon us, and good reasons to spend more time at home than ever this year, why not pick a few options from our list, settle in with a hot drink, and fly off to far flung worlds or go on fantastical quests in magical lands for a while? Or order a physical book from our Bookshop.org shop to put under the tree. You might just ignite the love of reading in someone new.
Our Top Ten Science Fiction
Using the mathematics of Pyschohistory, Hari Seldon predicts the downfall of Galactic civilization, and how to reboot it. Seldon establishes a Foundation to guide the Galaxy through the dark ages, preserving knowledge for the eventual rennaisance. But there are more layers to Seldon’s plan than anyone knows.
Rendezvous with Rama
Arthur C. Clarke
A survey craft finds a alien artifact as large a small world as it slingshots around the sun. In a few short weeks they try to learn its secrets before it leaves the solar system forever. In the warmth of the sun, automatic systems awaken to do housekeeping. But where are the builders?
Mark Watney is stranded on the surface of Mars during a deadly dust storm. He has to use every survival skill and all the science he knows to survive and get word to Earth that he’s out there. But the only rescue ship is months away.
Arthur C. Clarke
Aliens intervene as earth teeters on the brink of nuclear war. They usher in a new age of peace and plenty. But if they are purely benovolent, why won’t they show their faces?
Stranger in a Strange Land
Robert A. Heinlein
Michael Valentine Smith, raised by Martians, must learn how to be human. In the process, he teaches his family and followers how to be more than human. This classic from the early sixties is still relevant today.
The Martian Chronicles
When Earthlings venture to Mars, they find wonders and terrors, strange beings, and unimagined dangers. A classic collection of mystical tales of an enigmatic future.
The Mote in God’s Eye
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Humanity’s first contact with aliens – three-armed beings bottled up on their world by an accident of cosmic geometry. They’re inventive and charming, and quite possibly dangerous.
A Canticle for Leibowitz
In a small monastery, 600 years after a nuclear war, the first stirrings of science are felt again. Three related post-apocalyptic stories that touch on the nature of humanity.
Breq is searching an icy world for a missing weapon. She is not sure why she searches or who she is. She feels that she was once something different. Something much larger…
The Engines of God
Humans have found alien monuments on many planets. All different, all beautiful. And they just might hold the key to our survival.
Our Top Ten Fantasy
Shadow is employed by the mysterious Mr Wednesday after he is released from prison. He tells Shadow that the old gods are gathering, and there is a reckoning coming. Shadow is skeptical, but the pay is good. But strange things keep happening wherever Mr Wednesday goes…
The Lord of the Rings
J R R Tolkien
The battle for Middle Earth, and how the smallest heroes are often more important than the greatest ones. The trilogy that launched the entire epic fantasy genre. If you’ve only seen the movie, you’ve missed countless referrences to events in Tolkein’s orginal.
Nine Princes in Amber
Amber is the one true realm, of which all others are shadows. Corwin, Prince of Amber, awakens from a coma in a hospital, and starts on the path the leads back to the throne of Amber. A pack of playing cards that can summon his allies and enemies is his first clue to his destiny.
Lord Valentine’s Castle
Valentine is a simple man with no past, who takes up with a circus troupe as a juggler. There is another Valentine – the ruler of the land – and their fates are intertwined in mysterious ways. The metaphore of juggling as a meditation permeates this wonderful tale.
I Shall Wear Midnight
Tiffany Aching is a young witch, learning the tedious, simple tasks that her community depends on. When a shadow falls over the land, Tiffany has strength that even the elder witches do not. Not the first book in the Tiffany Aching series, but the finest of them all.
Ryope is 10 square miles of woods, yet an almost limitless space inside, and the further one goes, the older it is. George Huxley died exploring here, and now his sons seek its secrets, as ancient creatures of myth and dream escape and roam the hedgerows in the night.
Richard Mayhew lived a normal life in London, until he helped a stranger on the street. Now no one can see him, or remember him. He’s entered London Below, a shadow city of everything fantastical, both good and evil.
The Graveyard Book
As a toddler, Bod fled a gruesome murder in his home, and took refuge in a nearby graveyard. Kindly ghosts have raised him, and taught him about about the world, and some ghostly skills as well. Now he must face his family’s killer.
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai
Bradley P. Beaulieu
Sharakhai, an ancient desert city, is ruled by twelve immortal, invincible kings. Ceda survives as a gladiator until one night when, forbidden, she ventures into the desert on a holy night. What she learns could change everything. Or destroy her.
The ash-covered land has been ruled with an iron hand for a thousand years. Now a band of misfits has rediscovered an ancient alchemy that gives them hope of overthrowing that rule. A heist novel, an epic fantasy, and one of the best magic systems ever invented.
Knots is a compelling story filled with unexpected characters, plot twists, literal location twists, mystery and redemption.
It’s rare to find a story that defies convention/formulae and confidently goes where it needs to go.
Loved the book and the writing style such as the excerpts from the archives that connects back to the story (or maybe even to real world events).Buy on Bookshop.org amazon
What reviewers have said:
This book delighted on so many levels. It’s smart, insightful, and wise. The many passages I highlighted are to remind myself how to be a better person.
… this story bolstered my faith that someone can still write decent sci-fi.
This story contains all you expect from SciFi: alien creatures, epic battles, and strange worlds; but even more it’s a story about the best in people, whether human or otherwise.Buy on Bookshop.org amazon
You may also enjoy…
Disciples of Trikaal
A fast paced Time Travel Story
Aru must choose…
…use his powers to protect his family…
…or give up his life to save millions of strangers.
Aru and Nemi together summoned Trikaal, an ancient time traveler, who agreed to be their Guru. Nemi chose to master time travel, and Aru to read the future.
Free via StoryOrigin
Time doesn’t work the way you think it does
Three people living in different centuries are bound by one thing: The Axe. But they are also tied together by the one thing that wants them all dead…
Free via StoryOrigin
On the remote world of Berikatanya the people suffer the most cataclysmic failure of Elemental magic in their history. How will they deal with the loss of so many powerful magicians?
Free via StoryOrigin
Persistence of Vision
What if the survival of the post-apocalyptic world depended on memories you no longer had?
Buy via StoryOrigin
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