My usual Christmas blog means pulling out some favorite crime or supernatural novels of the year (savory reads as opposed to sweet), but this year I decided to do a fantasy/scifi rewind. After seeing an English Beat concert recently, I remembered it can actually be fun to visit the ghosts of your past—especially if ska is thrown in!
Many readers have loved the Dragonriders of Pern, but Anne McCaffrey created other science fiction universes. The Crystal Singer series focuses on Killashadra Ree, an ambitious and driven young woman who decides to travel to the planet of Ballybran after her music career tanks. Killashandra becomes one of the exclusive few who can cut the crystals used for interstellar communications and travel. It increases her lifespan, as well as physical senses, but she pays a price as her memories slowly erode. Killashandra is smart and tough and it was empowering to see her succeed at a time not a lot of scifi had female protagonists. Readers might also want to try the Hail Bristol series.
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. Imagine a modern day MI5 with agents that can read your mind or turn it to jelly. Myfanwy Thomas is part of the Checquy, a supernatural protective service for Great Britain and one day she wakes up with no memory of her past life. As she unravels what happened to her, she must hide her weakness and try find out who targeted her for assignation. Lots of action, great characters and fun details including the backstory of The Grafters, the Belgian archenemy of the Checquy that advances itself by genetic manipulation. A big book—so better for a staycation or get the audiobook for on the go. Fans of this one might like God Save the Queen by Kate Locke.
Miles Vorkosigan is a charming hero with the soul of an honorable conman. Despite physical difficulties caused by a pre-natal assignation attempt, he manages to win the respect of his militaristic homeland Barrayar. The stories combine likeable characters, adventure, humor and a whole new universe to immerse yourself in. Begin with his first appearance in The The Warrior's Apprentice where he fails the military entrance exam and winds up creating his own mercenary force. It was also included in the omnibus Young Miles. The series is available in multiple formats.
The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher. I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait for the next one to come out—it’s a steampunk world of sailing ships that fly the skies powered by crystals, humans living on huge spires because the world below is filled with a dangerous mist that conceals creepy things. The competing monarchies from each spire spy and sabotage one another; it follows the fortunes of the group trying to save Spire Albion. Did I mention there are talking cats with attitude? This is definitely for fans of Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.
Have an old favorite you can’t forget? Tell us about the ghosts of your reading past!