In the way that Galaxy Quest is my favorite Star Trek movie, Redshirts is my favorite Star Trek novel. That is, they don’t technically take place in the Star Trek universe, but close enough. And they’re hilarious.
Some book lists are just for the heck of it.
Weird fantasy has to leave me with a “That was great, but what the hell did I just read?” feeling. The books below all fit the bill. Continue reading
Sometimes you just want big ships with big guns going after each other. And if there are whole fleets of ships doing the same thing, so much the better.
“Mundane” science fiction focuses on already-existing or very plausible technology. No ray guns, warp drives, or time travel here. It’s an unfortunate name, since “mundane” also means “boring,” and these stories are anything but.
The Earth is doomed. Doooooomed!
Given that, let’s see what happens.
We like mystery because life is mysterious, and storytelling exists to help us figure out how to live. Mysteries help us figure out how to deal with the unending avalanche of unknowns in our own lives (probably not directly, unless you deal with dead bodies a lot).
Some say that mysteries are popular because people like puzzles. Well, I like a certain kind of mystery, but I’ve never been a puzzle person.
I like Raymond Chandler mysteries, the hard-boiled detective who fights to stay alive while prowling dark alleys and darker minds. Often, I don’t care that much about the final reveal of who the real criminal is. It’s the journey, the tortuous path that I like.
In fantasy especially, the who-dunnit can easily become a what-dunnit.
In planetary romance, the bulk of the action consists of adventures on one or more exotic alien planets, which usually have distinctive physical and cultural backgrounds. Many planetary romance stories are a little goofy and pulpy, but some take their characters a little more seriously. Note that the “romance” part of the term doesn’t refer to romantic love, but to the old-timey definition of romances as a kind of adventure tale (science fiction itself used to be called “scientific romance”).
If you have a non-human point of view, you’ve got xenofiction. Stories can be from the perspective of aliens, AI, robots, sufficiently transformed humans, or even animals, and they’re all in this list.
There’s still a stigma to reading graphic novels. As a grown man, I wouldn’t do it in public. However, at home, I love them and I encourage my kid to read every one he gets his hands on.
At their best, graphic novels combine deep, thoughtful storytelling with real works of art. I’m glad to see that great comics are still being written and drawn (and inked and colored).