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Books I’d Recommend

This page was created on 2019-01-15. There have been updates, towards the bottom.

I make extensive use of GoodReads (please feel free to follow me there), but I can’t really find any way to flag specific series of books as things I’d endorse as good books, so here are some of the books and series that I’d recommend:

Recommendations up to 2019-01-15

  • Series: The Frontiers Saga – Part 1, Part 2 (still in progress), Prequels (still in progress?) Good if you don’t mind buying each chapter separately. After a “digital plague” that killed most of the humans on Earth, and left us in a Dark Age of over 1000 years, Humans of Earth are starting to recover and re-establish ourselves in space. At which point, we’re now being attacked by the “Jung” – one of the more aggressive factions who fled Earth at the start of the plague. Earth has managed to open “The Ark” – a collection of all the technological advanced we’d made before the plague and use some of that knowledge to build a new technology – “Jump Drives”. During the first test of the Jump Drive on a “Real” ship, the test is sabotaged, and the ship jumps hundreds of light years, across the galaxy only to find another ex-colony in the midsts of a war. Can they make their way back, and recruit some allies on the way? (Yes, yes they can. And it’s a great romp… and still on-going. The first saga is 15 books long, the second is currently at 10, and there are currently 4 prequels, but I expect lots more to follow)
  • Series: Jumper Classic teleportation story. The first half of the first book was made into the first half of a passable film, but they then rewrote the rest of it. The books are much better (although the end of the last one is a bit meh)
  • Series: Nexus Mind linking drugs – pretty tight story too.
  • Series: The Rho Agenda, Sequel and Prequel Two spaceships are discovered on Earth. Scientists can’t figure out how to get into the first, but kids get into the second, “bond” with the ship, and stop the invasion of Earth by the species who lost the first one. Ably assisted later on by an Ex-CIA Assassin who has a touch of pre-cognition (due to… well, something from the Prequels) and his girlfriend (also an assassin).
  • Series: Sandman Slim Not so much Sci-fi. This is a magician who’s sent to hell before he died, and then fights his way back. Later on there’s lots of interactions with the Devil (who, in later books, he becomes for “reasons”), God (or rather, fragments of God) and the denizens of both realms.
  • Series: The Bridge Chronicles Great Cyberpunk stories about an amoral fixer. The full three-book series is available as a single e-book.
  • Series: The Lost Fleet SHIPS IN SPACE! The fate of the last of Earth’s fleet of ships rests in the hands of the legendary “Black Jack” – a captain who was recovered from his rescue pod one hundred years after his “last stand” was made famous for the deaths of all his crew but his destruction of the attacking fleet. Can he bring the fleet home… and at what cost?
  • Series: Spinward Fringe We follow a bounty hunter who lost his memory as he tries to find his past, and rescue most of humanity in the process.
  • Series: Samuil Petrovitch More Cyberpunk :) There was a nuclear explosion in Russia, wiping out most of the cities in Europe. Samuil lives in London, and just tries to survive, until he stops a kidnapping attempt in progress of one of the daughter of one of the most dangerous men in London. At the same time, AI is starting to rise up, and, well, Samuil ends up being one of the few people who’s able to negotiate with them.
  • Series: A Galaxy Unknown Another “Rescued from her life capsule” book, this sees the last survivor of a ship grinding her way up through the ranks and taking on the invading forces from (eventually several) enemies. There’s lots of space battles and miraculous wins. Quite a good romp :D
  • Series: Indexing Indexing is the modern day police procedural where the narrative in Fairy Tails bleed into our current world, where girls with pale skin, blood red lips and dark hair can enchant the birds from the trees just by singing, and sewing or spinning needles can cause you to fall asleep. Really enjoyable but only a couple of books.
  • Series: Rachel Peng (part of the wider “A Girl And Her Fed” web-comic universe, along with Hope Blackwell book 1, book 2 and Josh Glassman book 1) 500 elite members of various government branches were recruited into “The Program” several years ago, where they received a chip in their heads and drastic personality rewrites to make them compliant, with the aim being a force of staff that could be taken over and used for corporate greed. Fortunately, in the AGAHF webcomic one of those program members was able to break his personality reprogramming and managed to stop the program. They formed a new government department called OACET, and now loan their staff (nowhere near the 500 members are left due to how drastic the reprogramming was) to other departments. Rachel Peng is one of those people, and she’s loaned to the LAPD. Rachel can use her chip, not just to join the OACET hive-mind, but also to control technology and, as a side line, to help her see. These books and the Josh books are fantastic, and you don’t need to have read the comics to make sense of the books. I wasn’t that taken with the Hope Blackwell books, but… eh, they’re OK I guess :)
  • Series: Silo (sometimes also referred to as “Wool”) This is a dark, post-apocalyptic story about people who’s whole world is “The Silo”. There are cameras reminding the people inside the silo about how bad the world is outside, but if you resist the law of the silo, you’re sent outside, and the last thing you need to do is to clean the lenses on the cameras before you die. It’s a really really good series and very powerful.
  • Series: Lens of Time Imagine being able to see what happened in the past. All you need to do is to see the light from that far away… But, of course, we don’t have faster than light drives, so to travel that far, we’d have already seen the event happen before we got there… Except, someone’s built a faster than light drive, so now we can! Huzzah. Turns out there’s something coming, and we need to travel 65000 light years away to find out what it is, as it’s been here before! Lots of suspension of disbelief needed here, but, it’s a great series and really enjoyable.
  • Series: Hail DRONE! Vigilante drones that kill! After a 9/11 style event, billionaire energy tycoon recruits kids to kill those who caused the attack.
  • Series: Magic 2.0 Reality has a bit of a glitch in it – there’s a file you can find in computer systems that let you make changes to reality, including having money appear, being able to fly, travel in time and teleport. What do you naturally do? TRAVEL BACK TO BE MERLIN (or find Atlantis)…. same as everyone else who found the file… D’oh! The earlier books are better than the later ones, but… it’s a good concept.

Recommendations from the above date to 2019-08-13

  • Series: The Ministry of Curiosities (I’ve read up to Book 4) In Victorian London, a girl can summon the spirits of the deceased and ask them questions. Her father, a church minister, disowns her when she raises the spirit of her mother, and she flees to the streets, where after 5 years she’s picked up by a member of the Ministry of Curiosities, who are tasked with finding and neutralising any mystical things. On the whole it’s a good concept, although the author “borrows” characters from other stories (like Victor Frankenstein), and the lead character has a tendency to run off to investigate things without the support of the rest of the team, in particular without her love interest…
  • Series: The Naturist Slightly like the TV series “Bones”. A university doctor discovers a pattern to the targets of a series of murders, and then gets arrested at the scene when he thinks he’s found the next spot. Very comprehensive story, using tech and patterns found in nature. The sequels are after he’s left academia, but still very interesting.
  • Series: Jack Reacher has been made into two films staring Tom Cruise, but don’t let that put you off. There are two types of books in this series – the long-form novels (which range from generally above par to fantastic) and the short stories. These generally are rubbish and I wouldn’t bother with another one. Jack Reacher, who was a Military Police officer, when he left the military became a wandering odd-job man. He earns enough from his pension to not have to work, but doesn’t want to be penned in with a house and family, so wanders the US, replacing rather than cleaning his clothes every few days, and apparently being the target of every woman’s desire. Sometimes police procedural, sometimes private investigator, sometimes a flashback to his military days (or earlier in some of the short stories) and usually all action. On the whole, glad I’ve been reading them, but I can’t really tell you which ones I’d miss out if I were to re-read them.
  • Series: The Laundry Files One part “BOFH“, one part Cthulhu story, and one part “Yes Minister” then mixed well. Bob starts his career in “The Laundry”, the occult version of MI6 as a recruit after his rendering engine accidentally nearly triggers an “incursion” from one of the nether realms… after all, you know the phrase “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, it unfortunately was the wrong way around… magic basically is advanced calculations, and the more computing devices we have, the closer we come to “CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN” – a full-time incursion from the nether realms. Towards the more recent books, Bob gets married, splits up, encounters more than his fair share of mystical beasts and generally moves up towards a senior role at “The Laundry”, even when they threaten to close it. Strongly recommended to anyone working in IT.
  • Series: The Golden Arrow There’s a superhero on the loose, which is a bit odd, as superhero’s are from the realm of TV and Cartoons. MG works for the publishing house that created “The Golden Arrow” series, which was rebooted after the sad demise of the founder… but now, someone is replicating the scenes from the comic – tying up drug dealers and mob bosses and marking the scenes with golden arrows. MG is brought in by a cop who gets her sense of humour and needs her expertise on the character from the comics. Little does the cop know who else he’s bringing on board – her best friend is a Drag Queen (who may know more about The Golden Arrow than we thought) and her room-mate has suddenly started working out more (to improve his LARPing abilities, honest). Throw in the cast of the writing team at the publishing house (who, to be fair are mostly a bit paper-thin in their characters) and you have a fine story about superheroes.
  • Book: The Phoenix Project Anyone who worked in IT for a large company is likely to read the first few chapters of this and wince, a lot. It’s a parable about adopting Agile culture into your firm, with the mystical “old man in the corner of the inn” (from D&D fame) who will send you towards your foes and gain your party maximum experience points. The existing “Unicorn” (from memory) project has gone over budget, is out of time and everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else. The paranoid security guy is saying “no” to everything, and there’s a guy who is SO CRITICAL to the success of the project that any absence from him causes blockers everywhere else. It’s a reasonably good story and well worth a read if you’re “going DevOps” or “going Agile” any time soon – just to match up what you’re doing with what the people who started the craze thought you should be doing :)
  • Book: Transgression I wrote a review on this book in 2016 “An unexpectedly great book. Ari, a Jewish theoretical physicist who has lost his faith, Damian, an American experimental physicist who believes faith has destroyed civilisation, and Rivika, a Messianic Jewish archaeologist are transported through time to kill (or save) a lynchpin in humanity’s history, and potentially save the Jewish tribes from 2000 years of persecution.” That said, I held off from adding this to my list when I first authored it, because I didn’t find the subsequent books in the series to be quite as awe-inspiring as this book. That said, if you like Religious Fiction, the rest of the series (to date) are really good books, just not to the same standard as this one.

Picture is “Library” by “Daniel Go” and is released under a Creative Commons By-Attribution, Non-Commercial license.