Last week I presented some recommendations for free webcomics. And I do have more… oh so many more… but today I would like to recommend some of my favorite books.
First up is one of my favorite series of all time:
The Callahan’s Series by Spider Robinson
Welcome to Callahan’s bar where all the drinks are a dollar, you smash your glass in the fireplace (after giving a toast), the puns are plentiful, the company is great, and every now and then a time traveler or alien walks in for a drink.
The first few books of the Callahan’s series (collected in the omnibus: The Callahan Chronicles) are collections of short stories told from the perspective of one of the bar’s regulars: Jake Stonebender. Each story introduces some new problem for our fun loving bar flies to contend with, ranging from an alien that needs them to stop him from destroying the Earth, to a time traveler trying to save the woman he loves, to (in a latter book) an Irish Spirit that loves nothing more than getting drunk on Irish spirits (almost closed the bar single handed). Not to say all the problems they deal with are supernatural or otherworldly, but it does make for the most memorable ones.
Next up, in an entirely different direction we have:
The Codex Alera by Jim Butcher
Welcome to the world of Alera, where Roman like people rule the land with the power of elemental spirits known as furies. These furies come in 6 elements, fire, wind, water, earth, wood, and metal, and bond with a person in childhood for life. But after the First Lord’s heir dies plots begin to form to replace him. As our story begins one such plot begins to unfold and one unlikely young man, the only Aleran to have no furies of his own, will pulled in and forced to try and stop it… or else lose his home and everyone he loves.
The Codex Alera is told from multiple perspectives and almost every chapter ends on a cliffhanger of one kind or another. Excellent world building and creative story telling keep the action interesting. The series was born when Jim Butcher claimed there “was no such thing as a bad writing prompt” and challenged an internet forum to give him a so called “bad writing prompt”. What he got was this: The lost Roman Legion + Pokemon. And somehow he created this series.
And finally for this entry we have a true classic:
The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
Welcome to the world of Pern. An idyllic agrarian society (with only a small bit of sexism… they are dealing with it). The people are happy in their holds, tilling the land, and serving their Lords… up until the Thread returns. A long thing white organism that rains from the sky sporadically in hundred year on/off cycles, thread eats any organic mater it comes into contact with and rapidly propagates if it reaches fertile soil, spreading its destruction even further. Good thing the brave Dragonriders and their colossal mounts are here to burn the Thread from the sky… or at least that is how it always was. But now Thread has been gone far longer than is normal (around four times as long as normal) and the Dragonriders have fallen into disfavor. In fact most of the Dragonriders disappeared. So now an under maned group of Dragonriders must unite a world that does not yet realize it is in peril before it is too late.
This book is one of the classics. The first book was originally published in 1968 and popularized the idea of “dragons as noble mounts” rather than “dragons as terrifying monster”. The Dragons in this series form life long bonds with their riders upon hatching, along with a psychic link they use to communicate with one another, and have the ability to travel through a space called between, effectively teleporting. Oh! And one more thing. I should mention the series’ genre. One would think with the importance of Dragons and the low tech society this would be a fantasy book… but nope, you fairly quickly realize this is a sci-fi book. And that only gets stronger the more books you read in the series.