Missing on the 100 Must Read Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Debuts

So earlier this year I read this piece on Book Riot titled 100 Must-Read Science Fiction & Fantasy Debuts. I’m not too into lists but also know that one I made a few years ago about the great speculative fiction novels of the last decade is a piece that I casually still have random people hit me up on social media about and be like “are you the guy who wrote that?”, and it’s usually about having played a (very) small part in expanding upon what were then prevalent conceits about what fantasy was in particular (people tend to get science fiction).

jonathan lethem

It’s pretty flattering and don’t really take too much credit in what what probably an exercise in laziness as it was easier to make a premade list than join discussions asking for new books. For this reason I realize the value of such lists and it was reading it, and bringing back memories of getting initial publisher promo material and advance galleys.

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Escaping Scott Lynch’s Republic of Thieves, In Need of That Thorn of Emberlain

Okay. So let me be clear, I dig me some Scott Lynch books. I really liked his debut, The Lies of Locke Lamora, and I think I might find myself in the minority when I say I enjoyed the follow-up in his Gentlemen Bastard cycle, Red Seas Under Red Skies, even more. I go back when it comes to reading about the exploits of the Thorn of Camorr. I was on this probably just after choice frameshifters were after hearing about it from other authors I was interviewing who had read early drafts/manuscripts and were telling me behind the scenes that Scott Lynch was what was next. I have documentation.

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STAR WARS Bloodline – Claudia Gray’s Shadows of the Empire

Up until recently only two new canon STAR WARS novels were books that I thought both captured what this thing of ours is and just added something potentially valuable to the mythos or how we understood it. Also, and this is important, were cool. The rest, of which I have read all off (excluding those aimed specifically at young kids), were in various degrees problematic.

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They were also both surprises.
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Interludes Are Our Only Hope – Reviews of both Star Wars Aftermath + Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig

Below are reviews for both Star Wars: Aftermath and Star Wars:  Empire’s End, the first and third (and final) book in Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars book series that reintroduced fans to new canon post-Return of the Jedi.

chuck wendig

I did both reviews when each book came out but I’m just combining them below. Yeah, I didn’t write one for the second book but I do think these progressively got better with each book but as you will see there’s close to 7000 words below, so I hope enough context is offered. Enjoy!

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Vos and Ventress Golden in Star Wars Dark Disciple and… We Need to Talk about Jedi

I want to get the basics out of the way first. If you don’t like or want spoilers don’t read on. I will tell you the point of a person reading a book and then sitting down to write up about what they didn’t just read when there is one. Seems like a waste of time to me, so go read the book and watch Thrawn return to new canon like any good Star Wars fan this week and come back here.

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Dark Disciple is one of the better new canon STAR Wars novels. It is so by a healthy margin and I was aware of it probably 1/3 of the way through my reading of it which is a great feeling to have but in turn allows entry for trepidation as you become aware of your desire to not be let down by the conclusion.

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A Clash of Queens – What is the Queen’s Power in Game of Thrones? 

This is another question that popped up as a search term to get to the site. I’m going to be picking some of these out and answering them to the best of my ability, the first time I did this, skipping the at the very least weird, and at worst, criminal search terms that somehow lead people here. Yes, some of the actions in Game of Thrones are actually PG in comparison to some of them, and some of the not so cleaner recent ones are about Natalie Portman’s character in Leon: The Professional, that I think got an uptick because it was recently made available on netflix. Enough preamble though, today I field:

game of thrones

What is the Queen’s Power in Game of Thrones?

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A Bold Life Amidst A Game of Thrones – Ser Barristan Selmy 

If you watched last Sunday’s episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones you know that the realm lost a good one in Barristan the Bold. For such a knight of accomplishment to die outside of Westeros may not seem right, but one would think he did so at the service of a ruler he respected, and that’s all he ever wanted.

game of thrones

I thought it would be appropriate to look back at the life of a character that for TV watchers was a few years old, but for book readers we’ve been reading Selmy for almost TWENTY years. If you want, you can go check out my review of The Sons of the Harpy where Barristan, along with Greyworm, kicked a lot of ass. I think what tv watchers of Game of Thrones should know is that this hasn’t happened in the books, so this was not only an end to a major character, it was a shocking one to book readers.

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Paul S. Kemp Gets The Star Wars Call – I Tapped the Line + A Review of Lords of the Sith

This is another combining of related content for me. In this case it’s a brief chat I had with Paul S. Kemp a little bit after it broke he was going to be writing Star Wars novels combined a review I wrote of his Star Wars: Lords of the Sith.

paul s kemp

Paul wrote some really great Forgotten Realms novels featuring Erevis Cale that honestly may be the best I’ve read in Realms. 

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Enter Sansa Fierce – GRRM Drops Winds of Winter Chapter

George R.R. Martin dropped another excerpt/sample chapter from The Winds of Winter today and I just wanted to jot down some thoughts on the Alayne/Sansa POV, as we go back to the Eyrie and see what Petyr has brewing, as the Vale has for the most part been lounging during The War of the Five Kings.

sophie turner sansa stark

Reaction to this sample chapter seems to be a bit divisive among fandom so I wanted to dive in and see where I ended up on the spectrum.

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What the Sheev? – Star Wars Tarkin/Vader Buddy Cop

Let me get out of this way, I role with James Luceno and I always will because he was 1/2 of the team that brought me Robotech in novel form in the ’80s. That said, there is good James Luceno and bad James Luceno. Good James Luceno is Labyrinth of Evil which combined with Matthew Stover’s kick ass novelization of Revenge of the Sith is the Star Wars prequel as it should have been told, not whatever it was that happened on to the screen.

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Good Luceno is Darth Plagueis. Bad Luceno, and I know perhaps the majority does not agree with this, is Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader.

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The Order of the Blue Flower by Hal Duncan – Notes from New Sodom

So the 21st of May came and went without a whiff of the Rapture, nary a hint of Moby Douche, the Great White Fail, breaching the firmament above. No star called Wormwood fallen from the sky, turning a third of the waters to tasty absinthe.

A Scanner Darkly

No angels treading the wine gums of the wrath of the Lord. Not a peep of New Jerusalem on the early warning radar. Instead here we are, still in New Sodom, with Benny the Rat still in the Vatican, Fred Phelps still on the streets, and Harold Camping still on the radio, still selling his schtick. The Rapture’s postponed apparently, till the 21st October. Cool. That’s going to be one fuck of 40th birthday party for me that day then.

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The Miseducation of Darkstar of Dorne in a Game of Thrones

This is an “article” I wrote a few years ago (so please keep in mind any new HBO or GRRM based revelations weren’t at my disposal) that made rounds on Tumblr after I wrote it on a now defunct Tumblr I had.

game of thrones

Beyond simply wanting to keep it from disappearing from the web, I actually wanted to read it again after running into a more recent and very fly theory regarding Darkstar’s (Gerold Dayne) possible father over at Elio’s board dedicated to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.

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Badass Moments in Sci-Fi History

I probably don’t need to tell the readers here that science-fiction is probably one of the most badass genres of fiction to ever explode out of someone’s brain.  I mean, any genre in which genetically modified cyborgs, hyperdrive-capable spaceships, chest-bursting aliens, disintegration death rays, handheld nuclear bombs, mutant apocalypses, and skimpy gold bikinis are the norm is OK in my book, and anybody who doesn’t think that stuff kicks more ass than an alcoholic donkey-herder really needs to get their priorities straight.

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