Wednesday, April 28, 2010

If writers tend to write stuff they enjoy, what about A Pius Man?

If you've even looked at the back of novels by long time novelists, like David Morrell, you will notice that there are a lot of other authors who give him blurbs for his novels. I have noticed that a lot of authors who write books I enjoy, tend to read other authors whose books I enjoy. Authors tend to cluster like that for at least the last century. Tolkien was a friend of CS Lewis. Chesterton, Dorothy Lee Sayers, Ronald Knox, Agatha Christie, and Baroness Orczy were all connected....or well networked, if you want to put it another way. If you have no idea who I'm talking about, Amazon.com will be helpful.

So, if the author's book collection tells a lot about what he writes, then—without going into footnotes—what is the background for A Pius Man?

In general terms, anything that isn't nailed down.

What do I read that I would recommend to other people? Well, I can do a simple breakdown by genre.....

Let's the the borderline inconsequential out of the way: Romance.

Yes, I read some romance, but these usually come with thriller elements.

Catherine Coulter-- her FBI series is quite entertaining. At least for the first six or seven books. The Cove is possibly the best constructed mystery out of the bunch, and it opens with a fifty page long chase through several states. It works surprisingly well.

Sherrilyn Kenyon-- Imagine vampires mixed with Greek mythology so much that they're not really vampires. If you're a fan of Greek mythology, interweaving new mythology and modern action thrillers, read her “Dark-Hunter” series. Preferably in publication order, otherwise you can get very lost, very fast. The romance elements are there, that's her primary classification. And don't be put off by the titles or the covers, most of which are embarrassing to look at. But if I had any shame, I would probably be in a different line of work.

Andrew Greeley-- Irish Chicago Catholic priest who writes romance novels. Some people tend to have brain-freeze at that point, so take a moment if you need to. If you can, read any book of his BEFORE 2000. After that point, well, his books start to suck. They almost always have a fairly solid mystery, but there's always a romance-- however, avoid the books "Cardinal Sins" and "Love song" (Early books, awful books.). The Search for Maggie Ward was excellent, as was Irish Gold, and he has an entire Beatitude series of murder mysteries. And he has three books of an Angel trilogy which are EXCELLENT.

Now, enough of the mushy stuff. Now we blow stuff up....Thriller/ mystery authors:
David Morrell: Yes, he created John Rambo in his novel “First Blood.” However, I would suggest that it is not his best. In “The Spy Who Came For Christmas”, a wounded spy seeks refuge in a home while being chased; to keep the occupants calm, he tells them a spy's version of the three wise men of the Bible. In “Creepers”, a group of urban explorers enter into an abandoned hotel, onto to discover that they're not alone. “Scavenger,” the sequel to Creepers, finds the survivors of the hotel incident trapped into a deadly game—a real life role playing game, set in a hostile wilderness.

Jeffery Deaver: I'm not entirely certain about the order of novels, but Deaver has a wonderful way of messing with one's mind. In my household, “to Deaver” something means to put a backspin on a storyline so hard that the audience gets whiplash. When I mean thriller, I mean it doesn't slow down-- at least not for long. The Blue Nowhere (thriller with hackers), The Bone Collector (ignore the film), The Coffin Dancer, The Vanished Man, A Maiden's Grave, The Devil's Teardrop, the Empty Chair, and other fun stuff.

Vince Flynn-- Unfortunately, offhand, you'll have to look up his titles, and read him in order. he writes about a CIA assassin named Mitch Rapp, and the first one was about terrorists taking over the white house. This was before terrorists became popular (1999), and he does a wonderful critique of what went wrong during the 1990s in the intelligence world.

Douglas Preston &; Lincoln Child: just start by reading "Relic" (for the love of all that's Holy, IGNORE THE MOVIE) and "Reliquery," then let the games begin. If you want to read either individually-- just read Lincoln Child. Preston on is own is not Preston at his best. Lincoln Child has written “Death Match” (match.com meets serial killers), Utopia (Westworld meets Disney World), both of which are at the top of the list for recommendations for these two as individuals.

Matthew Reilly-- in order of speed and publication: Contest, Temple, Ice Station, Area 57, Scarecrow. Contest is sort of science fiction, an interstellar gladiatorial slug fest in the New York City Public Library. Temple is a race for an element that makes uranium look like M&M filling. Ice Station is just pure fun. Area 57 is the sequel to Ice Station (imagine a shootout in Area 51). And Scarecrow is a nonstop running shootout. Each book involves at least a four to six sided shootout, so they don't have time to slow down.

James Rollins (publication order)-- Sandstorm, Map of Bones, Black Order, The Judas Strain.... oh, to heck with it, just look for any book labeled a “Sigma Force Novel.” Imagine scientists with guns. Rollins was writing world spanning ancient mysteries and high-tech thrillers before anyone ever took note of Dan Brown. When this man writes cutting edge, he gives the footnotes, citing articles that are, in some cases, only available overseas.

David Hagberg-- his books are about CIA assassin Kirk McGarvy; the novels improve as you read through them. The first three books can be taken or left behind, since they are still dealing with the end of the Cold War, and are rather depressing.

David Lindsay's career is, at the moment, based on four books about his scalpel wielding sociopath and serial killer named Dexter. Yes, these books spawned the cable TV show of the same name-- a serial killer who hunts serial killers. It starts with Darkly Dreaming Dexter, followed by Dearly Devoted Dexter, Dexter in the Dark, and Dexter by Design. Even if you've seen the tv show, read the books anyway.

And speaking of Napoleon, David Cornwell's Sharpe series is entertaining-- a fictionalized infantry-man's view of the war against the tiny Corsican tyrant.

Joseph Garber- - his books “Verticle Run” and "In a Perfect State" are the best thrillers I may have ever read, second to Vince Flynn

Clive Cussler -- if you've not heard of Dirk Pitt, go read about him.

FANTASY

Terry Prachett-- co-author of Neil Gaiman's "Good Omens." Also creator of a fantasy land called Discworld. As far as that goes, read anything that has to do with the city of Ankh-Morpork. This covers everything from his Commander Vimes novels (mystery with fantasy), or even Going Postal and Making Money, which are sideways political comedy-thrillers (yes, that's a mouthful, and no, I don't have a better way to put it).

Neil Gaiman – I like the man. I liked his books Neverwhere (Alice in Wonderland as done in the London underground), Interworld (alternate reality commando teams—the same person from a hundred different realities), and The Graveyard Book...and I'm not even sure where to begin describing that one.

F. Paul Wilson -- ignore the film called "The Keep," read the book. It starts like Dracula and ends like Lord of the Rings. It's part of his Adversary Cycle, which can be found at the front flap of any of his paperbacks. It is fun, and epic, and Stephen King is the President of the fan club for one of his characters.
Jim Butcher-- creator of the books which loosely inspired the short lived scifi channel series "The Dresden Files." The premise: think of one parts Philip Marlow and one part Gandalf on meth; Wizard as Private Eye. The series starts with a serial killer in Chicago who kills people by magic, with a sequel that recreates the Terminator in a police station, only with a werewolf. It evolves into a world war with vampires, and is building up to an “apocalyptic trilogy” for a finale that will probably involve wizards, vampires, the fae, skinwalkers, werewolves, demons, advanced assault weapons, aikido, and Excalibur-level swords

Jim Butcher's second series is The Codex Alera—fantasy, Lord of the Rings style. The hero is the only person in the world who can't use magic, but he can use his mind to do more damage than any spellbook. It's the second time I have seen a novel use magic as a well thought out tactical weapon. There is no “massive fireball inflicts +100 damage, kills everyone” versions of magic. It starts with political intrigue and espionage, and turns into a sweeping epic.

Terry Goodkind -- creator of the Sword of Truth series. Think Robert Jordan, only entertaining, and a lot less wordy. It is the first series that I have ever seen use magic and tactics in a fantasy setting. Wizards do not abound, but they are like heavy weapons specialists in a vast army. If you can imagine Objectivist philosophy, tempered with natural law, then put into a fantasy setting, you have the intellectual background.

SCIENCE FICTION.

J. Michael Straczynski was an executive producer on Murder, She wrote, created Babylon 5, and writes almost anything else he can get his hands on. He's written comics, tv, novels, science fiction, battling demons.... Just look him up on amazon, buy everything except for “Rising Stars” and “Supreme Power.” I'm not joking. Go now.

Timothy Zhan will always be marked as the man who resurrected the Star Wars series from it's unholy grave. He wrote three books in the early 1990s, and the Star Wars book series was born. Though, to be honest, Zhan is the only person in the Star Wars world I'll ever read. All of his books are well thought out, and no one is stupid. There are some cases you can probably say that everyone thinks too much, but a smart book is never a bad thing, as far as I'm concerned. Blackcollar is his first book and book series; the Cobra trilogy was a multi-generational examination of guerrilla warfare and high-tech implants. Angelmass was an interesting one-shot.

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This is where it gets interesting. Baen books has a marketing gimmick. The theory is that if they allow books out for free online, it will prompt people to buy the books in real life. Below, I have assembled not only the lists of series and novels for each author, but also the link to each author's current novel series. You can download ANY of the books listed below.

DAVID WEBER

David Weber writes so many series in so many worlds, even he's starting to get sick of it. Most notable is his Honor Harrington series-- a female space naval officer, usually worrying about 100-to-1 odds. Imagine the Napoleonic War done in space.

http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/17-StormfromtheShadowsCD/StormfromtheShadowsCD/


The Stars At War-- title explains it all. And the books are numbered... though you might want to ignore “Insurrection.”

Stand Alone Books:

Empire from the Ashes---- What do you mean our moon has been replaced by a spaceship?

The Apocalypse Troll --- the lone survivor of a fleet from a hundred years in the future fell to earth in pursuit of a life pod that has a world-killing alien on board. They both fell through time and space... and now she has to kill it with allies in the 20th century. Assuming it doesn't kill everyone first.

The Excalibur Alternative-- humans make great mercenary soldiers... even if they are from the 16th century, abducted by aliens, and pressed into service.

In Fury Born--After 3,000 years of slumber, a Greek Fury stirs, awakened by a human whose own fury calls...
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His honor Harrington series is Horatio Hornblower meets Star Wars. I have it in recommended order of reading.

On Basilisk Station-- what do you do when you're a shiny new Captain who has to deal with a hostile crew, rioting civilians, an evil empire next door who wants your sector, and, oh, yeah, you've been left by yourself in the middle of the busiest sector in the galaxy with only one ship? Improvise.

The Honor of the Queen-- Honor Harrington is a female captain trying to save a world of semi-Mormons who think she's inferior, and has to defend them against an enemy of religious zealots who make her “allies” look tame.

The Short Victorious War --- Robert S. Pierre and his revolutionaries have created the People's Republic of Haven. Now it's time to flex their muscles.

Field of Dishonor
Flag in Exile
Honor Among Enemies
In Enemy Hands
Echoes of Honor
Ashes of Victory
War of Honor
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The Honorverse Short story collection – it will explain a few things from the books here and there

More than Honor-- I'd recommend only the first story in this one. Seriously.
Worlds of Honor--- I suggest only the Weber stories here.
Changer of Worlds-- now things get interesting.
The Service of the Sword--- Even better.

Crown of Slaves – Takes two sets of characters from Changer of Worlds and Service of the Sword and brings them together against a common enemy.

Shadow of Saganami: Honor's graduating class from officer training has there own ship... and their own problems.

At All Costs--- Honor has lost an eye and an arm leading her Majesty's Navy... much like Admiral Nelson... and this is Trafalgar.

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JOHN RINGO.
http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/18-EyeoftheStormCD/EyeoftheStormCD/

John Ringo, who was never a member of the Beatles, started his career with the Posleen War series, which has spun out of control into about ten books by now. The first four are self-contained, however-- a battle against cannibalistic Mongol hordes from space. He's former 82nd airborne, so the battles work.

I should note now that this list of Ringo books is more or less written in order of series that I highly recommend, and that I think you will enjoy the most, in the order than I think you will enjoy them. Promise.

Princess of Wands --- what got me hooked on Ringo. Start here. Trust me.
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Prince Roger / Empire of Man – ever read the Anabassis? The story of the ten thousand? This is the John Ringo / David Weber version.

March Upcountry
March to the Sea
March to the Stars
We Few

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Series: Into the Looking glass (Book 1) --- the book that got me interested in Ringo in the first place. Military stuff and advanced physics. Aliens are coming through portals called “looking glasses”, and they all want to take over the Earth.
Vorpal Blade
Manxome Foe
Claws that Catch (do we have a pattern?)

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The Paladin of Shadows series.... this one is odd.

Ghost --- The first book is made of a series of three vignettes. “Ghost” is the code name of former Navy SEAL Mike Harmon. When he sees a coed being kidnapped, he finds himself in the middle of a terrorist plot that takes him all the way to Syria, where he lands in the middle of a terrorist stronghold, and eighty hostages, all of whom are slated to die. The second vignette... skim it. Trust me. Vignette three finds Harmon in Eastern Europe, and a plot to nuke Paris finds him.
Kildar—Harmon, still moving through Eastern Europe, finds himself trapped in the middle of a valley during a snowstorm. But the Valley is in the middle of a pathway for Chechen terrorists killing everyone in their way. Now, Ghost has to train the locals to stop the invaders, or else everyone is going to die.
Other books in the series: Choosers of the Slain, Unto the Breach, A Deeper Blue.
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Von Neuman's War – Robots have been sent out into space to colonize worlds for another species as they expand throughout space. Nothing personal, no problems.... until they come to colonize Earth.
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The Posleen War: Ringo's first series, which makes Gone with the Wind look like a bad television episode. There are alien cannibalistic mongol hordes who will soon have Earth on the list, and the technology to stop them are in the possession of aliens who can't defend themselves (like the French).

The original trilogy (book three interrupted by 9-11).....

A Hymn Before Battle.
Gust Front
When the Devil Dances
Hell's Faire
.........

Same time period, different parts of the war.

Watch on the Rhine—the war in Germany.
Yellow Eyes –the war in South America.
.........

After the initial war, the battle isn't over

Cally's War
Sister Time.
Honor of the Clan
Eye of the Storm
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The Last Centurion. I'm still not sure what to make of this one. To start with, Ringo WANTS to piss off everyone with SOMETHING in this book—he didn't piss me off, but I'm odd. It's a one-shot, and written in blog format, with all that the genre entails. It was written in early 2008, before Swine Flu, the rise of Obama, and the first 100 pages, you will NOT know what's going on... okay maybe you will, but it took me a few pages to get into that one. It's written in blog format, and if he pisses you off because of something he wrote, then he meant to.

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