I am a confessed Kar Schroeder fan. His Virga sequence is remarkable – absolutely the kind of retro, yet hyper-advanced concept I love to become immersed in. Engine of Recall is a collection of his short stories from across his career. The worlds Schroeder creates are amazing – ships jousting at near-light-speed, artifacts orbitting pulsars, and so on. I’ve read the first three Virga books, and am looking forward to reading the fourth, and then reading more of his back catalogue.
I’ve just done a couple posts on the music that sustained and motivated me through drafting the novel. There were also a bunch of books I read that in their own ways helped sustain and motivate me. I won’t list everything – just the stuff that has really propelled me. While the novel is a science fiction technothriller (not to pigeonhole it or anything), I tend to read outside the genre, though in the process of writing I have read a bit more sci-fi than usual.
Modern Ranch Living by Mark Poirier. This has been around for a while – I first read it years ago and came back since it’s so good. Poirier’s style is laid-back and laconic and his characters rich and hilarious and his descriptions of the Arizona landscape are so real and invigourating that I’m just swept up in the book, before even getting to the complexities of the plot and the craftsmanship of the writing. I love writing about the southwest and have even set some of my own stories there – Eddie’s on Fire and Breathe In (okay, that was a shameless plug – last one I’ll do here, I’ll stick to the reading list).
Mars Life by Ben Bova. I enjoy Bova’s books from time to time, though I sometimes wish there was a little more depth. His plotting and characters are great, the ideas (I really like the nano-suits the Mars explorers wear – ultrathin so no bulky clunky stuff to haul around) and the feel for the environments he creates.
Sun of Suns, Queen of Candesce and Pirate Sun by Karl Schroeder. The first three books in the Virga series – the fourth is out already. Schroeder’s “playground” is an astonishing world – a 5000km diameter (I guess that’s 3000 miles) air-filled balloon, orbitting Vega, populated with drifting cities and artificial suns. While the technology that’s created Virga is hyper-advanced, the civilisation within is more steampunk or dieselpunk – jet-propelled wooden ships, wheeled cities and the like. A delicious milieu.
The Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly. Pace, pace and more pace. If you want to learn how to just keep the action going, Reilly is a great example. There are things that bother me about his writing (sound effects, for one), but it’s kind of like a rocket sled ride as much as anything else. This is theme-park ride literature, pure fun and sometimes we just need some fun.
Okay, enough for now. I’ll do another post soon.
btw – if you want to know what the novel I’m writing is about, you can get a sense of it from the original flash fiction “The Rotated” here on Infinite Windows. The novel is based on the story, same characters, same situation and so on.