Summer is coming. It’s bringing with it alien worlds, starship battles, ancient mysteries, and sequels. Lots of sequels. No, I’m not talking about movies — I’m talking books, specifically my Summer Reading List for 2014.
There a few givens for this year’s list. James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse series and Jack Campbell’s The Lost Fleet books have been part of the my summer reading lists for the last several years. Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series is one of my new favorites, and I’m looking forward to adding its latest entry to my list.
Last year’s list consisted of nine print books, two audio books, and five graphic novels, for a grand total of 16 books. I read all of them, which is something I hadn’t accomplished in a few years (in 2012 I had 10 novels on my list, and only finished 5). This summer I’m looking to at least match last year’s 11 novels by reading 14 novels and four graphic novels. I’m not sure how you count the novellas; let’s call the three of ’em one book, which would bring me up to 15 novels.
The full list is below. You can track my progress on GoodReads.
- Cibola Burn (Expanse 4) by James S.A. Corey (Amazon/GoodReads) — A returning favorite for my summer reading list, The Expanse series details humanity’s first contact with an unfathomable alien intelligence, and our species’ first fledgling steps into the galaxy. I also recently discovered three novellas set between the major books in the series, and immediately added them to the list.
- Steadfast (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier #4) by Jack Campbell (Amazon — John “Black Jack” Geary soldiers on, this time dealing with the abduction of several crew members. The series is suffering from the law of diminishing returns, but it still has enough high points to make it worth reading.
- Lt. Leary, Commanding by David Drake (Amazon/GoodReads) — I read the first book in the series, With the Lightnings last year. As the reviews said, it was very reminiscent of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series. The book stood on its own merits as well, following the Lt. Leary as he dealt with a military coup on a neutral planet. It was good enough to earn a return visit to the summer reading list.
- Consider Phlebas (Culture #1) by Iain Banks (Amazon/GoodReads) — I’ve heard a lot of great things about the late Iain Bank’s Culture series. It’s high concept space opera involving galaxy-spanning civilizations. Consider Phlebas is the first book in the series.
- Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga) by Lois McMaster Bujold (Amazon/GoodReads) — Another new series I’m trying out is the Vorkosigan Saga. It’s a military space opera that’s gotten good reviews, and the summary indicates it’s in my wheelhouse.
- The Warrior’s Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga) by Lois McMaster Bujold (Amazon/GoodReads) — Bujold introduces Miles Vorkosigan, whom the author describes at the linchpin of the series.
- Fractions: The First Half of The Fall Revolution by Ken McCloud (Amazon/GoodReads) — I’ve read a few of McLoud’s books (Learning the World, Newton’s Wake). He’s does a create job of creating interesting futures capturing both socialist and libertarian world views, beginning with his Fall Revolution series. I’m anticipating an ideologically challenging, politically-enfused read. This consists of two books: The Star Fraction and The Stone Canal
- Gust Front by John Ringo (Amazon/GoodReads) This is a sequel to A Hymn Before Battle, which I read and reviewed for Science Fiction Weekly way back in 2000. It’s part of Ringo’s Legacy of the Aldenata series, and might best be described as a mashup of Starship Troopers and Independence Day. I noticed that the book’s available as a free download from Baen Books (and Amazon.com), so I decided to revisit the series.
If it weren’t for audio books my non-summer reading would drop to nothing. I listen while walking to work and working out, which allows me to get in about a book a month.
Summer’s a little different. I still listen while walking or working out, but long drives to and from our summer vacation destinations give me plenty of time to listen to books (particularly if it’s late, and the rest of the family is snoozing).
- Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archives #2) by Brandon Sanderson (Audible/GoodReads) — This follow-up to Sanderson’s entry into the epic fantasy genre, The Way of Kings. It’s at the top of my summer re-read list because the first book was so damn good. (48 hours, 15 minutes)
- The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham (Audible/GoodReads) With Wheel of Time concluded and A Song of Fire and Ice books coming infrequently, I decided to look for another epic fantasy series to augment The Stormlight Archive. Based on the reviews Coin and Dagger series might fill that void. It’s a more traditional sword-and-sorcery style fantasy than Stormlight, and might make for a good compplement to the upcoming release of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. (17 hours, 22 minutes)
- The Commodore (Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 17) by Patrick O’Brian (Audible/GoodReads) — This is easily the longest-running series I’ve read, and perhaps the most bittersweet. O’Brian died before finishing the series, and knowing that I’ve been savoring each book. (11 hours, 47 minutes)
- Empire of Light (Shoal, Book 3) by Gary Gibson (Audible/GoodReads) (14 hours, 8 minutes) — Humanity has made it to the stars, but only by hitching a ride with the fish-like Shoal aliens, who have a monopoloy on faster-than-light travel. The first book was filled with ancient mysteries, post-human monstrocities, and a touch of FTL battles. The second dealt with the theft of an FTL starship and the efforts to capture it. The third involves the consequences of a “nova war” between alien species who are detonating suns in “scorched space”-style galactic conflict.
- The Hand of Oberon (The Chronicles of Amber, Book 4) by Roger Zelazny (Audible/GoodReads) My re-read of the reality-tripping fantasy series continues as Corwin, one of the Nine Princes of Amber, starts to undertand the true nature of reality … and of his father, Oberon). (5 hrs and 20 mins)
- Hellboy in Hell by Mike Mignola (Amazon/GoodReads) — Hellboy is dead, but that doen’t mean his story has to end. This new graphic novel, being released on June 3, 2014, is written and drawn Mike Mignola from makes it a Big Freaking Deal for Hellboy fans.
- B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth Volume 1: New World by Mike Mignola & John Arcudi
(Amazon/GoodReads) — B.P.R.D. has dealt with the frog menace, but there’s more than one way to destroy a planet. This is the first volume of the new series.
- B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth Volume 2: Gods and Monsters by Mike Mignola & John Arcudi
(Amazon/GoodReads) — See above.
- Abe Sapien Volume 1: The Drowning by Mike Mignola (Amazon/GoodReads) — The fishman gets his own series. I’ve heard great things about it, and I’m looking forward to an Abe-centric book.
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Cover art from Hellboy in Hell by Mike Mignola. Credit: Dark Horse.