Building Nuketown’s 2018 Summer Reading List

After a winter spent recovering from a broken ankle, and a spring dominated by recovering from said broken ankle, summer is looking very appealing. So is my summer reading list, which I’ve been slowly compiling throughout the long, cold winter (and second winter, which is what we started calling spring in Pennsylvania).

Nothing’s set in stone except for the obligatory The Lost Fleet universe book by Jack Campbell and The Expanse novel by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (the writing team that makes up the pen name James S.A. Corey).

Long time readers know two subgenres of science fiction dominate my summer reading lists: space opera and military SF. The occasional epic fantasy or horror novel makes it on to the list (especially if the horror novel is a creature feature), but for the most part it’s science fiction. That said, I’m always willing to consider other genres of books so if you have a great book you think I should read, let me know. It may not make the summer list, but it may be something I return to in the fall.

Post a comment with your suggestions or email them to

Sizing up the List

Last summer I had 17 novels, 1 novella, and 8 graphic novels on my reading list. I read everything save for the novella (Strange Dogs by James S.A. Corey), which I finished in the fall. It was my biggest list in years and I have to admit thatwhile I had fun reading the books, it was a bit of a trudge near the end. Some of that was because the penultimate book on my list was Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312. Although a great, meaty book depicting a believable (if depressing) future, it was definitely not a quick read. Another part of it was summer vacation — my family and I spent 9 days last year vacationing in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park. It was a fantastic experience and I got to hang out with my immediate and extended family, but it left little time for reading.

Part of me wants to push farther and get to 18 books, but that’s just not realistic goal. Scaling back to 14-15 books is. That puts me on a pace to read 4-5 books a month, which is doable, but gives me room to add a few books if I’m so inclined.

Below is a list of the books I’m considering. I’ll edit them down to the final list in time for Memorial Day Weekend.

New Books By Unknown Authors

Altered Starscape (Andromedan Dark, Book 1) by Ian Douglas (Amazon) – A far future space opera featuring a science vessel displaced four billion years into our future.

Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns (Amazon) – Space pirates. ‘Nuff said.

Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh (Amazon) – A novel of first contact involving humans stranded on an alien planet and the hostile indigenous intelligence they find there.

Returning Series

Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch, Book 2) by Ann Leckie (Amazon) – I listened to Ancillary Justice, the first book in this series, and I found it a difficult “read” because the narrator read the whole thing like a less articulate Siri. That said, the book itself was good and I’m thinking of reading the print version of the book this summer.

Ascendant (Genesis Fleet, Book 2) by Jack Campbell (Amazon) – The latest in a long line of books related to Campbell’s Lost Fleet series. The Genesis Fleet series takes us back to the founding of the interstellar alliance featured in the Lost Fleet. It releases May 15, 2018, just in time for the reading list.

Cold Welcome (Vatta’s Peace, Book 1) by Elizabeth Moon (Amazon) – The follow up series to Moon’s Vatta’s War, a space opera in which a ragtag commercial fleet take on an armada of space pirates. Vatta’s Peacepicks up after the original series, with Vatta serving as the admiral of the new space defense force.

Dark Deeds (Keiko, Book 3) by Mike Brooks (Amazon) – Brook’s Firefly-esque Keiko series is a good, fast space opera read involving the crew of the Keiko, a smuggling ship that often finds itself in over its head. The second book in the series was basically a novel-length prison break story; I look forward to the crew venturing back out into the galaxy for the next adventure.

Distant Thunders (Destroyermen, Book 4) by Taylor Anderson (Amazon) – Another series that scratches my nautical fiction itch, this one involving the crew of a World War II destroyer trapped in an alternative universe populated by lemur-like intelligent beings and their ancient enemies, the brutal dinosaur descendents known as the Grik.

Elysium Fire (Revelation Space) by Alistair Reynolds (Amazon): Reynold’s Revelation Space books are some of my favorite hard science fiction novels. He returns to that universe — specifically the pre-collapse version of the planet Yellowstone — in Elysium Fire.

Persepolis Rising (The Expanse, Book 7) by James S.A. Corey (Amazon) – The space opera continues to unfold. After Book 6’s battle for control of the solar system, I’m assuming Book 7 deals the fledgling human powers beyond the interstellar gates

The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, Book 2) by Brian Staveley (Amazon) – I started reading this epic fantasy series about a trio of royal siblings struggling with ruling an empire after their father, the emperor, is murdered. I enjoyed it enough to pick up Book 2.

Thrawn: Alliances (Star Wars) by Timothy Zahn (Amazon) – Zahn re-introduced us to everyone’s favorite blue-skinned Imperial admiral in last year’s Thrawn. This year he continues the story with Alliances.Thrawn was a good beach book — I read most of it in a single day at Seven Presidents Beach in New Jersey and I’m looking to repeat the experience this year.

The Way to Glory (RCN Series, Book 4) by David Drake (Amazon) – Last summer, after over a decade of slowly reading (and savoring) Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey–Maturin novels, I finally finished the 20th book in the series last summer. O’Brian passed away, so there will never be another novel (and I don’t plan on reading the unfinished 21st book). Drake’s RCN Series — a space opera inspired by O’Brian’s novels of life in the 18th and 19th century British navy — is a worthy successor.

Wrath of Betty (Willful Child, Book 2) by Steven Erikson (Amazon) – Willful Child is a quirky, satirical send-up of Star Trek. The first book was hit or miss but amusing; I’m willing to give the universe a second try.

Graphic Novels

As a fan of horror and creature features, my go-to graphic novels for summer reading by the campfire have been from the Hellboy universe. I’ve slowly worked my way through Hellboy’s initial run of graphic novels, culminating with Hellboy in Hell. With that done, I’m focusing on B.P.R.D. (the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, which expands the Hellboy universe).

I think I had a few too many graphic novels on the list last year. While it was great to make good progress in the larger B.P.R.D. storyline, realistically I can only read 5-6 graphic novels on vacation. As a result I’m looking to pull back on my graphic novels a bit, and perhaps leave a little wiggle room for adding non-Hellboy books later in the summer.

  • Abe Sapien Volume 4: The Shape of Things to Come (Amazon)
  • B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth Volume 14: The Exorcist (Amazon)
  • B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth Volume 15: Cometh the Hour (Amazon)

Previous Summer Reading Lists

  • 2017: 17 novels, 1 novella, 8 graphic novels
  • 2016: 16 novels, 1 novella, 8 graphic novels
  • 2015: 15 novels, 9 graphic novels
  • 2014: 13 novels, 5 graphic novels
  • 2013: 11 novels, 5 graphic novels
  • 2012: 11 novels, 1 graphic novels
  • 2011: 11 novels, 0 graphic novels
  • 2010: 7 novels, 0 graphic novels
  • 2009: 9 novels, 0 graphic novels
  • 2008: 8 novels, 8 graphic novels
  • 1993: 26 novels

Featured Image Meta

Cover art from Persepolis Rising (The Expanse, Book 7) by James S.A. Corey. Credit: Little, Brown Book Group.

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