Reading

Currently Reading Podcast: Sci-Fi & Fantasy Deep Dive

In episode 43 of The Currently Reading Podcast I had the privilege of leading a deep dive into Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. One of my goals was to help their listeners find new books for the Currently Reading 2019 Reading Challenge. I hope I convinced readers to pick up a novel they wouldn’t have previously considered reading because it is shelved in the Science-Fiction or Fantasy section.

If I had covered every book on my list then the episode would have been 4 hours long so I compiled them all here at Curiosity Lounge.

I’d love to hear in the comment section below which books I missed and if you have thoughts and opinions about the books listed here.

Science Fiction Set in Space

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Plot:

The Martian Chronicles tells the story of humanity’s repeated attempts to colonize Mars.

Why you should read it:

Ignore the weird cover. It’s a short classic first published in 1950. What makes this book fun is that it is told in short stories. Each of the stories are written in a different style, but they all contribute to one story. Some are in the style of Edgar Allen Poe and another one is a comedy.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Plot:

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. Andrew starts to realize things are amiss.

Why you should read it:

It’s a satire that pokes fun at cheesy sci-fi movies and novels. It’s more character based in crazy situations than science. This is definitely for Star Trek fans.

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Plot:

Humanity has colonized the solar system. Jim Holder comes across an old empty ship and tries to figure out why it is empty. Then there is Detective Miller who is looking for a girl.

Why you should read it:

This is a gumshoe detective story. It’s really a mystery set in space where everyone is trying to solve the case.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Plot:

Earth is in a war with an alien race called Buggers and a child named Ender may be the hero that saves humanity. It’s also about his older siblings, Peter and Valentine and their ingenious political exploits on earth.

Why you should read it:

This was my first real introduction to Science Fiction and the cool things that could be done in space. The Battle School story line is awesome. It’s fast paced and easy to follow the plot.

The Martian by Andy Weir

Plot:

This is about Mark Watney’s survival on Mars and how others react to his situation.

Why you should read it:

Get past the first 50 pages and then it’s much more readable and witty. Even if you don’t read the book, then watch the movie because it’s fantastic.

Science Fiction Set on Earth

Fall, or Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson

Plot:

Richard “Dodge” Forthrast is a multibillionare and dies. According to his will his brain is scanned by a cryonics company and is then later it is loaded into a Bitworld where humans continue to exist as digital souls.

Why you should read it:

I love Neal Stephenson. He is a genius. All his books blow me away with their originality. His thriller Reamde is my favorite. This one just came out on June 4, 2019. Stephenson novels are smart, because he explains how everything works in an interesting way.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Plot:

An unknown interviewer and scientist Rose Franklin attempt to decipher the alien origins and purpose of a giant robotic weapon.

Why you should read it:

Told in interviews and diary entries. Approachable Science Fiction, because it focused more on what happens to the characters rather than science or aliens. A lot of readers really like this one.

Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna, Sarah Vaughn

Plot:

ALEX + ADA, a sci-fi drama set in the near future. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot.

Why you should read it:

It’s out of the ordinary graphic novel that tells a hopeful android story. The art is really pretty and simple. It’s been years since I read it and just checked it out from the library to read it again.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Plot:

Rogue sentient robots called Replicants escaped space and need to be retired by bounty hunters.

Why you should read it:

If you like the Blade Runner movies, then read this one. It’s also good if you want to check it off your classic book list.


11/22/63 by Stephen King

Plot:

Jake Epping time travels to rescue a family and prevent the Kennedy assassination.

Why you should read it:

This is the only Stephen King novel I’ve read. It isn’t any more scary than a normal thriller. It’s a fascinating story that pulls you in with elegant prose and a gripping plot.

YA Science Fiction


Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Plot:

The setting is based around a caste system on Mars and space. Darrow, a weak and lower caste miner, infiltrates The Institute with the wealthy and the strongest.

Why you should read it:

At first it’s difficult to get into this book, but the story moves much faster after Part One. The writing and the characters improve with each book in the series. Book three, Morning Star, is one of my most favorite books ever. This series has one of my favorite set of characters.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

Plot:

Scott Westerfeld claims that this book is “An exuberant mix of space opera, romance, zombies, hackers, and political thrills.” It’s really about what happens to Kady and Ezra on a couple of ships during an intergalactic war between two mining companies.

Why you should read it:

This has to be read on paper, because it is formatted as a dossier of documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, and interviews. I think it would be fun to listen to the audio while reading along with the hardback. This book is a wild ride in space.

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

Plot:

The story follows 5 teenagers in a futuristic Manhattan one hundred years from now. The characters all live in a building that is 1000 floors tall.

Why you should read it:

It’s Gossip Girl in the future. There is mystery and intrigue. It’s an enjoyable book series with fun cast of characters. I’ve read the entire trilogy and the series did not disappoint.

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Plot:

Remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. The story follows flight student, Spensa, and a mystery about what happened to her dad. The future of the planet may change when she discovers an old plane.

Why you should read it:

Sanderson builds memorable worlds and likable characters. The author likes to introduce a large mystery at the beginning and then slowly drop clues along the way. It takes a while to get to the end, but you don’t mind because you are enjoying the ride. The second book, Starsight, comes out in November.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Plot:

Hank Green’s debut novel about what happens when some mysterious robots show up on earth.

Why you should read it:

It’s a popular YA book examining our obsession with fame and Hank Green’s opinion of humanity.

Low Fantasy

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Plot:

The novel is loosely based on the tale of Rumpelstiltskin. The story follows three girls in medieval Lithvas and their interactions with a magical race known as the Staryks.

Why you should read it:

It’s a fantastic story. The audiobook allows you to hear the voices and get to know the characters. I bought this as a Christmas present and they loved it too. Naomi Novik is a brilliant writer. I loved Uprooted as well.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Plot:

It is presented as an abridgment (or “the good parts version”) of a longer work by S. Morgenstern which is a classic tale of true love and high adventure.

Why you should read it:

If you like the movie, then read the book! If you haven’t seen the movie, then read the book!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Plot:

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Delilah Bard is a thief and robs from Kell and perilous magic afoot.

Why you should read it:

The parallel Londons are an interesting setting. Delilah is a strong and forceful character you won’t forget. Easy read for the summer.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Plot:

It’s a cyborg Cinderella story this isn’t cheesy.

Why you should read it:

This entire series is amazing. Even though there is a war and epidemicthe story is clean and lighthearted. I liked seeing how the book characters compared to their fairy tale counterparts.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Plot:

The story follows a bunch of depressed young adults at a magical college called Brakebills.

Why you should read it:

For people who like magic, but don’t like Harry Potter. The TV series is completely different.

Epic Fantasy

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Plot:

The book follow many characters in different royal houses in the fictional, cutthroat world of Westeros.

Why you should read it:

If you have seen the show, then read the books! There are currently 5 books published. Books 4 and 5 (A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons) are the same timeline, but follow different characters. There are lists out there that show you how to read them simultaneously. I don’t think Winds of Winter will ever be published.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Plot:

An epic and magical tale set in Roshar, a world of stone and storms. The story follows several fascinating characters who are dealing with their pasts and futures. They have to deal with a new world after the Desolation and a war on the shattered plains.

Why you should read it:

This is the opening act to The Stormlight Archive. Three are currently published in a planned 10 book series. Each book tends to focus on one main character. Kaladin and Shallan are kind, but broken people who are figuring out who they are. The world building is insanely amazing. You never know which detail you will need until the end as Sanderson ties all the mysteries together.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Plot:

The first book in the King Killer Chronicles. The story introduces an older, faded Kvothe telling the tales of youth over the course of three days.

Why you should read it:

Fun world building and interesting prose. There is a section that is like Hogwarts, but with music. There is so much music in this book. Only two books are published and many people are eagerly waiting for book three. At one point Lin Manuel Miranda was attached to write the music for adaptation. Patrick Rothfuss is fun to follow on Goodreads. I love reading his reviews of other books.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

Plot:

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed.

Why you should read it:

I haven’t read this story yet, but it has dragons during the regency era! It sounds so compelling. I need to move this one up on my TBR list. There are 9 books in this series.

The Final Empire, (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Plot:

An Ocean’s 11 heist set in an epic fantasy world.

Why you should read it:

A classic epic fantasy novel by Brandon Sanderson. It’s on most Must Read Fantasy lists. Vin is a great protagonist.

YA Fantasy

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Plot:

Scarlett and Donatella escape their abusive father and leave their island to go to a carnival, where Donatella is kidnapped.

Why you should read it:

Fluffy, plot-twisty, YA cotton candy. Sometimes you need a fun story. The less you know before opening this series the better. The finale book in the trilogy, Finale, just came out on May 7th.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Plot:

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc.

Why you should read it:

Patrick Rothfuss said, “It’s funny at times, sweet at times, pleasantly subversive without being heavy-handed or preachy.”

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

Plot:

This is This revisionist retelling of Lady Jane Grey’s brief reign during Tudor England. There is a war going on, but in this case it’s against shapeshifters.

Why you should read it:

It has a delightful and silly Monty Python vibe. It’s a candy book to read outside under a tree.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Plot:

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage.

Why you should read it:

This is a light book similar to Ella Enchanted where kingdom politics and intrigue will keep you entertained and at the edge of your seat.

Wings of Fire (The Dragonet Prophecy) by Tui T. Sutherland

Plot:

The seven dragon tribes have been at war for generations, locked in an endless battle over an ancient, lost treasure. A secret movement called the Talons of Peace is determined to bring an end to the fighting, with the help of a prophecy. The prophecy leads to five dragonets.

Why you should read it:

My daughter says, “This is a fantasy book series full of adventure, dragons, and friendship.” It’s her favorite series.

Have you read any of these books? Which books would be at the top of your Science Fiction and Fantasy book lists?

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