Tag Archives: authors

What Is Success?

Many writers and would-be writers aspire to be successful authors, with on-track careers, big publishing gigs, and the much-discussed “NYT Bestseller” attached to their names.  But when you come down to it,  how do you measure that?

The obvious one, the one that most people can wrap their heads around, is fame.  Most people can name famous authors in the genre of choice, reeling off names like George RR Martin, JRR Tolkien, Michael Crichton, and Tom Clancy.  These are people who have sold millions of books… they have movie (or TV) franchises.  They’re famous, that means success, right?

But then again, Phillip K. Dick has a ton of movies based upon his books and short stories (even several remakes).  His life, if you look him up, isn’t what most would consider “successful.”

As for the vaunted NYT Bestseller, there’s been multiple times that people have scammed it, with the latest example being just last year (link).  When you dig into what it involves, too, you see that the stamp represents sales in a very specific, very small part of the US.

Amazon bestsellers, you say?  Amazon’s algorithms have been fooled before (link).  I’ve earned the status the hard way, selling actual books in the genre they’re meant for, but there’s plenty who haven’t and lots of them are eager to sell new authors books, lectures, and videos on how to be a bestseller.

So these two metrics, fame/notoriety and the Bestselling category may not be the best method of determining success.  What is?  Total sales?  Depending on your genre, a few dozen sales a day may be very good, whereas for some others, upwards of two hundred purchases a day is normal.  The advent of Kindle Unlimited has changed things a bit, too, where power-readers treat Amazon like their library.  Some authors see practically no sales at all in their genres but they see thousands (or tens of thousands) of page reads a day.

The answer there seems to be money.  In fact, American society often judges success by money.  That guy has a nice car, he must be successful.  That person has a big house, they must be successful.  But I have to ask, is money why you’re writing?  I mean, there’s lots of easier ways to go about making money.  You can avoid the crippling self-doubt and the long hours of forcing words out and go into something far more lucrative and more likely to actually make you rich.  Larry Correia’s has a fantastic post on the different levels of authors based upon their “success.”  His is focused mostly on money and fame, too, which I can’t fault.  But the number of authors who make enough from writing to support their families, much less buy a McMansion is relatively low.

I know a lot of authors.  By a lot, I mean I personally know a couple hundred and I’ve met and interacted with thousands.  I’ve seen quite a few who get into indie publishing very excited and enthusiastic about this one book they wrote… and one year later, I don’t see them at conventions anymore or when I do, they’re sitting in the crowd, not up on a panel (which is fine, mind you, I sit in the crowd, sometimes, because I like listening in on what some people have to say).   But a lot of people massively underestimate the sheer work involved in self-publishing.  They underestimate the grind of getting out the next book, and the next.  And they fall behind.

There’s a saying that when it comes to jumping out of perfectly good planes, the second jump is the hardest.  The first time, you have no idea what’s going to happen, no frame of reference.  The second time, standing in the doorway, you know exactly what it’s like, the rush and exhilaration… but also the understanding of what you’re doing and the lizard brain kicks in.  Lots of people freeze in the doorway, unable to move.

The same thing happens to aspiring authors.  They may have hit publish that first time, or even the second and third, in a rush of “this one will be great!”  Writing that first book is hard.  Writing the second or third one is just as hard, but a lot of aspiring authors have gone that distance.  Writing that fourth book after the first one or two didn’t land a movie deal or pay the mortgage… or sometimes it didn’t even buy the bottle of wine to drink while you hit refresh on your Amazon page while you wait for reviews/sales.  It’s hard.  It’s brutally hard to get back to writing when it feels like all your dreams have shriveled and everyone has rejected you.

How authors feel after a book launch sinks…

Success is the person who keeps on writing after that.  Success is the author who gets on the never-ending treadmill and churns out a novel regardless.  That person is a successful author, because that writer puts words on page, day in and day out.  It’s part of being a professional author.  There’s lots of “good” writers, some of them are best-sellers with tv-shows and movies, who can’t do that.  And sometimes, getting up the strength to put even a single word on the page is a herculean fight.

Success is never giving up.  If you’re still writing, if you haven’t stopped, you’re successful.  Now go out there and write your next book.

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World SF Convention, Hugos, and You

Last year I purchased a membership to the World SF Convention.  I ended up going to Dragon*Con instead, but I still voted for the Hugos.

For those who don’t know, the Hugos are the awards for the ‘best’ new stuff in Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Why is this important?  Well, it’s a combination popularity contest and kudos for authors.  While selling well is nice, it’s also good to know that your peers like your work.  Of late, however, the Hugos have often gone to people with messages, books that are more about causes and politics than about what we all got into SF&F in the first place: being entertained.

Larry Correia writes quite a bit on the subject, and if you haven’t read his take on it all, you should.  It’s highly entertaining, if nothing else.  I personally beleive that ‘best’ in Science Fiction and Fantasy should mean “well written” and “entertaining” and maybe even “fun.”   I don’t think I’m alone in that regard.  As a disclaimer, I am eligible for two catagories, so I’m pitching my hat in the ring.

Luckily, because I bought membership last year, I get to vote this year as well.  Seeing as I hope to attend next year, I’ll be voting next year too.

Without further ado, here’s my nominations, they’re all books I’ve enjoyed (well, I enjoyed writing mine, ok?)

Best Novel:

A Few Good Men, Sarah Hoyt, Baen

Grand Central Arena, Ryk Spoor, Baen

Warbound, the Grimnoir Chronicles, Larry Correia, Baen

Best Novella:

Renegades: Deserter’s Redemption, Kal Spriggs, Sutek Press

Best Short Story:

Skyspark, Ryk Spoor, Baen

Best Editor:

Toni Weisskoph

Best Graphic Novel:

Schlock Mercenary, Howard Taylor

Campbell Award (For a new author)

Kal Spriggs

Frank Chadwick

 

Why does this matter to you?  Well, you might be like me and have a membership lying around from last year.  Might as well use it, right?  Vote for the books and authors you enjoyed and let’s make the Hugo awards into something we can enjoy again.

 

Oddball SF/F: Steampunk

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Seeing as I addressed cyberpunk, I figured I should turn a complete one hundred and eighty degrees and discuss Steampunk.

Steampunk is, at once, a narrow subgenre and also a broadly encompasing blended genre.   It has become massively popular in recent times due to its often fantastical elements and the broad spectrum of ideas and concepts that can be pulled in.  Steampunk is often used in alternate history, creating worlds of steam-powered airships and technology driven by steam, ingenuity, and lots and lots of gears.  Some steampunk now is focused on alternate history, while other authors create entirely new worlds.  Steampunk concepts such as airships, clockwork devices, and the like may sometimes appear in more traditional fantasy novels or series.

While the science behind a lot of the technology can be pure fancy, many steampunk stories have richly developed worlds.  Often the best steampunk is characterized by a thorough extrapolation of both culture, society, technology, and at least some grasp of history.  Steampunk characters tend to be larger than life, flamboyant, and yet gentlemen are gentlemen and ladies are ladies.  At the same time, many steampunk stories feature women who stand outside of societal norms and challenge the status quo.  The central core of steampunk, however, tends to be that it is complex, complicated, often larger than life, includes lots of ponderous and even dangerous machinery… and that it is fun.

Steampunk is often about adventure and exploration, and it is very much in tune with the founders of science fiction: Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle.  Those authors used elements of the fantastic as well as scientific principles of their day to write stories of exploration, intrigue, and discovery.  In a way, steampunk can be seen as a tipped hat to these earlier authors, for whom the world still contained vast and unknown secrets, where maps required people to walk the ground and survey, and when the next horizon still held undiscovered riches.

Guest Free Sample!

Everyone loves free stuff, right?  Author Leo Champion graces us with a sample from around the middle of his book Legion.  If you haven’t read it… it’s a hell of a book.  Check it out.

What the hell is this all about? Mullins thought, as Sergeant Alonzo led his group out of the passenger section of the terminal and into the truck-freight handling area. Past loading docks, swinging winches, a forklift. A couple of stevodores stood smoking on one loading dock.

A little bit later, they passed a crew busily moving grey plastic tote boxes from the back of a truck to a conveyor belt.

They weren’t going to help unload some freight shuttle. That was obvious.

This isn’t some shady black-market thing, is it?

It certainly seemed like it.

This seems shady as absolute hell. I don’t want to be sent to a Black Gang within a day of my first deployment!

Alonzo led them into an alley, where four covered five-ton trucks sat. They were grey, with dark-green covers over their cargo beds. ‘US Army’ was stenciled in black letters on each door, above a large five-pointed star. Army markings were on the covers, too.

“Alright, you boys,” Alonzo said. “By now you’ve figured – some of you have, anyhow – that what we’re doing is a little bit sketchy. Don’t worry – nobody’s going to wind up in a Black Gang because of this. If we get caught, the Army is going to whine and send us to Division HQ for discipline. Where a big noise will be made, and we’ll all get publicly chewed out, and then our officers will wink and tell us to look appropriately sad for a while. OK?”

“Sergeant,” said a man from Third Platoon called Johnson, “exactly what are we going to be doing?”

“Well, boys, I may as well give you the details. Officially, as far as you all are concerned, it’s a work detail. We’re going to be moving freight, just like I said to the LT.”

“And unofficially, sergeant?”

There were nods and murmurs from the rest of the group, including Mullins.

“Unofficially, we’re going to be moving freight between different branches of the US military. The Army just received a shipment of goodies. Techno-toys that they’re not going to put to use anyway. The Legion, as you may have heard, is under-funded and under-supplied. One way that we make up for this problem is by borrowing equipment from the other service branches.”

“So we’re going to be stealing Army stuff for the Legion,” said Andrews.

“‘Stealing’, Private, is such a prejudiced word. Yes.”

A more serious look came onto Alonzo’s face.

“I assure you men that not a penny’s worth of this stuff is going to wind up on the black market. I’m not, and none of you are, going to get anything personally out of this job. Army quartermasters sell shit to Buddy on the side, and don’t fucking get me started on the local CGs. Ninety percent of this stuff is going to Fourth Battalion’s S-4, and it might save some of your lives. The rest goes to Division G-4 in exchange for the loan of these trucks. Either way, it stays within the US military. It’s just going to the guys who’re going to get the most use out of it. Understood?”

There were nods and murmurs.

“Now, boys, in the back of the trucks you’ll find US Army PT uniforms. T-shirts and running pants. Change into them – we’re a loading party come to pick some of this stuff up.”

“Won’t they ask for paperwork or something?” asked a man from Fifth called Vai’id.

Alonzo produced what looked like a snub-nosed yellow pistol. A taser.

“This is our paperwork,” he said. “Any questions?”

“I have one,” said Andrews. “Sergeant, you picked a bunch of total fish for this. Why’d you pick us when there’s a division and a brigade HQ in this town?”

“Good one,” said Alonzo. “I took Fourth Battalion, Fourth Brigade men because this is a Fourth Battalion, Fourth Brigade operation. If I went to Division or First Brigade for bodies, they’d take most of the loot and only give One-Four-Four a piece of it. And not necessarily a big piece.”

“So why aren’t they doing it themselves?”

Alonzo smirked.

“This shipment just came in a few hours ago. Theydon’t know about it yet. By tomorrow, they’ll know. By tomorrow, we’ll be in Roanoke.”

“Surely the Army’s going to know we did it,” said another man.

“Sure they will,” said Alonzo. “Proving it’s another story. And getting it back is right out of the question. This happens all the damn time, and so far as I’m concerned it’s the Army’s fault for not guarding their shit properly.”

 

 

Mullins rode on the center seat of the lead truck’s cab. Alonzo, who wore a dress shirt with first lieutenant’s bars, rode shotgun. Andrews was driving.

This could get us into some serious trouble, he thought. It’s theft, by any other name.

No; Alonzo had justified it well. It was merely transferring property from one branch of the US military to another. And some of it might save their lives. Save his life.

And if we get caught…

He wasn’t sure he believed Alonzo on that. The Army would press hard for punishment and he might well wind up in a Black Gang.

Too damn late now. Besides, Alonzo’s a senior sergeant. He knows what he’s doing.

The trucks made their way around the edge of the shuttleport, bumping a few times as they crossed railroad tracks. Two or three times they heard sonic booms as freight shuttles blasted off, ascending at acceleration-rates that would have killed any passengers.

“Stop! Who goes there!” came a shout, as they entered the floodlit zone around the secure storage area.

Alonzo leaned out the window. Gesturing for Andrews to keep going forwards.

“What do we damn well look like, rebellious sepoys?” he snapped.

Mullins could see two soldiers standing in front of a double gate. They held rifles – heavy, multi-magazine weapons that he recognized as M-31s – but they were pointed at the ground.

“Gotta be sure,” said one of the soldiers. There was some kind of enlisted rank insignia on his arm, but in the shadow Mullins couldn’t tell what it was. “Here for a pickup?”

“Yeah,” said Alonzo. He opened his door and got out. When the soldiers noticed the silver bars on each arm, they saluted.

“You got the paperwork, sir?”

“Yeah,” said Alonzo. “You wanna open that gate? My last truck is blocking a rail track.”

That was probably true – they’d bumped over one not long ago.

“Hey, LT,” the man shouted. “You wanna open the gate? We’ve got a pickup here.”

“First I’ve heard about it,” said a voice from the other side. “He got paperwork?”

Alonzo had a black clipboard under his arm. He showed it to the two enlisted men, who glanced at it and nodded.

“Yeah, they’ve got paperwork,” the man said.

“OK, gate’s unlocked. You two pull `em open.”

“We’re going to reverse our trucks in, Lieutenant,” called Alonzo. “There room for four in there?”

“Yeah, go ahead.”

The gates, which like the walls were topped with razor wire, began to open outwards. The two enlisted men, helped by another two from the inside, pressed them flat against the wall.

“Three-point the truck and reverse it in,” Alonzo called.

“Yessir,” replied Andrews.

So far, thought Mullins, it’s all going according to plan. But how does Alonzo know how many guys the Army has?

A horrible thought struck him: if things go wrong, they might think we’re secessionists in disguise. They’ll shoot first and ask questions later.

The fourth truck backed through the open gate of the secure area, clumsily reverse-parking next to the other three. From where Mullins sat, he could see a guardhouse just inside the gate, with a couple of Army types standing just outside.

Sentries sat in the corner towers and paced along ramparts inside the fence. Those guys seemed intent on their jobs – they were looking, pretty attentively, at the floodlit area outside the holding area’s walls. What took place inside the area wasn’t their concern.

Unless someone raises the alarm. Then we’re fish in a barrel.

Alonzo didn’t seem worried.

“So you say you have paperwork, sir?” asked one of the men outside the guardhouse. There were gold bars on his shoulders; second lieutenant.

 “Yes, Lieutenant,” said Alonzo. Holding his clipboard, he went over to the lieutenant. The second man outside the guardhouse moved a respectable five or six feet back, holding his M-31 cautiously.

Oh, shit. They suspect something’s up. Whatever’s on Alonzo’s clipboard is bullshit.

Alonzo handed the clipboard to the lieutenant, who moved into the guardhouse to get a better look at it. From his vantage point in the truck’s cab, Mullins saw the Legion sergeant draw his taser from a hip pocket.

Saw him go over to the other man, who didn’t quite raise his rifle. Clearly he was wondering what this strange first lieutenant wanted, though.

He didn’t have time to say anything. Just as the lieutenant in the guardhouse threw the clipboard down and walked outside, Alonzo brought his taser up and in a single move lunged forwards, pressing it to the enlisted soldier’s chest. There was a blue flash and the man collapsed, quivering.

“What the–” the lieutenant began. One hand reached for his pistol.

Faster than Mullins could have imagined, Alonzo whirled and tased the lieutenant. The man collapsed in a quivering heap.

Alonzo gestured at the truck cabs – ‘come here.’

Mullins and the others climbed out and ran.

“Zag `em so they don’t wake?” one man whispered to Alonzo, finger twitching towards his sheathed combat knife.

Hell no,” whispered Alonzo. “Drag `em into the guardhouse, tie their hands, gag them. I’ll be back in a moment to check. You” – he pointed a finger randomly at Johnson. “Stay in the guardhouse and answer the phone if anyone calls. Your name is” – he looked at the nametag on the lieutenant’s shirt – “Gorman. Second Lieutenant Gorman. Answer the phone that way. If they give you a sign and ask for a counter… hell, look in the guardhouse, he might’ve written `em down somewhere. If you can’t get them, don’t guess. Say something about a bad connection, put the phone down, and get me immediately because we’re bugging the fuck out. There’s a CG barracks right next door, but the Army won’t trust those fuckers… they’ll send their own response and we’ll have five to ten minutes before it shows. Clear on that, soldier?”

“Yessir,” said Andrews.

“Good. You others, let’s grab.”

 

 

“Imperil guideds,” Alonzo hissed, gesturing at a stack of crates. “Get those. All of those. You four, start loading `em.”

There were crates everywhere – hundreds of them, stacked under eight-foot-high shelters that consisted of little more than sheets of corrugated iron held up by steel poles. Alonzo paced past more stacks of crates, glancing at the serial numbers until he found something else he liked.

“HD batteries. Sweet. All of these. You guys.”

“What about these?” asked Kiesche, gesturing at some crates next to the goggles.

Alonzo took one glance at the stencilled label on top.

“Replacement actuators for the heavy-infantry suits. What the hell use do we have for those?”

Kiesche shrugged.

“No damn idea,” he said.

“Get loading those ones,” Alonzo said, pointing at a stack he’d passed earlier. “WP grenades. Never enough of those. You four.”

Mullins was one of those last. He picked up a crate from the stack of about twenty, carried it – it was heavy, but not impossibly so – over to the back of the nearest truck. Andrews was waiting there to take it.

“Those,” Alonzo said, when the crates of WP grenades were all taken. “Each of those has half a dozen sniper scopes – really, really good ones. Be careful handling `em.”

“Yessir.”

Over the next half-hour or so, Mullins loaded crates that apparently contained radios, guided rockets, computers, flares and flareguns, sniper-rifle ammo – those ones required two men each to carry – and optics.

Then Johnson came running out of the guard shack.

“Boss! Sarge!” he hissed frantically.

Alonzo whirled.

“Boss, they asked us for a countersign. Gave `em the one I thought it was – it was written down – and he was silent for a moment. Then he asks me what Saturday’s was. I gave him the bad-connection spiel.”

Shit,” hissed Alonzo. He checked his watch.

“Of course, it’s oh-two-hundred on the dot. Should have figured they’d check on the hour. Let’s go!”

Oh, shit, thought Mullins, running for the cab of the nearest truck. Dashratha was already in the driver’s seat, starting the engine.

One of the soldiers pacing the wall, evidently noticing the frantic running, turned around and looked down.

“Everything alright, sir?” he called.

“Yeah, we’re fine,” Alonzo shouted back. Gesturing to two men who hadn’t yet boarded trucks.

“Open the gate, you two.”

It seemed to take forever for them to push the gate open wide enough to get a truck through. The moment it did, Dashratha hit the gas – simultaneously with two of the other three trucks.

“Fucking go,” Mullins snarled, gesturing at the one on the right. It had almost collided with his.

That truck moved forward, Alonzo climbing in as it headed out the gates. Then another truck, and then the driver of the last one gestured for Dashratha to go ahead.

Heart pounding, Mullins watched the huge Rajput drive his truck forwards. Followed by the last one.

“Lieutenant Gorman?” one of the guards outside the gate asked. Going in.

“Oh, shit!” he exclaimed a moment later.

From somewhere came the sound of high-powered engines. Alarms started to wail.

Alonzo leaned out the window of his lead truck as it started to power across the landing grounds.

“Hey, Army motherfuckers!” he shouted. “Semper fucking fi, assholes!”

***

You can find Legion here at Amazon.

Finding Time to Write

Quick disclaimer: this is a post about what works for me, a bit about my methodology of writing.  This stuff works for me and your mileage may vary and all of that.

 

So, working full time, self publishing, editing, and managing my private life all compete with my time for writing.  To top it off, I have a number of hobbies such as playing role-playing games, tabletop strategy games, skiing, hiking and lots of other outdoors stuff.   Oh, and now with the self publishing gig, I’ve got to do self promotion (which is another can of worms).  So how do I find time to write, and when I do find that time, how do I maximize my time?

A big key to that is establishing a rhythm or pattern.  Arrange some section of time every day where I always write.  A pattern or structure like that means that my brain settles into the process much more readily, essentially, I’m training myself to write.  Key to this, I can’t give into the “I’m not really in the mood” excuses.  Sometimes this means I’m writing stuff that I know is total crap, as I beat my head against the wall and try to get everything to click.  Sometimes, I never break through that wall and I just churn out crap that I dump into the bytes bucket.Sometimes, when I break through that wall, I find that I’m doing some of my best writing.

I do most of my writing late at night, when I’m really writing.  Three to four hours is essential, and when I can afford the lack of sleep, I’ll go five or six hours sometimes.  What do I get in that time?  Typically I write around 3000-5000 words in around four hours.  On a good night, when the stars are in alignment and things are really flowing… I can do 8000-10000 words.

Part of the essentials for writing like that lie in maximizing my use of time.  To get myself in the mood I’ll eliminate distractions: no Facebook, no emails, no Google Plus, and most importantly, no internet research.  Those things will go from, “let me just check” and quickly turn into “Where did my time go???”  Next up, I try to find either a quiet spot in the house (not always easy with multiple roommates, cats, dogs, and a fiance), or I just plug in the earbuds and crank the music.  Music is one of those things that work excellently for me.  The right songs, paused when I stopped writing, put me right back where I was when I left off.   The right music can act as a soundtrack to my writing and lets me focus on what’s important.

A comfortable position is also important.  I’ll spend three to four hours a night in the same spot.  At the end of it, if I’m hunched over a keyboard for that time, I’ll have to take breaks or I’ll end up with back issues.  A comfortable chair, brain food, and some drinks (Caffeine!!!) all are part of this.  All of this is to help focus though, and nothing should be enough to be a distraction.  I don’t want to do my writing lying down in bed, if I’m too comfortable I’ll be fighting sleep.  If I have a pile of snacks, or I’m eating a full meal, I won’t be focused on writing.

And what is brain food?  Brain food is stuff that stimulates your brain.  Chocolate, Mints, and stuff that stimulates my taste buds but doesn’t overpower them.  Eating healthy before hand (IE, eating a full meal that’s got everything I need to function) is a good thing too.

So, all in all, I do put a lot of thought into preparing for writing.   I have written out in the field, in flight (no fold down trays on a C-17), and various other places.  Even so, I get the most done when I properly prepare myself.

Books and Authors I Recommend

I’m an avid reader, and something that I’ll freely admit is that I’m always looking for a new author or three to try out.   I have rather eclectic tastes, but I thought I’d write a bit about what authors I’m currently reading and what authors I recommend.  I’ll break it down by genre, because otherwise this would just become a long list, and who wants that?  This is just a broad overview and by no means covers everything off my shelves. 

Fantasy:

The obvious here is Tolkien.  The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are well known.  Less well known are some of his shorter fiction.  Farmer Giles of Ham is an excellent short novel, and often overlooked.  I’d also recommend David Eddings with two of his series: The Belgariad and the Elenium.  Both series are long enough to provide plenty of entertainment.  Raymond Feist’s Midkemia series (starting with Magician) is another good read, though it can be difficult to discern what order to read some of the books.  Ryk Spoor’s Phoenix Rising is a more recent entry, and one of the few recently published fantasy stories that I could really get into.  Excellent characterization, amazing setting, tough decisions and good fighting evil are all blended together into an excellent story.

Urban Fantasy:

There’s a variety of urban fantasy, some of it very violent, some not so much.  Mercedes Lackey’s SERRAted Edge series combines race cars with elves and some more classic fantasy elements as well as renn faires and dragons.  It’s highly entertaining and mostly PG, so a good read for kids.  Larry Correia’s Grimnoir Chronicles and his Monster Hunter series are both brilliant.  Both series contain lots of humor, over the top action, and an excellent knowledge of firearms and combat techniques.  John Ringo’s Princess of Wands is another excellent urban fantasy, with the twist that it’s a church-going soccer mom who’s fighting demons and necromancers.  Wen Spencer writes an excellent series of elves and parallel dimensions with Tinker and the rest of her Elfhome series.

Science Fiction:

The general area of science fiction is hard for me to nail down.  I’m drawn to the classics, if I’m recommending to a new reader.  Robert Heinlein’s works: Citizen of the Galaxy, The Moon is A Harsh Mistress, Orphans of the Sky, and The Menace from Earth are all excellent.  Frank Herbert’s Dune is definitely worth a read, though so popular in media that most readers of SF have already read it.  Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series is a good read.    More recently, Eric Flint and Ryk Spoor’s Boundary is excellent science fiction.    Sarah Hoyt writes some very good science fiction with the Darkship Renegades, with a lot of excellent social and political commentary.

Military Science Fiction

This is my main area of interest at the moment, and unlikely to change any time soon.  Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, of course, takes pride of precedence.   David Weber has written a host of amazing science fiction books, especially his Honor Harrington series, but also his Imperium of Man series which starts with Mutineer’s Moon.  He’s also written several standalone books such as The Apocalypse Troll and Out of the Dark which are very good.  John Ringo is massively prolific, with a number of excellent series.  A Hymn Before Battle is an excellent near-future novel that starts a great series.   A bit of warning, the series currently ends in a cliff hanger with no final books to close it out in sight.  John Ringo’s team up with Travis Taylor in the Voyages of the Space Bubble series starts with Into the Looking Glass.  The series is excellent with lots of humor, great science, and tons of action.  Mike Shephard’s Kris Longknife series is another fun read, with a main character that has grown and developed over time.  David Drake has a number of excellent series, with Hammers Slammers being his most well known.  Another excellent new author is Leo Champion, whose Legion series has some serious combat and excellent overall story arc.

General Fiction

I’ll be honest, I don’t read a lot of general fiction, and most of what I do read tends to edge towards the ‘techie’ or military spectrum anyway.   Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October is excellent, as is Without Remorse, Executive Orders, and Patriot Games.  Also good is Larry Correia and Mike Kupari’s Dead Six and Swords of Exodus, both military genre, though with elements of what I consider fantasy.  Tom Kratman’s Countdown series is excellent in that regard as well, though rather grim at times.

Classics

I’ll be honest, I’m a sucker for some of the classics of literature.  Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island and Swiss Family Robinson are all excellent reads, especially for children.  Mark Twain has a host of good stuff.  Almost everything by Jules Verne is absolutely excellent.

Conclusion:

I’m certain I’m missing an author or two here or there, and I know I’ve left out some books by different authors.  Still, if you’re anything like me, I highly recommend these authors and series.  Next week I’ll try to cover each genre, what I like and what I don’t, what themes I’m seeing as a reader and what I want to work on as a writer.