Doin’ The Genre Boogie

Saturdays are good days to canvas the crowd, right? Right.

It’s also good for a day where I have to rearrange all the physical objects in my life. Seriously. If it is a physical object that I happen to own, then it is an object that must find a new place.

This is madness, but it isn’t Sparta. It’s just Pennsylvania.


Now that I’m in a new place and we have no intention of moving anywhere any time soon, I can start buying books again. (Don’t tell my wife.) Further awesome: the “sitting room” downstairs will officially be a “reading room.” So, books! I am no longer bound to reading in bed, where sleep pulls at me after ten pages.

I’m once again taking recommendations.

This time, run the genre gauntlet with me.

Make one recommendation per genre:





I’m looking not necessarily for works that are seminal to the genre, but rather seminal to your understanding of and pleasure with the genre.


Don’t feel like you need to actually answer all four. If you have a sweet answer for one of ’em but not the others? I’m still accepting recommendations.

My quick recs?

Fantasy: The Farseer trilogy (starting with Assassin’s Apprentice) by Robin Hobb.

Science-Fiction: This one’s tough — I don’t read a lot of sci-fi. But for me, I gotta go Hitchhiker’s Guide.

Crime: I know it’s going to be a Joe Lansdale novel, but which one? Tempted to just go Mucho Mojo and be done with it.

Horror: You know my answer: Swan Song, Robert McCammon.

Join in, won’t you?


  • Ack. Only one book per genre? That makes it tough. I’ll stick to the AWESOME books I discovered in 2010 uptil now then.

    Fantasy: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Kingkiller Chronicles #1)
    Science Fiction: I think I’ll go with The Vector by MCM

    Don’t really read Horror or Crime, so I’m going to skip those

  • Fantasy: Perfect Circle by Sean Stewart.

    SF: The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi.

    Crime: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie.

    Horror: American Gods by Neil Gaiman won a Bram Stoker award, though I’d have called it fantasy m’self. Other than that, I’ve got nothing.

    But I can recommend *much more extensively* than this. I highly recommend reading Hugo and WFA winners and nominees from years past to find great stuff.

  • You’ve probably read all these…but they’re sine qua non to me.

    Fantasy: The Princess Bride.

    Science-Fiction: Snow Crash.

    Crime: Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

    Horror: Stephen King’s Night Shift

  • Oh man, only one? Alright..well let’s see.

    Fantasy: The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
    It’s the first part of a series, and I liked how he didn’t go off for hours explaining his world. He just kinda presented it as the story went along, and focused on the characters/world instead.

    Science Fiction: The Cassandra Kresnov series by Joel Shepherd (Crossover, Killswitch, & Breakaway) Nice action, decent politics, and the old trope of “what makes someone a person and not just a machine/object?”

    I sadly don’t read Crime or Horror, should try to get into them. And look! Suggestions are right here!

  • Fantasy: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville ( although it sits in the junction of fantasy horror and sic-fi).

    Science Fiction: Shadowline by Glenn Cook (nominally the first of a trilogy, but really a stand-alone prequel).

    Crime: Black Dahlia by James Ellroy (any of his L.A. Series, really)

    Horror: World War Z by Max Brooks

  • Fantasy: American Gods. Hands down, mother fucking American Gods.

    Science Fiction: Go to where they keep the Neal Stephenson books and pic one. If you’re feeling saucy and haven’t read it yet, go for Cryptonomicon.

    Horror: Going to second World War Z.

    YA: (’cause it’s what I do) The Enemy by Charlie Higson. Why? Well because zombies kick ass. More than that, it’s proof that the YA market isn’t just about teen angst and romance. Books for “kids” can be violent, brutal, and poignant. It has a few shortcomings (mostly pop culture references that are going to date it), but it is a shining new release that more people need to read. Besides, the pages are constructed to feel and sound like they’re charred, like you’re reading a book that somehow survived the end of the world. It’s a total experience.

  • Fantasy: Easy. Storm Front, Jim Butcher. If the first book of the Dresden Files series doesn’t hook you, you have no soul and need to be taken out back and shot like Old Yeller.

    Sci Fi: Difficult. In the end, though, I think I’m going to have to go with Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) and Timeline (MIchael Crichton). A lot of people didn’t like Timeline, and that’s fine. It’s not his best work by far. Still, I really enjoyed it more than some of his other books.

    Crime: Easy. Gone, Baby, Gone, Dennis Lehane. Just got done reading it not long ago, and it’s a great book. It doesn’t resolve all neat and tidy with rainbows and puppies. It shines a light on the dark side of human nature and keeps shining til the last page.

    Horror: Easy. Pet Sematary freaked me the FUCK out when I was a kid. Nowadays, when I think of what scares the shit out of me, this book comes near the top of the list.

    Comedy: The Devil Wears Prada is absolutely nothing like the movie, and is a fantastically light read. It had me laughing in unexpected places. I didn’t expect much out of the book, and I didn’t get much. It’s a fun read for when you don’t want weight on your mind.

  • Fantasy: Elminster: Making of a Mage by Ed Greenwood. Not a huge fantasy fan, but I love the Elminster books.

    Sci-Fi: 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. The book is so much more interesting than the book because the book doesn’t plod along. Sure, there are still long periods where there isn’t any dialog, but Clarke still gives you information about what’s going on.

    Crime: I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane (or any of the Mike Hammer novels). I got into the character of MIke Hammer watching reruns of the show starring Stacy Keach on A&E. I think that’s probably where I got my start with the hard-boiled stuff. Not the greatest books in the world, but Mike Hammer is still my favorite hard-boiled detective.

    Horror: I’m going to second The Enemy by Charlie Higson. I’m not really a fan of YA, but this book kicks serious ass. It is easily one of the most brutal post-apocalyptic books I have read.

  • For fantasy, I have to recommend Acacia. Great world-building. For sci-fi, if you saw Johnny Mnemonic but did not read it, rectify that. And get yourself Hard Rain, first in Eisler’s John Rain series. Not just because I’m making a licensed rpg of it. Other way round: Found out it was awesome and then snagged the license. As one reviewer put it: Bond as done by Tarantiino.

  • Fantasy: The Darkness That Comes Before: My current favorite fantasy trilogy. Written by a friend of a friend who put his doctorate in philosophy on hold to write these books. Very strong writing, interesting characters (although he is criticized for not handling female characters well), and astonishing world-building, which is where this series shines. It’s an epic fantasy retelling of one of the Crusades, so there’s a hint of historical fiction if you squint. It’s gritty epic fantasy, not romantic or pastoral, like Lord of the Rings.

    Sci-fi: Revelation Space: Lots of folks hold up Iain Banks as the modern standard-bearer of hard sci-fi, but my money’s on Alastair Reynolds. Reynolds has a bit of a problem with ending his novels, but the ideas are solid, the writing is crisp, and he drapes the science over you like a warm blanket.

    Crime: Strega: The first in the Burke series written by Andrew Vachss. It seems like every time you turn around, someone is declaring that this or that author is the hardest boiled around. Vachss is like a twenty-minute egg.

    Horror: I don’t really read much in this genre. I really did enjoy World War Z, so I’ll just slot that in here. Although, come to think of it, I could recommend another book by R. Scott Bakker (the man who wrote my recommended fantasy trilogy). He wrote a book called “Neuropath”, which is a serial killer novel with (surprise) a deep philosophical underpinning. It’s a bit gratuitous in places, but the horror is deeply personal and existential. It will crawl into your brain and unsettle you.

  • Fantasy: I’ve always has a special place inside for the riftwar saga by Feist, especially the first two novels.

    Sci-fi: Nightfall by Asimov. Great story and pretty unique.

    Crime: I’m going to second The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Fantastic novel.

    Horror: I’m not a big horror reader but I really enjoyed The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by King.

  • Fantasy: Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay. It’s a rich, sumptuous drama with subtle magic and very well-done characters.

    Sci-Fi: Gotta go with Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. Great dialogue, an interesting murder mystery on the moon and the theory that the world is myth.

    Crime: Honestly, anything by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As much as he himself hated the character, Sherlock Holmes is a great one, and his dynamic with Watson pretty much defined the bromance. Silver Blaze is an unusual but very good story, The Hound of the Baskervilles has some horror elements and The Crooked Man gives us the timeless (if oft-misquoted) utterance of Holmes: “Elementary.”

    Horror: Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos includes some seminal works of horror, by H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King and others. Pretty much anything with the betentacled Great Old One would make for a chilling read, although I hear the Cthulhu Unbound anthologies mix things up with genre shifts like comedy and space opera.

  • going all small press here.

    crime – just out and marvellous, Needle Issue 2.

    horror – Black Static

    fantasy – Dark Valentine

    science fiction – Interzone

    tasty things happen in these lurking giants

    • Nice. Nice nice nice. Read some of these, but for the most part, this is all good, new stuff. Thank you, goodly folks.

      Hopefully you’re getting some mileage out of these rec’s, too.

      — c.

  • I also recommend URBAN SHAMAN, which is book 1 of a currently 5 and soon to be 6 book series. As you might guess, it’s urban fantasy.

    And Tad Williams’ OTHERWORLD series is a strange mix between sci-fi and fantasy, and is absolutely amazing, if incredibly lengthy.

    Lisanne Norman’s SHOLAN ALLIANCE series is likewise a weird mix of fantasy and sci-fi. I haven’t read them in years, not since the … 6th? book, but I’d recommend them nevertheless.

  • Fantasy- Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. This book opened the door to both of these writers, who now occupy a large amount of space on my bookselves.

    Science Fiction- Warchild by Karen Lowachee. She has strong characters and uses changes in POV to good effect.

    Horror- John Dies at the End by David Wong. Humor balances out the weirdness and the gore.

  • Fantasy – Gene Wolf’s New Urth Series. I stumbled across it over summer break back in the late ninetys and I fell in love. Epically lush and textured, it was a narcotic of words.

    Sci-fi; I’ve always had a soft spot for William Gibson work, especially his early short stories. You can find them collected in “Burning Chrome” But go with Alfred Bester”s “The Demolished Man” or “The Stars my Destination”

    Horror – I’d have to go with “House of Leaves” by Mark Danielski.

    Crime – Mario Puzo’s “the Sicilian.” Only crime author I can say I’ve read. And I enjoyed it more than the Godfather.

    Graphic Novels – I know you didn’t include this as a category, but I thought you might enjoy two recommendations, both probably “duh” recommendations. Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” doesn’t needto be explained. But Warren Ellis’s “Transmetropolitan” serves up the blackest humor, the kitchen sink of visuals (care of Darrick Robertson), and the most fantastic of futuristic visions.

  • Sci-fi: Electric Forest by Tanith Lee (It’s like Phillip K Dick but written by a woman and set in the future!)
    Fantasy: The City and the Stars by Arthur Clarke (Sufficiently advanced technology…)
    Horror: The Golem by Joseph Meyrink (It’s Kafkaesque!)
    Crime: Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon (He’s not just hard-boiled but also heavily medicated.)

  • Fantasy: Someplace to be Flying, by Charles De Lint

    Science-Fiction: Agent to the Stars, John Scalzi

    Crime: I’ll second the Black Dahlia recommendation. Book is amazing, movie not so much.

    Horror: House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski. I assume you’ve already read it, but on the miniscule chance you haven’t. DOOOOO EEEEET

  • Fantasy: The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch

    Science Fiction: Dust, Elizabeth Bear

    Crime: The Blue Place, Nicola Griffith

    Horror: Fevre Dream, GRRMartin

  • > Crime: Strega: The first in the Burke series written by Andrew Vachss.

    Minor FYI nit: FLOOD was the first in the Burke series, which is a great series.

    Fantasy: The Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling)

    Science Fiction: ENDER’S GAME (Orson Scott Card)

    Crime/Thriller: THE KILL CLAUSE (Gregg Hurwitz) (The first of the Tim Rackley novels)

    Horror: SWAN SONG (Robert McCammon)

  • Crime – Everything by Lynn Kostoff (A Choice of Nightmares was reissued this year and Late Rain is his new one. Pike by Benjamin Whitmer is one of the best noirs we have seen in YEARS. Snitch Jacket by Christopher Goffard, The Open Curtain by Brian Evenson and Blackburn by Bradley Denton.

    Horror – Come Closer by Sara Gran. Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge.

    SF – Bad Monkey by Matt Ruff. Door Number Three by Patrick O’leary.

    F – The Gift by Patrick O’Leary. The People of Paper by Salvador Placencia. Veniss Underground and Finch by Jeff VanderMeer. White Apples by Jonathan Carroll.

  • Fantasy – I’m not an avid reader of fantasy novels, oddly, but I’m currently enjoying “Furies of Caldaeron” by Jim Butcher. You probably would too, if you haven’t already!

    Science-Fiction – “The Stars, My Destination” by Alfred Bester. Amazing.

    I don’t read a lot of crime and horror either, so I’m afraid I’m not much help there. But that’s two! And The Stars is just phenomenal.

  • Hmmm…

    SF: ALTERED CARBON by Richard K Morgan (when hard sci-fi and cyberpunk mix in a noir detective story. The second book in the “series” is tolerable, but avoid the third.)

    Fantasy: Other than the SONGS OF FIRE AND ICE series by George R. R. Martin (I avoid the genre unless a trusted source makes the suggestion. Too much derivative drivel out there.)

    Crime/Horror: SANDMAN SLIM by Richard Kadrey (How about a hybrid? A modern noir, with elements of Heaven and Hell, punk-rock sensibilities, Hollywood weirdness and a talking severed head.)

  • Fantasy: A Cavern of Black Ice by J.V. Jones – start of a short series.

    Sci-fi: Sideshow by Mike Resnick – and the rest of the rest of the series.

    Horror: Necroscope by Brian Lumley – and the rest of the series.

    Crime: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (movie is good too).

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