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Old 04-30-2011, 11:00 AM   #1
Anke Wehner
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Looking for recommendations: fantasy or scifi that's not too dreary

Hey folks, I wondered if you could help me find something to read that's fun, but not too silly.

Favourite authors in that vein include Lois McMaster Bujold, Terry Pratchett, Steven Brust, and Lindsay Buroker

Digitally available books would be good, and indie preferred, but if you know anything that you think would be a good fit, please mention it.

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Old 04-30-2011, 11:16 AM   #2
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You might try Hal Spacejock by Simon Hayes. This was just the Book of the Month here on MobileRead. Check out his web site http://www.spacejock.com.au/Hal1Download.html
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Old 04-30-2011, 01:21 PM   #3
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Michael J. Sullivan's Riyria series is really light, fun fantasy, but it's not silly. I've only read the first 3 books (waiting on the final book before I go any further), but they were really enjoyable.
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:25 PM   #4
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Jim Butchers "Dresden" series is good.

Emma Bull "The war for the Oaks" (or "of the Oaks") is a favorite.

If you like Pratchett - try Jasper Fford. Start with "The Ayre Affair" - it will make you want to read classic literature to discover the back-story of some of the characters. (note - this is silly but good)

Try Jim Butcher series starting with "Sweet Silver Blues" - mix Token and Sam Spade but takes itself somewhat serious.

Try Connie Willis's book "To Say Nothing of the Dog" - then go to Project Guttenburg and read the Victorian "Three men and a boat" which plays a small part in the book.

Any Fantasy by "Lawrence Watt-Evans" - Writes books where magic exists - but follows rules and has limits which tends to create problems rather than solve them.

It's more eye-candy than anything but here is a site where you type in an author and it tries to show you other authors you might like. While it's not too informative, it does do a decent job:


http://www.literature-map.com/
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatDog View Post
Jim Butchers "Dresden" series is good.

Emma Bull "The war for the Oaks" (or "of the Oaks") is a favorite.

If you like Pratchett - try Jasper Fford. Start with "The Ayre Affair" - it will make you want to read classic literature to discover the back-story of some of the characters. (note - this is silly but good)

Try Jim Butcher series starting with "Sweet Silver Blues" - mix Token and Sam Spade but takes itself somewhat serious.

Try Connie Willis's book "To Say Nothing of the Dog" - then go to Project Guttenburg and read the Victorian "Three men and a boat" which plays a small part in the book.

Any Fantasy by "Lawrence Watt-Evans" - Writes books where magic exists - but follows rules and has limits which tends to create problems rather than solve them.

It's more eye-candy than anything but here is a site where you type in an author and it tries to show you other authors you might like. While it's not too informative, it does do a decent job:


http://www.literature-map.com/
Actually, I think you mean Glen Cook's "Sweet Silver Bells", but I agree that it's a very good series. Glen Cook has written a lot of stuff, most of which I like a lot. I hope that the early Black Company books will come out in ebooks soon.
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Old 05-01-2011, 02:43 AM   #6
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You might want to try Tinker by Wen Spencer. Baen.com has it as an ebook for $5.
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Old 05-01-2011, 05:29 AM   #7
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I suggest David Brin. For a light introduction try The Practice Effect. My favorites are Startide Rising and The Uplift War.
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Old 05-01-2011, 05:32 AM   #8
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Look at some of Poul Anderson's stuff. Holkas! Polkas! comes to mind as fun reading:

http://www.webscription.net/p-209-hokas-pokas.aspx

Also you might enjoy The Compleat Enchanter by L. Sprague de Camp as well as the modern day revival of the Harold Shea stories titled The Enchanter Completed. Sold over at Baen:

http://www.webscription.net/p-129-th...completed.aspx

Also the old Stainless Steel Rat stories are light hearted and fun but lean toward more of the ray guns and rocket ships SF.

And I would confirm the Hal Spacejock books are a very fun guilty pleasure sort of read. Simon Haynes, the author, visits the board here now and then for a fun time. But there are oodles of light and fun reads that are not the brooding apocalyptic style that is very popular today. I admit I like books with that underlying theme these days. But I am always drawn to fun reads as well.

You know, Ben Bova also comes to mind. He can be funny as heck!! Any of his novels is recommended:

http://www.webscription.net/s-10-ben-bova.aspx

Hour of the Gremlin & Laugh Lines are a nice duo. The Sam Gunn Omnibus is a very fun time but it too is a ray guns & rocket ships SF.

Piers Anthony is good as well. I recently read On a Pale Horse again. It's a but dated these days but is a nice silly read about someone who is sort of tricked into filling the recently vacated job of Death. Really it is a lot more light hearted than it sounds. He is a really funny writer. His Blue Adept novels are very enjoyable without a doubt and I highly recommend them.

I am not sure what B&N or Fictionwise have from him though. But if you use the desktop version of Kindle Reader and Calibre with "the plug-in" winkwink there are a number of his books over on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Piers-Anthony/...r_dp_pel_pop_1

The are not out in ebook form yet but the whole set of Callahan stories by Spider Robinson is one of the most entertaining reads for me in a long time. I began with The Callahan Chronicles followed by Callahan's Key, Callahan's Con then Lady Slings the Booze and a couple others. It's odd they are not in ebook form because Spider is a net sort of guy but I sense he has a predilection for printed matter over bit-streams. So, it's Audible audiobooks or printed copies. I can vouch for the Audible editions, well read and FUN to hear different voices.

I could go on but that's a nice grouping.
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Old 05-01-2011, 05:54 AM   #9
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Thanks a lot! I've downloaded a few samples already.

Jasper Fforde I tried, but didn't like much. It relied too much on books I didn't know, and naming an antagonist "Jack Schitt" really grated on my nerves.
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Old 05-01-2011, 07:20 AM   #10
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You might also like to try Tom Holt - I highly recommend his Expecting Someone Taller. It's the story of an ordinary guy who accidentally gets hold of the Ring of the Nibelungen and, as a result, comes to the attention of the Teutonic gods and their highly dysfunctional families.
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Old 05-01-2011, 10:42 AM   #11
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Shine: An Anthology of Near-Future Optimistic Science Fiction [Kindle Edition]
by Jetse de Vries may fit your bill.

http://www.amazon.com/Shine-Antholog...4260830&sr=1-2

Regards,
Jack Tingle
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Old 05-01-2011, 01:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpy3b View Post
Also you might enjoy The Compleat Enchanter by L. Sprague de Camp as well as the modern day revival of the Harold Shea stories titled The Enchanter Completed. Sold over at Baen:

http://www.webscription.net/p-129-th...completed.aspx
I'll second the L. Sprague DeCamp suggestion and add The Goblin Tower and The Fallible Fiend to the list of his stuff.

Ditto on the Glen Cook 'Garrett, P.I' series with Sweet Silver Blues, Bitter Gold Hearts, etc. Think Travis McGee in a seedy Middle Earth, with all the books having metals in their title instead of colors. Very tongue-in-cheek riff on the crime-noir genre.
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Old 05-01-2011, 01:27 PM   #13
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"Agent to the Stars" by John Scalzi. Loved that one.
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Old 05-01-2011, 03:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpy3b View Post
Lady Slings the Booze and a couple others. It's odd they are not in ebook form because Spider is a net sort of guy but I sense he has a predilection for printed matter over bit-streams.
Baen have Lady Slings the Booze and Callahan's Lady, along with several other of the Robinsons' books (including the Stardance Trilogy, which I rather liked) over at Webscriptions.

Wen Spencer's Tinker, mentioned above, is also a freebie via one of Baen's early promo CDs* which can be found at the Fifth Imperium site which hosts them online.

John Scalzi's Agent to the Stars is available as a free online read at his website.

Depending on whether the OP wants breezy openly comedic light sf/fantasy, or simply more optimistic less doom-and-gloom stuff than the currently popular fare, there are several recs I could make:

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is available via Fictionwise and Smashwords. She has series that deal with heavy themes using a light touch (Godmother, I think also Songkiller which I haven't read, Cleopatra to a certain extent), as well as more funny-book type of fantasy (Valentine Lovelace, Seashell Archives). She's also got a Nebula Award-winner, The Healer's War, but that's said to be kind of a downer book due to story setting.

R. A. MacAvoy is available via Fictionwise and has a mix of heavy themes/light touch and more serious works. The Damiano Trilogy and the Black Dragon books are the former, and Lens of the World which I have not yet finished reading seems to be the latter. The Book of Kells, a time travel which I really liked and recommend, is one of her lighter themes/light touch works.

Robert J. Sawyer does fairly optimistic sf works which take a hopeful approach to serious subject matter. He's got some online stories free to read on his website and has won at least Hugo and also Nebula, IIRC.

Barbara Hambly does much the same for fantasy, and I'd class her approach as late-era Pratchett and Bujold, where there's heavy stuff that's dealt with seriously, but with hope and humanity underlying it all.

She's also one of the few prolific writers (along with Pratchett, Bujold, Brust, and Sawyer) where I've bought practically everything they've ever written because I enjoyed their writing that much. Her out-of-print back catalogue has just gone up in e-book form in a big way, and now nearly everything of hers is available in digital editions.

Anne Logston has a couple of books available via Fictionwise, and they are light adventure fantasy which is not quite comedic, but firmly on the breezy fun side. These are decently written and entertaining mid-level mind candy.

Don Callander's book over at Fictionwise is of a similar type and quality, and I enjoyed both authors' works. FW also have Lawrence Watt-Evans' works DRM-free, and I second the recommendation above, at least for the Ethshar series which I've read.

John Moore is much more openly comedic, with his books being like an early Pratchett/Holt type spoof of fantasy tropes. Only one of them is available in an e-edition (via Fictionwise, and "Secure" format), but he offers a free download of an unpublished novel (PDF) on his website.

* Unfortunately I forget which. But it's somewhere within the first 6 or so, I think.
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Old 05-02-2011, 01:33 PM   #15
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My stuff isn't the least bit dreary; it's probably closest in spirit to the Bujold books. You could start with my new backlist omnibus Dragon Space, which is science fiction that involves dragons, or for harder SF (with humor) The Chaos Chronicles, which is a series that's up to four books now, and I'm working on the fifth. (Free samples available.)

I too love Bujold's work; also Joe Haldeman, Joan Vinge, Vonda McIntyre, Vernor Vinge (excellent, though he can get a little dark), Diane Duane (especially her Wizardry series). Geez, who else? I actually have a recommended reading list, which I created because my mind always went blank when people asked me who my favorite authors were. That effectively ends at about ten years ago, though, because I can't keep up with the newer stuff, and frankly, a lot of it is too dreary for my tastes.

Oh--Terry Bisson's Bears Discover Fire is a great story collection. Also, short fiction by Geoff Landis and Connie Willis. And Spider Robinson. Craig Shaw Gardner has written a lot of funny fantasy (A Malady of Magicks, etc.), but they're not in ebook yet (I'm leaning on him about that).

Have you read Cordwainer Smith? He's from the classic era, but his stories are wonderful and quirky (and available in a couple of omnibuses from Baen).

Oh--Julie Czerneda, for SF rooted in biology and I guess anthropology. And for light reading, my wife loves the SF romances of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (haven't read them myself).
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