Look, we all know that reading is hard. There are lots of words on lots of pages, and there are so many Google Chrome tabs vying for our attention. My favorite is “New Tab.” It’s just filled with so much potential! So when you’re in the science fiction and fantasy community, and you’re constantly getting bombarded by recommendations for all these amazing books written by all these amazing people, you start to feel like a paleo person at a vegan party—hungry. Hungry for books.
The problem is, you can only stomach so much fiction—no matter how incredible it is—before you start throwing up pulp. And nobody wants to see that. But one of the most important skills that any entrepreneur (and all authors are entrepreneurs) has in their arsenal is the ability to network (read: bullsh**) and improvise.
And that’s what I’m going to do.
I present to you Five Books That I Haven’t Read But Really Want To and Don’t Want to Look Bad So I Will Give A Fake Summary Based On The Title And Cover
The Grace of Kings—Ken Liu
The year is 2256. The Earth is a barren wasteland of oatmeal raisin cookies and hyper-intelligent cockroaches Everything is pretty much firmly settled in a dystopian, post-apocalpytic mess, and nobody can grow any plants. Except one girl: Grace King. This is the story of one girl’s attempt to grow a dandelion out of a really fancy upside-down ladle. As she struggles to find the courage inside herself—and maybe some water or fertilizer, or something—we recognize that her quest for the ladle is not unlike our own, deeply personal quest for soup.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant—Seth Dickinson
In this incredible book by Mr, Dickenson, who is, if you haven’t decoded this yet, Charles Dickens’ SON (DickenSON—get it?) we follow a blind mime through a passionate journey to reclaim the lost porcelain doll of his childhood. Only, since this is a fantasy novel, the porcelain doll is actually a magical familiar. The blind mime has been a wizard since birth, but never knew about it because he was raised by a baru—an extinct Australian crocodile—and a cormorant, which sort of also explains the mime thing. Since animals can’t talk. Right?
Twelve Kings of Sharakhai—Bradley P. Beaulieu
Beaulieu brings us reality-television on a novel scale, as this epic game of Arabian hide-and-seek turns deadly. Irresponsible parenting leaves twelve young children loose in the city of Sharakhai, a wild maze of impossible spires and dudes with swords. Readers are swept along this epic tale, always worried that the next time a child peeks out from behind the wall, they might hear the bone-chilling words, “TAG, YOU’RE IT!”
This debut novel by Chris Husberg takes us through the journey of the most talented seamstress in the kingdom. As the royal present wrapper, she is challenged with developing the most expensive and intricate bows and ribbons ever seen. There’s only one problem: when she’s working, tapping into the magics of the realm, the sun never sets. Duskfall is the story of the day that never ended, as the seamstress tries to literally sew silk into silver and gold. But it doesn’t work, because that’s kind of ridiculous, and now her health insurance is in jeopardy.
Signal to Noise—Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This is a beautifully told, emotional tale of the most amazing disco dance party ever created. It’s like Tron, but analog and without motorcycles. In the future, when a somewhat accidental leap in technology allows human consciousness to be recorded onto VHS tapes, it falls to young Sara Beakman to uncover the lost secrets of her grandfather’s legacy. Secrets which could save the universe, if only she could find a VHS player and learn how to set the clock.
Top image: Tron: Legacy (2010)
Joe Zieja is an author with a long history of doing things that have almost nothing to do with writing at all. He is also a commercial voiceover artist and a composer of fine music for video games and commercials. He’s probably interrupted your Spotify playlist at least once to encourage you to click on the banner below, and he isn’t the least bit upset that you ignored him. Mechanical Failure is his debut novel.