Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Archer Book Recommendations

For those of you with copious amounts of spare time (which probably excludes most if not all of my readership), I have a recommendation for a series of books that I think are flying under the radar of quite a few science fiction fans.

Kevin Anderson, who co-authored the Dune prequels with Brian Herbert, has authored a very good series of books called the Saga of the Seven Suns. It is apparently a 7 book series, of which 4 have been published, with the 5th due out in June. If you like epic science fiction, especially the Dune saga, I highly recommend reading this series if you get the chance. I am currently reading the 3rd one, and have ordered the 4th. I have read all three back to back to back. There are not too many series I can say that about. I didn't even do that with Dune. (Of course, I would have liked to have been able to do that with Dune but I didn't want to fry my brain.)

I just happened to stumble upon the series when I randomly saw the first novel in a used book store for like a dollar. I was initially a bit skeptical because Anderson, other than the Dune stuff, has written some gratuitously mediocre pulp (Star Wars/X-files) science fiction novels. Since the Dune prequels were so well done and it was only a dollar (my bargain basement hermeneutic again), I thought I'd give it a whirl.

I will warn you, each book is well over 400 pages, so this ain't your papa's 1950's Buck Rogers fare. You can tell Anderson was working on the Dune prequels at the same time and is heavily influenced by Frank Herbert's writing style because there are some characters and plot lines that are vaguely reminiscent of some of the Dune works. However, Anderson does a great job of casting a unique universe and epic story line in his own right. There are incredibly intricate subplots, characters, and species of aliens the likes of which I have not read before in science fiction.

Usually in general science fiction writing, there are three sets of characters in various degrees and combinations: humans, martians basically like humans except their skin is green and have antennae or something (see Star Trek), and robots (see Isaac Asimov). Anderson creates a universe with aliens that are both like humans (the Ildirans) and completely unlike humans (aliens that live in gas giants, live in the sun, conscious, telepathic trees, etc.) The official website (link above) wants to compare the series to the Wheel of Time. As I completely detest (and I, unfortunately, can't do anything more than make that word larger, bold, and italicized) that never-ending hack series, I refuse to make that comparison. I would argue the series is an interesting mix of Tolkien fantasy, epic Dune, and Asimov's I, Robot.

While not in the grandiose philosophical realm of Dune, The Saga of Seven Suns is really worth the time, when you actually have some...

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