There’s nothing quite like taking some downtime on your summer holidays to happily catch up on those New York Time bestsellers lists and immerse yourself in fantasy worlds of indescribable adventure and mind boggling science. The advent of eBook technology now means your suitcase can be seriously lighter as you can keep thousands of books on your eReader of choice without having to go over your baggage limit. Now you have all the choice in the world- and don’t have to desperately buy James Patterson from the airport gift shop- we’re here to help you whittle down your reading choices.
We’re bringing you the best in geek literature, from classic tales to brand new releases, and each of the Chip Chick writers has their own personal recommendation for you to enjoy as well.
Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series is so epic that it outlasted his lifetime, and is currently on Book 13 (with one more to go). It’s a new breed of fantasy, one which is populated with many diverse characters, each with their own stories and spans continents. He manages to make the science of magic understandable, and his concept of Ta’veren- those who the world changes around, is so popular the term is now accepted in popular culture. Follow the adventures of Rand- a man who was born with an unexpected power- and his friends as they try and save the world from the Shadow, and meet some girls along the way. You’ll be sucked in before you know it, this series will consume you!
A book about man eating monster plants who can walk may have you shaking your head and thinking ‘Little Shop of Horrors’; but this is much more than that. Instead of refrains like ‘Seymour’ , you’ll be cast into a world uncomfortably close to ours, where the dangerous Triffids are under control, kept in labs and harvested for their oil. They’re dangerous only if unattended- and when the world is blinded by a neural satellite they suddenly become uncomfortable to humans, Intelligent and thought provoking, it’s a scary glimpse at how humanity thinks they control everything, and how weakened we’d be by losing our senses.
The fact that people are living so long is great news- except for the state. Boomsday looks at a world where the ratio of ‘mature citizens’ to youngsters is greatly disproportionate and the youth are angry at having to pay for the elderly with their hard earned wages. What if adults were to partake in chosen suicide? This would free up resources on the state and mean previous fuels would last longer. How do you get them to do this? Offer them incentives such as hotels, free cars and benefits. This book comprises of various outlooks, from a hothead politico to a crazed revolutionary, all trying to do what’s right… for them. It may satirize today’s society, but it doesn’t seem that far from reality, which can be scary. The writing style is rapacious and you fin yourself buzzing on the energy of the disparate characters.
Kyle is frustrated with his life. He’s not sure where he wants to go, or what he wants to do and things all seem a bit much. Then he looks at his desk and spies a paperclip. A small red paperclip. What could this mean? He decides to participate in an adult game of ‘trading up’ and decides to see if he can turn his paperclip into a house. Along the way he meets very curious folk and gets a lot of goodwill (and a little grief). This book documents the tale he put on his blog, and shows you that the journey is often more important than where you’re going (though he did end up with some pretty cool stuff). This will inspire you to take the next step in whatever your plans are and to think big- after all, what have you got to lose?
What do you do when you’re a millionaire but have no life? Why, answer a weird ad in the newspaper, naturally. This is what Ben Holiday did and managed to end up as King of Landover, a magical place that contained dragons, bewitching nymphs and wizards with questionable powers. He finds out that being King comes with a downside- a curse where he must fight to save the Kingdom, and that his loyal retinue have their own agenda. Will Ben win out, or will he wish he’d never ventured into this magical eBay? The book is fast and funny, and makes you wish that you’d be able to win an auction like this.
It’s nice to settle down with a good old pirate yarn now and then, and the Ketty Jay is such a (air)ship. Home to a host of deplorable characters, Captain Darian Frey is the worst of the lot. Charming but never following through, he has his own agenda and is always looking for the easy way out. When he’s set up for murder he has to suddenly flee all that he knows, and chance to find a forbidden treasure is too much to resist. From dealing with an alcoholic surgeon to a member of his crew who doesn’t quite breathe right, Frey has many scores to settle and this book ratchets along at breakneck speed. The battle scenes are riveting, gory and descriptive and humor pervades the text. The love hate relationship you’ll have for Darian Frey is very entertaining, and this book promises many more in the same adventurous vein.
Legend of the Seeker was based on this show, but though the TV series was good, the books are so much more. They follow Richard on his quest to find out just who he is- and to keep the world safe from the evil Darken Rahl. Richard is content being a happy forest guide till his cottage is destroyed and evil people are out to kill him. His old friend turns out to be a magician ready to grant him access to his true self and a curious beautiful girl in white appears to save him… but with her own agenda. Richard must struggle to understand his new powers and learn what is right, or the enemy will consume him, and his personal life is also fraught with difficulty. Can he learn the rules of wizardry in time to save himself- and how will he keep all he knows and loves safe from a bigger evil than he can imagine? Richard’s torment and confusion at the changing pace of his life is perfectly captured and his discoveries become your own as he learns more about magic and himself.
Melvin Burgess writes amazing young adult books, tingling page turners where you never know what’s going on. I’m including this tale because the term young adult means anything nowadays- and I’m sure all of you guys have read/watched Harry Potter. Sara’s Face follows the life of Sara, a girl who is obsessed with her appearance and who hooks up with an aging pop star who seems more than happy to accommodate her in her creepy quest. Is pop star Jonathon Heat all he seems though- and why is he so interested in Sara’s Face? Sara goes to live at his mansion and they plot on how to give her the perfect body through surgery, and Jonathon bears a scary resemblance to Michael Jackson in his proclivities. The tale is told reflectively as people try to analyses just what went down and it’s chilling to see how easily young people can be swayed by promises of beauty and perfection.
In a world where abortion is illegal, a compromise has been made. Parents and the state are allowed to ‘unwind’ children, aged 13-17 who are perceived as difficult. Being unwound doesn’t necessarily mean the end of their life, rather the end of their ownership of their organs as they get donated to others in need. Yes, this bears resemblance to Kazuro Ishiguros’s book, but here those chosen o be unwound are angry resentful and looking to fight back. Connor has been sent to be unwound by parents who find him too much to handle, whilst Lev’s parents have raised him since birth as their ‘tithe unwound’, yet both boys struggle with the concept that their life is now effectively the states. They go on the run to try and avert this happening to them- and find that life isn’t quite how it was described to them in their schoolbooks.
Tally is on the cusp of being sixteen and this means far more to her than you can imagine. She will finally stop being an Ugly, and join the Pretties in their tall towers and bright streets. Her operation is scheduled, and all she has to do now is decide what type of Pretty she will be- button nose, pixie ears- all tough decisions. Tally’s friend Shay isn’t so sure about Prettyville and when she absconds Tally is left in an awful position- flee after her friend and turn her in, or lose access to being a Pretty forever? What’s a girl to do? An amazing comment on our society today and how much we value the outside appearance, with darker concepts cleverly interlaced with high tech ideas and a newfound understanding of our own appearance.
Cayce Pollard is the futuristic version of a trendhunter, who works in discovering what logos will work commercially. The only flaw in her job is her deep rooted aversion to logo exposure and how something like Nike’s tick can make her physically sick- not what she needs in her job. She starts to notice a viral logo occur internationally, a rising trend that’s so subculture it’s off everyone else’s radar, and being such a tortured soul seems to find that most people find her sensitivities ridiculous- or get off on torturing her. She lives in a world that far surpasses ours in terms of tech and science, yet the raw human emotions are the same, and we wonder quite what phobias we may pick up if we travelled so far forward in time. Gripping and voyeuristic the book flits around like an injured pigeon, desperately trying to alight on something stable, whilst its peripheral vision stays skewed because of its injuries. You want to protect Cayce and shake her at the same time, and that’s why she’s such a great central character.
Piers Anthony is the master of weaving together bizarre notions and creating something rather spectacular out of the ridiculous. This is the first book in the Xanth series, which is set on a world where magic rules, and every citizen has a special magical talent. Well, minus one citizen. Bink has yet to discover if he has any talent and is getting frustrated as only magical beings are allowed to live in Xanth. He seeks out Good magician Humphrey to see if he can help him who sends him on a quest. If Bink fails to find his magic he must leave his home forever. Insanely addictive and full of puns, this is a riot of a book that will have you laughing from the first page.
Books I have not suggested on this list are those by George R Martin and Charlaine Harris. Though both authors have great books, if you are watching True Blood or Game of Thrones, reading the books may confuse you, so it’s best to save these till the series have finished. I was also limited by those books that are notavailable as eBooks at the moment. I couldn’t include the Deathstalker series by Simon R Green due to these limitations, nor the Split Infinity series by Piers Anthony, and though Neil Gaiman has many books out as eBooks, sadly Good Omens was missing. Still, you can always read these novels the old school way!
I was the curator and collator of the above list, so I can honestly say that all of the eBooks on it are ones I’d recommend. I love the convenience of my eBook Reader- it’s such a handy way to carry all your summer reading in your suitcase, and leave space for all that holiday shopping. For those who are just starting to dabble their toes into the world of science fiction I’d have to say the following would be a great introduction to the genre.
For the Win by Cory Doctorow
This book follows the strange world of ‘gold mining’, in terms of role playing games. With Warcraft culture deeply instilled in many people, everyone is looking for a way to rise to the top, and an underground industry farmed out to poor Eastern countries has grown up. Mala is an Indian computer tech wiz, who at 15 has her own team online; making money from helping n00b computer gamers gain points and wealth. She might be doing well, but the workers work long hours for poor wages and their love of gameplay is eroded by the commercialism of it all. Can the workers rebel- and how would this affect the multimillion dollar industry? A scary look at the seedy underside of games, and how seriously people take their online life. Cleverly written, this book will make you deconstruct everything you every thought about role playing games, and look at the players with renewed respect.
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan
Why? The book was published in 1980 and is based on the TV series Carl starred in. It combines pop science with explorations of the world as we know it, and comparisons between what was thought then and today are compelling.
Dog Sense by John Bradshaw.
Why? I think of it as how to “hack” your dog. It’s about the latest research in dog behavior and how completely opposite it is of mainstream dog whisperer wisdom.
Geek Wisdom by N.K. Jemisin
Why? Because it’s a fun and easy read that dissects some of the greatest geeky quotes in movie, literature, and television history. After reading this book, you will never look at the same well known geeky quotes again.