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The Lampworks Lamplighter

SF & Fantasy News & Reviews

In this issue

  • Holiday Suggestions
  • Featured promotions to help you find new authors to follow

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We often talk with each other about what books we've read, so this month we decided to share our list of all-time favorite sci-fi and fantasy books with you. We have similar interests, such as historical fiction, sci-fi grounded in real-world science, realistic characters, and epic fantasy world-building, so there was some overlap. We also learned some things about each other and ourselves. We seem to both gravitate toward classical sci-fi and "Golden Age" authors such as Asimov, Clarke, and Bradbury, and our shared enthusiasm for Neil Gaiman's works rang out clearly in the fantasy arena. But we each found something new in the other's picks as well.

This isn't a "best of sci-fi and fantasy" list; it's the books that we think of as memorable, influential, and fun. You have probably heard of many of these before, but maybe haven't read them yet. With the holidays upon us, and good reasons to spend more time at home than ever this year, why not pick a few options from our list, settle in with a hot drink, and fly off to far flung worlds or go on fantastical quests in magical lands for a while? Or order a physical book from our Bookshop.org shop to put under the tree. You might just ignite the love of reading in someone new.

Our Top Ten Science Fiction

Foundation

Foundation Trilogy

Isaac Asimov


Bookshop.org amazon
Using the mathematics of Pyschohistory, Hari Seldon predicts the downfall of Galactic civilization, and how to reboot it. Seldon establishes a Foundation to guide the Galaxy through the dark ages, preserving knowledge for the eventual rennaisance. But there are more layers to Seldon's plan than anyone knows.
Rama

Rendezvous with Rama

Arthur C. Clarke


Bookshop.org amazon
A survey craft finds a alien artifact as large a small world as it slingshots around the sun. In a few short weeks they try to learn its secrets before it leaves the solar system forever. In the warmth of the sun, automatic systems awaken to do housekeeping. But where are the builders?
Martian

The Martian

Andy Weir


Bookshop.org amazon
Mark Watney is stranded on the surface of Mars during a deadly dust storm. He has to use every survival skill and all the science he knows to survive and get word to Earth that he's out there. But the only rescue ship is months away.
Childhood's End

Childhood's End

Arthur C. Clarke


Bookshop.org amazon
Aliens intervene as earth teeters on the brink of nuclear war. They usher in a new age of peace and plenty. But if they are purely benovolent, why won't they show their faces?
Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein


Bookshop.org amazon
Michael Valentine Smith, raised by Martians, must learn how to be human. In the process, he teaches his family and followers how to be more than human. This classic from the early sixties is still relevant today.
Martian Chronicles

The Martian Chronicles

Ray Bradbury


Bookshop.org amazon
When Earthlings venture to Mars, they find wonders and terrors, strange beings, and unimagined dangers. A classic collection of mystical tales of an enigmatic future.
Mote in God's Eye

The Mote in God's Eye

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle


Bookshop.org amazon
Humanity's first contact with aliens - three-armed beings bottled up on their world by an accident of cosmic geometry. They're inventive and charming, and quite possibly dangerous.
Canticle for Leibowitz

A Canticle for Leibowitz

Walter Miller


Bookshop.org amazon
In a small monastery, 600 years after a nuclear war, the first stirrings of science are felt again. Three related post-apocalyptic stories that touch on the nature of humanity.
Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice

Anne Leckie


Bookshop.org amazon
Breq is searching an icy world for a missing weapon. She is not sure why she searches or who she is. She feels that she was once something different. Something much larger...
Engines of God

The Engines of God

Jack McDevitt


Bookshop.org amazon
Humans have found alien monuments on many planets. All different, all beautiful. And they just might hold the key to our survival.

Our Top Ten Fantasy

American Gods

American Gods

Neil Gaiman


Bookshop.org amazon
Shadow is employed by the mysterious Mr Wednesday after he is released from prison. He tells Shadow that the old gods are gathering, and there is a reckoning coming. Shadow is skeptical, but the pay is good. But strange things keep happening wherever Mr Wednesday goes...
Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings

J R R Tolkien


Bookshop.org amazon
The battle for Middle Earth, and how the smallest heroes are often more important than the greatest ones. The trilogy that launched the entire epic fantasy genre. If you've only seen the movie, you've missed countless referrences to events in Tolkein's orginal.
Nine Princes in Amber

Nine Princes in Amber

Roger Zelazny


Bookshop.org amazon
Amber is the one true realm, of which all others are shadows. Corwin, Prince of Amber, awakens from a coma in a hospital, and starts on the path the leads back to the throne of Amber. A pack of playing cards that can summon his allies and enemies is his first clue to his destiny.
Lord Valentine's Castle

Lord Valentine's Castle

Robert Silverberg


Bookshop.org amazon
Valentine is a simple man with no past, who takes up with a circus troupe as a juggler. There is another Valentine - the ruler of the land - and their fates are intertwined in mysterious ways. The metaphore of juggling as a meditation permeates this wonderful tale.
I Shall Wear Midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight

Terry Pratchett


Bookshop.org amazon
Tiffany Aching is a young witch, learning the tedious, simple tasks that her community depends on. When a shadow falls over the land, Tiffany has strength that even the elder witches do not. Not the first book in the Tiffany Aching series, but the finest of them all.
Mythago Wood

Mythgo Wood

Robert Holdstock


Bookshop.org amazon
Ryope is 10 square miles of woods, yet an almost limitless space inside, and the further one goes, the older it is. George Huxley died exploring here, and now his sons seek its secrets, as ancient creatures of myth and dream escape and roam the hedgerows in the night.
Neverwhere

Neverwhere

Neil Gaiman


Bookshop.org amazon
Richard Mayhew lived a normal life in London, until he helped a stranger on the street. Now no one can see him, or remember him. He's entered London Below, a shadow city of everything fantastical, both good and evil.
The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman


Bookshop.org amazon
As a toddler, Bod fled a gruesome murder in his home, and took refuge in a nearby graveyard. Kindly ghosts have raised him, and taught him about about the world, and some ghostly skills as well. Now he must face his family's killer.
Sharakhai

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

Bradley P. Beaulieu


Bookshop.org amazon
Sharakhai, an ancient desert city, is ruled by twelve immortal, invincible kings. Ceda survives as a gladiator until one night when, forbidden, she ventures into the desert on a holy night. What she learns could change everything. Or destroy her.
Mistbord

Mistborn

Brandon Sanderson


Bookshop.org amazon
The ash-covered land has been ruled with an iron hand for a thousand years. Now a band of misfits has rediscovered an ancient alchemy that gives them hope of overthrowing that rule. A heist novel, an epic fantasy, and one of the best magic systems ever invented.

Knots

What reviewers have said:
Knots is a compelling story filled with unexpected characters, plot twists, literal location twists, mystery and redemption.
It's rare to find a story that defies convention/formulae and confidently goes where it needs to go.
Loved the book and the writing style such as the excerpts from the archives that connects back to the story (or maybe even to real world events).
Buy on Bookshop.org amazon

Sellenria

It came as a shock to archaeologist Stenn Gremm to find that his ancestor had been a warlock.
What reviewers have said:
This book delighted on so many levels. It's smart, insightful, and wise. The many passages I highlighted are to remind myself how to be a better person.
... this story bolstered my faith that someone can still write decent sci-fi.
This story contains all you expect from SciFi: alien creatures, epic battles, and strange worlds; but even more it's a story about the best in people, whether human or otherwise.
Buy on Bookshop.org amazon

You may also enjoy...

Disciples of Trikaal

Varun Sayal


A fast paced Time Travel Story
Aru must choose...
...use his powers to protect his family...
...or give up his life to save millions of strangers.
Aru and Nemi together summoned Trikaal, an ancient time traveler, who agreed to be their Guru. Nemi chose to master time travel, and Aru to read the future.

Free via StoryOrigin

The Axe

Vaughn Ashby


Time doesn't work the way you think it does

Three people living in different centuries are bound by one thing: The Axe. But they are also tied together by the one thing that wants them all dead...

Free via StoryOrigin

Berikatanyan Dawn

John Beresford


On the remote world of Berikatanya the people suffer the most cataclysmic failure of Elemental magic in their history. How will they deal with the loss of so many powerful magicians?

Free via StoryOrigin

Persistence of Vision

Liesel Hill


What if the survival of the post-apocalyptic world depended on memories you no longer had?

Buy via StoryOrigin

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