Top Blue SF of the Century

Sunday , 1, February 2015 28 Comments

I was discussing Blue SF with a Worldcon gentleman who is fairly neutral as such things go, and he mentioned that it might be useful if there was a list of what we Blue aficionados consider the top 10 Blue SF/F novels of the last 15 years. I can think of a few contenders, I have no doubt that others could come up with others. Here are my initial thoughts about some potentially relevant works:

  • The Golden Age by John C. Wright. This is a fantastic trilogy and both the first and third books are excellent. The second book is still good, but suffers slightly from the usual getting from A to Z problem of a middle book. Since it makes more sense to start at the beginning than the end, I’ll go with the first book here.
  • Awake in the Night Land by John C. Wright. Wright is one of the three best SF writers writing, so it should be no surprise that he appears more than once on this list.
  • Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia. Easily the best novel by the best-known Blue SF author.
  • Reamde by Neal Stephenson. Stephenson’s dirty little secret is that he really isn’t a pinkshirt, no matter how much they adore them. But regardless, Reamde is the Great American Novel the literary snobs have been looking for in the wrong places for the last fifty years.
  • A Throne of Bones by Vox Day. The Arts of Dark and Light have been compared favorably to A Song of Ice and Fire by more than a few readers. It’s a bit of a stretch, in my opinion, and it is probably too soon to tell anyhow, given that it is only the first book, but a potential candidate. As with most epic fantasy series, Book Two will tend to dictate where it stands.
  • A Sword into Darkness by Thomas Mays. Despite a few moderately pinkish minor elements, this debut novel is about as classic SF as it gets.

What else is missing? Do one of Chris Nuttall’s works belong there? I haven’t read any John Ringo, so I can’t testify as to that. And there are some of the very popular new mil-SF guys, such as Vaughan Heppner and B.V. Taylor, who might merit mention as well. I quite like Tom Kratman’s Carrera series, but it is perhaps too didactic to be listed here. Remember, it has to have been published in 2000 or later.

28 Comments
  • Jack Aubrey says:

    Nutall’s Ark Royal was very enjoyable, as are Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series. I would also add Larry Correia’s Grimnoir trilogy; the first and last books deserve a place on the list.

  • Pretty sure you mean B. V. Larson?

  • automatthew says:

    Nuttall’s works have got the poz. Gay starfighters. Ass-kicking females who troll bad neighborhoods hoping to beat up rapists. Thumbs down.

  • Darius says:

    I like the suggestions above.

    I know Nuttal’s work can certainly have some prog-friendly elements, but it’s still about honor, independence, and stuff that drives SJW’s nuts.

    Anthem, well, damn near anything Stephenson, since you already mentioned REAMDE

    Ringo – odd duck.

    I’d classify Ringo as Gateway – purple/blue. Lots of fun, captivating storyteller – esp. in person. Hangs a hat on “female warrior” tropes by providing handwavium explanations. Lots of stuff to make SJW’s explode. In person will lay out all the reasons women don’t make good warriors. Very broadly read and can put ideas together across fields. The Troy series and Paladin of Shadows series are “guy builds stuff”. Last Centurion is fun, and didactic a la Kratman.

    • Nathan says:

      Ringo and Stephenson both explicitly rejected the status quo of today’s SF conventions by seeking the wonder of the Golden Age. Stephenson, through his Project Hieroglyph, and Ringo through his Troy Rising series. Even if they do not currently match the Pink vs. Blue paradigm, both represent the harbingers of the various restoration movements such as Castalia House, Human Wave, Superversive, etc..

      • Darius says:

        Good point.

        FWIW – REAMDE – as much as I love it, is more technothriller than SciFi – the WOW clone has less handwavium than your average Clancy novel.

        Anthem now….. THAT was not only awesome, but Sci Fi

  • Rolf says:

    H. Beam Piper – Little Fuzzy and Space Viking and Lone Star Planet and Gunner Cade.

  • Do you prefer “Golden age”? Or “Night Land”?

    I ask because I found “Awake in the Night Land” to be far superior personally, though I immediately and freely admit that “The Golden Age” definitely went over my head a bit.

    • D.J. says:

      I find that I enjoy Wright’s short stories more than I do his novels. The main reason for this is that everything is so intense that I find myself drunk on his writing in small doses….and Golden Age/Chaos/Eschaton are by no means small.

      Secondary reason: the recurring theme of unreliability of memory = unreliability of identity. This, combined with the ethical questions regarding transhumanity and subhumanity, are very thought-provoking, and potentially disturbing. (Certainly disturbing to me when I thought about them.) Combined with the sheer intensity of emotion and experience, the unease quickly grows.

      Don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoyed the novels and will go back for more! I am very much looking forward to the continuation of and conclusion to the Count to the Eschaton series in particular. It is space opera at it’s best, using opera in the old sense: gigantic, primal themes of love, betrayal, conflict and strife, honor and duty…all for the love of a woman (much more than saving the earth and its inhabitants).

    • Don says:

      I had the most visceral reaction to reading The Nightlands stories. It was like getting sapped sometimes it came on me so suddenly. The stories and the characters were so well written so perfect, I felt like I had found the platonic ideal of the weird tale.

      Wright really cannot be praised enough for those stories.

    • Russell says:

      I definitely preferred “Golden Age,” although I’ll readily admit that part of that is because I had never read any of the original Night Lands and… I just didn’t get in to the setting there.

      With that said, it took me a full third of the book to really come up to speed on the setting of “The Golden Age.” Dropping straight in to the first really and truly fleshed out future world I’ve encountered in… probably the better part of a decade, it was a little jarring. But worth it – that’s the best hard SF book I’ve read in at least fifteen years.

  • Darius says:

    Most of the Baen catalogue would qualify as purple through blue, excepting Lackey/etc.

    It’s pretty astonishing to realize that even the early “Ring of Fire” books by a card carrying communist are overall at least “purple” by the standards of most books today.

    • Anthony says:

      I’ve only read “1632” of the Ring of Fire series, but it seems pretty “blue” to me. (But does it count as 21st Century? It came out in 2000.)

      I haven’t read the Wright novels listed here, but “Count to a Trillion” is definitely “blue” and it’s definitely awesome.

  • Darius says:

    Also – Michael Flynn – IIRC the spiral arm stories are from the last decade.

  • Daniel says:

    I have not read them all, but I enjoyed The Vampire Earth books. I believe those are all post-2000.

    Vance’s Lurulu was not a great plot, but it was a welcome conclusion to Ports of Call, if a little disappointing. I actually had low expectations for it, and it exceeded those. I mean…new Vance…I’m not going to knock it. Unlike Martin, in his later years, he could still tie up the loose ends. I was happy to go there with him, even if he wasn’t at the height of powers any more.

  • Daniel says:

    Oh, thought of another couple: Graham McNeil’s Horus Heresy books.

    At least I think those were this century.

  • Lazlong says:

    Anything by Kratman

  • Russell says:

    Is Reamde really that good?

    The only book of Stephenson’s that I’ve ever actually finished is Snow Crash, which I found to be a highly interesting book… but also a bit of a slog at points.

    Diamond Age just lost me, and his historical fiction series… no, nevermind – I actually finished the first volume, but couldn’t get into the second one. So I slightly amend my original statement.

    Anyway, back to the question: is Reamde actually, well, readable? Because despite the interesting ideas behind them, a lot of his stuff just… isn’t very readable.

    • castaliahouse says:

      Yes, Reamde is considerably more readable than the historical trilogy and considerably more accessible than Anathem. It’s more of a techno-terrorist thriller. Give it a shot.

  • Normanatos says:

    I concur with some of the voices above that Ringo’s Troy Rising series is well worth including in the blue list of readable and read-worthy sci-fi.

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