For the uninitiated, SFF stands for Science Fiction/Fantasy. This is a wonderful topic, and hopefully I have some good recommendations for you here based on my favorites.
5. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick. That’s a mouthful, I know. It’s also my favorite of PKD’s work. That’s saying something since I find all of his work is high quality and worth reading. It deals in a lot of the themes he generally covers. In this case, we’re especially talking about drugs and their effects and the question of what is reality. It’s classic SF, but it was far ahead of its time. It still holds up today and probably beyond. It’s also the only standalone on this list, which means it really packs a punch in a small space.
4. Dune by Frank Herbert. This is the beginning of a long-standing series, but mainly I’m talking about the first book here. This is one of those rare times when SF and fantasy are seamlessly blended. The setting is another planet, but spiritualism is also key, giving it a distinctly magical feel. The world Herbert created here is so immersive, and while I’m still making my way through the main part of the series, it just keeps getting deeper. If you haven’t tried this one yet, know that the hype is entirely correct.
3. Tales of the Flat Earth by Tanith Lee. This one is pure fantasy, but not like anything you’ve ever encountered. There might be echoes of other things you’ve read before, but in my case, they were all works that came after this series was written. Lee was, as always, ahead of everyone else in creating unique fantasy. It has all the magic of a fairy tale with the brutality of what fairy tales used to be when they were first told. The writing is stunning. If you’re looking for something different, this is the first thing I’d recommend.
2. The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons. An intimidating SF series, to be sure, but worth every step of the journey. So many series shoot for the moon and fall short, but I can honestly say Simmons shot for the moon and hit somewhere around Jupiter. This isn’t just one of the best SF works I’ve ever read; it’s one of my favorite series ever, regardless of genre. He throws us straight into the deep end, and that might be a little overwhelming at first, but once you sink into the story, it flows so well. He’s convinced me that’s the only way to experience a new world properly. Not with exposition or explanations, but by simply walking through it, even if you’re confused and wondering at first. It’s so beautifully done.
1. The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King. This is an SFF book the same way Dune is, by bending it all together. There’s technology and magic and our main character is a gunslinger often fighting eldritch abominations like you might see in a horror story. It defies genre really. It creates a world that manages to fuse all the trappings together without it seeming disparate. It all holds its shape. That’s quite a feat. It has deeply written characters that you’ll find yourself clinging to. Even Roland, our requisite anti-hero. I tend to enjoy fantasy that doesn’t adhere to tropes, and this breaks most of them. Again, not just a favorite SFF series, but a favorite series, period.
Thank you for reading and happy geeking!
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