What are some great ongoing fantasy and science fiction book series?
October 2, 2013 11:30 AM   Subscribe

A while back I stopped reading any book series that was not completely finished. I have now decided to ease up on the rule and I have realized that I am a little bit out of touch with the state of the field in fantasy/science fiction. So please recommend your favorite recent books and series in this area.

After Robert Jordan died I decided to not start a series unless it was completely finished. I am a fairly voracious reader of science fiction and fantasy and I like most everything (I don't really love grimdark or paranormal romance). I feel like I have read all of the classics and so I am really looking for contemporary recommendations. Some of my favorite fantasy authors are Robin Hobb, Robert Jordan, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Tad Williams, In terms of science fiction I really like John Scalzi, Robert J. Sawyer, Iain Banks, David Brin, and Robert Charles Wilson.
posted by bove to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (40 answers total) 83 users marked this as a favorite
How long must it be? I rather enjoyed the Varley Mars trilogy.

The Myth Series is pretty finished now that the Author has passed. Hitchhiker's, too.
posted by tilde at 11:41 AM on October 2, 2013

Best answer: Definitely check out Wool and all it's successors by Hugh Howey. Bonus, it's just finished up a month or so ago!
posted by Grither at 11:42 AM on October 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Patrick rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles at great, IMO. Two books are out with a third forthcoming.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 11:43 AM on October 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: I don't really care how long the series is. I am especially looking for more recent stuff. I have read most older stuff.
posted by bove at 11:45 AM on October 2, 2013

I recently began working my way through George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. It is the basis for the Home Box Office series "Game of Thrones". The series is not yet complete.

For science fiction, perhaps the unfinished The War Against the Chtorr series by David Gerrold. Gerrold is perhaps best known as the writer of the classic Star Trek episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles".
posted by Tanizaki at 11:48 AM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I finished book one of Elizabeth Bear's Eternal Sky trilogy, Range of Ghosts, and liked it a lot. Book two is available and book three is in production (according to her blog).
posted by rtha at 11:54 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethshar series is consistently good and mentally interesting (if this fantasy trope existed, how would it really work?). It starts with The Misenchanted Sword.

James Alan Gardner's League of Peoples series is also pretty good (and mostly done -- he's only written a few short stories in recent years). It starts with Expendable.
posted by Etrigan at 11:56 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Jack Chalker wrote a lot of series:

The Four Lords of the Diamond is crap.

The Soul Riders series is excellent, but it may come across as misogynistic. (Chalker in general is often accused of being a mysognist.)

The first three books of the Dancing Gods series were superb, but don't waste your time with the other two.

The Wonderland Gambit is strange, strange, strange, but worth reading.

The Well of Souls books were really not worthwhile IMHO.

The others I haven't read so I can't really express an opinion.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:56 AM on October 2, 2013

N.K. Jemison's series are excellent. P.C. Hodgell continues to write the awesome Kencyrath books (warning: bad cover art), although I think a series finale is worrisomely a long ways away.
posted by Malla at 11:56 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, and Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastards series, starting with The Lies of Locke Lamora is great Ocean's 11 fantasy stuff.
posted by Etrigan at 11:57 AM on October 2, 2013 [9 favorites]

I just read "Three Parts Dead" by Max Gladstone and I thought it was excellent. The second book in the series, "Two Serpents Rise," is due out later this month.
posted by bswinburn at 12:33 PM on October 2, 2013

Chalker and Gerrold are in no sense recent. Hell, the last Chtorr novel was published 22 years ago! The Gardner is, so far as I am aware, mostly done only because people weren't buying the books not because the story is in any way finished.

bove: For recent fantasy I'd recommended the series by Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch (the next book is out in a few days!), and Daniel Abraham. Oh, and GRRM obviously. He's the 800lb gorilla whether you like him or not. The series' by these authors would give you a pretty good feel for the field right now.

Science Fiction is less series-dependent so it's much more difficult to recommend series rather than individual novels. But absolutely try The Expanse series by James SA Corey which is modern neo-space opera and excellent. Corey is a pseudonym for Daniel Abraham and, um, someone else. Cherryh's Foreigner sequence started quite some time ago but is still ongoing and is a seminal work in the field so if you haven't been reading it you should give it a shot.
posted by Justinian at 12:34 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just finished a reread of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga, which is still ongoing. So great. Start with either the Cordelia's Honor omnibus or The Warrior's Apprentice/Young Miles.
posted by zoetrope at 12:42 PM on October 2, 2013 [9 favorites]

Seconding Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastards. The third volume is out any day now, I think...


Oh hey, it's out now! Hurrah!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:44 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wait, I'm wrong. It comes out on the 8th. So next week.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:46 PM on October 2, 2013

I would second Joe Abercrombie (easily my favorite current epic fantasy author), but he's definitely gritty-with-a-side-of-grimdark, so YMMV.
posted by Etrigan at 12:47 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Anything by Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:04 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can't recommend highly enough Megan Whalen Turner's Thief books. The first is The Thief. It's inexplicably classed as for kids/YA, but is excellent for adults.
posted by gudrun at 1:13 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Urban fantasy? Read the Dresden Files.
posted by Jacen at 1:48 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Jacqueline Carey's Terre d'Ange series begins with Kushiel's Dart and has three completed trilogies (another may come, who knows?) It's an alternate history in which Christianity is a pretty minor religious sect, there's no dominant European religion and the folks in alterna-France consider themselves the descendants of the son of Jesus and Mary Magdalene and his disciples. If Guy Gavriel Kay decided to inject a bunch of kinky sex into his books, they might wind up like this.

More modern than what some have recommended, but the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik is the Napoleonic war - with dragons. It's notable in that my super-macho-war-lit-don't-like-romance guy friends and my fantasy-and-historic-chick-lit-only female friends both just rave over it. Well done there, Ms. Novik!
posted by rednikki at 2:00 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Everything written by Steven Brust is really good, especailly the Vlad Taltos stuff.

Gerrold's Chtorr books are great but he has more books out there. I really liked the Dingilliad triology.

Its light escapist fluff but I really like all the Change books from S.M. Stirling (both the Nantucket and the oregon books). He has a few other books out but I don't care for the Draka stuff.

Also look through the big ideas postings on J. Scalzi blog (whatever), it is full of really great books with enough of a meaningful preview that allows you to decide if you want to pursue them or not.
posted by bartonlong at 2:11 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Elizabeth Moon's Paksenarrion chronicles are ongoing. The second series doesn't march the way the first one did, but that just means there's more room for good stuff.
posted by Bruce H. at 2:14 PM on October 2, 2013

If you like the wonderful and so unfortunately late Iain Banks, chances are you'll like the works of his close friend, Ken MacLeod. His two excellent series are known as the "Fall Revolution" (a trilogy, sort of-- there's a 4th book which is an alternative outcome to events in the middle of the trilogy) series and the "Engines of Light" trilogy. He's still writing, but these works are not recent.

James SA Corey's "Expanse" trilogy + novella(s?). Corey is the pseudonym of two fantasy writers, but it's hardish space SF set among an interplanetary humanity living on Earth (rich and powerful), Mars (young and high-tech), and the Belters, those people who live in asteroids and pay cash for their air and water.

Charlie Stross has half a dozen universes, it seems, some more in the air than others. There's Lovecraftian horror meets civil service in "The Laundry" Novels (starting with the Apocalypse Archive), there is a race of robots that went on in our image after the humans died out (Saturn's Children). There's the near-future Scotland where the new world of information has a new kind of cop-- an internet-savvy, rights-sensitive one. The Merchant Princes (I've only read 2 books but there are many more) is about the people who can travel between parallel universes; one is ours, one is in the dark ages, and there may be others. Are any of the others ready for an economics reporter to upset them? Hard to say whether it's SF or fantasy; it's good either way. Urban SF, maybe?
posted by Sunburnt at 2:26 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Jordan's death led me to Brandon Sanderson and I've really liked his stuff so far. The three books of the Mistborn trilogy are done, but he has more works in the same universe (at least one book out now with more to come), and he is working on the second novel in the Way of Kings series (the first book is a monster - Jordan would have been proud of the heft of the novel, but it still seemed too short when I read it...)
posted by caution live frogs at 2:31 PM on October 2, 2013

I think The Expanse series by James Corey (two different dudes) is worth reading even though the third book was a real big plate of waffle. The first one is definitely excellent.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:27 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Whoops, I dropped the ball. Stross's series about the near future Scottish cop begins with "Halting State." Both this and "Saturn's Children" have 2 books in print and, I gather, a third is expected for both. Stross is, you may know, a MeFite, cstross.

Ah, from the horse's mouth, here's a summary of the future releases in these series on Stross's blog. New laundry novel yay! It's 9 months away boo!
posted by Sunburnt at 3:44 PM on October 2, 2013

I have to recommend the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons. They take a lot of focus to read and they are wonderful.
posted by Altomentis at 4:29 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Some relatively recent releases I've enjoyed:

- I really liked Wide Open by Deborah Coates, and plan to read Deep Down, which is the next in the series. I thought it was very well written urban fantasy.

- A Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun by N.K. Jemisin were a duology I really enjoyed - fantasy set in a kind of inspired-by-Ancient-Egypt world.

- The Bel Dame trilogy by Kameron Hurley (God's War, Infidel, and Rapture) are great SF.

- I read and enjoy the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire (first book, Rosemary and Rue, most recent and 7th in the series, Chimes at Midnight), which is light urban fantasy (and a series that improves as it goes along).

- Lev Grossman's in progress series/trilogy - The Magicians, The Magician King - is a kind of modern fantasy-quest, adults-in-Narnia thing. (I am so bad at describing books. The Amazon pages have better summaries.)

- I've only read the first book in Ian Tregillis' Milkweed Triptych, which is an alternate history WWII, but enjoyed it and plan to read the rest - Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War, and Necessary Evil.
posted by fever-trees at 5:02 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Happily seconding Bujold, Whalen Turner, Carey, Stross, Lynch, Aspirin. All brilliant.

For classics, if you haven't read Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber and (the much less well-known) Glen Cook's Black Company novels, you might enjoy them.

For modern, try Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon, Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow and Children of God, Lev Grossman's Magicians series, any and all Terry Pratchett, Garth Nix, Catherine Fisher, Robert Holdstock (although Mythago Wood might be a classic by now), Nnedi Okorafor, Richard Morgan (both A Land Fit for Heroes and the Takeshi Kovacs novels). Some of these might actually be completed series, but they are all by authors who are still writing so at least you have more from them to look forward to.

Obligatory plug: And if you like Guy Gavriel Kay, Megan Whalen Turner, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Mary Doria Russell... you should read one of their favorite authors, Dorothy Dunnett.
posted by WidgetAlley at 5:03 PM on October 2, 2013

3rding Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles.
posted by demagogue at 5:06 PM on October 2, 2013

Came here to recommend my all-time favourite fantasy series, Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen. Fantastic world building, consistently entertaining blending of grit and humour, epic span in time and space. Some people think it's a little slow to get started, but give it through Book 2 and the odds are good you'll be hooked.
posted by kanuck at 5:38 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Assuming YA isn't an instant turn-off, I've been enjoying the Saving Mars books. There's one more due in the series.

I'm also liking Kady Cross's Steampunk Chronicle series, beginning with The Girl in the Steel Corset (currently 3 books published of an anticipated 5), and enjoyed Gail Carringer's Parasol Protectorate books, which start with Soulless (series concluded) and Shelley Adina's Magnificent Devices series, starting with Lady of Devices (free in Kindle format; series complete).

(I also liked Cindy Spencer Pape's Gaslight Chronicles, but that's closer to the paranormal romance end of the spectrum that you said you're not fond of.)
posted by Lexica at 6:58 PM on October 2, 2013

I will nth the recommendation for Megan Whalen Turner, but do want to note that I think The Thief is pretty solidly middle grade/YA. The later books in the series seem to only be classified as YA by virtue of having main characters in their teens/late teens, but they don't really read as YA to me at all. Also, don't read the jackets/summaries! They are spoilery in the extreme. Suffice to say they are about a fantasy-analogue Greece, and focus on relationships, politics, and a bit about how the gods' chosen deal with having divine attention.

If you like urban fantasy, I highly recommend Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series, in which a young officer of the Metropolitan Police becomes a wizard and ends up dealing with the magical/weird crimes of London's magical underbelly. For science fiction, I really enjoyed Neal Stephenson's Anathem.
posted by yasaman at 7:15 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can't second the recommendation for the Malazan series enough-by far my favorite fantasy series ever. Ten loooong books-and it's finished!!! Complex, creative, often dark, moral-some parts sliding close to sci fi. Wonderful stuff and one I continue to reread.
posted by purenitrous at 7:46 PM on October 2, 2013

Gail Carriger's Parasol series is a scream; Terry Pratchett, of course, is the king of the whole genre in my mind; the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever are not new, but strange; I became completely immersed in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series - and there's plenty to read in that series.

Now to take some notes ...
posted by aryma at 7:49 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you like pirates and battles and military schools and bisexuality and magic and kickass women and horses and swords, try Sherwood Smith's Inda series. Four volumes, lots of action, great characterizations, complicated politics and interesting social and gender dynamics. Starts off with young boys in a military school, but it's not in any way a children's book.

I also really recommend Kate Elliott's Crossroads trilogy, starting with Spirit Gate. It's a complex fantasy world with lots of different cultures, plenty of action, and the law enforcement types fly around the world on giant intelligent eagles! How can you not love that?

Martha Wells' books of the Raksura, starting with The Cloud Roads, are wicked fun. She has constructed a gorgeously magical world with tons of different kinds of sentient species, all living in occasional harmony (and often dispute). The hero is a guy who looks human half the time--and the other half the time he's got wings, a tail, and really nasty claws. Wells writes deceptively simply--she has great plots, vivid settings, and strong characterizations. Highly recommended.

For something lighter, I've recently discovered Violette Malan, and I really enjoyed her sword-and-sorcery novels about the mercenaries Parno and Dhulyn, starting with The Sleeping God. It's kind of an update of the old Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser concept, except that in this world, Mercenary Brothers are kind of like a combination of hired sword, investigator, and arbitrator. Oh, and many of them are women. There's four novels so far, and I would expect more on the way.

If you like classic epic fantasy, with magic and sorcerers and swords and battles and all that, you'd probably like these series. That they happen to be written by women is just icing on the cake--in this world where Martin, Jordan, Sanderson & Lynch get all the love, I like to point out that there are plenty of women writing epic fantasy which is just as good.
posted by suelac at 8:21 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just read and immediately reread Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire trilogy (the first book is Prince of Thorns) on a recommendation from askmefi. So good. Without giving too much away, it's neither straight fantasy nor science fiction, but has elements of both. Pretty dark, but funny, gripping, and very clever. Bonus: all the books are released, Lawrence is at work on a second trilogy, and he is apparently a very fast writer.
posted by Spinneret at 8:23 PM on October 2, 2013

Oh! I am dumb: I forgot Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman series, which is utterly fantastic. Unfortunately, it's unfinished and the latest novel was published in 2004. But what there is so far, is really wonderful. It's one of the few things I've seen where you actually see the person you're told is smart being smart. Again, great world-building and characterizations, in a vaguely-medieval setting that... isn't, once you get into it. Highly, highly recommended. If I die before Kirstein finishes the series (or she does), I'll be sorely disappointed.
posted by suelac at 8:40 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

brandon sanderson (who finished the wheel of time for robert jordan) started his own epic series of 10 gigantic books -The Stormlight Archives. the first book is out, the Way of Kings, and is awesome. the second will be out in march.
posted by euphoria066 at 8:57 PM on October 2, 2013

Hannu Rajaniemi has two books out so far in his "Jean le Flambeur" series (The Quantum Thief and The Fractal Prince). Very hard sci-fi with some really neat ideas and world-building, a couple interesting characters. It can be hard to follow at times though.

Nthing the recommendations of Brandon Sanderson's and Patrick Rothfuss' series... both are excellent.
posted by mikeweeney at 6:58 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

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