Help, I've got an Amazon credit burning a hole in my pocket!
March 28, 2014 6:14 AM   Subscribe

My wife and kids are leaving town for five days. I have to stay home because of work. However, I will have some free time this weekend and in the evenings early next week. I also have a nice credit in my Amazon account. So, this seems like the perfect time to read a big science fiction or fantasy novel. I'm looking for a single long novel or maybe a trilogy. Something to fill the lonely hours. I'd like interesting characters, an exciting plot, and writing that's not too clunky (better writing is preferred, but I'm more interested in character and plotting than MFA literary styling). I want to read the sort of book (or series) that will keep me up late into the night. A page turner. I usually have to read things in small chunks in the evening and on the bus, but this is my chance to indulge in some obsessive reading.
posted by Area Man to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Have you ever read N. K. Jemisin? The Inheritance Trilogy might do you nicely.
posted by Stacey at 6:20 AM on March 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Alastair Reynolds - Revelation Space trilogy (also has some other books set in the same universe if you enjoy the main trilogy).

Iain M Banks - Culture novels (start with Consider Phlebas, after that the order is not too important, but the order of publishing works)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:21 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I liked the Coyote trilogy by Allan Steele (mixed POV, mostly adults), the Mars trilogy by Varley (teen POV), and mefi's own Old Man's War stuff by Scalzi.
posted by tilde at 6:22 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

You want the Newflesh trilogy by "Mira Grant" (a pseudonym for Seanan McGuire). Yes, they're zombies, but it's good zombie writing; the characterization is excellent, and I have quite literally lost sleep every time she released a new book in the series ("just one more page... ARGH, how could she do that?")

It's a closed trilogy, but she's released a couple of novellas too, so if you hit the last book and want more (and you will) it's there. :)
posted by joycehealy at 6:23 AM on March 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

You are casting a pretty wide net here: give us some idea of what you like. Books that fit what you are looking for and you have already read will be particularly helpful - otherwise you'll have to wade through multiple suggestions of classics you have already read.
posted by Dr Dracator at 6:24 AM on March 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Tad Williams' virtual reality Saga "Otherland" is engrossing, but you will need more than a week.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:25 AM on March 28, 2014

I love Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It's long and beautifully written in a faux-Austen style. It's slow to start, but totally worth it.

I also am reading and loving The Golem and the Jinni, a really great character study about the immigrant experience in turn-of-the-century New York City.

Also seconding the Newsflesh and Culture novels, though I would start with The Player of Games, not Consider Phlebas (CP is really really dark and hard to get through. It was actually the last book I read in the series, though it was published first.)
posted by nickhb at 6:27 AM on March 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

The Grisha Triology by Leigh Bardugo is not fully complete, but damn it's a page turner. It's fantasy novel with a Russian tinge and it is quite lovely. The final book comes out this June so you won't have to wait too terribly long to complete your fix.
posted by teleri025 at 6:30 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could read the Wool, which is about 550 pages across all of the novels. (Previously, though life has moved on since there and the series has been bought by a publisher, for TV and for a movie I think.)
posted by DarlingBri at 6:33 AM on March 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Kim Stanley Robinson's Red/Green/Blue Mars Trilogy.
posted by Chairboy at 6:34 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Lies of Locke Lamora, which I found through a Mefi recommendation a couple of years ago. I couldn't put it down. Thieves and con artists and a ripping yarn.
posted by mochapickle at 6:35 AM on March 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

It's the first book of a projected trilogy (although it's a standalone story), but Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice is the best s.f. I've read in the last couple of years -- a nice slab of Banksian space opera, if that's your thing.
posted by snarkout at 6:37 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Vernor Vinge has a really awesome kinda-sorta-trilogy (related by universe and major events, but over loooong periods of time) called Zones of Thought: 1 2 3. Each is a page-turner in its own right, but definitely best read in close proximity because then you really get the crossover elements.

The Alastair Reynolds, Iain M Banks, and Mira Grant suggestions above are also excellent choices.
posted by Rallon at 6:39 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd pick up something by Brandon Sanderson. Elantris is a standalone novel, the Mistborn series is at 4 books, I believe (for now). There's also The Stormlight Archive series - which I haven't read and some young adult books.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:47 AM on March 28, 2014

Came in to recommend Wool. It's fantastic.
posted by jbickers at 6:48 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Charles Stross, laundry series was a quick, page-turning read for me. Writing style is one you'd either be OK with or not, so try a sample first. (Characters and story are what made it for me.) I had to go to wikipedia/online to figure out the order to read them in.

Wool also fits the bill.

Seconding Ancillary Justice is great, but that's more something I'd add onto a series if you finish it and need one last book before vacation ends.

Fantasy-wise, the Gormenghast Novels (Titus Groan / Gormenghast / Titus Alone) by Mervyn Peake is a massive, good trilogy. It's less of the page-turner variety, but is one that would be harder to read in small segments and an underrated classic.
posted by typecloud at 6:49 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Jasper Kent series that begins with Twelve is a terrific blend of history and vampirology with unpredictable--but logical-- plot twists. In short, the series begins when desperate Russian army officers retain the services of the Oprichniki to help repel Napoleon. There are five books in the series (four complete so far).
posted by carmicha at 6:53 AM on March 28, 2014

A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin, with the caveat that it is hella long, super violent, and probably the series won't be finished for another 10 years. But really excellent long epic fantasy!
posted by firei at 6:57 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know if you have a Kindle or mind reading on a PC, but Amazon has The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox in Kindle format for $10. (You can also buy the books separately and cheaper as paperbacks).
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:03 AM on March 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Kingkiller Chronicle (The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man's Fear) leans a little YA I think, but I still enjoyed it thoroughly and many of my friends who love sci-fi and fantasy adore it as well. They are good, enthralling reads. The downside is that only 2 of the trilogy have been released so far. Highly recommended nonetheless.
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:08 AM on March 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

I also loved Wool. It was the first book I'd read in years that kept me reading until 4am because I *had to know what happened.*
posted by Andrhia at 7:13 AM on March 28, 2014

I'm going to recommend the two books in the Craft Sequence, Two Serpents Rise and Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. (TSS is before TPD, but it was published later; the books are set in the same universe, but not dependent on each other.)

And, though it's a single book, and not even all that long, Vicious, by V.E. Schwab was great. If you want a huge load of books in the same SF universe, Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series is lots of fun to read. (Her other books are apparently great, but I haven't gotten to them yet.)

I second Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, the Newsflesh trilogy, The Lies of Locke Lamora series.
posted by jeather at 7:13 AM on March 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Newsflesh is a totally brilliant idea and I'll happily endorse that as well as my previous suggestion.
posted by Stacey at 7:22 AM on March 28, 2014

For amazing epic fantasy, you want Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series.

Epic - each of the books which is out so far runs over 1000 pages
Excellent characterization - plenty of well-developed, strong, nuanced male and female characters
Original world-building - tons of ideas you haven't seen in anyone else's fantasy novels
Compelling story - complex, intertwined plotlines which still make you want to turn the page to find out what happens next

If you are adverse to starting a series which is not yet finished, then I would recommend one of Sanderson's previous books or series, all of which are top-notch.
posted by tdismukes at 7:23 AM on March 28, 2014

The Takeshi Kovacs trilogy by Richard K. Morgan (SF).

By the same author, his fairly grim & explicit fantasy trilogy, A Land Fit for Heroes. Already published are The Steel Remains & The Cold Commands, the last volume comes out in fall of this year, but I think Amazon is taking pre-orders.

Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt series (currently at 5 books, but they're definitely page-turners and fairly slim, so I'd say you could get through all 5 in the same amount of time as a massive trilogy.) Hardboiled modern urban fantasy.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:30 AM on March 28, 2014

Anathem by Neal Stephenson.
posted by Poldo at 7:32 AM on March 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Frank Herbert's Dune fits your criteria, if you haven't read it already. It definitely inspired obsessive reading when I read it years ago.
posted by SamanthaK at 7:40 AM on March 28, 2014

Yeah, you could read the whole Culture series, which would be amazing beyond belief. They're all very different but wonderful.

You might like Nancy Kress' "Probability" series too, I loved it. (It's WAY less boring than Alistair Reynolds (SORRY)).

There's also the Robert Charles Wilson series (Spin, Axis.)

Definitely read Ancillary Justice too, yessssss. The new one is coming soon.

You could read the Princes in Amber series also but you might want to kill yourself by book three, yeah, don't do that. Also it's like, wizards.

Anathem is also a great choice.

Oh and Neal Asher's "Polity" series I found to be right in that vein—page-turnery but not stupid.

ALSO it's a more like real world fantasy, BUT, check The Magicians? It's both brilliant contemporary writing and satisfying SF/fantasy.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:52 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would use that Amazon credit to purchase something I know I'd like for sure and just go to the library for STORIESSSSSSSS (or use library's site to get at their e-books)
posted by Seboshin at 8:01 AM on March 28, 2014

Consider Cryptonomicon. While it is not fantasy or, technically, science fiction, you may find that it fits the bill.
posted by janey47 at 9:08 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

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