Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Choosing among my "children"

Any author will tell you, it happens to them. Often.

A friend, friend of a friend, relative, relative's in-law, coworker, neighbor, new acquaintance, long-lost schoolmate, out-of-the-blue emailer, LinkedIn connection, con-goer coming up after a panel, ... asks,  "I'd like to try one of your books, so which do you recommend?"

And, as any author will also tell you, that's like asking a parent to choose among his children. (It may be coincidence, but nine months is about how long the average novel takes me to write.) Okay, this isn't exactly Sophie's Choice. It doesn't even risk my answer getting back to one of the "children" and scarring them for life.

Still, answering that question is hard. I can't imagine putting nine months or so into a book without forming an emotional bond. One's first book, of course, is special. So, in another way, is the most recent book. So, in yet a different way, are the ones that went on to have sequels. Some books become special to me for the fascinating research involved, or the particular subject matter, or yet some other personal association.

But, just as I opened this post, people do ask -- and I'm flattered they do. So, although I can't bring myself to pick one child, perhaps I can help someone else to decide.  The remainder of this post is adapted from the answer I sent to a recent "what do you recommend?" email.

Prospective readers, please continue ...

(Should one of the following observations pique your interest ... for a bit more info on any title, click the corresponding thumbnail cover in the right-hand column.)

Do you enjoy near-future, Earth-centric technothrillers? Then consider Moonstruck or Probe (First Contact, in quite different ways), Fools' Experiments (AI), Small Miracles (medical nanotech), or Energized (energy crisis and near-Earth space).

Or do you fancy time travel? You might try Countdown to Armageddon. (In print -- but not ebook or audio formats -- Countdown is combined with a short fiction collection, A Stranger in Paradise). Or the standalone novella, in print a chapbook, A Time Foreclosed.

And if you like interstellar, multi-species hijinks? Consider InterstellarNet: Origins and InterstellarNet: New Order.

Apart from the two InterstellarNet books, my solo novels are standalone (i.e., not parts of series).

Are you into far-future, star-spanning, epic space opera? Then you might want to check out this five-book story arc in collaboration with Larry Niven: the Fleet of Worlds series. Especially if Known Space, or Ringworld, or Pierson's Puppeteers, rings a bell ...

First to last, the five novels of the series are Fleet of Worlds, Juggler of Worlds, Destroyer of Worlds, Betrayer of Worlds, and Fate of Worlds. But you don't need to make a five-book commitment: Each installment was written to stand alone -- our publisher's interest in a sequel(s) was always a welcome surprise. 

Is short fiction your cup of pan-galactic gargle blaster? My two all-fiction collections are Creative Destruction and A Stranger in Paradise. (As already mentioned, in print the latter collection is bound with the novel Countdown to Armageddon. Consider it an homage to the old-time, well-loved Ace Doubles.)

Are you intrigued by the science behind the stories? Frontiers of Space, Time, and Thought: Essays and Stories on The Big Questions collects updated versions of six science and technology essays I wrote for Analog magazine (the full name of which is: Analog Science Fiction and Fact). As per the subtitle, that collection also offers short stories tied to those science and technology themes.

You see my dilemma: personal bonding aside, it's not even an apples-and-artichokes choice. How would I even begin to pick one title to recommend? But given that you've read this far ... if you're inclined to sample a book, perhaps you can narrow down your options.

Still here? In addition to the per-book posts (linked via the nearby cover thumbnails), you can also read more about each book (and see a favorite blurb for each) on the biblio page on my website.

And given that is a commercial post, here's a link to my Amazon author page.)

All because -- and you know who you are -- you asked.

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