You Should Read This: Five Satisfying F&SF Series for Vacations

I just got back from a trip that included a couple long plane rides. I’m a very fast reader and finding a long, well-crafted series immersive enough to make me forget that my back is aching, the kid behind me keeps kicking the seat, and all the other discomforts of travel. Airport bookstores are usually full of stuff I’ve already read, so I try to load my e-reader with an abundance beforehand. Here’s a few that have stood me in good stead in the past few months.

Most recently, Kate Elliott’s The Novels of the Jaran (Jaran, An Earthly Crown, His Conquering Sword, and The Law of Becoming), which come as a single ebook bundle that Immensely satisfying space opera mixed with nomadic life with the Jaran on their unexpectedly pivotal planet. Elliott has become one of my goto writers (another favorite is Walter Jon Williams) – I know anything I pick up by her will be a satisfying and sustaining read.

Martha Wells’Picture of a Book Shelf The Books of the Raksura is fantasy, following the adventures of one of the Raksura, Moon, as he finds a new home and family, only to have to defend them. Moon is a character who shines; you desperately want him to be happy, and his path towards that is deeply engaging. And the most recent book, The Harbors of the Sun, is out now!

Max Gladstone’s The Craft Sequence. I had read the first three of these, but another nicely-priced ebook bundle let me pick them up all together and read them that way, which I highly recommend. They connect in a interesting and convoluted way that makes the series do what a series should – create a whole that is greater than the sum of the individual books. Awesome fantasy with a modern flavor and a delightfully careful attention paid to economics.

Kristine Smith’s The Jani Kilian Chronicles is military-flavored space opera with a strong and engaging protagonist, games with linguistics, and plenty of action. A protagonist who is flawed, fearless, and feisty, and a romantic life that adds to the book but is certainly not the focus. Not quite military SF but close, I guess – I’m never sure where space opera ends and military SF begins.

Short stories are not something I would normally take on a vacation – they’re candy, not sustaining rations. But there’s a lovely series collecting all of Theodore Sturgeon’s work that I’ve been picking up book by book, using them as rewards. I’m up to Volume Five of those, The Perfect Host. And yay! All of them seem to be available on the Kindle. If you’re an F&SF short story writer, Sturgeon is one of the people you should read, in my opinion, to see how brilliantly and beautifully he does things.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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