Science Fiction Fridays: When the TV is turned off

So of all my deep, dark secrets (including the Rupaul-shaped one that has taken the place of my heart), the one I am most ashamed of is the fact that for most of my life I have had a snobby aversion to science fiction television. For some reason, I felt that the television medium must be vastly inferior to written word. Boy, was I ever wrong!

Many Buffy, Star Trek and Twilight Zone episodes later,  I have become positively addicted to some of the science fiction TV shows friends have been raving about for years. While I’m still trying to make up for lost time, I still have the habit of always comparing and contrasting the shows I love with books I’ve read. I love to see the influence and connections between the books I have read and the series I am starting to fall in love with. Here are a few shows that have bewitched my imagination and the books that immediately leapt to mind as companion reads. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments!

If you watch Firefly, read Rimrunners

This novel by CJ Cherryh, who really can do no wrong, takes place in her Company Wars universe that is as complex and absorbing as her other creations. The story revolves around Bet Yeager, an assassin of sorts who finds herself behind enemy lines and on the losing side of a war. Somehow she has to manage staying alive and hiding her true identity while making it to friendlier areas of space. It’s Cherryh at her most bleak and grim, but it’s the snappy dialog and tough female protagonist that will have fans of Joss Whedon fall in love with this book.

If you watch A Game of Thrones, read (well, duh, but also…) The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan

One of the best fantasy novels I have ever read, though I fully acknowledge its bitter existential flavor isn’t for everyone. It’s a relatively simple story that involves just the right amount of backstabbing, bloodshed and a dash of political intrigue. The story unfolds at a leisurely pace, but Morgan is a master of always keeping momentum and interest through characterization and jaw-dropping action scenes.

The prose is straight-forward and moody, with liberal doses of beautiful poetry when time freezes and the characters describe their feelings and surroundings between time fragments of battle scenes. In lesser hands, this tactic  would quickly grow old, but Morgan is so deft a writer the reader can’t help  but cherish these interstitials and beg for the next one.

If you watch Farscape, you should read Alastor by Jack Vance

A collection of the three Alastor world novels Vance wrote, each a contrasting and mindboggling look at world-building and the problems with utopias. All three full-length novels are full of high drama, fast-paced plotting and Vance’s signature atmospheric style of writing. While Alastor doesn’t have the grand romance of Farscape¸ the unique characterization and overall epic story arc is something fans of the television show will relish.

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