Science Fiction Fridays: Fifty shades of the fantastic

The hottest book right now, for better or for worse, is Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. It’s not really surprising that book is so popular. The combination of intense interpersonal drama and steamy erotica makes it a perfect book for word-of-mouth recommendation.

 

However, we science fiction and fantasy fans want a little more fancy with our erotica! The drab Pacific Northwest setting just isn’t going to cut with us (I’m only kidding!). We want some richly shaded worl-building and sweeping stories with our steamy romances. With that in mind, here are a couple of speculative fiction reads that are chock full of the dark erotica of Fifty Shades of Grey, but with those genre elements we can’t live without.

 
Kushiel’s Dart  by Jacqueline Carey

A young girl sold by her parents to a house of pleasure quickly learns she is more than adept at the art of pleasure and pain. It’s an epic book that dips and swirls with sensuality with richly-detailed world building reminiscent of classics like Dune and Consider Phlebas. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if E.L. James wasn’t a big fan of the Kushiel series herself. This is the first in the series, so there are plenty more of these erotic favorites if you fall head-over-heels for the first

 

Fledgling by Octavia Butler

A novel that is ripe with uncomfortable erotica though with a depth of character most people will find surprising for this subgenre. The novel focuses on decades old vampire who is permanently immortalized in the body of a pre-pubescent girl. As the story unfolds, Butler deft use of sexuality and race issues will make you quickly dismissing any prejudices you may have about reading a “vampire book”.  

 
Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein

Leave it to Heinlein to write the definitive science fiction book that desecrates some of the most sacred taboos of Western civilization with wild abandon, while also managing to tell an incredible story. It’s a thought-provoking and wild ride through religion, tie, society and the very limits of sexual freedom. Love it or hate it, no other book comes close to matching the joyous glee of exploding our most sacred cows.

 
What great titles would you suggest?

Science Fiction Fridays: The use of weapons

Maybe it’s the confluence of current world events and election season, but I’ve been on a kind of a military science fiction binge lately. I’ve just had a hankering for some Ender’s Game-style sci-fi where the emphasis is placed not only on the futuristic battle scenes, but also on the implications of war in general.

After reading interesting articles on both Tor.com and i09, I decided all signs were pointing towards me writing about some great military science fiction this week. This is a list of some lesser known books I have read recently in the sub-genre. As a result, I won’t even mention the classics of the genre like Starship Troopers or The Forever War or Old Man’s War. Nope. Not a peep about those great novels that should be required reading for all citizens of the galaxy!

Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole

So the jacket of this book has a blurb that describes the book as a cross between Black Hawk Down and the X-Men. And…that’s pretty much the most accurate blurb of all time! Instead of mutant powers, it’s schools of magic—some forbidden which, if manifested, means instant execution by Homeland Security. This book is chock-full of action, but pauses just long enough to catch its breath with some twisty characters and philosophical debates. The first in a brand new series, this one is gonna get big.

Consider Phlebas by Iain Banks

While he doesn’t write military science fiction in the traditional sense, Banks has a made a career out of writing about interstellar wars in his far-future Culture universe. His writing is fast-paced, filled to the brim with ideas and often take unexpected and gruesome plot turns. This is a brainy book with a brutal ending that is unlike anything you’ve probably ever read. If you like authors like Neal Stephenson or China Mieville, you’ll love Iain Banks.

The Faded Sun Trilogy by CJ Cherryh

Cherryh, probably one of the most diverse science fiction authors of all time. The Faded Sun Trilogy is the omnibus reprint of her brilliant series about alien races, intergalactic war and the truly alien code of honor of the mri. The book is really an exploration of the idea of honorable conduct during wartime, using the mri as a foil for Cherryh’s thought experiments. A beautifully written series that takes its time with its philosophical explorations, this is the kind of book that will subtly change the way you think about right and wrong without you even noticing.