Everything Is Nice

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A Call To Arms

with 21 comments

So, who is writing decent science fiction action novels? It isn’t Neal Asher and it isn’t Andy Remic. I once thought it might have been David Gunn but now I’m not so sure. In the comments to that SH review, Matt Bright suggests Charles Stross and Scott Westerfield. Any other suggestions?


Written by Martin

2 November 2009 at 16:50

Posted in sf

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21 Responses

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  1. The Stross recommendation struck me as slightly weird as Stross tends to explicitly make sure that all the action in his novels take place off-stage.

    If there’s a gun-fight or a battle the characters are invariably somewhere else (as in Glasshouse) or knocked unconscious (as in his world-walking books).

    They’re shaped like action novels but by and large there’s no action in them. Hence the widely repeated observation that Stross writes spy novels.

    Jonathan McCalmont

    2 November 2009 at 17:37

  2. Chris Wooding, possibly. People say nice things about Retribution Falls on that score, at any rate.


    2 November 2009 at 17:59

  3. Workin on one Martin. I’d send you the opening but after schlepping around between here and everywhere else I can’t seem to find an email address for you…

    Also, I hear McAuley is pulling no punches these days.

    Schrodinger's lolcat

    2 November 2009 at 18:50

  4. My email address is the obvious Gmail one (martin dot lewis). I should probably amend the About page to make that clearer.

    McAuley might be due another try from me. I’ve read several of his early novels but they never really clicked.

    I am keen to try Retribution Falls though.


    2 November 2009 at 22:05

  5. Of recent McAuleys, I’d say Cowboy Angels is the one most likely to meet your requirements here.


    2 November 2009 at 22:06

  6. Niall

    3 November 2009 at 12:43

  7. Um, no. I was actually thinking specifically of science fiction adventure rather than Alternate History / Wild Magic / Swashbuckling adventure / Outrageous puns! Fantasy is actually much better served for rollicking adventure (see recommendation for Wooding above).

    I would be interested to try some of Abnett’s other books though. I like the 40k universe and I am heartened that a career progression like Abnett’s can still exist in this day and age.


    3 November 2009 at 16:23

  8. I would be interested to try some of Abnett’s other books though

    I think that could be arranged.


    3 November 2009 at 18:58

  9. I look forward to the Strange Horizons special on Games Workshop.


    3 November 2009 at 19:09

  10. I look forward to the Strange Horizons special on Games Workshop.

    Oh ho? When is this coming?

    Schrodinger's lolcat

    4 November 2009 at 03:22

  11. It’s not, at the moment. But that doesn’t mean I’m not tempted.


    4 November 2009 at 09:20

  12. Ah cool.

    I think there’s something inherently fascinating about a canon where every faction is a different shade of evil.

    Schrodinger's lolcat

    4 November 2009 at 21:32

  13. If Strange Horizons were Tor.com, it would be the DragonLance Saga re-read we’d be looking forward to.


    4 November 2009 at 21:38

  14. Where do you stand on Richard Morgan?

    David Moles

    6 November 2009 at 10:55

  15. I’m a fan. Morgan is pretty much the answer to my question but there is only one of him and even that one is on sojourn to fantasyland.


    6 November 2009 at 13:02

  16. I like Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan books. They’re published as military SF but they’re a great deal more humane and character-based than is typical for the subgenre.

    I was also pleasantly surprised by Adam Troy-Castro’s Emissaries From the Dead and The Third Claw of God, a couple of fun SF murder mysteries with an initially unlikable but rapidly evolving protagonist.

    I might recommend Iain Banks’s Culture novels, but I’m not sure whether they resemble your definition of “action novels.” Ditto Kage Baker’s Company series.

    (Incidentally, I’m pleased to see that other readers are as bored by Neal Asher as I am. His stories keep turning up in best of the year anthologies, and it took me ages to decide that, no, I really wasn’t missing something.)


    7 November 2009 at 20:47

  17. Ah, my choice would be Peter Watts. ‘Blindsight’ was weird and wonderful, and I’m sure I didn’t really grasp it all. His blog: http://www.rifters.com/crawl/

    (I’ve just started Morgan’s “sojourn to fantasyland”, and not being a fan of fantasy… well, do I need a glossary of terms? Where’s my apprentice…


    7 November 2009 at 22:27

  18. I have always been curious about the Vorkosigan books because they are so immensely popular on the internet. They aren’t published UK though so I’ve only seen them intermitantly as imports. One day…

    Don’t know much about Adam Troy-Castro. I think I might have read some of his short fiction? I don’t fancy the look of the Company novels.

    I’m a big fan of the Culture novels and I’m always look for good space opera. I consider that to be slightly different to an action novel though, but I’m not sure whether they resemble your definition of “action novels.” Ditto Kage Baker’s Company series.

    Blindsight again isn’t published in the UK. (I get the impression this is a Transatlantic publishing mistake of Counting Heads proportions.) I will get round to Blindsight though, I liked Starfish

    As for Morgan’s new trilogy, it is just his science fiction novels dressed up in different clothes so you shouldn’t have much difficulty.


    10 November 2009 at 12:39

  19. “I would be interested to try some of Abnett’s other books though.”

    Martin – drop me a line and I can sort you out with some copies…

    Niall – feel free to step out of the RPG closet any time! :)


    12 November 2009 at 09:18

  20. My schedule is looking clogged at the moment but I may well take you up on that in the new year. Is his latest 40k trilogy going to come out as an omnibus at some point?


    13 November 2009 at 12:37

  21. There will be one coming out around March/April time – part of his Gaunt’s Ghosts story arc. His Inquisitor trilogies – Eisenhorn and Ravenor – are ones I’d suggest dipping into for a first experience.

    Mark Newton

    13 November 2009 at 16:41

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