I have been challenged to list ten books that have stayed with me over the years. They do not have to be the most important books I ever read, just ten books that I would say have have been firm favourites that I return to over the years.
I am posting this here as something a bit lighter than my usual doom and gloom world events type posts, hey its not my fault, the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
Anyway I was challenged to this by one Pete Sutton who edits some of my fiction and enjoys torturing writers.
In no particular order, just as they came to mind.
The Dumarest Saga.
This is the series of books that got me started with reading Sci Fi and set my love for the sort of Sci Fi games that I love, games like Traveller. Star wars is OK but at heart I am a Traveller and that came from this series of books when I was a very young reader.
A man lost in a universe of worlds both marvellously advanced and horribly primitive, trying to return home to a place everyone else does not believe exists.
Another early starter that shaped my love of stories, horror and adventure. Before the rise of the zombie holocaust it was killer plants. Humanity bought low by the contents of their gardens.
The very epitome of Natures revenge against mankind. Plus walking killer plants and the ragged survivors having to flee again and again from man eating vegetables.
With Zombies who can see the dead walking, the fallen rise against the living. But with the Triffids humans were food, the plants were not hunting us because of any emotion, they were being driven as most zombies of the time were by radiation or infection.
The plants were hunting humans, just because we were food to them. As a youngster I found that frightening, the utter indifference of the Triffid that could grow in your flower bed and then walk across the garden to eat you.
At the mountains of madness.
Another formative book, there may be a pattern forming here. All the books I loved as a child entering the world of reading books are basicly strange, wierd, insane or end of the world. Still I can honestly say my early reading had absolutely no effect on how I turned out. Honest!
Lovecraft. Madness. The understanding that reality is an optional extra. Things beyond our understanding, things that would drive us mad if we understood them.
In a way the perfect fiction for the time as science raced ahead and people were left far behind, darkness and despair everywhere unless you are blind to the real world.
I first read this when it was a trilogy, Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance and Oath of Gold. Fantasy both high and low, a Hero drawn from the most humble ranks who rises to greatness, shapes kingdoms and brings light to the darkness.
This story could have been an epic D&D campaign including as it did the formative years of Paks who escaped an arranged marriage on the sheep farm then as a mercenary, adventure and finally paladin adventured and quested across the world.
I go back and read these every couple of years. Not my earliest fantasy but a story that, to me, is the sort of fantasy I love.
Red Storm Rising.
From the 80s and a tale of the cold war that could have been. Very much biased towards the US but it is the way in which war happens in slow steady steps that inevitably lead to confrontation.
The inevitability of war based on leaders doing things they thought they could control resonated with me and still does to this day as I see the same mistakes made again and again leading to the same results every time.
Not a deep book but an old favourite and one I return to often.
The Forever War
The ultimate futility of war and its effect on those who fight it. The soldiers who go to war and return to find their great grandchildren going out to fight in the next war.
A good concept and mix of science, human story and action.
Another that has stayed with me.
Lord of the Rings
What, it’s the Lord of the Rings. The books not the movies.
Epic fantasy, mighty heroes, courage and strength in the weakest of people, a dark and terrible enemy, a campaign across the varied realms of the world. A rich tapestry of kings and kingdoms and cities and caves.
What more is there to say. I have multiple versions of the books in boxes or on shelves, some to read once a year, others to collect and keep safe.
The Tar-Aiym Krang
First book I ever read by this writer but it led to every other book he has written, classic adventure Sci Fi and following the standard rise to power of the young hero selected by fate or destiny.
Easy to read and get into, fairly plausible science. While I don’t read these frequently I do return to them every few years and start with the very first then go through the entire series in a book a night until I am done. With such a long series doing this keeps each story fresh for the next.
Another dark future novel where the hero isn’t really a hero. A ex soldier, mercenary and revolutionary struggling to survive in a near future dystopia. Gritty, dark and rough. An all too believable world where life is cheap and hope is a dream.
Over the three books of the set the hero comes into contact with, works for and befriends a girl who rises to become one of the most powerful business leaders of Britain and in the process works to protect friends and family and fight for what is important.
I return to this series every few years.
Much as several of my friends discovered this author by reading this book, so did I. This book was a doorway that lead me to the rest of his novels and stories over the years.
Good traditional fantasy, swinging swords, flashing spells, dark threats and rousing victories. With a variety if characters across the books. A good book which led to many others.
Not a deep and psychological assessment of my life as determined by my reading habits. Just a simple list of books that have stayed with me over the years, books that I remember fondly and most that I go back to again and again for a good read.