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Favorite SF/Fantasy Series Novels
Favorite Series Novels in the SF & Fantasy Genres
I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy novels and while most of the books I read are one-offs, occasionally I find a great series. And yes, I know there are a ton of SF series, particularly when you start talking about media tie-in books. But these here are some of my personal favorites and include books I first read in college over 20 years ago so we're talking a lot of 80s fiction here. But they have sustained the course of time well and I highly recommend all of them. Enjoy!
Some of these books appear to be out of print (The Julian May books, specifically), but they are usually easily found on Amazon for very cheap. You will probably end up paying more for shipping than for the book. If you can, try and find a series that's available from a single seller or keep an eye out when you are visiting thrift shops and used bookstores.
The Saga of Pliocene Exile by Julian May
Written in the 80s this series is the first sub-series of a much larger series of books. The books May wrote after this series are far less interesting, much in the way that the newer Star Wars movies are much less interesting than the original trilogy. Sometimes writers need to learn when to let a good thing go.
The Saga is made up of four novels - The Many-Colored Land, The Golden Torc, The Non-born King and The Adversary. Of the four, The Adversary is the weakest so I think May was already losing steam by this point, but this book ties up the story in the Pliocene era so I don't think it is skip-worthy. It's still quite good anyway, just not as good as the first three which are totally rip-roaring fantastic in terms of plot, action and characterization.
In a nutshell, the books are about a group of malcontents, misfits, criminals and the like who travel through a one-way time tunnel to the Pliocene era in order to escape the restrictions of their own time period. Unfortunately, when they arrive in the past they discover that Earth of the Pliocene is being occupied by aliens who enslave most of the humans right as they come through the gate. And then the adventure begins. There's science, there's magic and there's lots of dark humor.
Mordant's Need by Stephen R. Donaldson
It's a two-book series made up of The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through. It probably could have been published as one book since A Man Rides Through picks up right where The Mirror of Her Dreams ends and you will definitely want to have the second book on hand when you finish the first or you may decide to kill yourself.
I could never get into Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series because I found Covenant to be completely unsympathetic, but the protagonist of this book, Terisa, is a different story. She's a contemporary New Yorker whisked into another world through her mirror in order to save the country of Mordant. Both my ex-husband and I were completely enchanted by these books and the Ex, having read all of Donaldson's works, assures me that these are his best.
Two Series by Brian Daley
The Adventures of Hobart Floyt and Alacrity Fitzhugh
Alacrity Fitzhugh and Hobart Floyt travel from planet to planet, meet interesting people who want to kill them and attempt to collect Hobart Floyt's inheritance along the way. There are three books in the series and there likely would have been more if Daley had not died. They are Requiem for a Ruler of Worlds, Jinx on a Terran Inheritance and Fall of the White Ship Avatar. These are some of the funniest books I've ever read.
The Han Solo Adventures
If you never read media tie-ins because you think they are a weak substitute for the real thing and you've read fanfic that's leagues better than the dreck written by tie-in writers, you can make your first exception this series. I believe these were the first Star Wars tie-in novels and Brian Daley was just the guy to write Han Solo. It's a trilogy: Han Solo at Star's End, Han Solo's Revenge and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy. These are very fun books and I always picture them as movies starring Harrison Ford.
Han Solo Adventures
The Valis Trilogy by Philip K. Dick
Written late in his career, these are probably some of the least accessible books that Dick ever wrote, but they're worth the effort. The third book in the trilogy, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, is one of the best books I ever read. The first two books are Valis and The Divine Invasion. The trilogy pretty much makes up the theology of Philip K. Dick. I don't know really how to describe these books, but they are very loosely a trilogy. Transmigration isn't really science fiction at all, but the first two are, kinda, umm, okay, just go read!! And you'll probably want to read them at least twice ;)