Let’s Talk Fiction

We have to pass along our recommendations to others. We have to write reviews, we have to talk books up on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or wherever you hang out in cyberspace.
on Sep 17, 2018 · 9 comments

I think one of the things that disturbs me most in the various speculative forums I visit, is the fact that so few talk about the fiction they have read or are reading.

In one such spot, someone asked for recommendations for a certain genre written for a certain age, and you’d think they’d asked if the members wanted to go to the dentist. I envision a lot of head-scratching before a few answers trickled out, most naming some classic, written by an icon.

I couldn’t help wondering, are there no good contemporary books, or are speculative fans not reading?

I happen to know there are good books because I’ve read some. But are self-professed “geeks” reading them? Back in June I wrote a couple posts about reading speculative fiction: “Where Do You Find Your Speculative Fiction,” and “Christian Speculative Fiction: What’s Wrong With This Picture?”

I realize that one of the conclusions I came to from the poll that ran and the comments that followed is this: we don’t read lesser known books because they are lesser known. We stick with the popular and the much-talked-about, not because they are better or the best (though they might be) but because out of all the thousands of books now available to us, we don’t know which are the best.

Contests can help, no doubt. When a book wins an award at Realm Makers or at ACFW Carol in the Speculative category, or a Christy or from one of the conferences such as Blue Ridge or Oregon, we should take note. We should put those books on our To Be Read pile and make note of those authors to see what they write next.

Personally, I find recommendations from people I know to be even stronger. I also find reviews on Amazon or at Goodreads to be helpful. I don’t need to read a book only if it is in the top ten or top one hundred, because I understand how hard it is to get the word out about a good book. But somebody needs to tell me about a book if I’m going to look at it more closely, if I’m going to consider buying it, and if I’m actually going to read it.

Let’s face it. We’re all busy. And books are not simply competing against other books for our time. They’re also competing against TV and movies and games.

I maybe am repeating myself ad infinitum here, but I’m going to do it anyway. We have to pass along our recommendations to others. We have to write reviews, we have to talk books up on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or wherever you hang out in cyberspace. The fact is, we each have more opportunity to influence people all over the world than we’ve ever had before. Used to be you had to work for a news outlet of some kind to have an influence beyond your immediate circle of friends. But no more. We can have a much broader reach. We can touch people with our recommendations like we never have before.

So here’s what I’m asking. Have you read any speculative fiction in 2018? If so, what book or books? How would you rate them? If they are titles you could recommend, pass them along to us. And then put that same recommendation somewhere else on the internet. Maybe write a review for Amazon or B&N, mention it in a group on FB, put up a review on your blog. You know, anywhere that other readers might see what you think about this good book.

Here’s another option. Why not make a list. You know, you see them all the time. Why not make your own. What are your top five speculative books written in this century? Or this year? Or make it top ten or top three. Maybe make your own award with you as the judge. What book would win?

The point is, spread the word. The only way some books will get noticed is if YOU do the talking.

Best known for her aspirations as an epic fantasy author, Becky is the sole remaining founding member of Speculative Faith. Besides contributing weekly articles here, she blogs Monday through Friday at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. She works as a freelance writer and editor and posts writing tips as well as information about her editing services at Rewrite, Reword, Rework.
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  1. Haven’t had a chance to read many novels, honestly. The last year or two, the best novels I have read have been in the Wings of Fire series by Tui T Sutherland. They aren’t Christian, and are very popular, though.

    I also started reading Song of the Summer King by Jess E Owen, and it’s ok so far(it’s her first book, if I recall correctly, so it has its imperfections) Not Christian either, but it’s indie, if I recall correctly.

    Other than that…I’m mainly been reading comics and fanfictions. They come in shorter snippets and are accessible on my phone or ipod, so they’re really easy to consume a quick, short chapter of and put down without feeling like the story was interrupted.

    I’d have to take longer to build a better list of favorites for this century, but here’s the stories that have at least been on my mind more recently(in no particular order):

    Graphic Novels/Comics Available On Tapas:

    Adonis by TeamAdonis
    Bloodstain by Sigeel
    Seed by Said
    Fashion Star by boxheadstudio
    Ghost of the Gulag by David Derrick
    Midnight Rain by Pani
    Africa by Panthera Arven
    Rose of Sharon by Haleviyah Epstein (Biblical fiction comic)

    Graphic Novels/Comics Available On Line Webtoon:

    Rebirth by 69Michi
    I Love Yoo by Quimchee
    Outside The Box by Momo
    Unordinary by uru-chan
    Let’s Play by Mongie


    Off White: Link to comic archive: http://off-white.eu/archive/

    The Blackblood Alliance by Kay Fedewa: Link to page 1: https://www.deviantart.com/kayfedewa/art/The-Blackblood-Alliance-Page-1-628572670

    I’ll see about coming back later with a bigger list, and include more Christian fiction things in it.

  2. The Delusion by Laura Gallier. Planning on reading some books by Kim Williamson too. Leandra’s Enchanted Flute by Kate Huth Jones.

  3. Dona says:

    One thing that helped me find good books is the readers and writers groups on Facebook. I especially love the Lorehaven Group, which I think is affiliated with Speculative Faith. Letting an author talk about the different elements of their book for a week is so much fun. I have gotten quite a few books that way. It is so much fun to hear reasons of why they came up with one part of the story or another. I haven’t been reading much fiction for the last 15 years. I discovered non-fiction and have focused on that. Then with the state of the world I got overloaded with real life so turned once again to fiction. I’m trying to read more of it but there is so much to learn about the issues that I’m still not really finding as much time for fiction as I should. Sadly, I haven’t had time to read most of the fiction I’ve found. So many books and so little time. I have to quit buying and do more reading.

  4. I’m a slow reader and since starting to write, I have even less time to read. Currently reading The House of Many Ways by Diane Wynne Jones. I know, it’s cheating because that’s a big famous name. But I read a very broad spectrum of genres. So that’s all I got unless you count my own creative work, (the short book I just released) titled The Hunter and the Valley of Death: A Parable of Surrender based on Psalm 23. Part of a multi-author series based on the psalms. HUNTER is a fantasy parable, and though it’s short, it’s also available on Audible.

    Beyond that, I’m a HUGE fan of Billy Coffey. He writes southern fiction with a bizarre, supernatural twist. His writing is slower paced. Yes. But he’s amazing. And way underrated. He’s published by Thomas Nelson, and a few of his books are available on Audible.com, as well.

    • notleia says:

      Does Billy Coffey qualify as Southern Gothic in your opinion? I see the comparison to Flannery O’Connor, but he seems more sentimental than she does (granted, I actually need to read some Southern Gothic beyond the Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy I was assigned in a class)

  5. Well said Rebecca. As an author I made a personal commitment that, if I’m going to ask readers to give me reviews, then I must be a good player and do so myself. That means taking the time (ugh, time!) to write an actual review, with meaningful words, to BookBub, Goodreads, etc. And telling my readers what I’m reading (or listening to since it’s mostly audio these days with a long commute). And, horror, actually writing a blogpost on them too. I try to be gentle and forgiving to myself if I fall behind, but I know I need to participate because it’s important!

    • I hear you, Travis. I realized just recently, though, that readers are more apt to pay attention to the short reviews. I don’t have to write a book report. I often do on my blog, but for Amazon or Goodreads, something shroter is likely something people will read. After all, they’re busy, too. I often skim a long article for no other reason than that it is long!


  6. Travis Perry says:

    What’s maybe interesting about me is I spend more time reading non-fiction than I do fiction and I have for years. However, I am one of the judges for the Realm Awards and have read some interesting recent books as a result. Steve Rzasa’s Man Behind the Wheel is the first thing that comes to mind…

    • Judging various contests has given me the opportunity to read a lot of book I otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance or inclination to read. It’s one reason I do so much judging. But of course, I can’t talk about those books until after the awards are made, so it’s not particularly beneficial to the authors. Wish I could do both.


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