Recommended Reading

This is a list of some of my favorite comics, stories, and books.  I highly recommend checking them out!

Webcomics

Sluggy Freelance – This is a titan among webcomics.  Pete Abrams has been drawing for over fifteen years, and has covered just about every genre possible.  The comic is rich with epic plots, great humor, amazing characters, and it will take over your life for a couple of weeks while you catch up.  But it’s worth it.  Updates weekdays with story comics, and with sketches on weekends.

Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire – A powerful and punny fantasy focused on the seer Dominic Deegan, his family, and his friends.  The author has built an amazing world, and uses it to tell equally amazing stories.  This is the only fantasy story I know of that includes a heavy metal band.  Updates every weekday.

Questionable Content – Despite the name, not much of this content is actually questionable.  Just a story about a guy, his friends, and their lives.  With everything from maniacal sentient computers to obscure indie references to birds that shout obscenities, this comic is a great deal of fun.  Updates every weekday.

El Goonish Shive – This comic follows the lives of several high school students and the wacky (and sometimes serious) events that happen to them.  Lots of transformation, gender bending, magic, and science.  A lot of fun to read.  Updates MTRF

Not A Villain – Set in a post-apocalyptic world, where everyone interacts via a virtual reality known as L.i.F.e. Within L.i.F.e. is The Game, a sort of combined MMORPG and reality TV show. The story follows Kleya, a reformed hacker who now wants nothing more than to be a hero…but she can’t stand to lose. Updates TF.

Gunnerkrigg Court – Follow Antimony Carver as she attends school at Gunnerkrigg Court.  Robots, mythical beings, and mysteries abound in a wonderfully surreal world.  Updates MWF.

Freefall – Science fiction at its best.  Combines realistic sci-fi with hilarious scenarios.  The author covers a number of really interesting concepts, like robots studying religion, as well as just plain fun, such as christening a spacecraft “The Savage Chicken.”  Highly recommended to any fan of hard but fun science fiction.  Updates MWF.

City of Reality – Imagine a city where all people love their neighbors, where no one locks doors because no one has to, where lies and crime are not only rare; the thought simply doesn’t occur to anyone.  This is the city of Reality.  The comic focuses on the members of SUEPR [sic], the guardians of Reality, and the adventures they face.  Updates MWF.

Girly – Did I say Gunnerkrigg Court was surreal?  Well, Girly makes it look perfectly normal.  This comic follows two girls through wild adventures in and beyond Cute Town, a well-named city where the ridiculous is mundane.  I don’t know what genre this counts as, but it is very fun.  This comic is completed.

Girl Genius – Despite a similar name, an entirely different comic from Girly.  Follow Agatha through a gaslamp fantasy world where steam power stands side-by-side with holograms and ray guns.  A great adventure through an amazing world.  Updates MWF.

Count Your Sheep – A completely different style of comic from most of the above.  Where all the others tell continuing stories, Count Your Sheep is more like a newspaper comic.  It follows Katie, her mother, and their mutual imaginary friend Ship.  A very cute and friendly comic, and great to read late at night when you should be sleeping. This appears to have stopped in 2011, but the archives are well worth reading.

Books

Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville – A deep, complex story set in the city of New Crobuzon.  The tale crosses the lives of many fascinating characters, and includes elements of steampunk, dark fantasy, mystery, and much more.  In few other tales will you encounter the Ambassador from Hell, sentient robots, and a city-wide hunt, none of which ends how you might expect.

The Scar, by China Mieville – Less of a sequel, and more of a sister story to Perdido Street Station.  Takes place in the same world, but on the sea, aboard the pirate city Armada.  All the same elements that I loved about his previous book, I loved in this, and it has pirates!

Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson – I don’t know what I expected when I picked this book up, but I loved it.  The story follows Vin, a street urchin in a world of high nobility and the highly oppressed skaa.  Maybe that premise sounds cliché, but I assure you the story itself is not.  A unique magic system, wonderfully realistic characters, and twists that leave you drooling for more.  First in an incredible trilogy.

The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher – Harry Dresden is a wizard, and a damn good private investigator in the city of Chicago.  He investigates the weird stuff, the things no one talks about or believes in.  He also helps the police with the cases that just don’t make sense.  This is a series with plenty of magic, humor, depth, and darkness.  A great ride, and I look forward to each new book.  And, credit where credit is due: Victor Haas, while not at all intended as a clone of Dresden, definitely took a few elements from Jim Butcher’s series.

Wool – After the world as we know it ends, the last of humanity lives deep underground in an enormous silo. Their only link to the outside world is a fuzzy view out ancient cameras, looking onto a landscape that is toxic and unlivable.  Strict laws govern the silo, and no matter what, you must never suggest an interest in the outside world…for you get what you want. A very engaging story, self-published as a series of five books, none of which take you on a path you expect.

Marlowe and the Spacewoman – Science fiction comedy at its best. Talking houses, buildings made from Styrofoam, and evil parrots come together in this hilarious mystery. While in the middle of trying to solve his own murder, the private detective Marlowe is called to investigate the claims of a woman who claims to be from space. Written by a friend of mine, who deserves all the plugs I can give him.

Waldo & Magic, Inc. – I want to point this book out for two reasons. First, I grew up reading Robert A. Heinlein, and devoured nearly every book of his that I could get my hands on (which, as my dad is also a fan, was most of them). So while this isn’t my favorite Heinlein book, it is well worth recommending to others. And second, Magic, Inc. is the first story I read that mentioned salamanders as mythical beasts, and I remember them being nothing more than featureless balls of flame. So when I began writing Illusions, Heinlein’s salamanders were the first to come to mind, and the image I drew upon for Kristopher.

Other

NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month is an incredible program that began in 1999 and has been growing ever since. The idea is simple: during the month of November, you write a 50,000 word fiction novel. This might sound insane (and it is), but it’s designed for those of us who say, “someday, I’d like to write a novel…”  NaNoWriMo takes that distant “someday” and turns it into a reality, making you write so fast you don’t have time to worry about how bad your prose is, or how underdeveloped your characters are. You can always go back and edit the story after November, once you have that all-important first draft. There’s no collaboration, but there’s a huge community full of ideas, support, and camaraderie in stress.  I found NaNoWriMo in 2003 and have participated in all but one year since. Absolutely a blast each time. Find me on the forums as Firedrake83.

links will be added as I find them.  And recommendations from you are always welcome!

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