I don’t read a lot of book series, because I just don’t want to commit to so many books when I have so many other things to read. I didn’t when I was a kid too much, either, for the same reason. But I know that a lot of authors create book series for any number of reasons – I guess one reason is they have such a big story to tell that one book can’t contain it, and another, more cynical reason is that they hit a cash cow with the first book and want to keep milking it. That’s fine. But I am curious about such things, because I know they’re such a big deal. So my Question of the Week is: What is your favorite book series in the fantasy or science fiction genre? It’s an easy question, right?
I have read some, and while I was thinking about this, I thought I was going to answer both with books by the same, somewhat discredited writer. Then I thought my science fiction answer is different, because it’s The Paratwa Trilogy by Christopher Hinz. I wrote about this trilogy here, in case you’re interested, and it really is my favorite science fiction book series. I like Clarke’s “2001” saga, but it gets a bit too weird in the final books. My first thought was that I would pick Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Saga, because those books are so danged good, but I haven’t actually read them all. Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide – the first two sequels to Ender’s Game – are superb (as is the original, of course), but I didn’t read the next two. I read the first “Shadow” book, Ender’s Shadow, and liked it, but that also started to sprawl and I fell behind. This is what I’m talking about with regard to book series – I can’t keep up! So while I dig the “Ender’s” books I have read, I haven’t read the entire thing. Hinz’s tight trilogy is better, anyway.
In fantasy, I’ve read even fewer series than I have of science fiction. My favorite, by far, is Card’s Alvin Maker series, which takes place in a pioneer America where magic is real. He wrote six books in the series, which remains unfinished (Card is 70, so if he plans to finish it, he better get going!), but the books are wonderful. Alvin is the seventh son of a seventh son, so he’s a powerful “maker,” a person who can create things (he’s kind-of sort-of like Jesus, but I guess he’s modeled a bit on Joseph Smith), and he has all kinds of adventures in the early 19th century. What bothers me most about Card’s regressive views on homosexuality is how humanistic his fiction is, and it’s one of those weird things that you just can’t reconcile. His writing is filled with sympathetic characters (granted, not many of them are gay) who struggle with how to live good lives and, the good ones at least, understand that people have to take different paths on their road of life. It’s impressive, and it makes his idiotic public statements more depressing, because it’s clear he knows how to craft characters who would probably disagree with his politics, if they were real people.
I don’t really count The Lord of the Rings as a series, because it’s meant to be a complete book, not three separate books. That would be my favorite, but I don’t count it. I never read any Pern books or Thomas Covenant books, because I suck, I guess. I got about 100 pages into Dune before giving up. Dang, that was boring. (I did like The Jesus Incident and The Lazarus Effect, which are part of a series, but I didn’t read the other two.) So I’m definitely not an expert on fantasy or sci-fi series. Which is partly why I’m asking this question – I’m always curious about things to read! So let me know what your favorites are!