Friday, November 10, 2017

Charles Recommends: Sword and Planet Fiction

I'm going to start a new feature both here on the blog and on facebook in which I’ll recommend my top five or so books in each genre that I’m familiar with. I'll limit it to one book per author in each of those genres. What I'd love to get back is other folks' recommendations in those genres as well. I'm always looking for new good books to read. Below are my top five recommendations in Sword & Planet fiction.

1. Swordsmen in the Sky: My favorite fantasy collection of all time. This is the collection that, more than anything, made me want to write Sword & Planet stories. Contains: Swordsman Of Lost Terra by Poul Anderson, People of the Crater by Andre Norton, The Moon That Vanished by Leigh Brackett, A Vision of Venus by Otis Adelbert Kline, and Kaldar, World of Antares, by Edmond Hamilton

2. A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This is the one that started it all for me. The first in the Barsoom series by Burroughs. John Carter gets to Mars and has his first adventures. I loved it so much that from the moment I read it I began making up my own stories about this kind of character and world. Eventually, the Talera cycle resulted. I owe ERB so much for the joy he gave me and the inspiration he was for me with these books.

3. A Sword for Kregen, by Alan Burt Akers (AKA Kenneth Bulmer): This is the first Dray Prescot book that I ever read, and it is still my favorite. Dray Prescot meets a better swordsman than he is, which was unique in my experience with Sword & Planet fiction up to that time. The book also involves a game of living chess, or the Kregen equivalent of that, called Jikaida. I still remember finding this book at a small used bookstore in Russellville, Arkansas when I was in college there. Just a great story.


4. Aldair in Albion, by Neal Barrett, Jr.: This is the first in a four book series that has to be one of the most unique S & P works out there. It’s a bit outside the standard realm for S & P fiction because it actually takes place on a future earth. However, the feel of it—to me—is sword & planet with a healthy dose of animal fable. This is a story about a world abandoned by humans but only after they raised many other species to sentience. The main character is an intelligent, upright walking pig. But although that sounds like food for hilarity, the story is full of adventure and excitement.


5. In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, by S. M. Stirling: Stirling knocked it out of the park with this one. A wonderful revival of the Sword and Planet genre, and set on Mars no less. Great action, fantastic and wonderful characters, and a powerful ending. A truly enjoyable experience.

18 comments:

Deuce said...

Good post, though I would have to disagree with the choice of "Aldair", genre-wise. Barrett is good, though. You should check out Keith Taylor's THE LANCES OF NENGESDUL sometime.

Bill Crider said...

I really like the Aldair series. And I'm getting my copy of Swordsmen in the Sky off the shelf for rereading.

Cloudia said...

Thank You, Charles!

Charles Gramlich said...

Deuce, Aldair is definitely at the edge of S & P. All I know is that I've shelved it that way on my shelves because, although it takes place on earth, the feel for me is more like a world like Kregen or Barsoom with multiple races interacting.

Bill, I'm gonna reread that too. Love it.

Cloudia, thumbs up

Joe Allegretti said...

I'm just beginning to read S&P. What Leigh Brackett would you recommend? Thanks.

Charles Gramlich said...

Joe, pretty much all Leigh Brackett stuff is good. Her Outlaw of Mars collection is my favorite. It features the earliest appearances of Eric John Stark. Sometimes you see this collection as separate tales, "The secret of Sinharat," and "People of the Talisman." The easiest to find of her books is probably the Skaith series. They feature Stark and are quite good

Joe Allegretti said...

Thanks, Charles!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I enjoyed the Barsoom series as well.
I remember trying Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant series, but I'm not into anti-heroes.

sage said...

These are not generally in my genre, but I have been thinking I’d “listen” to a audio by Burroughs (and since I’m so much of a fan of King Crimson’s music..)

Charles Gramlich said...

Joe, no prob.

Alex, I liked Anthony's early stuff, like Orn and so on, but later just lost interest in his work


Sage, I've only listened to a couple of audio books in my life. I don't know. it just doesn't really work for me.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I truly wish I could read fantasy. Just not in my DNA, I guess. Nor are romances.

Charles Gramlich said...

Patti, Hard to decide between westerns and fantasy as my preferred reading. I read a lot of both. somewhat more fantasy over time

Erik Donald France said...

Cool recs. Charles. I love the DAW covers, they have their own style and tone. One of my sisters had dozens of them.

You've got the water front well covered & I doubt there's anything I could recommend in these genres that you haven't already read or know about. I can movie recs, more likely. But I dig!

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, thanks, man. yeah, those covers were dynamite.

Kung Fu Space Barbarian said...

Cool post! I haven't read all these but I'll add them to my list. ERB has also been hugely inspirational to my own sword and planet adventures :D

Charles Gramlich said...

Kung fu, one of the biggest influences on writers around, I imagine.

Ray Palm (Ray X) said...

So how do you rate the Gor S&M books? Authored by a philosophy professor and classical scholar! That means they must be good!!!

I'm really not into pain or degrading women.

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