Recent Trends in Sci-Fi Books

So, I like science fiction. I make no secret of that, it's what I am writing. It will surprise almost nobody that I am on a lot of email lists both general and for specific authors.

'Defiance', Nick Webb So today I get a notification from Discover Sci-Fi of a new book called, "Defiance: Book 5 of the Legacy Fleet Series (The Legacy Fleet Trilogy)" by Nick Webb.

I had, of course, seen notification of some of his earlier books in the series and I am stunned by how fast he's knocking them out ... book 1 only arrived in 2015. And BTW, to use a Hitch Hiker's Guideism (sic), shouldn't that be, "Defiance: Book 5 of the increasingly inaptly named The Legacy Fleet Trilogy"? I digress ...

So, I haven't read any of the series but the Amazon blurb goes ...

The fog of war clouds everything. Enemies lurk in the shadows, within the very fleet sworn to protect United Earth. Conspiracies and murder abound, and in the background…. The stalled alien invasion lurks.

The Golgothic ship has burrowed deep into the core of Saturn’s moon Titan, whose mass slowly but inexorably increases. The Dolmasi, once allies of United Earth in the Second Swarm War, now attack us, unhinged and without reason. And all the while, Admiral Shelby Proctor works to answer the most urgent questions of all: what was a piece of the old ISS Victory doing inside the Golgothic ship? And was it Captain Tim Granger’s voice that whispered from the doomed ship, “Shelby, they’re coming?”

And … are they the Swarm? If they are, God help us all.
And my first thought is, "My god, Earth is under attack ... again!", quickly followed by a stifled yawn!

Nick Webb is one of what I would call "the new authors", a large group of authors, many self-published, who seem to knock out book after book in long-running series that are, more-often-than-not, military science fiction and, more-often-than-not, put the Earth in extreme danger. I admit I read quite a few, to begin with, I was even quite excited about some, but after a while, it just got dull, tiresome, basically boring. I looked at the series and the first one was published in June 2015 ... I mean, that's 5 books in 2 years and 2 months. That's impressive ... in a "not very" kind of way. I assume he's going for quantity over quality because I don't believe any author can knock out truly good books in that short a space of time.

'Crimson Worlds' by Jay Allan Richard Fox is another example, I lapped up the first few books of "The Ember War" series ... it worked, he writes well and engages the reader creating characters that I really don't want to die. But after a while, it started to get a bit samey and by book 8, "The Crucible"... Oh God! Those damned Xaros, and just about everyone else, are attacking Earth again. Then he released the first book of "The Exiled" series and it appeared to be much the same story set somewhere else in space. In terms of book numbers, he's done even better... he released the first "Ember War" book in June 2015 and is now on book 9. In that same period, he's also released, the first two books of "The Exiled" series and another book in the same universe as The Ember War books. Twelve books in 26 months? And I thought Nick Webb was impressive.

'The Ember War' by Richard Fox Another problem is how samey some of these books seem to be. I had a conversation by email with Dietmar Wehr whilst reading his "Synchronicity War" series ... it was good but I thought the ending was a little bit... well... contrived. Then he released the first book of another series, "The System States Rebellion"... after which I suggested it was rather similar to his first series. He responded that Space Opera was always going to be similar. I thought about that for a while and then thought, "I grant you they weren't brilliantly written but Doc Smith's Lensman series of books were nothing like that and they were pretty much the definition of Space Opera."

'Grey Lensman' by E. E. Doc Smith I mean, maybe it's just me, maybe I'm being unfair but surely there are better books out there, I mean "The Nexus" series by Ramez Naan is pretty good and fairly original. I thought Jack Campbell's series of books, "The Lost Fleet" was very good (still military SF but better written), Jay Allan's "Crimson World" series was very good and, although I had initially decided not to read his set-in-the-same-universe-as books since it just felt like they would be much the same, I eventually did and it turned out they were still very well written and entertaining. And Douglas E. Richards has written a couple of quite brilliant semi-science fiction books.

'The Synchronicity Wars' by Dietmar Arthur Wehr I love science fiction and I want authors who write it to succeed (I want authors to succeed no matter the genre) after all I hope to be one myself in a couple of months but I guess I want something just a bit more interesting than Earth is in danger... again! I get that the author wants to make the reader care and that our planet is perhaps the greatest thing we can care about but come on! I seem to recall, quite possibly viewing through rose-tinted glasses, classic authors coming up with characters and scenarios that were novel, making us care about them then giving them a problem which they had to solve by the end of the book... and not thirteen books later. I mean, call me high-maintenance, but surely, a "USA Today Bestselling author" can come up with better ideas than this?

Thanks for reading.

James C. Rocks, Author ("The Abyssal Void" Series)

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Never fire a laser at a mirror.

Larry Niven

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