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February 2013

Sci-fi Book Review, Part 1: Series

By Everything

FoundationAt my friends’ requests I put together a comprehensive review of all the sci-fi books I’ve read. It’s probably more accurate to say “read” because I pretty much only listen to audiobooks.

Audible is a magical thing. Every month I get two books from my subscription, and have been doing this for years. I started out doing just sci-fi, and so I managed to accumulate quite a library. In the last few years, I’ve switched to reading one business book and one sci-fi book each month. The business books are usually less than 10 hours, so I usually read one of them twice in the same month. Sci-fi tends to be quite a bit longer, but I’ve still “read” quite a few.

But I digress, here’s my list of all the sci-fi series I’ve read. I’ll post the stand-alone books later. (The scale is from 1-10 with 10 being the best.)


  • Anderson – Saga of Seven Suns (5) – Great example of a series that would have been better as three or four books. This is actually the truest “space opera” that I’ve read; it’s just too damn long.
  • Asimov – Empire Series (6) – So many books in the Foundation Universe that I had to split into three groups. The Empire Series was written first, but comes in the middle, chronologically. Overall, good, short reads, but not the best.
  • Asimov – Foundation Series (7) – The quintessential Assimov series. Even in this group, there’s such a wide variety of topics. Overall, I enjoyed the series and recommend it.
  • Asimov – Robot Series (7) – Essentially these are detective novels, but taking place in a well-imagined far future. I enjoyed all of the books in this series and would recommend starting here and working your way through chronologically.
  • Butcher – Furies of Calderon (5) – After book 1, all the rest have the exact same plot structure. How did I make it to book 6? Grinding rep in WoW, that’s how.
  • Card – Ender’s Game (9) – I’m considering Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow as a series. The former being my favorite book on the psychology of management, and is one of the best sci-fi books of all time.
  • Card – Speaker for the Dead (4) – Separating these from the above, Ender is grown up and is a fucking bore. (Someone described this series as the best book on humanism. Meh. I’m not a humanist, I’m a sci-fi nerd)
  • Card – Pathfinder (6) – Fantasy, somewhat interesting, characters are good. Not as strong as Ender’s, but not as boring as Speaker. We’ll see how it develops.
  • Campbell – The Lost Fleet (6) – bubble gum sci fi: it’s tasty (for a bit) & entertaining (for a while), but lacking substance. One redeeming value: the space combat is incredible because the author is a retired Navy ship commander. Worth reading one or two for the warfare tactics & strategy.
  • Gibson – Sprawl Trilogy (8) – Geeky sci-fi that really pushes the boundaries of tech implications. Loved the series.
  • Hamilton – Commonwealth Saga (6) – It drags in a few places otherwise it would be a 7, but it’s good combo of far-future thinking and excellent character development.
  • Morgan – Takeshi Kovacs Series (8) – hard-hitting sci-fi with lots of action. Really great series. Wouldn’t be surprised if these end up as movies.
  • Pullman – His Dark Materials (6) – This is the series that starts with The Golden Compass, and starts rock solid, but quickly deteriorates into the author’s personal war on religion.
  • Reynolds – Revelation Space (7) – Really interesting far future space opera, each book is very different, as such I loved one, hated another, meh on a third.
  • Scalzi – Old Man’s War (6) – Somewhat fun, mostly just war stories. The first book is a great read, the others are just OK.
  • Simmons – Hyperion (8) – Far future sci-fi with tons of thinking about implications of our tech at logical extremes. Only reason it’s not higher is the last book gets a bit preachy.
  • Suarez – Daemon (10) – If you play video games, you must read this. Only two books in the series, but absolutely required reading for my fellow gaming geeks out there.

Next up, my favorite stand-alone sci-fi books. Followed by some business book reviews.