What SF has Steve been reading lately?

  • Release Candidate 6
    We are at a “proposed final” true release candidate with nothing known remaining to be changed or fixed. For the full story, please see this page in the "Pre-Release Announcements & Feedback" forum.
  • Be sure to checkout “Tips & Tricks”
    Dear Guest Visitor → Once you register and log-in:

    This forum does not automatically send notices of new content. So if, for example, you would like to be notified by mail when Steve posts an update to his blog (or of any other specific activity anywhere else), you need to tell the system what to “Watch” for you. Please checkout the “Tips & Tricks” page for details about that... and other tips!


Hey @tamahome02000 !! Nice to see you here. (y)

While waiting (until mid-November) for Peter Hamilton to finish his massive Salvation trilogy, and while waiting for Ryk Brown to finish the 30th book (the 15th in the second set of 15th), I've been reading a new unreleased Sci-Fi book by another of my favorite authors, Michael McCollum. Michael has written some of my favorite Sci-Fi. He generally has very good science (he's a now-retired nuclear engineer) and his plots have always been very engaging and clever. He asked me if I'd like to read his latest book before it's released. (I used to send him a list of the typos I had noticed in his eBooks, and we became eFriends.) I'm past the 50% point... and I'm still waiting for something cool and amazing to happen. I worry that it might just be a travelogue. We'll see.

Ryk Brown's 30th book (I am REALLY enjoying his Frontiers Saga) should be any time now. The last I saw he was aiming for September, which we just left. And the conclusion of Peter F. Hamilton's Salvation trilogy will be wonderful (if only to finalize the investment). So... That's where I am at the moment.
Yes, I read Hamilton's first two Salvation books. Actually, I've been wondering where Michael McCollum's audiobooks are. They seem to have disappeared.

I've recently read Tim Pratt's The Lost Stars, and am reading Suzanne Palmer's Finder with Sword & Laser. But they are more like 'comfy' space opera, shorter without a lot of hard science, but there is some. Maybe not in your wheelhouse.
Last edited:
I think I'd describe Ryk Brown's Frontiers Saga as "Comfy Space Opera" too. There's plenty of satisfying sci-tech stuff, but he EXCELLS in his characterization. I have REALLY come to know his books' primary characters, and a LOT happens in every book. So they're really very satisfying. When you are looking for a next commitment, I'd recommend Ryk Brown's Frontiers Saga without (typo fixed!) hesitation. They are not Peter F. Hamilton caliber, but what is?, And they make no pretense. It's just FUN Sci-Fi.
Mostly fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson has some youtube videos of his writing classes at a college. He says that character and plot are more important than worldbuilding. He said some books have a "worldbuilding disease" where character and plot are weak. He actually wrote a neat sounding sf novella called "Snapshot" where a day in a city is completely reproduced by some technology, and these 2 cops go into it to investigate crimes. I'll get to it after I finish Finder.
Thanks for the recommendation on Peter Hamilton and his massive Salvation trilogy, as well as the Frontiers Saga.
That will help me out since I have been waiting on Daniel Suarez to finish something new in his works for over a year.
Brandon Sanderson writes mostly fantasy, but is an interesting case. People says he uses "hard magic", that's almost like science. He even has "Sanderson's Laws" of worldbuilding:

1. An author's ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic.

2. The limitations of a magic system are more interesting than its capabilities. What the magic can't do is more interesting than what it can.

3. A brilliant magic system for a book is less often one with a thousand different powers and abilities -- and is more often a magic system with relatively few powers that the author has considered in depth.

0. Err on the side of AWESOME.
Steve, I am just impressed by how fast and how much you read. How many hours a day do you set aside for reading non-technical books such as scifi, and how many pages a day do you cover? Maybe its easier to put it this way: Salvation is 552 pages long. How many days did it take you to finish it?

This doesn't even cover the programming and non-fiction books you read from cover to cover. And all the online material you cite for research. I am truly astonished by your output.
@Yoon : It's really not speed. I'm a plodder. Think of the fable of the tortoise and the hare. I'm a tortoise, not a hare. I am never idle, because I don't want to be. I am working all the time because that's what I want to do. So the hours simply add up. I also believe in the efficiency that comes from measuring twice (or three or more times) and cutting only once. The things I do tend to take far longer than I ever expect. But once they are done they have the tendency of staying done. And that creates a surprising amount of efficiency. I also tend to “reinvent the wheel” by not building upon other previous work. I always want to see for myself whether I can come up with a superior solution. I always learn from what has come before, but I am never bound by it. So, things tend to work out. (y)
I like many of Steve's authors (i.e. Peter F. Hamilton). However, when I need comfort reading I slip back into the Revelation Space books. That and Cryptonomicon. I've read these dozens of times, but always get newer books in there too.
Steve, If I maybe so bold, I have a series that I heartily recommend.

Called "1632" or "Ring of Fire" by Eric Flint. Basic premise is "what would happen if you dropped a 10 mile chunk of West Virginia circa 2000 into 1632 Germany?"

So this is an alternative history to a point, but it is really about the impacts each culture has on the other - while in the midst of plagues, marauding armies (it is the middle of the Thirty Years war), feudalism and no sanitation.

Flint controls the main story line ( 8-9 books) but a dozen other authors have branched out from there. I believe it is fairly accurate depiction of the actual historical events of that time, so you have characters like Cardinal Richelieu, Pascal and Galileo playing key roles.

Hard to describe the series, but anyone who can take the collision of barter, the gold standard, paper money and Keynesian economics and make it an interesting part of the story line is impressive.
I know the question was directed at Steve, but... I just finished Heavens River, the forth book in the Bobaverse series. Although not my favorite of the four stories, still a fun read. Dennis Taylor is the Author.

Another I really liked was the Three body problem from Cixin Liu. Interesting idea ... 400 years to wait.

I really like stories about alien civilization discovery, the more real to physics, the better. Expanse being one of my favorites.

Sorry if I'm hijacking. If I were anything more than a newb lurker I'd create a thread "What's everyone reading." :)
Iain Banks is pretty high on my list. The Algebraist is in my all time top 5 best books. His Culture Series is excellent, my favorite is Matter but I recommend starting at the beginning.

Other outstanding books are Snow Crash, Accelerando, A Fire Upon the Deep.
  • Like
Reactions: danie_vdm
I agree with @albion the Bobiverse series are fun, although I have not got to Heaven's River yet! Looking forward to it.

I am also a fan of the Three Body books by Cixin Liu... Just finishing the third (Death's End) at the moment. I got hooked after reading "Ball Lightning".

Steve has also mentioned in the past the Rho Agenda books by Richard Phillips, which now comprises a prequel series (Inception) to the orginal, Rho Agenda series, and a sequel (Assimilation)!

Another fun series is Extracted by R R Haywood.
I've gone back to read Asimov's Foundation series in advance of the Apple TV show. I'm hoping it's as good as the Expanse has generally been in getting the main themes of that storyline onto the small screen as well.
I recently finished Axiom's End by Lindsay Ellis - It was extremely well written and very compelling. The plot is about the daughter of a Julian Assange-type guy who leaked government docs about alien contact. It deepens from there as we find out what is really going on but the themes are about secrecy, power of information and intersecting cultural values. Highly recommend.

Does anyone read Neal Asher? It is a little more on the trashy end of the sci-fi action spectrum but they are fun reads, he walks the line of hard-scifi while still be fanciful. The in-universe tech also evolves as the books go on. Recommended for anyone who enjoys AI characters and starship combat.
The nicest surprise for me was to discover that for Amazon Prime members, Ryk Brown's Frontiers Saga is in the lending library. For those that don't know, Prime members with a Kindle (the real one, not the Kindle app on a smartphone, etc), can read a free book a month from the lending library list. How do you know which titles are on the list? Ah, Amazon buries that deeply on their site, making it not very clear. But suffice it to say, I've enjoyed almost all of the first 15 books so far for free, at the leisurely pace of one a month, interspersed with other interesting titles I've found. I'm just about to finish "After On", by Rob Reid, which was mentioned recently on TWIT, and I just purchased the 3rd volume of the Salvation trilogy, so I have plenty of reading material on hand.

Past free books I've read include all seven volumes of the Harry Potter series.
  • Like
Reactions: DanR