10 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books You Should Read (Indie Author Day)

In celebration of Indie Author Day, I started thinking about all the great science fiction and fantasy I’ve read this year by indie authors. As you may know, I decided to make 2017 the Year of the Indie Author, in which I would read indie books exclusively. The year’s not over yet, so I won’t post all the indie books I’ve read and attempted to read this year (yet).

Here are 10 indie books I recommend, in a variety of SFF genres. It’s Indie Author Day, so give them a try!

Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron cover of young man

Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers #1) by Rachel Aaron

Urban fantasy

The worldbuilding is awesome. Set in the near future, cars drive themselves but still have manual overrides. There’s augmented reality, but still personal mobile phones. Oh, and a meteor brought magic back to the world, creating a magic apocalypse of sorts, at least in Detroit, where this is set.

The characters are also fantastic. Most SFF these days follows the badasses, the tough guys, the kickass heroines, the anti heroes. But Julius is an uncompromising nice guy, without being a passive character. We’re led to believe he used to be a pushover, a loser doing nothing useful in his life, at least according to his relatives. But as the story progresses, he does have a heroic character arc, and I loved every minute of it.

Marci, the human mage, is also an interesting character in her own right. And while she’s not the hero of the story, she is fun to watch and someone you can’t help but cheer for.

It was also very light on the romance, and I’m told the sequel is much the same. I love that the big reveal of his secret identity doesn’t lead to the melodramatic crap you see in so many romantic comedies or superhero stories. It was much more natural and what you would expect from these two characters.

A fun adventure from start to finish, with a quick pace, interesting characters, and a world that feels all too real in spite of the magic.

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Air Awakens by Elise Kova cover with steampunk woman

Air Awakens (Air Awakens, #1) by Elise Kova

Epic fantasy, steampunk, and romance

Fans of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted should definitely read this book. It’s very much the same subgenre (romance with fantasy trappings) of experienced/asshole male sorcerer teaches new/naive female sorcerer magic and along the way they fall in love and she redeems him. If you hate romance tropes, don’t read this book.

The magic system is very reminiscent (in a good way) of Avatar: The Last Airbender, with Vhalla being the last airbender. Or rather, the first airbender in 100 years.

Elise’s storytelling craft is fantastic, and I found myself constantly highlighting passages where I totally envy the author’s way with words. This is a self-published book, but aside from a few mistakes (including one inappropriate mid-scene POV shift), you’d never know it. The writing and editing were so tight I was just jealous the whole time I was reading it.

I honestly can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

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Path of Flames by Phil Tucker cover of warrior with white skin holding sword with runes

The Path of Flames (Chronicles of the Black Gate, #1) by Phil Tucker

Epic fantasy

If you love A Song of Ice and Fire, most Brandon Sanderson books, and other epic fantasies, definitely give this book a read. I absolutely loved it and all the characters.

Someone asked me if there are any awesome female characters. My answer: Yes, as I recall the noblewoman (I can’t remember her title) is honorably leading her people through her house’s exile to a “haunted” island. And her daughter becomes an awesome swordswoman, who finds an awesome sword. Magic swords are always awesome.

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Orison by Daniel Swensen cover of hand hold a red orb

Orison by Daniel Swensen

Epic fantasy (standalone!)

I read it in a week, so clearly I enjoyed it! By the end, I loved Story and Wrynn. I have to admit it’s not often that you see friendships portrayed this strongly between opposite-gendered characters, so I kept wondering if there was going to be romance. But even though other characters often remarked on them liking each other, nothing came of it. Still too much talk of it for me to mark this as non-romance, however. There for a while I even thought Wrynn and Dun might have a thing going.

So the point is the characters care deeply for each other, which is nice to see but apparently so rare that I had trouble believing it at times. Maybe that says more about me than the book!

The novel started out slow and somewhat disjointed as epic fantasy novels are wont to do. I’m glad I stuck it out, because eventually I couldn’t put it down!

Very good standalone fantasy novel.

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Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker cover with starship in front of planet

Star Nomad (Fallen Empire, #1) by Lindsay Buroker

Space opera

If you loved Firefly, read this book! Seriously!

Lots of adventure, corny jokes, and callbacks to Star Wars. Including how shooting a lock panel beside a door will alternately unlock or lock it, whichever is convenient to the plot. Hah!

I marked this as non-romance even though I get the strong suspicion there will be romance in later books.

Warning: Several rapey scenes, but nothing graphic “on screen.”

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Blood Honor by Russell Blake cover of man with gun

Blood Honor (The Day After Never, #1) by Russell Blake

Post-Apocalyptic

Always nice to read a non-zombie apocalypse. I liked that we knew early in the story what caused the apocalypse and how the main character survived. He’s your typical macho post-apocalypse survivor with the skills to stay one step ahead of the grim reaper, even when he does dumb shit.

The storyline and pace are great. It’s a page turner. But this book definitely plays into right-leaning paranoia… I think the term “nanny state” is even used once. Lots of gun porn anytime they kill attackers and loot their bodies, which is often. Women tend to have a special status of either wife, matron, or potential love interest, not fighters.

Overall it’s your typical disaster survival story, with little hope of a back to normal state. I wouldn’t even really call it science fiction other than the details around what type of pandemic it is. It feels pretty hopeless and pointless except for a glimmer of hope around the girl. Solidly post-apocalyptic, a romping adventure.

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Cyber Storm by Mathew Mather cover of cyber city

CyberStorm by Matthew Mather

Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic

Reminds me a lot of the movie Live Free or Die Hard. This is a great book that feels very apocalyptic with a very nice twist at the end, which I appreciated.

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White Feather Protectors of Xil by CJ Parmenter cover of winged woman with bow & arrowWhite Feather (Protectors of Xil Book 1) by CJ Parmenter

Epic Fantasy

 

This is the fantastic start to a series of warriors with wings. The main character is disabled in a childhood accident, her wings crushed. She spends her life alternately trying to overcome her disability and accept it, making a great theme to the first book of what I know will be a really interesting series!

Like many epic fantasies, this one deals with kings and queens, but their society is governed by intricate and ancient laws, which even the king and queen must abide by. This means that the main character and princess can potentially do great harm to her father the king. The stakes are high as she learns to become a warrior in her own right and on her own terms.

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Derelict by LJ Cohen cover of girl on planet

Derelict (Halcyone Space, #1) by L.J. Cohen

Space Opera

This is a space opera about a bunch of kids who end up on derelict space craft with a broken AI. I wish they would’ve gotten on the ship sooner. It seemed like a huge amount of plot happened to get us to that point, and because it felt inevitable that they would eventually get on the ship, it felt like that part of the story took forever. Once they were aboard, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The kids all have their own hang-ups, but they learn to work together, which is great. Also this book treats injuries very realistically, which is always nice. If you like space opera, give this a shot!

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Bound in Blue by H Hamilton Senter cover of woman in blue flames

Bound in Blue by H. Hamilton-Senter

Arthurian Legend

Great use of worldbuilding and Arthurian legend! An enjoyable read.

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And of course if you’re interested in my own published books, you can check out  my Books page and join The Vanguard, where I’ll send you free short stories and let you know anytime I publish a new novel.

The Last of the Ageless by Traci Loudin

The Last of the Ageless by Traci Loudin

Post-Apocalyptic/Sword & Sorcery

No one survived the apocalypse unscathed—human or alien.

Now, Dalan is a shapeshifter dedicated to preserving dying species by taking their forms. Korreth flees the army of mutants that enslaved him. And Nyr is a killer turned pawn in a game none of them fully understand.

In the shadows, a new threat rises—one that could end what little remains of civilization: The Last of the Ageless.

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