by Luke Forney
In today’s fiction market, the reader has more choices than ever. With new publishers popping up left and right, an overwhelming number of authors, books, and series are shooting out, and with the explosion of the ebook market small presses and self-published authors are getting the chance to reach an audience bigger than was ever before in their reach. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the science fiction community.
And then you realize…there are way too many choices.
So here we will set out together to find the hidden gems of science fiction that you might have overlooked. Whether it is self-published, small-press published, or something that just fell through the cracks, on a semi-regular basis “Science Fiction You Haven’t Read…But Should” will help point out some things to check out.
The inaugural “hidden gem” is Hugh Howey. Operating out of North Carolina, Howey is producing a substantial stream of science fiction in a very brief period of time (his first novel only just came out in 2009, and he has seven books out now). A fan base is building, and the great reviews of his books are certainly telling.
Howey kicked off his writing career with the publication of his first novel, Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue. The novel began the chronicles of Molly Fyde, being the first part of the four book Bern Saga. In it we meet Molly Fyde and her paramour, Cole, both training to be space pilots. However, Molly’s tempestuous nature and a secret ship from her past, the Parsona, combine to drag the duo, along with a few others met along the way, across vast reaches of space. Molly’s worlds are fully realized, with dark dungeons and massive forests, and aliens both very strange and surprisingly familiar at the same time. Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue wraps up nicely, but leaves a lot going on for the rest of the series, and for new readers of Howey, this is a great entry-point to his work.
Following his debut, Howey brought out Molly Fyde and the Land of Light, the second book in the Bern Saga. After the setup of the first book, Howey takes full advantage of the story and setting, giving readers a raging story full of dark action and excitement, as well as bringing the scope of the series a little more into view. Howey proves to not be a one-hit wonder, writing a book that has a much different feel than his first, but that is equally engaging. Cliff hangers abound, and at this point you won’t be able to not finish the series.
Arriving hot on the heels of Molly Fyde and the Land of Light, Howey’s shorter novel Half Way Home is very much a departure from his previous works. Half Way Home is the story of Porter, one of a number of people sent to colonize a new planet. However, due to a bit of a malfunction, the mission, and some of the people themselves, is aborted, leaving the group in shambles, and under-aged for their mission. While much of the beginning of this one fell flat and felt logically inconsistent, getting past the first few chapters results in entering a great story of adventure and excitement that will stick with you. Especially with the low kindle price, this one is worth a read.
After the brief diversion, Howey returned to his Bern Saga, bringing out back-to-back Molly Fyde and the Blood of Billions and Molly Fyde and the Fight for Peace. The two novels form a powerful and action-packed second half to the Bern Saga. Howey deftly weaves the various storylines together, as characters are separated and reunited, and as seemingly unimportant events take on far more important notes. The intricacies of the plots are beauties to behold, and the conclusion of the Bern Saga is perfect for the series. However, with the Bern Saga over, readers will continue to hope that perhaps the characters are quite through with Howey’s imagination.
Having concluded the Bern Saga, two new stand alone works by Howey have been released. The Hurricane follows Daniel Stillman, stuck on the outskirts of anti-social despite his stabs at social media. When the titular storm hits his town, however, Daniel’s life is thrown into disarray, yet he is given another chance for the life he wants to lead. The Hurricane is completely different than any of Howey’s previously published works, and just might be his best. It is a truly wonderful story, and another great starting point for readers new to Howey. The Plagiarist is a novella that deals with technological advances and the impact of literature in a post-cyberpunk world. The characters are well-developed, and the fast-paced plot makes for a light, fun read.
Hugh Howey is building up quite a broad back catalogue or works, and is writing fast enough to keep his fans more than happy. If you are looking for a new writer of entertaining science fiction adventure, and haven’t delved too deeply into the books not released from major publishers, give Hugh Howey a try, and you will likely find a lot to enjoy.