Episode 9: The Best Sci-Fi Books I Read in 2020

Would you rather read than listen? Here you go!

What’s up, sci-fi fans?! It’s Seth and this is episode 9 of the I Heart Sci-Fi podcast. This is an exciting episode for me for two reasons. The first is over the last few weeks, the number of weekly downloads has grown steadily, so for those of you that listen, thank you. I get so stoked to know you’re enjoying the content I share in these episodes. It means we have a lot of common interests! The second reason this is an exciting episode is that it features the best sci-fi books I read in 2020, and every single one of them was by an indie author or authors just starting to break out in the sci-fi genre. These authors are like you and me. They aren’t getting huge royalty payments like Stephen King and haven’t sold as many books as A.G. Riddle. They’re going through the same struggles with the pandemic you and I go through, and I think that’s what makes their work so relatable. With that said, let’s get on with the show!

I’m so fortunate for deciding to give Twitter a shot for this I Heart Sci-Fi endeavor of mine. Since last October, I’ve met hundreds of indie authors on the platform and discovered some amazing works of fiction. Although Twitter isn’t the only social media platform I use, it’s definitely the one I use the most, so connect with me there at IHeartSciFi1 and I’ll follow back.

Let’s start off with some news updates first, shall we?

In movie and series news, WandaVision starts streaming on Disney+ on January 15th, starring Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda, known as the Scarlet Witch and the most talented Olsen in my opinion and Paul Bettany as Vision. Sticking with Marvel, news just dropped claiming Jamie Foxx landed a lead role in stand-alone movie reprising his role as the Spider-Man villain character Electro from the first Spider-Man movie starring Tom Holland. I have sad news for Dr. Who fans. Jodie Whittaker will quit Doctor Who at the end of the next series, according to reports. Whittaker – who was the first woman to take on the role and has played the Time Lord since 2017. Oh, and although it’s a bit late, I finally binge-watched every episode of Raised by Wolves on HBOmax. The series, directed by Ridley Scott, was simply brilliant. It was hands-down the best sci-fi I’ve watched in a long time. Check it out if you haven’t yet.

Normally I’d switch to talking about books right about now, but since today’s episode feature is about books, let’s skip right to the chase!

I managed to read 68 books in 2020, which you can check out the full list on my Goodreads account. As you can imagine, I had a lot of time to do nothing much while staying secluded in my home with my family. So, to avoid a reenactment of The Shining (kidding), I read more. A lot more. I normally read around 30 books every year since I can remember. Reading became my escape from reality and it actually led me to start the I Heart Sci-Fi blog and podcast. We all need to encourage more people to read.

Anyways, of the books I read last year, 30 of them were of the sci-fi genre. I want to talk about the top five books I enjoyed most. Let’s start from five then work up to my favorite.

5. The Protocols of Uma by John Brage who’s follow-up book, Burning Sky, is my favorite book so far in 2021. This is what I said in my review of Brage’s book: “Imagine yourself aboard a space vessel, returning to your home planet for the first time in 200 years. So far, you’ve spent more than 900 years, often in repose sleep, trying to locate a new home planet for your species, only to fail. Upon your return, you comingle with the natives of your home island. Except they live in conditions like the Stone Age. They view you as god-like, although you are an average person. Only by chance were you chosen to be a Journeyer when you were a child.” As if that’s not enough, the story continues to evolve and unwind in the most unexpected ways in the two follow-up books of the trilogy. By the way, John recently updated the cover to The Protocols and it looks friggin amazing. Go pick up a copy today.

4. Dark Ocean by Patrick Carpenter. Patrick sent me an advanced copy around the time I started my blog, and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to read it until months later. Boy, what a mistake, putting off reading such a fantastic book. Dark Ocean’s biggest strength lies in Carpenter’s world development. Carpenter’s world-building compares to that of an experienced veteran like Orson Scott Card, instead of a new author. The last time I spoke with the author, he mentioned his follow-up book is well underway and hopes to release it this summer. Fingers crossed, sci-fi fans! This is one talented author.

3. The Rose, Vol. 1, by P.D. Alleva brought me full-circle into the vampire horror genre. When I first met my wife, she managed to get me into reading by giving me Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire. I swallowed up every book in the series and loved vampires. Then Twilight came out, and I left that scene. Now, all of the sudden, I’m thrust back into it thanks to Alleva’s book, which I couldn’t put down until I finished it. For an idea of how fantastic the book is, here’s the opening line from my review of the book: “In less than a day, I journeyed through a post-World War III world manipulated by space vampires and grey witches conducting Nazi-like experiments on humans – and loved it.” I said it once and I’ll say it again – Alleva’s masterfully woven dystopian sci-fi thriller stuck its hooks into me and didn’t let me put the book down until I finished it. I’m willing to bet the same will happen to you.

2. Ringer by D.T. Wilby is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s the kind of book you want to reread over and over because it’s so intelligently written. Wilby minces no words, either. Check out my favorite line, which is right in the beginning of the book: “He had heard stories of people cutting through their limbs. Skin, flesh, sinew, bone. Just to save themselves from some unspeakable danger. Knowing what was in store for him next, Will had plenty of sympathy for those unfortunate souls. He would have gladly bitten through his own tongue just to give himself the jolt he needed to escape his invisible chains.” Ringer takes dramatic twists and turns as the protagonist’s mind continues to devolve. It’s deep and psychological and a must-read.

1. Relics of Dawn by A.W. Davidson was written for me, I swear. No, in all seriousness though, it magnificently combines two of my favorite genres: sci-fi and history. This climate fiction, or cli-fi as I’ve seen it referred to as recently, hits all the right buttons for a sci-fi adventure, environmental awareness, and ancient history. The best part? As the book progresses, readers are treated to so many “aha!” moments, especially those of you, like me, that love ancient history. I don’t have a book review to reference yet, because I’ll be writing it as soon as I upload this episode, and I can’t wait to sing its praises. Get yourself a copy. Convince your friends and family to get a copy, too. Heck, Earth Day is on April 22nd and Relic would make the perfect gift!

That’s it for this episode. Go out and buy all five books, dammit!

Until next episode, stay frosty.

-Seth

Show Notes

Links to books:
The Protocols of Uma by John Brage: https://amzn.to/39jX9eX
Dark Ocean by Patrick Carpenter: https://amzn.to/2Xq6aNV
The Rose, Vol. 1 by P.D. Alleva: https://amzn.to/3nzT8rQ
Ringer by D.T. Wilby: https://amzn.to/35v0AOK
Relics of Dawn by A.W. Davidson: https://amzn.to/35oK9n1

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