Ben Fox, the founder of www.shepherd.com has launched a highly stimulating new website for authors and booklovers. One that is growing rapidly every day and, he believes, will soon come to rival Goodreads!
It’s free to join, and with the launch of my latest time travel novel Varakite in the Timecrack Adventures series, he asked me to choose 5 books within the sci-fi/fantasy genre that I found inspirational. Amongst the multitude available, there were many I could have chosen, but here are the 5 I have read over the past few years, which may inspire readers and new authors of the genre to do the same.
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
I came across this story when I was selected, very unexpectedly, as an extra for the movie version of the novel The City of Ember, to be made in Belfast. It was a remarkable coincidence, because I had been researching and working on an idea for a sci-fi/fantasy adventure series for a number of months.
The film and the book tell how a boy and a girl, living in an underground city created hundreds of years earlier, attempt to find a way to escape back to the Earth’s surface, using their discovery of an ancient manuscript.
Meeting the wonderful young actress, Saiorse Ronan, in the early stages of her highly successful film career, I found inspirational. She and the book helped my imagination as I pursued ideas for my book.
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
This book combines two different time periods, modern France and the Middle Ages, along with an archaeological background and real historical events.
Labyrinth is an enthralling classic which can be read as an introduction to the tragedy of a brutal religious crusade waged against the heretics of Carcassonne, launched by the Roman pope and the nobles of northern France. Centuries later, a young woman working at an archaeological dig comes across the remains of the crusade and is connected to the past by what she finds. A mystery she is driven to solve.
Kate Mosses’ concept of time travel to another time zone as the basis of a historical adventure is a long book, but it resonated with some of my own ideas for storytelling historical events.
Ireland by Frank Delaney
Being Irish, I can’t help but place Ireland, in my best top ten historical fictional novels. The country is famous for its legends and fantasy, but this story is also about the passage of time from the ice age to the 1950s, told by one of the last of the ancient storytellers that used to roam the roads of Ireland, passing on tales and news from the past.
A young boy is hooked by the stories and as he grows to manhood, he is determined to follow the storyteller wherever he travels. He loses him, but he devotes his life to finding him and learning more of the bygone ages and its people, once again.
This is a beautiful story, told by the late Frank Delaney, and although he lived in America, he never really left Ireland and its mysteries.
His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
Pullman’s trilogy about parallel worlds gripped me after reading the first novel in the series The Northern Lights. As he has said, that like myself, he is not a scientist, but since childhood he has been an avid reader of popular science and the many excellent books linked to the subject.
When I discovered that his trilogy, and many others, dealt with the mystery of a parallel universe and another world. I was hooked to find out more. He has two young people, a boy and a girl, and a host of other exciting characters throughout his story. Somewhat like my own stories, except in mine there are two boys and a girl, with each book a separate adventure.
I’m sure readers of the genre will be delighted with His Dark Materials and the mysterious new world Pullman describes.
Contact by Carl Sagan
A scientist and brilliant astronomer, Carl Sagan was also recognised for his involvement with NASA and the Apollo moon programme. And, perhaps, best known to some for his ‘Pale Blue Dot’ speech, when he referred to the Earth as a small blue dot, seen by the Voyager 1 space probe at a distance of 5 billion miles away in deep space.
As one of my favourite writers on science and philosophy, Sagan also wrote an intriguing bestseller about humanity meeting other beings in another universe, aptly named Contact.
I have no doubt, that his scientific works and imagination, influenced many authors, including myself, to write their own sci-fi and fantasy novels.